Author: DB (Page 1 of 302)

Friday Playlist

This week features a song that choked me up and an oldie I’m guessing most of you won’t remember.

“Wishbone” – Husbands
A cool post-post-post-post punk track by a duo from Oklahoma. With guest vocals from a third Sooner State artist. Doing my best to push emerging artists from Big 12 country!

“Everything Is Simple” – Widowspeak
“Everything is simple ’til it’s not.” Damn, that kind of sums up the whole world, doesn’t it? Which, from what I read, was Widowspeak’s intent: that transition from approaching something new with wonder and excitement about its potential to realizing its shortcomings and complications. This has a cool edge I don’t recall past Widowspeak songs having.

“Endless Summer” – Superchunk
At first listen I disagreed: I wouldn’t mind endless summer. Then I got into the lyrics and realized these alt-rock lifers are singing about climate change and its broader effects beyond how the seasons are different than they used to be.

“A Wave Across A Bay” – Frank Turner
“I spoke with Scott last night.” I did not know the background of this song the first time I heard it, and thus was not prepared for, and floored by, its impact. This is Turner’s ode to his good friend Scott Hutchison. He writes of the former Frightened Rabbit lead singer’s suicide in a way that I think Scott would very much appreciate: in stark, honest, often uncomfortable terms. Turner doesn’t shy away from brutality of the act. If you loved Scott’s music, or if you’ve ever had anyone close to you take their own life, this can be a difficult listen. But Turner also bites another Hutchison lyrical technique: turning a punishingly emotional song into something that is hopeful by the end. I think that’s what we all hope for those we lose this way: that despite the tragedy of their end, that they somehow found peace through their actions. “God damn I miss you, man…”

“Feel It Again” – Honeymoon Suite
A pretty solid, forgotten ’80s track. I only hear it once a year or so and always wonder why it wasn’t a bigger hit. It peaked at #34 on the US chart in the spring of 1986. It cracked the top 20 on their home, Canadian pop chart. I guess the world didn’t need a Canadian Night Ranger. They really broke the budget on this absolutely delightful video. I love it!

Jayhawk Talk: I’d Like to File a Complaint

I guess I have to start getting used to this.

Tuesday brought another ugly-ass road game for KU, this time in their visit to Oklahoma. The Jayhawks pissed away a 12-point lead in the second half, gave up a 20–2 run, saw their best player get injured early and go 34 minutes without scoring a point, made countless unforced errors while trying to come back, but, thanks to Christian Braun’s biggest shot of the year, escaped with a win.

There is some hope that the occasional game in Allen Fieldhouse will produce aesthetically pleasing basketball, like the second half of Saturday’s beatdown of West Virginia. But every single road game is going to be an absolute slog.

Some of that is defense, and commentators around the country are raving about what a tough, defensive league the Big 12 is.

That’s true, there are a lot of good defenses in the conference. That doesn’t fully explain why games in the Big 12 are so ugly.

The biggest factor is that referees have largely stopped calling fouls. It’s not like Big 12 teams are hiding in zones or playing passive man-to-man D. No, they are in each other’s jerseys most of the time. And grabbing. And holding. And riding guys out of position. There is no cutter that doesn’t get bumped. There is no guard trying to turn a corner that doesn’t have a hand on his hip. And refs just stand there and watch it.

Well, until the get a chance to call a charge. Which they jump all over.

Looking back through some Big 12 box scores – extremely small sample size warning – there is the occasional game with both teams over 20 fouls. But in almost every game I reviewed at least one, and often both teams, max out between 12 and 14 fouls for the game. Saturday Kansas State and Texas Tech played an intense, physical game. There were 22 total fouls called in the game.

Twenty two! In a game where every attempt to get close to the rim was like trench warfare.[1]

I don’t know if referees are overwhelmed by the physical aspects of the game – call it the Bob Huggins factor – and don’t want to blow the whistle on every play. No one wants that. But a few early calls can force teams to adjust and make the rest of the game less of a wrestling match and more of a basketball game. The lack of calls makes good defensive teams get hyper aggressive, knowing they won’t be penalized for it. It doesn’t punish weaker defensive teams (like KU) for relying on grabbing and pulling when their overall effort is poor.

Good defense involves moving your feet, beating your man to the spot, and being tougher than your opponent. When you grab and hold, that’s not good D. That’s lazy.

Until the refs remember they were supposed to clean up the game and allow more player movement four years ago, we’re going to be stuck with these ugly-ass games.

  1. I must admit I only saw the first half.  ↩

Tuesday Links

A few good reads to jumpstart your short week.

