Month: April 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

Friday Playlist

“Need You No More” – Chappaqua Wrestling
These kids cracked my Top 10 last year and just released their full-length album. It’s not bad; it’s getting mostly positive reviews around the webz. This is probably the second-best track.

“Scabs” – Speedy Ortiz
SO was one of the bigger buzz bands of the early 2010s, but disappeared for a bit as lead singer Sadie Dupuis concentrated on her solo work. This is the first new track in five years.

“Dream On – Country Girl” – Hatchie
She just released a deluxe edition of last year’s Giving The World Away album that includes five new songs. One, “Rooftops,” is brand new and really good. I decided to share this one instead, though, because of it’s early ’90s, pre-Trip Hop vibe that takes her sound in a slightly different direction. Not that I was a clubber, but this sounds straight out of a club in ’91 or ’92.

“can’t hate myself into a different shape” – Brimheim
I selected this song for two reasons. First, I’m not sure I’ve shared many Danish artists on these playlists, let alone one from the Faroe Islands. Second, critics call her music Goth Pop, which I guarantee is a new one on our map of music genres. Oh, and the song is pretty good, too.

“Kool Thing” – Sonic Youth
For our first modern rock classic of the week, this incendiary track from 1990, based on Kim Gordon’s infamously combative interview with LL Cool J for Spin magazine.

“Jump in the Line” – Harry Belafonte
RIP to a legend. You can have “Banana Boat.” This is my favorite of his biggest hits.

“The Rat” – The Walkmen
I think this qualifies as a HOLY SHIT performance. The band is back together for the first time in nearly a decade, and based on this performance at least, haven’t lost a thing. One of the very greatest songs of the 2000s, and one of the songs that was party of my transition into the indie rock era.

This Weather Is Bullshit

After an amazing first two weeks of April, we had the inevitable backslide. I shouldn’t be surprised.

Last week was back-and-forth until Thursday night, when a cold front rolled through and sucked all the warm weather away with it. Monday morning it was 28. We had several chilly, gloomy days where it felt more like mid-November than mid-April. Although the sun is out right now – and will roast you if you are sitting in your car waiting for you kid to get dismissed from school – the thermometer barely made it to 60 this afternoon. Tomorrow is supposed to be 67, but that will bring another crash with more nights in the 30s and days in the 50s. It looks like we will be several days into May before we reach normal temps again.

The real pisser to all of this is that we opened the pool a week ago. When we were in the midst of those two weeks of way warmer-than-usual weather, the girls begged me to open it. I put them off at first, knowing the warmth wouldn’t last. M told me, “I literally don’t care about school anymore so I will swim every day.” So I sent our pool guy a message asking him to come by if he was in our area.

He said there was a chance he could make it Friday, April 14, but if not then he would be out the next week.

By last Thursday night he hadn’t arrived so I texted him saying that it looked like the good weather was done for awhile, could he slide us to the first week of May.

He shot a message right back saying he would be at our house the next day.

So they opened the pool on a day when it was in the low 50s.

The water temp was 59 when they kicked the pump on. I ran the heater all weekend until I got it into the 70s, then backed it off and am letting it sit in the high 60s until the girls tell me they want to swim. Nope, M has not been in the pool yet.

Anyway, pool is open, and we’re back to lighting money on fire until it gets too warm to run the heater. I had to turn on the deck jets on for a few minutes last thing Sunday night and first thing Monday morning to make sure those pipes didn’t freeze. Almost as much fun as owning a boat…

Weekend Notes

It was a pretty boring weekend in our house. There were no games or practices. No parental social events. Nothing at all on the calendar.

C talked S into taking her to Ikea to get her birthday present a little early – a new desk set – so we spent Saturday afternoon putting that together and rearranging her room. As always, assembling Ikea furniture was maddening at times. The final result looked good, though, and C was pleased.

L got inspired and asked to move her computer desk from the bonus room into her bedroom. I told her she should just wait a few months until M leaves and make M’s room a computer room. She already plans on taking over M’s bathroom the minute she leaves. She didn’t like my idea, though, so we moved a few things around and her gaming rig is now probably way too close to her bed.

With nothing else really going on, I’ll use this Monday post as a chance to catch up on everything going on with M, as it is SENIOR SZN. Do the kids still say szn?

