Category: Uncategorized (Page 1 of 317)

Ted Lasso: One for the Road

Some notes about the end of Ted Lasso.

To reset, S had never watched the show before, so in April we watched together from the very first episode. We got caught up three weeks ago, watching the final three episodes on the nights they were released. After binging 30 or so in about 20 nights, I hated going old school and having to wait seven days for the next one.

I don’t think my general thoughts about season three are too original. I didn’t read many episode recaps during the season, nor any post-finale think pieces after Wednesday’s finale. But I believe consensus was that season three was uneven and had too many plot lines that were either unnecessary or too lengthy. Until the end, when things just kind of worked out. How Ted Lasso.

For example, did we need both Colin coming out/being outed and Keely having a relationship with a woman at the same time? I thought doing both seemed redundant and marginalized what could have been more powerful storylines had only one been used. I’m sure that got the right wingers worked up. Maybe that was the point.

I think the macro view of the issues with season three are pretty typical of an ensemble show like this, especially one blessed with such good writing and acting performances. There is an effort to squeeze something good in for everyone and, in the process, the focus that made season one so magical gets lost.

I kept making one comparison in my head. While the shows were very different, both Lasso and Stranger Things progressed through their runs in similar manners. Each were introduced via a season one that was amazing and affecting, a set of episodes that can be watched over-and-over. Both offered season twos that, while losing some of the brilliance of their premieres, expanded on that base and were, in some ways, even better. And then each show got off its rails a bit in season three as their universes expanded.

There are plenty of other shows that have had similar issues, but that was the one that struck me the most.

Back to season three specifically, I didn’t buy the whole Nathan Shelly plot line at all. He turned, with terrific vengeance, on the man who believed in him and helped him rise from kit man to assistant because Nate’s dad didn’t tell him he loved him? I know this show had daddy issues deep in its DNA, but that did not work for me. Even if the scene when Nate and his dad finally air their grievances was very affecting. Nate’s redemption seemed awfully easy after that.

Sam, who was such a big part of season two, sunk to the background this season. I get that you have to cycle through which secondary characters get the most attention. His experience with racism and hate are a perfect example of how interesting things get lost when a show’s world expands. That really could have been a huge, impactful part of the season, but was isolated to a couple episodes early on and then never revisited.

I was glad the Sam-Rebecca thing pretty much got dropped, other than a few looks of longing.

I hated how Roy Kent went from one of the great characters in recent memory to kind of an afterthought. At times he was almost a parody of the Roy we loved in the first two seasons, his gruff comments feeling somewhat forced and lacking in bite.

Another story line that I think deserved more attention was the change in Jamie’s dad. All we saw was a shot of him in, presumably, rehab and then he and Jamie sitting together smiling in the finale’s closing montage. For a relationship that was so powerful and difficult to watch in season two, I think it deserved more time to show the process James went through and how he and Jamie reconciled.

One thing I found very interesting about the show was how it was, overtly, a very politically progressive show. There was nary an episode without a reference, subtle or overt, either supporting a left-leaning political stance or decrying a right wing view. Which, again, I’m sure pissed off plenty of people. You know, the people who decry “cancel culture” when asked to stop being racist and then ban books they don’t like, protest because Target has rainbow t-shirts, or focus on men wearing dresses instead of the fight against bigotry and child abuse those dude in dresses stand for. Some might call them snowflakes.

Yet, from a higher level, Ted Lasso was strongly rooted in traditional values. It was all about having a strong connection with a parent, and the troubles that can develop when that parental connection is not available.[1] It was about taking care of people you are close to. For accepting responsibility for your actions. About being proud of your little community, whether it is a locker room, a soccer team, or the neighborhood of the mega city it occupies. About how you play the game being more important than the final result.

I’ll chalk all that up to Jason Sudeikis’ Midwestern upbringing. Although the empathy for people who live different lives than our own that Ted Lasso was so famous for is rarely present in the leaders who represent those of us who live in flyover country.

Sudeikis gets most of the credit for Lasso. Not enough is said about Bill Lawrence. I have no idea what the split in creative energies has been throughout the series, but Lasso is another notch in what has been an amazing career for Lawrence. He wrote for Friends and The Nanny, among other shows. He helped to create Spin City, Scrubs, and Cougar Town. Then he was involved in Lasso. I’ve heard Shrinking is pretty good, too. That’s a pretty solid CV.

