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Weekend Notes

It’s back to semi-normal today. L returned to school after her Christmas break. M and C still have one more week of J-term, so they go in a little later and get out a little earlier. But all three have to get up in the mornings again.

Last week I had to get up to make sure C was up, so my alarm was 7:15 instead of my normal, school-day 6:55. Still, it was a little weird coming down this morning and finding the house dark instead of two Christmas trees already turned on filling the living room and front office with their soft light.

We took all the holiday decorations down Saturday. Since they went up earlier than normal and stayed up a little longer than normal, this was our most decorated Christmas ever.

We all have dentist appointments this afternoon, which wraps up a busy run of visits to health professionals over the past few weeks. I’ve been to the orthodontist three times, optometrist, sports medicine, MRI center, physical therapy, and had my annual physical.

I’m good, all that middle stuff was for C. She’s been having back pain for a few months, and even resting it plus a few visits to a chiropractor last fall didn’t help. Walking around in Italy was awful for her, and she was generally miserable at the end of each day, and progressively worse as the week went on. We finally got her in to a sports medicine doc three weeks ago. X-rays were clean but her MRI showed two interesting things. First, she has a bulging disk, the likely cause of her pain. Second, she is missing a vertebra and one set of ribs. That diagnosis got S into super medical research mode and she found about 4–5% of the general population has this issue. Weird!

The sports med doc said while there’s no research that would definitely tell us the bulging disk is directly tied to the lack of that vertebra, she also said it sure didn’t help. She also said it likely cost C an inch or two of height, which makes her topping out at 5’2” while her sisters both made it to 5’4”-ish make sense.[1] She took some teasing for that.

She started physical therapy last week and will do that for a month or so, with the hopes that helps her avoid anything more invasive to correct the issue.


Big 12 Hoops

Another crazy-ass weekend in the best conference in the country. Three teams are tied for first place at 3–0, all three getting there on the strength of two road wins. KU is not a huge surprise to be in that group. Kansas State and Iowa State, though? HUGE surprises. These were picked 8th and 9th in the preseason polls!

I think it’s too early to draw broad conclusions about any team. Especially in a conference like the Big 12. The Wildcats and Cyclones might be mid-tier teams a month from now. But they are off to great starts, and those road wins are huge bonuses in a conference that will likely be tightly bunched much of the season. 14–4 is always my default answer for what it takes to win the Big 12. Could this be the year that something like 12–6 guarantees you no worse than a tie?

More Jayhawks-centric talk later this week.


Pacers

The Indiana Pacers were expected to win right around 20 games this year. They just played their 41st game of the season, the exact midpoint of their schedule. After grabbing two more close wins this weekend, they stand at 23–18, good for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

It’s been a remarkable first half. They are hella fun to watch, as my friends in Cali might say. Tyrese Haliburton is a legit All Star, and plays with a joy that is infectious. Buddy Hield leads the league in 3-pointers made, connecting on nearly 20 more than the second-most prolific shooter. Rookie Bennedict Mathurin is going to be a star. Second-round pick Andrew Nembhard could be one of the steals of the draft, an ideal backup to Haliburton who can also play next to him. Aaron Nesmith is beginning to show why he was a lottery pick two years ago.

But the biggest surprise is Myles Turner, a player most expected to have been traded by now. Turner is playing the best, most complete, most inspired ball of his career. I’ve always thought he was a little immature and disinterested in doing the hard work it took to be a star. At least for now he seems fully invested. To the point where the Pacers have made him a contract extension offer, attempting to capitalize on the big chunk of salary cap space they still have open. Turner has, for now, said he’s not interested.

That will set up an interesting game of chicken. Can the Pacers really trade their second-best player when they are in the running for a playoff spot and far too good to have a realistic shot at the #1 pick if they suddenly decide to tank? Can Turner turn down more money than any other team will be able to give him next summer no matter how badly he wants to end up in LA?

A year ago I would say the sides will come together and find an agreeable extension before the trade deadline, and Turner will quickly get injured. He’s always getting injured, and it would be just the Pacers’ luck for that to happen after they lock him up.

