Month: August 2022 (Page 1 of 2)

Weekend Notes

Kind of a weird weekend, or at least it got off to a weird start.

L threw up all night Thursday and into Friday morning. I heard her throwing up again around 6:45 and went running into her room only to discover it was M across the hall throwing up in her bathroom.

Just like old times! At least they are old enough now not to puke in their beds.

Both girls stayed home from school, L feeling like crap all day. M threw up one more time around 11:00 but then acted like she made a miraculous recovery and started bugging me about going to the CHS football game that evening. I kept saying no, she would pout and ask again, so I finally told her to leave me alone and ask her mom. Not sure what was involved in that text exchange but she was out the door as soon as I left to pick C up. More on that later…

C had three friends come over after school and I drove them out to the far westside for the big #2 CHS vs #3 Brownsburg matchup. BHS jumped all over Cathedral early, getting up 21–0 thanks to a blocked punt, an Irish fumble, and two long drives. CHS ended the first half and opened the second half with long touchdown passes to cut it to 21–14. But they immediately gave up a 78 yard TD pass and only a late TD made it a respectable 42–35 loss. I’m not sure when the last time CHS was behind by 21 points. It’s been at least three years. It’s the first time they’ve lost to someone other than two time defending 6A champs Center Grove since November 2019.

It was a thoroughly respectable loss. BHS is a really good team.[1] But CHS looked kind of bad. They lost their entire offensive line and nine starters on defense from last year’s team. That shows. The o-line can’t protect their stud QB, who was running for his life all night and got hurt late, or open holes for the running game. The d-line can’t get pressure, which was a problem against a good team like BHS. Their best defensive player, who committed to Purdue on Sunday, was getting double and triple teamed all night because none of the other linemen could do anything. There’s a lot of work to do if the Irish want to have any chance of competing this November. Especially in class 6A.

Something new for me: watching a game when one of my daughters is dating a kid on the team. M’s boyfriend starts, although he’s on and off the field quite a bit. I’m honestly not sure what his position is. He’s usually lined up across from a receiver, but sometimes he’s inside, sometimes he’s outside, and sometimes he’s positioned more like linebacker. Anyway, each defensive play I was checking if he was on the field and where he was at. I kept shuddering because for some reason he – a 5’8”-ish kid – kept getting matched up with BHS’ 6’2”+ receiver. Why they never threw at him I don’t know. Thankfully G was not in coverage when the kid got loose for that 78 yard TD. G made a few tackles but it was not a great night for the defense, so I’m sure he was upset with their effort.

As for my oldest daughter…at halftime I walked down to talk to some friends. I noticed an ambulance with the lights on near the other end of the visiting stands. A few minutes later C called me. Which was weird. My girls never call me, they always text.

When I answered she said M had passed out and was getting checked out by the paramedics. She passed her phone to M who said “Hi! I’m fine!” She claims she just got hot in the super crowded CHS student section and felt like she was going to pass out, so her friends ran over to get the paramedics. They checked her blood pressure, pulse/ox, and blood sugar. Everything was normal but they asked her if she wanted to go to hospital. She declined, signed a form, and watched the rest of the game without incident.

While I’m sure the heat and crowd contributed, I bet throwing up twice and not eating or drinking much all day didn’t help.

It could be worse: some of her best friends (who were not at the game) tested positive for Covid over the weekend. Although who knows, she could be next…

Fortunately the rest of us avoided the stomach bug. Not sure how just those two got it, and how it wiped L out for like 48 hours while M was back to normal pretty quickly.

That meant the L couldn’t play in her travel team game on Saturday. Sounds like she missed a doozy. Her team lost by three in double overtime. Our best player fouled out with 1:00 left in overtime. According to the texts I got, she wasn’t anywhere near the play but the ref gave her the foul. Apparently her grandfather nearly got kicked out of the gym afterward. Now I’m glad I missed it!

L was well enough to go to the required tryout for next year’s team on Sunday. She said she felt sluggish and didn’t play well. I got there in the final minutes of the scrimmage and I saw her blow by a girl, score, and get fouled, so that looked good.

  1. They have a former quarterback at the University of Kansas, so you know they’re legit.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Easy On Your Own?” – Alvvays
Alvvays went eight years between albums number one and two. So a five-year wait for album number three doesn’t seem so bad!

“Desert Snow” – Local Natives
With the heat coming back after to Indiana after two very pleasant weeks, thoughts of snow are welcome.

