Author: DB (Page 2 of 331)

Tuesday Links

The Tech Toddler has struck again. Naturally it was McSweeney’s that called him out best.

As a free speech absolutist, only death could stop me from defending the rights of Twitter users to speak without censorship. Well, either death or a request from an autocratic leader asking that I censor certain content that could be sensitive for their regime. Whichever comes first.


I’ve earned a lot of credibility with my girls for openly enjoying Taylor Swift’s music. Or at least everything from the Red singles on. I think I would enjoy seeing her live, but I’m not sure I could handle everything that came with it. Especially the 20,000 screaming girls.[1]

I loved this piece by site favorite Tom Breihan about his experience taking his 14-year-old daughter to see Taylor last week. Not afraid to admit some of her songs get to me, too, although not so much that I burst into tears. Who knows how I would react if I was standing with one of my girls and watching them get floored by the moment.

The Taylor Swift Live Experience Made Me All Emotional

BTW, don’t tell M that C and I were talking about music last week and she said that while she likes the music of both Taylor and M’s fav Harry Styles, she likes Taylor a lot more because “I think she’s a good person. I think Harry is kind of a creep.” 😂

MTV shuttered its news division last week. Like many kids who grew up on MTV, my initial reaction was “MTV News was still a thing?”

I spent a lot of time laying on the couch watching MTV News during MTV’s glory years. No longer did I have to go to the school library to read Rolling Stone or Spin to get the latest music news, delayed by the natural publishing timelines. It was just entertainment news, but I think it had a profound impact on my generation’s life.

“It Was Lightning in a Bottle”: An Oral History of MTV News

I vaguely remember Skylab from the summer of 1979. When we visited Kansas City, The Jones Store had cardboard sheets for sale from which you could punch out a novelty hat that was supposed to protect you from the falling debris. And I recall sitting in my grandfather’s pickup in central Kansas, listening to the news that Skylab had crashed into remote Australia. Sometimes I remember weird shit.

Here’s the story of the Aussie who collected some of the scraps that landed near his home.

A space station fell to Earth. An Australian boy brought it to San Francisco

I love stories like this, that explain how things that are a deep part of our modern culture came from humble beginnings. It’s especially interesting to consider that when sushi was first brought to the US, World War II was still in the relatively near past. I remember my parents getting shitty looks because they bought Toyotas in the late 1970s. Can you imagine trying to get WWII vets to eat Japanese food?

How two friends sparked L.A.’s sushi obsession — and changed the way America eats

  1. One of M’s friends was at the Nashville show that was delayed nearly five hours. On the one hand, no way do I wait that long. On the other, I’m assuming thousands – plural – of dollars were dropped on those tickets, so how could you not wait out the storms?  ↩

Weekend Notes

Kid Hoops

A great weekend for L’s team.

They played in a one-day shootout Saturday about 30 minutes away from home. Our coach moved us up to the 8th–9th grade bracket, so we were worried going in.

That was dumb; both teams we played were awful.

The first was an all-freshman team. We hit two 3’s to open the game and never looked back. We had a running clock before halftime and won 59–5. It was bad. Just run-out layup after run-out layup. It reminded me of the 1989 Kansas-Kentucky game.[1]

This was L’s first game in her new ankle brace. Going in her coach said he was more interested in her being available for next weekend’s tournament than these games, so would limit her minutes if she was still in pain. Something about the brace helped her, as she had four offensive rebounds in about a three minute span. Oh it helped that the other team was awful. She finished with two points on 1–1 shooting and six rebounds.

We expected our second opponent to be better. They were from Cincinnati and were mostly tall, super athletic girls. We went out for a group lunch and came back to watch the end of their first game. We quickly saw that no matter how athletically talented these girls were, they had almost no basketball skills. They lost to a team that was shorter than us, and seemed to fall apart mentally in the closing minutes.

Still, you never know. We’ve been bothered by tall, athletic teams all year.

Turns out we needn’t have worried. We rolled them 55–29. L started and had four assists in her first four minutes on the court. She hit a 3 and a couple other shots to finish with 7 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, and zero turnovers. That’s a pretty solid box score line.

I felt bad for the Cincy girls. They seemed pretty clueless and got down on themselves easily when things went wrong. Their most talented girl looked like a shorter version of LSU’s Angel Reese. In one sequence she had five offensive rebounds. But when her sixth shot attempt got blocked out of bounds, she smacked the ball and pouted. She had just done something remarkable – some players go an entire season without getting five offensive rebounds – but she got in her own head and didn’t do much the rest of the game.