Rupert becoming the #1 villain was both predictable and highly satisfying. While all that family/community stuff is nice, the show’s willingness to tear down the rich white dudes who think the world should bow before their every whim because they have money was almost as big of an organizing ethos.

And yet Edwin Akufo’s return showed that rich Black guys can be menaces as well. At least Akufo was hilarious. The scene in season two when he erupts after Sam turns down his offer was one of the best of the show’s entire run.

Another terrific element of the show’s DNA, especially for old guys like me, were all the references to Cheers. From having characters named Sam and Rebecca, to the picture of Sudeikis’ uncle (George Wendt, aka Norm) hanging in Roy’s favorite kebab joint, there were many scattered throughout the series. I’m sure I missed some of them along the way.

There was a wonderful final callback in the Lasso finale’s closing minutes. In case you missed it, Mae reaches up to shift a picture of Geronimo hanging from her bar’s wall that had gone askew. It was a smaller version of a picture that Nicholas Colasanto, aka Coach from Cheers, kept in his dressing room. After his death in 1985, the cast moved the picture onto the set. In the final episode of Cheers, Sam pauses to straighten it before he leaves the bar.

And then they cut to Trent Crimm signing books for his fans, saying “Cheers” to them.[2]

I also loved how there was always the Will They/Won’t They element to Ted and Rebecca’s relationship, something no show has ever done better than Cheers with Sam and Diane. I thought it was great how the writers only ever hinted at that angle, and kept Ted and Rebecca as friends but never lovers.

And then they open the finale with them clearly having slept in the same house and Ted asking if Rebecca wanted to talk about it. It took less than a minute to reveal they, in fact, did not sleep together. That was a nice way to wrap up that part of the show’s history.

I haven’t even talked about the soccer. I liked how soccer was always a huge part of where each season headed. Whatever the final result on the pitch was, it was always outweighed by what was going on with the characters.

OK, the players all pulling pieces of the destroyed Believe sign from their belongings was kind of hokey. But I loved it.

I’m guessing there wasn’t much acting in all the tears shed in the finale, especially from Hannah Waddingham in the airport scene. She seemed a right wreck, to attempt to put it into words she would use.

I will miss seeing her. She is an absolute Greek Goddess, surely carved out of marble by the sword of Zeus.

Other things I will remember/miss about Tedd Lasso:
Ted’s unwavering belief that people are good and deserve love and respect. We can tell ourselves we should behave in a similar manner, but so much of today’s world pushes us to be cynical and suspicious. Ted gives us hope we can all be better.
Roy Kent, fucking feminist icon.
The love between almost all the female characters, but especially Rebecca and Keely.
Jamie Tartt’s transformation.
Sam Obisanya’s moral compass and innate goodness.
Trent Crimm’s (of The Independent) hair.
The lads in the pub.
Sassy’s sassiness.

Ted Lasso will go down as the first great show from AppleTV+. Only an uneven season three keeps it from being an all time classic. It offered us some tremendous characters, lots of laughs, perhaps as many tears, and 30-some episodes that always had at least one moment that would affect you. After rewatching them all, I give season one an A+, season two an A-, and season three a B+, with an overall grade of A.

  1. Ted, Rebecca, Sam, Nate, Jamie, and even young Phoebe were all examples of the power and influence parents, and parent figures, have over us. Rupert clearly had daddy issues we never heard about.  ↩

  2. I stole the title of this post from Cheers’ final episode title as well.  ↩

Grad Night, Part 2

We had our final official event at St P’s last night: the graduation of L’s 8th grade class.

We got a new priest a little over a year ago after our long-time, very popular priest retired. The new guy has received a decidedly mixed reaction. As I’m not Catholic I won’t get into the details.

That said, homie knocked out the Mass in 40 minutes, which I fully support.

The graduation ceremony afterward went well. It was nice to have it be “normal,” since C’s in the spring of 2021 featured limited guests, masks, and families spread out with pews between them.

Neither M nor C won any awards at their middle school graduations. I had a feeling L might get one this year. It helps that her class is tiny. But she’s also been a straight A student and consistently gets the little awards and acknowledgments teachers hand out during the year.

