Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 285)

Friday Links

This week’s round up of some cool shit I’ve read and think you might also enjoy.

‘You’ve never seen The Beatles like this before’: Peter Jackson on his epic Get Back docuseries

This feature/interview sure makes the upcoming Peter Jackson Beatles series sound phenomenal. I found this line interesting:

For any self-respecting Beatles nut, this must surely count as one of the final mop-top Holy Grails…

I suppose Paul and Ringo could still write exhaustive tell-alls of the 1960s. (Or perhaps they’ve already written them and are just waiting for the proper moment to release them.) But that statement is both correct and sobering: this could be the final piece of original work from the Beatles we ever receive. Which is amazing since they broke up 51 years ago.

Life never lived up to what Anthony Bourdain wanted it to be
Drew Magary on the new Anthony Bourdain movie? Yes, please.

The Great American Reboot
This is a couple weeks old. It is already beginning to feel outdated. After a month or two of admittedly cautious loosening of Covid protection measures, it’s beginning to feel – at least to those of us who take this pandemic seriously – like we may have jumped the gun. Or rather than we’ve been let down by a huge chunk of our country who are idiots.

T.M. Shine visited Las Vegas on Memorial Day. I thought this observation was especially brilliant.

One thing I think we have all realized as the debates have raged over the pandemic — mask or no mask, to be vaccinated or not — is that we value our opinions more than both our lives and the lives of others.


How America Fractured Into Four Parts
Finally, there may be no better documenter of modern America’s politics than George Packer. In this long essay, an excerpt from his latest book, he suggests that we have been split into four different perspectives. There are flaws in his arguments, but I think he’s pretty close to the truth.

In Free America, the winners are the makers, and the losers are the takers who want to drag the rest down in perpetual dependency on a smothering government. In Smart America, the winners are the credentialed meritocrats, and the losers are the poorly educated who want to resist inevitable progress. In Real America, the winners are the hardworking folk of the white Christian heartland, and the losers are treacherous elites and contaminating others who want to destroy the country. In Just America, the winners are the marginalized groups, and the losers are the dominant groups that want to go on dominating.

Friday Playlist

Another jam-packed playlist to please your ears and your hearts this week.

“Living Proof” – The War on Drugs
Here it is, the first new TWOD song in four years! It does not hit with the same impact that the early songs from A Deeper Understanding hit with in the spring/summer of 2017. But as a side one, track one, this is a beautiful teaser for what’s to come. Music writer Steven Hyden said his advance copy of I Don’t Live Here Anymore is already his most-listened to album of the year and that is is “laden with bangers.” Excellent! I’m counting down the days until it the full album arrives on October 29.

“Dark Kept Secret” – EXUM
I don’t keep up with modern R&B the way I did back in the New Jack Swing era of the late ’80s, early ’90s. But every so often a song bubbles through all the other stuff I listen to and grabs my attention. Here is one. Such a cool sound to this track, not really true R&B but neither is it indie or straight pop. Yet it can appeal to folks who live in any of those spaces. And I had no idea this was former NFL player Antone Exum Jr. He’s an interesting cat.

“Jupiter” – Beachheads
This is just about a perfect summer song. Half of this band is also in a Norweigan metal band. Wouldn’t have ever guessed that!

“Chaeri” – Magdalena Bay
A strong Robyn vibe to this track.

“Seize the Day” – Paul McCartney, Phoebe Bridgers
A few months back Paul McCartney released McCartney III Imagined, in which various artists from his 2020 album McCartney III are reworked by other artists. So of course Phoebe Bridgers just knocked this track out of the park. I just listened to his version. It’s not bad. It might even be pretty good. But Phoebe’s is amazing.

“Knife Fight” – Painted Shield
Painted Shield is kind of a super group. Pearl Jam’s Stone Gossard put the group together. On vocals is solo artist Mason Jennings, who sounds a hell of a lot like Spoon’s Britt Daniel on this track. Brittany Davis handles keyboard duties. And on drums is Matt Chamberlain, most famous for being the second of Pearl Jam’s many drummers. This track is funky and fun.

“Cassette” – Swiss Portrait
Another terrific summer song. Obviously I’m influenced by the title, but this makes me think of making mix tapes for some super cute girl in 1988. Or more likely a mix CD in the ’90s since this has a dream pop thing going for it.

