There’s a party going on right here…

Looks like Cincinnati is a good place to be for New Year’s Eve if you really want to cut loose… in a fiscally responsible way. WalletHub crunched the NYE numbers using criteria like “legality of fireworks,” “average price of a New Year’s Eve ticket,” and “forecasted precipitation” to rank cities and the ‘nati wound up #6 on the list.

After you ring in 2017, you can stick around for the beer. Cincinnati is #4 on the smartasset 2016 list of top cities for beer drinkers

 

… and we got some pub(licity) from Thrillist (“The 15 Coolest Things Coming to US Cities in 2017“) for our beer tour.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to Blank Slate Brewing and fill my growler with their fantastic Opera Cream Stout. https://www.instagram.com/p/BOnupwelkrW/

 

Fare thee well

2016 wasn’t exactly the greatest… and not just because we lost The Greatest.

Goodnight, sweet Prince and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Farewell, Princess.

Godspeed, astronaut.

So long, Starman.

“And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah…”

Power trio to the people!

The new album from Buffalo Tom has been fully funded by their fans (including yours truly). My faith in humanity has been restored.

A note from Buffalo Tom:

I used to think it was a bit sad that bands and artists I love had to resort to crowd-funding platforms to release new music. But upon further reflection, I think it’s better this way – no meddling from the suits at a record label, and a more direct connection to the fans that love their music. Rock on!

 

 

 

 

Dems da breaks

My favorite NFL team is the Oakland Raiders. Because when you spend your formative years (ages 6-17) in Arkansas, there’s no mandatory geographic alliance to any particular team. The Raiders were on TV a lot back then, because they were really good. I liked their logo and team colors (what other reason do you need when you’re six?).

And their players were an odd collection of rejects, castoffs and misfits. I could relate to that too.

The Raiders have been pretty darn horrible over the last decade and a half (and that’s putting it nicely). No winning seasons. 10 seasons with 11 or more losses.

But I’ve stuck with them through it all. Because I’m not a quitter… although I’ve certainly been tempted.

This year the Raiders turned the corner and have been good again. They’ve had some great draft choices and made a few smart free agent acquisitions over the past few years, and those moves have paid off. This year they clinched a playoff berth more than a week ago with a win over the San Diego Chargers. First trip to the playoffs since 2002.

Then this past Sunday, playing at home against the Indianapolis Colts, up 33-14 in the 4th quarter, their young team captain/MVP-candidate quarterback Derek Carr was sacked (first time he was touched by the Colts all game) and suffered a broken fibula.

http://www.nfl.com/m/share?p=%2Fvideos%2Fnfl-game-highlights%2F0ap3000000763039%2FDerek-Carr-injured-on-sack-helped-off-field

(Carr was one of three NFL players to have a broken fibula on Sunday… bad things happen in threes apparently.) Just like that, the Raiders went from dream season to nightmare, from Super Bowl contender to also-ran.

The Raiders’ defense is pretty suspect, and it’s doubtful they would’ve gone all the way this year. But the fickle finger of fate has given Raider fans the finger once again. The autumn wind is a pirate, but apparently God is a Patriots fan.

Literally Christmas

Our 11-year-old son gave our 15-year-old son an Xbox for Christmas:

It’s the thought that counts, right?

 

Music notes

Here are a few tunes that have caught my ear lately. A Nashville cat named Ron Gallo (he’s a Napoleon Dynamite doppelgänger) did a guerrilla video on the tourist strip that is Lower Broadway:

Here’s a video for another tune from his forthcoming album:

Ron Gallo’s album Heavy Meta comes out February 3.

 

And then there’s Alynda Lee Segarra, who goes by the stage name of Hurray for the Riff Raff. I loved her last album, Small Town Heroes, and really liked her performance in concert at an outdoor festival during that tour. Based on the first track from the new album, it should be a good one as well:

 

 

Hurray for the Riff Raff’s album The Navigator will be available on March 10th.

And in case you were wondering (you weren’t), my house wasn’t chosen as the site for Craig Finn’s living room tour stop in Cincinnati. That’s the bad news. The good news is the place that was chosen is five minutes from my house. So nearly as convenient and I don’t have to have 50 strangers in my living room. Win-win with Mr. Finn.

 

And the last shall be first

Call me a traditionalist (I’ve been called a lot worse), but I prefer baby names that are conventional (even Biblical). Yet it seems like the trend is running counter to that. Even if you ignore the celebrities (don’t do that, they crave your attention) and their outlier wacky baby names (Apple, North, Sky Blue, Bronx Mowgli, Pilot Inspektor, et al.), more people are giving their newborns what I like to call “last names as first names.” Which is all well and good – after all, these are their babies, not mine.

Image result for maury povich you are not the father

But I wonder if the parents have really thought through these newfangled names, especially on the girls’ side of the ledger. Because a couple of decades from now, if their daughters are traditionalists, they’ll wind up taking on a new last name…

Image result for marriage taking guy's name

And what happens if their daughter Riley Smith (“Riley” is #7 on the list of most popular girl baby names) winds up falling in love with a guy named Patrick Riley? That’s right, she could become Riley Riley!

