Month: April 2022 (Page 1 of 2)

Friday Playlist

“Roman Holiday” – Fontaines D.C.
FDC’s new album dropped last week, to critical acclaim. It is a little too one-note for me, so no surprise that this track is the one that stuck out to me, as it is the only one that varies (slightly) from the rest of the album’s sound.

“Wonderment” – Chastity Brown
Hey, it’s Adele music for people who like good music! I kid, I kid! Adele is just fine, if a bit to adult contemporary for me. I didn’t realize the similar qualities in Brown’s and Adele’s voices until CB released this new single last week. If Adele sang over music like this I might like her more.

“Pressure Cooker” – Dazy, Militarie Gun
Tom Breihan is my current, favorite music writer. Here’s what he wrote about this song for Stereogum:

“You know that feeling when you hear a song for the first time and you know, right away, that you’re about to utterly run it into the ground? This song is a fucking banger.”

Yep, can confirm.

“Brighter Than the Sun” – Boy With Apple
Maybe the sun will come out, and stay out, here someday.

“Caught By The River” – Doves
Facebook told me this morning that Doves released The Last Broadcast, their most successful album, 20 years ago today. See, once every six months or so FB will provide some interesting and useful information! The Last Broadcast hit exactly in the sweet spot of what I was into during the file sharing era. It pulled from the ’90s but also carved out its own sound. It informed a lot of what I listened to in the iTunes era that was soon to come. It is one of those albums that has always stuck with me because, while not revolutionary, it still felt different and exciting when I discovered it. I first heard Doves in the summer of 2001 via the Music Choice cable music channels and their 2000 single “Catch the Sun,” but this was the album that made me a Doves fan for life.

“Hole In The Ice” – Neil Finn & Friends
We also just passed the anniversary of the first 7 Worlds Collide concert, my #1, “If I Could Go Back in Time and Attend Any Concert” show.

Weekend Notes: Prom and Sports


We survived our first prom weekend with pretty much zero drama.

Well, I should say prom night was pretty easy, but there was plenty of drama leading up to it. M found a dress quickly and easily, got it altered well ahead of time, and had most of the basics squared away several weeks ago.

But the planning for prom night itself was a little tense. That’s only because the plan was constantly evolving and those changes were often presented to us as “Here’s what we are doing now,” instead of “Is it ok if I do this?” M’s choice in how she opened these conversations caused most of the tension. But teenagers are gonna teenage, I guess.

She was in a group of nine couples, eight of which were just partnered up for the night. She was going with a kid we had heard of before, but they were not/are not dating. We met him for the first time at the pre-prom gathering and he seemed like a good kid. S and I were laughing at how comfortable he seemed in the whole situation, intent on having fun, where a couple of the other dudes looked exceptionally uncomfortable in their formal attire and perhaps feeling stress about the night in general. One of M’s best friend’s dates looked like he might puke from nervousness.

One of the families hosted a big gathering for kids and parents, complete with a professional photographer, a chartered bus, and a big dinner for all. It was awfully nice of them to do that, and I appreciate families that have this in their DNA.

Pictures went well, the kids ate, got on a bus for the dance, and we took off to watch L play basketball.

One other element of the pre-prom gathering that was fun was that a former local/regional celebrity was in attendance with her daughter. I won’t identify this person, other than to say she used to appear on TV commercials across the midwest hawking hot tubs, pools, spas, and outdoor furniture, among other things.

I told a few friends that this person was at the gathering, and they insisted that I get a picture. Which was a little awkward because for much of the evening I was standing 10–15 feet from her in the kitchen/dining area. Her husband is also a lot bigger than me and I didn’t want a confrontation if he saw me trying to take surreptitious pictures of his wife. If S had a few drinks in her she might have made it happen. But we were both sober and not pushing any boundaries. Which is kind of a bummer.

I must say, whoever does the plastics work for her family does very good work, for both mom and daughters (chef’s kiss GIF).

We gave M more freedom than she’s ever had, but still limited her compared to several of her friends in what her after-prom activities would be. There was a series of three parties that we knew of. We gave her permission to go to one and then S would pick her and a couple friends up sometime between 1:30–2:00. We know some of the other kids were bouncing around parties, which seemed like a terrible idea, even if parents were driving (and we weren’t sure parents were driving).