I think the Pacers’ luck has changed, though. So I think they either re-sign him and he stays healthy, or they can’t agree to terms, he plays out the year, signs with another team over the summer and that inevitable injury pops up in training camp. Meanwhile the Pacers use all their cap space to plug some other holes and immediately turn back into the solid 40–50 win team they usually are.


cLots/NFL

What a finish to the regular season! The cLots began the season with that humiliating tie in Houston, one that required a furious comeback just to get to overtime. They ended it with an even bigger embarrassment, losing to the Texans at home in the final minute of the game. Houston had a 10-point lead three times, but the cLots rallied to take a seven-point lead late in the fourth quarter. The Texans, who should have been satisfied with the loss and the #1 pick in April’s draft, for some reason decided to play full-out, converting on fourth and 20+ two different times on their final drive, including the touchdown that cut the lead to one. Then they went for two and the win and got it.

Amazing!

In the process they allowed the Bears to jump them for the #1 pick. The Texans’ owner was on the sideline after the game and he seemed to be the only person not celebrating. A few hours later he fired coach Lovie Smith. I like to think Lovie and his players knew what was coming and the final drive was a big Eff You to ownership.

The L could be good for the cLots. The Bears don’t need a quarterback, so perhaps they will entertain flipping that pick for Indy’s #5. Or at least that’s what speculation is around here. The Bears can certainly use the top pick to select someone other than a QB, and the cLots will have to hope either they can get a decent candidate in their fifth slot, or focus on one of the teams between them and Houston to swap picks with.

***UPDATE***
I heard at least four times yesterday that the cLots’ pick will be #5. Turns out they snuck into #4 thanks to Denver’s win.

I don’t know. It sure feels like the cLots will be stuck at five, reach for someone who is not ready to be an NFL QB, and remain mediocre, at very best, for the foreseeable future.

Not that I’m convinced either Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud are sure-things. Maybe it’s better not to pick them.


  1. And L is still growing.  ↩

Friday Playlist

Back to the grind this week.

“Flaw In The Design” – Home Front
Holy 1983, Batman! I hope these guys dress like they’re from the original New Wave, too.

“Harvard” – Briston Maroney
This guy can’t help but make solid, indie-pop jams.

“Kind of Light” – Bodywash
Super Beach House-y without totally ripping off their sound.

“God Bless the USA” – The Men
This is not a remake.

“Too Bored to Run” – Ryan Adams
I’ve held off listening to Adams’ music since the allegations that he sexually harassed/coerced many of the women he worked with. Both his older music, which I had fallen in love with, and his newer music, which to my ears has kind of sucked. Until this song, which sounds from the same pocket as those mid-2010s songs of his I loved. Not ready to forgive or forget, but can at least cautiously listen to some of the songs again.

“I’m So Excited” – The Pointer Sisters
Anita Pointer, the last surviving, original member of the Pointer Sisters, died just before Christmas. This was not their biggest single (six others charted higher), but maybe their most enduring hit of their prime years.

“Hazy Shade of Winter” – The Bangles
Back in my podcasting days, I typically ended each show with a cover. A few times over those years I had episodes that were entirely covers, one of them may have even been a rundown of my favorite covers. Looking back at the surviving playlists, I never included this song, which is a crime. There is no doubt it’s one of the greatest covers ever. And a pretty good song for January. Sixteen-year-old me probably struggled between deciding which woman in this video I was crushing on harder: Susanna Hoffs or Jami Gertz. BTW, the Less Than Zero soundtrack has three absolute bangers on it. Totally made it worth buying the cassette over Christmas break, 1987.

December Media

Holiday Shit

The Classics
Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, A
Christmas Vacation, A
Elf, A
Four Christmases, B+
SNL Christmas Special, A-
I did not watch this the past two years, instead catching my favorite sketches on YouTube. That was a good decision. They’ve made some updates and a couple of the new adds were quite good. Still say “Consumer Probe” needs to be dropped.
SNL – Christmas in Australia, A+
This is the perfect replacement for “Consumer Probe.” I showed it to my sister-in-law who lived in Australia for a few years. She had never seen it before. I think I made her holiday season!
The Office Christmas episodes, average of A
Seinfeld “The Strike”, A

Was not able to squeeze Die Hard in this season. Although I can really watch it any time, right?

New(ish)
Holiday Baking Championship, season nine
A weird season. It started off kind of slow, and there were several contestants I actively hated. But once that dead weight was cut away, it rounded into a really solid season with a lot of good bakers. The champion, Dru, was very good but his absolutely ridiculous man-bun infuriated me for the show’s entire run. He was not my first choice, but he certainly deserved the win.

