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Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 78

Chart Week: September 18, 1982
Song: “Somebody’s Baby” – Jackson Browne
Chart Position: #18, 8th week on the chart. Peaked at #7 for three weeks in October.

I loved this song when I was 11. It wasn’t because I was a big Jackson Browne fan, or because it was a fantastic song. No, it was solely because it was the lead single off the soundtrack for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, arguably the greatest movie ever made about being in high school.

There was a long stretch of time when I could probably have quoted 90% of Fast Time’s dialogue back to you. But that wasn’t until 1987 or so.

Why did it take that long? Because I was not allowed to see R-rated movies in 1982.

Still, I got sucked into the cultural vortex Fast Times created when I started six grade in September 1982. Enough of my friends had seen it – or more likely had older siblings that had seen it – that you couldn’t not hear quotes from the film throughout the school day. Like most kids I was a social opportunist, and if quoting a movie I hadn’t actually seen could get me some cred in hallways and locker room of Pittman Hills Middle School, I was all in. I had no idea who Jeff Spicoli was, but I going to say “Hey Bud, let’s party,” anytime I had the chance.

My mom could stop me from seeing the movie, but she couldn’t keep me from hearing its music. Thus I fell in love with the biggest hit of Jackson Browne’s career. I didn’t consider it odd for a 34-year-old, widowed, soon-to-be divorced, father who was several years removed from his most recent, biggest hit to be singing about the lives of high schoolers. All I knew was that his song was from a movie that the cool kids were talking about, which meant the song must be cool.

I still think it’s a pretty good track. It tells a pretty standard story of wanting to be with someone, but thinking that they are unattainable. There are probably a million songs that tell the same story. So just because it’s an old dude singing doesn’t mean it isn’t also applicable to teens.

As I aged, Browne’s presence on the soundtrack made less sense to me. This was a movie about kids in Southern California. Shouldn’t Spicoli and his buddies have been listening to surf punk?[1] Half the girls at Ridgemont High dressed like Pat Benatar, but there are none of her songs in the movie or on the album. While the Go Go’s “We Got the Beat” plays over the opening montage,[2] there are no other examples of SoCal New Wave nor any of the hair metal that was developing in LA.

Instead we got Jackson Browne and a bunch of other odd choices.

The double-album soundtrack also features songs by four former Eagles,[3] Stevie Nicks, Donna Summer, Jimmy Buffet, Graham Nash, and Poco. Not exactly artists who were on the cutting edge or whose prime audience was teenagers. It smacks of a collection put together by label executives nervous about filling it with unproven artists, and instead chose to go with established names who would give it more mainstream appeal.

They had to sell albums, I get it. But those choices keep the Fast Times soundtrack from being a cultural signpost for Gen X the way the movie was.

I will never be able to listen to this song without thinking of the fall of 1982, starting middle school, and Fast Times. Sometimes nostalgia can elevate an otherwise unremarkable song into one that is timeless. 7/10

  1. Or Van Halen, who the closing credits say Spicoli hired with the reward money earned from saving Brooke Shields from drowning.  ↩

  2. “We Got the Beat” is not on the soundtrack. Instead the Go Go’s “Speeding,” a B-side from the Vacation album, was included.  ↩

  3. Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, and Don Felder. Glenn Frey must have been busy.  ↩

Jayhawk Talk: FOOTBALL!!!!

Some weekend. No Cathedral football Friday. L’s hoops team got blasted on Saturday. The Colts appear to be shitty and have made the wrong selection, yet again, for their quarterback. I could write a lot about two of those three topics.

I’m going to save all my writing effort for another topic, though. And I think you know what that is.


First 3–0 start since 2009. Consecutive, double-digit road wins for the first time since 1995. First time receiving votes in the AP poll since October 2009. And with the early lines out for next week, which pegged KU as eight-point favorites over Duke, it is the first time KU has been favored over a Power 5 school since November 2009.

When you’ve been as bad as long as KU has, even a modest run of success can make history.

I wish I could Saturday’s game against Houston down in great detail, reveling in all the highlights as KU laid the wood on a team that was ranked in the preseason and had designs on a New Year’s Day bowl. Sadly I missed almost the entire game.

Just like last week, L’s basketball kept me from the beginning of the game. We got in the car in time to hear KU score, get an interception, and drive into the red zone before lightning stopped play for an hour.

We met friends at Top Golf. Between shots I checked and saw that KU tied the game, took the lead, and then pulled away.

