Author: DB (Page 1 of 317)

Kid Hoops Notes

A quick kid hoops update, as L’s St P’s team has hit their (stupid) fall break-break.

First, a refresher about the dumbness of the CYO girls basketball schedule.

Girls hoops has always been a fall CYO sport, so that the gyms are cleared out for boys basketball and boys/girls volleyball in the winter. Never mind that girls volleyball should be a fall sport, to mirror high school and avoid the core travel season. This is the way it has always been in CYO, and CYO isn’t about to change.

Since the Catholic schools around Indy are all on very different academic calendars, fall breaks are scattered throughout October and of various lengths.[1] This has always caused problems with fall sports, especially girls basketball which schedules games every day of the week. It is a huge hassle to get your schedule and then start fielding calls from opposing coaches asking to reschedule a game because their school is on break when you were supposed to play.

“We can’t play October 5 because of our fall break. Can you play October 12?”
“Nope, that’s when our break starts.”

🤯

Three years ago CYO came up with a plan to alleviate this. No, they didn’t move the season back, starting in late October and then playing up to the holiday break, which would make the most sense. Rather, they moved the season up two weeks so it starts as soon as kickball ends and then shut games down for three weeks to avoid all the breaks. Starting as soon as kickball ends means actually selecting teams before kickball begins and then practicing throughout kickball season. It’s a true joy for basketball coaches who have girls from multiple kickball teams on their rosters to try to schedule a practice that avoids all the kickball conflicts.

This is super dumb and I haven’t met a single person who thinks it’s a good idea. After year one there were a ton of complaints to the CYO office and they basically said, “This is our fix and we’re not changing it.”

That “fix” manages to interfere with the seasons of three different CYO sports and add yet another activity to the schedules of girls who are playing sports outside CYO. Again, the obvious fix is to move the season back. Then kickball and basketball won’t overlap. Girls who run cross country will be done with their seasons before basketball games begin. Most other outdoor club sports will have wrapped up by then, too.

Oh, and of course they don’t do this for football. The boys play right through the fall breaks.

I promised a quick update so I’ll turn rant mode off and get to the hoops.

L’s team wrapped up Part One of their season last night. It was also their final home game of the year, so the 8th graders got introduced before the game. Several of L’s teammates from last year who are in high school came back to watch her, too, which was fun.

The opponent was St. I, a team we’ve never beaten. Last year they beat us by approximately 150 points. If I recall correctly they scored 20 points before we could get a bucket, and then we only scored because they stopped pressing. We scored six straight and they put the press back on and made sure that little rally got snuffed out.

Fortunately that score was mostly because of the girls who are now freshmen. But L and her classmates had never beaten the girls their age, either. I think they beat us twice in both fourth and fifth grades. Those wins were built on the play of two girls. Two girls that L played with last winter and has become good friends with. We knew if we could somehow control them, we’d have a chance.

We got out to a 4–0 lead, which compared to last year was a great start!

The rest of the first half was your typical, bad CYO basketball. Lots of airballs and turnovers. Both teams played good defense but had little working on offense. St. I got their best player driving and she hit a few shots and went to the line a lot. We were down 14–12 at halftime.

On the first possession of the second half L found a seam, drove, and tied the game. Two possessions later she made the same move and we had the lead. We never gave that lead up, winning 24–20. The eight graders celebrated ending the St. I curse, as one coach called it. They hugged their teammates and then their opponents. It wasn’t a bad way to end their home careers.

L ended up with six points. She played some terrific defense and controlled the offense. Her team just can not make shots, her included. She was 0-fer on jump shots, only scoring at the rim or from the free throw line. We never got our inside girl going, as she was a little sped-up. She grabbed some big rebounds in the second half, though.

I again kept team stats. We were 4–24 from the floor in the first half, but 5–12 in the second half. Both teams had quarters in which they shot 1–13. Yeesh!

We hit the fall break-break at 2–1. Our girls will take an extra-long break because the eight grade trip to Washington D.C. is the last week of the month, so their next game isn’t until October 29. Then they have to play three games in four days before taking almost a week off before their final regular season game. The smart thing would be to stretch those four games over the nine days they span, but I’ve already told you about the logic involved in CYO scheduling.

Our girls will scrimmage schools that are not in our division four times and practice some in there. L and I are going to work on her jumper when we have time, as she seems to have hit a rut. Oh, and the Cathedral team she is playing for starts practice this coming weekend. There might not be any official CYO games for awhile, but she’s going to have plenty of chances to work on her game.


  1. Some schools take an entire week off. Others, like St. P’s, only take a long weekend. I get that some schools follow the calendars of the public school districts they fall into. But if the Archdiocese can make 1000 other rules schools have to follow, why can’t they insist that fall breaks all fit into a 10-day window to make things easier on everything, not just sports?  ↩

Weekend Notes

A belated rundown of this past weekend.


FNL

Cathedral finally had their first home game of the year. Since they only have one after this, and it has already been tagged as homecoming, Friday became senior night. Which was a little weird.

I stayed home and listened to an easy 37–6 win over Cincinnati LaSalle. LaSalle has won four Ohio state titles in the past eight years, but this year’s team was kind of dog crap. Or so it sounded on the radio. Until the scrubs gave up a late TD the Irish had gone 11 straight quarters without allowing a score. Granted those were mostly against bad teams, but the defense does seem to be getting better as the season goes on.


