Announcer is… caught!

This is Joe Buck.

He’s the lead play-by-play announcer for NFL games on Fox. That means he’s considered the best announcer on that network. I beg to differ.

Joe has a very annoying verbal crutch: he says “Pass is… caught!” at least 30 times a game. It’s usually a stall, with the pregnant pause after “is” until he can determine if the pass is complete or incomplete. If you think I’m exaggerating about the 30 times, I can assure you I’m not. That’s probably a lowball figure. Watch the Saints-Rams game tomorrow and count them for yourself. But please don’t make it a drinking game. It you have a drink every time Joe Buck says “pass is… caught!” like folks used to do with the phrase “Hi Bob!” on the old Bob Newhart Show, you’ll be drunker than a monkey’s uncle before halftime.

We all have our own verbal crutches. Like… you know… um… er…. But when you’re getting paid millions of dollars to call a game, it seems like you should un-learn those bad habits. My wife thinks I’m making a mountain out of a molehill – “what else is he supposed to say when a pass is caught?” How about these:

  • Pass is completed.
  • [Quarterback name]’s pass is hauled in at the 40.
  • Pass over the middle… [Receiver] makes the catch.
  • [Quarterback] to [Receiver]… complete for a first down.
  • [Receiver] makes the grab.
  • [Quarterback] throws down the sideline…. great catch by [Receiver].
  • Screen pass to [Receiver]… with blockers in front of him.
  • [Quarterback] connects with [Receiver].
  • [Quarterback] finds [Receiver] who was wide open over the middle.
  • Short throw into the flat… a great diving catch.
  • A laser into coverage… complete for a big third down conversion.

Sorry, Joe. Don’t worry, this post is…. over!

The cost of convenience

Earlier this week, we were running low on bath tissue.

(OK, OK, let’s just call it toilet paper because that’s what it is. “Bath tissue” is just a marketing ploy. Much like “Chilean sea bass” was invented to put a more palatable spin on the real name of that species: Patagonian toothfish.)

We’re always running low on peanut butter, too, thanks to our teenagers and their protein shakes.

So instead of driving the three measly blocks to the grocery store, I ordered a four large packages of both TP and PB online. Sounds great in theory – who really wants to go to the store to hand pick their TP? (Other than bogus 70s housewives and Mr. Whipple, of course.)

But then the packaging showed up on our doorstep. Two different shipments, on two different days, in giant cardboard boxes, and for some reason the packers felt it necessary to “cushion” the TP with a mile of those plastic air bubbles. Seriously, I thought it was a costume for a Chinese New Year parade:

Each giant plastic jar of peanut butter was also hermetically sealed in a plastic bag. I guess to prevent “leakage”… or “oozing” in the case of peanut butter. It seemed completely unnecessary. I’m sure anyone who orders online has also experienced the “giant box for one tiny item” phenomenon. That’s a lot of cardboard wasted. Delivery is usually by diesel trucks, which pollute more than passenger cars. My order came from a warehouse, which is certainly farther away than the three-block distance to my store. And the truck probably wasn’t completely full because of the haste required to meet the arbitrary two-day shipping deadline. Not to mention the fact that my home delivery won’t replace a trip to the store… it’s just in addition to those jaunts. That means more vehicles on the road spewing pollution.

Here’s a nice article that sums up the environmental challenges of home shipping. Here’s a video too:

Then there’s this article about how all this shipping can wreak havoc on the labor market and infrastructure.

So I’m going to choose “no hurry” shipping when I have to order online, and go back to the old-school way as much as possible – it feels more earth-friendly. Especially if I ride my bicycle.

American Flop 40

I’m your host, Spacy Kasem, and we’re counting down the top albums of 2018, as voted on by dubbatrubba.

Checking in at #11 on our show is Lush, the debut album from teenager Lindsay Jordan, who records under the name Snail Mail.

Next up is a brilliant album from Alejandro Escovedo, The Crossing, which deals with the topic of immigration in a very human way.

At Number 9, it’s an EP from three talented young singer-songwriters: Lucy Dacus, Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker. They’re great on their own, too, but the “songbird supergroup” combination is unbeatable. Here’s boygenius performing “Me & My Dog”

Now, we’re up to #8, and it’s a return after a long absence for the Boston band called Belly. Leader Tanya Donnelly was also a founding member of Throwing Muses and The Breeders, so she’s got a mountain of 80s/90s indie cred. Their first album in 23 years, Dove, shows they haven’t missed a beat.

The lucky 7 slot belongs to an old and dear friend, a living legend who still remains relevant, Mr. John Prine, with his album The Tree of Forgiveness.

Checking in at #6, it’s the amazingly talented Brandi Carlile and the equally talented Hanseroth twins, Phil and Tim. They record under Brandi’s name, but they are a team in every sense of the word. Their 2018 release By The Way, I Forgive You continues their streak of fantastic albums.

The #5 album of last year was the 9th release from the Arizona-based band Calexico. Leaders Joey Burns and John Convertino offer up a diverse array of tunes, all tied together by their expert musicianship.

