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Reaching for the Stars, Bonus Tracks

Songs:
“Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond. Peaked at #4 the week of August 16, 1969
“Take Me Home, Country Roads” – John Denver. Peaked at #2 the week of August 28, 1971
“Smoky Mountain Rain” – Ronnie Milsap. Peaked at #24 for two weeks in February/March of 1981

A different kind of RFTS post today. Rather than breaking down a song (or songs) and its place on the Billboard chart, this is a story about one of my kids with a pop music connection.

Sunday M and I were eating breakfast before she left to go to work. In the background was an AT40 from 1981. While we ate our French toast, we heard Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain,” which, as I’ve shared before, is a jam.

I noticed a look on M’s face and was wondering if she would comment. There is pretty much zero country music ever played in our house, and while “Smoky Mountain Rain” fits into the country-pop sound that often hit the charts in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, it still stands out as a country track compared to what we usually listen to.

Finally she said, “This reminds me of “Country Roads.”

I chuckled a little and said, “How do you know ‘Country Roads?’”

“We sang it at CYO camp,” she responded.

I nodded, made sense.

After waiting a beat she continued, “It’s also one of those basic white people songs that everyone knows. You know, like ‘Sweet Caroline?’”

I about choked on my food as I laughed.

As my friend Stacey B said, she’s not wrong.

More Sports Notes

With the Super Bowl out of the way, here are some more sports notes from the past few days.


Kid Hoops

L’s team had a big game Saturday. Her team played the squad they were tied with for second place in their league. Looking at comparative scores, it seemed like the teams were pretty evenly matched. We were going to have our best player. Things looked good.

Then we got stomped.

L threw a ridiculous pass from the left wing, through the entire defense, to a teammate under the hoop who laid it up and in just before the halftime buzzer for our second basket of the game. We were down 12–4. It did not feel that close, either.

It didn’t get better in the second half. The opponents had two girls three inches taller than our inside girl and they just shut her down. Their team defense was great at all five spots and barely gave us any looks. Worst, our best player went 0–12 from the free throw line in a 13-point loss. Yep, Oh-for-Twelve. Poor kid, the misses got worse and worse as they piled up. She almost threw one over the backboard. Yikes.

L was 0-fer from the floor, but she was also the only girl who was able to get shots. She was forcing them but at least she was getting them off. She blew an easy layup late in the game, making her approximately 0 for her last 129 on layups. She did have a few other absolute dimes. One she again whipped through the entire defense, placed it on our inside girl’s right hand above her shoulders, and she laid it in without ever putting her left hand on the ball. It was kind of dope and got some vocal reaction from the dads. But otherwise L struggled like everyone else.

The crazy thing about the team we played was that they were coached by a high school girl. She knew her shit, was cool and calm on the sideline, and obviously has these girls drilled well on the fundamentals. I’m glad I wasn’t coaching and getting my ass kicked by her.


KU Hoops

Fortunately L’s game saved me from most of the KU game Saturday. Games at West Virginia are always the worst, so I wasn’t too bummed either about missing it or the loss.

I was bummed but not surprised that KU fell out of the rankings on Monday. The program’s reputation clearly kept them ranked a few weeks longer than they should have been included. L was borderline pissed when I told her it was the first time since she was four months old that had happened. Not sure why she was so worked up about it, she’s watched maybe 15 minutes of KU basketball with me this year.

Luckily Monday night KU got their shit together, at least in the second half, against Oklahoma State. I was in multiple texts threads with KU friends and my OSU buddy. I don’t want to dig back into them and give myself a headache, but I believe all of my friends would be comfortable with be summing up those conversations by saying the first half was a display of garbage basketball by both teams.

There’s not much to say about KU that I haven’t already said, although I think their struggles are currently being compounded by a total lack of confidence. David McCormack, in a huge upset, might be the most confident player on the team right now. But their lack of talent and skill and hoops IQ looks even worse when they play tentatively. I liked how most of the team played hard in the second half last night. Hopefully they’ve learned if you do that, good things will happen, and eventually the shots that have been clanging off the rim for the last month will start to fall again.