KU

After a gritty, gutty, ugly-ass 14–11 win over Iowa State, THE JAYHAWKS ARE RANKED!!!!! AND GAMEDAY IS COMING TO LAWRENCE!!!!! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE!!!!

I missed 85% of the game between basketball, prepping for L’s birthday party, and picking up dinner for the kids. I was able to watch the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, which was not a great experience. KU couldn’t move the ball, the defense was in full bend-but-don’t-break mode, and it seemed inevitable that Iowa State would win, either in regulation or overtime.

Which should have been what happened. But the Football Gods smiled on KU one more time as Iowa State missed a relatively easy field goal that would have forced OT, and the Jayhawks went to 5–0.

I felt terrible after the game, more like KU had lost than won. I think some of that was just the stress of the afternoon and then diving into the game in the worst possible moment. Later in the night I realized KU fans shouldn’t feel bad about any football win. I should be enjoying the W, the record, and the change of tone in the program. Sweating “bad” or “ugly” wins is something the coaching staff and players should be doing, not us fans. The bubble is going to burst at some point and it will be dumb for me to have not enjoyed the success that I’ve been craving for years.

From what I heard on Sirius while driving and read/listened to afterward, it seems like the defense actually played really well. Some of that is surely thanks to an Iowa State offense that isn’t the most efficient in the world. But, even if you give the ‘Clones credit for the three field goals they missed, surrendering only 20 points to a conference opponent would normally be a pretty big deal for the KU defense. It still is a big deal, and it saved the team on a day the offense sputtered, it just got lost a bit in the overall ugliness of the contest.

In the few minutes I did watch I got super annoyed with the ESPN2 broadcast. On KU’s next-to-last drive, the Jayhawks seemed to convert a third down. The announcers talked about what a big play it was, the cameras showed the crowd celebrating, they showed a replay and broke it down, etc. And then right before the next play you saw KU was snapping the ball from five yards behind where the previous play had begun. Only then did the announcers realize that there had been a penalty on KU that wiped out the conversion. Seems like something they or their spotters should have picked up on, right?

ESPN2 didn’t seem to put crowd microphones anywhere in the stadium, either. They would show shots of the band and you couldn’t hear them. When ISU missed the field goal, I assume the crowd was going nuts. That’s what the cameras showed. But you heard the slightest of buzzes on TV. This seems to happen a lot in games that aren’t the marquee matchup of the time slot. For being the World Wide Leader, ESPN sure has a lot of issues getting the basics of showing a game right. For as much as they charge cable companies to carry them, you’d think they could buy enough crowd mics so you get some sense of the environment inside the stadium. Maybe pay some of the blowhards who scream at each other a little less and up the sound hardware budget.

Since this is Kansas football, the Football Gods can’t completely be in our favor. Daniel Hishaw Jr. suffered an awful injury late in the game, rumored to be dislocated his hip late in the game. That sounds insanely painful and is a brutal injury for a guy who missed all of last year.

And then Sunday night Wisconsin fired Paul Chryst. Most folks feel like interim coach Jim Leonhard will get the full-time gig when the season ends. But if the Badgers look like shit the rest of the year, that’s another big job that Lance Leipold has connections to that may target him in December.

I’m not going to sweat that or the Nebraska job. I’m just going to enjoy the seven (or eight?!?! NINE?!?!) games KU has left and hope they can find a couple more wins. I’ll save the angst for once the season is over.

And now we get a whole week to enjoy the lead-up to a very big game against TCU that will get a lot of national attention.

(There’s a TCU guy who goes to my gym. Monday he walked by me and said, “So I guess you’re a football school now?”)


Twitter

I find it damn near impossible to follow Twitter during a football game. EVERYONE thinks they are smarter than the coaches. Doesn’t matter what team/game you’re following. I’ve seen this during KU games, Colts games, and plenty of random games people in my stream are following. The negativity is overwhelming. Where in basketball games Twitter feels like a good way to add context to what is going on in the game, or discuss the action, in football it is an endless stream of people who have been playing Madden for 30 years and think they are smarter than guys who are paid to make decisions.

Granted, a lot of coaches make curious decisions. But not every borderline call deserves a meltdown.

I was reminded Saturday that I often mute a specific KU-related account during games. The dude that runs it shares interesting and useful stuff throughout the week. But during games, even basketball ones, he is SOOOOO negative, that I began muting him on game days last winter. He questions every coaching decision. He rips the refs at every opportunity. He is hateful about opposing fans. Late in the fourth quarter Saturday, Cobee Bryant appeared to have picked off an Iowa State pass that would have ended their final drive. However, replay showed that when he hit the ground, the ball came loose and he never recovered it while still inbounds. It was clearly not a catch and the officials correctly overturned the original call. This guy went off, though, saying how corrupt the Big 12 refs were.

It’s fine to be an irrational fan and always see calls through the prism of your team. But if you’re running an account that represents a website rather than just yourself, you need to calm down and view the games rationally. Don’t embarrass yourself over a play like this, where there is zero doubt the correct call was made.


Kid Hoops

Saturday L had a travel game. They played solid in the first half and had a three-point lead at halftime. Then they played like absolute garbage in the second half and lost by six. L was 1–10 from the field. I think the entire team only shot slightly better than her 10%. Giving them credit for 20% might be too high, though. If Dick Vitale had called the game he would have said it was Brick City with a capital B, baby.