B+

A Christmas Story Christmas
While there was an official sequel, it never gained any cultural traction. In this new-for–2022 sequel, adult Ralphie returns home to Homan, IN after The Old Man dies just before Christmas in 1973. Things go wrong, then a little Christmas magic makes everything right. It was fun seeing so many of the original actors reprise their roles from 40 years go. And there were lots of call-backs to the OG. Very sweet, with a hint of sadness. Not a new classic but a perfectly fine way to spend 114 minutes in December.

B+


Regular Shit

The Office/Seinfeld
Good Lord I still watch these a lot. One day I’ll get sick of them. Probably not soon enough for S, although at least most of the Seinfelds are unfamiliar to her.

A

The Nice Guys
I was told this was funny. It was only mildly funny. I read there was a Christmas angle. That was true only for the last three minutes of the film. The story was so dumb/confusing I wondered if I had fallen asleep and missed a few scenes. Worst of all, for a movie that made pains to plant itself firmly in 1977, there were a number of songs from the pretty great soundtrack that were from well after ’77.

C-

Apollo 11
While watching this I was sure I had seen it before. But it’s only three years old and I can’t find a record of watching. I don’t know if I’m just confusing it with other Apollo videos I have watched, or I saw previews of it. Regardless, another excellent entry into the list of documentaries about the space age.

A

Ava
Things that work: Jessica Chastain as a bad-ass assassin. Things that don’t work: pretty much everything else in this movie.

C

Glass Onion
We actually got two of the three girls to watch this with us Christmas night. I really enjoyed it, especially Janelle Monae’s big role. Not quite as good as Knives Out, but still fun.

A-

Band of Brothers
I’ve been putting this off for, checks notes, 21 years; was time to get to it. A spectacular and very moving way to end the year. I really enjoyed how it wasn’t just ten episodes of insane battles. We got to see the full scope of the war experience. The final two episodes were especially impactful, first with the American troops discovering a concentration camp as the war neared its end, and then how they dealt with the period between the Nazi surrender and them getting word on if/when they would be shipped to the Pacific. You spend over a year in the killing zone, you can’t just turn off all those instincts.

A


YouTubes, Shorts, Etc

Nest Zero – Murder Hornets in Washington State
Remember Murder Hornets? Apparently we have stopped them! Or at least that’s what one article I read last month said the data seems to indicate. In that article was a link to this piece from the early days of the Great Murder Hornet Panic.

12 Days of Newness
Oh hell yes! Beau Miles’ Christmas gift to us all!

Cheap, renewable, clean energy. There’s just one problem
There are a lot of things in nature that create massive amounts of energy. Harnessing that energy often isn’t as easy as you would think.

Fantastic Cockpit Views AIRBUS A380 Takeoff | 8 Cameras
We flew on an A350. I don’t get how these big boys get/stay in the air.

This Blue Angels Cockpit Video is Terrifying and Amazing
To quote Jeff Spicoli, “Awesome! Totally awesome!”

Barbie trailer
I recently read a profile of Margot Robbie, mostly focused on her latest role in Babylon. But there were some references to her next big film, Barbie, and how it will not be what people expect. I love her already, but this awesome trailer makes me want to talk the girls into being my excuse to go see this next summer.

Behind the Scenes of Elf.  Part 2
How did I never see these before Christmas night, 2022?

How accurate was Band of Brothers Carentan
Easy Company Assaults the Crossroads in Holland, 1944
I had to watch of few of these while/after watching the series.

Sip and Feast
This guy’s Peposo video randomly popped up in my feed. I watched it, made it, ate it, loved it, and began watching more of his videos. The family better be ready for a lot of his recipes in the new year.

Hoops Notes

UConn Women

I took L and her best friend to meet some of their travel teammates at Hinkle Fieldhouse for the Butler-UConn women’s game last night. A lot of people had the same idea. I’m guessing this was Butler’s most-attended game of the year, with nearly 3,000 people showing up.

A good chunk of those in the house were high school and middle school players. They were packing the hallways before and after the game, mostly to get a look at injured UConn guard Paige Bueckers. We saw entire high school teams sitting together. There were more signs for Paige/the Huskies than for Butler. L and her teammates ran down to the tunnel that leads to the visitor’s locker room just before halftime. She was rewarded with a high five, that she got on video, as Bueckers walked by.