When we got home, I was hoping to watch the final 5:00 or so. However, I was again the victim by one of the biggest screw jobs in televised sports: despite paying for ESPN+, since our cable package does not include ESPNU, I can’t use the ESPN app to watch any games that are on the U. It’s a fucking travesty and Congress needs to get involved.

Luckily KU still streams the radio broadcast for free so I was able to listen and hear the Rock Chalk Chant rolling through the stadium as KU closed out the win.

I was pumped, but at least 30% less pumped than I would have been had I been able to watch the entire game.

What a performance! What a start to the season!

We KU fans have been teased for years. Every August we heard stories about how that season would be different, how whatever coach was running things had finally got his players in, how the attitude around the whole program had changed. And every September they would lose to some shitty teams then go get pounded for two months in the Big 12.

I figured KU would be better this year. Lance Leipold and his staff had a full year in Lawrence to get their systems in, to get used to the returning players, and to bring in some really good transfers. But I knew with KU’s schedule, seeing a huge increase in wins was unlikely. The team would be better, but it was most likely a 2–3 win squad and the 2023 season is when we should expect to see real improvement.[1]

I didn’t put much stock into the week one win over Tennessee Tech, a truly bad FCS team. I wasn’t sure what to make of last week’s win over West Virginia. Maybe WVU was shitty and it wasn’t that impressive of a win, a game KU did its best to piss away. And I really didn’t think KU had a chance this week. I thought they might battle into the second half, but Houston was supposed to be really good. The persistent rumor this summer was that KU was doing everything it could to get out of the game, hoping to replace the Cougars with a cream puff. Houston refused, lest they give up their own cream puff. Joke’s on them, I guess!

When I saw KU was down 14–0 I let out a sigh and hoped we could at least make it respectable.

I never expected KU to erase that lead in a matter of minutes. Or dominate the rest of the game.

Jalon Daniels appears to be the real deal. The running backs are one of the best collective groups in the nation. The wide receivers don’t awe you with their talent, but they make plays. And how about the offensive line?!?! The unit that has killed KU for a decade, rendering decent skill players impotent because they couldn’t block or protect, has somehow given up zero sacks through three weeks. Offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki might be a genius, and it’s as much a crime that he took so long to get any national run as it is that Leipold was ignored for so long.[2]

The defense…well, it’s shaky. Some people who know more about football and follow things more closely than me have said the D really isn’t that bad. In fact they are often solid. They just kill themselves by giving up too many big plays.

My reaction to that view is, ok, fine. But it’s going to get a lot harder to not give up those big plays in the next few weeks as the talent level they will face ratchets up.

I don’t know if KU can continue to score 50 a week against Big 12 competition. The defense needs to find a way to stop giving up 40 a week so the offense has a chance.

So here we are, nearly a month into the season, and KU football fans can actually dream a little. Duke is 3–0, but against lesser competition. KU had a lead on the Blue Devils last year at half-time then got blown out in the second half. I think the returning players will look to atone for that loss.

Then comes home games against Iowa State and TCU. Not necessarily games KU will be favored in, but likely the easiest of the remaining Big 12 games. If KU is for real, it’s not too much to ask for them to go 2–1 over that stretch. Hell, 3–0 and being bowl eligible before Columbus Day is not likely, but it’s also not completely outrageous.

Maybe this is all still a fluke and KU will come crashing down soon, if not this week then as soon as the proper Big 12 season starts. Maybe KU will somehow thread the needle this year of not winning enough games to make a bowl game but enough to ensure that Leipold and his staff leave for a better job after this season. Maybe a rash of injuries hits the squad as they play bigger, better teams and they fall back into the hole of getting blown out every week.

For now, though, we Jayhawks can enjoy competence and actual good play from our football program. It’s been so long since that’s happened, we have every right to gloat and dream for a minute or two.

Rock Chalk, bitches.

  1. Until you look at the non-conference schedule and see zero patsies on it. I’m not sure who has done the football scheduling for KU in recent years, but they are all idiots. Play a bunch of crappy schools from crappy conferences until you are sure the program needs the boost of playing other Power 5, or near Power 5, teams.  ↩
  2. Cue the “We finally hired the right guy and he’s going to leave in two years!” complaint. I’ve said for years I’m totally onboard with this. KU should aspire to be a stepping-stone job. It’s better than firing a guy and starting over every three years because it means the outgoing staff has done something right. Ask me if I still feel the same way in December if/when Leipold is interviewing in Lincoln, NE, Auburn, AL, or other cities with a richer football tradition than Lawrence, KS.  ↩

Friday Playlist

“Shine A Light” – Paolo Nutini
Forget where I came across this, either via a Spotify recommendation or somewhere else, but it was a nice surprise. I remember Nutini’s name from somewhere in my musical past, but can’t find where I’ve ever listened to much of his music or shared it with you. Thinking this song might be an opening to something new and interesting, I gave his new album a spin. Sadly this track had a different vibe than the rest of the disk. Meaning this was the best song, by far. At least to my ears.