M and her crew got to our house at about 2:30. They didn’t sleep super late before heading out for breakfast, then she went to a pool party with a bunch of other prom kids Sunday afternoon. She crashed around dinner time for a bit, but I could still hear her FaceTiming with friends when I went to bed.

She seemed to have a great time and was pleased with how everything went. That set a pretty high bar for future prom nights in this house.

LB Hoops

As I said, we ducked out of the parent portion of the pre-prom party (holy P’s!) to watch L play ball.

We missed the first game of the day, which her team won by 36 and she scored 8. We got there just in time to watch game two, against a team from Evansville with a couple tall girls, one of whom was probably the best player they’ve faced all year. She could score from anywhere, handle the ball, and got any rebound she could get her hands to. She was a load.

We were down by as many as 10 midway through the second half but our girls worked incredibly hard and only lost by 3. The players and parents all left thinking that was a great step for the team, playing against a bigger and better team and staying in it until the final horn. L scored seven, including two long jumpers from the left wing that helped kick off their second-half run.

We got home at about 10:00 Saturday night and had to be back in the gym at 8:30 for a 9:05 game Sunday morning. AAU life!

Game one was against another team with size, but these girls were kind of trash. Yet they uglied-up the game and made our girls afraid to shoot inside. We were up 14–10 at halftime after they banked in two 3-pointers late in the half.

I’m not sure what our coaches told our girls at half, but they played like KU against Miami in the second half of their game. The final was 36–15. We just ran them off the court. It was fun to watch. L scored four.

On to the semis, where we faced the team we lost to Saturday again. The seeding in these tournaments is dumb. The tiebreaker is points allowed. So another team that played two mediocre teams Saturday and went 1–1 got the two seed because they gave up 44 total points, where our girls, who played the best team in the tournament and thus gave up more points, was seeded third. Strangely the first place team gave up 30 more points than the second place team.

Our girls flipped the script a little Sunday. They led from the beginning. It was never a big lead – constantly bouncing from tied to +4, but it always felt like we had the Evansville girls on the back foot. We hit a 3 with about four minutes left to go up four.

And then things kind of fell apart. Not that we got blown out or anything. Just that we made a ton of bad passes and errors both unforced and forced. We missed some easy shots. We let them get multiple offensive rebounds. We took two absolutely terrible shots that didn’t need to be taken. And we just kept missing free throws, going 2–14 for the game.

We lost the lead, tied it, got the lead back, lost it again. In the end we lost by two. Unlike Saturday the girls were really down about this one, because they knew they let it slip away. But that’s a good coaching point and area for improvement. The Evansville team won the championship game 49–11; our girls were the only group that challenged them all weekend.

L struggled scoring in the semifinal, going 0–2 from the line and 0-fer from the field. She missed a tough, contested layup on a run-out late, and then had another layup where she did everything right – was in the perfect spot on the play, made the perfect cut, went hard to the rim, jumped at the correct time off the correct foot, put the ball up off the glass – and it just rimmed out. She was super frustrated after the game. But she battled when she was in there, getting a couple big rebounds and playing solid D. It just wasn’t her team’s day.

Other Kid Sports

M finally played her first tennis match of the year Friday. She got moved up to JV #1 doubles somehow. And she actually did ok, which was surprising since she refused to take any lessons over the past year. They lost 6–2 but every game competitive unlike many of her matches last year.[1] I wouldn’t say she’s made leaps, but she gets her serve in most of the time and can hit the ball halfway decently on returns. Good enough to win a few points in JV, even against a better team.

Because of prom a lot of girls were unavailable for Saturday’s match, so M was given a chance to move up to varsity for #2 doubles. But since junior class officers had to do prom setup, she had to decline. That was a nice ego boost, though.

The varsity team had a great week, winning three matches, including two over ranked teams. I don’t think they were ranked last week but should be this week.

C has run in two track meets after having two rained out. She’s run the 100 and 200 both times. Her times are faster than her CYO times, but there are A LOT of fast girls in high school, even in three-team meets. She’s generally run a later heat and been pretty far back in the overall standings.