Friday she sent S and I an excited text that said “I’m a cum laude!” A few years back CHS went to the model where the top 15 percent of the graduating class get slotted into summa, magna, and cum laude honors groups. She had been telling us all year she wouldn’t make it because, “There are so many smart people in my class. I would have made it easily last year, but not this year.”

Damn, throwing some shade at the class of 2022.

My immediate response was:

She was not as amused by that as I was.

Anyway, about ten minutes later she sent another message: “Wait, I didn’t get it.”

The reason for the confusion was kind of fucked up.

The school office called all the seniors who earned honors over the PA in groups. For some reason the principal decided to call an extra ten kids, in between two of the other groups. M was in that extra group. When they got to the office the principal told them that they were all 0.002 GPA points short of making the cut, but she was still super proud of them and wanted them to know they were as valued as the kids who make it.

M was PISSED. The rest of the day she had to either correct people who congratulated her, or, after the official photo of the honors grads got posted and she wasn’t in it, answer questions as to why she was absent.

I get her frustration. You either don’t call those kids to the office over the intercom – have their counselors send them a message that they were close – or round up those 0.002 points and include them. Seems like kind of a shitty thing to do to announce them to the entire school just to tell them, “Sorry, you were soooo close…” She said she spent the day thinking “If only I had taken one more honors class,” or about an A- she got freshman year.

I thought about how since final grades aren’t in yet, how do we know that any of these 10 extra kids won’t end up with a better GPA than some of the kids who got selected ahead of them? Seniors don’t have to take spring finals, but there are still three weeks of classes and plenty of time to wiggle the final GPAs a bit. I guess there has to be a cutoff date, and that will always be before final grades are in.

S told her that no one really gives a shit If you were in the top 15 or 16% of your class. While the extra colors would have been nice on graduation day, M shouldn’t let it bother her once she woke up Saturday morning.

I get that the intent behind including these kids, but I’m not sure the administrators thought it through very well.

Prom is this coming weekend. I’m pretty sure there has already been way more drama around M’s group than last year. There’s some girl drama; one lady in the group has been kind of a wank for a few months and that has caused some problems. Then there has been drama about pre- and post-prom parties, and M’s friend group not all getting invited to the same gatherings.

Making matters worse, Saturday looks like it will be cold and rainy. So M is already stressing about how her hair will look, where we will be able to take pictures, etc.

Weight of the world and whatnot.

We got the invitations for her two grad parties sent out. We are doing a family/friends event at our house on Memorial Day, then she and her two friends are doing a bigger party together in June.

Saturday night, as S and I were winding down, we came to the conclusion that while the college years are certainly going to be expensive, no one warns you how costly the finals weeks of your senior’s high school days will be. Prom, baccalaureate, graduation, graduation parties, then the prep for going off to college. It ain’t going to be a cheap summer for us.

Oh, M informed us last week that she was going to need several dresses because she has so many grad parties to attend. We both laughed and reminded her that she has a job; if she needs more than one dress she can buy the others on her own. She thought we were being incredibly unfair by suggesting that. I kind of enjoy the moments when a kid who is very smart and pretty mature says really dumb stuff. It reminds me she’s still an idiot kid at times.

She is not our only graduating child. L has been bugging us for awhile to host a pool party on her last day of eighth grade. I was very much against this. Even though she has a tiny class – only 28 kids – I didn’t want to deal with all of them. Especially since the last day of school is a Friday and S would be at work.

I asked L if we could just do the girls but she said no, she wanted the entire class.

Then I realized her last day of class is the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, so a lot of people would probably be leaving town that night. I asked around among friends who have lake houses and, yep, they were all leaving Friday night.

S is home on Thursdays. M will have graduated and can help. S suggested we do it that day. Since it was now two against one I had no choice but to go along with that plan.

I sent the invitation out Sunday. I’m sure it will be fine. Although I wouldn’t mind if it stormed and we had to cancel. That makes me a terrible person/parent, doesn’t it?

S has also been trying to get L into dresses for her spring events. Eighth grade Mother’s Day Mass, graduation, and then M’s stuff. L is actually into cute clothes these days, but she hates to go shopping, so it’s been a struggle to find enough clothes for the next six weeks of activities.

Friday Playlist

“One That Got Away” – MUNA
MUNA’s first album was filled with great songs with a variety of influences, from indie to dance to country. Knowing that, I’m going to assume their follow-up isn’t going to be 100% shiny, late ’80s tracks like this, which sounds straight out of a 1988 American Top 40. Although that would be awesome.