It didn’t help that their coaches just screamed at them the entire time.

Things got a little tense late in the game when a refs T’ed up one of their players. When asked what she did, the ref said, “She said a curse word.” One of their parents asked what she said and he responded, “Jesus Christ.” That set their coach off, “OH, SO WE CAN’T SAY JESUS NOW???”

So you have a white ref who is clearly in a bad mood, and a black coach screaming at him. This seemed like it could go off the rails quickly. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed.

Best news was L survived the weekend without rolling her ankle again and wasn’t in too much pain Sunday. I’m sure it helped that she didn’t practice at all last week.

One more weekend of travel ball before we break for June, when high school activities take over.


M finished up her CHS tennis career with two matches last week.

Monday was senior night, and S and I got to walk onto the court with her before her match.

Then we sat down for the long wait until she played. I had forgotten how long these full team days can take, as both matches I had gone to this year were JV only and moved more quickly. Fortunately for us, there was a pop-up storm right on top of the CHS courts about 20 minutes into the varsity matches that brought things to a halt.

I went back Tuesday as M was one of six JV girls selected to play in the makeup matches. She and her partner played a JV team that pretty clearly featured Center Grove’s next star player. She was probably 5’9” and blistered the ball when she hit it. When she could keep it in, you had no chance to return it.

M and her partner nearly broke the tall girl’s partner, leading 30–40, but blew that game. The next game they were up 40–15 and blew that one. It took about 17 minutes for them to lose 6–0 and walk off the court laughing at themselves. I’m glad M has always kept a sense of humor about her ability.

Wednesday she played her final match. This was the night S and I were at the City and Colour concert so we missed it. She played with a junior this time and they lost 6–1. That made her 0–4 for the year, and something in the area of 1–10 or 2–10 for her career. She came close to getting another win two weeks ago when she lost in a tiebreaker.

Again, she had fun, which is all that really matters.

C only got to play one match this year, with one of her St P’s classmates. I was able to go to that match and stand with her partner’s parents. They also have a son in M’s class so we’ve know them for 13 years. We made a lot of jokes about our daughters’ abilities as they struggled to hit the ball, not giggle, and figure out how to keep score. They also lost 6–0 in about 15 minutes. In a coincidental twist, M had lost to one of those same girls 6–0 last year. I couldn’t be prouder!

C also enjoyed being on the team, and she and her partner have talked about taking some lessons together this summer so they are less clueless next year, and hopefully get a few more matches.

Girls tennis season kind of sucks. Being in the spring, practices and matches are constantly being cancelled because of weather. C was sick with the Punta Plague for two weeks and missed a bunch of practices. Getting one match out of our team fee and uniform purchases seemed like a bad return. But if she is interested in continuing to play and trying to improve, I guess it’s worth it if she had fun.

Mother’s Day

We had a pretty chill Mom’s day, mostly because that’s how S likes it. We ordered dinner from a new restaurant and were able to eat outside. She took flowers to her sisters and step-mom. We watched a movie together in the evening. Otherwise a rather quiet holiday.

We did have our old neighbors over Saturday night, the first time we’ve seen them since before spring break, so that was probably the highlight of the weekend for S.

  1. If you know, you know.  ↩

Friday Playlist + Mini Concert Review

My Friday Playlist pool has been pretty full this year. There was a little lull in the past month where I had to do some digging to fill out the weekly lists. Suddenly, though, I am overflowing once again. When I started working on today’s edition, I had 17 songs in the queue, only two of which were older tracks. Which is a good problem, obviously, as it means extra music for you as I work to get through them all.

“This Is A Photograph II” – Kevin Morby
My KC homie just announced his latest project, More Photographs (A Continuum), which expands on last year’s This Is A Photograph by re-imagining a few songs (like this one) and adding some new songs from those original sessions that he’s continued to work on. No surprise that it sounds like another great release already.

“I’m Going To Get Free” – Dexys
I had no idea Dexys Midnight Runners, who now perform as just Dexys, were still making music. Although a classic ’80s one-hit-wonder here in the States, they’ve never stopped recording and remain super popular back in the UK. I can’t say I’ve heard any of their music since 1983. This is their latest release and it’s very fun.

“Run To The Moon” – Beach Fossils
Super summery vibes here. It was 85 in Indy yesterday so it’s finally time to play songs like this without a healthy dose of hope for warmer days to come.

