Month: January 2020 (Page 1 of 2)

Friday Playlist – Something Special

Something different this week.

A few days back I had a sudden memory of a song I had not heard in years. It was just a snippet, but it stuck with me throughout the day. It wasn’t a famous song. It was by an artist I hadn’t thought of in nearly 20 years. When I checked Spotify, the song was out there, though. I listened to it, added it to my Liked Songs list, and moved on.

That song got me thinking, though, about the era it came from. It was released in 2001, which was in the midst of a unique portion of my listening life. That was when alternative rock radio was beginning to fall apart. In Kansas City, we lost two alt rock stations in the space of a year or so. 96.5 The Buzz rose to fill some of the gap, but it did not compare to the legendary 105.9 The Lazer of the 1990s.

Fortunately, my cable TV provider carried the Music Choice channels. Man, I loved me some Music Choice! In that span from 2000–2003 I got most of my new music from it’s alt rock channel. If I was home and not watching a game, I would usually have Music Choice on. When I heard a song I liked, I’d run over to the computer, fire up my file sharing app of the moment, and download the track. Every month or so I would burn a CD – remember burning CDs?!?! – that I took to work to listen to on headphones to help pass the day. When I began traveling to the West Coast a couple times each month, I would always have one of those disks with me to pop into the rental car.

This all combined to form a distinct period in my listening history, from the fall of 2000 until I moved to Indianapolis in June of 2003. As I was in a proper home and not a studio apartment once we got to Indy, my office was away from the TV and Music Choice got shifted a bit. I would pull up the alt rock channel occasionally, but it became more a source of Christmas music in December.[1]

Anyways…my memory was jogged. One day I opened up iTunes and started looking at songs from this period. Soon I was making a playlist in Spotify of my favorites of that era. And that, my friends, is what I share with you today.

To make it nice and round, I’ve pushed the limit of this playlist out to the end of 2004. Truthfully, this era ended right about the time M was born in July of 2004. It was while I was on paternity leave that I first discovered a couple music blogs, sites that would post free MP3’s to download each day. A couple of those tracks are on this list. The list also includes the first songs I ever bought off of the iTunes Music Store. By the time 2005 rolled around I was rarely listening to Music Choice, I had a bunch of music blogs dumping MP3’s into my RSS reader each day, and I had discovered

So this list celebrates that 3–4 year period when most of my new music came off of a music station that was buried deep in the extra channels of my cable TV package. They are roughly in chronological order, although I’ve added some that went to the bottom of the list.

  1. That was true until just a few years ago when AT&T dropped Music Choice for another, inferior, music service.  ↩

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 37

A quick reminder to update your bookmarks. will disappear in the next week or so. Make sure you are pointed to

Chart Week: January 30, 1982
Song: “Waiting for a Girl Like You” – Foreigner
Chart Position: #2, 17th week on the chart. Spent 10 weeks at #2.

Chart geeks like me love the little tidbits that give the history of the charts added context. Highest debut, most hits by one artist in the top ten, biggest drop from #1, etc. I love all that shit.

In late 1981 and early 1982, Foreigner became one of the unluckiest bands in the history of the chart.

When the calendar flipped to 1982, there was a juggernaut topping the charts. Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” was in its 8th week at #1. It would remain there through the week of January 23, a nice, round ten weeks in the top spot. “Physical” took over the top spot the week of November 21, 1981. A week later, Foreigner’s “Waiting for a Girl Like You” slid past Hall & Oates’ former #1 “Private Eyes” into the #2 spot. It was a massive song, made for slow skates at roller rinks and probably for teenagers necking to in their cars. Because that’s what teenagers did in 1981, right? I was 10; I have no idea.[1] It seemed inevitable that it would ascend to the chart’s top position.

“Waiting for a Girl Like You” stayed in the #2 spot for all of December. And all of January. When “Physical” finally fell to #4 the week of January 28, 1982, it wasn’t Foreigner who took over the top spot, but Hall & Oates with “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” After that final week at #2, “Waiting” began losing steam. When “Centerfold” knocked Hall & Oates from the top spot a week later, Foreigner fell to #3. Three weeks later, like a balloon losing all its air, the song was out of the Top 40.

That ten week run at #2 without ever hitting #1 set a Billboard record that still stands. Missy Elliott tied it in 2002–03 with “Work It.” But the modern charts make no sense so I still call Foreigner the true hard luck champions.

Foreigner eventually reached #1 with another mega ballad, “I Want to Know What Love Is.” It spent two weeks at #1, keeping the far superior “Easy Lover” out of the top spot.

By the way, Thomas Dolby played the unforgettable synth lines that anchored “Waiting for a Girl Like You.” He never hit #1 either.

As I scrolled through the 1982 charts, I noticed that there were a lot of huge #1 hits in the front half of the year. I define huge as spending five weeks or more at the top of the charts.