College Hoops Landscape

I guess if KU has to have a really down year, this is the year to do it. How crazy is it that none of the 13 winningest programs in D1 are ranked right now? Or that Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State are likely to miss the tournament, and North Carolina would only squeeze in if the brackets came out today? Hell, if KU slips up over the next week when they play Iowa State twice and then K-State, they will slide into bubble territory. Those schools are the five most dominant Power Five programs of the past decade. And they all, to some measure, suck right now.[1]

I kind of scoffed early in the year when John Calipari blamed Covid for Kentucky’s struggles. But with all these blue bloods having issues, most of whom are relying on young players, that has become a reasonable explanation. Incoming players who normally got a full summer of workouts with/against returning and former players had to work out on their own last year, and they look like what freshmen used to look like.

Sadly those other programs will probably bounce back and be just fine next year. KU, depending on how long the NCAA shit drags on and what the eventual penalties are, could be facing a decent stretch of relative mediocrity.

Although, if Bill Self can keep his roster together over the summer and find a good transfer point guard, I think KU will be fine next year. It’s the years after that which could become problematic. And that’s if the NCAA allows Self to continue coaching.


Pacers

The Pacers are on a 1–5 stretch. If KU hadn’t won last night I might be ready to give up on all basketball for awhile.


Golf

L’s game Saturday also caused me to miss a lot of the PGA event. Once I got home, caught the final minutes of the KU game, and caught up on Twitter, I saw the outburst over Jordan Spieth’s round. I thought he was done at –7 for the day, so I was thrilled when I switched to NBC and saw he still had four holes to play. And he continued to drop absolute bombs for birdies.

It was a scintillating performance, full of all the high-wire stuff Spieth is famous for. As one podcast afterward stated, other than Tiger Woods, no golfer creates as much excitement as Spieth when he’s on. There’s something about his game that is so fragile and relatable. Plus he is so open about his success and failures that he doesn’t seem like your average, boring tour pro. Even at his best he always seems so close to losing it and looking like your average weekend duffer. Then he hits an amazing approach from the desert and holes a 60-foot putt and you are screaming and texting your friends.

There was a buzz on golf Twitter as people lost their shit. I missed Spieth’s peak, as it came when I was giving golf no attention. Even though he fell apart on Sunday – predictably – it was fun to be a part of the Jordan Spieth experience for an hour or so. I hope he can continue to round out his game so this is a weekly recurrence rather than a singular event.


  1. Gonzaga and Villanova are obviously in the mix of best programs of the past decade, and are doing just fine this year.  ↩

Super Bowl Notes

Some thoughts on Sunday’s Big Game


The Game

I was certainly surprised by the result. Even though I had watched Tampa’s defense stifle Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers, I never expected them to do the same to Patrick Mahomes and all of his weapons. That was a ferocious, courageous performance by the Bucs’ D. They got consistent pressure to Mahomes, something every other team the Chiefs played this year struggled to do, while still bottling up Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They kept the Chiefs from ever getting a consistent running attack going. In the fourth quarter, when you expect the team the Chiefs have been carving up through the first 45 minutes start to wilt, it was KC that looked gassed and Tampa that looked energized.

To me that was the key to the game. But obviously a lot of credit is due to Tom Brady. Once again he made many of us look dumb. If you told me that Tampa’s D would play that well, I could understand him having a workman-like, late Peyton Manning performance and guiding the Bucs to the win. But he was fantastic. It’s really mind-boggling how he can continue to do this, ESPECIALLY in his first year on a new team, in a new system, with new teammates. He sure picked the right demon to sell his soul to.


The biggest question to me this morning is how do we begin to separate Brady from Bill Belichick. It’s impossible to say that Belichick deserves no credit for coaching Brady to his first six Super Bowl wins. But last night’s result sure shifts the balance of power in that relationship.


Brady has been firmly established as the GOAT QB for a few years now. Last night he put the bar so far out into the stratosphere it’s difficult to imagine anyone catching him, at least in terms of Super Bowl wins.

The GOAT QB debate is such a tough one. Tom Brady is not the most gifted man to ever play his position. He’s not the most physically impressive. He’s not the most complete. He doesn’t possess the biggest arm. For much of his career Peyton Manning and Drew Brees were better than him. Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers are better than him today. But the fucker has seven Super Bowl titles and there is no amount of arguing that can dethrone him from the top of the quarterback mountain.


As it became more apparent that the Bucs would win, I started thinking about what this meant for Mahomes and the Chiefs. At first glance, this is a blip. In fact, I’m going on record to say, as long as he is healthy next year, Mahomes is going to go medieval on the NFL, break just about every single season QB record, and lead the Chiefs to a 16–0 regular season. The great ones harvest more anger from losing than happiness from winning, and I think he’s going to destroy everything in his path next year.