“Every Day Like the Last” – Wye Oak
WO just announced they will no longer make full albums, instead concentrating on singles and EPs. Which makes total sense in the current music environment. It also allows them to chase their always meandering muse a little easier. As almost always happens when they shift their sound, I love this track.

“Silhouette” – Human Tetris
This sounds straight out of the 1982, British synthpop world. Which makes sense, as the band is from Moscow and may just be discovering the first wave of post punk. Moscow, Russia, not Moscow, Idaho.

“Watching The Credits” – The Beths
A leftover track from last year’s Expert In A Dying Field. I always wonder why songs this good don’t make the final track list for albums.

“Mountain at My Gates” – Foals
An oldie I heard for the first time in ages this week that still sounds pretty good.

“Underground” – City and Colour
I swore I included this song in a playlist earlier this spring, but can’t find it. Apologies if my search skills aren’t working properly this morning and it was in an earlier edition.

We went to our first concert of the year Wednesday, seeing these guys at The Vogue theater. I knew very little about them, only that our friends we often attend concerts with suggested it as a good show. I listened to a little of their music over the past few months, but other than this, one of the early singles off their latest album, I couldn’t really get into them. But I figured S would really like them and it would be an excuse to hang with old friends we don’t see often enough.

I was a little shocked when we walked into The Vogue just after the opening act – Courtney Marie Andrews – began her set. The place was packed. I pride myself on at least knowing of the bands that are making waves in this part of the music world, but I had no clue how long C&C had been around or that they had carved out a loyal audience. The venue was near capacity and a lot of the folks there knew many of the words to the songs, loudly singing them back at the stage.

Dallas Green has a remarkable voice. The acoustics at The Vogue can be tricky, but his voice rang out clearly even over their songs that rock. I knew from my buddy that Green had been in a screamo band back in the day, and I’m amazed that a guy who used to shriek his lyrics can sing like this.

(Oh, you should read the story about his name. Baseball fans, he was named after the person he shares a name with.)

I found the songs I sampled before the show a little too gentle for my tastes. In concert, the band veered closer to a southern rock sound, sometimes borderline country, with several that exploded into loud solos.

I’m not going to dive deeply into their music but I enjoyed listening to them play live for about 90 minutes.

“Age of Consent” – New Order live on BBC
Someone posted this on Twitter this week in a thread about the greatest live performances. He pointed out that the band was late getting to the studio and apparently pissed off about a lot of things, and how Bernard Sumner played a totally different song early on, yet it still comes together in a scintillating performance. The entire rhythm section of this song is incredible.

My Podcast Life

We are coming up on the 20th anniversary of this blog. Or at least the original site the current iteration grew from. I’m sure I’ll whip together something to commemorate the proper anniversary in June.

This morning I saw an article about podcasts and got to thinking about my history with them, which was somewhat tied to my blogging history.

I’m pretty sure I first learned about podcasts sometime in early 2005. I was a loyal reader of Macworld at the time (RIP print computer magazines), and there was a How To article that spring about recording your own podcast.[1] I was fascinated! You could make your own radio show and share it with the world with a minimum of hardware or expense? This was right up my alley, especially as a stay-at-home dad with a lot of free time who loved music and was also exploring the world of new media as a journalism graduate student.

I began downloading various “pod catching” apps – iTunes did not directly support podcasting yet – and tested them to find my favorites. I dug through the directories on each app to find the coolest pods to check out. Some were about the concept/process of podcasting (The Daily Source Code), but most were music pods: random dudes (always dudes) playing music for the world. Insomnia Radio and Never Mind the Bollocks were two of my early favorites.

Again, dead center of my alley of interest.

I looked into investing in some modest equipment to create my own podcast. Then I realized I could do it perfectly fine with what I already had: my Mac’s built-in microphone and GarageBand.

One day in early April I dropped M off at my in-laws for a playdate with her Mimi, bought myself a large coffee, sat down in front of that clunky eMac, and recorded the first episode of Carmel Liberation Radio. I kept that pod going for over ten years. Eventually I got a good microphone, but other than that all 337 transmissions were recorded by plugging into whatever Mac was sitting in front of me and its built-in software.