“Summertime” – The Sundays
Not everything from the ’90s holds up well. But this sure as shit does.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 59

Chart Week: July 12, 1986
Song: “If She Knew What She Wants” – The Bangles
Chart Position: #29, 10th week on the chart. This was the song’s peak; it fell out of the Top 40 the next week.

I recall being in love with a lot of unattainable women in the summer of 1986. There was Heather Thomas, whose poster I had on my wall. There was Tamlyn Tomita, who played Ralph Maccio’s Okinawan love interest in The Karate Kid Part II. I’m sure there were plenty of girls at my high school I longed to get attention from but was frightened to speak to. And there was Susanna Hoffs.

Man, did I love Susanna! She had a girl-next-door quality to her beauty that made her seem like someone who was too pretty for normal dorks like me to have any hope of dating, but not so hot that she wouldn’t talk to you, laugh at your jokes, etc.

I know I wasn’t alone. And judging by comments from friends, there are a lot of us who are still fans, as she has aged very, very well.

Like most dudes my age I fell in love with Hoffs in the spring of ’86 when The Bangles hit #2 with the Prince-written “Manic Monday.” Later in the year they would release what ended up being the biggest single of 1987, “Walk Like an Egyptian,” another song the band did not write. In fact, of the band’s five biggest songs – all Top Five hits – they only wrote two, and both of those included input from songwriters outside the group. A handful of their other famous songs were also covers, which is a little odd given how the band was fully capable of writing a great tune. I guess they knew how to pick a good cover.[1]

“If She Knew What She Wants” was not one of their biggest hits. It struggled to gain traction on the charts and could only claw its way up to #29 and then fall clean out of the Top 40 a week later. Which is a shame because it’s a totally gorgeous song. Those “Ooooo-ooooo-ooooo-ooooo’s” Susanna throws in at the beginning and end of the track are both angelic and killer. I didn’t understand why people didn’t love it back in 1986, and I still don’t understand why it wasn’t a bigger hit.

It was – surprise surprise – also a cover. In this case it belonged to Jules Shear, a musician with a long, deep track record of writing songs for others. ’Til Tuesday, Marshall Crenshaw, 10,000 Maniacs, and Olivia Newton-John are just the most immediately recognizable artists to record his music.

Shear also wrote “All Through the Night,” which Cyndi Lauper turned into a #5 hit during her huge run in 1984. When she toured her monster She’s So Unusual album, Lauper selected The Bangles as her opening act. While on that tour The Bangles came to know Shear’s music and eventually struck up a friendship with him. When he performed his single “Steady” on American Bandstand in 1985, he recruited The Bangles to be his “background band,” miming the track along with him for Dick Clark and his audience. When asked to record a song for The Goonies soundtrack, The Bangles brought in Shear as a co-writer. As a token of thanks, or just a sign of their admiration for his art, they also selected this track to include on their Different Light album.

They didn’t veer much from Shear’s arrangement. They do flip a few words to adjust the gender perspective. It is their shift toward their favored sound of 60’s-influenced jangle pop with gorgeous harmonies that makes their version really shine, and elevates it about Shear’s version.

For some bonus Susanna Hoffs material, here is her performing two of her biggest Bangles tracks with a string quartet on CNN for the Fourth of July.

  1. My two favorite Bangles tracks are “Going Down to Liverpool,” which was a Katrina and the Waves song, and their absolutely ripping cover of Simon and Garfunkle’s “Hazy Shade of Winter.”  ↩

Reader’s Notebook, 7/20/21

The Alice Network – Kate Quinn
A friend gave me this book awhile back, but I left it in my bookshelf for months before finally cracking it open. When I did, S told me she had read it on one of our vacations and loved it. We don’t read a lot of the same books, so I was both excited and nervous about taking it on. What if I hated it?

That wasn’t a problem; this was a terrific novel.

It tells the story of two remarkable women whose lives come together. The first is Eve Gardiner, a British woman recruited to serve a spy in France during World War I. She earns a job waiting at a restaurant that serves German soldiers, becomes the lover of the owner, and passes on incredibly important intelligence through The Alice Network of female spies. She is eventually found out, though, and pays a horrible price.