However, this is another missed opportunity in whatever window the Chiefs have to surround Mahomes with top tier talent. Anyone who has watched the Chiefs the last three years understands that the Chiefs will be Super Bowl contenders as long as Mahomes is healthy. The question is how long can the Chiefs keep top-tier talent around him?

I’m not familiar enough with the Chiefs roster to know who is set to become a free agent either this spring or next, but these windows of opportunity can close faster than expected. NFL careers tend to go from peak to mediocre quickly. Mahomes should be great for another decade-plus. Will the parts around him last as long?

The Chiefs have an excellent front office, so they seem well situated to draft smartly to replace outgoing, expensive talent with younger, cheaper players. Mahomes elevates those around him, which is a huge bonus. But it is insanely tough to hit in the draft over-and-over.

Maybe I’m an idiot and the Chiefs are going to manage the roster around Mahomes just fine, keeping the o-line stout, keeping the offense stocked with explosive backs and receivers, and fielding a defense that can prevent games from turning into stressful 48–45 track meets every week.

I expect Mahomes to win at least one more Super Bowl in Kansas City. Which, when you look at the history of the franchise, is pretty freaking great.

Losing last night, along with two years ago in the AFC title game, could be the difference between Mahomes getting a chance to challenge Brady’s Super Bowl record, and topping out somewhere in the Manning(s), Elway, Montana range. Which is still rarified air, but would, unfairly, feel like a bit of a letdown.


I was neutral last night. I was actually rooting for both teams to lose. But, holy crap did the Chiefs get a bad whistle, especially in the first half. It’s not that every call against the Chiefs was awful; upon review almost all were legit. It’s that they always came in huge moments and there weren’t corresponding calls against the Bucs. Yet it still felt like the Chiefs were very much in the game until late in the fourth quarter.


Upset of the night: Andy Reid making dumb clock decisions. It was hilarious seeing my Twitter feed fill up with Eagles fan reliving stupid time management moments from his years in Philly. Seriously, he’s one of the best offensive coaches ever, but still hasn’t figured out how to make the most basic decisions about time.


One more legacy note. Maybe I’m having a moment of selective memory, but I don’t think people hated Joe Montana the way they do Brady. Montana had an Aaron Rodgers quality to him: he was everyone’s second favorite QB. Even if he beat your team there was something cool about him that made you admire him.

But maybe that’s just because 30 years have passed since Joe played and I’m forgetting how people were sick of him, too.


How sadly ironic it was for the same league that blackballed Colin Kaepernick to display “criminal justice reform” banners at their championship game.


Finally, what the fuck kind of sports jacket was Peyton Manning wearing? Some shit you can only get away with if you’re super rich and from the south. Or was this a hint that he’s going into the Hall of Fame as a Bronco? That will cause a ruckus around here if it happens.


Commercials!

Will Ferrell’s GM commercial was my favorite. The Michael B. Jordan Alexa commercial was outstanding, too. The Jason Alexander hoodie ad for Tide rounded out my top three.

Springsteen in Kansas was pretty fresh.

I generally do not like the light beer seltzer fad, and think people who drink them are horrible human beings. But the lemons to lemonade ad by Bud Light seltzer was appropriate for the moment.

Worst commercial of the night: the oat milk guy singing in his oat field.

And I did not get why Vince Lombardi, who has been dead longer than I’ve been alive, needs to be re-animated to talk about the state of the world.


Halftime show

I thought The Weeknd was an odd choice. Sure, you couldn’t go 90 seconds without hearing “Blinding Lights” over the past year, and it never got old, which is a sign of a genius song. But he’s not like a universally beloved artist with a huge swath of hits everyone knows. At least Bruno Mars had a handful of songs that you either knew or sounded like songs you knew. Plus, The Weeknd might be a little too artsy for the Super Bowl audience.

I thought his performance was fine. Not great, not terrible, and definitely not memorable. The audio being awful didn’t help.

I was explaining to the girls how who performs gets selected, and how sometimes artists are asked and decline. We all agreed that Ariana Grande is the most obvious youngish artist who should be on stage next. Bieber is probably on that list. I’m sure Pearl Jam has been asked and declined multiple times. There seems to be building momentum for Foo Fighters to get a turn. Maybe we can re-animate Prince and try him again.

Super Bowl Memories

There’s been a discussion in my Twitter feed today about whether Super Bowl Sunday is an overrated sports day. I’m 100% on board with this take.