This was back in the day when the Web Sheriff would scrutinize the podcast world, looking for programs that used music without proper clearance. Usually they issued a polite but stern takedown warning. Occasionally people got sued for copyright infringement. I wanted nothing to do with that so kept my pod invitation only, first on Apple’s .Mac service, later via a Blogger site I turned off search engine indexing for. At its peak, 40–50 people got the notification that a new pod was available; a much smaller subset actually listened to it.

All that seems funny now, because A) I wasn’t trying to make money off the podcast, B) I had legally purchased most of the songs I played, and C) at some point record labels finally realized that podcasts are free advertising in a world where it was harder and harder to make money and backed off the takedowns.

When I saw that article this morning and started thinking about my own podcasting past, it also got me thinking about how cool the 2000s were for personal technology. From the rise of Apple via the iPod and the iTunes Store to the introduction of the iPhone, that decade seemed to be moving very quickly with new products that brought exciting new opportunities. It was fun to be on the early end of that process, when crude, DIY efforts ruled the day as corporations were figuring out what their strategies should be.

Podcasts are an integral part of my life now. There are several I listen to weekly, while others cycle in-and-out of my feed based on my interests of the moment. They soundtrack my gym visits, my work around the house, and help me to fall asleep at night. Even the lowest budget of them sound great and have solid production values. Hell, my girls all made podcasts in middle school for group reading assignments and they sounded decent. A huge improvement from the days of a couple people sharing a microphone on a coffee table while playing their favorite songs or discussing their favorite team.

I often have the itch to get back into podcasting. Ideally it would be an updated take on Carmel Liberation Radio. In the streaming era, though, it’s harder to get those individual tracks lined up into a unique playlist with your own audio in between. My Friday Playlists kind of fill that void, although with text instead of voice comments. I still have that microphone, though, so you never know…

Oh, I was digging back through the archives and it looks like this piece was the first time I ever wrote about podcasts. I posted it about a month before I launched CLR.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I also found my notes from that very first CLR transmission. I carefully scripted the entire thing. In time I would record with a loose set of notes about the songs I shared and come up with my thoughts on the fly.

I have recreated that first playlist for you here. I closed most transmissions with a cover. That is the only track I’m missing here, a cover of The Magnetic Fields’ “Born on a Train” performed by Arcade Fire on KCRW. If you are a completion-ist, you can find that here.

  1. If you pay attention to such things, you might notice that is from June’s Macworld. For some reason computer magazines were always arrived like three months before their official published date, so I would have received that sometime in March.  ↩

Reader’s Notebook, 5/9/23

Beat the Devils – Josh Weiss
The genre of alternate histories can be very fun if done right. I recently ran across a list of best recent alt history novels and was amazed by how many were centered on World War II. I guess that era has a lot of opportunities for writing about What Ifs. Or people are just obsessed with Hitler. Still.

This takes a different tack, and does so well. It takes place in 1950s America, deep into Joseph McCarthy’s second term as president. His brand of anti-communism/anti-semitism/hyper-patriotism has taken over nearly every aspect of American life. What we think of as the FBI today has become a force that roots out any communist sympathizers, and picks on Jews when they can’t find any commies. The media is totally under government control, and is all about advancing McCarthy’s agenda.

Morris Baker is an LA detective who survived the Nazi concentration camps in Czechoslovakia. As a Jew he is constantly under suspicion, but counters that by being one of the most effective detectives in the LAPD. Until he becomes the patsy government forces are using as an excuse to crack down further on Americans’ rights.

Weiss gets to the formula that makes these kinds of novels work. He sets up a tantalizing alternate universe that doesn’t seem too far fetched. Hell, there are a lot of elected officials in our country at this moment who are behaving very closely to the McCarthyites of Weiss’ book. But he spends more time on a pretty fun and effective mystery than on spelling out the exact details of his universe. When the reader wants more details, you’ve done your alt history right.

There is a second Morris Baker book that I will for sure be reading.

Rogues – Patrick Radden Keefe
A collection of Keefe’s long-form work, mostly for The New Yorker. They are almost all great, and left me fascinated about the process of spending months/years on a subject then turning that into a piece that can be knocked out in 30–45 minutes. That’s the kind of stuff I aspired to do nearly 20 years ago when I went to grad school, but my brain could never figure out how to construct.

The Shards – Bret Easton Ellis
I loved, loved, loved the cinematic interpretation of Ellis’ American Psycho. I thought it ridiculously funny in its skewering of late 1980s Wall Street culture. The key was I didn’t take it too seriously. I know a lot of people hated it, and many more hated Ellis’ original book.