I think she’s a little frustrated by that. Still, she enjoys being on the team and is always in a better mood on the days she has practice compared to the days she just comes home and takes a nap after school.

I must say, I would be happy if we could have a track meet when it wasn’t 52 and windy. Those were the approximate conditions for both of her meets so far. The 200 usually doesn’t get run until 7:30 or so, at which point it gets pretty nippy.

  1. There were 26 matches, so everyone played a single set of no AD tennis. TWENTY-SIX!!! Good on the coaches for making sure everyone gets a chance to play.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“More Than Love” – Hand Habits
Meg Duffy spent the lockdown huddled in a home with fellow artist Sasami and engineer Kyle Thomas. Duffy said the time spent with them gave her the courage to write the songs for her latest album. I’ve given it a listen and this is, by far, the standout track from it.

“Dignitary Life” – Twen
This duo has a lot of early 2000s DNA in their music.

“Sidelines” – Phoebe Bridgers
Bridgers can do no wrong.

“April Skies” – The Jesus and Mary Chain
We finally have some April skies! (For three days, before it gets cold again.)

“Prom Queen” – Beach Bunny
M’s prom is tomorrow. Not sure this song really applies to her situation, but it seemed appropriate for the occasion.

“Piece of Pie” – Stone Temple Pilots
I heard an old STP song earlier this week and decided to listen to their first two albums one day at the gym. They were never the best nor my favorite of the big ’90s grunge bands, but those albums both hold up pretty damn well. This was always one of my favorite deeper cuts off of Core.

“My Secret (Didja Gitit Yet?)” – New Edition
Listening to NE for this week’s Reaching for the Stars entry, I was reminded of this song and its video. For teenage dorks, this was an amazing video! It brought in the NBA angle, which was just starting to explode as a cool sport. For those of us who fell on the Magic/Lakers side of the great ’80s NBA rivalry, it was AMAZING to see a group from Boston apparently take the side of their biggest rivals. Guarantee I thought their Theo Huxtable-approved outfits were the coolest thing ever, too.

Sports Notes

Thanks to the NCAA tournament, spring break, and general laziness, I’m behind on a couple sports stories. When a huge one broke Wednesday night, that jogged my memory that I should probably get to them.

Jayhawk Talk

Hey, did you know the Kansas Jayhawks won the national championship two weeks ago? It was pretty cool!

We’ve had a steady run of packages dropped off with national title gear over the pat week. I accidentally ordered C a youth small instead of an adult small of the shirt she picked, so one of the nephews is getting a Jayhawk tee. M has already desecrated her title gear; her prom group decided to dress in college stuff for their afterparty. In her poorly chosen words, “All the good schools were taken,” so she volunteered her and her date to wear KU stuff. She cropped the shirt I bought her so it’s “cute,” I guess. Whatever. It says national champions on it. It’s dope.

I’ve been surprised how quiet the roster chatter has been. I assumed there would be a week to ten days of hangover and recovery, and then we’d begin hearing about changes for next year. I’m assuming everyone is waiting to see what Christian Braun and Jalen Wilson do before they make any moves.

All winter I said I expected KU to lose three players. That includes early departures and transfers. I’m not sure how much winning a title changes the math for players.

KU does seem to be in on several players who have entered the transfer portal, so that tells me Bill Self expects to lose a few players. Or have a signed recruit decide to chase G-League/Aussie money instead of spending a year in Lawrence.

The deadline for entering the transfer portal is about ten days away. I would expect we’ll hear about CB and Jalen early next week and things will begin shaking out after that.

NLI/Transfer Portal

I was going to include some thoughts about how the ability for players to get paid for their name, image, likeness use and the freedom to transfer. But as I thought more about those, I realized they are better suited for a longer, dedicated post. Look for that next week.

Jay Wright Retires

Holy shit!!! I did not see this coming and never heard any rumors that it was an option.

My first thought is that I hope all is right with Jay Wright’s health and those close to him. Sixty seems early to retire, especially when you are still at the top of your game, so the natural assumption is that something is wrong and forced his decision.

Since his announcement, there have been plenty of rumors that he doesn’t want to coach with NLI hitting. I think that’s going to be the convenient excuse for every coach who hangs it up. That’s what most people think drove Roy Williams and Coach K from the game.