The actual sports side of Super Bowl Sunday kind of sucks, as the game is always secondary to all the other things that surround it. The parties, the pregame show, the halftime show, the commercials. Unless your team is playing, the football is kind of a letdown. And even then the game’s cadence is so unlike any other NFL game, that it can make you crazy if you care who wins.

Within that discussion were some folks sharing their memories of Super Bowls past. My kids are all either working or babysitting, the wife is traveling back from a weekend away, and I refuse to watch any of the early, early pregame stuff. So, here are my Super Bowl memories.

Super Bowl XII, Jan 15, 1978. Cowboys beat the Broncos.
A transformative moment in my life. For years I faced the question, “Why are you a Cowboys fan?” This is the game that explains it. Six-year-old me watched my first Super Bowl and thought it was cool both teams were from cities that started with D’s. The Cowboys won, and I became a Cowboys fan until Jerry Jones pissed me off.

SB XIII, Jan 21, 1979. This was a doozy for kids of the 70s, the second meeting between the Steelers and Cowboys. Jackie Smith dropped a sure touchdown, the Cowboys lost by four, and I cried.

SB XVI, Jan 24, 1982. I was still bitter after the 49ers beat the Cowboys in the NFC title game. My aunt and uncle hosted a party and one of my good friends was with me, along with another kid our age we did not know. When the national anthem played, this other kid stood, put his hand over his heart, and sang along. My buddy and I about shit ourselves.

SB XXIV, Jan 28, 1990. I watched this in the lobby of my dorm. One of the most perfect games ever played, done by the Niners at their absolute peak.

SB XXVII, Jan 31, 1993. My Cowboys finally made it back. I had to work and missed the first half. My roommates all messed with me when I got home at halftime, claiming the Bills were shellacking Dallas. Boy the look on my face when the second half started and I saw the score! Also, Leon Lett.

SB XXX, Jan 28, 1996. The Cowboys finally beat the Steelers. My bigger memory of the day is that KU played at Colorado before the Super Bowl. This was Chauncey Billups’ single year in Boulder, so it was a solid Buffs team, but KU got the W.

SB XXXII, Jan 25, 1998. Jewel sang the national anthem. This was right when she was busting out as one of the brightest stars in music. With her rise came the story of how she lived in her car for a stretch in her starving artist days. I was at a party, and folks were correctly solemn during her performance. Responding to her attire, which accentuated her curves, I said, “Wow, hard to believe she was ever homeless,” a little too loud after she was done. There was a moment of silence before everyone lost it. I felt a little sheepish about my statement, but was thankful the room was with me and I was not asked to leave.

SB XXXV, Jan 28, 2001. I remember S and I getting into an argument on the way to the game and us not talking the entire game. Fortunately we were at a party and could avoid each other, but I did wonder if she was going to break up with me on the way home. We didn’t talk for a few days before she sent me an email saying she was sorry. Dating a pediatric resident who got short-tempered when she didn’t get much sleep was a delight.

SB XXXVI, Feb 3, 2002. Another doozy with the ghost of 9/11 looming large. A great game. The beginning of the Patriots dynasty, when we all thought Tom Brady was a plucky underdog and Belichick’s team over individual stuff wasn’t sociopathic. Adam Vinatieri’s first kick into legend. U2 at halftime. And going to a party where I ran into an old college friend and offended him by loudly greeting him with his college nickname, which he did not want his adult-life friends to know about. A couple other college buddies and I still laugh about that a few times a year.

SB XXXVII, Jan 26, 2003. I won like $220 in the square game. My biggest sports gambling win ever!

SB XXXIII, Feb 1, 2004. Wardrobe malfunction!

SB XLI, Feb 4, 2007. The Colts win, but Prince’s greatest ever halftime show overshadowed the game. It was also so cold here in Indy that a man literally froze to death a couple miles from our house.

SB XLIV, Feb 7, 2010. The Colts lose a game they should have won, mostly because Peyton played terribly and Dwight Freeney had blown up his ankle late in the AFC title game. When Peyton threw a pick six, I, after having several drinks, said, “Well, fuck!” in a room filled with kids under the age of six. I was just saying what all the other parents were thinking.

SB XLVI, Feb 5, 2012. Indianapolis’ Super Bowl came off without any hitches, weather or otherwise. Seriously, it was a miracle it wasn’t 10 below all week. Our girls thought it was great that Peyton’s brother was the quarterback for the Giants and made Eli masks at school.