These are pretty funny. Although are we sure Pearl Jam is a sad dad band? I do shake my head at the word “crypto,” though, so they may be onto something.

What Your Favorite Sad Dad Band Says About You

Kevin Clark’s summary of the CFP National Title game was terrific. I loved this section, in particular, about Kelee Ringo’s pick-six that iced the game and title for Georgia.

You can go to a lot of games but you rarely get a moment like this. The type of moment that will not just be remembered—there are all sorts of memorable moments in title games—but a moment whose image will be painted on the side of random sports bars. Fans will look up the play on YouTube when there’s nothing to do after they’ve had two beers. People will get tattoos of the play and it won’t be considered that weird. Thatsort of play.

Sports are full of wonderfully ridiculous moments like this. I really didn’t care who won but was swept up in the moment, letting out a yell as Ringo raced up the field.

Every sports fan has moments like this. Most of the time they happen in games that aren’t for a championship of any kind. So they don’t get forgotten – most of us lunatics can talk about way too many random moments from 35-year-old Big 8 games – but they certainly have a pretty niche audience.

But for a moment like that to happen on the game’s biggest stage is pretty special. Georgia fans are going to talk about it forever, even ones not old enough to remember it. And the rest of us will, too. I’m lucky that I have one of those moments in my personal sports history. Slightly different context, but still a play that will never be forgotten.

A really good piece about the impact that John Madden had. I love the stuff about how he changed the way football was broadcast.

Madden’s genius was how he taught football. Those booms, that unbuttoned aura of regular guy-dom—all of that was an invitation. It made Madden’s classroom feel like a safe place, where you’d get a little smarter and the professor would never act like he was smarter than you.

The Genius of John Madden

When we visited Nashville in October, Jason Isbell was in the midst of his annual residency at the Ryman Auditorium. HIs band’s gear was on stage when we took our tour. This piece came out of that time. I don’t always love Isbell’s music, but I greatly admire his point-of-view and his efforts to make change.

Jason Isbell Is Tired Of Country’s Love Affair With White Nostalgia

I never had a Stretch Armstrong, but I played with my share back in the 1970’s. This hits right in my Gen X heart.

An Oral History of Stretch Armstrong’s Delightful Destructibility

Weekend Sports Notes

A lot of sports notes from the weekend. I should probably split this into a couple different posts. But it is a holiday and we all have a little extra time. So one extra-large post it is!

Kid Hoops

L played in her first-ever AAU tournament over the weekend. Or rather it was a “shootout”: a one-day, round-robin event focused more on getting teams games than declaring a champion.

Her coach told us that this was just a chance to get the girls together for the first time and get a feel for the roster. Seven of the ten girls played together last year. The girls haven’t had a proper practice together, just some light work at the end of their program’s twice-monthly, age-group training sessions.[1] Making it even more fun, L’s team is a 7th grade B team and this was an 8th grade A shootout. The coach stressed not to worry about the results, this was just about getting the girls on the court.

L had been really impressed with her teammates after their training sessions. After the most recent one she came home raving that all the girls were good and, most importantly, all of them knew how to run the offense. It drives her nuts that half the girls on her other team – let’s call them Jr T’s to differentiate – don’t run the plays correctly. We had a talk about playing time last week. She claimed she was fine not playing as many minutes for a chance to play with better players. I was glad that was her mental state. I told her if she doesn’t start and/or play much, that will give her the motivation to work harder to improve.

Her squad had three games Saturday. First game we played a team that was at least mixed with seventh and eighth graders. But their eighth graders were big. BIG. L had played against some of these girls in CYO ball before and I’m pretty sure they smoked us then.

We had eight of our players for game one. L’s St P’s buddy started, as she is our tallest player, but L was on the bench. The game started ugly. The other team pressed the hell out of our girls and we could not break it. We were down 8–0 or 10–0 before we even got a shot up. L checked in and didn’t help much, mostly because she didn’t get the ball. Another girl played lead guard spot and was not used to looking at L for help.

L played one shift without doing much. She came back in with about 5:00 to play and we were down 15–0. She got the ball in the deep corner, went baseline, and threw up a little floater than she has gone about 1–50 on this academic year. This time she swished it and we were on the board. She had a little grin on her face as she ran up cord.

A few moments later she got ahead of the break, received a great pass, and laid it in. In the last minute of the half, she got open on the wing from about 15 feet and drilled the J. It was 21–8 at half and L had six of the points, going 3–3 from the field.