One interesting thing about the game was a girl on the other team may be joining our squad for the next travel season in March. She would be our tallest player, is a terrific athlete, and is a really good defender, but she doesn’t have much of an offensive game. Since we can’t get a rebound to save our lives, that alone makes her a decent addition. Then again, maybe after playing against us she’ll decide she wants to play for a different program. I would argue our poor shooting will give her lots of chances to grab offensive boards!

Sunday L had a CYO game. It was against a team we figured we should beat easily as L’s class has never lost to them in any sport. We jumped out to a 9–0 lead but then ran into issues and only led 14–8 at halftime. L got three fouls in the first quarter and had to sit most of the half, which didn’t help. One was legit, one was marginal, and the third was a crap moving screen call.

We came out smoking in the second half, or at least it seemed like we did. We were much better on defense and ran good offense, just couldn’t get the shots to drop. We got the lead up to 10 and held steady around there before winning 26–13.

I sat on the bench and kept stats. We had 14 steals, which was great. However, six of them were in the first quarter and then we didn’t have another until after halftime. We really should have had 20+ but our girls are soft going after loose balls. They would knock the ball loose then just stand there and watch the other team go after it. Drove me nuts. We got out-rebounded by 2. I think L is destined to never play on a team that can rebound.

There was a call in the fourth quarter than nearly made me lose it. L was defending the ball and ran into a screen. From my vantage point the screen looked solid and legal. Neither L nor the girl setting the screen went flying. But the ref blew his whistle and looked to the scorer’s table. “Foul is on eleven…” and I let out a sarcastic “WHAT?!?!” And just about chucked my clipboard. Our head coach jumped off the bench to argue. L looked totally shocked. Then our mom who was keeping the book turned to us and said “Eleven white, not eleven purple.” The coaches and I looked at each other and laughed. I decided it was a makeup call since L had been called for the illegal screen in the first half, and they didn’t make that call again the entire game. Oh, and both times the screens were legal. Refs…

She had six points.

Wednesday we play a team we’ve never beaten. L has a bunch of friends on that squad, several of which she’s played with outside CYO. She’s pretty excited about it. If we grab those loose balls and can get some rebounds, I think we have a chance.


L Turns 14

Monday was L’s birthday. After her game Saturday she had four friends over. They swam, hung out, and spent the night. It seemed like a good time.

There’s a seventh grade boy who lives nearby who they invited over to play basketball and hang out with them. I couldn’t get a sense of whether one/some/all of the girls like him, as in like-like, or if he’s just a nice kid who lives close. We know his parents a little – his dad actually coached L in soccer way back in first or second grade – but we don’t hang out in the same circles. I give him props for coming over to a house he’s never been to before and hanging out with five older girls for a few hours.

September Media

Movies, Series, Shows

US Open
Probably watched as much of the tournament this year as I’ve watched in several years. It was time well spent.

A

30 for 30: Shark
I LOVED Greg Norman when I was a kid. He was my first favorite golfer and until Tiger came along I was all-in with the Great White Shark. Over time I’ve come to think he is kind of a douche, a view that has been affirmed this year as he has spearheaded the new LIV tour.

This piece looks at his entire playing career with a particular focus on his most famous failure: the 1996 Masters. Even not being a fan of his anymore, it is a little uncomfortable seeing him sit down and watch his meltdown. I still think he’s kind of a douche, though.

B+

Commando On The Front Line
I came to this series in a roundabout way, but enjoyed it. It is a 13-year-old look at both the training process and then the deployment of Royal Marines Commandos during the war in Afghanistan. The series follows recruits through their training in Britain and then as troops that fight the Taliban. The series creator was embedded with the recruits/Marines, and there seemed to be very little censorship of what he was allowed to record/share.

What I found most interesting was how their training differs from American forces. I think that the British troops go through a combined basic training and special forces training, thus it takes 32 weeks (plus a three-week summer break) to earn their commando berets. While in the US you go through basic training and then go through special forces training separately if so inclined. Of course I could be totally wrong on that. It’s not like I’m an expert on these things.

Anyway, compelling show.

A-

Heat
In preparation for reading Heat 2, I went back and watched the original movie. I think I had only seen it all the way through one time. I think that’s because I didn’t like it as much as a lot of people did. I wondered if re-watching it would change that. It did not. It’s classic Michael Mann: great to look at with some amazing action sequences, but much of the dialogue and story have painful issues. Even at nearly three hours, it feels like big parts of the story have been skipped over in the name of brevity, which leads to several, “Wait, what?” moments. But that bank robbery scene is a classic.

B

Cobra Kai, season five
Solid but unspectacular. This season seemed to lack the highs that the first four each had. It also suffered as so many shows that stick around suffer: the cast is getting bigger, which means it is a tougher to get everyone on screen and develop deep storylines. This season also was less funny than any of the four that preceded it. It also lacked any real “Oh shit!” moments. The finale was good, but it felt like a season in which not a lot happened.

B

The Bear
I’ve written about this.

A+


Shorts, YouTubes, Etc

Every Piece Of Gear In An Army Cavalry Scout’s 72-Hour Bag
You watch enough travel packing and gear videos, plus a series about British commandos, and eventually The Algorithm starts spitting content like this at you.