SB LI, Feb 5, 2017. Furiously texting with friends as the Falcons jumped out to a huge lead over the Patriots. Then furiously texting later wondering “They’re going to blow this, aren’t they?”

SB LIV, Feb 2, 2020. Two weeks of me explaining to people that (and why) I’m not a Chiefs fan.

Friday Playlist

The first playlist of February. The sun is coming up a little earlier every morning and staying up a little later each evening. Sure, the windchill is going to be well below freezing for the next week, but with the added sunlight it’s time to start thinking ahead to spring’s arrival.

“Brisbane Radio” – Stephen’s Shore
I always associate strummy Aussie music like this with spring, for some reason. So this song arrives at the perfect time.

“Heartlow” – Jane Weaver
I initially added this song because it reminds me of 1960s Franco-pop, or more modern takes on that sound by artists like Fabienne Delsol. Then I read up on Weaver and found that she was born in 1972, which adds to the throw-back feel. I have to give props to anyone who is roughly my age and is still making new music.

“Baby, Sleep” – Maximo Park
I had no idea Maximo Park was still recording. I was a big fan in the mid-’00s but had lost track of them. Looks like they released three singles last year and a new one just a few weeks back. I guess I have some catching up to do.

“Holy Show” – Pillow Queens
I just discovered this Irish band a week or so ago. Their In Waiting album is quite good, and this is an excellent Track One that sets the tone for what’s to come.

“River Mountain Love” – Truck Stop Love
I believe this is a demo version of my favorite song from this Manhattan, Kansas band. It doesn’t match the energy of the album version, which came out in late ’93 or early ’94, but it’s the one that is available on Spotify.

What if Motörhead wrote “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode?
This is awesome. Reach out and touch faith.

Big Steps Ahead

We have reached the point in our home where college is not some far-off thing in our kids’ lives that we are casually planning for. It is approaching rapidly, and we are beginning to think much more seriously about the concept.

M took the PSAT in the fall and ever since has received daily multiple brochures and letters from colleges. At first she was thrilled. The modern touch of the school creating a custom URL that included her name was an especially flattering. But she’s grown bored with them – “They all say the same thing” – and barely looks at them anymore.

Yesterday she met with her school counselor to plan out her last two years of high school and start putting some thoughts on paper about college. In addition to the PSAT, which she did really well on, she took a personality/preferences test recently that spit out some areas of employment she might want to explore. Her results suggested kindergarten teacher, therapist/counselor, and CEO. That’s quite a range! I like to think it demonstrates that she is both empathetic and can get shit done.

When we ask, she never really expresses an interest in a particular direction. I’ve said for years she should go to law school since she loves to talk and argue. She’s always rejected that, “I don’t want to be an attorney.” I pointed out our many friends with law degrees who don’t practice law, and how law school can be a tool to open up pretty much any career track.

But we have to figure out undergrad before we can think about post-graduate work or career path.

The sheet we got back from the counselor also had some early ideas for what colleges to research. M’s been saying for a couple years she wants to live in a true college town and go to a bigger school. Yet the first schools on the list were Marquette, St. Joseph’s, and DePaul. None of them are big schools and none of them are in small college towns. There must be some bias in the test toward Catholic schools.

After those was listed a group of Big 10 schools – IU, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State – and Ohio University.

To this point she’s only mentioned two schools that intrigue her: Alabama and Wisconsin. There is a surprisingly large swath of kids from Indy who end up in Tuscaloosa. I wouldn’t be thrilled about out-of-state tuition in the south, but it would be fun to go to a football game down there. One of her best friends has family in Wisconsin, and her older sister just decided to go to school in Madison, thus the attraction there.

When I was her age I pretty much knew I was going to KU, so I didn’t invest much time or effort into the process. That got upended when we moved to California during my sophomore year. UCLA was my dream school, but locals told me A) unless I had a perfect GPA (I did not) there was no way I would get in and B) living in LA was crazy expensive, so I should be prepared to have no money if I went there.

I adjusted and ordered some materials from a few other UC schools. When I saw the pictures of dorms a few yards from the beach at UC Santa Barbara I knew that’s where I wanted to go. Had we stayed in California, I’m guessing that’s where I would have ended up, although I wonder if I would have explored public schools in neighboring states to combat the cost of living price of Cali.

Fortunately we moved back to Kansas City after a year and going to KU became plan A, UMKC plan B.