She was nominated for four awards that we know of.[1] She won one, and it was a good one: the Holy Cross Values award for Cathedral that includes a $500 scholarship and automatic entry into class leadership at CHS next year. Pretty, pretty good.

That was one of the awards where they did not read off the nominees. The grads were sitting in their own section and we had a direct view of her. I had a decent idea she was going to win this one, so got to see the surprise and delight on her face when the principal called her name. She was beaming when she walked up to receive it.

So that was pretty cool.

There is always a brief reception for families before the adults leave and the kids have their final dance together. Several of us parents went to a bar to have a few drinks during the dance. I cracked up that, for most of our 90 minutes at the bar, the moms were all on one side of the room and the dads on the other. Some things never change…

L went to a friend’s house to hang out for awhile afterward. When I picked her up at midnight she said the dance was fun, although nobody was dancing. She was wearing casual clothes her friend had given her after they got to her house because, “I was tearing it up on the dance floor to try to get other people to dance and got my dress all sweaty.” Apparently there was twerking involved.

Just because the class of 2023 had graduated didn’t mean she stopped being a leader.

  1. Not sure why, but for some reason they read off the nominees for some awards and not others.  ↩

Holiday Weekend Notes

It was a very busy, extra long, extra special holiday weekend. Let’s get into the details.


L’s next-to-last day of middle school. She begged us to host the annual 8th grade pool party. After weeks of badgering us we relented. Not sure I would have said yes if her class was bigger, but only 28 kids seemed manageable.

Everyone was well-behaved, they all got picked up on time, and I felt bad for secretly hoping it would storm and cancel the event.[1]

Afterward six of her closest girlfriends spent the night. I think they were all wiped out from swimming so crashed pretty early.

S and I also went to the open house for one of M’s closest friends that evening.


Our family’s last day at St P’s! After 13 years we are done. Looking forward to stopping that monthly contribution. Not that that balances out college tuition.

I was shocked that L and her sleepover pals were all awake and dressed when I got up at 6:45. I fully expected to need to send S down to get the girls moving.

L’s last day went well. The 8th graders always have a walkout about 15 minutes before school ends. The rest of the students line the hallways, the 8th graders stroll through them to cheers and hugs, and then everyone stands around hugging and crying until it’s time to go.

Way less tears in L’s class than either of her sisters’ classes. Way less standing around and hugging. As I recall from both M’s and C’s classes, the school administrators are always gently pushing people to their cars when it is time for the gates to open. Not L’s class, or at least L. She stood around for a few minutes, then looked at me and said, “OK, let’s go.”

Easiest last day ever!

They graduate tonight (Tuesday).

Friday was also C’s last day of the year. She just had to turn a couple projects in before CHS dismissed at 12:20. She brought some girls home and had a big sleepover of her own.

That evening S, M, and I went to the folks hosting M’s big, three-girl open house in a few weeks for dinner and planning.

Yes, if you’re paying close attention, we let both L and C have a bunch of girls over and left the house, with only another sister to keep an eye on them. As far as we know there were no parties or boys invited over in our absence.


A relatively quiet day, although this was day one of prep for our family/close friends open house for M on Monday.


This is when the stress really kicked in for party prep. An entire day of cleaning, organizing, testing different strategies for how to display her stuff, shopping, etc.

L and I also ran over to the YMCA so she could get some shots up. Something was wrong with my back which made rebounding and getting a hand up in her face very difficult. That night I was in pretty intense pain. Normally I know when I do something to my back and that pain is coming. This time I had no memory of doing anything to it, which is a little concerning. The pain is finally fading Tuesday morning.

Also…race day! While doing party prep around the house we did the Indy resident tradition of listening to the race on the radio. Sounded like it was a good one. I fell asleep watching the replay Sunday night and haven’t gone back yet to watch the final 15 laps, which were some of the craziest I can recall in an Indy 500.


Open House day had finally arrived. Which meant the stress went to its highest possible level. We were still getting things organized when people started arriving, which is always fun.[2] My sister-in-law made an amazing grazing table for the main food feature.

Again this was mostly family and close friends, where the bigger party in a a couple weeks will be more about M’s friends. The nephews all got to swim. It was very warm, pushing hot, but still a nice day to be outside.