She started the second half. She wasn’t as lucky this time, missing a tough layup, having a short jumper blocked, and badly bricking two free throws. She seemed to be meshing with her teammates more, though. We lost 43–20 but, again, expectations were low. She was pleased after the game.

Following an hour break and quick trip to Chipotle, it was back on the court against and all–8th grade team from Terre Haute. These girls were even bigger, and better. Everyone knew where to be on every play. They would get an offensive rebound, whip it to an open girl behind the arc, and she would drain the 3. Or the girl with the ball would draw the defense and then hit a cutter with no one on her. We lost this game 62–11 and it really wasn’t that close.

L started and again scored six points on a layup, a jumper, and two free throws. She also rebounded pretty well despite their size, made a couple nice passes, and even blocked the shot of one of their biggest girls.

Another hour off before the last game, against another big, all 8th grade squad. These girls looked super impressive warming up. Just as big as the previous team but more athletic and with a couple fast, small guards.

That team did not play to its ability. Or our girls just figured something out. We only had seven players for this game and they looked gassed at times. But they played hard, never trailed by more than 15, and closed strong to only lose 46–37. L started and scored seven this time, including a nice and-one that she cashed the free throw for. She also missed the front end of a one-and-one in the final minute putting her at 3–6 from the line for the day. She rebounded her ass off, probably her best rebounding game ever.

Her St P’s buddy – her name also begins with L so I need to come up with a way to identify her – had a nice basket at the hoop that she converted despite getting mugged. After the ref called the foul, L ran over and shoved her buddy, and sent her right into the girl that fouled her. That girl was not as excited about the play as our girls were. Fortunately L started laughing so there was no drama.

So a pretty good first day with the new team. L went from sitting the bench to starting five-straight halves. I’m not sure how good the two girls we were missing are. One of the other dads told me the coach had told him whoever started the third game would be his starters going forward. Who knows how that will work and when this team will play again, but I was proud of L for at least putting her name in the mix.

She struggled a bit in the half court sets. But, to be fair, most of the team did, even the returning girls. There was a lot of two girls standing in one spot or someone away from the ball bringing their defender to the ball instead of away. That will get worked out in time. When we got home I showed her videos of Kansas and Golden State running their weave offenses so she could understand how to pass in those sets. She kept bounce passing rather than tossing or handing off since she had never seen that kind of motion offense before.[2]

She proved to her teammates and coach that she deserves minutes. In fact, this was probably the best she’s played this school year. By my math she scored 28% of their points for the day. On the way home she noted, “It’s kind of weird I played better against 8th grade teams than I have against 7th grade teams.”

I’m hoping she can take that confidence and apply it to her Jr T’s team, which is all seventh graders from several Catholic schools. She was super frustrated about her play after their game last week. They play again tonight so we shall see.

Her AAU team may not play again for awhile. Most of the girls are on some kind of school team at the moment. They’ll have skill sessions and light practices every two weeks. The coach said they won’t really dive into things hard as a team until March and most of their play will come over the summer.

There was also a sixth grade boys shootout going on, and they played on the other courts and between L’s game. Those games are nuts. It’s all pressing and running flat out and chucking threes. Some of those kids are insanely talented, light years beyond what anyone I ever played with or against in sixth grade could do. I’m usually pro fast-paced offense in all sports (see below), but this was a little much. And those games are sooooo sloppy. Most of the coaches are psycho. Another check in the Better to Have Girls Than Boys column.


L got her top braces put on last week, so these were her first games with them in. I asked her orthodontist if she should wear any kind of protection. Neither of her sisters played a contact sport when they had their braces so I never worried about it. He said you can get special guards, but he didn’t think it was worth it. At her games Saturday I noticed more than half her team had braces, and no one was wearing a guard. OK, then. I broke my glasses multiple times, and had to get stitches once when the frames sliced my eyebrow open, playing middle school ball. Teeth were never my issue.


I missed the KU-West Virginia game while sitting through all the AAU ball. I did get the nervous texts from friends about the Twitter rumors that Remy Martin was out for the year. Wouldn’t be a college sports season without some kind of off-the-court drama.

I won’t get into the Remy stuff for now since it seems confusing and a little over-the-top at the moment.

I followed the score and then watched the recording on Sunday morning. That was a great performance by KU, likely their best of the season. It was, I think, the first time all year three players have balled-out at the same time. Who would have guessed that David McCormack and Jalen Wilson would be two of those?!?! I don’t think West Virginia is as good as their 13–2 second coming in indicated. Still, to hammer any Big 12 team by nearly 30 this year deserves a few minutes of satisfaction.