M has rocked her first year-and-a-half of high school. She has a >4.0 GPA, she’s in student government, and has a couple extracurriculars that she enjoys. She has a weekend job and does most of her service hours at a food bank. It seems like she knows just about everything that’s going on around campus, too.

She already has a better resume than I ever had. While I would prefer she end up at IU or Purdue for financial reasons, I’m proud she has a lot more options than I did.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 53

Chart Week: January 21, 1984
Song: “Undercover of the Night” – The Rolling Stones
Chart Position: #20, 11th week on the chart. Peaked at #9 for two weeks in December and January.

This edition is more about how I listened to the song than the song itself. Although there will be some song trivia before we’re done.

1983 was a big year on my Classic Christmas Gifts post list. That was the Christmas I received, among other things, a Pioneer SK–111F boombox. Although that boombox only lasted a few years, it had a huge influence on my life.

S l800 copy

For a few years some manufacturers included the shortwave radio bands on their boomboxes. I imagine 99% of kids who had one of these radios either totally ignored that feature or scanned through the shortwave bands once (likely accidentally), were thoroughly confused, and then ignored them.

Not me.

I explored them almost immediately and was intrigued, if unsure of what I had stumbled upon. After a family friend who knew a little about international radio gave me some pointers, I started scrolling through the bands more often. Listening to the Voice of America, BBC, Radio Moscow, Radio Havana Cuba, and others come at the same story from very different angles fascinated me. I eventually got a proper shortwave radio and continued listening to those frequencies for many years. [1]

For all the time I spent listening to those government-run stations that focused on news, current events, and general talk programs, there was another surprising station that was on my list of favorites.

WRNO was an FM rock station in New Orleans that also broadcast on shortwave. At the time it was one of the few private shortwave stations in the US, and the only one that didn’t broadcast primarily religious programming. WRNO played Top 40 pop and rock, thus the motto “The Rock of the World,” and also aired Saints football games and programs about the culture of the New Orleans area.[2]

Looking back, it’s strange that I devoted much time to listening to WRNO. The audio was generally bad, worse than even tuning to a local AM station. There was often interference from other stations, or lots of static and fading depending on atmospheric conditions. They didn’t play anything I couldn’t hear much easier and better on Q–104, ZZ–99, or KY–102 in Kansas City. I guess I thought it was cool that I was listening to the same songs at the same time as a kid on the other side of the world.

That’s where this song comes in. I did not like the Stones much as a kid. This song, though, had an unsettling, dangerous edge to it that caught my attention. Casey Kasem told me, at some point, that the song was about political strife in Central and South America.

That was the connecting point.

I wondered how listeners in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Argentina, or other Latin countries in the midst of political crisis would react to one of the biggest bands in the world singing about events they were experiencing first hand. Being idealistic, I liked to think this was inspiring people to throw off the yoke of the oppressor and claim their freedom. Granted, I was a little fuzzy on the details of the conflict in each country. And my politics were quite different at age 12/13 than they are today. But, still, I loved the idea of international radio and rock music playing some part in motivating people to fight for their freedom.

Crazily, while trying to find some images of WRNO to include in this post, I found this clip of a WRNO broadcast that features a few seconds from “Undercover of the Night.”

(There are other clips of WRNO broadcasts on YouTube if you have any interest in hearing more of what its transmissions sounded like.)


I thought I remembered something about this song being controversial. As I read up on it I learned (or re-learned) that it was the video that caused problems. MTV labeled it as too violent and at first refused to air it. After some negotiations and editing, MTV relented, but only played it after 9:00 pm. Watching it from the perspective of 2021 it’s kind of crazy to think that this video raised any red flags. I suppose there is a lot of gunplay. But it all seems cartoonish and no more serious than the fake mustache Mick Jagger wears.

When director Julien Temple offered his video treatment to the band, he was concerned with how they would react. Jagger and Keith Richards were in the midst of one of their more contentious periods. Temple had Richards’ character murdering Mick’s. He didn’t know if Mick would be ok with that, or if Keith could even be bothered to take part. But when the Glimmer Twins read his proposal, they were both thrilled and jumped in enthusiastically. I love that.