I think I’ve only read one of Ellis’ books, probably 20+ years ago, and as best as I can recall did not love it. I heard a lot of people very excited about his newest book, which went back to his high school days in the early 1980s and the world he grew up in in super privileged LA. I let that enthusiasm by others draw me into it.

That was a mistake.

I did not like this at all. If I wasn’t stubborn about getting so deep into a book and not stopping, I likely would have not wasted an entire week reading it.

I have no issue with Ellis’ graphic sex and violence. I mean, it is a bit much. Or a lot much. But after a couple hundred pages I was numb to it.

What I hated was how long it took him to get anywhere. Entire chapters that took 10–15 minutes to read, were about the minute details of one conversation. Or of his thought process in a specific moment. It reminded me of a Karl Ove Knausgard novel, without any of the beauty or redeeming moments.

I pretty much hated every character. I though the plot was dumb. I did not like the twist at the end, which seemed forced and an effort to rescue a story Ellis knew was a failure.

I occasionally give books my highest recommendation. I give this whatever the total opposite of that is. Stay away.

Stay True – Hua Hsu
This was a wonderful little memoir, written by a Taiwanese American. Although checking in right around 200 pages, Hua covers a lot of ground.

Ostensibly it is a straight memoir about his high school, college, and grad school years in the 1990s. He was your original California slacker who still managed to get good grades while going to Cal and then Harvard for his Ph.D. He was often more interested, though, in ridiculing the music tastes of others (he was into Pavement and Nirvana and couldn’t understand how someone could like Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews), and otherwise looking down on people who didn’t match his tastes. A very ‘90s attitude.

Once you get past those pop culture details, though, the book is much more about defining/discovering identity. How does he fit in with his parents, who are from Taiwan and eventually move back there, when he feels thoroughly American? Why do people insist on calling him Asian American when he feels distinct from both his classmates who are immigrants and from his Japanese American best friend whose family has been in the States for generations? What is the proper role of the non-White activist, to tear things down or try to repair them from the inside? What is friendship, and how can men communicate with each other? What is a sellout?

And so on. Although I’m obviously not Asian, his broader concepts took me back to my life in the ‘90s, when I and my friends were all trying to figure out who we were as we got through college and entered adult life.

It wouldn’t be a book about the ‘90s without some kind of tragedy, and when his best friend is murdered in a random robbery, Hua is forced to consider mortality, America’s gun culture, how decisions made in the spur of the moment can have lasting effects, and grief. Oh, and guilt, of which there is a particularly heartbreaking example.

The best memoirs open your eyes to perspectives you aren’t familiar with while also connecting with your life. Stay True hits every note of that requirement perfectly.

Weekend Notes

This weekend was certainly slower than the previous one. Doesn’t mean we didn’t pack a few things into it, one of them rather momentous.

On the Road

The family checked off another big milestone when C passed her driver’s test and got her license on Saturday.

It has been a bit of a struggle with her; she was first eligible to get her license the week of Thanksgiving but wasn’t close to either being ready or having enough hours behind the wheel then. She was very anxious about the entire process and it was a chore to get her into the car on a regular basis. Where M was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to get her license, C was part of that cohort that saw no great motivation to get hers ASAP.

As recently as January I was worried that she would ever get it. She wasn’t driving very often, and when she did wasn’t making much progress in her skills. In March something clicked and it all came together, her ability improving quite a bit and those normal, new driver mistakes getting fewer and fewer. She still made me very nervous, or even yell at her, at least once per drive. The other moments were much better, though.

It is tough to grab a weekend test time around here and last weekend was the first chance to get one on the books once we thought she was ready. On the way to her test some other young driver pulled right in front of her in a roundabout. She braked correctly but just sat there. I reached over and punched the horn so the kid knew about his mistake. “Use your horn if you need to, babe.”

When we got to the BMV the test guy was walking out with a lady. They were gone for about half an hour, so C had an idea of how long the test would take. After she left I nervously tried to read, without much success. I checked her location every few minutes to see where they were. After only about 15 minutes I noticed they were only a few blocks away. As they passed the BMV I said a silent prayer, “Please keep going. Please keep going.” But they turned back into the lot.

Damn. That seemed way too quick and I wondered if she had done one of the automatic fail errors. When she walked back in she had a blank look on her face that I couldn’t read. The tester waved me over to his station and when I got there she whispered, “I don’t think I made any mistakes but he didn’t say anything.”