First there was “Physical,” and its 10 week reign. When “Centerfold” took over, it held the top spot for six weeks. “I Love Rock ’N Roll” was then #1 for seven weeks. After “Chariots of Fire” was #1 for a week, “Ebony and Ivory” held it down for seven weeks. “Don’t You Want Me” was #1 for three weeks, followed by “Eye of the Tiger” for six weeks. Finally things calmed down, with only “Jack & Diane” spending more than three weeks at #1 in the back half of the year.

I spent an evening looking through all the 1980s charts while L had soccer practice. 1982’s four songs with five or more weeks in the top spot – five if you count “Physical”’s 1981 weeks – was a record for the decade. In fact, no year from 1985–1989 had even a single song that spent five weeks at #1.

That shit changed when streaming was finally recognized.

Again, the miscellany that probably only interests us chart geeks.

  1. It was not on the Footloose soundtrack but was featured as the slow dance song when Ren takes his friends to the club across the state line to dance and drink.  ↩

An Eventful Week

Last week was a little out-of-the ordinary around our house. As I mentioned a couple times, we were on nephew duty all week.

One of my sisters-in-law was matched with another baby boy for adoption and had to go to Florida to pick him up. It was a last-minute deal, so while she hoped to only be down there a couple days, it took over a week to get all the paperwork in order so she could leave the state with her new son.[1]

That meant her first son, who is 3 ½, spent that time with us.

He was/is easy. He’s spent lots of time with us so is comfortable at our house. He LOVES being around our girls. He is potty trained, eats well, sleeps well (with some assistance), and only has a few high maintenance moments each day.

He remained on his normal schedule, so either S or I would drop him off at daycare and then pick him up each day. I enjoy his company but I’m not sure I could have kept him occupied all day, every day in January if he did not have daycare to go to.

The girls were amused by my lack of patience with him. I want to stress again, he’s a really good kid. But, man, I do NOT miss the three-year-old phase when they ask you 18,000 questions, most of which they already know the answers to.

The one that really made the girls laugh was this one, which we did at least once a day. He would ask, in the tone of a kid that genuinely does not know the answer: Uncle D, are you my uncle?

The first time he asked it I said of course I am. After that I would respond in a manner that was not entirely appropriate for a three-year-old.

N: Uncle D, are you my uncle?
Me: What did you just call me? (Blank stare in return.) Uncle D, right? That means I’m your uncle.

N: Uncle D, are you my uncle?
Me: Yes, bud, I’m your uncle. That’s why you called Uncle D, right?

And other variations on this.

Seriously, the girls would lose it every time we had this exchange. It wasn’t that it was annoying. It was that he had already asked me 50 questions while he was sitting at the counter, eating a snack as I made dinner.

He would also ask the girls if they were his cousins, which admittedly is a tougher one since he calls them by name, not Cousin M, C, and L. On nights when he wore me down I wanted to say, “Buddy, we’ve been through this five straight days. You know I’m your uncle and the girls are your cousins, right?”

Kids, man…

The other eye-opener from the week was the difference in how he, as a boy, behaves and how our girls acted at the same ages. He’s a pretty normal kid. But there is sooooo much running around, jumping on things, doing flips, racing up-and-down stairs, etc. The one that killed me was when we would put a movie on in the evening to begin the chill-out process. He would sit stationary for a few minutes. But eventually he would start jumping on the couch, or run around the room, or pick up things and toss them around. Our girls would be active when they watched movies. But it was more making a fort out of the couch cushions, or playing with their dolls while they watched than all this nonsense.

Again, I think I was meant to have girls. Even with all the teenage bullshit we go through every day.

S and I took turns putting him to bed each night. We put him in L’s room – she moved into our bed for the week – and since it was a strange house and strange bed, we would sleep with him all night. One day he didn’t get a nap, so he was wiped the fuck out well before bedtime. I was going to start winding him down early with some books in L’s bed. He jumped up, went head-first into the headboard, and started screaming. There was no blood, so I flipped the lights off, got under the sheets, and hugged him until he stopped crying. Next thing I knew it was 2:00 AM. I rolled over and went back to sleep until my alarm went off at 6:20. It’s been a long time since I’ve slept that long without being sick. It was kind of nice. It also reminded me of those years when I slept with L and would miss all kind of important stuff because I fell asleep with her at 8:00 PM.

But, all-in-all, it was a good week. He was very excited to meet his new brother on Friday night when his mom finally made it home with him. As were we.

The other fun thing that happened last week came on Wednesday. When I picked M up at school, she had a huge smile on her face and said, “Guess what?” I had no idea and said so.

She handed me a slip of paper and said, “I got drug tested today!”

I knew CHS did breathalyzers at school dances, but I didn’t know they randomly tested during the school day. We talked through what she had to do – it was just a urine test – and I asked if she had privacy when she peed in the cup or if they had someone in the room with her. She said she was allowed in a private stall, but asked why she wouldn’t have. So I gave her a lesson on people who buy clean urine to pass drug tests, and how they are often forced to pee in front of someone to prove it is their urine. I didn’t go into men who have fake penises loaded with the clean urine to try to get around that. That was a little too much detail to share with her.