“Burning” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

“River Mountain Love” – Truck Stop Love
A couple weeks back Spotify spit out an alternate version of this terrific mid-90s track by the best thing to ever come out of Manhattan, KS. I assume I had liked it because the original wasn’t available the last time I had looked. But I checked again and – thank you Music Gods! – the OG is now in the streaming catalog. Good stuff.

“Clampdown” – The Clash
“Bhindi Bhagee” – Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros
Last Sunday would have been Joe Strummer’s 70th birthday. Just another reminder that we lost him far too early. Here is his best song with The Clash and one of my favorites of his post-Clash career.

“Long Shadow” – Eddie Vedder covering Joe Strummer
In honor of that date, Eddie Vedder released this cover of Strummer’s “Long Shadow.” Strummer wrote this for Johnny Cash, although he never recorded it (the two recorded a cover of “Redemption Song” for Strummer’s final album). RIP, Joe.

Reader’s Notebook, 8/25/22

After finishing nine books in July I didn’t finish my first August book until the 15th. And then I finished two more books in just over a week. I think I’m doing just fine.

After the Fall – Ben Rhodes
The latest book by former Obama staffer Rhodes, this one is about the current state of the world, how we got here, and where we could be headed. It’s not an uplifting book, nor one that will give you reason to be hopeful that things are going to get better.

Rhodes uses the examples of Hungary, Russia, China, and then the US to show how right wing, nationalistic, authoritarianism has begun to replace traditional liberal democracy across the world. He argues that this wave is largely the result of four major events and how the US reacted to each one: the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the 9/11/01 attacks, the 2007 economic meltdown, and the election of Obama in November 2008.

The fall of the Wall left the US as the sole remaining superpower. We acted as though because we had “won” the Cold War, everyone would get on the same page as us and the world would turn into one big, happy family all with the same ideals, systems of government, and goals. That created resentment most notably in Russia, and led to the rise of Putin. The Sept 11 attacks began our epic of Forever Wars that cost the US any moral high ground when other countries made advances on independent nations. The 2007 financial crisis spooked the entire world, and gave credibility to those who thought the American economic model was flawed and hopelessly unfair. Finally, the election of Obama galvanized the far right in the US, moving them from the fringe to control of the Republican Party, upsetting the decades-old balance of power in America, and leading us both to the election of our disgraced former president and the emergence of white, christian nationalism as the primary ideology of the American right.


I’m sure any conservatives that are able to read this with even half an open mind will dismiss Rhodes’ arguments quickly. They will probably call him an American-hating liberal and move on.

However, even if you disagree with his conclusions I think there’s a very important point within his arguments: all political decisions, regardless of who makes them, come with long-term consequences that often get ignored because of short-term political benefits. It is difficult for elected officials to think beyond the next election when forming policy, let alone 10–15–20 years down the road. Presidents Bush and Clinton weren’t thinking about how Boris Yeltsin’s corruption would unleash a system of oligarchs, create a wildly unfair new economy, and give a large swath of the Russian population the impression that the US was gloating about our Cold War win rather than guiding them into the world of liberal democracies. Both presidents were both focused on taking credit for the end of the Evil Empire and translating the Peace Dividend into a redistribution of the federal budget away from defense.

Books like this often come with a closing chapter on how we can divert the train before it crashes. Rhodes has little sunny optimism to balance his assessment of the world. Unfortunately, I think that’s the proper final judgement of where we are at. When the party that has rigged the American electoral system to give them a measure of power out-of-proportion with the number of votes they receive, and that party has embraced despots like Putin and Hungary’s Viktor Orban, it’s hard to believe that we are either going to help these countries get through their own cycles of authoritarian leadership, let alone avoid one of our own.

Razorblade Tears – SA Cosby
My brother-in-books Sir David suggested Cosby’s work to me. In this novel, two men from very different backgrounds join forces to investigate the deaths of their sons, who were a married couple.

Ike Randolph is an ex-con who, after spending some time in prison, has carved out a new life as a legitimate business owner. Buddy Lee is a slightly less-accomplished criminal, but still lived that life and remains on the fringes of society as his alcoholism prevents him from ever getting on the straight and narrow path. Ike is Black, Buddy white. Neither accepted their son’s sexual orientation while they were alive, and struggle to come to grips with the ramifications of that after their deaths.