Crazy to lose those three coaches, who won 10 combined titles, in 13 months.

Big props to Wright for his career. He broke my Jayhawk heart a few times, but he always seemed like such a good guy that I couldn’t ever hate him. I didn’t love watching his teams or their style, but I always admired how committed he was to getting them to play that way, and how effective it was. Bonus props for walking away while he’s still young enough to go enjoy life and spend some of that money he’s made.

Carson and Matt

The Colts got a new quarterback about a month ago. And somehow managed to get more for shipping Carson Wentz to Washington than they gave up for getting Matt Ryan from Atlanta.

I’m big thumbs up on getting rid of Wentz. I hated trading for him in the first place and was never confident he was the right answer. Given the not-so-subtle comments from his ex-teammates and the Colts’ front office, no one shed a tear when he was traded away. Good riddance.

I’m qualified thumbs up on Matt Ryan. I think he’ll be a solid, dependable solution at QB for a couple years, provided his body holds up. As far as I know he’s neither a prick like Phillip Rivers or a locker room cancer and disaster on the field like Wentz. So that’s a bonus.

The Colts’ emphasis this off-season has been strengthening the defense. I suppose the thought is you build a beast on that side of the ball then ride Jonathan Taylor and a boring-if-efficient passing game to win in an old-school manner. Ryan is the perfect guy for that strategy.

It is interesting how quickly things change in the NFL, though. Two years ago the Colts had the best offensive line in football. Between injuries, some regression, a retirement, and a bad free agent signing, it has fallen back into the pack. You just can’t plan for any part of your team that relies on multiple players to be elite for more than a couple years anymore.

That makes Tom Brady’s and Aaron Rodgers’ careers even more impressive. And obviously, potentially, Patrick Mahomes’.


The Pacers narrowly missed out on having two lottery picks this year when Cleveland lost their play-in game. That said, I don’t feel like lottery picks are as valuable as they used to be. Aside from the occasional, can’t-miss prospect, drafting high in the NBA these days is often about finding the right pieces that develop into rotation players as quickly as possible instead of finding stars. Sure, you hope every pick turns into a star, but you’re content if they turn into players who demand minutes and produce results. Looking at this year’s draft lists, I’m not sure I see a single player that makes me think, “Oh yeah, you build a franchise around that dude.”

It should still be an eventful offseason for the Pacers. Kevin Pritchard has to decide whether to continue tearing down the roster or just find pieces that fit in with the roster that closed the season.

The experts keep saying that Myles Turner could bring back a lot. He has great value on defense when he’s able to stay on the court. But he is so up-and-down on offense and so often injured, I think it might be best to trade him now, perhaps a moment past his peak value but when it it still pretty high.

I believe Malcolm Brodgon is a bad fit to the current Pacers roster and could probably return some value.

I doubt either of those players bring back All Stars. So it seems like the Pacers, again, have a ceiling of being a nice team but never a great one. Although no one really thought Paul George was a franchise player when the Pacers drafted him, and he nearly got them past LeBron twice.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 71

Chart Week: April 19, 1986
Song: “A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes)” – New Edition
Chart Position: #38, 8th week on the chart. Peaked at #38 for two weeks.

Every teen pop group faces a dilemma as they get older: how do they maintain their audience as they, their fans, and their music matures?

New Edition was bumping into that issue when they recorded their third album, All For Love. The Boston group was the archetype for how an ‘80s Boy Band should operate, and much of the group was fine with sticking with that formula. But Bobby Brown chaffed at the idea of continuing on that path. He wanted to explore more adult themes. He believed he should be the featured singer on more tracks. And he thought the band should shed their clean-cut image. That tension boiled over in late 1985, as the band toured All For Love, when Brown was fired after continually disrupting their performances.

That split was painful but worked out fine for all. Brown became one of the biggest stars in pop music on his second solo album, 1988’s Don’t Be Cruel. And New Edition made one of the greatest R&B albums of all-time after adding Johnny Gill.[1]

I was thinking less about the band’s arc and more about how my peer group was changing in 1986 when I heard this song last weekend.