Anyway, she was excited about it. I hope all of our girls are always excited to take a drug test!

  1. She lucked out that the new baby was from Jacksonville, where her parents live.  ↩


So where was I? I was enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon after joining friends for a birthday lunch for my wife. I was watching golf – the Farmer’s Insurance Open was extra interesting this year since the hotel we stayed at in San Diego last summer bordered the course – and scrolling through Twitter when the Tweets began hitting. There was that half hour or so between the first Tweet and when someone other than TMZ confirmed that Kobe Bryant had, in fact, died in a helicopter crash when I hoped it was some horrible error.

Alas, it wasn’t an error or a joke or some cruel hack. Kobe Bryant, one of the most complex, interesting, and amazing athletes of my life, was dead at 41.

I had a weird relationship with Kobe. Early in his career I was excited about his promise, delighted by his exuberance, intrigued by his unique background, and astounded by his ability. But, in time, his act, for lack of a better word, grated on me. I found so many things he did on the court aside from the actual playing of basketball contrived. The 57 deep breaths before some big free throw. The walking around the court and pumping his fist slowly while making a determined face during a dead ball in crunch time. His weird back-and-forth with Shaq. It all seemed done for the cameras rather than organic and spontaneous.

Soon I was rooting against whoever he was playing against, delighting in those early and middle years when he failed in the playoffs.

I was not alone. I can’t think of another elite, alpha athlete who was so nearly equally loved and loathed. Whether it was for that false feeling air about him that turned me off, or people who hated his ball-hogging, shot-chucking tendencies, there seemed to be a hater for every Kobe super-fan. It made my guy Paul Pierce’s huge NBA Finals performance in 2008 even better because he defeated Kobe in the process. I know Pierce wasn’t better than Kobe. But because he was a better teammate, because he had bested Kobe on the biggest stage, it made the Celtics’ title even more special to me.

In time I learned to love how Kobe leaned into all of this hate. He fucking loved being a villain. He embraced every ounce of hate people sent his way. He knew that we didn’t hate him like a Bill Laimbeer or some other role player. No, he knew that to be a true villain is just the opposite side of the coin as the hero. Both are respected and feared. One is just on your side, the other against you. He could live with that knowing that all us haters, deep down, respected him.

Late in his career I came to appreciate Kobe more. There was that embrace of being the bad guy. There was his tireless work rate. I’m not sure anyone, not even Michael Jordan, ever put as much into games as Kobe did. It drove me nuts that he shot 800 times a game. But in time I was worn down by it and began to marvel at the sheer audacity of his career. I admired how his game didn’t slip much as he grew older, how he played at the highest level until his body literally gave out on him. There was no Willie Mays in the World Series moment, no Jordan on the Wizards moment. Kobe went out as a stone, cold assassin on the court.

The whole Mamba Mentality thing drove me nuts. (Speaking of contrived!) To be fair, though, it was his reality. He might be the most pathological basketball killer the game has ever seen, again more so than even Jordan. At times it was disturbing at how competitive Kobe was in every aspect of the game. There were those interviews where he would speak deeply about things that had nothing to do with sports. Then the interviewer would mention some slight or perceived failure, Kobe’s eyes would flash, he would get restless in his seat, lick his lips, and you would see the straight asshole he was on the court come out.

Kobe came along at a weird time, just as the Jordan era was wrapping up. As Kobe was reaching his peak, LeBron James showed up and revolutionized the game, doing things with a gigantic body that no one had done before in the history of the game. Michael was loved and idolized. LeBron was friendly and open. LeBron would, shockingly, pass to teammates in key moments. When LeBron’s career was still in its early days and we didn’t know how it would turn out – with him rivaling Jordan for the game’s all time best in a way Kobe never would – I told a friend that if I had a son who played basketball, I would much rather he emulate LBJ than Kobe. LeBron was inclusive and warm where Kobe was exclusive and cold.

In that comparison is another irony of Kobe’s career. He was one of the smartest, most intellectually curious players in the modern NBA. Yet he was so closed off in his pursuit of winning.

There is, of course, another huge moment in Kobe’s career that made many people hate him: the sexual assault case against him in 2003.

Although the charges were eventually dropped when the victim refused to testify, it was hard for me, and many others, to get over them.

I had forgotten, until a friend reminded me of it Sunday evening, about the public apology Kobe issued after the charges were dropped. I went back and read it. It is a remarkable document. I found an article that was published four or five years ago that discussed his apology. It pointed out that no prominent athlete who has been accused of sexual misconduct since then has done anything like what Kobe did. Everyone else has denied, denied, denied, sought to find character flaws in the accuser, and done their best to hide behind their attorneys.