“Out Of My Head” – First Aid Kit
These Swedes are approaching the point where I will automatically include anything new they offer to us.

“Sharks” – BROCKHOFF
This track has a nice mix of various eras of indie pop. I hear some crunchy, mid-90s guitars. The openness of 2010s bedroom pop. And a timelessness that would fit into any era. She’s from Hamburg. I’m not sure if that explains the About page on her website. But I loved it, especially when I read it while imagining a thick, fake German accent.

“Somebody Else’s Body” – Urge Overkill
I love it when random tracks like this pop up. It’s one thing to hear “Sister Havana,” or “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon,” UO songs that got airplay and people like me listened to tons. But the more obscure tracks like this, when the algorithm spits them out, those are the moments that are truly delightful.

“Summer’s Over” – Jordana, TV Girl
School has started. Labor Day is in the rearview mirror. Next week is the equinox. Summer is truly over.

“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” – Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
I saw a Tweet this week noting that this track was released 50 years ago. Our generation knows the Simply Red version, which hit #1 in 1989. I knew it was a cover, but I can’t say that I’ve heard the OG very often. And I did not know until this morning that Teddy Pendergrass was the lead singer on it. Hot damn! This went to #3 in 1972. I think we can all agree it is the better version.

Stuff to Read

I suddenly have a bunch of links to share. Not all of them are fully cooked, but I’ll go ahead and serve up what has been simmering for awhile.

As I get older I realize how hard it is to do big lists like those in the next two links. I’m way overdue for updating my Favorite Songs of All Time list but it seems like a much more daunting task than it did two years ago. I just keep listening to more-and-more music and it’s hard to keep track of all the new stuff and give the old stuff its proper credit. I can’t imagine putting together a truly large list like either of these.

The 100 Best TV Episodes of the Century
I don’t watch a ton of TV so some of this is lost on me, but it was still fun to scroll through. I would argue for a few episodes to either be higher, or replaced by others in their series.

The 100 Greatest Albums of All Time
This one is more up my alley. I think it is interesting how these lists have changed in my life. Probably even 20 years ago you would see very little hip hop. Maybe a Public Enemy album and/or The Chronic. But nothing like the representation the genre has now. It’s tough to argue with the number one choice, mostly because it is in my Top Five list.

A highly scientific survey confirms what we all knew.

Candid Coaches: Which arenas boast the best home-court environments in college basketball?

“We played there, kept it a game, were in the game and then it turned at halftime and the crowd took over more than Kansas did. They had a significant impact on the outcome of that game and I was like, ‘Holy s—, this is all f—— up.’ We rolled up to the gym and we get there an hour and a half early and it’s cold, freezing, snow on the ground. And they’re all out there, a mile-long line to get into the arena. And we’re like, ‘Oh, f—.’”

Since I’m obligated to share any news about the Voyager probes, there has been an update on one of them.

NASA fixed the glitch that caused Voyager 1 to send back jumbled data

A good profile of Michael Mann, who has made some amazing movies and TV over his career. My hold request for his Heat 2 just came in, so I’m looking forward to getting to it next week.

Mann’s artistic signature is to establish a core of painstaking realism, then create around it a heightened visual and emotional atmosphere that can edge, at times, into a kind of hallucinatory, macho camp.

Michael Mann’s Damaged Men

I think the whole retro shoe thing is cool, but other than helping L to buy a couple pairs, I’ve never jumped into that game. These are tempting me, though.

The Nike Mac Attack Is Finally Coming Back

If there is a given in sports it is that the powers that control each sport will always pick the method of maximizing revenue that creates the least amount of joy for the fans. With the college football playoff set to be revamped – again – Kevin Clark offers a terrific plan for what the new system should look like. Meaning it will look nothing like this.

It is not just about the cathedrals of the game hosting playoff matchups; it’s about a smaller team—a 2017 UCF, a 2006 Boise State, a 2010 TCU—making a regular-season run from outside the Power 5 and hosting a massive program in their own stadium. It would combine the stakes of the Champions League with the charm of the FA Cup. Who doesn’t want that? As luck would have it, there are only a small handful of people who don’t, and they all happen to run the bowls and the College Football Playoff.