As for the game…whew. The Huskies jumped out to a quick, early lead. The Bulldogs hit a few 3’s in the second quarter to trim a 15-point deficit to five. That seemed to make UConn mad. They blitzed Butler for the next quarter-plus, getting the lead up to 30 early in the third quarter and holding it right around there the rest of the game.

It was amazing watching UConn play. Their bigs were all faster than Butler’s guards. They had 6’4”–6’5” girls getting deflections, racing to the loose ball, then leading the break, running past 5’7” Butler players on the way. Butler tried to get offense going but were constantly swamped by UConn’s size. There were a lot of forced shots at the end of the shot clock when three girls just refused to shoot and the fourth and to chuck it towards the rim. UConn even had a bunch of players in street clothes – they played just eight – and I know at least one of those ladies is a starter.

In addition to Bueckers not playing, the other bummer of the night was that Geno Auriemma also missed the game due to illness. I would have loved to watch his reaction when Butler made that little run in the second quarter. UConn seemed to do just fine without him, though.

L and her AAU teammates also saw the girl from their program who will be going to UConn next year. We wondered if she would be around since she left the suburban public school she grew up at for a prep school in northern Indiana this year. Must have been a break in their schedule to let her get back to Indy for the night.


Jayhawk Talk

Playing in Lubbock has become one of those games that gets elevated regardless of how good Texas Tech is. Granted, they’ve been really good for the past 5–6 years, which goes a long way towards making those games tough.

So last night’s KU win, which they thoroughly controlled for about 26 minutes before surviving the inevitable Tech rally, might seem a little bigger and more impressive than it actually is. I say that because I’m not sure how good this year’s Tech team is. This felt more like one of those old KU-Tech games where the Red Raiders hit a bunch of crazy shots to stay in it than one where it was a matchup of near equals. I know they’ve been fighting injuries and are working in some new players. But aside from Tech’s early and late runs, KU was clearly the better team.

Still, you never apologize for road wins during the conference season, and KU now has one out of the way that every other Big 12 contender will need to match.

I was looking at KU’s upcoming schedule yesterday and the strength of the Big 12 really hit home. Usually there’s a game or two in there where you think, “OK, that game is a break in the at K-State-Baylor-at Texas stretch,” or whatever. There was no game in the next few weeks where I got that feeling. That may change due to injuries or teams that seem tough now taking a few losses and falling apart. For the moment, though, it sure seems like every 3–4 days Big 12 fans are going to be wound up about the next high-stress game.


K-State-Texas

What the hell? This might be the most amazing score for a non-KU Big 12 game I’ve ever seen. I’m sure I’m not the only cynical, outside observer who assumes this will make Texas find a way to fix their Chris Beard problem really damn quickly.

New Year’s Weekend Notes

Our holidays come to an end today. M and C go back to class tomorrow, although CHS is once again having a two-week J term filled with electives, so they don’t have “real” school for awhile. L has another week off but I will still have to start setting an alarm to make sure her sisters are awake tomorrow.

A rundown of how we ended 2022 and began 2023.


New Year’s Eve/The New Year

Our postponed Christmas Eve family gathering was rescheduled for this night. It was big, loud, a little crazy, but fun. It helped that it was about 50 degrees warmer than it had been a week earlier.

We were back at our house around 9:00 – except for M and C who went to friends’ homes to celebrate – played a couple games before L and her cousin and S and her sister petered out around 10:30. I stayed up to watch football (more on that below).

New Year’s Day was uneventful. Monday morning we woke to heavy fog and five deer milling about in our back yard. One of those fuckers got a little too close to our pool. That’s all we needed to start the year: a deer falling through the cover, tearing up the pool liner, and probably having to call for assistance to get its dumb ass out.

Our youngest nephew turned three Monday, and his family stopped by for birthday cupcakes.

In the evening the seven of us did an escape room thing. It was my first time doing one. A little weird, especially since we had one kid (take a guess which) being a little bossy and uncooperative. But we made it out with 13 minutes to spare.

My sister-in-law and niece were supposed to fly back to Denver around 10. Their plane was also coming from Denver and kept getting delayed because of the weather out there. It finally took off two hours late. I dropped them at IND around 11:45. Looks like they made it home after 2:30 Denver time. I bet it was fun to clear the snow from their car at that hour.

