Rock & Roll Never Forgets… or does it?

Here’s a great article on NPR about Bob Seger’s presence (or lack thereof) in the age of digital music.

His influence appears to be diminishing (along with his sales and airplay) and his legacy is losing a bit of luster because you can’t find many of his albums and/or songs on digital and streaming platforms. So he’s missing out on a chance to gain new fans.

I found the article fascinating… and I was also fascinated by the fact that it was written by Tim Quirk, who was the lead singer of the band Too Much Joy, a group I remember from my early 90s days at 97X, mostly for their fun (and funny) songs like “Long Haired Guys from England” and “That’s a Lie.”

Check out the article. Then check your dad’s record collection for some vintage Seger.

 

 

 

 

X Marches On!

My beloved Xavier Musketeers pulled off another upset last night (actually one a.m. this morning for most of us), rallying from 8 down in the second half to knock off #2 seed Arizona, 73-71.

Speaking of Bill Murray, his son Luke is an assistant coach for XU, and Bill has attended every tourney game, cheering on the Muskies. After they won last night, Bill celebrated by giving a good-natured “noogie” to the elderly woman in front of him…

That woman happens to be a nun – Sister Rose Ann Fleming, who as the longtime academic advisor to Xavier athletes, has as much to do with their success in the classroom as the coaches have to do with their success on the court.

Xavier has graduated every senior men’s b-ball player since 1986. (That’s the year I graduated… concidence? I think not!)

After the game, Bill Murray summed up how the game played out very well.

Beating Arizona in the Sweet 16 was pretty sweet too. Their coach, Sean Miller, left Xavier for Arizona several seasons ago. He was, and still is, a fantastic coach, and I have a ton of respect for him. Xavier coach Chris Mack was an assistant under Miller and they are great friends. Mack was less than thrilled about having to face his mentor for the 2nd time in 3 years:

But there’s one comment Sean Miller made that sticks in the craw of many XU fans. After he left Xavier for Arizona, he told a recruit it was like going from a Buick to a Lexus. Grandma has a message for him:

Now Xavier plays Gonzaga in the Elite 8. Two small Jesuit schools that have had great basketball programs for the past couple of decades… and one of them will finally reach the Final Four for the first time. So either way, I’ll be happy, but I’ll be happier if X marks the spot.

 

How Sweet 16 it is

Xavier pulled off another upset in the NCAA tourney last night, trouncing #3 seed Florida State 91-66 to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16. It’s been a rough season for the X-men. Senior guard Myles Davis started the season with an indefinite suspension, missed the first 15 games, returned for 3 and then left the program for good. Their super soph point guard Edmond Sumner blew out his ACL halfway through the year, and leading scorer Trevon Bluiett hurt his ankle and missed a couple of games and was ineffective in a few more after returning. Not surprisingly, those injuries led to a six-game losing streak toward the end of the regular season in the brutal Big East.

However, the Musketeers showed signs of life in the conference tournament and squeaked into the NCAAs as a #11 seed. They upset #6 Maryland in the first round, and yesterday they played what was easily their best game of the season.

 

It’s so true that in college basketball, “it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Now Xavier will take on Arizona, coached by Sean Miller… who left XU for ‘zona about 8 years ago. The odds are against them once again, but I don’t care, because they’re playing with house money now.

I don’t know why they call it “March Madness”

Taking two days off work and setting up 4 TVs (and a laptop) in your living room to binge watch college basketball games for 12 hours straight each day sounds perfectly sane to me.

Just remember to root for the team favored by award-winning actors everywhere:

So far, so good…

 

 

Mad at Bad Dad

My 13-year-0ld daughter Leah is not what I’d call a “morning person.” I suppose very few teenagers are, but she’s the poster child for pre-dawn sluggishness. And guess who gets to wake her up every school day, at the ungodly hour of 6 a.m.? That’s right, her dear old dad. It’s somewhat akin to poking your bare hands into a rattlesnake den, or opening a hornet’s nest with a head-butt. If there’s a right side of the bed for her, we haven’t found it yet.