The Expanded College Football Playoff Can Be Great—If It Follows These Five Steps

Last week’s Pitchfork retro review was right up my alley. It inspired me to listen to another old album – in this case one that isn’t super great – and possibly put some thoughts together about it.

Guy: Guy Album Review | Pitchfork

Finally, one of the strangest things I’ve run across recently.

Eazy-E seaside memorial bench in Newhaven unveiled

Reader’s Notebook, 9/13/22

I’ve stuck to a pretty brisk reading pace lately. Several of my latest batch of books have some common themes, so I’m going to pair them up to attempt to get through them quicker.

Suburban Dicks – Fabian Nicieza
The Damage – Caitlin Wahrer
Two mysteries from first-time authors that were both very good.

In Suburban Dicks a disgraced reporter and a one-time phenom profiler who had her career derailed by normal life stuff team up to not only solve a murder the local police don’t seem to want to solve, but also uncover a deeper conspiracy that has plagued their town for over half a century.

Nicieza’s writing is sharp, his characters are wonderfully developed, and the pacing of the story is terrific. Which made me mad because he is a comic book writer and this was his first published work of proper fiction.

The Damage takes the traditional He Said, She Said angle of a sexual assault and updates it for our times – both the attacker and victim are gay men – and then brings in some good family dynamic stuff along with a lot of interesting twists in the story. Wahrer just keeps increasing the pressure throughout the story. I enjoy books like this that make it tough to breath at times. Apparently she’s an attorney, so this book made me mad, too. I need to do something with all this time I have and all these ideas in my head.

US MACV-SOG Reconnaissance Team in Vietnam – Gordon L. Rottman
Rogue Heroes – Ben MacIntyre
The video I watched last month about the Green Beret who returned to Vietnam got me searching for info on MACV-SOG. I found this small book at the library. It’s more of a technical guide, going into great detail on how MACV-SOG units were formed, what kind of training they did, what kind of gear they carried, and then an example of a typical mission.

MacIntyre’s book is about the development of the British Special Air Service during World War II, a unit credited for being the first, modern special forces outfit. If you’re old enough to remember The Rat Patrol TV show, it was based on SAS exploits.

Election – Tom Perrotta
Tracy Flick Can’t Win – Tom Perrotta
I wanted to read Perrotta’s sequel to his classic, but since I had only seen the movie for Election and never read the book, I figured I should knock it out first.

These two books took maybe a combined six hours to read. The sequel is very much an update on the concept of the original, from format to narrative arc. I greatly preferred the original to the sequel, but the sequel was worth the few hours that went into knocking it out.

Perrotta has generally written about people roughly my age. It was a bit sobering for his characters to be hitting the stage of life where they reflect on where they are and how they got there.

Weekend Notes

The first full football weekend of the year. I have some notes.


We had the big 6A #3 Cathedral at 3A #1 Bishop Chatard game Friday. Or the girls did. S and I knew it was going to be an absolute shit show; BC has a tiny stadium in the middle of a packed neighborhood and it seemed like every Indianpolis Northside Catholic was going to go. So we went to dinner with friends while the girls enjoyed the game.

Although it wasn’t much of a game. I checked my phone at about 7:45 and CHS was up 21–0. They got it to 35–0 before half, had a running clock for the second half, and won 38–0. I watched the highlights Saturday, and pretty much every score was a long pass, or set up by a long pass. When you have four receivers who are 6’3”+ and your opponent is small, you have to take advantage.

Of course, Chatard has a better chance of winning state than Cathedral, so not sure the BC fans were smarting too much afterward.

I got home in time to watch the end of the Tiafoe-Alcaraz US Open semifinal. Frances gave it his all, but Carlos Alcaraz is just too damn good. We’ve been waiting for years for the next superstar to come along in mens tennis. Alcaraz might be that dude.


Lots of sports.

Alabama-Texas was interesting, surprising, and entertaining. Not the game I expected at all, although I really didn’t think ‘Bama would blow them out.

I caught the end of the Marshall-Notre Dame game. What a disaster for the Irish! Marcus Freeman seems like a really good guy but he’s feeling the heat already about whether he was the right hire.

L had a basketball game Saturday evening. They played a team made up of lacrosse players. These girls were big, athletic, and had this really good offense that kept getting them open looks. But they were not basketball players. L’s team ran them off the floor, at least in terms of the score, winning 47–23.