It was good to break M’s celebration into two groups. We have a big house with a big yard, but it doesn’t really feel setup for having 100-ish people wandering around. I think we had around 50 people over Sunday, but never more than 30–35 at a time. Which seemed perfect for getting to at least say hello and have a quick conversation with everyone. I also didn’t have to worry about people falling into the pool because so many people were milling about.

Oh, a story about pools at grad parties. The kid M went to prom with had his party last week. S and I did not go since we only casually know the parents. Day of their party they opened their pool to be greeted by green water. So they poured 16 gallons of pool shock into it in hopes of killing off whatever was polluting it.[3] That worked; the water was blue by party time. But also highly toxic. The parents spent all night telling people “DO NOT GET IN THE WATER!” Which was a pain because there were a ton of people there, and they were crowded very close to the pool.

We had blue, swimmable water for our party, thank goodness. I definitely watched my chemical levels a little closer than normal and ran the pump a little higher than normal in advance of our gathering.

M was pleased with how everything went, which is kind of the key.

And now it is summer. M has been out trying to find a job to supplement her weekend cooking gig. C really needs to get off her ass and find one soon if she wants to avoid the wrath of her parents. L has a couple days off before summer school orientation Friday, then begins classes next Monday. She is taking health and gym, so will be on campus all day. She also has high school basketball workouts on Tuesday afternoons and Wednesday mornings, and will likely be playing in games on Thursday nights. Kid is going to be tired for the next four weeks.

  1. Because of the holiday weekend and people leaving town, then graduation on Tuesday, we had one day to try to get the party in.  ↩
  2. They were arriving on time, we were just way behind schedule.  ↩
  3. For you non-pool owners, 16 gallons of liquid chlorinator is A LOT. I’ve never poured more than four gallons in at once, although I did put eight gallons in over the course of a day when we had cloudy water once.  ↩

Protecting Your Mailbox

A very busy week around here, so not sure if I’ll get any more proper posts up until after the holiday weekend.

I did run across this article this morning and it’s how I’ve been spending the last 30 minutes or so. If you’re sick of your mailbox being filled up with credit card offers, insurance spiels, and other unsolicited mailings, following these suggestions can eliminate many of them.

I wish there was a way to also stop the local mailings. I hate those creepy solicitations that have a big picture of your house on the envelope. Although for us it is fun since so many use either pictures from when our home was being built, or the house that was on this property before it was built. That’s a great way to get my business, people!

I Get No Mail and It’s Glorious

Graduation Weekend Notes

Grad Week

We officially have a high school graduate! The week leading up to Sunday’s graduation ceremony was jam-packed for M.

Her final day of school was last Monday. They were supposed to go in for first period Tuesday but she (and most of her classmates) opted to skip that.[1] She had little activities each day but Thursday was when things really got cranking. That morning she met with a group of girls on campus to take pictures. One of her middle school friends, who graduated from a rival school this weekend, took the photos and they turned out amazing. If you are a Facebook friend these are the pics of the group in caps and gowns around the school sign, etc.

Afterward she changed clothes and helped the other class officers paint their spot on the school wall. That evening she attended her first grad party, then slept over with a group of girls who were all on the crew to help make breakfast for Senior Sunrise.

She was up at like 5:30 Friday to get to campus and setup the breakfast. They had a beautiful morning for their last time together on the Hill, then meandered over to the gym for the Irish 500, the annual tricycle race between classes. There was some controversy this year as a team of sophomores, featuring one of C’s best friends, won for the second-straight year. The seniors claimed they cheated but C was insistent that she had video that disproved the senior’s argument. Who knew a tricycle race could be filled with so much drama?!?!

That night was the baccalaureate mass. Because of the timing we were not very environmentally friendly as a family and had to take three cars. I felt a little bad about that, even more so since parking is such a pain on campus.

The class president gave a very good speech which was a bonus. In the midst of the ceremony C looked at me and said, “Is that rain?” referring to the background noise. At an appropriate moment I slipped my phone out to check the radar and, sure enough, there was a big, fat red storm cell sitting right on top of CHS. It had not passed when the mass was over and we had to run to our cars while getting absolutely soaked. And I mean soaked. My clothes were plastered to my body. Thank goodness it wasn’t graduation day!