Kobe admitted that he realized the woman he had sex with did not see the encounter as consensual. He apologized to her, her family, his family and teammates, and the city where the encounter took place. He said he did not question her motives and understood his apology could be used against him in a civil case. Most of all, he said he understood his actions had made her life hell for well over a year.

What I found most remarkable about the apology was how it does not read like it was run through an entire law firm before it was issued, with dozens of qualifiers added to protect Kobe legally. Although it was surely drafted with the help of others, ultimately it reads as something directly from Kobe’s heart.

My friend who reminded me to go back and read it is a female sports writer. She has little time for athletes who abuse women, physically, sexually, or emotionally. She said from all she heard, Kobe lived the rest of his life in a manner that was consistent with that apology. He learned from his grievous mistake and treated women differently because of that.

Nowhere was that more apparent than in his doting over his daughters. Which is the real motherfucker of the day. It’s one thing for Kobe to die early, leaving a family behind. It is so much worse knowing his daughter Gianna was with him, with one of her basketball teammates and her parents. Kobe had become a huge advocate for women’s sports. I don’t know if he ever actually said these words, but the phrase “If you can play, you can play,” was attributed to him. Former baseball player Brandon McCarthy Tweeted Sunday night that he believed Kobe was poised to do amazing things for women’s sports as his daughters grew older and he threw his weight behind more and more women’s events.

Kobe was a deeply flawed dude. Of course, we all are. His flaws were just so jarring and always out there for public scrutiny. I hated him as a player for most of his career. I was an adult when he came along, still believing to in the power of sports to elevate and unite, but cynicism was starting to creep in. Kobe did a lot to help my sports cynicism grow.

But, man, he was a remarkable player. And a remarkable person. A man who was poised to continue to affect the world even with his playing days well behind him.

Just because I didn’t like him as a player doesn’t mean I wasn’t sad about his passing.

Last night I tried to put Kobe’s career in the proper context. Journalists kept saying he was one of the greatest players ever. But where did he fit in? Rather than try to say he was #3 or #10 or whatever, I approached it from a different angle: what is the smallest number I can get to where I can comfortably say “Kobe was one of the X greatest players of all time?” You can argue he’s anywhere within this list, but putting him lower and including someone else would be ludicrous.

I settled on eight and could be talked into seven. Jordan, LeBron, Magic, Bird, Wilt, Russell, Kareem, and Kobe. I struggle with Kareem a little because he was such a unique player whose immense accomplishments have kind of been lost to time. He was a revolutionary player who won more MVPs and championships and was in more All Star games than Kobe. I’m pretty sure he belongs in this conversation, but a part of me thinks he’s the first guy you can say “Wait a minute…” about.

This morning I read NBA writer Henry Abbott’s thoughts about Kobe’s death. It is from the perspective of a parent. As the father of three girls who has fears for their safety, and as the son of a mother who died in a car accident, this piece got to me.

“This is why mothers don’t sleep” (Henry’s site works strangely and I am unable to link directly to the article. Go to his home page then select the article.)

Friday Playlist

“Dance of the Clairvoyants” – Pearl Jam
It’s been seven years since we’ve had a new Pearl Jam album. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Their last couple albums were uneven at best, teetering toward mid-life mediocrity at worst. A new album is set for a spring release, and we got the first single this week.

It’s different, which I think is a good sign. Instantly there were dozens of David Byrne GIFs posted in response, as this track has a definite Talking Heads vibe. Each time I listen to it I’m really wanting Mike McCready to tear loose, and a little disappointed when he doesn’t.

It’s a promising first glimpse. I’m hopeful they can give us an album that isn’t filled with safe, boring songs. I’m not going to get too hopeful about that prospect, though.

“Sleep” – Cartalk
These LA kids have a good vibe. Kind of a SoCal Middle Kids thing going on, which I naturally dig.

“Streetlight Blues” – Squirrel Flower
Oh snap, this is a hell of a song! Mournful with that little country twang, those lyrics about missing out on something, and that slow simmer that never quite reaches a boil and deliciously builds tension. Thumbs up!

“The Boy in the Bubble” – Paul Simon
I remember kind of hating Simon’s Graceland album without ever listening to it. When every aging Baby Boomer rock critic flipped their shit over it, I chalked it up as out-of-touch old folks trying to recapture their youth. Pretty aggressive criticism for a 15-year-old!

In the early 2000s, when file sharing took over, I had a long-term project to download and listen to every album from a collection of Greatest Albums of All Time lists I had collected. It was through that process that I discovered that while all that praise for Graceland from Rolling Stone, et al was likely pumped up a little because of their Boomerism, it was indeed a hell of an album. And this is the song that I heard for the first time during that stretch and has stuck with me ever since.

“Adore You” – Harry Styles
Finally, a departure. One of my brothers-in-law sent this to me last month when it first came out. I set it aside to get through the holidays and other vids, but as I’ve started to hear this song in heavy rotation on the pop stations we listen to in the car, I’m actually digging it. To be honest, I dig most of the One Direction guys’ solo songs. But this is probably my favorite, and the video is delightfully strange and fun.