L had six points on 3–7 shooting, including two sweet drives for layups. On one she got hammered and threw it up-and-in off the backboard as she tumbled to the ground. Her teammates went nuts and she came up with a look like “THAT WENT IN?!?!” Then she missed the free throw… Not sure what’s up with her at the line lately. Her jumpers look good but her free throw form is awful.

I was glad it was not a close game. The refs were ones who never call fouls unless they are hard fouls at the rim. And these lacrosse girls were mega-physical and handsy. Once L was leading the break and a girl was tugging on her off arm the entire time, slowing L down, and the refs didn’t call anything. Need to teach her how to flop.

AND HOW ABOUT THOSE JAYHAWKS!?!?!?! Two-and-oh! Highest scoring team in the country!

We listened to the beginning of the game on our way to basketball and I was regretting finding the Sirius broadcast when West Virginia scored on a 59 yard TD pass, KU had four penalties on their first possession, and then WVU scored again. I checked the score at halftime of L’s game and saw it was 21–7. I was glad I was watching hoops.

When we got back into the car it was 28-all and I was all-in. We heard KU take the lead as we drove home in an intense storm, and then watched the fourth quarter and overtime from home.

What a great win. This was a game pretty much every KU squad for the past decade would lose by 40+. But the Jayhawks settled down after the bad start, hung in there, and dominated for a long stretch. Then they not only won, but got the ultra-rare, double-digit overtime win thanks to Jacobee Bryant’s pick-six.

There was some whooping it up in our living room, and some questions from the girls upstairs about what the hell was going on.

It looks like after getting it wrong four-straight times, KU finally hired the right coach. It was bound to happen eventually. The Jayhawks are disciplined, more talented than in recent years, put that talent in the right spots, are prepared for their opponents, and don’t fall apart the moment they face adversity. A long way to go but things finally seem like they are trending up.

Naturally Nebraska lost about 30 minutes later, Scott Frost was fired Sunday, and Lance Leipold is reportedly high on the list of potential replacements.

I think that bloom will fade, as Nebraska is not going to hire a guy who goes 4–10 this year.

Unless KU wins eight, nine, ten games this year, right?


The first NFL Sunday of the year. I missed most of the Colts game as L had to go do her team photographer duties for her CYO football classmates. It was pouring rain so I decided to sit in my car and read in case she wanted to bail early. She ended up staying the entire time so I read a ton and didn’t see much football.

I did listen on the radio long enough to hear the Colts go down 20–3 but then turned it off to focus on my book. We got home in time to see the Colts tie it, then blow a chance in win in overtime. This franchise just does not do opening day well. I believe this is nine-straight opening weeks without a win. So maybe a tie is progress?

Still a super-disappointing beginning to a season in which the Colts were, allegedly, poised to be a player in the AFC title race. At least no one else in the AFC South won. You figure there will be growing pains as Matt Ryan settles in, but he wasn’t the problem on Sunday. At least when I was watching.

I forgot about the US Open final until late and caught the last four games of Alcaraz’s win. The first of many, I would bet.

I half-watched much of the SNF Buccaneers-Cowboys game. That old fucker Brady can still sling it.

Friday Playlist

“The Queen Is Dead” – The Smiths
I’m sorry, but if you think I’m not playing this song today you don’t know me very well. I’m not here to dance on graves but rather shout to the heavens, for the thousandth time, about the genius of Johnny Marr. “Has the world changed or have I changed?”

“Be Careful With Yourself” – Julia Jacklin
As usual Jacklin’s new album, to my ears, is filled with slow, precious songs that are a little too slow and precious. But, also as usual, the tracks that break that mold are the ones that I love.

“Gumball Garden” – GIFT
Found this via Keith Law’s monthly playlist. I totally agree with him: I would have thought it a Tame Impala song if not told otherwise.

“HaHaHome” – Twen
This song is nearly a year old but I just heard it in the past couple weeks. I like how it brushes up against a 1960s, psychedelic vibe but never fully commits.

“God Save The Queen” – Sex Pistols
I’m sorry, but if you think I’m not playing this song today…

“Hold You Tight” – Tara Kemp
I heard this song last Friday on SiriusXM for the first time in – checks calendar – 30 years or so. It wasn’t a bad little jam, certainly typical of its time in the R&B world. I had forgotten it made it all the way to #3 on the pop chart. As brother in music E-Bro said, the video kind of sums up everything 1991 was about. After listening/watching to these I did some research and found this interesting video about what happened to Kemp after her brief moment in the spotlight. The music business is a cold, heartless place.