The changes among my friends had become apparent a few months earlier, in the first week of ninth grade. Our English class got an assignment to write and present an essay about something that we loved. I will never forget when the biggest guy in our grade, who always wore black and was super into heavy metal, stood up and shared his passionate work about the history of English New Wavers Duran Duran. Or rather I remember all the guys in class staring at each other with jaws agape, the 1985 version of “WTF???”

Turns out homie got a girlfriend over the summer. She was into Duran Duran. So, to paraphrase Jules Winfield, turns out he was into Duran Duran, too. Like crazy into them. This was a dude who, three months earlier, was the go-to if you had questions about any heavy metal artist, no matter how obscure. Yet here he was carrying on about a bunch of Brits who wore makeup and linen suits and played updated disco music.[2]

In the spring of 1986 I ran into this phenomenon again, although in a less striking way.

A different classmate started talking up the latest New Edition album. This seemed strange to me, as anytime I would go to his house, we always got into his older brother’s album collection, playing AC/DC, Queen, Triumph, Rush, Kiss, and other loud rock bands. I couldn’t remember any R&B or soul ever being played in his house, or of him expressing interest in such acts. Something had changed.

Turns out, again, it was a girl. He was hanging out with some cutie who liked New Edition. He knew I listened to more “Black” music than anyone else in our friend group, so started telling me how good the album was. He especially loved “School,” NE’s goofy, rapped, stay-in-school anthem. I guarantee his older brother thought any kind of rap was the lowest form of music and probably would have kicked his ass if he knew his little brother was listening to it. This kid was blowing my mind!

Right around this time “A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes)” was getting a fair amount of airplay. I know I had it on my running mix tape at some point that spring.[3] When my mom’s April Columbia House catalog came, I was thrilled to see All For Love listed. I had her order the cassette, and soon it was my daily, after-school soundtrack.

Anyway, things were changing, as they do with teenagers. New Edition and Bobby Brown were on their way to adult stardom. A couple of my friends had their first girlfriends. And I had a building block for my late ‘80s/early ‘90s Modern Black Music obsession. Plus fuel for a blog post 36 years later.

While much of All For Love is the standard, cotton candy pop that made NE famous, you can hear the stirrings of where they were headed in this song. It is slightly more mature in that it’s universal rather than clearly about some crush in your homeroom class. The harmonies on the chorus are really good. While Ralph Tresvant’s voice never got super deep, it does has more depth to it here than on songs like “Candy Girl” and “Cool It Now.” The production, though, is still pretty cheesy, certainly no where near the immaculate sound Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis crafted for Heart Break. While it doesn’t reach the highs the classics from Heart Break did, “A Little Bit of Love (Is All It Takes)” does seem like the link between the first phase and second phases of New Edition’s career. 7/10

  1. Coincidentally Don’t Be Cruel and Heart Break were released on the same day: June 20, 1988.  ↩
  2. I dug Duran Duran, so not knocking them.  ↩
  3. There’s probably a better term for those, but I’m talking about the tapes full of random songs recorded off the radio every kid of the ‘80s had. I generally kept a blank cassette in my stereo with the Record and Pause buttons engaged, waiting for favorite songs to come on so I could add them to my current mix. Complete with late fade-ins/outs, random DJ chatter, and the occasional splash of a commercial from hitting Pause a second too early or too late. I wish I still had some of those. They would give great insight into why I am the way I am.  ↩

Reader’s Notebook, 4/19/22

I’ve been on a good reading stretch lately. Here are some blurbs.

The Mercenary – Paul Vidich
Vidich gets a lot of critical acclaim for his espionage novels. I wasn’t crazy about his first book I read, The Good Assassin. It was so noir-y that I felt no warmth towards or connection with any of the characters. Despite that, I decided to give this one a shot.

Taking place late in the Soviet era, just before Mikhail Gorbachev took over and began opening the country up, it focuses on the attempts by the CIA to exfiltrate a KGB contact, something they had never successfully done. To facilitate this, they bring in a retired agent who had defected from the Soviet Union, Alex Garin. Garin’s return to the USSR is rife with issues beyond his not-so-simple task of hustling a high-level KGB officer across the border, creating an ultra-tense setting for his mission.