Our drive to the airport was very weird. We were again under a thick layer of fog. Moments after dropping them off a big storm rolled in. I spent about the first 15 minutes of my drive home on the interstate going no faster than 40 mph with my wipers on high and hazards flashing. There was intense, bright, blinding lightning that was a lot of fun when I was already struggling to see the road. Fortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of traffic at midnight on a Tuesday morning, and I made it home safely.

With family visiting we didn’t get to taking down the Christmas decorations yet. I’ll pull the plug on the outdoor lights today and take them down if the rain clears out. But the inside tree will probably stay up until either Thursday, S’s home admin day, or next weekend. Don’t worry: the Christmas music was retired on Christmas Day!


KU Hoops

What a stupid, wonderful, infuriating, magnificent beginning to the Jayhawks’ Big 12 season. Playing like absolute dogs in the first half and letting a mediocre-shooting Oklahoma State squad light them up from outside to go down by 15 at the half. Followed by a brilliant eight minutes or so to eliminate that deficit and leave us with 12 minutes of knock-down, drag-out basketball that was probably a pretty good teaser for how this Big 12 season will be.

It was the third time in the 2022 calendar year that KU came back from 15 or more down at halftime. I guess they knew the football team came up just short Tuesday and needed to lock in one, last crazy comeback for the year.

Looking back, in 2022 KU hammered Villanova in the Final Four, beat North Carolina for the national championship, came back and beat Duke in the Champions Classic, destroyed what has turned out to be a pretty damn good Missouri team, hammered Indiana, and then had the two mega comebacks against Kansas State in November and Oklahoma State on Saturday. I saw a thing Monday that showed Quad 1 wins for the calendar year. KU had nine more than Baylor, which had the second-most in Division One.

Seems like a pretty good year. I have the shirts to prove it.


CFP

As soon as the KU game was over, I had to scramble to get ready for our New Year’s Eve gathering. Our hosts are not sports fans and do not have cable, which meant I was following the TCU-Michigan game on my phone. As was my sister-in-law whose husband is a Frog. Fortunately for him, he and their son were at the game. Looked like they had fun.

Really glad TCU is the school that got the Big 12’s first-ever CFP win. Not that I am a big Frog fan or anything, but it makes it better that it came after Oklahoma failing for years and Texas never getting there.

M was very astute and asked what I would do if it had been a KU Final Four game that was at the same time as a family gathering and I would not have access to a TV. I told her I would probably have skipped the event, which would have earned me a dirty look or two from S but really would have been better for everyone. No one in the family needs to be around me when I’m watching a stressful KU game. Hell, the girls were making fun of me for screaming during the OSU game Saturday. Can you imagine if it was a game in April?

I was able to watch most of Georgia-Ohio State, which was filled with wonderful momentum/mood swings. Ohio State’s potential game winning field goal sailed left just as the clock struck midnight here in the Eastern time zone. Our Christmas tree automatically turns off at 12:00 AM, so as the ball knuckled into the air, the lights clicked off behind me and the fireworks kicked in outside. It’s like it was all planned to happen that way.

Georgia-TCU should be an excellent game, and I’d be fine with either team winning. Just glad it won’t be Michigan or Ohio State, to be honest.


NFL

I was going to write something about how weird it still feels for there to be regular season games two weekends into January. But after what happened in Cincinnati last night, that feels wrong. I’m glad I wasn’t watching. I’m glad the teams seemed to show way more awareness and empathy than the NFL showed. And I’m really hoping that Damar Hamlin makes a recovery that allows him to live a meaningful life.

New Year’s Day Playlist

I believe I promised this for Monday, but it makes more sense to share this today. Happy 2023 to all!

“nye” – Runner
“The New Year’s Resolution” – Spielbergs
“New Year’s Day” – U2
“New Year’s Resolution” – Camera Obscura
“New Year’s Day” – Taylor Swift
“The New Year” – Death Cab for Cutie

Stats

As I do every January 1, a slightly different accounting of my listening habits.