We had to laugh when the kids walked in for the mass. They were in alphabetical order. There was a sequence that went from Xavier Booker (6’11”) to M’s ex-boyfriend (5’7”). That just didn’t look right. We were also thankful that the ex-boyfriend comes before his twin sister in the lineup, otherwise he and M would have walked and sat next to each other. They are on decent terms but that still would have been awkward.

When we got home M was in tears. She said she was tired, stressed, and sad. I told her it was 100% acceptable to be sad, but there was no reason to be stressed. This was going to be one of the best weekends of her life and she needed to take a deep breath and enjoy it. I think it was more the lack of sleep than anything else, because once she got a good night of rest, she was fine the rest of the weekend.

Saturday her best friend’s grandmother took a group out for lunch and then she had up to six parties to attend. She ended up only going to four, but that was still a pretty full day.

Sunday was the big day. CHS’ graduation is outside at their baseball complex east of the city. An outdoor event in Indianapolis in May? Holy taking a chance! I guess they haven’t learned from over a hundred years of Indy 500s, where the biggest drama of race day is often whether that storm developing over Terre Haute is going to make it to Speedway before the race ends.

We lucked out, though. It was bright and sunny and in the low 70s. The sun felt a lot warmer than 70, and we were all very hot. Plus we roasted in the sun, sunburns for all. But at least there was no rain or it wasn’t like 57 and windy.

The ceremony went well. M gave the opening prayer. One of her classmates was supposed to follow her by offering the prayer in Spanish. Apparently the band didn’t get the memo as they started playing immediately after M finished. It was hilarious watching her whip her head around trying to figure out what to do. We went back and watched the recording of the event that night. M said the school president told them just to wait for the band to finish and then give the Spanish prayer. After she got that message she just glared at the band. I found her indignation delightful, and was glad she was sticking up for her classmate.

Anyway, the whole event took about two hours. There were a few too many speeches, especially since we had speeches on Friday. There are 240ish kids in her class and it took about 45 minutes to call their names to walk the stage. I talked to the parents of some of L’s basketball teammates Saturday about their ceremonies at the big, suburban, Hamilton County schools. Their ceremonies often take 3–4 hours. That sounds fun.

One highlight from the ceremony was learning that M’s class destroyed the school records for both total scholarship dollars offered and, since they are a smaller class, scholarship dollars per student. She said when the school president announced that, the grads were all laughing that it was thanks to Booker and all his offers. I noticed he only listed about 10 schools, and a football player who is going to Kentucky did not list a couple schools I know he had official offers from, so their class total could have been even higher. Another kid, who is just a normal dude, had like a quarter page of scholarships listed. Good for him!

L took her camera and got some very good pictures. When going through them I laughed because she not only snapped M and her friends as they walked right behind us, but also Booker and her favorite assistant coach from the girls program.

After the ceremony we came home and had an Italian takeout dinner that was a combination celebration for graduation and C’s birthday last week with S’s dad and stepmom. Then M opened the time capsule made back in first grade. It was fun reading all the things she wrote about herself back then. My only kind of emotional moment of the week was when she read the letter I wrote to her and then I read the letter she wrote about me being her hero. The best stuff.

That was our graduation weekend. M will have two graduation parties in the coming weeks. On Memorial Day we are hosting a smaller one for just family and close friends. Then in June she and two of her best friends will have a mutual party at one of their homes. She has about 1000 parties scattered around those. I think S and I are only going to a couple of those, so our calendars are much less packed than M’s.


With M home, C went straight from getting her license to driving to school most days. Which means I’m back to how I was when M started driving on her own: checking my phone every 30 seconds until I’m sure C made it to CHS safely, or that she is getting home safely after school. Glad she got her license at the end of the academic year so I’ll have the summer to get more comfortable mentally with her being out on her own.

Kid Hoops

L’s team had a tournament this weekend, although she only played on Saturday. They won those two games by 29 and 45. Even the “close” one was never really close and we had running clocks for the entire second half of each.

L didn’t score much – four and two points respectively – but did a decent job passing and playing defense. The team we beat by 45 lost to us by 40 a month ago. The mom who ran the clock next to me said they came from Ohio. I wanted to ask her if it was worth driving two hours to keep getting crushed, but kept that question in my head.