The Philly indie rock band at #4 features the sister/brother combo of Frances and Mark Quinlan. They’re a band that I’d never heard of at the beginning of 2018, but after listening to their album Bark Your Head Off, Dog and seeing them live in concert, I’m a big fan.

The top 3 features a trip to the Land Down Under. Aussie band Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever gave us a debut album, Hope Downs, that’s filled with gems.

#2 comes from power punk elder statespeople Superchunk. They’ve been crushing it since 1989. Their release What A Time To Be Alive shows they can still channel righteous indignation about the current state of American culture into superb songs.

And now we’re up to the top album of 2018, and the pick should comes as no surprise to the three people who actually read this blog. It’s another band that’s been around for more than 30 years. Their first album in 7 years, Quiet and Peace, deals with grown-up topics like the passage of time. The lyrics are often bittersweet; the songs are as fantastic as the tunes from their halcyon days in the early 90s. Seeing them live in L.A. and Chicago last year was a rare treat. Here’s Buffalo Tom:

A 10-second seminar on wealth management


True wealth is not measured in money or status or power. It is measured in the legacy we leave behind for those we love and those we inspire.

— César Chávez

Small Room, Big Love

Last night I went a house concert. Not just any house concert, but the debut house concert at the home of my friends Jacqui and Dave.

Photo credit: Jameson Killen

They’re music heads, just like me… although they actually have musical talent. We’re talking “graduated from Berklee College of Music” level talent. Chops aside, we’re similar in our passion for live music. Here’s a snippet from the About Us page of the website they set up for their house concert series, which they’ve dubbed Parlor & Patio:

Years ago, we were just two crazy college kids who haphazardly met in a living room while listening to music. You could say that was a life-changing moment.

For us, music has always been more than background ambiance. It’s an experience we crave and cherish. We also believe it connects people in ways that are meaningful and universal. Through Parlor & Patio, we hope to foster some new experiences and connections by bringing friends, community and traveling artists together in a listening room environment.

Amen to that! And Dave & Jacqui aren’t just dabbling in this new venture, they are going full throttle. They’ve already booked a show a month for the next several months!

They kicked things off last night with a solo gig from Rob Fetters, a local legend who should be a national legend. He’s been playing in Cincinnati bands for decades, first with The Raisins, then The Bears and finally the psychodots. All stellar, all woefully underappreciated. As his website bio says:
Rob Fetters has spent decades making records and performing music on the edgy fringe of American power pop. 

Photo source: Robfetters.net

Rob’s a great singer, songwriter and storyteller. And he can pick and/or shred with the best of them on guitar. He also happens to be a wonderful human being.

Two amazing hosts + one phenomenal artist = One-of-a-kind concert. Rob played two sets, 20+ songs, told some hilarious stories (and some sad ones too). And the 40 folks in attendance were there to listen, not to chit-chat or Snapchat.

I can’t wait for the next gig in the Parlor & Patio series. It’s music from the heart that nourishes your soul. And we all need big love now…

Be who you want to be

My 17-year-old son is a workout fanatic. He’s also a funny kid in his own unique — and typically stealthy — way. Recently, when he ordered a new dip belt online, he had some fun with the mailing label name. (BTW, don’t ask me what a “dip belt” is… I thought it meant loosening your pants by a couple of notches after you’ve had too much guacamole.)

Peter has already figured out what his pro wrestling name would be, and he often refers to himself in the third person of that imaginary person. It’s especially funny because in many ways he’s quite shy.

Yep, Jackson Steelflex. Sounds like he could be a future WWE Heavyweight Champ, brother!

The name has a lot of flair.

Peter will be going off to college in a few months. I remember a faculty member who spoke at my freshman orientation (back in the Jurassic Period) and told us that in college, we could be free of the the boxes that high school put us into, and become who we want to be. Here’s hoping that Peter leaves Shy Guy behind, and becomes a bit more Steelflex.

Someone super behind the hoopsters

It’s been a tough season so far for Xavier basketball, but the fact that fans can be “disappointed” with a middling season in the Big East shows just how far the program has come over the past two decades. A lot of credit for that growth goes to a man who never played a minute for the team. Dr. Bill Daily was a Xavier grad who returned to teach, and he was passionate about hoops. The university had dropped football in the early 70s to cut costs, and in the late 70s the basketball program was in a similar predicament.

“(Daily) was the single voice to say that this basketball thing is really an important piece of what a University is really all about. He convinced them to make a commitment and spend the resources and he chaired the search committee to get Bob Staak.” 

Gary Massa, former XU basketball player (Class of ’81) and current VP of University Relations

Bob Staak helped turn the program around in the early 80s (which coincided with my time at Xavier, btw… merely a coincidence, of course). The teams got better, and the program got bigger – moving from the Midwestern City Conference to the Atlantic 10 to the Big East, and moving from the ancient fieldhouse to the Cincinnati Gardens to the state-of-the-art Cintas Center on campus.