Seconds later he said, “Well, you passed.” Come on, dude, we don’t need to drag it out. Tell the kid how they did right away!

The only bummer was C didn’t realize that she would be taking a new picture and freaked out a little because she wasn’t prepped for one. The nice lady helping us with that part of the process told her she can come back and amend her license with a new picture down the road. I guess that means we’ll be paying for another license but since she thinks she looks like a criminal in the picture she took Saturday I guess that’s worth it.

We immediately violated all the rules by letting her drive a friend to dinner Saturday. I was, again, nervously tracking her location but she made it there and back fine.

Two teen drivers in the house now. Which means the first fight about who gets to use the car isn’t too far down the road.

Kid Hoops

A 1–2 weekend for L’s team, and we were fortunate to get that win.

In our first game we trailed by 14 early and were getting pummeled by their big girl. This girl was ginormous. I’m guessing 6’3”+ and very wide. She wasn’t super athletic but had a bunch of old-school post moves, long arms that helped her get any rebound, and she was blocking every shot in the lane. I know she scored 24. I’m guessing she was very close to a triple double with blocks.

Our girls made a run early in the second half to make it a game and it bounced between a 2–6 point deficit most of the half. We hit a couple threes and took a four point lead late. That got down to one with about 40 seconds left, us inbounding at half court.

One of the super annoying things about travel basketball is that the rules are never the same tournament-to-tournament. Some weeks you play 14 minute halves, others 16. Occasionally 20 minutes with a running clock. Some weeks it takes five fouls to foul out, others six.

This week you didn’t start shooting free throws until there were 10 team fouls. The other team only had six at this point. Despite our struggles with their pressure, their coach decided to start fouling intentionally. Inbound, foul. Inbound, foul. Inbound, foul. Four straight times until we went to the line.

This was super dumb. I can’t stress this enough. One of the worst coaching gaffes I’ve seen.

On three of those inbound passes we almost turned it over. If the coach had told them to trap first and then foul, they likely would have been able to get a steal. On one play I guarantee the ref would have called our girl for traveling but since the coach was screaming at him to call the foul he did. She was so worried about getting us to the line that she didn’t give her team a chance to play defense. If they get a stop they could go down, run a good play for their big girl, probably get a basket or put her at the line (she was 4–5 from the line), and then force us to get a shot up.

Oh, she only had six players. One of them fouled out in this sequence.

When we finally went to the line we missed – of course, we shot like 25% from the line for the weekend – but we got a stop and steal on the other end, then they fouled us again. Which was that player’s sixth foul. They played the last 30 seconds of the game with four players because their coach was super dumb.

We again missed the free throw but got the rebound, scored to go up three, and survived a last-gasp three to get the win.

Thank you, Ohio coach!

We got smoked by some very athletic girls from Wisconsin in pool game two. They led by 24 at one point, we got it down to seven late, but lost by 14.

Then in our bracket game we lost by 10. Again, we trailed by 20 by whittled it down to four. Our girls loved digging holes and then trying to get out of them.

A pretty crappy weekend for L. She hit a 3 right before the halftime buzzer of the first game – that’s her thing now – but rolled her bad ankle about 30 seconds into the second half and didn’t play again. She rolled it on her own, didn’t trip over anyone else or do it as a result of contact. Even with the light brace she was wearing she immediately went down and hobbled off at the next dead ball.

Not a lot of swelling but it is very sore and now we have to figure out how long to hold her out to give it a chance to heal. She wanted to play Sunday but I told her if she rolled it again, she was not only putting the next two weekends in doubt, but would put all her June activities with CHS in jeopardy.

We tried to get her a Steph Curry-approved brace Sunday, but the one we brought home seems defective so I have to return it and find another. We’re also going to keep her in a light brace at all times and do some home rehab once her pain level goes down. I badly sprained my right ankle my sophomore year of high school and it was never the same. I hope she hasn’t inherited my bad ankles along with my bad eyes.

Kid Soccer

I believe I mentioned that L signed up to play on the St P’s soccer team, which is an eighth grade tradition. Between her previous ankle issues, the weather, and basketball conflicts, she was only able to play in two games.

In the first she had one chance to score but took a terrible shot – with the outside of her right foot from the left side – from way too far away from the goal. A dad near me asked, jokingly, “What kind of shot was that?”

“A shot by a kid that hasn’t played soccer in four years,” was my response.