The second woman is Charlie St. Clair, a young American traveling to Switzerland with her mother in 1948 to get an abortion. When they land in England, she flees her mother and tracks down Gardiner, who she believes can help her find her French cousin who disappeared during World War II.

Quinn flips back-and-forth between 1915 and 1948, and we slowly learn about Gardiner’s time spying and her trip through France with St. Clair and her Scottish driver. Both women are unique for their times: outspoken, take-no-shit, boundary-destroying chicks who fight for what they want. I loved them both and see why S liked them, and the book, so much.

God Spare the Girls – Kelsey McKinney
Once again, a first-time novelist has blown me away.

McKinney’s debut novel is focused on Caroline Nolan, a recent high school grad in North Texas who is the daughter of an evangelical pastor who is famous for his teen abstinence program. And Caroline goes and loses her virginity in the opening pages of the book. The horror!

That’s not the biggest family crisis, though. Turns out her dad has been cheating on her mom, who just found out about it. Which, as you might imagine, causes a bit of a scandal, although one the church leadership seems eager to get through quickly.

However Caroline and her older sister, who is about to get married, can’t get over it as easily. They spend several weeks in isolation on a ranch property their deceased grandmother left them. There, they get into deep discussions on what their faith means in light of their father’s failures. Whether they can forgive him. What Caroline having sex means. They hash out issues they’ve had for years. It’s a wonderful exploration of sisterhood and all the baggage that comes along with that. They become closer than they’ve ever been, and then one well-intentioned but poorly thought out act by Caroline ruins that.

McKinney fills the book with characters that would be easy to turn into caricatures. But she avoids those traps by focusing on Caroline and her sister, and making them rich, complex women who make unexpected decisions because of unexpected reasons.

The Spy and the Traitor – Ben Macintyre
Next another remarkable story, this one true. This is an accounting of the life go Oleg Gordievsky, one of the highest ranking KGB agents who ever spied for the West. Disillusioned with the closed nature of the Soviet Union, he was first recruited by the British while working in Denmark in the 1970s. Eventually he transferred to London and was on the verge of being named the Soviet equivalent of Chief of Station before he was outed by CIA agent Aldrich Ames, who was selling information to the Soviets.

This discovery set off a pretty amazing escape by Gordievsky from Moscow to the Finnish border before British agents slipped him out to freedom. Following his defection in the 1985, he gave the West unprecedented insight into how the KGB functions.

A pretty cool insight into what makes people share information about their home country with their enemy.

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier – Hampton Sides
This was marketed as a travelogue, so I thought it would tell the tale of Sides, who wrote the excellent Hellhound on His Trail that I read earlier this year, traveling through the US and discovering something interesting about us as Americans.

Which it kind of was. I guess I didn’t read the description close enough, though, and didn’t realize this wasn’t based on a single trip, but rather a collection of his magazine writing from a roughly 25-year period. Because of that, I worked through it slowly, in small chunks, since spring break.

He profiles all kinds of interesting people, places, and events. Getting through the first 350 pages or so is worth it when you get to his post–9/11 pieces. One is an absolutely brutal look at several people who were in the World Trade Center buildings on the day of the attacks. I had to stop reading and take a walk around the house in a few spots to give myself a mental breather. Another is about a Marine lieutenant who was the first American killed in action during the invasion of Iraq, and it is equally brutal. But both pieces are also wonderfully researched and written.

Weekend Notes

Another relaxing and laid-back weekend.

Friday we wrapped up the rainiest week of a rainy summer by, yep, having more rain. By the time the storms stopped Saturday morning we were at six inches of rain through the first 15 days of the month. Which seems like a lot. The good news is I haven’t had to water the yard once so far this summer.

Friday evening S and I went to a party one of her old high school chums hosted. This wasn’t just any party, though. It was a rescheduled White Elephant party they have every Christmas. And since S’s high school buddy has a lot of Clark Griswold in him, he filled his home with Christmas decorations, cranked up the Christmas tunes, and greeted everyone with a hearty “Merry Christmas!” at the door. I threw out all my normal qualms with holiday music being played outside the season and was fully onboard. The pandemic has changed everything, folks. It was a fine evening.