Kickball Wrap Up (Forever)

Well, it’s over.

L’s team went out with a whimper in their final two kickball games, losing 21–7 on Tuesday then getting run-ruled 42–13 on Wednesday, ending the season at 2–5. I believe that was the first time they had a losing record.[1]

These two games were more of the same. We couldn’t kick or field, and it killed us. In the Tuesday game, against the team we beat to start the season, we were up 4–0 after one then gave up eight runs in the second and were dead after that. L went 1–3 with just a double. They against the division champs Wednesday we were never in it, down 9–1 after the first inning.

At least we closed out the game strong. As we came up for our last kicks in the bottom of the fifth our coach told the girls we needed home runs from everyone. The first girl kicked one. The next girl kicked one. The next girl got on base with a single. And then L came up.

Again, she had zero home runs on the season. Only once had she really been close. So far in this game she was 1–2 with a triple. This time she crushed the ball, her best kick of the year, sending it to deep center, between the fielders. But, as I’ve shared many times, outfielders get the ball in much quicker at this level. Didn’t matter. She was on her horse, as they say. The girl in front of her is super fast and L had almost caught her by the time they got to second. She was a step behind her at third and I could tell there was no way she was stopping. A good throw might have gotten her but the relay was off line and the girls scored right on top of each other.

Finally the elusive home run. And in the final kick of her career!

Three of the next four girls made outs and the season was mercifully over.

Although the results sucked I really enjoyed most of the games this season because I got to keep score with some good people. One mom has a son who is in C’s grade and they’ve socialized a bit, so we had some common ground. I had kept score with one dad before and he is more chill than me, so pleasant to work with. A second dad has three daughters the same ages as my three, and we’ve come across each other several times over the years. We had two games this season and great conversations while we watched our youngest square off. And a second mom I had two games with has been both the kickball and volleyball coordinator at her school, so we shared stories of all that comes with that. Wednesday she had another mom sit with us so she could teach her how to keep score (I assume this new mom has younger girls). When she introduced us, she said, “He’s the best scorekeeper I’ve ever worked with. He’ll explain everything and you’ll never get lost.”

Awwww, in my last game I got the best compliment of my life!

If you saw my Facebook post last night, I crunched the numbers for our family. Since M began playing in the spring of her third grade year, our girls played a combined 29 seasons of kickball. That works out to somewhere between 200–210 games. I figure I kept score or coached for 90% of those games, most misses either coming that first season before I was handed the scorebook or because I was coaching one girl while another played somewhere else. That’s a lot of kickball!

To be honest, I’m a little bummed I didn’t keep better records and know exactly how many total games we played and what the family’s overall record is. Alas…

I do know the girls combined to play in two division playoffs, two City semifinals, and five City championship games. M’s team was the only one to win a championship, and that was a shared title after a week of rainouts. C’s team was the only one never to make it to any kind of playoff, something she took personally for awhile.[2] Blame her assistant coach (me) for that. And I do know that our overall record, as a family, was well over .500. That was mostly thanks to an elite athlete on M’s team and then all those home runs from L for five years.

Folks who know us well will recall that my kickball story began the night S and I went on our first date. While making small talk as we waited for our table at dinner, I asked if she played any sports growing up. When she said CYO volleyball and kickball, I laughed in her face. Next thing I knew she was jabbing a finger in my chest and telling me that kickball was a real sport. Pretty sure I laughed some more.

And, famously, the real joke was on me. I married that Catholic girl from Indianapolis, moved here, had three daughters who went to Catholic school, and spent the bulk of their grade and middle school years representing St P’s on the kickball diamonds of Indy.

The first game of M’s fourth grade year, her coach walked over to me and said, “I hear you’re a sports writer. Can you keep score?” Soon I was reading up on the rules so I could understand what the hell was going on. About a year later when the kickball coordinator job came open, that same coach told me she thought I would be great at it. I made the mistake of sending one email asking the out-going coordinator what all was involved in the position. All it ever takes is one email to volunteer yourself for any school role, and for the next four years I ran the program. I helped coach L’s team their first year, although the moms who had all played kickball in their CYO days did most of the work. I helped coach C’s team for five seasons over three years.

It was a pretty good run. I hope the girls have as many great memories from their kickball years as I do.