December 2022

  • Bing Crosby – 79
  • Frank Sinatra – 76
  • The Jackson 5 – 57
  • Burl Ives – 37
  • Otis Redding – 36

2022

  • The War on Drugs – 362
  • Gang of Youths – 326
  • The Beatles – 298
  • Eddie Vedder – 249
  • Wet Leg – 166

All Time [1]

  • Frightened Rabbit – 3678
  • Pearl Jam – 3641
  • The War on Drugs – 3214
  • The Beatles – 2589
  • Ryan Adams – 2297

Checking my totals from 1/1/2022, Frightened Rabbit gained one point on Pearl Jam over the past 12 months while The War on Drugs knocked off over 150 plays from the #2 spot. I’m sure no one else cares about these numbers.

Complete stats available at my Last.fm page.


  1. Since February 14, 2005  ↩

Friday Playlist

The final playlist of 2022. It will be a little different as I plan a special playlist for Monday and will hang on to new tracks until next Friday.

“Man at C&A” – The Specials
“Our Lips Are Sealed” – The Go-Go’s
Terry Hall, one-time frontman for The Specials, died a week ago. I’ve listened to a fair amount of Specials music over the years, but his passing had me reading up on their history. In the process I learned that despite being their lead singer, he didn’t write any of their songs until their second album. This was the first, a fitting track for the times about nuclear war. I also didn’t realize how many of their songs were covers, including my first favorite, “A Message to You Rudy.” FTR, my all-time fav Specials song is 1984’s “Free Nelson Mandela.”

I also did not know until last week that Hall co-wrote “Our Lips Are Sealed” with Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s. The two had a brief affair while The Specials and Go-Go’s toured together, and this is the lasting result. The first release off The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat, it hit #10 in the US. Hall recorded a version with his second band, Fun Boy Three, and took it to #7 on the UK charts (The Go-Go’s version only made it to #47 over there).

“The Rubberband Man” – The Spinners
“Mamma Can’t Buy You Love” – Elton John
Thom Bell also passed last week. He was a third of the Mighty Three with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff that pretty much created the Philadelphia Sound of poppy R&B. He is most famous for his work with The Stylistics and The Spinners, especially the later, who saw their biggest pop chart success while in the studio with him. I learned this week that Bell also produced this 1979 comeback hit for Elton John, his first top 10 hit in over three years. The Spinners are there, too, on background vocals. No idea why I never heard his influence in this track; it’s unmistakable.

“late night skate” – Trust Fund
Feels right for this time of year without being holiday-ish.

“Snowman, Snowman (Sweet Potato Nose) – The Jaynetts
I recently signed up for writer Dan Epstein’s newsletter, or at least the free posts. Those free posts tend to be about old songs. Here he wrote about this wonderful little winter track from 1963.

“17 Days” – Prince
When the girls had the flu last month they missed a few days of school and a couple social events. I told them about the time I had the flu the worst I’ve ever had it, just after New Year’s 1998. I missed a KU game and going to see Prince. S said that I must have really been sick if I didn’t go to a KU game. I told her missing the Prince concert was a far bigger deal, as I never got to see him live. It’s not the same experience, but thank goodness we can find videos like this and remember how great the man was.

Bowling

I guess if you have to go 14 years between bowl games, this is the way you want to return.


Well, kind of.

A win sure would have been nice. And not going down by 25 points would have made for a more interesting game.

But the Kansas Football Jayhawks sure found a way to make Wednesday’s Liberty Bowl exciting. They nearly capped off a year of unforgettable KU comebacks with another epic one.

My viewing experience was fortuitous. We sat down for dinner just as KU fell apart and Arkansas took control of the game late in the first quarter. So while I heard what was going on, I wasn’t an active participant. To my eye Jalon Daniels seemed to be really struggling. His throws didn’t seem as crisp or powerful as they were before his shoulder injury. As the deficit got bigger and he continued to look like 80% – at best – of his full capabilities, I figured a loss was inevitable.

Thus I pretty casually watched the second and third quarters. Three different times I was ready to either flip to something else or mute the TV and watch something else on my laptop. Turns out I was pretty cozy under my blanket and didn’t feel like going to grab the MacBook.

Kids, sometimes being lazy pays off! Had I switched I would not have seen the Jayhawks get their shit together and make a huge rally.

Let’s be honest and fair: Arkansas seemed to totally check out when the fourth quarter started, from the players to the coaching staff. And KU benefited from a clearly incorrect call, when they pounced on a fumble and turned it into a score a few plays later.