In the bracket games Sunday our girls won by 43 and then played our program’s highest level sixth grade team for the championship. That team has a girl who can literally look me in the eyes. All she does is block shots and take 3’s. They have another girl who is pushing six-feet who is mostly an outside player, too. They’ve won two different “world championship” tournaments, so they are a really good team.

Our girls beat them 45–43 in overtime. Texting with our coach after it sounds like we controlled the entire game then got sloppy at the end to let it get to overtime. But after losing by a single point in overtime twice this season, the girls finally closed one out. I mean, to took paying sixth graders to do it. But these are “world champions,” so don’t knock it too much.

That was our last tournament of the spring. We take the holiday weekend off then the girls will all funnel out to their high school programs for June. We will reconvene after July 4 for three out-of-town tournaments and then be done with this iteration of the team. In Indiana only three girls from a high school can play on the same AAU team. As we have four girls who will go to the same high school, our team will need to be split up.

The good news for L is the CHS head coach also coaches with her AAU program, so I think she’ll be able to stay with her current travel coach for at least one more year. It will just not be with all the same girls.

  1. Their actual senior skip day was May 12. She and three of her friends spent the day at the outlet mall about an hour away.  ↩

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 85

Chart Week: April 23, 1983
Song: “Whirly Girl” – Oxo
Chart Position: #28, 10th week on the chart. This was its chart peak.

We love to celebrate the one hit wonders that made a big impact on the charts and the culture. Toni Basil. Nena. Tommy Tutone. Artists of that nature that you still hear today.

Then there are the bands that are lost to time because their sole hit barely scratched its way onto the chart and failed to register in our generational memory.

This song is definitely one of those forgotten tracks.

I am writing about “Whirly Girl,” which I do not remember at all, because of the story Casey Kasem shared about its background. Casey told his audience that Oxo leader Ish “Angel” Ledesma wrote it about his wife’s adventures in the 1970s.

Before marrying Ish, Lori Ledesma had partied with some of the biggest bands of the ‘70s. “That can be fun, but also destructive,” Casey quoted Ledesma as saying. “I’m making fun of her lifestyle, but that’s ok. She made it through, and nothing happened to her.”

I’m sure he had his fun in the ‘70s, and he was publicly saying it was fine that she had her fun, too. Props to him for having an enlightened view about his wife’s past.

But then I checked out his lyrics and reconsidered my opinion.

She’s been with The Rolling Stones
On their tours
And in their homes
Won’t tell you where she’s bound
‘Cause she ain’t lost and don’t want to be found

Ok, fine so far. Dropping a Rolling Stones reference is solid. Let’s continue…

This girl just combs her hair
And takes her tea
With millionaires
She’s sitting in the latest styles
With open legs
And mysterious smiles


I think it’s one thing to say “Wow, my wife sure liked to party before we got together!” It’s another to write a line about her legs being open.

Again, maybe my focus should be on Ledesma’s comfort with his wife’s past. No double standards in their house.

I might have chosen a different way of talking about her history, though. One that didn’t imply she was easy, loose, or whatever the proper term for that era was.

Casey added that the song was meant to be called “Worldly Girl,” since Lori’s journeys had taken her around the world. But as that was too hard to sing, Ish adjusted it to be “Whirly Girl.”

The song? It’s a super annoying ear worm. I’m shocked I don’t recall it because it is the kind of track that I would hate but not be able to prevent from repeating in my head. It sounds like a cheesy, show tune knock off. Or maybe a poppier version of The Manhattan Transfer. The production sucks, too. Those tinny guitars drive me nuts. It sounds like it was made to be played on a single-speaker transistor radio and not one of the sweet Hi-Fis that Lori was no doubt listening to records on with Mick Jagger. 2/10

While this was Oxo’s only hit, Ish Ledesma himself was not a one-hit artist. He had reached #9 – and topped the R&B chart – in 1978 with his previous band Foxy on “Get Off.”[1] Ledesma’s third band, Company B, hit #21 in 1987 with “Fascinated.”

  1. Foxy also hit #21 with “Hot Number” in 1979.  ↩

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.  ↩

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.

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