Conan & Andy Help Freshmen Move Into College
Useful pointers for next year when we move M into her dorm.

Adventures of A+K
They are just about done with their Alaskan adventures.

Kara and Nate
The Algorithm finally decided to start suggesting other traveling couples to me. This was the first one other than A+K I checked out. They are funnier, a little more polished, a little less goody-goody. But they are also more capitalistic in their vlogging. Not sure I’m going to deep-dive into their old stuff but I will follow their new videos for awhile.

LPGA Skills Challenge at the Queen City Championship
Lots of really smart people in golf keep trying to figure out ways to “grow the game,” and their plans generally involve the Saudis and/or giving rich people even more money. But it is stuff like this, which is low in budget but high in fun, that makes the game more interesting.

WHAT IT’S LIKE FALLING AT GIANT MAVERICKS WITH IAN WALSH
Dude! Also, drones have made surf videos even more spectacular.

Peru’s Geography is CRAZY
The Algorithm has been bugging me about this for months. I finally cracked. Peru seems kind of dope.

Black Diamond Presents: Behind the Lens with Chris Burkard
The monthly “Sure, it’s a commercial, but it looks amazing” entry.

Norway and Sweden Compared
Not sure this really clears anything up. He should have thrown Finland and Denmark in to really confuse matters.

Big Sur, California: 1 Day Road Trip to Beaches, Waterfalls, Bridges and Elephant Seals
We went to Big Sur once when we lived in California. All I remember are lots of trees. We must not have hit the good spots.

One last run for the best hat ever made
Beau Miles bullshit. Watch your knackers!

Restorers Try to Get Lunar Module Guidance Computer Up and Running
I could have used a lot more detail but this is still a fascinating project.

GERMAN VERSION OF THE D-DAY INVASION FILM MADE BY O.S.S.
Fascinating. A film made by the Germans for people in Germany and occupied Europe to spin the Allied invasion of Europe as a moment of German strength. Then the US OSS took it, added some English voice overs, and showed it to American factory workers to motivate them to keep cranking out war supplies.

Omaha Beach From the German Perspective
The above video caused this to land in my feed. I’ve watched a couple of this guy’s videos and have decided I don’t like his style very much. I can’t put my finger on why, but something about them just doesn’t mesh with my preferences.

How We Survive LONG HAUL FLIGHTS!
We have a long haul flight coming up soon. I’ve been collecting tips anywhere I can.

(even more) season 6 bloopers | The Office
Always good stuff.


Audio Streams

93 WXRT
I learned in this breakdown of The Bear that the VoiceOver in episode seven was from the beloved alt/indie rock station WXRT in Chicago. I’ve added it into my Sonos favorites and listened to it a few times. It reminds me of Bloomington’s WTTS although with more new music and a more indie lean. I’m spoiled so the commercial breaks bum me out, although I understand their presence makes the existence of a station like this possible. I still wish there was something similar to Cincinnati’s WOXY out there for us music heads. As much as I love Spotify, there’s nothing like having a good DJ spool out the songs for you rather than relying on The Algorithm to do it.

Booth Review
I can’t find a link specific for this podcast/stream, but Kent Swanson and Scott Chasen’s breakdowns of KU football are really, really good. I don’t know much about the specifics of football, but they dive into the details in a way that should delight both football geeks and casual fans. This was their instant reaction to the Iowa State game.

Stats

September 2022

  • Stevie Wonder – 62
  • The Beths – 40
  • Maggie Rogers – 34
  • The War on Drugs – 34
  • Beastie Boys – 22

Complete stats available at my Last.fm page.

Friday Playlist

Once again we are brushing up against a slowing stream of new music, so this week’s playlist is a little more eclectic, at least in terms of date of recording.

“At Attention” – Northern Portrait
You cannot convince me these kids aren’t actually from the industrial north of England. Sure, their bio says they are from Denmark, but I’m not buying that for one minute.

“Zenosyne” – Caroline Loveglow
What a gorgeous song! She kind of has a Hatchie-adjacent sound, and there’s nothing wrong with that. This is nearly a year old and I’m mad it took me until recently to come across it. Also, you cannot convince me that her last name is really Loveglow. I do kind of love it, though.

“Oceans of Darkness” – The War on Drugs
TWOD just released the expanded edition of I Don’t Live Here Anymore, including two bonus tracks. This one is really good. I would have preferred it to one or two songs that made the original album track list.

“Vow” – Garbage
I’ve been working through probably the best indie playlist ever over the past couple weeks and came across a Garbage song the other day. That got me digging into their catalog, reading about them, etc. No doubt they were one of the best and most important bands of the middle-grunge era, for lack of a better term. They’ve come back at least once with really good music, something you can’t say of many of their contemporaries. Anyway, I don’t know that this is their best song, but it was their first big single here in the States, and has always been my favorite.

“Raised On the Radio” – The Ravyns
Continuing my recent run through cool songs from early 1980’s teen movies, this was one of the true New Wave songs that was both used in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and on the movie’s soundtrack. It was used in the scene when Brad Hamilton is washing his car. A really solid tune. More semi-obscure music from ’80s movies in a moment…

“Gangsta’s Paradise” – Coolio featuring L.V.
Damn, pour one out for one of the better dudes in 1990s hip hop. Look up his story about resolving his beef with Weird Al. More people in the public eye should have his ability to look at themselves and realize when they have fucked up and an apology is in order. RIP.