Their journey to find the killers of their sons – the police have no leads and have let the case go cold – also turns into a journey of discovery, as Ike and Buddy learn about each other, about parts of society they knew nothing about, and begin to open their eyes to different worlds.

This book is very violent, getting close to Charlie Huston territory. The villains are perfectly hatable. You pretty much know where the story is headed and how it will end. It is a satisfying journey that shouldn’t take too long, making for a solid summer read.

Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography – Laurie Woolever
This, in many ways, serves as a companion piece to the Road Runner film, as many of the same people are interviewed. It evokes pretty much the same mix of emotions as the movie.

Tuesday Links

A few things for you to read.

The already messed-up world of professional golf got even crazier last week when Patrick Reed filed a bizarre lawsuit against the Golf Channel and GC personality Brandel Chamblee. Attorney (and golfer) Will Bardwell had this terrific, and hilarious, breakdown of the case’s merits.

Patrick Reed’s Libel Case Is A House Built On Sand

This is straight-up weird. Thank goodness this bug didn’t crash planes or send nuclear power plants into meltdowns.

Janet Jackson had the power to crash laptop computers

From The Ringer’s Cringe Comedy Week, this piece about one of the most notorious episodes of The Office. I’m one of those people who struggles to watch this episode because it is so close to the edge. But if I’m in the right mood it makes me laugh a lot.

“If there’s any malice in Michael Scott, I think that story doesn’t work…”

Dashed Dreams, Empty Promises, and Laptop Batteries

I read plenty of Better Call Saul reactions and wrap-ups last week. I think Ben Lindbergh’s was the best of the bunch.

No Show Earned Its Ending More Than ‘Better Call Saul’

This interview with Rhea Seehorn was great, too.

Kim Wexler’s Curtain Call Better Call Saul’s Rhea Seehorn reflects on six seasons spent getting inside ‘an extremely inscrutable character.’

Finally, it’s never too early to Christmas shop, and I bet there’s a Gen Xer on your list that would enjoy these.

Beastie Boys ReAction Figures

Weekend Kid Sports Notes

Kid Hoops

After a few weeks off, it’s back to the hoops grind for L.

Saturday her travel team kicked off a Back to School league that will play on Saturdays for the next two months. I think this is the first time her coach has put his team into the league, and he’s doing his best to keep it light. They won’t practice. He’s going to rotate starters every game. He wants girls to play different positions. Most of all he wants them to have fun.

S and I were at an engagement party so we missed their first game. L had six points in a three-point win. She hit two free throws with 11 seconds left to turn a two-point lead to four. Her coach texted me after the game and said she played well.

The St P’s teams for the upcoming CYO season were also released Saturday night. No surprise as far as L was concerned: she’s on the Cadet A team for the second-straight year. Her team has five eighth graders and three seventh graders. Five of those girls play travel, so we are excited about the chance to run a real offense! Although I am not coaching this year, I have been helping the guy who will coach get acclimated.[1]

Sunday six of those A team players played at the weekly CYO open gym. They won by eight. L played about as well as she’s ever played. I had her with at least 17 points and 5–6 assists. She and her travel team buddy took over the game in the second half after a six-point lead turned into a one-point deficit. Those two scored 12-straight points to put the game away. L was either hitting buckets or dropping dimes so her friend could score. I was a little bummed that they wasted it on a scrimmage that doesn’t count for anything. But it was really fun to watch. L is pumped for the season ahead.

Before the scrimmage began I was talking with the coach, coordinator, and my friend I’ve coached with for several years who is also helping. Apparently there was already a lot of bitching about how the St P’s teams were picked, what girls made what team, etc. Sounds like it was worse for some of the younger teams but there was controversy about who ended up on L’s.

I’ve always known that basketball brought out a whole different level of parent crazy than kickball does. I got a few complaints every year when I sent out kickball rosters but nothing like what the basketball coordinators get. Apparently girls are already threatening to quit because of the team they got placed on, and parents were sending long emails and texts to people who had nothing to do with the decisions airing their grievances. I’m so glad I am disconnected from the St P’s social circle and don’t have to get pulled into that nonsense (at least yet) and that this is our final year of CYO sports.

I know we were lucky. It has always been obvious where our girls belonged and there was rarely any lasting disappointment with their assignment. I get how it is a bummer not get on the team you want to be on. But some of these parents are delusional.