And on a day when Baylor lost their second-straight conference game, and Texas Tech also lost. A week ago it looked like Baylor would run away with the league. They might still do that; when healthy they are probably the most complete team in the conference. But, as Kansas State beating Tech and Iowa State being a couple shots away from being undefeated show, the Big 12 is going to be an absolute meat grinder this year.

I like that the conference is good, but I hate the way it is good: with seven or eight teams playing insane defense. That turns games into ugly slogs that are hard to watch. I guess that’s a good thing for the tournament, as playing non-conference teams will seem like a breeze after getting worked over by Big 12 teams for nearly three months. I certainly won’t complain if KU somehow comes out of this with another conference title, since that almost guarantees a one or two seed in the NCAA’s. I do reserve the right to complain about the aesthetics along the way. Especially if KU turns into a pumpkin in four or five of these games.

NFL Playoffs

The only game I watched much of was the Niners-Cowboys game, which was awesome as a neutral. The final, what, 18 minutes, were just tremendously stupid and entertaining.

Long-time readers will recall that I grew up a Cowboys fan, but have deserted them a couple times in my life. It’s been 12–14 years so I fully abandoned them because of Jerry Jones’ nonsense. But two of my college buddies I constantly text are Cowboys fans so at least watch their games these days so I can keep up with the conversation. I do enjoy watching the Fighting Jerrys lose, though. Especially in painful manner.

That was about the most painful loss possible. Get down big, early, at home. Get a break or two that allows you back in the game. Do some dumb stuff along the way. Then have your final shot to attempt to win the game taken away in a truly unique way. Running a quarterback draw with 14 seconds left and no timeouts, then watching the clock run out while the referee sets the ball has to be one of the five dumbest ways to lose an NFL game.

As I said above, I’m generally pro-offense, and enjoy all these wide-open offenses that make football so entertaining. But do we have to label all these coordinators and coaches as geniuses when they are constantly getting in their own way by trying to be too clever? Dallas converts a fake punt and then keeps the punt team on the field to try to confuse San Fransisco and ends up with a delay of game penalty that means their next fourth down is too far to go for it. And the Niners send a tackle in motion on a fourth and inches, which caused an illegal motion penalty and forced them to punt and give Dallas one final chance to win. Neither play was remotely necessary, and just examples of coaches thinking “Hey! I’ve got this great look no one has ever thought of before!” And using it in a high-stress situation that it has never been practiced under. Just dumb all around. And terribly fun to watch since I did not care who won.

I’m no expert, but the Bills-Chiefs game seems like it could be pretty good.

  1. We didn’t put a ton of research into picking a travel hoops program. We just asked a parent we knew where his two girls played and signed up there. But L’s program just had their first “graduate” commit to a D1 program. And it was a doozy. A high school junior who is ranked in the top five in the country committed to UConn two weeks ago. Girl must be a badass if she’s committing as a junior. I’m expecting nothing less than a full-ride for L now.  ↩
  2. I even sent her a GIF of KU running it and told her to watch it five times a day.  ↩

Friday Playlist

Some terrific new songs and RIP to one of the biggest names in the history of popular music.

“Wild” – Spoon
Spoon never, ever release a bad single. That doesn’t mean every single is great, but they always hold my attention for a week or two. This, however, is a great single, as good as anything they’ve done in quite awhile. This is also the song that reminded me to start my Favorites of ’22 playlist.

“You Will Never Work in Television Again” – The Smile
Hot damn! Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, along with their regular Radiohead producer Nigel Goodrich, with a side-project that kicks ass. I’ve always admired, but never loved, the direction Radiohead took after back-to-back alt rock classics The Bends and OK Computer. If this was the path they had taken, which is different from what they were doing but still honors their alt rock roots, I would have totally been onboard.

“Slide Away” – The Verve
Speaking of great 1990s British alt rock bands, I got on a kick late last night where I was listening to a bunch of tracks by The Verve. Urban Hymns will forever be one of my favorite albums. This was the first song I heard from them, in late 1993, and I remember it totally blowing my mind.

“Tomorrow” – Waxahatchee
From the soundtrack Katie Crutchfield wrote for the Apple TV+ series El Deafo, about a girl who loses her hearing and creates a superhero alter ego to get through life. Of course the song is delightful.

“Be My Baby” – The Ronnettes
We lost an angel this week when Ronnie Spector passed. Probably the first bad ass chick in the history of rock ‘n’ roll, she was the voice on this, one of the biggest and most important songs of the 1960s. Her ex-husband Phil Spector tried to destroy her life, and was nearly successful. She survived, put her life back together, and had a strong third act to her life. And she out-lived that fucker by about a year.