What if Madison (popular name #18) Jones meets the man of  her dreams, and his name is  Jack Madison? What if Harper (#20) Collins wants to marry a dude named Ryan Harper? I know they say “love conquers all” but it would take a superhuman dose of love to overcome being called “Harper Harper” for the rest of your adult life.

Image result for marriage taking guy's name

Even going the hyphenated route would still be a bit confusing (Madison Jones-Madison? Sounds like a law firm.) Heck, even keeping the maiden name would probably cause some Abbott and Costello “Who’s on First”-style hijinks when you’re doing introductions in a social setting:

“Hi, I’m Patrick Riley and this is my wife Riley Smith.”

“I’m sorry, it’s loud in here, I didn’t catch your wife’s first name…”

“It’s Riley.”

“I thought that was your last name.”

“It is.”

“So what’s your wife’s first name?”

“Riley”

“No, not the last name, the first name”

“Riley”

“Riley is her first name?”

“Yes”

“And you’re a Riley too?”

“Yes”

“Then who is Patrick?”…

Maybe it’ll all work out, though. Maybe Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s daughter North West will marry a guy named Larry Starr. And they’ll live happily ever after (with their own reality show, of course).

Image result for north star

 

The Human Fund

My good friend Tim Condron really knows how to put things in perspective. Below is the most recent post from his “Second Takes” blog:

 

As the Kinks said:

Have yourself a merry merry Christmas
Have yourself a good time
But remember the kids who got nothin’
While you’re drinkin’ down your wine

Jingle all the way

As an auditory learner, a music lover, a kid from the radio era (OK, we did have a whopping 3 TV networks) and someone who spent a decade working in advertising, I’m hard-wired to like jingles. A few of those earworms that were created merely to move the merchandise are still stuck in my head decades after I last heard them.

As a kid in rural Arkansas, I used to stay up at night (and sometimes get up very early in the morning) and tune my transistor radio to WLS, a 50,000-watt powerhouse out of Chicago.

Sadly, the advertising jingle is a dying art. Now advertisers find it easier (read: lazier) to license an existing song or commission a pop knockoff. Here’s a great NPR interview with the “Jingle King” Steve Karmen. He wrote “I Love New York,” “This Bud’s for You,” “Nationwide is on your side” and dozens of other memorable jingles so it’s hard to argue with his title… although Barry Manilow got his start penning jingles for the likes of State Farm (“like a good neighbor…”) Band-Aid (“I am stuck on Band-Aid Brand…”) and McDonald’s (“You deserve a break today…”).

There’s a nice article in The Atlantic about the demise of the jingle too.

Where have you gone, “Oscar Meyer Wiener Song”? If White Hen stores were still around, and they sold cassette tapes of advertising jingles (or even 8-tracks), I’d totally buy the entire set.

Volley-baller

Late last night, Stanford won the women’s NCAA volleyball championship in Columbus, OH.

Stanford NCAA volleyball trophy

One of the best players for the Cardinal was Morgan Hentz, a freshman from Lakeside Park, KY, just across the river from Cincinnati. She’s pretty easy to spot on the floor because she’s a libero, a defensive specialist, and wears a different colored jersey than the rest of her team. She’s also easy to spot because she’s often literally on the floor making fantastic digs.

Morgan Hentz

I worked with Morgan’s dad Mike at an ad agency a couple of decades ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Mike’s such a laid-back, low-key guy that if you talked to him about Morgan, you’d never realize what a superstar she is. But on last night’s broadcast, the announcers were raving about her. ESPN did two player interviews after the match, one with Inky Ajanaku (great name, btw), a fifth-year senior who missed all of last year with a knee injury, and one with Morgan:

And here’s some press about her. From the ESPN article about Stanford’s win:

The Cardinal also had a freshman at setter in Jenna Gray, who seemed older than her years directing the team; at libero in Morgan Hentz (27 digs), who covered the floor like a tarp; and at middle blocker in Audriana Fitzmorris, who like Plummer is 6-6 and has a lot of power. She had 10 kills and contributed to the Cardinal’s 12 total blocks.

From ESPN’s article about the final 4 and the importance of the libero position:

“The very first play of our first practice back in August, [Hentz] dug a ball that the rest of the people went, ‘Oh, my gosh. She’s going to try harder than the rest of us on every play, and we’re going to have to change,'” Dunning said. “She has done it every drill of every practice since then and every game. That attitude she brings is just marvelous.”

From a Palo Alto online article about their win in the semi-finals:

Freshman libero Morgan Hentz, who has 84 digs in her last three matches, played a phenomenal match, getting to balls she had no right to come close to getting.

“The libero position is often overlooked but she is doing some acrobatic stuff in the back,” Ajanaku said. “It’s easy to be a great blocker if you only have to take up a certain part of the court and Morgan allows that for us.”

 

And from a San Jose Mercury News article about Stanford making the Final Four with a comeback win at Wisconsin:

Hentz, who leads by example and effort, came up with a career-high 30 digs.

“Morgan, the day she got into the gym, you could tell that she was able to do some pretty special things,” Dunning said. “She has amazing range as a defender, she has amazing reactions, she’s very competitive, very driven. So she’s just stepped in and gone hard, and made everyone on our team go harder.”

I’m so happy for Mike, his wife Kerin and the entire Hentz family. Here’s to a repeat next year…