This hews a little closer to standard spy fare. But there were still elements of the story I did not like. I think my experiments with Vidich’s oeuvre are complete.

The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music – Dave Grohl
I’ve had several people tell me I should read this. One friend even gave me a link to his copy of the audiobook. But I don’t do audiobooks so I bought the Kindle edition to read over spring break after the news that Taylor Hawkins had passed.

I’m not a huge Foo Fighters fan – I like them but don’t love them – but this was a fun book that I raced through. Grohl brushes over a lot of big moments and leaves out a few minor stories I was particularly interested in. I would, for example, have loved a few paragraphs on the brief period when he drummed for Pearl Jam when then PJ drummer Jack Irons was unable to.

The book doesn’t change anything I thought about Grohl before I read it. He still seems like a very decent and (mostly) unaffected dude. Through immense effort, some luck, and some tragedy he went from being an underage drummer in an obscure punk band to one of the biggest names in rock. And unlike a lot of famous folks, it doesn’t seem like he shit on too many people along the way.

The Backyard Adventurer – Beau Miles
My favorite YouTube adventurer wrote a book! This provides a lot more backstory on how Miles got to be how he is, how he comes up with his various projects, and then background beyond the content of his videos. It was interesting and entertaining, but unfortunately he writes exactly how he speaks, and I think that style translates better to audio than text. Still glad I was able to support his habits in some small way.

The Trees – Percival Everett
This is one of the more amazing books I’ve read recently. It is outrageously funny. It is infuriating. It feels awfully close to the truth of how our country continues to marginalize people of color.

A series of bizarre murders take place in rural Mississippi. Two Black Mississippi Bureau of Investigation agents are sent in to take over for the local, white police. Soon a Black, female FBI agent joins them.

What starts out as a funny-yet-incisive story eventually gets pushed hard, hard, hard into the ridiculous. But that was Everett’s point, I think, to show the ridiculousness of our history race relations in this country.

There was one little sub-point that I loved. When a large FBI task force is put together, an ancient agent is brought in because he was the only active agent who had ever witnessed a lynching. After running through the agent’s history, and litany of problematic beliefs and statements, Everett writes that Clint Eastwood was working on a film about this agent’s life.

I HOWLED at that section.

How Civil Wars Start And How to Stop Them – Barbara F. Walter
Obviously a light-hearted, uplifting read.

Walter dives into the political science behind how most modern civil wars have begun. Sadly, by many measures, the United States is dangerously close to reaching the thresholds that countries like Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia hit when they descended into civil wars. The good news is our various constitutional guard rails have held steady. For now.

Weekend Notes

Sometimes the Midwest really sucks.

We had a decent Easter weekend, weather-wise. Not perfect – if it was 5–10 degrees warmer it would have been ideal – but at least it was warm enough to do little kid activities outside.

Then this morning it was snowing when I woke up. And it’s going to be 80 by Friday.


We had our family Easter celebration on Saturday. Just about all the locals were there, including all the nephews under six. The girls had fun hiding eggs for them then helping the youngest ones find them. With five boys in that group, it always gets a little chaotic, but they were generally well behaved. As were our girls.

Luckily we had a brunch-time gathering, as L had two basketball games later in the day. They won game one by 12 or 13 but they made us nervous. After leading 8–0, they gave up a big run late in the first half and trailed 15–14. A little five-point run gave us the lead back before half and then we cruised in the second half.

L looked like she hadn’t played a competitive game in a month. Which, to be fair, was the case. She made some terrible passes, rushed shots, and went 0–4 from the line. One play summed up her game. She missed a free throw, battled her ass off to get the rebound – tipping it twice in traffic before grabbing it in the corner – then dribbled in for a wide-open layup before she panicked and traveled when she got stuck between shooting and passing to a cutting teammate. After the game I asked her what happened and she said she was so wide open that she wondered if the ref had blown the whistle and the play was dead so she just stopped.

She also got absolutely trucked by a girl when she was leading a break. They both went flying and parents in the crowd let out gasps. They both popped right up and L was laughing, although he had a big bruise Sunday. On our way out of the gym I heard that girl’s dad saying, “You about put that girl in the hospital!”