As I’ve said before, the NBA playoffs and Finals are often too late for me to see the best parts of the game. I did catch the last four minutes of Saturday’s game five, which we an absolute thrill ride. Again, I have no rooting interest and can’t force myself one way or the other. So it was terrific fun to watch Phoenix slice a ten point deficit down to one, have the ball with under 30 seconds left, and have the crowd going bonkers. And it was equally fun to watch Jrue Holliday strip Devon Booker then throw a ridiculous alley oop to Giannis for the clinching bucket.

Sunday was a nearly perfect day. The sun was out, it was warm but not hot, and the humidity had finally broken for a bit. We spent nearly all day in the pool with a couple nephews. Any time it got just a little toasty, a slight breeze would kick in to refresh you. In fact, I’m sitting out on the porch putting this together around 8:00 Sunday evening and it’s damn-near perfect: 81 and breezy with low humidity. You can actually sit outside without sweating into your chair. We don’t even have the ceiling fan on. Oh, and the normal, annual cicadas have been emerging over the past week so we have a nice soundtrack to this lovely evening.

I watched quite a bit of The Open Championship Thursday through Sunday. Pool time kept me away from the tail end of the final round, although I did have NBC on our outdoor TV. Unfortunately it doesn’t face the pool so I couldn’t sit in the pool AND watch golf. Travesty. We should tear our porch down and start over to fix this error.

Anyway, another disappointing Sunday for Louis Oosthuizen. I wanted him to win just because of all the other close calls, but he looked shook pretty much all through his Sunday round. I think even laid-back Louis is going to rue his missed opportunities in the summer of 2021 when he looks back on them.

Jordan Spieth also kicked his chances away with some uneven play early Sunday and some terrible play at the end of his round Saturday. But he still made a little run and if a couple more putts had found the hole Sunday he could have been right there. He didn’t win a major this year, but it was great to have him back contending again.

Winner Collin Morikawa cemented his place as an absolute ace and perhaps the best player of both the under 25 and under 30 crowds. Which is saying something because both of those groups are filled with remarkably talented players.

On the weeks he putts well – as he did this week and a year ago when he won the PGA – he’s damn tough to beat. That’s the biggest flaw in his game, as his putting can be very erratic. Tighten that up and get it more consistent to go along with a fine long game and probably the best iron play in the game, and we just might have the generational star we’ve been looking for since Tiger fell apart.

Although as talented as the sub–30 group of golfers is, I have a hard time seeing Morikawa or anyone else running away and winning five, six, seven majors over the next decade. There are just too many insanely talented young guys in the game right now for one guy to dominate. Plus, “old’ guys like Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, etc aren’t just going to let these young guys win everything. Well, Rory might…

Friday Links

I’m going to resurrect an old feature of the blog: sharing some of my favorite things I’ve read over the past week on Fridays. This will be an occasion feature, so don’t count on entry every week. And some weeks it might be loaded with cool stuff and others, like this week, only have one or two items in it.

Don’t Piss Off Bradley, the Parts Seller Keeping Atari Machines Alive
For most folks my age, this will tickle a special part of your memory banks. One man is the gatekeeper to helping fans of classic Atari consoles and computers keep their machines running. But he’s a little like the Soup Nazi.

Jason Sudeikis Is Having One Hell of a Year
IT’S ALMOST TED LASSO WEEK!!!! I’m going to read this profile of Jason Sudeikis at least three more times before season two debuts next week.

ASG, 2021

Ahhh, the All-Star Game! The mid-summer moment when we set aside our differences and come together as Americans to celebrate our once-and-always National Pastime.

Well, except for this year, which was ruined by the forces that want to keep us apart, that want us to continue arguing about manufactured wedge issues to distract us from the true damage being done to our sacred, national institutions.

Yes, I’m talking about those fucking terrible, straight ass uniforms.

For about the 8000th time in recent years, Major League Baseball has shown how they are clueless, tone deaf, run by the worst people, and care more about pleasing their advertising partners than catering to the fans of the game.

One of the greatest parts of baseball’s All-Star Game is always seeing the players collected from every team in the league, wearing their varied jerseys on the same field. In eras of excellent uniforms, the team/field pics were glorious, multi-hued snapshots of moment in baseball, and American, history. Even in bad years, when almost every team wears the same shade of gray on the road, it’s still fun to see the different caps scattered about the field.