  1. L didn’t play in the spring of fourth grade, when she decided she didn’t like kickball, and the team may have been under .500 that season.  ↩

  2. Their best shot was having a lead in the last game of the season going into the seventh inning against the team they were tied for first with, and then having a total meltdown and giving up 25 runs to lose. Ugh.  ↩

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 77

Chart Week: August 30, 1986
Song: “Heaven In Your Eyes” – Loverboy
Chart Position: #33, 5th week on the chart. Peaked at #12 for two weeks in October.

A quick entry this time, based on a cultural nugget that shows how much the world has changed since 1986.

Casey shared that Loverboy keyboard player Doug Johnson refused to appear in the video for “Heaven In Your Eyes.” Why? Because the song was on the soundtrack for Top Gun, and Johnson was a pacifist. He felt that the movie glamorized war and military service.

Think about that for a minute.

A musician taking a stand against the troops. Can you imagine if that happened today?!?!

Even the most anti-war artists during the Iraq War were careful to say that they were “against the war but for the troops.” Or used some other similar language to make it clear their issues were with policymakers and not those who volunteered to serve.

That stance still caused problems in the 2000s, since a vocal minority of this country believes that if you question the political motives behind military action, you are somehow also “against the troops.”

Hell, the (Dixie) Chicks were basically run out of the country music world because Natalie Maines said she was ashamed to be from the same state as President Bush a year into the Iraq War.

But I don’t remember any real blowback about Johnson’s stance in 1986. Maybe it was because he was Canadian and Loverboy was on the backside of their career.[1] Maybe it was because people who would normally get fired up by similar statements were distracted by the bright, shiny thing that was Top Gun. Or maybe it was just because in 1986 people weren’t so reflexive about defending the idea that only one view of the world can be patriotic.

Last week I heard a countdown from 1987 in which Casey opened the show by thanking a guest host who had sat in for him a week earlier while he attended an anti-nuclear weapons march in New York. I can’t imagine Ryan Seacrest or any of the people who host the various countdowns on SiriusXM making a similar statement today. I don’t think it was an accident that Casey chose to share Doug Johnson’s story.

I guess things were indeed just different in 1986.

As for the song, it sucks. Loverboy carved out an awesome and unique niche in the corporate rock world of the early ‘80s. This song has none of the stuff that made them cool. A cheesy electric piano intro starts things off poorly. Mike Reno sounds bored delivering his vocals. In general, the song comes across as a cheap knockoff of his sappy duet with Ann Wilson, “Almost Paradise,” which had been on the Footloose soundtrack a year earlier.

The Top Gun soundtrack had two songs that will be played forever, a super-cool instrumental theme, and then a bunch of forgettable tracks. This, though, was the turd in the punchbowl. Maybe Johnson was more ashamed of the song than trying to make a political point when he chose to skip the video shoot. 2/10

  1. Worth noting that Canadian Bryan Adams also refused to appear on the soundtrack because he, too, believed the film glorified violence. He was the second choice to perform “Danger Zone,” after Toto, who were unable to because of legal issues between their management and the film’s producers. Crazy how the signature song of Kenny Loggins’ career went through two other artists before he got a crack at it.  ↩

Holiday Weekend Notes

I’m guessing this was our last ever four-day Labor Day weekend, at least on the academic side of things. St P’s generally (but not always) gives the kids Friday and Monday off, while CHS just takes the actual Monday holiday off. Who knows what M’s schedule will be this time next year, but she won’t be here, so that means the remaining girls will be on the same schedule for the final holiday weekend of summer in 2023.

L took advantage of her extra day by doing some work for us and family members to earn some money. She’s been drafted as the St P’s football team videographer/photographer and has been saving up for a camera. With a final push over the weekend she was able to order it.

Her first project of the weekend was mowing her aunt’s yard, which she has done a few times. I followed her around with the trimmer, which is too big and too temperamental for her to use. As I was trimming I felt a white-hot heat on my right forearm. I dropped the trimmer, thinking it was in the process of blowing up or something. But I didn’t see any smoke and it started right back up.

“Well, shit,” I thought, “I think I just got stung!”

But I hadn’t seen/felt anything on me or seen anything fly away. I looked around and then noticed, on my nephews’ swingset/playhouse, the biggest wasp I had ever seen crawling around. I got a fly swatter from inside the house and nailed it. Seconds later several more Big Ass Wasps emerged from under the decking and I fled before they could get me.

Fortunately my sister-in-law had a couple cans of wasp/hornet killer. I unloaded one on the nest I could see poking through the frame and left her instructions to hit it again when the wasps returned for the evening.