  1. I tried to get back into shortwave listening about 10 years ago. But, sadly, the end of the Cold War and the rise of the internet largely killed off the medium. There are still some stations out there, but nothing like in the 1980s. Also, the rise of personal electronics has filled our homes with devices that generate all kinds of interference on the shortwave bands, making it even more difficult to hear the few stations that continue to broadcast.  ↩
  2. I think they even aired American Top 40 for awhile. Although I may have heard AT40 on the Armed Forces network.  ↩

January Media

Movies and Shows

The Witches
A movie L picked for us to watch New Year’s Night. Roald Dahl stories are always wacky and this one did not disappoint in that sense. Very weird and maybe/likely offensive at times? I’m not sure, but I get how some folks were offended.

B

Backstory: The Tale of T’eo
Remember when we only had completely insane stories a few times a year? Now that they seem to happen almost daily we don’t get to really dive in and enjoy them the way we once did.

This hour-long piece looks back at and updates the Manti T’eo catfishing scandal of 2012. I had forgotten some of the details, and it was even crazier than I remembered. I’m still not sure what to think about the whole thing, mostly because it’s hard to know where the truth begins and ends even after nearly nine years.

B+

Chernobyl
I read Midnight in Chernobyl last year and was floored by it. It remains one of the best pieces of non-fiction I’ve ever read. I decided to cap off our month of HBOMax by reviewing this miniseries, also based on the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl power plant in current-day Ukraine. The series is also excellent, if not quite as memorable as the book. It has to cover the same material in a lot less time and suffers somewhat for that. But it still does a fine job of showing what happened, explaining how it happened, and the heroic efforts to save lives and secure the power plant. Episode five, which features the trial of the three men held most responsible for the accident, is especially powerful. And the soundtrack – filled with dissonant takes on traditional Russian music – was amazing in helping to set the tone.

A-

Curb Your Enthusiasm, seasons 4–7
How I spent most of my month with HBOMax. At one point I was having dreams about the show. And I also found myself getting incredibly agitated over mundane details of daily life. Might have been a good thing to stop after four seasons.
Season 4, A-
Season 5, B
Season 6, A
Season 7, A

The Office
Although the show has left Netflix, Comedy Central still own rights to it. And they’ve been playing the hell out of it since it went to Peacock. At least five times this month I would be looking for something to watch, see that CC was airing a block of episodes, and spend the next couple hours watching several. Since they were all over the place in terms of season and episode, I’ll give the show an overall grade. Pretty much anytime Michael Scott is present you can expect to be entertained.

A

Icarus
Documentarian Bryan Fogel set out to make a fascinating film: after finishing 15th in a prestigious bike race in France, he decided to spend the next year doping to see how he would compete by breaking the rules. He enlisted the foremost expert in the world on how to both dope and avoid being detected, Russian Grigory Rodchenkov. But in the midst of filming Rodchenkov became the center of one of the biggest drug scandals in world sports history, one which at times completely shut down the Russian Olympic team.

While there was some disjointedness from that transition, it was still a fascinating look at a man’s entire world crumbling around him. Regardless of what you think of PEDs and Rodchenkov at the beginning, it’s hard not to ignore his acts to upset the balance of athletic competitions and see the man who is separated from his family, estranged from his country, and likely in danger because of the people in Russia he has spoken out against.

A-


Shorts

What If We Nuke the Moon?
Science!

A-

Rebuilding James Bond’s Apple IIc
More science!

A-

Danny MacAskill – The Slabs
Holy shit. I can barely ride down a flat road. This is insane!

A


Podcasts

13 Seconds to the Moon, season 2
This season focused on the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a near catastrophic explosion on the way to the moon and took a heroic effort by NASA to bring the crew home safely. Since it is focused on one mission, it is a little tighter than season one. And it dispels some myths Hollywood conjured up for the movie about the mission. Commander Jim Lovell is an absolute treasure, still sharp and funny in his early 90s. My favorite line, one I’ve heard him use in other contexts, came when asked about the mission’s earth re-entry, which took much longer than expected. This was a moment of high drama as the capsule was in a communications blackout as it raced through the earth’s atmosphere. Since they took longer to reestablish contact with Houston, the world was not sure if the crew had survived or not. Lovell’s explanation, “We decided to drag it out because we thought it would make for a good movie someday,” followed by his deep, joyous laughter.

A

Chasing Scratch
After three years of making one of the most hilarious podcasts – golf-related, sports-centric, or otherwise – Mike and Eli finally unmasked themselves and transitioned to video this offseason. Like most listeners/viewers, I was shocked that they looked like normal dudes. Something about the way they presented themselves through three seasons of podcasting led me to believe that they were fat, bearded slobs. Turns out they’re good looking guys! Happily the humor and charm that carried the podcast has transitioned over to video, and this is a helpful tool to get golf fans through the cold months when we can’t play.