But, for $ome rea$on, ba$eball decided to $crap nearly 100 year$ of tradition and ae$thetic $plendor to put the team$ in league-$pecific uniform$.

It’s not just that the idea of AL and NL uniforms was bad, it’s that they were executed so incredibly poorly. They were ugly and filled with awful design elements. One of the beauties of the All-Star Game has always been a quick glance at the screen can tell you who an unfamiliar player’s home squad is. All of that was lost, as you had to catch the camera view just right to see a player’s home logo plastered onto the All Star logo on his cap, or try to decipher the rec-league quality graphics on the fronts of their jerseys.

Honestly I’m shocked it took MLB this long to fuck up the All Star uniforms. Each year they roll out another set of “special” caps for any and every holiday that falls during the season, all of which cater to the America First/Support the Troops crowd even if the holiday has no patriotic angle. These alt caps are almost always terrible. Why MLB didn’t realize they could use the summer’s biggest showcase to force another shitty hat on the public sooner is really a small miracle.

The uniforms put me in a bad mood from the start, so most of the notes I took during the game were cranky, snarky, and cynical. Since I’ve written enough about the uniforms already, I’ll dispense with most of those and just focus on one other major point from the night.

I’ve never liked anything about Fox bothering mangers in the dugouts or miking-up players on the field during the game. In regular/postseason games, the conversations with the managers rarely provide any real insight into what’s happening during the game as they are reluctant to share any information that might put them at a disadvantage. The ASG in-game miked-up moments are usually awkward between technical difficulties and guys, you know, trying to play the game.

Last night was no different.

Freddy Freeman was solid, as he is affable and seemed eager to be involved. He did seem to have scripted some lines ahead of time. Which is fine; his segment was filled with “banter” rather than awkward pauses.

I enjoyed the Ozzie Albies and Khris Bryant segments, too, as they seemed the most like what a conversation with those guys would actually be like. They both seemed like laid back dudes who were enjoying being part of the event.

But the others? Yeesh.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is one of the great young stars in the game and is super media savvy. But his segment showed how tough it is to find guys who can speak naturally to people he can only hear while also trying to play a game. Maybe the worst broadcast moment of the night was when Joe Buck yelled into Tatis’ ear “Say something to him!” when his pal Vladimir Guerrero Jr. sauntered by after his massive home run. It seemed like a desperate attempt to salvage an awkward segment and ignored the fact that there was a 100% chance that Tatis was going to say something without being prompted. I wish Tatis chose Spanish for his comments as an F-you to Buck and Fox, but I think he’s too nice for that and just used the language Guerrero was most comfortable with.

Talking the Xander Bogaerts while he’s in the batter’s box seemed like a horrible idea, and made for bad TV. It also kept Fox from giving any attention to Guerrero Jr. nearly killing Max Scherzer with a wicked line drive and then going over and to hug him in apology afterward. They were too busy trying to get Bogaerts to share his approach in the box.

AL closer Liam Hendricks was miked-up, too, but apparently couldn’t hear Buck. Fox kept his mike on, though, which allowed us to hear his grunts on each pitch and a shouted “GODDAMMIT!” when he spiked a breaking ball. Later he dropped a clear f-bomb. It all came together when he conferenced with catcher Mike Zunino and Zunino advised him to keep quiet because of his mike.

“It’s ok, it’s not working,” we clearly heard Hendricks reply.

Thank goodness he didn’t say something truly offensive.

Trying to talk to batters in the box and pitchers on the bump is taking this too far. They should be focused on playing the game safely, not on what Joe Buck is saying in their ear or what they might accidentally say that goes out over the airwaves.

I’m open to trying new things tp spice up the broadcast. Sports coverage shouldn’t be static over time. If it was, we wouldn’t always be able to see the time and score or get other information on the screen. We wouldn’t have constant replays from 100 angles. And so on.

But when these innovations distract from the game rather than add to it, someone at Fox has to make the call to scale back rather than add another layer every year. Then again, all the attention they put everywhere other than the action on the field is a reminder of what the All-Star Game has become: a massive marketing event where the game is secondary to moving product.