“Dr. Daily was the beginning of an unprecedented run if you go back … he had the wherewithal and the vision to see what basketball could be.” 

Gary Massa

Dr. Daily passed away last month at the age of 83. If being a “founding father” of the Xavier basketball program were all that Dr. Daily accomplished, his life would be considered a rousing success. But that merely scratches the surface of his influence on lives. Dr. Daily had six kids, and I know his daughter Maria well from our days at Xavier.

 “He really felt his purpose in life was to make sure that everybody knew they were important and they were loved.” 

Maria Dickman, daughter

From this Cincinnati Enquirer article: He continued to learn and participate in a variety of adventures like the Urban Youth Academic Service Learning Experience in Over-the-Rhine, where he lived with and taught Xavier students in a house adjacent to Washington Park for multiple semesters. He started out teaching in the education department and eventually became chair of the communication arts department. 

He sought every opportunity to help people which led him to become co-founder of the E Pluribus Unum program at Xavier, which helped students learn about diversity in today’s society. 

He also received another degree in pastoral counseling from the Athenaeum of Ohio. He went on retreats to Gethsemani and was an associate at the Sisters of St. Francis convent in Oldenburg, Indiana. He took mission trips to Nicaragua, El Salvador and Ghana.

“That’s kind of what dad’s mission in life was. He wasn’t out to get the credit, he just wanted to make sure things got done.” 

Mary Beth Bruns, daughter

Nice job, Doc. The entire Xavier community owes you a deep debt of gratitude.

(Please read the entire article about Dr. Daily. This post doesn’t do him justice.)

Second verse, same as the first. 4th verse, same as the first three.

Thank goodness the powers that be in college football have created a playoff system. Now, instead of the same ol’ same ol’, we get to enjoy a wide variety of teams vying for the national championship. Let’s see, there’s Alabama, and Clemson, and… welp, that pretty much sums it up.

Since the College Football Playoff started in 2014, the “Final 4” has consisted of: Alabama (every stinkin’ year), Clemson (every year but one), Oklahoma (3 years), Ohio State (twice), and a cameo by five other randos. The past three championship games have been ‘Bama vs. Clemson. This year, in a shocking turn of events, the final game tomorrow night is… wait for it… ‘Bama vs. Clemson.

ESPN tries their best to hype the living daylights out of it, but fatigue has set in. Someone wake me when it’s over. Actually, strike that… don’t wake me when it’s over, because I’ll be fast asleep long before the game ends, and I don’t really care who wins.

Radio is a sound salvation… and podcasting is the new radio.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I worked at 97X, a small-but-mighty radio station in Oxford, Ohio.

My friend Dave worked there as well (that’s how we met and became friends). Now that Dave’s two sons and my four kids are a bit older, we have some spare time on our hands. So we decided to create a podcast about our adventures (and misadventures) at 97X.

I don’t think Marc Maron and the folks at My Favorite Murder or This American Life have to watch their backs, but if you listened to 97X before it went off the air, you’ll probably find the podcast semi-entertaining. Even if you never heard (or even heard of) the station, you might get a kick or three out of the podcast. Or not. But hey, it’s only 18 minutes of your day. You’ve probably got some time off for the holidays, right? It’s the perfect aural accompaniment to taking down the Christmas lights, trying to assemble kids toys and/or scrubbing congealed ham/turkey/goose fat out of the roasting pan.

Three episodes are posted here: https://woxy.podbean.com/

You can subscribe via that same link, so you’ll never have to miss a single scintillating episode. (And you won’t miss the boring ones either.)

You can also listen/download below.

Please don’t feel obligated to listen. Dave and I just have to call it “podcasting” because that sounds fancier (and more productive) than “hanging out in the basement and reminiscing about the good old days.”

Where art meets commerce

On Thursday, a bunch of dudes met up for breakfast at a Panera in Newport, KY. It was the visual arts equivalent of the Algonquin Round Table… designers and illustrators and photographers, oh my. (They let a few writer types hang out too… including a hack named dubbatrubba.)

I was fortunate enough to work with many of these fine fellows back in my ad agency days. They’re an amazingly talented bunch… and super-nice as well (sometimes those two qualities can seem mutually exclusive).

A lot of the folks who attended the breakfast are self-employed. Some by their own choice; others have had their hand forced by ad agency layoffs. Freelance is a tough row to hoe, especially in the Fiverr age where it can be a “who can do this cheapest?” race to the bottom. Not only do you have to be a standout in your chosen field, but you also have to be a salesperson, a client coordinator, a project manager and an accountant. You’re on your own for healthcare. And vacation? No work, no pay. As one of the gents there put it “I’m always on vacation until the phone rings.”

My friends do mostly commercial work, but you can’t commodify what they do. It’s art. Period.

L to R, top to bottom: Rob Warnick, Chris Dye, Brian Steege, Keith Neltner, Tom Post, Keith Neltner (again), Andy Sohoza, Doug Best, Todd Lipscomb.