“Take Me Home Tonight” – Eddie Money
Money’s 1986 album Can’t Hold Back was meant to be a comeback for him after several middling years thanks to drugs and booze. Adding Ronnie Spector to this track turned it into the vehicle that brought her back to the public eye. She famously had to be coaxed to sing her lines. Who knows how the rest of her life would have turned out if she had not eventually relented. Soon she was singing and performing on her own again, and loving it, for the first time in nearly two decades.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 66

Chart Week: January 10, 1981
Song: “More Than I Can Say” – Leo Sayer
Chart Position: #10, 16th week on the chart. Peaked at #2 for five weeks.

(I will be adding an element to these posts moving forward. I’m going to copy my man Tom Breihan and rate each song using his 10-point scale.)

One of the only bummers for my holiday break was that the iHeart Radio Classic American Top 40 station did not air its annual marathon of year-end countdowns. That has, over the past three years, become a traditional for me. I could spend the last hours of the old year and the first hours of the new year taking down Christmas decorations, reading, and otherwise wasting time as Casey ticked off the biggest hits of my childhood in the background.

New Year’s weekend I kept feeling like I was missing something as I did those tasks in silence. Strangely, this song kept popping up in my head.

Last Sunday I turned on the KCMO weekly replay and caught part of the second half of the top hits of 1981 countdown. Second song I heard? “More Than I Can Say” by Leo Sayer at #28. Obviously the Music Gods meant for me to write about it!

This song has an interesting history. It was written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison, both members of Buddy Holly’s band The Crickets, in 1959. They composed it a few weeks after Holly died in the infamous The Day The Music Died plane crash.

The Crickets carried on without Holly, putting out albums periodically until as recently as 2005. Their original version of “More Than I Can Say” was the band’s closest thing to a hit in the States in their post-Holly era, peaking at #42 on the R&B chart.[1]

Bobby Vee was one of several artists recruited to replace Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper on tour following their deaths. He recorded a cover of “More Than I Can Say” in 1961 that peaked at #61.

Surviving setlists show that the Beatles played this often in 1961 and 1962, mostly in their Hamburg days, although they never put their version onto wax.

In the mid 1970s, Leo Sayer went on an unlikely hot streak. Out of nowhere, he scored six Top 40 hits, including back-to-back Number Ones with “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” and “When I Need You.” By 1980, though, he had failed to hit the US Top 40 with nine straight records.

As he prepared to record his Living in a Fantasy album, he sought an old song to cover. One day he saw a TV commercial for a Bobby Vee greatest hits collection. The ad included a snippet of “More Than I Can Say.” Sayer knew that was the song he was looking for. He ran out to buy the album, hit the studio, and immediately cut his own version. Smart decision. His recording raced up the charts and spent five weeks at number two, stuck behind Kenny Rogers’ “Lady” for four weeks and John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” for one week as the calendar flipped from 1980 to 1981.

There isn’t much difference in the three recorded versions of this song. I do like how Sayer’s take is both immediately recognizable and still pulls in the sound of its time. There’s the slightest country tinge to the song, balanced by some solid, smooth-as-hell, Christopher Cross-esque Yacht Rock vibes. In fact, the music is the best part of the song. There’s a hint of disco funk in the bass. Not enough to make the song danceable, but enough to propel the song along. Sayer’s vocals aren’t remarkable in any way, and it feels like he’s gliding without investing any true emotion into his effort. In fact, the best vocal parts are the backing harmonies over the guitar break and the final section.

Still, there’s something about it that makes me feel warm when I hear it. That’s probably just the heat of nostalgia, taking me back to the holiday season of 1980. But I like it a lot more than his other songs.

The video is kind of great. The use of a green screen probably blew people’s minds back then. And Leo’s look of red shoes, yellow pants, pink blazer, and White Man Afro was truly aspirational.

D’s Grade: 7/10

  1. They were more successful in Britain, with three Top 40 singles. With Holly, they had four-straight Top 40 tracks, including chart-topper “That’ll Be The Day.”  ↩

Jayhawk Talk: Heart Burn Edition

A near disaster in the Fieldhouse last night should have most KU fans very concerned this morning.

Iowa State has proven that their 12–0 start was no fluke, and new coach TJ O (I refuse to learn how to spell his last name; this is a blog not a newspaper) deserves an enormous amount of credit for turning the program around so quickly. They guard your ass off, and not a single KU player handled the pressure well.

There are some caveats to the concern. The biggest was Remy Martin’s absence. His speed and ability to attack the ISU pressure would have freed everyone else up. He could have played 35 minutes without scoring a point and I think just being on the court means KU wins by 6–7.