Not going to lie: the sting hurt like hell. I don’t know if I’ve ever been hit by a wasp before, but this fucking hurt. Even today, Tuesday morning, the area is all swollen, red, and itchy. I’m not sure what flavor of wasps these were, but I’m just going to call them Murder Hornets because they were so big and the sting was so painful. Still, happy to take one for the team rather than one of my nephews.

IMG 5531

Don’t fuck with the Murder Hornets

Friday night was one of the more interesting sports following nights in my recent history.

I had the US Open up on the TV, watching Serena Williams’ final match that began at 7:00. At 7:30 the Cathedral game began, and I pulled up the audio on my phone. And at 8:00 KU kicked off their season on ESPN+, which I had on my MacBook Air.

Super Sports Fan #1 here!

It was a bit chaotic keeping track of everything, but I managed, selectively muting as conditions warranted.

I should probably write more about Serena’s loss. I think of my life not really hitting adulthood until right around 1999–2000. That made Serena the last athlete from my extended childhood or adolescence or whatever who was still active. Just another sign that we are getting older.

Props to her for such an amazing career, for coming back after having an insanely difficult pregnancy and childbirth experience, and for going out on her terms. I couldn’t believe she was still playing doubles with her sister Venus on Thursday. I think that effort clearly affected her in Friday’s match. Then I realized that she just wanted to play with her sister one more time and was willing to sacrifice her singles match for that opportunity. When you’ve won everything there is to win, you get to pick how you say goodbye.

Cathedral fell behind 13–0 but then ripped off 35-straight points for a 35–21 win. The game was three hours away so none of the girls went. The Irish had a ton of injuries going into the game, so played a number of kids who had not played the first two weeks. This week they play their big-time rivals BC, who are ranked #1 in 3A and just lost the the #1 4A school on the final play of the game.

KU rolled Tennessee Tech. Which should be expected, and I know non-KU fans are making fun of us Jayhawks for being excited about the win. Never forget this is KU football, a program that has found a way to do the un-doable for decades. Pounding an overmatched opponent is never a given for Kansas, and while one or two more wins is likely the max we can hope for this year, at least we checked off the easy win.

The team looked better, with more playmakers on defense than I can recall. But they still lack depth and things will be very different this week against West Virginia and pretty much every week for the rest of the year and the competition keeps getting tougher and tougher. But this game was the baby step we needed.

Saturday we headed up to S’s aunt and uncle’s in the morning. They live on a lake and offered to take the girls out to ski. M took a brief run and had no issues. L tried but could not get up. C was annoyed about having to wake up early on a holiday weekend and stayed in the boat. We took a nice trip around the lake and got off the water just before rain moved in.

Later in the day L had a basketball game. They were playing a team they’ve played many times. That team plays and practices all year, and added another good player since our last meeting. We were down 13–0 to start then went something like 5–22 from the free throw line and lost by 15. L alone was 1–6 from the line. She was 0–4 from the floor but had three rebounds, three assists, and three steals. She hit one shot that came after a foul was called away from the ball and was super annoyed by that. I was super annoyed she was missing so many free throws after all the practice shots she put up over the summer.

Sunday we had the local family over for our annual Labor Day gathering. It never got too hot or humid and the rain held off, so it was a pleasant day around the pool. I stay the hell out of the pool when the nephews take over. It’s more fun to drink and watch than constantly babysit your kids so they don’t sink.

Monday was your standard, lazy Labor Day. I watched some tennis – Frances Tiafoe upsetting Rafa Nadal was obviously the highlight, a truly enjoyable match. I was bummed Danielle Collins lost, but we don’t need to go into details about that.

(Another quick aside about tennis: Nick Kyrgios beating Daniil Medvedev Sunday was also entertaining. Not sure I’ve ever switched my opinion on an athlete as quickly as I have about Kyrgios. I thought he was a lunatic who needed to be shut down at Wimbledon. Now I think he’s one of the most entertaining, compelling, and interesting players on the tour. Not sure I necessarily love him, but I do root for him to stay in tournaments because they are a lot more fun with him on the court.)

I read a lot, we did some shopping as we prep for our next big trip, and we did some cleaning around the house.

Otherwise a pretty chill holiday weekend.

This morning we were socked in by low, thick clouds. When my alarm went off at 6:50 and it was still pitch black my first thought was, “Did I sleep through a month and it’s October 6?” Just a tangible reminder that summer is over.

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