That said, maybe all those distractions were a good thing. Baseball is pretty boring right now, and the game was indicative of that. Lots of swings-and-misses punctuated by a few home runs. At least the game wasn’t interrupted by a bunch of replay reviews.

This long run of American League dominance still feels weird to me, as I bet it does to most children of the ‘70s and ‘80s. We were raised on the idea that the National League always was, and always would be, superior. Sure enough, most Julys the NL would come out and beat the AL no matter how stacked the AL roster was.

My first sports gambling moment came when I was 8 and my uncle bet me a nickel that the National League would win. Dave Parker’s unforgettable outfield assist was the capper on a night when I first discovered sports bitterness and cemented in the idea that the AL was inferior.

Even after the 26 wins in 32 years, though, it feels very strange to me that the AL runs the game.

Finally, a shout out to the many, many, many, many minority-owned businesses in Cobb County Georgia who were decimated by MLB’s cruel decision to yank the All-Star Game away from them. Cobb County has long been a bastion of racial equality and minority empowerment and it is a damn shame that they got barreled over by the leftist, socialist, critical racial theory, politically correct agenda.

Summer of Freedom

I realized yesterday that this has been, and should continue to be, a pretty boring summer.

Sure, we’ve had a few gatherings to take advantage of the pool and the new pool house. We’re trying to schedule a few more but as kids get older, it gets harder and harder to pin a group of families down to a single night when they are all available to join us.

C’s summer school meant no traveling in June, and limited what we were able to do on those days close to home.

We do have a trip on the calendar – actually three different trips, but two are just for S and I – but those will all be later this year and can’t be labeled as Summer Vacations.

The girls and I were hoping to go camping with our old neighbors, but we’ve had a very hard time finding any camp grounds with available spots.

The weather hasn’t been great. We’ve had a couple brief hot spells, and plenty of dry days. But it sure seems like it has been cloudy, cool, with periodic rain more days than not.

This nasty cold, or whatever it is, that I couldn’t kick for over a month eventually caught up with L and M, and C is now in the midst of her battle with it. I should have bought a family antibiotic plan back in May to save some trips to Walgreen’s.

Throw all of that together and the girls and I have all fallen into a weird rhythm where we don’t do a whole hell of a lot. If the sun is out, the pool is open. C sleeps until noon so we can’t run out and do anything before either the heat or afternoon showers kick in. We go to Target twice a week, since someone always needs something. M leaves to hang out with friends a couple afternoons/evenings a week. C and her closest friend get together at least once per week. L plays basketball one or two nights a week, depending on if her classmates are going and how her knees feel.

There’s nothing wrong with having a boring summer. Especially since, unlike a lot of people, we’ve been to Florida twice in the past year. It’s nice to have the calendar be wide open and not constantly be thinking about/preparing for the next big event.

Summer is passing by quickly, though. The girls just hit the one-month mark before they will return to school. It doesn’t feel like there are any big options open for us, but I need to put on my Good Dad hat and find us some small things that can break up the weeks and help to make some good memories for the summer of ’21.

Early July Sports Notes

KU Hoops

It would be nice to say a dizzying three months of roster flux at Kansas came to an end Tuesday when Ochai Agbaji and Remy Martin both announced they were pulling their names from the NBA draft list and would be playing as Jayhawks in the coming season. But given how crazy college hoops is at the moment, can we be sure anything is locked in?

For the sake of discussion, let’s assume there will be no more roster changes between now and when KU plays Michigan State in November’s Champions Classic.

I just surprised myself by being able to immediately name all 14 players who are currently under scholarship to play next season.[1] I figured I would forget someone along the way. Which, honestly, is probably the second biggest story for the coming year: some kids are going to get forgotten.

We’ll get to that in a moment. The biggest story, obviously, is that KU’s likely starting lineup is pretty sick. Martin, Agbaji, Joseph Yesufu, Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack is a terrific top five with Christian Braun as a super sixth man.

Beyond those top six, there’s a backup for every spot on the floor. There is athleticism and length and shooting and defensive ability.

KU might be the deepest team in the country. At least on July 7, which if I’m correct, has zero bearing on games next November through March.

Lots of folks are super excited about this ultra-stacked lineup and already arguing that KU should be ranked no lower than #2.