There’s no shame in struggling on offense in the Big 12 this year. But KU has looked pretty bad in the last two games with the defense forcing them out of their comfort zone.

This team is not confident with the ball, and should expect an enormous amount of pressure in every game the rest of the season. I asked in one of my text threads last night if we had ever practiced against pressure, because we looked like fifth graders playing against a press for the first time.

Speaking of middle schoolers, KU showed little desire to go get tough rebounds the past two games. It reminded me of L’s game Monday when her team got out-rebounded approximately 87–2. Texas Tech and Iowa State were both the more physical, engaged, and determined teams in going after loose balls. I rarely saw a KU player get a body on a Cyclone as the ball was going up, content to chase the ball in the air without trying to get position.

It was ironic that last night was Roy Williams’ return to Allen Fieldhouse – and there really needs to be something more formal to honor him, maybe next year to celebrate the 2002 and 2003 Final Four teams? – with the former KU coach seated directly across from the KU bench. There were moments when we knew that, had Roy been the KU coach, he would have sent the last five, healthy guys on the bench into the game. That’s not Bill Self’s style; he will always default to the guy’s he trusts, whether they’re playing well or not. But maybe last night was a game that he could have stole a page from Ol’ Roy’s coaching book and lit a fire under his team.

The most interesting aspect of last night’s game was Self starting freshman KJ Adams and playing him a decent chunk of minutes at the 5 spot. Neither David McCormack nor Mitch Lightfoot were injured, so Self wasn’t forced to start Adams. I would have been less surprised if he slid Jalen Wilson to the 5 and started Jalen Coleman-Lands. Because Self never starts a player like Adams unless he has to.

I found that move encouraging. It means Self was, for once, coaching for the future instead of the moment. KJ had a few nice moments, but mostly looked like he was just trying to keep up and not mess things up too badly. Starting him in a conference game is all about trying to get him confidence so Self can trust him when we get to late February and early March and the games get bigger.

To be clear, I don’t think KJ is the answer at the 5. He’s only 6’7” and although he’s athletic, he’s not Andrew Wiggins athletic, so he won’t be jumping over everyone to grab rebounds. He’s also not like those super strong, 6’7” dudes who would bully people back in the ’90s. But if he can just set screens, make the right rolls, not get destroyed on D, and give effort on the boards, he can be a stop gap until Dave and Mitch figure out how to stay on the court.

(Remy makes this team go. But what is going to doom this team is not having an athletic big man. I’ve said it before, but it becomes more glaringly obvious every week. There weren’t many guys like that in the portal last summer, and Self whiffed on that kind of player in high school recruiting. He also probably thought McCormack would be an effective, 30 mpg player.)

It’s still early January. KU is fighting some injuries. The team should look different in a week or two if/when Remy gets healthy and Bobby Pettiford shakes the rust. They snatched a win in a game they did not deserve on the same night Baylor lost a home game. The Big 12 schedule is going to be an absolute monster for the next two months. There is plenty of reason for concern but no reason to give up on this year’s team quite yet.

Sports are Dumb

This weekend was another reminder that sports are dumb. At least they were to the people – well me – in our house.


You all know that I’m superstitious. So I got a bad feeling as news broke that Tech’s two best players, Terrence Shannon Jr and Kevin McCullar, would miss Saturday’s game against KU. It just seems like anytime people get excited about an opponent missing key player(s) against KU, the Jayhawks decide to lay a big, fat egg that day.

Sure enough, that’s what happened in Lubbock.

The undermanned Red Raiders took it to KU the entire game. They were better on offense and defense. Tougher on the boards. Eventually figured out the junk defense Bill Self threw at them to try to give his team a chance to get back into the game.

Tech was good, yes, but KU was bad. Most of the team looked lethargic or two steps slower than Tech. Just about everyone on the team looked confused when they were actually being guarded tough. They simply refused to rebound and let the Tech players shove them away from every 50–50 ball, be it in the air or on the ground.

(That’s not a complaint. I thought there were a few pushes that should have been called. Tech just moved the KU guys without much resistance all damn day, and it’s on KU to be tougher, work harder, and not be, you know, soft.)

Even a B+ performance probably would have gotten the win for KU. Instead they offered a C-/D+ effort. A lot of teams are going to lose in Lubbock over the next two months. But KU had a chance to steal one against a Covid-reduced team and blew it. The effort is the concern, not the result.