I try to wake her as gently as possibly, because I know that according to research, teens naturally need a later wake-up schedule. But we’re under the gun if she and her brother are going to catch the school bus at the end of our street at 6:32 (not 6:33… we’ve learned the hard way). Here’s how it usually goes:

6:00 a.m. “Leah, honey, it’s time to wake up…”

6:10 a.m. “Leah, it’s 6:10… I’m going to turn your light on now.”

6:15 a.m. “C’mon Leah, we have to get going.”

6:18 a.m. I stomp up the stairs from the kitchen, and that’s usually her signal to get up and shut her door in my face. I don’t care, because at least she’s up.

But now I have a secret weapon, a brand new musical alarm. It was inspired by my college buddy Vinnie, who used to wake up his teenage daughter Alana by playing the first 12 seconds of Carole King’s “Beautiful” on repeat until she got out of bed.

So I’ve put together my own little morning mashup medley for my precious only daughter, as a reminder that we need to catch the bus:

Yeah, it’s not as sweet and harmonious as a Carole King song, but it gets the job done. Better yet, it combines classic indie rock tunes from the fantastic Royal Crescent Mob and The Replacements (one of my all-time favorite bands) with a snippet from a new song called “Old Friends” from an up-and-coming band out of New Jersey called Pinegrove. (Check out their debut album here.)

Sure, Leah might be psychologically scarred for life, but at least she could turn out to be an indie rock fan!

 

 

All I ever needed to know I learned from the funny pages

I’m part of a dying breed: I still get a Sunday newspaper. And the first section I read is always the comics. Probably because my brain is so feeble. But you can find some profound wisdom in the funny pages too. Here’s a Pearls Before Swine strip from last year that I found very enlightening.

It puts the rat race in perspective, doesn’t it?

If you don’t get a newspaper but still want to keep up with the comics (an underappreciated art form, sez me), you can check out some decent ones at GoComics.com. A list of popular strips is here. They just re-ran the great week of Calvin & Hobbes daily strips where Calvin finds a hurt baby raccoon. Start here and read six days’ worth and you’ll see how Bill Watterson could convey more about the human experience in three black-and-white panels than most folks could do in a thousand-page novel.

 

Now hear this… and this… oh, and this too!

NPR Music’s “First Listen” allows you to stream entire albums prior to their official release date (usually about a week in advance). This week, it’s a sonic smorgasbord of tasty tunes, featuring new releases from:

Hurray For The Riff Raff – The Navigator

Alynda Segarra, a.k.a. Hurray For The Riff Raff

 

The Magnetic Fields – 50 Song Memoir

(it’s one song for each year of Stephin Merritt’s life, NPR streams the first 20)

Stephin Merritt, not a UPS driver.

Valerie June – The Order of Time

Valerie June, not Medusa

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives – Way Out West 

(produced by Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers)

They sound as good as they look.

First Listen also features an original Broadway cast recording, an Afro-Cuban album and the new release from Jay Som, a 22-year-old indie rock artist from Oakland who plays every instrument on the album. Get your ears over there now, add them all to your listening queue and have a harmonious Hump Day.

And the Oscar goes to… the typography guy

Yes, there was a colossal screw-up at the Academy Awards last Sunday. And the main reason was the fact that Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway were given the wrong envelope. But a gentleman named Benjamin Bannister pointed out that a change in typography might’ve helped prevent the snafu. You can read his entire “Why Typography Matters–Especially at the Oscars” column here.

Simply by rearranging the words on the card to create a better “priority of communication” and giving more visual weight to the key words, it would’ve been much more clear that Beatty and Dunaway had the wrong card.

You could tell that Warren Beatty knew something wasn’t quite right, but with “best actress” buried at the bottom in tiny type, it was certainly an honest mistake for Faye Dunaway to call “La La Land” up to the stage.

I think Benjamin Bannister deserves a lifetime achievement award… and the old typography should only show up in next year’s Academy Awards show in the “In Memoriam” segment.

 

 

What’s in a name? My childhood memories, that’s what.

First things first: I believe the Islamic State terrorist group is a rotten bunch of evil-doers.