“Perfect Blue” – Bodywash
Some dense, modern, shoegazey goodness for a cold, rainy morning here in Indy.

“Life in the Void” – The Reds, Pinks, and Purples
I swear every one of this band’s songs sound pretty much like this. Which isn’t a bad thing because they have a nice little niche carved out. Another good song for a rainy day.

“Tomorrow Never Comes” – Rancid
And then this will wake your ass up if the rain gets you down. Remember that summer when Rancid was huge for about 10 minutes?

“Goldfinger” – Ash
“Here in Your Bedroom” – Goldfinger
These songs will always be connected in my head, for an obvious reason. It helped that they were out at roughly the same time.
Ash, a band of Star Wars obsessed Irish kids, was pretty solid and put out good songs for a few years. Goldfinger is still making music but were never relevant again after this song. I take that back. I just learned they put out a song called “Superman” during the Covid quarantine that has over 120 million streams on Spotify. In comparison, “Here In Your Bedroom” only has 21 million streams. I just listened to “Superman” and it’s nothing special. It looks like it landed on two movie and one video game soundtracks, which might explain its popularity.

“Red Mosquito” – Pearl Jam
Yesterday PJ announced the first nine dates of their fall tour. One of those is in Indy. A local buddies has been in the Ten Club for decades and already procured tickets for us. I haven’t seen them in person in over 20 years. I’m very much looking forward to it.

“Growin’ Up” – Bruce Springsteen, live 8/9/78
I had to take C into school today and on my way home, as I flipped through the SiriusXM stations, came across this on the Springsteen station. Only Bruce could take a three-minute song and turn it into a 13-minute epic built around two lengthy monologues and have it turn out this magical.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 84

Chart Week: April 17, 1982
Songs: “Stars On 45 III (A Tribute To Stevie Wonder) (Medley)” – Stars On 45,
“Pop Goes the Movies (Part 1) (Medley)” – Meco.
Chart Positions: #38, 4th week on the chart. Peaked at #28 for two weeks in May. #35, 10th week on the chart. Peaked at #35 for two weeks.

First off, elephant in the room: damn there are a lot of parenthesis in these two titles! I believe the (Medley) tag was added by Billboard, but still…

This countdown was another great representation of how strange the Top 40 could be in the early ‘80s. It featured one pure novelty song (“Pac Man Fever” at #24), a comedy song (“Take Off” by Bob and Doug McKenzie at #37), a infamous movie instrumental that was about to hit #1 (Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire – Titles” at #3), and a TV show theme song “(Theme From ‘Magnum P.I.’.” by Mike Post at #34).[1]

Down at the bottom of the chart, three spaces apart in the 30s, were our two medleys. Which were also covers. I guess medleys of covers?

If that wasn’t random enough, both songs were by artists with previous #1 hits. Odd.

Sitting at its peak of #35 was Meco’s “Pop Goes the Movies (Part 1) (Medley).” Beginning with the fanfare that famously kicked off 20th Century Fox movies, Meco added his disco-influenced touch to seven classic movie themes, including the James Bond theme, “Goldfinger,” and “The Magnificent Seven.”

Meco’s entire career was based on making movie themes sound like dance tracks. Most famously, he hit #1 in 1977 with “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band,” which might have been the absolute favorite song of six-year-old me. Three years later he hit #18 with “Empire Strikes Back (Medley).” His luck ran out in 1983, though. “Ewok Celebration,” from Return of the Jedi, stalled out at #60. Everything about that movie was a disappointment. Maybe he should have made it a medley too?

He wasn’t just obsessed with Star Wars, though. In 1978 he cracked the Top 40 with two more movie covers. First, his version of “Theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind” hit #25. Later that year he put out an album filled with disco covers of music from The Wizard of Oz. He truly had his finger on the pulse of America. “Themes from the Wizard of Oz: Over the Rainbow / We’re Off to See the Wizard” topped out at #35.

Stars On 45, a weird-ass Dutch studio group, were a little more limited. They found singers who sounded like familiar artists and recorded medleys of old hits over dance beats. Their self-titled single featuring music of the Beatles and other ‘60s artists topped the chart in the summer of 1981. I’ve always wondered how much of that song’s success was due to John Lennon’s death a few months earlier.