Reader’s Notebook, 1/23/20

I started 2020 off with two excellent reads.

Midnight in Chernobyl – Adam Higginbotham
This is, quite simply, one of the best works of non-fiction I’ve ever read. It is a highly detailed, yet brisk, accounting of the 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the then Soviet Union.

Higginbotham provides quick summaries of just about everything that led up to the disaster. A history of radiation and nuclear power. On overview of the byzantine Soviet bureaucracy. The nuclear arms race. How the power plant and its neighboring city of Pripyat were built. Quick background sketches of the primary workers inside the plant and city leaders who helped formulate the official response to the meltdown. An overview of what was going on in the USSR in the 1980s after Mikhail Gorbachev took over. These thorough if brief segments provide essential context that makes an interesting story compelling.

Then there is his exhaustive recounting of the disaster and its aftermath. He offers almost pornographic accountings of the process of the reactor exploding and melting down, breaking things down literally to the molecular level. Horrifying descriptions of the damage the meltdown wrought, both on the physical plant and the people who were working in it. And heartbreaking overviews of the inept local, Ukraine republic, and Soviet responses to the catastrophe.

Even for huge moments like Chernobyl, non-fictional accountings of them can often run dry. In Higginbotham’s hands, the story is a page turner as good as any work of fiction. This is an extraordinary book that should leave a deep and lasting impact on anyone who reads it.

The Little Red Chairs – Edna O’Brien
This book came out in 2015, so it’s probably been on my To Read list since then. I think I’ve checked it out before but it sat in the pile and eventually went back to the library. I’m glad I finally got to it.

It is the story of a Serbian war criminal, Dr. Vladimir Dragan (modeled on Radovan Karadzic), who, fleeing European authorities under an assumed name, lands in remote western Ireland over 20 years after the Balkan Wars ended. He sets up shop as a bit of a new age/alternative medicine healer, and charms the residents in his new home with his odd and exotic ways. One town resident in particular becomes especially interested in him.

Fidelma runs a struggling boutique. She yearns to start a family, something she and her husband have been unable to do. Falling under Dr. Vlad’s charms and believing he could solve her problem, Fidelma approaches him about impregnating her. What follows is a brief and unsatisfying, for her, affair that does result in a pregnancy.

Dr. Vlad is soon discovered and captured by authorities. Old compatriots of his from the Balkans come looking to exact revenge. With him in custody, they take out their frustrations on Fidelma in a truly horrifying attack.

As her infidelity becomes public, she flees for London and a new life, which kicks off part two of the novel. There she becomes part of the city’s refugee community, living with a single mom from Africa and working with other women from all over the world cleaning office buildings at night. She slowly builds herself up again, and finds community in the strength of the women around her who were fleeing their own horrors to make a new life.

In the third part of the book, she confronts Dr. Vlad during his trial, then returns home to Ireland. There her husband takes her back just before his own death.

The first two thirds of The Little Red Chairs are mesmerizing and wonderful, despite one of the most difficult-to-read passages I’ve come across in awhile. Although it was published before 2016, there are some hints of what the world would become as O’Brien recounts what happened in Sarajevo in 1992. After the war, the Bosnian Serbs insisted that the siege and massacre the world watched live on TV never occurred, that they were peaceful, and that the Bosnian Muslims were killing their own people to try to make the Serbs look bad. Our Idiot in Chief did not invent coming up with alternative facts that suited his needs.

The third act, however, felt messy and confusing. I’m not quite sure what O’Brien was aiming for with that part of the book, but I certainly missed it. It’s a shame, because it mars what is an otherwise wonderful story.


I sure picked a good night not to watch the KU game.

Between having the nephew around, C having volleyball practice, and the early start time, I decided to record the KU-K-State game, follow the score, and watch it later if needed.

For most of the night that seemed like a good decision. After a slow start, the Jayhawks waxed Kansas State. We had just put the nephew to bed, L was wrapping up her night, and I looked forward to fast forwarding through the recording to watch the good parts.

Then my Twitter and text feeds went nuts.

I’ve watched a bunch of the video that came out of the brawl. Like most my reaction has changed a bit as I’ve seen more video. I think the fairest way to break this down is to measure the major participants’ actions on a 1-to–10 Dickish scale. One is the equivalent to “Come on, man.” Christian Laettner stepping on a Kentucky player is a 7. Ten is Ron Artest going into the stands in Detroit. Let’s get to it.

We join the action with the ball in Silvio De Sousa’s hands as the final seconds tick off from a big KU win over their in-state rivals. Kansas State’s DaJuan Gordon pressures De Sousa, reaches in to steal the ball, and races up court. De Sousa chases Gordon down and blocks his shot to seemingly end the game. De Sousa then steps directly to Gordon, who is lying on the ground attempting to keep his soul from leaving his body, and begins yelling at him. Let’s pause here.