Which is fine, I get it, and I, too, am excited about what’s to come in the ’21–22 season.

There will be plenty of time to go over potential starting lineups, what bench players get the most minutes, etc.

For now, though, what fascinates me most about this team is how Bill Self is handling all these bodies. How has he communicated with the guys already on the roster the thinking behind adding players. I’m sure DaJuan Harris wasn’t thrilled when Self brought in not one, not two, but three point guards.[2]

What did he say to guys like Cam Martin and Yesufu, who committed in April/May when he brought in more transfers in June that added more competition to already limited playing time?

Most of all, how has worked with the incoming freshmen and their families to prevent a mass exodus by them next spring after they sit on the bench for an entire season? Baring a rash of serious injuries, Zach Clemence seems to be the only freshman who has any path to even limited minutes this year.

I’ve won about 800 fewer games than Self, but my advice to him would be to get guys like Ben McLemore and Travis Releford, who sat out seasons because of academics or choice and saw their games blossom during their year of practice but no play, talk to those young guys and explain how this year can greatly benefit them if they remain patient.

So here, in July, I’m far more interested in the psychological angle of how Self will keep an absolutely stacked KU roster together through six months together than how that group matches up with Michigan State, Kentucky, Missouri, Baylor, Texas, Alabama, and the other teams the Jayhawks will play during the 2021–22 season.

Euro Sports

This has been a glorious few weeks for European sports, if you’re into that kind of thing. Theoretically, I am. Although in practice I have not watched as much as I should have.

In the European soccer championship, I watched a ton of early games but checked out last week when we had company. I tuned in for the final 10 minutes of extra time and penalties of Tuesday’s Italy-Spain semifinal. A treeeemendous atmosphere at Wembley Stadium, which seemed to be dominated by Italian fans.

Long time readers may recall that I’ve long been a fan of the Azzurri, so you would expect that I was happy with the win. Well, things have changed. One of Italy’s most notable players has made several either borderline or overt racist statements in recent years. While it’s not fair to damn the entire team for one player’s actions, he is a veteran and leader of the national team, and hasn’t gotten a lot of pushback from other Italian players for his comments.

So I was rooting for Spain? Well, not exactly. Someone on Twitter, having a similar dilemma as me, pointed out the Spanish coach has also made blatantly racist comments.

Sad that these days if you are a neutral fan, it might come down to which team has the fewest racists on it.

I would imagine today’s game between England and Denmark will be spectacular, and an England-Italy final be truly over-the-top as English fans get to cheer on their perpetually disappointing squad in person. To win their first trophy since 1966 on home soil would be epic.

Once upon a time Wimbledon was appointment viewing for me. I can’t get into to it too much these days. Too few Americans, too many random players with Russian-sounding names that all kind of blend together to me.

I have been watching a bit of the Tour de France each day. But that, too, is difficult because I’m not sure who to pull for. It was easier when you just followed Lance Armstrong and slowly figured out the race by the coverage of his performance. Look at where that got me.

I’m sure I could still dive into the media surrounding the event and really get into it. It’s easier to just casually watch and enjoy the magnificent visuals.

Oh, and the British Open is next week. That I will be getting up early to watch.


Man, they suck. I watched a game a few weeks back, maybe the second week of June, which they pissed away in glorious fashion, and haven’t watched a game since. I didn’t expect them to contend this year, but I did expect better than what they’ve given us. The fact every young pitcher has either regressed or fallen on their face makes it hard to believe contention is a year or two away. Pitching coach Cal Eldred might need to go.

NBA Finals

L and I have been watching moments of the playoffs, but rarely get locked in. It doesn’t help that so many games start relatively late for us in the Eastern time zone. We made it to halftime last night, watched a few minutes of the third quarter, and as Phoenix pulled away both bailed for bed. She wants the Suns to win, which I get since they are more fun to watch and loaded with great stories. I’d kind of like to see Giannis get a ring, but don’t have strong feelings for either team. I’d say I’m rooting for a great series, but when you can’t stay up to watch the whole game, what’s the point of even saying that?

  1. The standard 13 plus super senior Mitch Lightfoot.  ↩
  2. Harris already redshirted once. Even under the new, super liberal roster rules, I don’t know if he can again.  ↩

Holiday Week Notes

A busy family and holiday week is in the books.