There is one parent who is already wearing everyone out with their complaints. I watched their kid play twice last week. She is not good. Every now and then she’ll hit a 3, but it’s just because she chucks as soon as she gets the ball. She can’t dribble, she can’t guard, and if she tries to pass it is most likely going out of bounds or to the other team. But one of her parents was a very good high school player and, thus, thinks that their kid is also very good.

It’s fine to have your kid’s back. But do it with some acceptance of reality. Plus I think for a developing player, especially one who is in the younger half of the age group, it can be better to be on a B team and play a lot than be on an A team and get far fewer minutes.

HS Football

The Indiana high school football season began on Friday. Cathedral has a terrible schedule this year. They couldn’t fill one spot so only have eight regular season games. Just two of those eight are home games. Two of the road games are over three hours away.

Friday’s opener was up in Lafayette and M and several of her friends caravanned up to watch the Irish get an easy 43–12 win. On the radio it sounded a little sloppy. They return a stud junior QB and several terrific receivers. One receiver is going to Purdue, a tight end is going to Western Michigan, and a defensive lineman has a final four that includes LSU. But their offensive line is all brand new and seemed to struggle opening holes Friday.

Making matters tougher this year is that CHS has moved up to 6A after winning two-straight 5A state titles.[2] Given they’ve only lost to the two-time 6A champs over the past two seasons, CHS opened the season ranked behind that team at number two. They get a big test this coming week when they travel to play the likely number three team in the state (that team was #5 last week, but numbers three and four both lost on Friday).

There could be more growing pains along the way this year than the last two. But they have a lot of skill position talent and if they can stay healthy and develop that O-line, they’ll likely be as good as anyone in 6A come playoff time.

  1. He’s a St P’s dad but all of his kids are either in high school or college. The new basketball coordinator wanted to get a non-parent coaching to try to help with various issues that have popped up in recent years. I was super supportive of this idea as non-parent coaches are generally better for these competitive teams and it kept me from having to coach. I’ll be just fine keeping score and popping into the occasional practice if asked.  ↩
  2. CHS is a 4A school by enrollment.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“You” – Julianna Riolino
Should a Canadian with a name like this play music like this? I guess that’s a dumb question, because clearly she does. I’ve shot some songs back and forth with my brother-in-music E$ lately that have fallen on the far side, for me, of the line between country and alt-country. This one lands one the near side of that line, with just enough pop to balance the early era, Dolly Parton vibes that carry it.

“Full Round Table” – Chappaqua Wedding
These Mancunians say that this song is a response to the endless negativity their generation faces, constantly being told that the world is a mess and getting worse each day. It’s not that they are denying that, just asserting that being young is supposed to be a time of optimism. A pretty good reminder for every generation, not just The Youngs.

“killer” – FKA Twigs
I’ve been aware of FKA’s career for years, but none of her songs ever really bored into my brain until I heard this one.

“Gay Space Cadets” – Lande Hekt
That this is a really good song is just a bonus because this has a GREAT title!

“Get Lost” – Queen of Jeans
This song is about three years old, but I came across it a few days ago and was reminded of how good it is. I checked when I shared it back in 2019, and I mentioned then how it felt right for the moment when you start to feel summer slipping away. We aren’t quite there yet, but we have had just lovely weather the past 7-10 days and you can’t help but start thinking about fall.

“Reach Out I’ll Be There” – Four Tops
“Can I Get A Witness” – Marvin Gaye
Lamont Dozier died late last week. He was one third of the legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland writing trio that helped create the Motown Sound in the 1960s. They wrote dozens of massive hits for artists all up-and-down the Motown lineup. These are two of my favorites.

“Oysters In My Pocket” – Royel Otis
This song is about exactly what the title says.

Farewell to Saul

Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould faced a huge challenge as they brought their series Better Call Saul to an end. Not just because of the normal pressures that come with wrapping a critically acclaimed and beloved (by those who watched it) show. But also because of how they ended Breaking Bad, one of the best series endings of recent memory.

After thinking about Monday’s series finale for a few days, I am comfortable saying they absolutely met that challenge.

G&G have taken all kinds of risks over the 14 years they’ve been behind Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. They’ve certainly moved the art form forward, setting a standard that only a few programs have come close to meeting since.

One of their greatest accomplishments has to be the choices they made in ending BCS.