“Beat City” – The Flowerpot Men
In Steven Hyden’s piece about the music of The Bear, he highlights this song. If you are a child of the ’80s I guarantee you will remember it about 10 seconds in, and immediately think of a specific scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. This is not on any streaming services, as far as I can find. That is a gigantic bummer because it is amazing!

Baseball Notes (+1)

My season-long boycott of baseball has continued. It’s really not been hard since the Royals have been so shitty this year. I’m not feeling any inclination to crack in a week when the playoffs begin. I’m sure I’ll watch some of the games, but I don’t expect to be as into them as I have been in recent years. I have plenty of other things that can entertain me during evenings in October.

Still, I thought I should drop a few baseball related thoughts.


Dayton Moore Fired

This is over a week old, but the Royals have finally moved on from their long-time general manager/president of baseball operations, the architect behind the 2014 pennant and 2015 World Series winning teams.

This was a good move.

Everyone says Dayton is a decent man who loves the franchise and the Kansas City area, and I don’t doubt that. But his methods had become outdated and it seemed like as long as he was in charge, the organization would remain stagnant.

When you look back at his career, it’s really remarkable that the R’s ever got to the postseason. It’s not that they weren’t deserving; those teams were filled with high draft picks and smart acquisitions. Rather what made those two Octobers seem so unlikely are the seasons around them.

I think Dayton was probably one more under-performing season away from losing his job in 2014. And the post-World Series era has turned into an absolute disaster.

A Twitter commentator said that championships are never truly flukes – it takes too much to win one in any sport to write them off as breakdowns in the matrix – but when you look at how the Royals performed in Moore’s first seven or eight years, and then in the seven years since, that title seems like a huge outlier.

I’m hopeful that J.J. Picollo, despite being a Moore protégé, is the right choice to move the franchise forward. He seems more open to using advanced stats and more modern training methods than Moore ever did. Perhaps that will unlock the potential of all the pitchers the R’s have collected in the past five years. His changes to the organization’s hitting philosophy are promising, so that bodes well.

The Dayton Moore era was filled with contradictions. The Royals were one of the few franchises that looked to take care of all of its employees during the pandemic. His efforts to build a new baseball academy are exactly what the sport needs to stay relevant and capitalize on talent that doesn’t come from the baseball factories of the American south or Latin America. Then there was his weird interest in educating players about the dangers of watching porn. Of all the ills in the world, that’s the one he chose to take a stand on? Bizarre.

There was a lot of shitty baseball between 2006 and 2013, and again since 2017. But what happened in the middle can never be discounted, no matter how much of an outlier it was.


Aaron Judge

I’m sure my long-time readers will be shocked that I’m super-annoyed by the coverage of Aaron Judge’s pursuit of the American League home run record, a mark he tied last night.

There’s the way ESPN has covered it. I don’t watch a lot of Sportscenter these days, but when I switch by it drove me nuts how the crawl would say something like “Judge Still Stuck at 60.” Still stuck. Two games after he hit #60. God I hate American journalism sometimes.

There was the same whining that happens anytime a record is being pursued and a hitter gets walked a lot. It’s not the job of the opponent to serve up meatballs, especially when they are fighting for a playoff spot. Ironic that some of the people complaining about Judge’s walks are the same people who fit into the next group and are allegedly concerned with the sanctity of the game.

But what has annoyed me most is the commentary around his chase, and the idea that should he break Roger Maris’ 1961 mark, he will become the “real” home run king.

That is garbage.

The MLB home run record is 73. It doesn’t matter if you hate Barry Bonds, if you think he didn’t play a clean game in his life, and if you think everything about that era was suspect. Those games, and those home runs, happened. You can’t strike them from the record without removing everything that happened in that era. So, Yankees fan, do you want to eliminate the team’s consecutive titles between 1998 and 2000? Roger Clemens was on those teams. Andy Pettite was on those teams. Jason Giambi. Kevin Brown. And those are just the big names we know about.

And you know how I feel about steroids. Do we know for certain that Judge is clean, or that he’s not using something now that is illegal but won’t be allowed in five years? The PED line is always moving, there are always advances in medicine, and I refuse to get upset about who is/is not using when the criteria for what is/is not allowed is not fixed.

Aaron Judge is a marvel, and what he’s doing is one of the most impressive performances in baseball history, especially when you compare his numbers to the other power numbers. He’s in position to break the AL home run record while also winning the Triple Crown, which is nuts. Let’s just celebrate that without trying to re-litigate 20-year-old grievances.


Albert Pujols

Hey, Pujols has had a remarkable summer, too. I figured when he signed with the Cardinals it would be for a victory lap, maybe a couple home series in the summer in front of packed crowds, then he’d slip away with an injury that would keep him on the IL until the final weekend of the season when he would come out for a few final ABs and hat tips to the crowd.

Boy was I wrong! Despite being 52 years old,[1] he’s somehow rediscovered the magic he lost over a decade ago and has bashed his way to 700 career homers and is OPS+-ing a cool 142.

It’s pretty amazing how a player can decline for a decade and suddenly find it agin. It’s weird how there’s been all the kvetching about Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, and Sammy Sosa but no discussion of Albert’s miraculous comeback. Not saying it’s not legit, just saying be consistent if you’re going to complain.