This track was their only other Top 40 hit in the US. With good reason; you can’t go wrong with the music of Stevie Wonder. The singers sound just enough like Stevie and the music remains faithful enough to the originals to make each segment work. Plus they pick some of his best songs to cover. In the LP/cassette era, I can see why this held some appeal. Take the best parts of some of your favorite songs and cut them together into one mega-hit without any of the album filler.[2]

Kind of wacky that both of these songs were on the chart at the same time. Not so wacky that this kind of song disappeared right about this time.

It’s tough to rate novelty tracks like these. On one hand, they kind of suck. On the other, they are harmless fun. Meco’s music especially seemed aimed at delighting kids. Or kids at heart, I guess. While people wanting to hear Stevie Wonder’s music should just go play his albums, Stars On 45 gave us a great reminder of how broad and amazing his career was. So I’ll slap a 4/10 on each.

As I was doing my research I came across a Stars On 45 track called “Star Wars Medley.” It begins exactly like Meco’s “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band.” Then, for some insane reason, it segues into a number of very non-Star Wars hits from the ‘70s. “Kung Fu Fighting,” “Layla,” “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy,” “YMCA,” “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough,” and “Baker Street” are among the tracks covered. Also, inexplicably, Kim Cares’ 1981 smash “Bette Davis Eyes.”[3]

What all that had to do with Star Wars I have no fucking clue. If you’re a Spotify user, you should go play it. The progress bar turns into a light saber. When you hover the cursor over it, it pulses a brighter color. Nutty shit for a nutty song.

At first I couldn’t find YouTube entries for either song, which is not a surprise. And Meco’s track isn’t on Spotify. Fortunately after some digging through Discogs I was able to find these very non-official videos.

  1. One of the very worst songs of the 1980s – maybe of all time – was also working its way up the chart. I want to write about it someday, so I won’t identify it in this post.  ↩

  2. Let’s be clear: there was zero filler on any of Stevie’s albums in his imperial era.  ↩

  3. Maybe because they briefly interrupted that song’s long hold of the #1 spot?  ↩

A Change in (Pas)Times

I’ve been working on this post for literally two months. It isn’t groundbreaking, super important, or one that I think my readers will finish and say, “Damn! That was some good blogging!” It’s just a post about hobbies and how my interests change over time.

The problem is I keep turning it into a lengthy philosophical rumination about how/why we select our pastimes instead of getting to the point and sharing a bit of news. So I’ve dispensed with all that bullshit…

About two months ago I sold my camera gear.

Crazy, I know.

I realized my camera and lenses were spending way more time in my office cabinet than around my neck being used. Which tends to happen with everyone’s camera kit eventually. While I could have just left it there, waiting for the few times each year I needed it, that felt like a waste of perfectly good gear.

There were two other factors that helped push me to sell.

First, I did not take my camera to Italy. I had an intense internal debate on whether to take my Fuji X-T2 or instead rent a Fuji X100V or Ricoh GR III to pack along. I decided, though, I didn’t want to deal with taking a camera through airport security and then lugging it around all day on our Italian adventures.

That seemed to work. Ninety percent of the pics I took with my iPhone were great. A few night shots would have looked better with a bigger sensor and faster lens. But those few additional photos would not have justified the hassle and risk of carrying a traditional camera for a week.

I also found the photography process much more casual with the iPhone. I could listen to our tour guide, walk, and snap a pic all at the same time. With a stand alone camera I would have had to stop, let my old man eyes adjust to the viewfinder, frame the shot, make any adjustments to the settings, and then fire away, likely missing what our guide was saying in the process.

Second, L got her own camera last year. It’s not a Fujifilm camera, but rather an entry-level Canon with budget lenses. When we need to take a picture that requires something better than an iPhone, there’s still a perfectly fine option in the house.

After a few weeks of research, I listed my camera on eBay and sold the lenses on KEH. I certainly didn’t make all my money back, but I did get a nice chunk of change. And people who are actively taking pictures can now use my old gear instead of it sitting ignored in my cabinet.

These sales weren’t without some serious second thoughts and regrets. I loved the Fuji X-series system, and learned so much about photography in the seven years I owned an X-T10 and then X-T2. They were the perfect mix of old school, analog camera style and modern digital technology. They looked cool; lots of people asked me if they were film cameras. They were fun to use once I mastered their controls. They forced me to learn about photography rather than just flip to Auto or Program and fire away.

I thought about dumping the earned money into an X100V. That fixed lens platform has really come into its own in its latest iteration. It isn’t quite small enough to be pocketable, but it does solve some of the size problem of carrying an interchangeable lens camera.