Secondly, because of Point #1 above, I prefer that they be referred to as ISIL, not ISIS. Because I grew up watching Saturday morning TV in the 70s, so when I hear the name “Isis” I think of a cheesy show from back in the day:

 

Please don’t sully my childhood memories of Andrea and her ancient amulet by associating her alter ego with a terrorist organization. Not only was Isis Captain Marvel’s best friend, she was also a “dedicated foe of evil, defender of the weak, champion of truth and justice!” Oh, and a darn fine rhymer.

O zephyr winds which blow on high, lift me now so I can fly.

The real Isis also brought a message of peace:

BTW, Secrets of Isis was the first weekly American live-action television series with a female superhero as the lead character (predating the weekly debuts of both Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman). And, the Isis character was created because the producers didn’t want to have to pay a comic book company for rights to an existing female superhero. In an interesting turnabout, DC Comics wound up acquiring the rights to publish an Isis comic book.

In interviews, series star JoAnna Cameron has stated that she hated working with the black raven on the series and asked the producers several times if they could write him out of the script.

 

If you have 20 minutes to kill, check out this heaping helping of cheese… the bear costume is so bad it’s good!

 

Dat Dude BP

The Cincinnati Reds traded second baseman Brandon Phillips to the Atlanta Braves a few weeks ago, in a youth movement/salary dump move (even though the Reds are still paying almost all of his salary). I’ve never seen a better defensive second baseman… he made amazing plays on a daily basis. Barehanded. Leaping. Diving. Over-the-shoulder. Behind the back. Between the legs. A true magician with the glove.

 

He even tagged a guy out behind his back and between his legs once – it’s one of the photos I use for my blog header.

 

More importantly, he never lost his youthful enthusiasm, love of the game and respect for the fans. In an era of prima donna players, “Dat Dude BP” was easily the lovable and most accessible Reds player. I took my sons to dozens of Reds games when they were younger, and we’d go down behind the Reds dugout prior to the game in hopes of getting an autograph or three. Most players would completely ignore the kids yelling their names, or half-heartedly and hastily sign two or three autographs before retreating to their dugout cocoon. But BP would greet the fans before every game, and sign autographs for as many kids as he could, flashing his megawatt smile the entire time.

“The thing about Phillips is that there is obvious joy in his game,” says Will Leitch, senior writer for Sports on Earth and New York’s go-to sports scribe. “He’s always having a good time. That’s extremely appealing.”

“This ain’t a career. This ain’t a job. This is fun,” Phillips recites, mantra-like, over a glass of ice water in the Art Deco confines of the bar at the Netherland. “I wanna smile out there. Some people like the old-school way. Nah, you gotta show some emotion.  The fans feed off that.”

(From a Cincinnati Magazine article in August of 2013)

Heck, BP even showed up at a Little League game once thanks to a Twitter request. And had some fun with hecklers in Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty wrote a nice column about BP after the trade. Here’s an excerpt:

And yet it’s impossible, if you are a Reds fan, to say you won’t miss him. Phillips was a fixture along the railing before games, signing autographs. He was a mainstay in the community. When most of his well-known teammates were enjoying a full winter break, Phillips was boarding a bus for places like Parkersburg, West Virginia, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, as a member of the Reds Caravan.

Brandon Phillips Field was the first baseball field built under the auspices of the Reds Community Fund. Phillips, along with Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, was also a prime financial supporter of the team’s Urban Youth Academy.

“In this day and age, he’s a rarity,’’ said Charley Frank, the community fund’s executive director. Even in recent years, when Phillips’ contract didn’t mesh with the team’s reboot, “He was still out there making fans feel wanted,’’ said Frank. 

Phillips hit anywhere he was needed in the lineup. As a cleanup man, he hit 30 home runs. As a leadoff guy, he stole 30 bases. Phillips played hurt frequently and never made a big issue of it. He played at least 141 games in 10 of his 11 seasons here.

He approached baseball with a child’s heart. Some didn’t understand that. Some found it bogus, some thought it was a self-serving act. Old Schoolers didn’t care for Phillips’ flair, though the truth is, baseball needs all the flair it can get.

Even after he was traded, he still showed some love for Reds fans.

I understand the economics of baseball for a small-market team like the Reds. But our whole family — and all Reds fans — will miss Brandon a bunch.