Brett Favre

Not baseball, but he’s a piece of shit. Not that this was a surprise.


  1. Or 42. Allegedly.  ↩

“Yes, Chef” – The Bear

Every so often I bust out a post dedicated to a show or movie I have watched as soon as I see it rather than wait for my monthly Media edition. Last weekend I watched an entire season of a streaming service exclusive that rocked my world. Yes, I watched the latest season of Cobra Kai last week. But this post is not about that.

This post is about The Bear.


I caught some of the buzz for The Bear over the summer. But since we didn’t have Hulu at the time, I added it to my list of shows to watch and moved on. I understood it was about a family restaurant in Chicago, but, honestly, I thought it was a documentary rather than a scripted dramedy.

So I was a bit surprised as I watched episode one, and it took me a few minutes to find my footing. But once I did, I was blown away.

The Bear is one of the best shows I’ve watched this year, right up there with Barry and Better Call Saul. Hell, it is instantly one of the best shows I’ve ever watched.

The characters are all so well developed, even in the very tight window of eight, half-hour episodes. You quickly understand who they are and develop strong feelings for each of them.

That ability to squeeze a lot into a little time is a common theme throughout the season. There are plenty of artsy moments, showcases for the culinary skills used by the restaurant’s crew, for example. These moments are satisfyingly brief, so they neither impede the story nor seem pretentious.

The camerawork is off-the-charts great. For starters I’m not sure how they filmed in a tight kitchen. There’s often barely room for the chefs let alone squeezing in cameras and crew, lighting, etc. Second, the show is loaded with exceptionally long shots. I didn’t go back to see if any tricks were used to make multiple shots appear to be single shots or different takes that were stitched together. Several of these scenes feature long monologues or dialogue, so you naturally wonder how many takes it took to get it all onto tape. If you’re into this kind of thing you will geek out on these scenes.

The acting is superb across the entire cast, but Jeremy Allen White just destroys in the lead role of Carmen Berzatto. His extended meltdown in episode seven and his monologue at the AA meeting in episode eight are two of the most stunning acting performances I can recall.

I love the arc of the season in general, and how the show runners present it. Your typical show will spend episode one giving introductions of all the players and backstory on how they got to this point in their lives. In The Bear, we get thrown right into the story with no explanation. Those details are slowly revealed over the entire season. In fact, just minutes before episode eight’s big reveal we are still learning things from the past that set that moment up.

Another wonderful thing about the show is the pacing of the story. We get this kitchen crew, a mix of established faces with established routines and two newcomers who shake things up, and how they battle each other to find common ground until they have a series of big wins that brings them together. Then shit quite literally goes insane and wrecks everything they’ve built together in episode seven, “Review,” and episode eight, “Braciole.”

Oh, man, “Review”! That has to be one of the greatest 20 minutes in TV history. Just a bat-shit crazy, four-alarm, total, mind-blowing meltdown. It will make your chest tighten and pulse rise as you watch everything fall apart. Each element in those 20 minutes is perfect, but what really makes the episode shine is how it is limited to those 20 minutes. There’s no long setup before or cooldown after. We are thrown into the disaster’s midst, watch Carmen and his crew attempt to deal with it, and then get yanked out.

The Bear is a brilliant piece of art. It is a nearly flawless show anchored by terrific writing, a killer soundtrack, and unforgettable performances by its cast. There are hilarious moments, beautiful moments, incredibly intense moments, and moments that can make you cry. It has everything.

Oh, and how did I finally get to the show? When the college football season began I remembered that our Verizon plan offers the entire Disney+ package for free, so I got ESPN+ fired up for the first KU game. It took me until last week to get Hulu going again.

Weekend Notes

A jam-packed weekend full of events that may be of mild interest to my loyal readers.


FNL

Cathedral traveled three hours to play a horrible team – they were up 56–0 at halftime and held on to win by that exact score – so I walked across the street with my pal Nicole H to watch The Other CHS play the school our tax dollars support. It was the first, real, fall-weather night of the season, and it was terrific, other than the occasional sprinkles that surprised us. The Other CHS used a stellar defensive and special teams performance to win 50–19. I got to talk to Coach H for a few minutes after the game, which is always good.


KU Keeps Rolling

I was able to watch the entire first half of the KU-Duke game Saturday. That was good TV. A packed Memorial Stadium, KU making big plays on offense, and Duke doing enough to make it an interesting game. Daniel Hishaw’s 73 yard TD catch-and-run immediately goes up there with Monte Cozzen’s run in 1991 as one of the greatest plays in school history.[1] And Jalon Daniels’ TD pass to Luke Grimm was a thing of beauty on both ends. I was sure it was going to sail out of bounds, but it was perfectly placed and Grimm made an amazing catch to haul it in.

As has been the theme this season, I missed the second half going to L’s basketball game. KU made it interesting late but held on to get the win and go to 4–0.

I was a little concerned after the game. Duke is solid but I don’t think they are better than any team KU will play the rest of the season. Yet they hung with KU all day.

Then I remembered that the Duke defense never really stopped KU, and if not for several self-inflicted wounds, KU wins this game easily. So chalk it up to still winning despite not playing your best? I don’t know, this is all uncharted territory for me.