In general I don’t have a problem with defenders playing out the clock. Not sure Gordon needs to be pressuring the ball and going for steals in that situation, though. If De Sousa had turned his back, as Tristan Enaruna did earlier this year, or De Sousa made a lazy pass, that’s fair game. But as Silvio was clearly trying to protect the ball and run out the clock, I give Gordon a Dickish score of 2 because, what the fuck, dude?[1]

As for Silvio, he was fine until he stepped to Gordon and ran his mouth. If he had just walked away after his block, celebrated with his teammates, waved his arms to the crowd, or pointed at the scoreboard, his biggest concern would have been being arrested for murdering Gordon. Seriously, if nothing else happens, Gordon is going to be reminded of how Silvio absolutely destroyed him after he tried to get away with something. Up to now, Dickish score for Silvio is 0.

But the stepping and yelling was totally unnecessary in any context. It was way worse at the end of a beat down of an in-state rival. Worse still when done in front of the K-State bench. Silvio’s Dickish score raises to 5.

Now things get really fun. One K-State player on the court and two from their bench run directly at Silvio. The KU players who were on the court and Devon Dotson, who was in the handshake line on the sideline, race in. Things seemed like they might stall out at a lot of “HEY (EXPLETIVE)!” back and forth, with some gentle shoving. Silvio and Antonio Gordon were doing some solid slapping at each other until Gordon shoved Silvio, sending him off balance when he hit a chair. Silvio then lost his mind, James Love came flying in, David McCormack came in swinging, and soon Silvio was holding a chair over his head, ready to bash somebody. McCormack and Marcus Garrett were headed toward Love until KU assistant Jeremy Case literally flew in, cross body blocked Love, and knocked him backwards. I don’t know if Case’s intent was to injure or separate, but it did create enough distance so people along the baseline could start forcing the teams apart. It was also kind of insane. Case is in his 30s and did a flying, cross-body block in the midst of a fight. Respect!

As ugly as it was, it could have been way worse.

Let’s get caught up on our Dickish scores.

Silvio goes up to a 6 for engaging with Antonio Gordon.

Antonio Gordon gets a 7 for being the first to lose his mind and the shove that lit the fuse.

Silvio goes up to a 7 for re-engaging.

Love gets an 8 for coming in, in street clothes, and making things way worse than they already were.

McCormack gets an 8 for taking several huge swings at Love.

Garrett gets a 5 for getting in the midst of the fray with a look on his face like he wanted to fight rather than make peace. (None of the video I’ve seen shows him swinging. He would jump to an 8 if he did swing.)

Silvio goes to a 9 for picking up a chair, even though Jerrance Howard grabbed him and kept him from throwing/wielding it on Love.

In summary, a lot of straight stupidity.

Oh, and let’s give the refs a Dickish score of 10 for deciding they had to follow conference rules – which are according to Fran Fraschilla in place for gambling purposes – and brought the teams back onto the court to play the final second of the game. On a night when a lot of bad decisions were made, this might have been the worst. Fucking idiots.

My initial reaction was that Silvio should be suspended for the year. The early video and pictures made it seem like this was 100% on him. Remove his actions from the brawl and it never kicks off. The image of him holding a chair over his head was jarring and disgusting, and regardless of who did what in between, will remain the lasting image of the event.

But after seeing different angles, it’s clear Antonio Gordon and James Love took what Silvio started to another level, and David McCormack took dangerous actions and was lucky none of his punches landed.

I’d say Silvio deserves to be suspended 5–6 games. McCormack, Gordon, and Love deserve 3–4. Garrett and anyone else who threw a punch would go in the 2–4 game bucket. If I were the Big 12 and/or Bill Self and Bruce Weber, I would ensure their suspensions are in effect when the teams meet again in Manhattan next month. That is going to be an incredibly intense environment. It would be best for everyone if the four prime participants are not in Bramlage Coliseum that night. But, since that game is to be played on Feb 29, I would imagine most if not all suspensions will be served by then.

I did flip ESPN+ on to watch the coaches’ press conferences. I was surprised that Bruce Weber said he took some blame for not insisting his players back off in the closing moments. I also found his tone a little odd. He didn’t seem super affected by what had happened. I don’t know if that was because, at that point, he thought most of the blame laid with De Sousa and KU and he trying not to gloat, or something else. He even closed his comments with “Go Chiefs!” which made me think he wasn’t super agitated about things.

Bill Self, on the other hand, was as upset and angry as I’ve seen him. It was clear he was trying very hard to measure his words and to not say too much. Where Weber seemed, at worst, aloof, Self seemed genuinely disturbed. And, again, this could be because he had only seen the ESPN game footage which makes Silvio look the worst.