We had visitors. My brother-in-law, his wife, and their three kids who live in Boston spent a week with us. Their kids are 6, 3, and 2. When I think of our kids being those ages and trying to spend a week as guests in someone else’s home, the word “disaster” immediately pops into my head.

But the week passed quicker than I expected and was more-or-less incident-free. There were some bedtime meltdowns but those are inevitable and didn’t grind the entire house to a halt or anything.

It was very funny having the two younger kids talk to me. The three-year-old comes across as an old soul. He would come up and ask me a question – Have you seen my mom? Do you know where my swimsuit is? Can I have a muffin? – and wave his arms around and scrunch up his face like he was an old man and the fate of the world depended on my response. He would also forget the name of whichever one of our girls was not in the room. So he would ask, “Where is the other cousin at?”

One night we were getting ready to watch a movie and he was irate at my choice. “I’VE SEEN THIS MOVIE BEFORE!!!!” he screamed at me over-and-over. My brother-in-law whispered, “Just start it, watch what he does.” Sure enough, I hit play, the kid went catatonic, and didn’t utter a peep the rest of the movie.

His little sister killed me with some of the things she said, too. She has a sweet little voice and has very good speech for a not yet two-and-a-half year old. One morning she was asking me about breakfast, where her cousins were, etc and then dropped this bomb, “Can you stop hitting me?”


I promise, I had not touched the kid. We think maybe she was asking me to tell her brother to stop touching her. We laughed about that all week.

Another morning she kept saying something to me and neither her dad nor I could figure out exactly what she was asking. Finally my brother-in-law said, “Oh,” and laughed, “She telling you she has a vagina.” Then she repeated it like three more times before asking, “Do you have a vagina?” More laughter. A few minutes later she told me her brother has a vagina which set him off. “MOM ALREADY TOLD YOU I HAVE A PENIS!!!”

Later my sister-in-law told us that while everyone was waking up, the little one started asking when she would get a penis like her brother, which led to an explanation of what different body parts boys and girls have. That left her with announcements and questions to share with the rest of the family. We missed out on fun like this with three girls.

Every day these little ones cracked us up with stuff like this.

Their older sister reminds us a lot of M at the same age. They both are/were very smart, could read well for their age, LOVE to talk, and have curly hair. If she pinned you down and started a story, you had to be prepared to listen for 5–10 minutes until she wrapped it up. I had years of practice with that so it was no sweat to me.

It was lots of fun to catch up with them since we don’t get to see them very often, and it had been 18 months since their last visit to Indy.

We had crazy weather over the holiday week. Early in the week we were stuck in a stormy, wet pattern. Wednesday morning we got three inches of rain in an hour, which set off our sump pump alarm at 6:30 AM and flooded the low point in our front yard. No water in the house, thank goodness. The next night we had another big downpour that put as at nearly six inches of rain in a 36 hour stretch.

Most summer nights you can hear frogs in our neighborhood after dark. All that rain must have forced all the frogs out of the ground because they were insanely loud Thursday night. It sounded like the Brood X cicadas of a few weeks back. At one point I realized they sounded much closer than before. Our garage door was still up, and when I opened the entry door, sure enough, there was a big, fat frog sitting between our cars. I grabbed the pool net and forced him outside then shut the garage door to keep him and his buddies out.

That was followed by two nearly perfect days, with cool nights, days in the 70s with low humidity. And then the normal July heat and humidity hit on Sunday for our Fourth of July gathering. The week ahead looks hot and muggy, so we’ll probably be doing a lot of sitting around in either the pool or remaining inside in the AC.

There were several gatherings over the week. A few informal ones around the pool during the days so the young ones could swim. Another of our local families hosted dinner and s’mores Friday night. We hosted the annual July 4th pool party for about 30, that included lots of food, drink, and Uncle D’s fireworks. We splurged for the extra-large Target fireworks kit this year. Monday we hung out with all of S’s partners around one of their pools for a few hours.

A pretty good week all around.

We have a quiet week ahead and then my in-laws arrive Saturday. My two brothers-in-law are flying down to Jacksonville Friday to load up a U-Haul while my in-laws fly up to Indy. Sunday we’ll all get them moved into their new house.

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