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity, right? KU took advantage of those breaks, Jalon found his mojo, KU converted an onside kick and a two-point conversion in the final minute to tie, and we got the crazy, triple overtime ending.

Ahhh, the ending. My guess to friends immediately after Jason Bean tossed the ball out of the end zone without looking at a wide open Mason Fairchild was, “We must have been out of two-point plays,” turned out to be correct. Or at least that’s what Lance Leipold told the media after the game.

I’m no football coach, and I understand how two-point plays need to be crafted for a specific yardage and specific need. But with an offense as inventive and complex as KU’s, shouldn’t they be able to make just about anything into a two-point play?

I was mad at the coaches for about five minutes. I was never mad at Jason Bean. That’s a tough-ass spot to put a kid who had only been on the field for a couple of plays. It feels like the better play would have been to send Jalon out wide, have Bean pitch/lateral to him, and then JD makes the final pass. I mean, the kid just broke the bowl game and school records for passing yards in a single game.[1] You don’t take the ball out of his hands. Coaches getting too cute.

Bean got KU to a bowl game by beating Oklahoma State. He damn near beat TCU when Daniels got hurt. That’s a terrible way for him to end his career, and he deserves no blame.

In the end, it was a fun if frustrating game. That’s about all you can ask for one of these crappy, mid-tier bowl games. There are still a lot of games to be played, but it feels like this one will end up near the top of best games of this bowl season.

The important thing was KU was in a bowl game. I would have been thrilled with three wins this year. We got six plus a game in late December. That was a huge accomplishment for this program, which has been so bad for so long.

Now comes the truly hard part: keeping it going.

Rock Chalk, bitches.


  1. I still say he wasn’t near 100%.  ↩

Christmas Weekend Notes

A stressful but pretty good Christmas weekend.

Obviously the big issue the past several days has been the weather. We ended up only getting between 1–2” of snow Thursday, a far cry from that initial forecast of over a foot. But it was still enough, combined with the wind and cold, to make travel difficult and dangerous. Fortunately, for us, S was home before the roads got bad and the rest of us had no need to be outside of the house on Friday as the windchill dropped to over 30 below zero.

With fridges and freezers full of food and temps dangerously low I was super concerned about our power staying on. The weather people kept saying because it was supposed to rain all day Thursday and then quickly freeze, followed up by 48 hours of high winds, power lines would be in great danger.

Thank goodness our electricity never cut out. Well at least it didn’t until right in the middle of our Christmas morning brunch, when the power winked out for a couple seconds then came right back on. Thursday night, as the winds howled and shook our roof, I kept waking up, thinking the power had gone out and having panics about our food going bad or the pipes freezing. Luckily we didn’t have to deal with any of that.

We normally do a big family gathering on Christmas Eve, but because of the cold, the bad roads for a few locals, and one out-of-town group delaying their visit, we decided to postpone that until New Year’s Eve. We had a couple nephews over for an impromptu pizza party.

Christmas morning was nice. Our girls long ago figured out if they are only getting three things, they should only ask for three things. I think M even told S a couple nights ago, “I pretty much know what I’m getting…” They were still excited to open the gifts, though. A lot of clothes and beauty products. C got some Uggs that we were sweating the arrival of, but made it just in time. L is now into photography so got a new lens and tripod for her camera.

Then it was the annual family Christmas brunch. We were down a few people so it wasn’t as huge as it often is, but still two full tables of folks celebrating the holiday together.

Christmas night, after all the guests had left, we convinced M and C to watch Glass Onion with us. L was too busy reading the book that came in her stocking to join us. It’s been a long time since we watched a movie together. It took awhile for the girls to get into it, but eventually they were all-in and enjoyed it. I think C at least wants to go back and watch Knives Out.

By midday Christmas, the wind chills had finally crept above zero. Funny how that seems like a big change and then you take the trash outside and nearly freeze. S and I ran out this morning to check out a couple sales before the traffic got too heavy. Despite actually cracking 20° it was still not a very enjoyable walk from the car to the stores. Later this week it may push 60°. Typical Midwest weather bullshit.

We have out-of-towners coming in a couple waves later this week, so I imagine there will be some additional gatherings over the week heading into the New Year’s Eve family deal.

I hope all of your Christmas events were warm, safe, and joyful.

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