(A quick note for those who have not watched: “Saul Goodman” is a professional name taken on by Jimmy McGill, the show’s main character, played by Bob Odenkirk. The character took on a third name, Gene Takovic, in the part of the show that takes place after Breaking Bad. For our purposes, I will refer to this person only as Saul.)

For example, I mentioned in my July Media post that I watched up through episode nine and then decided to take a pause. That was partially to catch my breath after one of the most impactful episodes in the series’ history, one in which Saul and Kim Wexler’s elaborate gambit to discredit attorney Howard Hamlin came to a shocking end, their nemesis Lalo Salamanca met his demise, and Wexler finally caved under the pressure of life with Saul. It was also because I was nearly caught up and wanted a few episodes to stack up in the DVR so I could binge them leading into the finale. I had no idea that was the perfect spot to stop, as the world that BCS had occupied over its six seasons effectively ended when that episode faded to black.

What came next was a brilliant leap forward. G&G have hinted since the show’s opening moments of what happened to Saul after Breaking Bad. A few times a season we were treated to a cold open that featured him working in a Cinnabon in Omaha under the name Gene Takovic, always shot in black and white. Was he in witness protection? Hiding on his own? We were never told. But every season there were a few breadcrumbs to let us know the show would eventually land there.

And that was where most of the final four episodes took place. Episode ten was a fantastic dive into an elaborate caper that Saul/Gene was planning with two associates. The final three played out the ramifications of that caper, eventually leading to him being captured after a character played by CAROL FUCKING BURNETT turned him in.

From there we got the resolution of Saul’s story, complete with some flashbacks to the Breaking Bad world.

I had a hard time watching these last three episodes because of where they seemed to be going. By the early moments of episode 13, Saul seems like a horrible person that I suddenly did not want a happy ending for. He’s done all kinds of shady shit over six seasons. He always seemed to have a heart of gold, though, and while a soft landing was unlikely, there was still that hope that we would at least see some of that better side in the person he was at the show’s end. Not only did he seem lost, he seemed violent, desperate, reckless, and without any redeeming qualities.

Until G&G gave us one more twist. As Saul negotiates with the Feds to avoid hard time for the litany of crimes he committed while in the service of Walter White, he sacrifices it all to protect Wexler.

Finally the closing scene…man was that good. We see that Saul is doing alright in prison. His years of aiding the less fortunate and those who are probably headed to lockup earning him a measure of protection. His experience at Cinnabon seems to have landed him a solid job in the prison bakery. And then Wexler comes for a visit. They share a cigarette and a few words, but basically stand and look at each other, their affection for and loyalty to each other unspoken. They share a look from across the yard as she leaves. And our final image is of Saul disappearing from her site as she leaves.

You can throw a lot of over-analysis at a scene like that. I thought it was beautifully shot, perfectly understated, and honored everything those two characters were about. It was also emblematic how how BCS was different from Breaking Bad. BB ended with insane violence and death. BCS closes with Saul and Kim finding some sense of peace after all of it. Saul got what he deserved, 80 or so years in the slammer, maybe less with good behavior, but was able to protect the love of his life in the process. Wexler got a fresh start and an opening to make a difference as she discovered a legal aid office in her new home of Florida.

I don’t know if it was an absolutely perfect ending, but it felt right and earned.

Thus ends one of the great epics in TV history. Gilligan and Gould gave us so many great characters, stories, and scenes over the past 14 years and 11 seasons. I would rate BCS slightly ahead of BB, but that could just be recency bias. I certainly remember more scenes from Saul than BB, which helps in my ratings. The relationship between Saul and his brother Chuck, and all the drama there, carried the first half of the series. Their courtroom battle and Chuck’s stunning death were some of the series’ high points. I will forever hold Wexler dressing down Lalo Salamanca late in season five as one of my all time favorite scenes. Plus dozens more examples.

All pretty good for a show that A) seemed like a joke when first floated as a BB sequel, B) was originally supposed to be a 30 minute comedy rather than another hour-long drama. It carved out its own, unforgettable niche while also expanding the BB timeline on both sides of the original show.

Weekend Notes

Some catchup from the last few days.

Shots Fired…Literally

Friday night we had our old neighbors from Carmel over for dinner. They like to rib us about moving from Carmel, which has little violent crime, to Indianapolis, which like most big cities has some issues. I joked that we hadn’t heard any gunfire from our home in over a year.