They had three hours off until game two, so it was nice that they were playing just 20 minutes from home. They trounced this poor team, winning by 40. L played much better, scoring eight while going 2–3 from the line. She was most proud of getting fouled on the break, making the basket, then converting the free throw. “I got an and-one!” was the first thing she told her sisters when we got home. Not sure they know what an and-one is…

Even though this was not a tournament, they still got medals. Which caused come grumbling from the parents. One dad said to me, sarcastically, “I guess everyone gets trophies now?”

“That orange team doesn’t,” was my response, referring to the team we just destroyed.

Harsh, but fair.

With Sunday open we got some cleaning down around the house. We planned on power washing all the outdoor stuff that needs power washed but our damn power washer wouldn’t start. We hauled out some of the porch furniture. It was cooler Sunday but it still felt like pool season was close.

The girls are all off today – Easter Monday is a Catholic school holiday – so there are some doctor appointments; maybe the first kickball game of the year if the parking lot dries off; practices for track, tennis, and basketball; and M is hanging out with the girls in her prom group getting ideas for how to do their makeup this weekend.

(Good) Friday Playlist

I promised an extra-thick playlist last week. To be honest, I really didn’t deliver. Since it’s a holiday weekend, I’ll recommit myself to dropping a heaping helping of high quality tunes on your ears.

“Don’t Turn Around” – Crystal Eyes
I know it’s dumb when I say things like “This band sounds like they are/are not from this place.” Because unless a band exclusively plays instruments that are native to their homes, all groups share some level of DNA. Still, I would not have guessed this band was from Canada. Then again, I don’t know where I would have placed them, as they aren’t really European or American. Which I guess makes them pretty Canadian, right? Anyway, dig the combination of sounds here.

“Tears of Joy” – Peace Ritual
“Throw It All Away” – The Clockworks
Do The Kids still call songs bangers? If so, I think both of these bang.

“Fear of Art” – THUMPER
Another banger, but I need to bring attention to the lead singer’s name: Oisín Leahy Furlong. Irish names rule.

“Still Life” – Carson McHone
The second extremely tasty track off of McHone’s Still Life album.

“Sure Shot” – Beastie Boys
I’ve been watching season two of Patriot this week. This is that season’s theme song. I’m thankful that Amazon’s “Skip Intro” button doesn’t work most of the time because then I get to listen to this again.

“The Electric Co.” – U2
We’re getting nutty! We had power issues for about 14 hours Thursday thanks to storms that blew through. Our electric company spent a few hours both fixing the issue then wiping out a whole area of vines and limbs that threatened the line that leads to our house. So props to them!

“Good Friday” – Cowboy Junkies
A very good Friday to you all. Not sure if the story Margo Timmons sings here matches up exactly with what our girls have learned in Catholic school.

“Easter – Acoustic” – Strand of Oaks
This was in my Spotify Release Radar playlist this morning, and also seems appropriate for the weekend.

“What’s Done Is Done” – Delta Spirit
Before he achieved some level of fame, lead singer Matthew Logan Vasquez worked in a facility that helped adults with disabilities transition into more independent lives. To honor World Down Syndrome Day last month, the band released this video for the first song off their upcoming album. It’s a really well-done and very sweet mini movie. Oh, and the song is an absolute banger.

D’s Links

I thinned out my Instapaper queue quite a bit over spring break. Which means I’m way past due in sharing some of my favorites (along with a few I’ve added in the past week).

First, a couple pieces about the situation in Ukraine. As with any fast-moving current event, these are already a little out-of-date. I think they are still compelling reads.

20 Days in Mariupol: The Team That Documented City’s Agony
The Last Cell Tower in Mariupol

There is a greater-than-zero chance that the war in Ukraine could lead us down a path that we haven’t had to consider in over 30 years: the use of nuclear weapons.

Here is a story I’ve never heard before from the Cuban Missile Crisis, and how the Soviet’s plan to send a probe to Mars was temporarily sidetracked so a missile aimed at New York City could be put on alert.

“I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents,” Kirillov told Chertok confidentially. “According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command.”

