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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Drude Approves: George Harrison's Best Five Videos

A new feature here, The Drude Approves. I did a similar thing on teevee for a while, plus a blog called "The Dude's Bookmarks" where I only posted my favorite bookmarks. It was a little goofy. Here's the same concept only different with "The Drude Approves." Doesn't matter if it's a bookmark or a link or an awesome dunk or one-timer or basket catch. If I approve, it'll go in this category.  Since it's George Harrison's birthday, the first Drude Approves will be George's best music videos

"Got My Mind Set on You" (1987)
There are actually two official music videos for this memorable track off his "Cloud Nine" album, but this is the one most people know. I can't hear the song without thinking of this, which is really, really goofy. 

Traveling Wilburys, "Handle With Care" (1987)
From the same year, the supergroup that's George and his friends. He called it the favorite group he'd been in, which shows how much acrimony he still felt about the end of Beatles. The first song released was the first recording the group made, and it was almost relegated to the b-side of a single off of "Cloud Nine." Fortunately, George changed his mind. While the rest of the album was good, the spontaneity of this song cannot be matched.

"This Song" (1976) 
In response to losing the lawsuit for copying "He's So Fine" in "My Sweet Lord," George's songwriting got a lot simpler the rest of his career. It's unfortunate because many feel he didn't take too many songwriting chances from then on, which ought not to surprise anyone. "This Song" was George's darkly humorous question to the lawyers. "Does this sound like anything? I'm really trying to not make it sound like anything." The video was directed by Eric Idle and includes several Python cameos.

The Beatles, "I Need You" (1965) 
When the Beatles went to shoot the ending of Help! in the Bahamas, George wrote this song because his wife Pattie couldn't come along. It's the first song written about Pattie but certainly not the last- the most famous being the next song or "Layla." When the Beatles returned from the island filming, they recorded the song, and it got used in the Salisbury Plain sequence- which in the movie comes before they go to the Bahamas. The magic of film.

The Beatles, "Something" (1969) 
Also written for Pattie, this video is unique because it features all the Beatles then-wives, and it shows the separation of the group because the four lads are only shown with their wives. A hint of the band's impending breakup.

The Drude Approves!

thumbs up courtesy: allthingsclipart.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

From Dr. James Naismith To Boogie Cousins In Five Easy Steps

DeMarcus "Boogie" Cousins might be the worst thing to happen to basketball, or he could be a 24 year old who became a millionaire too young and hasn’t figured out that everything he says or does will be scrutinized by old white men to an inordinate extreme. I’m going with option B. Either way, it’s now five easy steps to get from the inventor of the game to Boogie.
"What if we forbid people to use their hands and they just kicked the ball? Nahhh, that would be a silly game."
Step One: Dr. James Naismith invents basketball and becomes the first head coach at the University of Kansas, and also the only coach in school history with a losing record. (I will never get tired of sharing this fact.)
Dr. Naismith and Dr. Allen together, an iconic photo in Kansas basketball history.
 Step Two: In 1907, one of Dr. Naismith’s players is Forrest C. Allen. Allen goes on to become head coach at Kansas for about 40 years and is better known as Phog. The university named a building after him. You may have heard of it.
No, Dean was not born 60 years old. It just seems that way.
Step Three: In the early 1950’s, one of Dr. Allen’s little-used players is a guy everybody knows is a future coach. The great story is that the team seating chart for games was planned out with the first sub sitting near Dr. Allen and so on down the line, with the little-used players at the end of the bench. But after a few substitutions and a few timeouts, this little-used player had moved up right next to Dr. Allen, where he absorbed everything he could. That player was Dean Smith.
George Karl with hair will never not be amusing.
 Step Four: Dean Smith coaches North Carolina for 35 years, with a tremendous all-time roster of players. One of his point guards in the early-1970’s is a wild-haired fellow from Pennsylvania named George Karl.

Old white men pick photos like these to make Boogie look bad.
Step Five: George Karl becomes head coach of the Sacramento Kings, where Boogie Cousins plays.

So that’s how Boogie Cousins is five steps from Dr. Naismith. Of course, plenty of other players coached by Karl are five steps from the inventor of the game, like Shawn Kemp, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Mullin, Anthony Mason and Gary Payton. But Boogie, clearly, is the most interesting link so far. Could something that Dr. Naismith taught Dr. Allen which then got instructed to Dean Smith who then handed it off to George Karl get passed on to Boogie? Think about that the next time you see a Kings huddle.    

photos courtesy: kuathletics.com, kshs.org, dvdtalk.com, bigbluehistory.net, cbssports.com

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Grateful Dead Must Play Bay Area Shows In 50th Anniversary Year

When the Grateful Dead announced early in the year that most of the band (read: the alive ones) would play three shows over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, I was bummed out because I probably won’t be in Chicago on the Fourth of July. It would be cool to see The Dead play shows on the 20th anniversary of their last shows in the same location during their fiftieth anniversary year.