I do know the defense needs to find a way to stop giving up the big plays. If you’re going to commit to stopping the run, which the Jayhawks pretty much did Saturday, you have to be able to at least slow the passing game. KU’s secondary make big plays but also give up big plays. With their level of talent and depth, I’m not sure you can hope for much more than that. But I do think that’s problematic as we get into the heart of the Big 12 season.

It was fun to see national commentators jumping all over the AP voters for not including KU. I’m sure K-State fans are taking some joy in knowing their win over Oklahoma is probably what kept KU out of the polls. Still, it’s good that so many national voices have come to KU’s defense.

I really don’t think KU is one of the 25 best teams in the country. But based on their performance through four games, they deserve to be ranked. I believe I saw that, of the teams receiving votes this week, the Jayhawks have played the seventh-toughest schedule, so you can’t say they’ve had an easy go of it.

Still, polls are kind of dumb and I’m not going to get worked up about the “snub.” Use it as motivation to come out extra focused for Iowa State. Win that, and there should be no question that the Jayhawks will appear in next week’s poll.


Double Kid Hoops

We’ve reached the point in the calendar where L has two different basketball teams in action. On Saturday her travel team continued their efforts in the Back to School league. Once again it was kind of a disaster.

They played a team they’ve never faced before. These girls were all long, wiry, and scrappy. They grabbed like hell on defense, which has been a theme all season. We even had three refs for this game and they were totally uninterested in calling any on-the-ball fouls. And these girls could shoot the hell out of the ball. They hit at least 15 3’s. At one point they had a 3-on–1 break and the girl with the ball pulled up and drilled a 3. S, who knows nothing about basketball, looked at me at one point and said, “I think our girls should just shoot 3’s, too.” She’s grasped what modern basketball is about.

It was a humbling 41-point loss. Egad! We were missing our best inside player but I don’t think she was worth 41 points.

L had been sick all week and it showed. She could only play a few minutes at a time before she lost her wind. Yet she went 3–3 from the field, including a 3, and 1–2 from the line to score eight.

Sunday the CYO season started.

We were playing the school, St N, that beat L’s kickball team in the City championship game the two times they made it. We knew they were tall and big and had a really good player we’ve faced in travel ball. We were missing the same inside player the travel team was missing, so we knew it would be tough to compete with them on the boards.

Fortunately L had her stamina back and played the entire game. She played really well, clearly our best player. The only issue was she missed five layups. A couple were in transition with pressure, but she still should have made them. Two looked like fatigue got to her, short-armed misses. And other was just a tough shot that was low percentage. Throw in a couple missed jumpers and she went 3–10 from the field, 2–4 from the line, for eight points. She had a couple assists, a couple rebounds, a couple steals, a couple turnovers. Twos were wild on her stat line.

St N’s best player got hot in the second half and they built a 13-point lead. They had multiple possessions where they got 3–4 chances to score because we could not get our hands on rebounds. We got it down to six with the ball a couple times, but couldn’t either hit the shot to cut it to one possession or get a rebound. Their inside girl wasn’t very good until you fouled her. She was 8–8 from the line, including 6–6 in the fourth quarter. She was six inches taller and at least 60 pounds heavier than the biggest girl we had.

Put it all together and it was an 11-point loss. I think if we have our inside girl and can get some rebounds, and L is 100% we could have won it. But we didn’t really expect to win so keeping it respectable was a decent result.

We are lucky this year to have a loudmouth dad. I was running the clock so well away from him, but I could still hear him screaming at the refs the entire game. In the second half the fouls were 9–2 against us. It was 7–1 before we started fouling in the last minute. All those calls against us were legit; that’s what happens when you’re trying to guard bigger girls with guards. But the one against them was fishy, especially since their best player got three fouls in the first quarter then didn’t get another foul the rest of the game.

Our loudmouth dad came walking across the court when the game was over and the refs were gathered at the scorer’s table. He loudly asked, “D, does the foul button work for them? Because it seemed like it was stuck on one the entire game.” Terrific. I think I’m going to keep stats on the bench during road games so I never have to sit near him.

L is very excited about the CYO season because she knows the level of competition will be lower than what she’s faced in travel. Sunday she looked like the second-best player on the court. They switched their best player onto her in the second half and she was still getting shots. She just needs to prove that she’s improved by hitting them.


Chiefs-Colts

The Sunday game matched up with the Chiefs-Colts game – apparently all my football interest this fall will coincide with L’s games – so I was only able to see the last 20 minutes or so. Even then I was only half watching, because the Colts seemed to be sucking and I figured the Chiefs would do just enough to win on a day they seemed to be lacking intensity and focus. I wondered if another Colts loss could lead to some kind of changes in the coaching staff this week.

Then a fortunate penalty gave the Colts new life on their final drive and Matt Ryan did just enough to get the win.

So the Colts get a tie and loss against the two worst teams in their division, then beat the co-favorites in the AFC. Sports make no sense sometimes.

The win gave me no real hope for the Colts’ season, though. That offensive line is terrible. It’s amazing how quickly things can fall apart in the NFL. That unit was one of the best, if not the best, o-lines in the game just two years ago. A retirement, some injuries, and poor decisions on incoming players have wrecked it. And while I was hopeful Ryan could be a steady if unspectacular correction from the high-stress Carson Wentz experiment, he looks washed up and a worse option than Phillip Rivers was two years ago.