Later that night I was in bed, asleep, when I heard one of the girls talking to S. I rolled over and M and C were standing there. I heard them say something about hearing gunshots and police being outside our house. My eyes popped open and, indeed, there were flashing lights reflecting off the trees in our backyard.

I raced downstairs as C told me what she had heard and seen from her bedroom window, which looks out the front of our home. She said at 11:30 she heard a bunch of gunshots then saw a car make a quick U-turn on the main street our house sits off of.

When I got downstairs there was a police car blocking that street directly in front of our house, about 200 feet from our front door. Half a block down there was another police car, half a block beyond it a third. We could see police officers walking around with flashlights as if they were searching for evidence. Soon we saw them placing little evidence markers on the road. This was going on literally within shouting distance of our house, we’re talking 400–500 feet.

This was no bueno.

M must have been watching a lot of police shows lately, because she made the observation that no one must have been hit/hurt because there were only three police cars and no ambulances. I thought that was a pretty astute comment from a privileged kid like her.

As we watched the activity in the street, I pulled up the history from our front door camera and rewound backwards. Sure enough, at exactly 11:30, the quiet night was interrupted by a serious of gun shots. Seconds later you could see the lights of the car making the U-turn in front of our house. But no other cars ever appear.

The cops did their work for about an hour then left. It was a little hard to go back to sleep after that excitement.

Saturday morning I checked Nextdoor and saw a post from one of our neighbors. They had gone out and talked to the police when they first arrived. Based on what the cops found, they were assuming it was just a single car shooting into the air rather than shooting at another car, someone in a house, etc. They found 12 shell casings, which seems excessive to me. But I’m not a gun person. Maybe that’s a normal thing to do on a Friday night. Thankfully it doesn’t seem like the bullets hit any homes and, since it was 11:30 PM, there weren’t any people out doing yard work, grilling, or just hanging out as we had been doing a couple hours earlier.

There wasn’t a thing about the incident on the news Saturday. There were at least two murders in Indy that night, so some idiot emptying a clip on a dark street without any injuries didn’t move the needle.

An unsettling reminder of the world we live in.

Oh, L slept through the whole thing. And S didn’t get out of bed. I believe her comment to the girls was, “Tell your dad about it,” and went back to sleep. Apparently they are less affected by nearby gunfire than the rest of us are.

Fan Girling

The night before the first day of each school year, CHS seniors gather to TP the Hill. They take thousands of donated rolls of toilet paper and throw them over all the trees that line the main entrance to campus. Then on the morning of the first day, the students like the street and greet families by tossing toilet paper at their cars. It’s a mess, but it’s fun.

Wednesday night I volunteered to help serve food at the picnic before the TP-ing. I was given the highly coveted task of handing out hamburger buns. It was fun to see some kids I hadn’t seen since middle school, and to be greeted by M’s many friends. I even had a nice interaction with her boyfriend.[1]

If you are a college hoops recruiting junkie you probably know that, by one measure, the top senior in the country is in M’s class. He showed up, surprisingly, wearing a Team USA t-shirt (from a camp he was cut from) rather than any gear for Michigan State, where he recently committed. When he came through the line I offered him a bun, he accepted, said “Appreciate you,” and moved on.

A few minutes later M came running over.

“I saw you Fan Girling when X came by!” and made a face like I was starstruck.

I shook my head, “I was not ‘Fan Girling’, I just gave him a bun. And I’m disappointed he didn’t comment on my hat.” I was wearing my KU national champs hat. Not sure if he even glanced at it.

Anyway, I thought M accusing me of Fan Girling was pretty funny, even if inaccurate. I figure it was payback for me making fun of her Harry Styles obsession. Which is fair.

Hoops Tryouts

L had her tryout for the St P’s team Saturday. She said that she barely got to play. They mostly used her to set up other people so they could see how they played. She understood why – the evaluators know who she is, what her game is like, and that she had another tryout the next day – but was still bummed she didn’t get to ball more. That season starts in about a month.

The Sunday tryout was for a Cathedral-sponsored team that will play in the gap between the CYO season and when travel ball picks back up in March. She is excited to play with some girls she met at camp in June, and to learn from the high school team’s staff.

Her travel team jumps back onto the court this coming week, playing in a two-month Back to School league. She will re-tryout for that program in two weeks, although she will stay on the team she played for this past year. It’s just a way to get another $30 out of families.

Her (likely) final kickball season starts on Tuesday.