But I didn’t fret too much, because I began to wait for the inevitable announcement of a week of warm up shows somewhere in the Bay Area, likely at one of their favorite venues, be it the Shoreline Ampitheatre or Oakland Coliseum Arena or Bill Graham Civic Center or hell, branching out and going to AT&T Park. Those I’ll be able to get to, no problem.

There’s one problem with my plan: those Bay Area shows haven’t been announced yet. And every day that there’s not even a leak that The Dead are considering Bay Area shows or looking into playing a free festival in Golden Gate Park (which would be an unmitigated disaster, but still), or something very Grateful Dead-like, I wonder if those shows even being considered.

Let’s be honest, it would be stupid for The Dead to not play a week of Bay Area shows. First of all, they are a Bay Area band with huge Bay Area roots. The famous house at 710 Ashbury. Being part of The Chosen Family, the first Bay Area commune, up in Novato. The Grateful Dead movie was filmed at Winterland. So many songs with Bay Area references and notes. San Rafael was their corporate home for years (it’s now LA along with the rest of the Rhino Records catalog). They all lived in the Bay Area up through Jerry’s death in 1995 (Billy Kreutzmann moved to Kauai the next year). Name something significant the Dead did, chances are it has roots in the Bay Area.

Enough about the reasons why they should play in the Bay. After the tiniest bit of research, I’m now convinced the Grateful Dead will announce at least a week’s worth of shows at Shoreline that will take place between Memorial Day and late June. Allow me to present the facts.

1)    It’s a about a month before the Chicago shows, making it key rehearsal time.
2)    Shoreline’s schedule is unnaturally empty between the 2015 Country Megashow (their words) on May 28th and Brad Paisley on June 13th.
3)    The next Shoreline concert after Paisley is scheduled for June 20th, allowing more time for GD50 warm-up concerts.

Here’s what I expect to happen: with a month’s notice or less, the Dead will announce a week of Bay Area shows. They will send an email note with a special ticketing email to send requests, or set up a special phone number, because the typical Dead mail-in ticketing program won’t work with short notice. They’ll do something very Grateful dead-like with some sort of technology aspect. Or they’ll suck it up and go the Ticketmaster route the whole way.

And after the farewell Chicago shows, how about finishing it out with an Oakland Arena New Year’s Eve run for old time’s sake. And then bid us good night. I understand that you’re sick of traveling and you want to settle down. But you've got to play the Bay Area, somewhere. Hold away despair, more than this I will not ask.

A Dead show at Shoreline in the 1990's.
 photos courtesy: wolfgangsvault.com, gdao.org

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dean Smith And The Confusing Legacy He Leaves For Kansas Basketball

Smith visits Kansas and Williams around 1998
As a University of Kansas graduate I have mixed feelings about fellow my KU alum, former North Carolina head coach Dean Smith, who passed away Saturday night at the age of 83. He was a Kansas native and learned a lot about the game as a player and assistant coach while playing for the great Forrest C. “Phog” Allen, who got a Fieldhouse named after him at Kansas, just like Dean did at North Carolina. Dean also is an incredibly important part of the basketball chain. Dr. James Naismith invented the game and was KU’s first coach. He coached Dr. Allen at Kansas, who coached Smith at Kansas, who coached Michael Jordan (and thousands of others) at North Carolina. Jordan to Naismith in three short steps. Coach Smith is worthy of all praise for what he did for the game.

But Coach Smith is also responsible for one of the more gut-wrenching episodes in Kansas basketball history, when Roy Williams- a long-time assistant for Smith before taking the Kansas job in 1988- departed for Tar Heel country in 2003 after 15 years on The Hill.

I am not complaining at all about how things have turned out since Williams departed back for his home state. Bill Self has done nothing short of a remarkable job in Lawrence, adapting to the changing climate of college basketball recruiting and putting out championship-caliber teams year after year after year.

The issue, and I’ve said this privately since Williams left for North Carolina, is how Smith treated his alma mater when this all went down a dozen years ago. For those of you who have forgotten the details, Roy Williams initially turned down the Carolina job to stay at Kansas when Bill Gutheridge, Smith’s long-time assistant and successor, retired in 2000. Spurned by Williams, the Heels turned to long-time Williams assistant and former Smith player Matt Dougherty, who played on the 1982 UNC championship team with that Jordan fellow, who was then a freshman. Dougherty’s three years coaching at Carolina were notable mostly for a quick decline in fortunes, including Carolina’s first losing record since 1961-62, Smith’s first year as head coach.