However, X100V’s are insanely popular right now. You can’t find one at a retailer and second-hand prices are nearly twice retail right now. Fuji has suspended taking orders for new ones and there are rumors they may not be making them anymore as they transition to the next version.

So that wasn’t really an option.

In the end I went back to my original argument: my iPhone plus L’s Canon are enough for now. I know Apple will keep improving their cameras, so when I next update my phone (a year from now at the very earliest) I’ll be tapping into better lens technology that will further narrow the gap between phone and traditional camera.[1] I’m hopeful their software will also continue to improve so that those occasional photos that look super processed appear far less often.

That is the story I’ve been trying to share for two months.

And then two weeks ago I did something unexpected. And maybe kind of dumb. But more on that later…

  1. Persistent rumor is that they will roll out a “periscope” lens that offers a physical rather than digital zoom. It will likely only be on the highest end phones but should eventually trickle down to the full lineup.  ↩

Weekend Notes

A weekend of transition in various ways.

Kid Hoops

Back to tournament action for L and her travel teammates.

Her ankle is still recovering from the sprain she suffered over a month ago. In our games Saturday that showed. She seemed sluggish and a step slow.

We lost the first game by 18 to a very good team. They were long, athletic, took and hit 3’s, and were just a tough all-around matchup. We killed ourselves by missing at least 10 free throws and not stopping them in transition on several baskets. They were better than us, but those things were the difference between an easy win and a tight game late.

In the second game we played a flat-out bad team. We won by 41 and it wasn’t even that close. There was a running clock the entire second half so we only scored 10 points in those 13 minutes. It was one of those games where you wondered why these girls are still playing. I guess to give teams like ours someone to beat?

L had a single bucket in each game. In the second game I could tell she was getting frustrated. She made a sweet move on one drive, lost her defender, got to the hoop, and then short-armed the layup. A few possessions later she badly missed an open shot. I thought an invisible player fouled her because it looked like she got pushed from behind even though there was no one around her. Just terrible form, in other words.

On our walk to the car after she was pissed. “I am so bad!” She didn’t say anything else so I let her stew all the way home, figuring whatever I said would be the wrong thing.

We had an early departure Sunday as the bracket games were an hour from home. She still wasn’t saying much so I didn’t either.

We played a bad, but not as bad as game two Saturday bad, team in our opener. We crushed them by 40. And L was awesome. 10 points on 4–4 from the field, 2–2 from 3. A bunch of assists and rebounds. Solid D. And that was all after she got absolutely wiped out on an illegal screen and did a half flip that landed her on her shoulder. She popped right back up, though. I guess I need to start hitting her in the shoulder before every game.

We had a three-hour break so headed to lunch as a team. In the car we finally talked about Saturday. I told her I understood her frustration, but that she needed to focus on process not result. That missed layup? That stunk. But she needed to realize she made a really nice move that beat her defender, attacked hard, and did 80% of the shooting right. Do the same thing next time, just hit the shot. Four of her missed jumpers were fine: open shot, within the offense, good form, and got the ball to the rim. Don’t sweat those. Sweat the shot when she rushed things, ruined her form, and had no chance of making it because of her process.

She told me that she feels like if she only scores two points a game, she’s not contributing. I told her that’s not true; she can score zero points but if she gets a bunch of assists, plays good D and gets some steals or keeps her girl from scoring, she’s doing a ton to help win. And I reminded her that our best shooter has a lot of 1–10 games, but she keeps shooting.

She agreed and then whipped out a list of things she came up with that she can do everyday to get better.

That night I told S that was the best example of how L is our daughter. When she messes up she gets pissed and won’t talk for awhile, which is a very me thing to do. But then she sits down and makes a list of ways to change her path, the way S would react.

After lunch we played another team from our program. These girls were really tough on D, had a great rebounder, but didn’t have much going on offense. We pulled away late in the first half to lead by nine at the break. We stretched it out to as many as 20, which was the final margin.

L wasn’t as good scoring – just knocking in four on 2–5 shooting – but was really good in every other aspect of the game.

On to the championship game, against the team that beat us in our opener Saturday.