A

Weekend Notes

This weekend was a little different that other recent ones. No football, for starters. I also avoided the KU game, mostly because other plans kept me from seeing the beginning and by the time I had a chance to fire up the TV, several friends told me not to bother turning it on.


It was also our first significant snow of the year. We only got between 3–4 inches Saturday night (and then another inch last night), but that was enough for the girls to get outside with a few of their cousins Sunday to build a snowman and play for a bit. I had to pick L up from a friend’s house right in the heart of the snow Saturday evening. It was fun to turn on the four wheel drive and slip around a little bit on the turns. When M went to work Sunday the roads were fine, and by the time she returned home the parking lots at the high school across the street had already been cleared. I really need to get her out in a snowy, empty lot so she can be prepared if she ever gets caught out of the house when the roads get bad.


We watched one of our four-year-old nephews overnight Saturday. I think this is the first time this nephew has spent the night with us, or at least first since he was much younger. He’s in the “Why?” stage and wore us all out with questions. We were watching a movie Saturday evening, I forget which one, and it was something he had seen multiple times. He absolutely peppered us with questions. Why this, why that, who’s that, where’s he going, why is he going there and on and on. After about 20 minutes I cracked.

“Dude, you’ve seen this movie before, you know what happens!”

He thought that was pretty funny and just continued with the questions.

I obviously went through this three times with my kids, but I think I either tuned it out better or just had more patience then.

He’s a good kid, though. Smart, hilarious, and fun to be around.

It was funny when one of the other four-year-olds came over Sunday. They play really well together but are both pretty stubborn. They’ve already learned that when they get off the same page, they separate and do their own things. It’s amusing to see them argue for a moment and then drift apart, until one of them does something that catches the other’s interest and they hustle back together.


L had a game Saturday. They went to 3–1 with a 25–12 win. More impressive since their best player was out. L found a spot in the zone the other team was playing and just kept shooting. She hit two quick ones out of the main offense, then missed 2–3. The coach moved her to off-guard and had her start on the opposite side, curl under the basket to her spot, then had the high post player hit her with a pass. She hit the first shot and then missed a couple more. She and another girl combined for our first 12 points to put us up 12–2 and they led by 8–12 points the rest of the game. I think she ended up with 8 points and 4–5 both assists and steals for the game.

I gave her grief for missing two free throws late that would have put her in double figures. She missed the first one badly, barely grazing the left side of the rim before it smacked the backboard. One of the refs, an older guy, was standing right in front of me. He and his partner were more comedy act that referees and he let out a loud groan and then started laughing after the miss. I mock yelled at him, “Hey, I can laugh about her bad misses but you can’t do that!” He doubled over in laughter and patted my shoulder, “Sorry, Dad!” He was killing me the entire game.

One thing L is really good at is keeping her head up on the break and pitching the ball forward if a teammate is ahead of her. That’s how she gets most of her assists. Saturday she twice threw the ball to the weakest player on the team, who somehow was in front of everyone. The first pass connected and the girl came to a dead stop and fired a chest-pass shot toward the rim that hit the bottom, careened back, and nearly took her head off. L and her teammates who rode with us cracked up about it after the game. “Did you see H’s shot?!?!”

The second pass was something else. L was on the wing this time, received a pass, and saw H under the basket. L did a finger-tip, no-look touch pass. She kind of tossed it up the way you would an alley oop rather than extended her arms out. Poor H isn’t very tall and the ball sailed over her head. If our best player was in the game and in that spot, it would have been an awesome play. Unfortunately she was elsewhere, so it went in the scorebook as a turnover.

L has also developed a funny bad habit on the court. If she’s bringing the ball up against a press and starts to get trapped, she puts the ball in her left hand, tosses it forward behind/around the defender, runs out of bounds and tries to get around the defender, jumps back in bounds, and then tries to catch the ball. It hasn’t worked yet but she keeps trying. It annoys me during the games but afterward I find it highly amusing. I like that she refuses to get trapped, but she needs to learn to toss the ball to a teammate rather than just throw it to space.

Stats

January 2021

A slow month of easing back into things and listening to tons of random stuff instead of focused listening.

* Wolf Parade – 25
* Dua Lipa – 24
* Lande Hekt – 21
* The Rolling Stones – 19
* Low Cut Connie – 18

Complete stats available at my Last.fm page.

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