So Long Oooey Pooey

This weekend Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis announced that it was splitting into two schools. IU will take over most of the campus and call it IU-Indy. Purdue will still control the engineering and computer science programs, likely as an extension of the West Lafayette campus.

The reason given was simple: branding. While IUPUI billed itself as offering the best of both schools, no one really got it. And the name was endlessly mockable. I guess this will help them get more applicants/enrollees?

I did most of my graduate work on the IUPUI campus, but don’t have any real connection to the school. I doubt many people have strong feelings about the split. I think we will all miss the name, though.

  1. It is official, she has used the term around us.  ↩

Friday Playlist

Another week with a jam-packed list. The new music continues to roll in. I still have a couple tracks leftover from my podcast review. We just passed a significant music anniversary. There was a massive death in the music world this week. And an amazing YouTube find will cap things off. Strap yourselves in and enjoy.

“Girls Make Me Wanna Die” – The Aces
This band shares a lot of DNA with MUNA, both in making fun, poppy jams and being up-front with being Queer. I like to think there are a lot of homophobes out there who hear songs like this, fall in love with them, and only then realize what they are about. Who am I kidding? Those people are genetically sealed off from music this good. You might say they were born that way…

“The New Year’s Resolution” – Spielbergs
All these kids do is wake up, get out of bed, and make absolute bangers. A perfect song for the beginning of the school year.

“Future” – Rich Aucoin
I’ve been sitting on this awhile. I realized, as I’ve listened to it over the past two months, that back in my podcasting days, I listened to more instrumental tracks like this. I don’t know if there are fewer of them bouncing around these days, or I just need words now more than I used to. Anyway, it’s a good enough song to break through whatever barriers I have to instrumentals.

“Give Me Mercy” – The Cult
God bless The Cult for still hanging around. They had some tough years for awhile but seem to have emerged in decent shape. This track doesn’t match up with their greatest work, but I appreciate how they are not trying to sound exactly like they did in their late ’80s peak.

“My City of Ruins” – Bruce Springsteen
We just passed the 20th anniversary of the release of Springsteen’s The Rising. It was very interesting to read the pieces honoring it, and being reminded about how the album kicked off third (or fourth) phase of his career. A phase that has been as productive as any in his six decades of making music. Of course, much of the album was a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. This was a song that he had written before the attacks about Asbury Park, NJ. In the wake of the attacks it became symbolic of our need to rebuild. With everything going on the world right now – politics, wars, climate issues – it feels as significant and important as ever.

“A Little More Love”
“Twist of Fate”
Olivia Newton-John died earlier this week after battling breast cancer for decades. As a child of the ’70s, I’m pretty sure she was up there with Farrah Fawcett and Carrie Fisher as one of my first celebrity crushes. Sadly this means they are all gone, now.

I listened to a lot of Olivia’s music Wednesday. I forgot how many great songs she had, both between her big hits and some stellar covers early in her career (Check out her versions of “Jolene,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Angel of the Morning.” They are all great.)

I was also reminded of specific moments in my life when her music was a big part of what people around me were listening to. Both of my grandmothers kept the radios in their kitchens on as constant background music, tuned to the same station that played the typical 1970s blend of pop, country, and whatever else was on the charts but fell short of being true rock. I know both of them loved ONJ, and I have vivid memories of them turning the radio up a little when her early, country-tinged hits came on. Honestly, even though they weren’t into “cool” music, I think I owe some of my love of music to my grandmothers.

Second was the summer of 1978, when I spent some time out at my grandparents’ homes. We stopped to stay with relatives in Kansas City on the way to and from central Kansas (this was when we lived in Southeast Missouri). I have two cousins who are nine and ten years older than me, and who were obsessed with Grease at the time. In however many days we spent at their house, I swear they were always playing the Grease soundtrack. Which was already inescapable on the radio that summer.

Anyway, ONJ seemed like a very grounded, decent person who handled her illnesses with grace and courage and inspired others. As big of a star as she was around the world, her work as an advocate for those fighting cancer may have had a bigger impact than all those hits.

These are three of my favorite songs of hers. “A Little More Love” is pretty great, a more adult, sexier sound several years before “Physical” totally changed people’s perception of her. “Magic” was the soundtrack to my summer of 1980, when we moved to KC while the Royals were winning the pennant. I used to imagine a highlight video of the team being set to that song. “Twist of Fate” has some cheesier, mid-80s production, but turns into a fiery banger before it is done.