Unfortunately I had to leave for another event (see below), but got updates. We were up by one late in the first half but gave up a run to go down by nine. Our girls played their asses off in the second half, or so the texts I got said. We lost by one. Later in the evening our coach said there were three or four possessions where we played great D, got a stop, then couldn’t control the rebound and gave up a put-back. Rebounding will always be our Achilles heel for a lot of reasons, and sounds like it was the difference.[1]

Still I think everyone was pleased with how the girls played. They looked like they hadn’t played in three weeks in that first game Saturday. Over the next four games they shook off that rust.

By the time I got home Sunday evening L was in bed, nearly passed out. She was exhausted, sore, and her ankle pain was in pain. She claimed to have scored “six or eight” in the championship game, which wasn’t a bad finish to a pretty solid day. If I give her credit for eight, that means she averaged 7.3 points for the three games. Quite an improvement from Saturday.


I had to leave basketball because it was National Honor Society induction night at CHS, which meant the seniors who had earned enough points got the cords they will wear over their graduation gowns. M obviously got those points, otherwise I wouldn’t be skipping a championship game.

It was interesting seeing the number of seniors getting their cords compared to the juniors who were being inducted. It looked like a good third of the kids who got into NHS a year ago did not earn their cords.

How you earn your NHS points at CHS is kind of a bullshit process. No, strike that. It’s totally a bullshit process. The teacher who runs the program has been doing it since S was in school and plays all these BS, power trip, mind games with kids and forces them to jump through hoops to get the 10 points they need. I think some kids, once they’ve been accepted to the colleges they want to attend, decide to check out on all that nonsense.

One of M’s classmates is going to Notre Dame and is almost literally a perfect student: she earned a full ride to Cathedral, the first girl from St P’s to ever be awarded that scholarship. One of just three class of 2023 CHS kids to get into Notre Dame. But she didn’t get her cord. We joked that she was probably too busy applying for scholarships to worry about showing up at exactly the right time to get her name on a list of limited spots for whatever points the NHS sponsor was throwing out each week. Or, more likely, she figured, “Fuck that.” Although she would never say fuck.

But M got hers, and it will look very nice over her graduation gown in – checks calendar – one month. Holy shit! She has 20 days of high school left!

We also planned on taking some graduation invitation pics afterward. She and two of her friends are doing a party/open house together. The other two girls are going to Miami (OH) and brought red shirts. M was going to put on her black UC shirt. I was tasked with taking some super cute pics of them that S would turn into super cute invitations for the party.

Only problem is the weather changed Sunday and it was cold, windy, and rainy. Which made M pout. I told her she needed to knock it off, we can’t control the weather, and we could still find a way to take a nice pic. Then she told me she was tired because she only got four hours of sleep and I told her it wasn’t my fault she and her buddies stayed up until 4:00 AM when she had to be at work at 9:00.

Things were going swimmingly.

Then a miracle occurred: the rain stopped, the sun popped out, and the parents grabbed the girls and hustled outside. Of course it was like 40 degrees and windy, so there was much complaining. But I was able to snap a few pics and one of them turned into a perfect one for the invitation.

Two more pre-graduation jobs checked off.


It had to end. One of the very best weeks of weather I can recall in my nearly 20 years in Indy ended Sunday morning when a cold front blew threw. After over a week where the temps were in the 70s and 80s with almost no humidity or clouds, we got a nasty reminder that there’s still plenty of time for shitty weather in the Midwest. It felt more like mid-December with wind-whipped rain that soaked you even in the quickest run between car and building. We heard there was snow at the middle school track meet. As I type this Sunday night there is a chance of snow over the next few hours until daybreak.

Then it’s going to be back into the 70s Wednesday, 80s Thursday, then another cold blast for next weekend.

The girls were begging me to open the pool last weekend. I actually texted our guy Tuesday and he said there was a chance he could be here Thursday, but that feel through. I think he’s going to swing by sometime this week, so maybe the girls will be able to get in one of those warm days. Otherwise it might be a few weeks before they get a chance again. I probably should have stuck with our traditional second week of May open date.

  1. Size, ability, “want to.” We are short, have bad technique, and tend to watch the ball rather than go after it. My theory is our girls are too nice to be good rebounders, because you have to be a little mean to be successful.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Let’s Hang Out Forever” – The High Water Marks
This was a great song to soundtrack the past week, as it felt more like summer than spring.

“Want To Know” – Free Range
Country or Not entry of the week.

“Wrapped in Gold” – World News
This could be from 1985 just as easily as it could be from 2010. Yet it’s brand new.