There have been plenty of rumors about Self’s future this season. The NCAA could, eventually, put an end to his college coaching career. Some have speculated he’ll beat them to the punch and take the San Antonio Spurs job if/when Greg Popovich retires. I’ve generally discounted these rumors as I think Self and his attorneys will find a way to keep him from getting a Show Cause ruling that would result in an NCAA suspension, and I don’t see the Spurs job as attractive as it was a few years back. But, man, that look in his face last night had me considering that he might say, “Fuck it, I don’t need this,” and taking the NBA money. I still doubt that will happen, but I’m entertaining the possibility for the first time.

As for Silvio, every game he comes in and can’t do anything right, I text a few of my friends something along the lines of, “We’re going on probation for this kid?” Last night I updated that to “We’re going on probation for this kid AND he’s starting the worst brawl we’ve had in 60 years?” That’s a flippant overreaction. I know the guy has had a rough time of it as people around him have ruined his chance for a decent college career. But that’s no excuse to lose your mind like he did last night.

In the end, I think everyone should be thankful that most basketball players can’t fight. It didn’t seem like any punches really connected. I think the scene was too chaotic to really square anyone up, which is another blessing. There were no injuries, none of the spectators caught up in the melee seemed to get hurt. Now we get to wait and see what the Big 12 wants to do about this.

  1. This is clearly a step beyond “Come on, man,” because of the use of “fuck” and because it is stated as a question.  ↩

Weekend Notes

It’s probably a good thing today is a holiday and most of my Kansas City friends are probably just now going to bed after celebrating the Chiefs’ AFC title overnight. I say that because I didn’t see much of either game yesterday, so I don’t have a ton to say.

I saw a decent chunk of the first half of the AFC game, although I was distracted during much of it. Still, I saw enough that when I lost control of the TV at halftime I didn’t sweat missing some epic finish.

Whilst I have not conveniently found some latent love for my hometown team, I am happy for all my friends who are long-suffering Chiefs fans. I enjoyed the Royals World Series runs with most of those friends. I’m sure KC is going to be a ton of fun for the next couple weeks.

I was even more distracted during the NFC game, but still saw long stretches of the first half before I again lost control of the TV. I don’t know that there is a defense that can slow down Patrick Mahomes when he’s healthy. But San Francisco could at least make it interesting for awhile. Despite the Chiefs’ first quarter defensive struggles the past two weeks, it’s hard to see the SF offense doing enough to make it a game. The Niners performance the past two weeks has a flukey feel to it, and came against two defenses that aren’t as good as the Chiefs.

In other words, despite having a limited view of yesterday’s games, I don’t see the Super Bowl result being in doubt. Or the score being terribly close.

L was happy that the Chiefs won, although as is her typical nature, she refused to watch any of the game. She’d much rather be playing on the XBox, on her iPad, or outside than watching any sport.

Bigger for her, though, was that we went out yesterday and bought a basketball goal. Today we are having some concrete poured to make two additional parking spaces. This is primarily for teenage drivers and their guests to park without blocking cars that are in the garage. A nice benefit for L is that this gives us space to put a hoop in. I had done my research online so the actual shopping part of our visit to the showroom was pretty brief. After I made the purchase we hung out and played two games of HORSE and she bounced on the trampolines for awhile. We were the only customers, it was a bitterly cold day, so it made for a nice way to waste an hour.

I was disappointed I couldn’t get a trick shot I tried roughly 20 times to work. Standing under a 9-foot goal I shot over a 10-foot rim, over a 9-foot rim, then attempted to bounce the ball off an 8-foot basket into a 7-foot rim.[1] I got this idea because on my first attempt to make on in the 8-foot rim I missed but my ricochet nearly went into the 7-foot basket. Naturally that was the closest I came to making it, but that didn’t stop me from trying another 19 times.

Beyond that it was a pretty quiet weekend. We were on nephew duty so that altered our routines a bit. I’ll talk more about our time with him in a few days.

  1. These hoops were all in a line, roughly 4–5 feet between each rim.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Cheap Regrets” – The Districts
Looking through my Liked Songs playlist in Spotify and my iTunes library, I don’t know that I’ve ever listened to this band. Apparently this song is a departure from their usual sound. I really dig its blend of modern dance, classic disco, and indie rock.

“It Helped” – Yakima
When I think of Scottish music, I generally have a particular sound in my head. While not all Scottish acts fit that sound, they often butt up against it. Yet there is a strong power/jangle pop tradition in Scottish rock. Here is the latest band to sound more like they’re from California in the ‘60s than Glasgow today.

“All Compasses Go Wild” – Close Lobsters
Coincidentally, here is another Glasgow band that has a much brighter sound than traditional Scottish rock. My first guess would have been that this band is Australian. There’s a strong early 90s vibe to this track.

“Patterns Prevail” – Young Guv
Holy curve ball! I discovered Young Guv via an “Artists you may have missed last year” article this month. Young Guv is Ben Cook, guitarist for hardcore band Fucked Up. So his debut EPs, now collected into one LP, absolutely blew my mind. They are filled with songs that sounded straight off a classic Matthew Sweet or Teenage Fanclub album (TF is from Glasgow, tying this all together!). Beautiful, bright songs to cheer you up on cloudy, freezing winter days.