In their final game last week she had another good chance to score, took a great shot from the right side…and one of her teammates ran in the way of it and blocked it for the defense. I’m not sure that it had a chance to go in but it would have made it on-goal.

After the game we were parked by the St O coach and she came over and asked L, “Do you play travel? You’re a really good player.” That pumped up her ego more. She seriously told me two weeks ago she thought she could make the CHS team. I laughed at her and said, “Maybe if you quit basketball and play soccer all summer.” Then I reminded her that she told me her team was trash (it was) and not to get too excited about dominating practice.

Oh well, she had fun playing one more time even if she wasn’t the same player she was back when soccer was her thing.

Pool Season

We finally shook that cold spell and the girls were in the pool a couple times over the weekend. M had friends over Friday night and two of the local nephews took advantage of it on Sunday. I hate to jinx it but if it stays as warm as the next 10 days look, we might be able to keep the heater off except for that quick boost right before the weekends when people are coming over.

Now it will probably be in the 30s next week…

Jayhawk Talk: Big Dick(inson) Energy

The biggest signing in the history of the transfer portal (for now) requires a quick, emergency Jayhawk Talk.

Thursday former Michigan big man Hunter Dickinson announced he will transfer to KU. That news immediately vaulted KU from a top 15-ish squad to a legit national title contender next season.

I’ll get into the weeds on this later – there is expected to be more roster news soon – so for now I’ll focus on the three transfer players we know will be joining the Jayhawks next year.

Dickinson gives Bill Self the most complete big man he’s ever had. One who has a devastating low post game to either shoulder, who can be deadly in screen-and-roll/screen-and-pop sets, and who can step out and hit 3’s. He’s not a great defender but he isn’t a pushover on that end of the court.

He won’t be as physically dominant as Udoka Azubuike, have as much potential as NBA MVP Joel Embiid, be a defensive stopper like Landon Lucas or Jeff Withey, or play as athletically at Thomas Robinson.

Put his whole game together with the players that should be around him, and there is a great chance he will end up as productive and impactful as any of those past Jayhawks.

Adding Nicolas Timberlake as a poor (and shorter) man’s Gradey Dick and Arterio Morris as a freakish athlete who can also shoot it to two returning players who are lock-down defenders and great passers in DaJuan Harris and KJ Adams, and KU’s top five look super strong. Throw in a McDonald’s All American in Elmarko Jackson, another high school stud in Marcus Adams, and perhaps one more new body and Self has a fantastic top eight.

And that’s without factoring in either Ernest Udeh or Zuby Ejiofor, one of which should probably be back to provide inside depth.

Dickinson is the crown jewel, though. It felt a little icky watching the process, as no one hid the fact he was not just looking for the best basketball fit but also the best financial fit. I like my team being good, and they are in a position to have a ton of success in this new system, so I’m not going to knock it too much. I will fully accept and understand the viewpoint that it sucks, though.

Funny how every spring when KU fans are moaning about next year’s team, Self almost always finds a way to make his teams better. I’ll get into that a little more in next week’s post, too.

For now, though: Rock Chalk, bitches.

Friday Playlist

Mostly uptempo rockers this week. A notable exception at the bottom for a very important reason.

“Positive Charge” – The Gaslight Anthem
The first new GSA song in nine years is a little underwhelming to me. Brian Fallon’s vocals sound very different from how they used to sound, which makes a huge difference.

“Days Move Slow” – Bully
The new Bully album is going to be a monster.

Starting to sense some buzz building for these kids.

“Chad and Stacey” – Guardian Singles
This is not your typical New Zealander music.

“The Big Mess” – Tanlines
It’s almost tan line season!

“My Coco” – stellastarr*
I remember when it seemed like stellastarr* were going to be massive.

“Sundown” – Gordon Lightfoot
Man Gordon could write a song. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” is my personal favorite, but since I share it with you most Novembers, I decided to go with his 1974 #1 hit. RIP to one of the greatest voices of the 1970s.

Thursday Links

I’m overdue on sharing links. To be fair, I haven’t saved very many of late.

A major bummer in the photography world, as Amazon is shutting down DP Review. Anyone who has bought a camera, lens, or other equipment in the past two decades has likely used DP as a resource. It looks like Amazon has clarified their initial plans and will keep the archives up. I just used those this week while looking at film lenses.