The Ramones Live In Kansas City, July 29, 1978
Someone on Twitter hipped me to this amazing piece of film this week. While I was listening to the Grease soundtrack in Raytown, the Ramones were tearing up KCK. Watch to the very end for some truly inspired antics.

The Old Man and The Scale

L went back to school yesterday. M and C started classes today. Thus our academic summer has ended. Which makes this the perfect day for a post I’ve wanted to share for quite awhile. It will be extra navel-gazey, so feel free to skip if you prefer my writings about music, sports, books, etc. to those about being a middle-aged man.

When Covid began and our gym shut down, I was still able to use our modest home equipment to workout. But when I began having my vertigo spells about 20 months ago, I had to stop doing any regular exercise. With this came a depressingly quick increase in my weight. It took just a couple months to gain 15 pounds. That was doubly frustrating because I had largely cut out drinking at the same time.[1] I had hoped the calories saved by not drinking would balance out the lack of exercise, but clearly that was not the case.

I went back to the gym after getting vaccinated in April 2021 and slowly got back into a routine. When the girls returned to school a year ago I dedicated myself to a new strength training and cardio program and was as diligent as I’ve ever been about getting to the gym. In fact, the stretch from August through November 2021 was the most, and most consistently, I had ever worked out up to that point. I hoped by the time we went to Hawaii for Thanksgiving, I would be back to my pre-vertigo weight.

A weird thing happened: no matter how much I worked out, or how much I increased my cardio sessions, my weight stayed in the same 1–3 pound range. This bugged me because my entire life, anytime I gained a few extra lbs., I was always able to shed them quickly. Hell, after L was born I lost about 30 pounds in three months.

But I never had to do it in my late 40s or early 50s, which apparently makes a big difference. Who knew???[2]

I adjusted my diet slightly, continued to drink only occasionally, and stuck with the workouts. Still no real change.

In November I found a new strength workout for older dudes and threw myself into it. I also found a new elliptical workout that promised to burn calories, the elliptical machine being the cardio workout that protects my joints the most. I got stronger, improved my cardio fitness, but my weight refused to drop.

When we got back from spring break I was still in that three pound window I had been stuck in for over a year. I did my best to reduce snacks, take smaller portions at dinner, be careful with the late evening nibbles. I kept alcohol to a few nights a week, and then generally just one drink. I also found another, more intense, elliptical workout and subbed it in once per week.

These changes all finally had an effect.

By mid April I had lost five pounds. By May 1 I was down another three pounds. By L’s last day of school in May, I was officially down 10 pounds.

Although L wanted to start working out with me, I had some worries about keeping the weight off over the summer. Summer brings more pool parties, which means more drinks and treats. I’m not a big dessert guy anymore, but I do eat ice cream fairly often in the summer. Plus L really isn’t into cardio so I figured I would go from getting an elliptical session in 2–3 times per week down to just once.

I am pleased to report that my weight loss continued through the summer. In fact, just two weeks ago I got down to within two-tenths of a pound of my lowest weight since I started tracking it on my phone, back in June 2019. I had officially lost 15.3 pounds from my highest weight in November 2020.

Pretty good!

Shorts that were tight when we went on spring break fit perfectly now. A couple pairs that had more space in them have been put away since they hang far too loose for me to wear.[3]

My routine did get upset over the summer. The strength program I was on is designed to protect older men’s joints by mostly using free weights. Since L is not old enough to get into the free weight area at our gym, I did more machines with her, which has caused more aches and pains in my sensitive joints that I had over the past year.[4] I’m looking forward to jumping back into my Old Man program on Monday.

So that’s my bragging, self improvement post. I understand my schedule allows for a lot more opportunities to workout that many of yours do. But if you are looking to improve your fitness or lose a little weight, maybe this will serve as confirmation that it is still possible in middle age if you put in the time and find the right program.

  1. Having a few drinks when you are already dizzy kind of sucks.  ↩

  2. Narrator: “Everyone knew this.”  ↩

  3. Major pet peeve: every pair of pants or shorts that is listed as having a specific waist size should fit the same. I swear there’s a five-inch range in the actual waist sizes on my various pairs of bottoms, all of which have the exact same listed measurement.  ↩

  4. She can’t wait to turn 14 and be old enough to finally do a “real bench press.”  ↩

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