That time when Soviet rocket scientists nearly nuked New York City

Two summers ago, during a Reds-Royals game in Kansas City, Reds broadcaster Thom Brennaman uttered a gay slur that viewers heard. I missed that, but about an hour later I heard his bizarre apology and exit from the broadcast (bizarre because he called a Nick Castellanos home run in the midst of his apology, a moment that launched a million memes).

This article, from Out Sports, examines the path that Brennaman has taken since then and the debate, within both the broadcast and gay communities, on whether Brennaman deserves another chance on air.

With all that, Brennaman knows that mostly straight male decision-makers may never give him an opportunity to work in major sports broadcasting again. He says he hasn’t engaged in all of this work to prove himself to them.

Instead, he’s done it to undo the harm he now realizes he caused the LGBTQ community with his language that fateful night.

Who is the real Thom Brennaman, and does he deserve a second chance?

This is a fascinating look at the world of MBS, Mohammed Bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia and man most believe responsible for the death of Saudi-American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It’s one of the best pieces of international affairs writing I’ve read in some time.

Absolute Power

I don’t know that this song necessarily “defined the ‘80s,” but it was pretty damn big. And I didn’t realize how much it has stuck around. A terrific read about a Gen X classic.

‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ Defined the 1980s. And Then It Wouldn’t Let Go

The Crocodile Hunter debuted 25 years ago this year. That seems crazy. An oral history of its development and early days.

Photography and Camera Operator, Steve Elkins The Crocodile Hunter:John [Stainton] was coming to visit L.A. and said, “Would you mind looking at this video? There’s this crazy guy in Australia who goes out and captures crocodiles and relocates them.

Crikey! The wet, wild first season of The Crocodile Hunter

Finally, my wife found this to be very funny.

QUIZ: Is He Cute or Is He Just Tall and White?

2 – Your friends would probably describe him as:
a.) Charming, interesting, and funny
b.) Good at reaching the good cereal on the top shelf in your kitchen

Weekend Notes

That was a weird weekend. No big sports of any kind. No basketball or football on the TV for the first time since Labor Day. No kid sports.

Sure, I watched some of the Master’s, but we were often busy during the peak watch times so I wasn’t able to give it a ton of attention. Plus it wasn’t a super interesting tournament this year, so when I did sit down to watch, I did not feel compelled to remain seated for hours.

Baseball has begun, but I’m in one of my baseball moods right now and not ready to dive back in. Out of protest at the owners’ bad faith during their lockout of the players, I cancelled my MLB.TV subscription rather than let it renew annually as I’ve done for at least a decade. A few days later MLB automatically put all accounts on hold pending a resolution to the labor conflict. But I still felt like I got one over on them, withholding my $120 on my terms.

I have yet to go back and re-up.

A big piece of that is the dishonesty and unfairness that the owners built their entire lock-out argument on. They wanted to prevent the players from taking their fair share of the revenue pie in a moment when said revenues are skyrocketing.

And as soon as an agreement was made, MLB started trotting out all these new ways that baseball will be broadcast. Each of which is a new revenue stream for owners but which also makes it harder for fans to see their favorite teams. National broadcasts that wipe out local broadcasts and require a subscription of some kind to see. Added to a refusal to adjust the existing, ridiculous MLB blackout rules, these are just another example of how hostile to fans ownership and the MLB office are. Throw in that it’s damn near impossible for a family with more than a couple kids to take the entire household to an MLB game without dropping $500+ and I can’t help but be soured on how the game is run and where it’s headed.

My little protest won’t mean a thing to any organization’s nor MLB’s bottom lines. But it’s hard to get interested in a game that really doesn’t seem interested in the fans in any way other than finding more ways to get money out of us.

Of course, if the Royals are playing well in a month I may cave and start watching again.

We did have one big family event on the calendar this weekend: M got inducted into the National Honor Society. The ceremony was Sunday afternoon and we drug her sisters along with us. They were thrilled. We told them we expected to do this again in two and four years for each of them, so no pressure.

That was the first moment in a big month for M. Prom is two weeks away. She has a dress, a date (a friend, they are going with a large group), and as a class officer is responsible for setting things up the morning of the dance. We’ve also told her to get serious about what colleges she wants to visit so we can start making plans to get on those campuses between now and September.

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