This piece is more about niche hobbies and how/if they can survive in the modern world. Obviously it is of interest to 50-somethings like me who are the prime forces behind those esoteric pastimes.
RIP DPReview

Snakes are endlessly fascinating to me. Although I don’t want to be anywhere near them. Some of these pictures are incredible.
Photographer Spends 10 Days Tracking Down Snakes in Namibia

I had no idea there were turf wars in LA between the many Depeche Mode cover bands. As Kevin Garnett said, anything is possible!
Just Can’t Get Enough: The Warring Depeche Mode Tribute Bands Of Los Angeles

M got admitted to three schools and less than $10K in combined scholarship offers. Slacker.
New Orleans senior shatters U.S. record with 125 college offers, $9 million in scholarships

It’s almost outdoor entertaining season. Some decent tips in here.
How to Dine Outdoors, Minus the Bugs

Finally, a moment of zen?
911 call about fight ends with Florida cop separating 2 brawling goats, sheriff says

A Change in (Pas)Times, Pt. 2

Time for part two of my hobby update. In the first entry, I shared how I had sold all my camera equipment. I ended that post by mentioning I had also done something unexpected and possibly dumb.

In those weeks after I sold my camera gear, I did everything I could to quash any second-thoughts about the decision. I unsubscribed from every photography website, podcast, YouTube channel, Instagram account, etc. I wanted nothing to enter my information feeds that might make me start looking at replacement gear.

I didn’t realize that things having nothing to do with cameras might get into my head.

One night I was watching a video filmed in California, and fell in love with the gorgeous, hazy, 1970s Kodachrome vibes it had. I’ve always loved that style, but was also always frustrated with how many options there are to recreate those looks in modern digital cameras. There were just too many sliders and buttons to tweak, and when I used, say, Fujifilm’s Classic Chrome film simulation, I was never satisfied with the final result.

But as I watched these videos, I realized there was a way around the endless possibilities that come with digital photography.

Shooting on film.

So after about 36 hours of furious research and hemming and hawing, I purchased a film camera.

Good Lord.

For about $150 I got a Nikon FE and a 50mm lens that were in very good shape. I ordered some film, shot a roll, and shipped it off for processing. I’m still waiting on the results (I’ll get more into the reality of film photography in 2023 in a future post). I’m waiting to shoot another roll until I see those first images to make sure that everything is functioning properly on the Nikon. The ASA dial refuses to lock, so I’m hoping I didn’t ruin the roll by shooting at the wrong ISO. My exposure settings were always lined up so I should be ok. Other than that, the camera seemed to be in great condition and had even been serviced by the seller. Fingers crossed any issues with the photos will be only because of operator error.

I have to say those first 36 exposures were a little strange. I’ve shot plenty of point-and-shoot film cameras in my life. In fact, the girls and I were just flipping through a bunch of my old photo albums the other night. This was the first time I had ever used a manual film camera, though. I’ve got the basics down from shooting my Fuji X-T2 in manual, but it was still a very different experience.

For example, focusing. When I looked through the viewfinder I was not presented with a bright, perfect view of what the lens saw. Instead it was blurry and rather dark until I focused in on my subject.

That wasn’t a big deal. What did drive me crazy was not being able to move the focus point around the frame as you can on a digital camera. I kept wanting to use a D pad or joystick to shift the focus. I constantly had to remind myself to focus on my subject then recompose for desired framing.

Getting used to winding the film when I was ready to shoot again was also weird.

So why the hell did I do this?

I obviously still have a photography itch that needs scratching. After all that research and consideration, I decided that shooting on film should do just that, without some of the paralysis by analysis that was present with digital cameras. Once I’ve loaded my film, I will have very little control over how my images will appear. The film stock and speed will take care of all of that. I just have to frame, focus, and expose properly.

Naturally, as with any new hobby, I started thinking about what lenses I can add. A portrait lens? Something wide for landscapes?

Then I remembered the biggest reason I ditched my digital gear: my iPhone is sufficient for 90% of my needs.

The Nikon is purely for fun, for artistic pursuits, and for using something that involves more effort than tapping the screen to capture an image.

When I showed S my new purchase, she just rolled her eyes and asked, “You’re not going to build a darkroom are you?” and went back to her charting.

No, I’m not going to build a darkroom. We have enough chemicals in our basement because of the pool already. I don’t need to worry about storing/disposing of development chemicals.

I would be lying, though, if I didn’t admit to looking into systems for scanning my negatives once they’ve been developed…

Anyway, that’s my new, dumb pastime. Feel free to mock me at your leisure. Or ask me to capture you on film the next time you see me.

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