I’ve been pretty lukewarm on the Colts all season. So their loss in Jacksonville Sunday didn’t really cause me any anguish. In fact, I found it pretty funny. Thank goodness I did not have a huge emotional investment in the game, because that was an absolutely inexcusable loss. The local media immediately dubbed the worst regular season loss since the Colts moved to Indy. Which is fair. The Colts were one of the hottest teams in the league, until a week ago. The Jags were just playing out the string, hoping to get to the offseason and hit the reset button for the latest time. A loss guaranteed them the number one pick in the draft. There was zero reason for that team to show up with any motivation Sunday.

Yet them hammered the Colts from the opening drive and never let up.

A lot has been made here in town about the Colts getting a league-high seven Pro Bowl players and pretty much all of those guys sucking Sunday.

It would be easy to blame Covid, as the virus ran rampant through the roster over the past couple weeks. Several players who were unvaccinated and got the virus played notably worse once they came back.

Carson Wentz sucked balls the last two weeks. I’ve said all year you can never trust that guy in key moments. I don’t know that it’s better or worse he turned into a pumpkin at the end of the regular season instead of waiting until the playoffs to go 6–13 for 70ish yards and a couple turnovers through three quarters.

Darius Leonard had zero impact yesterday, other than a needless late-hit penalty that gave the Jags 15 yards.

The offensive line was atrocious.

Johnathan Taylor couldn’t do a thing thanks to the o-line’s woes.

It was a total team effort at turning a gimme game into a total disaster.

Now what should they do moving forward? Do you clean out the front office? The coaching staff? Somehow try to solve the quarterback issues for the fourth-straight year?

I’m guessing there aren’t wholesale changes. That’s generally not how the Colts roll and I think ownership trusts Chris Ballard and Frank Reich to figure it out. And everyone is too invested in Wentz to not give him another chance. This team is close in a lot of ways and a good offseason could put them in great shape for 2022. But a repeat of last year’s offseason misses could mean the end for the current regime.

Friday Playlist

There is an unintentional theme to this week’s playlist.

“Tunnels” – Weakened Friends
A huge, crunchy very 90s song about getting your heart broken. It’s awesome.

“Lo Lo Lonely” – Young Guv
YG returns in March with a double album filled with his take on power pop. I know Matthew Sweet put out an album last year. I didn’t listen to it, but this reminds me of his work back in the 1990s.

“Don’t You Grow Up” – Kindsight
I don’t keep track where bands I share on Fridays hail from. I would imagine we’ve had a Danish band before, but I also figure Danes are few and far between in these posts. I’ve got a little Danish blood so I’m genetically inclined to like this. Hey, guess what? It has a ’90s vibe to it! Not sure how all these songs popped up this week.

“Lift” – Stutter Steps
Hell, why not one more song that sounds like it could have gotten some airplay on a mid-90s alt-rock radio station?

“Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)” – The Rolling Stones
I finished season three of Narcos: Mexico last night. This was used in the opening scene of the last episode. Not sure it really lines up with the Mexican drug cartels of the 1990s, but it sure sounded good. Anyway, the timing of that show gives me the angle to include this track in a playlist that calls back to the Clinton era.

“In the Meantime” – Spacehog
A couple weeks back the Sunday Pitchfork retro review was of Spacehog’s debut album, Resident Alien. I bet I’m like most of my friends my age and this was the only song I ever listened to off that disk. But what a freaking song! The review led me to this listing of biggest one-hit wonders of the alt-rock era. There are some good songs in here.

You Have to Find Your Own Way: Cobra Kai, Season Four

I knocked out season four of Cobra Kai over the weekend. Six episodes Saturday, four Sunday. Solid work.

I liked it, although I thought it took a long time to find a good rhythm and flow. I hoped there would be a payoff for a rather slow start, and, thank goodness, there was. In fact, the last three episodes were as good as any in the total run of Cobra Kai.

We were all giddy coming into this season at the prospect of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso joining forces to train their students to compete against John Kreese’s Cobra Kai at the All Valley Tournament.

Just typing All Valley Tournament gives me goosebumps!

As we meandered through the first seven episodes, I got the feeling that the writers were so stuck on trying to make that partnership shine, at least in TV terms, that they lost elements that had made past seasons work so well.

Or, perhaps, they just knew where they wanted to get to and couldn’t make the path to that finish work as well as the finish itself.

Also, maybe my expectations for how they would interact were too high. I wanted so badly for it to be all about them that I forgot what makes this show so good: how there is always a counter-balance for any plot line or relationship. The writers would have to fundamentally change the show if it become the Daniel and Johnny Karate Hour.