“Tom Sawyer” – Rush
I’m sure most of you heard that legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart died last week. I was never a big Rush fan, but I knew a lot of guys who were way into them. There was a roommate in the 90s who blasted Rush, Dream Theater, and bands of that ilk from one side of our house, while three of us blasted our alt rock from the other side. And I’ll never forget the kid who rode my middle school bus and often wore a “Neil Peart Fan Club” t-shirt. I didn’t know who Peart was yet, but I figured he must be pretty cool if this kid was in his fan club.

I think I liked 4–5 Rush songs as a kid. I listened to those songs last weekend during a workout. I was shocked that “New World Man” was the only Rush song to hit the US pop top 40 chart. It’s a good song, but I would have guessed either “Tom Sawyer” or “Spirit of the Radio” would have been bigger pop hits.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan I can respect Peart’s immense game. RIP.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 35

Chart Week: January 15, 1983
Song: “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy” – Sammy Hagar
Chart Position: #27, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #13 for two weeks in February/March.

One of the disappointments of the iHeart Radio Classic American Top 40 channel is that only so many of the old countdowns have been digitized and, thus, countdowns are often repeated. Sometimes I’ll hear the same one twice in a week or so. Which bums me out, as there are so many countdowns from the nearly 20 years Casey did them and we only get to hear a handful.

I’ve never paid that close attention to the countdowns that are played on our local station each weekend. Last weekend, though, I heard a countdown I know I heard a year ago. So, apparently, there is a limited pool that has been syndicated as well. Double bummer.

I know I heard this countdown a year ago because in January 2019 I wrote down an anecdote Casey shared about Sammy Hagar but never got around to sharing it with you. Hearing it again last Sunday is an obvious sign from the Music Gods that I should share it now.

Casey began by telling his listeners of Sammy’s love for fast cars. Sammy owned a Porsche, a Trans Am, and even a Ferrari. One night after a show in San Francisco he was driving to his home north of the city in his BMW. As he drove, he got more anxious about getting home, so he drove faster and faster. Soon he was traveling way beyond the speed limit. “It was a crazy thing to do, and I knew it,” Casey quoted Sammy.

Moments later, Sammy saw red and blue lights of the California High Patrol in his rearview mirror. “I’ve never been so scared in my life,” said Sammy.

It turned out that the officer who pulled Sammy over had a young son who was a music fan. He asked his dad to keep an eye out for Sammy in his bright red Trans Am, and if he ever saw him, to get his autograph. The officer called in Sammy’s license, learned it was the Red Rocker at the wheel, and when he reached Sammy’s window said, “Hey, buddy, where’s your Trans AM?” He also told Sammy that he could take him to jail he was driving so fast.

The two men had a conversation, Sammy swore to be more careful, and signed an autograph for the officer’s son. “To Don,” it read, “your dad’s ok.”

“And Sammy has been watching the speed limit ever since,” Casey closed before playing Hagar’s latest hit.

I’m sure this story, if I heard it back when I was 11, delighted me. But now all I hear is bullshit.

Sammy was just anxious to get home, that’s why he was speeding? More like it was late, the roads were wide open, and he decided to have some fun.

I also find it hard to believe Sammy’s blood was clean of any stimulants or depressants.

Being that scared implies he had never been pulled over before. I scoff at this, as well.

And he’s been sticking to the speed limit ever since? The ultimate bullshit. We were a little over a year from Sammy hitting the charts with “I Can’t Drive 55.”

Classic record label A&R PR bullshit.

I will confirm that the CHP could be extremely friendly back in the ‘80s. My family moved to the Bay Area in late 1986. My stepdad had been out there for a few months, commuting every Sunday and Thursday night. He took possession of our new home in mid-December and my mom and I flew out on the Saturday before Christmas. Our flight was late, our bags didn’t make it, and SFO was a madhouse. By the time we left the airport my stepdad was good and pissed. We got off the San Mateo bridge, turned north on I–880, and headed to our new home. Anxious to get home, he kept driving faster and faster. Soon he saw red and blue lights in the rearview mirror and pulled over.

When the officer approached he said he had my stepdad going 70 from the moment he got off the bridge. That was apparently very fast in 1986. My stepdad handed over his Missouri driver’s license with a sheepish look on his face.

The officer took a look and exclaimed, “Raytown, Missouri?!? I grew up there. Slow it down,” and he handed the license back and sent us on our way.

Believe it or not, this was Sammy’s biggest solo hit. Here is the rather odd official video for the song. I say odd because for the first minute or so we never see Sammy’s face. Until we saw he was actually singing I thought that was a choice to hide how they were playing the album track over live video to make it sound better. But Sammy was a decent singer and turns out the audio is the live track.

For some extra fun, here is Sammy performing the song with Daryl Hall on the Live From Daryl’s House series.

« Older posts

© 2023 D's Notebook

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