“Cicada” – Fucked Up
Oh man, this a great song! I had to do a quadruple take to make sure it was really from Fucked Up, known for being more of a hardcore-adjacent band. Definitely a summer song, probably a late summer track between its title and sense of longing for people and experiences of the past. I think it would sound awesome no matter the weather but it being 80 here almost all week didn’t hurt.

“Noel, Jonah, and Me” – The Spinanes
I feel like this was a spring song back in ’93 or ’94, but I could be totally wrong. Regardless of when it was out, my brain always wants to place it in springtime.

“She Will Have Her Way” – Neil Finn & Friends
We just passed the 22nd anniversary of the 7 Worlds Collide concerts. We are old.

“April Skies” – The Jesus and Mary Chain
Jesus and Mary Chain songs are either awesome or pedestrian. This is one of the most awesome of the awesome.

“Daughters of the Kaos” – Luscious Jackson
LJ keyboardist Vivian Trimble died this week after a long fight with cancer. They eventually went pretty mainstream with songs like “Ladyfingers,” “Naked Eye,” and “Under Your Skin.” I always dug their early music more, since it was way weirder and evocative of what I thought underground music from New York was supposed to sound like. And nothing was weirder or more original than this great single. This video was an early Spike Jonze joint.

Reader’s Notebook, 4/11/23

Africa Is Not A Country – Dipo Faloyin
Those of you who read these posts should know I’m perpetually behind, and even after nearly 20 years I’m still not smart enough to jot down my thoughts about a book shortly after finishing it. So the first entry in each post is usually going to be about four weeks old and my thoughts about it murky.

That’s the case with this, a very good book written by a native African raised in London about how the rest of the world views his ancestral continent. The constant theme throughout the book is how the white, western world often views all of Africa through a series of stereotypes. As Faloyin points out, not every country had the same colonial experience, history with slavery, process of gaining independence, experience with democracy, or has the same racial/ethnic makeup and resulting issues. Yet we always want to apply the same filters when we are looking at the problems African countries face.

He also gets into the history of the continent, specifically how colonialism royally fucked things up. There’s also a chapter about the misguided, if well-intended, aid programs that often come from grass roots movements in the west. One example was the Kony 2012 group, created by Americans to help oust the militant Joseph Kony from Uganda. Only problem was Kony hadn’t been in Uganda for six years. The movement was hyper-focused on this one, unattainable goal rather than going to Uganda and asking people there how they could help make the country a better place and protect its people.

Anyway, this was both a very good and fun read. Faloyin has a great writing style that made the book a joy to work through.

Trigger Mortis – Anthony Horowitz
Forever and a Day – Anthony Horowitz
Two modern James Bond novels, or at least written in the past few years. I’ve read similar efforts by other authors, but Horowitz is the only writer who gets them right.

Both books take place in the 1950s, early in Bond’s career. Both feature tidbits from Ian Fleming’s notebooks that his estate allowed Horowitz access to. And they both very much fit the aesthetic of Fleming’s early Bond novels, from the precise references to the consumer goods and fashion that 007 prefers to the general vibe of the era.

Horowitz updates his Bond a bit. He’s far less chauvinistic and cold than Fleming’s Bond. Minorities are treated with respect rather than disdain. There’s even a gay character that is one of Bond’s closest confidants rather than an overly affected person who is evil at their core.

That may trigger the woke alarms on some people, but I’m not sure why a book written in the 2020s that takes place in the 1950s has to mimic the most unfortunate beliefs of that time if they aren’t a key part of its plot.

The stories are quite good. They are page turners, to be sure. But they have some depth, are at least anchored in the vicinity of reality, and are fun to tear through.

I have one more Horowitz Bond novel to get to, then I’m going to check out some of his other thrillers. They seem like they will be good pool reads over the coming months.

The Candy House – Jennifer Egan
Boy do critics love Egan. And for the third time I came out lukewarm about one of her books.

Apparently this has some repeat characters from her earlier book A Visit From the Goon Squad, but since I read that 13 years ago I didn’t make those connections.

Again she has written about a series of people and moments that all have connections. I haven’t gone back to read my thoughts about her earlier books, but I bet I struggled to find a point to those books. That sure is what happened here. I enjoyed how she slowly presented these people. I couldn’t ever see a real point to them or their stories, though. I know she was making a statement about how our relationship with our memories affects us. But there was never any real plot, just another character with their set of stories.

The writing was very good. There was just no plot train pulling those words along that kept me engaged.