Also, there must be something in the water in Indy, because like the Pacers in recent years, the Colts are just constantly decimated by injuries. It’s hard to expect them to improve when their best defensive player can’t get on the field and each week brings a new swath of players who will miss the next game.

The only good thing is the Colts are in the weakest division in the league, so there’s still a path to the playoffs if they can get healthy and find a way to protect Ryan. Although Jacksonville may not be as shitty as people expected, which could change that math significantly.


Local Excitement

One final note. S and I were taking a walk Sunday morning when we saw and heard a couple police cars race by. We were about a mile from our house and they seemed to be stopping at a major intersection, so we figured there must have been a bad accident. But then more police cars roared by and we figured it was something else. It seemed like they were turning away from our house, so we weren’t super concerned.

As another batch of police screamed by, we crossed paths with some other walkers who told us they heard there was am armed intruder in a home. When we got back to the main road our house sits off of, we could see at least eight police cars in front of a house about half-a-mile south of ours. We later read there was someone with a weapon in the house that was refusing to come out. Whether they were an intruder or a resident we never heard. But the person was detained, no ambulances ever showed up, and things calmed down.

Not your typical sleepy, Sunday morning.


  1. The play was made even better by the FS1 announcer LOSING HIS MIND over the play. “LOOK AT HISHAW GOOOOOOO!!!!!”  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Cold Shoulder” – Peace Ritual
Since I first heard this band a month or so ago I’ve been trying to figure out who they remind me of. I know it’s some late ’90s/early ’00s band that I did not like. I think my mind is intentionally blocking those memories since I like Peace Ritual’s songs and it doesn’t want to ruin them by making the connection to the turn-of-the-millennium band I did not like.

“Night Moves” – Lissie
Speaking of sounding like other artists, on this track I think Lissie sounds like 50% Stevie Nicks, 50% Miley Cyrus.

“Baby, Does Your Heart Sink?” – Martha
Who says breakup songs always have to be slow and sad? I love the title line and the acknowledgement in it that his partner isn’t excited when they see his name on their caller ID anymore.

“Head In The Clouds” – The Beths
I’ve shared at least one song from The Beths over the past couple months. I wasn’t expecting much from their album; it wasn’t even on my running list of new releases to watch out for. Then I saw they got an excellent review in Pitchfork and I’ve listened to the album multiple times over the past week. It’s really good, and highly recommended if you like this, or any of their other songs I’ve posted.

“Carry the Zero” – Built to Spill
BtS (not BTS) released a new album a week back that also got really good reviews. I tried to listen to it but it just wasn’t my jam. After giving up a few songs in, I pulled up this, likely their greatest song ever, the first BtS song I ever heard, and one of only a few of their songs I’ve ever really loved. It was a year or two after its release in 1999 that I got into it, but for a while it was a staple on the mix CDs I used to make to listen to at work or in the car. Remember making mixes on physical media???

“A Million Miles Away” – The Plimsouls
I heard this song on the way home from dropping L off at school this morning. It got me thinking about how my relationship with music has changed over the past 20-ish years. In the late 1990s, classic but semi-obscure songs like this were hard to hear, unless you owned the albums they came from. Even on Eighties Weekends on local radio stations, this wasn’t exactly in high rotation. When it would pop up, it felt like a special occasion, and you could pick out the real ’80s Music G’s by how people reacted to it.

But once file sharing, the iTunes Music Store, and eventually streaming took over, you could hear these songs whenever you wanted to. If you listen to a specialized channel like SiriusXM’s First Wave today, you’ll hear this once a week or so. Which is all cool, and hopefully The Plimsouls are making a little bit of money off of. But I also realize that some of the magic of the track has been rubbed away. It’s still a great, great song. I just don’t react the same way I do when I would only hear it a few times a year.

BTW, those real ’80s Music G’s will instantly recall the scene in Valley Girl that featured this song. Valley Girl had the soundtrack that Fast Times at Ridgemont High should have had.

Ranking Shit: SNF Songs

Today I unveil a new style of post. Who knows how regular these will be, or how long they will last. But let’s give it a shot.

As the title suggests, in these posts I will be Ranking Shit. Five things I will place in an order with just a few words of explanation.

To kick us off, I will rank the top five songs on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. Why am I ranking songs that are 45 years old? Great question! Over the past week I’ve heard a bunch of these, either on SiriusXM or an iHeart Radio American Top 40 replay. So they’ve been in my head.

5 – “More Than A Woman”

There should an asterisk on this one, since there are two versions of the song on the soundtrack, one by the Bee Gees the other by Tavares. They are both very good, although I was partial to the Tavares version as a kid.

4 – “Stayin’ Alive” – Bee Gees

THE song most people remember when they think of the movie and the soundtrack. Not many things in my lifetime have been cooler than John Travolta walking through Brooklyn to the beat of this.

3 – “Disco Inferno” – The Trammps

Burn, baby, burn. My favorite song on the album when I was a kid and my parents were spinning it endlessly. The only entry on this list not written by the Gibb brothers.

2 – “How Deep Is Your Love” – Bee Gees

A perfect ballad.

1 – “If I Can’t have You” – Yvonne Elliman

Maybe the archetypal crying in the club song? Elliman does an amazing job injecting her vocals with pain without ever going over-the-top.

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