To my eyes, Johnny was a little neutered this season. The first three seasons every episode had moments with Johnny that made me laugh out loud. He still had his moments this season, but they felt more spaced out and sometimes less funny as in the past. The funniest Johnny moment of season four was his training montage, when he started kicking waves and yanking kids off of scooters. That was some funny shit. Searching for “how to tell my student I’m banging his mom” was pretty awesome, too. “Learning feminism,” and “Do I look like I sit to pee?” were other favorite lines of mine. I’m all for Johnny maturing but not at the expense of his sense of humor.

I never saw The Karate Kid Part III, so Terry Silver was new to me. Maybe that affected how I viewed this season, too, as the callbacks and references to that movie were lost on me.

Every time either Silver or Krees worked out or fought someone, I kept expecting one of them to drop dead of a heart attack. These guys were in Vietnam and we’re supposed to believe they can engage in rigorous martial arts ass kicking in the 2020’s? I’ll believe a lot of bullshit in this show, but that’s too much.

I also continue to refuse to believe that Yasmine is really into Demetri. It is nauseating and setting up a lot of real-life geeks for disappointment when the hottest girl at their schools don’t suddenly fall for them.

All the overt flashbacks to the original movies are getting old. It feels like by season four those should be appear much less often. I did like that pretty much everyone, including Samantha, called out Daniel for being so hung up on Mr. Miyagi. We get it, he changed your life. But, dude, can you give it a rest? Based on how little time Daniel spends at the dealership, I’m starting to think Amanda was the real force behind any business success Daniel had. Maybe we need to dive into her backstory more to find the real reason the LaRusso Auto Group is the valley’s first choice for fine vehicles and auto service.

The show continued to do a wonderful job pitting characters against each other in new and entertaining ways, with constantly shifting rivalries and hurt feelings. Best example this season was the connection between Daniel and Miguel, which threatened Johhny’s relationship with his student. It’s basic, soap opera shit. But this show is really good at it.

With that in mind, I think the writers could have pushed the Amanda-Tory storyline harder. It’s just a different version of the interactions between Daniel, Johnny, Robby, and Miguel, but it had opportunities to turn into something really interesting.

From doing some stalking, errrr, “research” on Instagram, it appears that Vanessa Rubio and Courtney Henggeler hang out a little bit outside of the show. I bet that’s a good time…

Kyler Park, with his “rich Asian kid who talks like he’s from the ‘hood” act kills me.

Robby and Tory were devastatingly attractive at prom. I think my windows fogged up a little bit. I still have some Dirty Old Man issues watching Peyton List as a woman. So I’m not going to say much else.

It did make me chuckle that Robby and Tory could do a flawless Tango without ever having danced together before. This is the fake shit I can buy into.

The All Valley Tournament episodes were awesome. And, let’s be honest, the best character of the year was the guy who was the announcer for the matches. Another example of how the show isn’t afraid to be cheesy and almost always finds the humor in those moments instead of turning the audience off.

“I know who I am now. The guy who’s gonna win this whole fucking thing.” Eli Mother Fucking Moskowitz, ladies and gentlemen, with the line of the entire series. I literally raised my fists and shouted when he said that. Homeboy called his shot and delivered on it.

That was the only downside to how the final matches were ordered. With the boys final first, and Cobra Kai only needing one win to clinch the team title, you knew that Eli would beat Robby. Still, they made that fight, and the girls final, hella interesting, as Cali kids would say. Terrific action, camerawork, and drama in all the matches of the tournament.

If Daniel LaRusso wasn’t already insufferable enough, he has the balls to walk over to Robby and try to tell him how to fight before the final. What a dick. He can fuck right off. Daniel is the worst. I was glad when Samantha asked him why his way had to be the right way and then went out and fought her fight on her terms.

Poor, confused, emo Miguel. Kid is trying to get through life and this season seemed like an endless series of progressively bigger disappointments to him. If a single noise summed up his season, it would be a long, sad sigh. When a drunken Johnny called him Robby after Miguel told him he loved him, it looked like he was going to crumble into a million pieces.

The aftermath of the finals was terrific: Tory having her moment of glory ruined by seeing Silver pay off the ref, Miguel heading to Mexico City to search for his dad, Johnny and Robby hugging, Chozen arriving to help Daniel counter Cobra Kai, Krees getting arrested, and Anthony getting his ass beat. Throw those together with all the normal drama and season five is set up to be an absolute monster.

I didn’t go back and re-watch the earlier seasons before season four, so I can’t make a good comparison or ranking of them. Overall, I would give season four a B+, with the qualifier that the last three episodes were an A+. There are way worse ways to spend ten hours of your life.

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