Holiday Weekend Notes

A pretty good Easter weekend in our house.

Family Weekend

As happens when your kids are in Catholic schools, it was an extra-long weekend. CHS had a four-day weekend, while St P’s had early dismissal Friday and were out for Easter Monday.

Throw in C being home sick and L having her annual school service day on Thursday and it was even longer.

C has the “Punta Plague,” as M is calling it. It should be no shock that a big chunk of CHS came back from spring break sick. It took a couple days to reach her but has kind of wiped her out. She may have had Covid in the front, had a stomach bug in the middle, which may have been associated with strep that came on in the backside.

When we asked M if there were a lot of kids out sick last week her response was, “Bro, the entire school is sick.” Love it when she talks to me like I’m an idiot. She’s been coughing like a smoker but has no other ailments.

I guess that’s what mass travel in the post-pandemic age will be like: we all act like old people after a cruise and get sick for a week or so upon our return.

Like I’ve done every year, I volunteered to assist on the St P’s service day. That has usually meant going to some kind of donation center and sorting things, since there’s only so much these places can ask large groups of kids to do. Which really means I do a bunch of sorting while making sure the kids don’t do anything stupid.

This year L’s group got sent to an adoption center that had just changed locations and were tasked with organizing several rooms that were filled with donations. That was a bonus as there were a lot of diapers, wipes, lotions, bath soaps, etc that had that good, clean baby smell. And most of the clothes we sorted were either new or at least washed if used. Which made it a pretty pleasant experience, and far different from the year we dug through huge bins of donated items and found fun stuff like dirty diapers, broken glass, animal waste, porn, and drug paraphernalia.

Our kids weren’t super focused but they did more work in the four hours we were there than the lady running the place expected, so they left a good impression.

I got a hug from the St P’s teacher who organizes this day since it is my last time assisting. We joked that if she needed extra help next year she was going to reach out to me.

Saturday we spent the day getting the house ready for hosting our family Easter gathering. I decided the pool cover looked filthy after collecting crap for five months and spent nearly four hours cleaning it. For some reason I always forget how long that takes. I think my brain blacks out the memories.

When I was done I opened up the cover to do a quick inspection and get a head start on cleaning out the leaves and worms that worked their way in since October. There was a large frog/toad floating in the water. I tried to scoop him up and it slowly tried to evade me. I think the water was so cold it was still semi-hibernating. I got him into the net and when it looked like he was going to hop out, I flung him lacrosse-style about 30 feet to the grass. Not sure if he survived his flight or not.

Easter Day was super nice here. Sunny, pushing 70. Nearly perfect. We bought some pulled pork and I smoked a couple chickens to go along with.

We had 22 people in all. A very good meal, between the stuff we bought and made and all the contributions from the rest of the family. The five nephews had an Easter egg hunt after we ate, and we were able to sit outside and enjoy the ideal day. Easter is always better when it is warm and you can be out in the open.

The Masters

I watched as much of the Masters as I could, between prep, errands, meals, etc.

I was very glad that Jon Rahm won. He seems like a good, thoughtful dude and plays pretty amazing golf. For him to win by four strokes after four-putting his first hole of the tournament and then having to play in the worst weather of the weekend was quite an accomplishment. He could have easily doubled that winning margin.

Like a lot of people I had mixed feelings about Brooks Koepka’s early domination. I enjoyed his style of golf and brash personality at his peak a few years back, but was disappointed when he fled for the LIV Tour after insisting he wouldn’t. I get that a hundred million dollars, or whatever he got, can change a person’s point of view, especially when he was in the midst of a pretty serious injury recovery and questioned his golfing future. He may not have been villain #1 in the whole fiasco, but I still heap some blame on him.

That said, I couldn’t help but get sucked in by how well he played through the first three rounds. I was glad a lot of golf people that I follow were having similar mixed feelings; it was good not to be alone.

This was my favorite thread that came out of the weekend. It is also a reminder that occasionally there are still a few good things on Twitter. Tech Karen will probably ban threads like this soon, since they give people joy.


I took L into ortho Monday morning to have her braces removed. She set the family record of just 15 months; she was originally slated for 23. Other than a little gap when she struggled with her rubber bands a little, I think she did exactly what they told her so she could get them off as quickly as possible.

I guess she’ll have a six-month visit and then we’ll be done with ortho after seven and a half years of regular visits. Knock on wood.

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