When Dougherty was fired just before the 2003 Final Four, speculation turned again to Williams. This was horrible timing on North Carolina’s part. Kansas was playing in that Final Four, and were still coached by Williams. Carolina brass- of which Smith was a part- knew that Williams and his players would get hounded by “do you think your coach is leaving?” questions everywhere they went in New Orleans that week. Smith had to have known that the decision would distract Williams from his game preparation. An over-thinker and preparer himself, Smith could have suggested that Carolina hold off on the firing of Dougherty and courting of Williams until after the tournament.

Yet he didn’t.

Not only did Smith not show any compassion for his alma mater and star pupil, he personally tugged at Roy’s heartstrings to go home with phone calls and in-person meetings, putting the Carolina burden right on Williams. During Final Four week. As Roy was trying to win his very first NCAA championship as head coach.

I don’t know it for a fact, but I’m pretty certain that sometime before tipoff, Roy told the Jayhawks that the championship game was the last time he would coach a game from the Kansas sideline. And I’m sure that the entire team pressed even harder to try and make him go out a winner. Because they did not play like the team that breezed past Dwyane Wade and Marquette in the semifinals. And that, more than Carmelo Anthony, is why Syracuse won the title that year. I’m convinced of that and not even the two KU keys for that run, Nick Collison or Kirk Hinrich, could ever prove to me otherwise. I imagine they'd agree with me, actually.

If Roy had won that final game, I would have let him go to Carolina with a smile on my face. But Dean Smith leaned on Roy that week- and leaned on him hard- to make a decision to leave Kansas before the championship game. That affected Roy, it affected his preparation, and it affected his players. It certainly affected him after the game.

When Coach Williams was still at Kansas I used to say, “Kansas gave North Carolina Dean Smith, and in return, Kansas got Roy Williams. That’s a pretty good trade.” Except Dean Smith canceled the trade and in doing so cost his alma mater and home state a national championship.

Dean Smith was a tremendous coach, innovator and an important man in basketball who inspired many people willing to do whatever it took to make him happy. I have sympathy for those close to Smith. He will be honored, rightfully so, across the nation and especially in Kansas and North Carolina. But it appears that he forgot where he came from at a crucial time, and that’s something Dean Smith told his players and coaches never to do. A large reason so many people are loyal to KU basketball is because of the work Coach Smith did as a player and a coach in continuing the line begun by Naismith, which makes his betrayal that week- there’s no other word for it- even more confusing to comprehend, even today.  

As Phog Allen coaches, Dean absorbs everything.
photos courtesy: ljworld.com, kansascity.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Track and Field Review: Armory Invitational

Congrats... I guess.
Since it’s already 2015, that means there’s about a year and a half until the Rio Summer Olympics. This means it’s a very important warm-up year for hopeful athletes. The indoor track season really got underway on Saturday at the Armory Invitational in New York City. I’m planning on reviewing track meets throughout the season, but I’m not going to look at the collegians unless they’re part of the “invitational” fields or it’s the summer season. Or, you know, they break a record or something.

And that’s exactly what the U.S. Distance Medley relay team did with Oregon’s Mike Berry running the 400 meters on Saturday. The DMR is one of those curious track events that doesn’t feel like a “natural” race. It’s hard to explain. I get the 100-meter hurdles, I don’t get the 400-meter hurdles. Why stop there? Why aren’t there 800-meter hurdles or 1200-meter hurdles or 1600-meter hurdles? Because it just gets weirder and weirder.

The DMR consists of somebody running 1200 meters, somebody else running 400 meters, a third person running 800 meters and a fourth running 1600 meters. Why not start with the 400 and work your way up? Or the 1600 and go down? It’s not an equal-distance relay, why bother staggering the distances?

I also don’t like the DMR because nobody specializes in it. A real event requires some degree of specialization. For the DMR you can grab any 400 meter runner, an 800-meter guy and two 1500-meter guys and say “Go for it, by the way one of you 1500-meter guys has to drop down 300 meters, and for the other one don’t forget to run an extra 100.” That’s not specialization. And if you’re a 1200-meter specialist just for the DMR and you don’t run anything else then that’s your fault, not mine.

Anyway, Berry ran the 400 after Oregon alum Matt Centrowitz ran the 1200 (Centro is a 1500 specialist), then University of Iowa alum Erik Sowinski did the 800 and Pat Casey (not the 55-year old Oregon State baseball coach) ran the 1600. They set an indoor world record by six seconds, running it in 9:19:93. So they have that going for them, which is nice. I just don’t get it.

In other events, having covered Jordan Hasay during her career at the University of Oregon it was quite unfortunate that she never won an individual national title in college. She just didn’t quite have the stamina to finish at the right pace, and if she went any slower at the beginning then she would have been hopelessly left behind. As a professional she went through some interesting times, especially the controversy over a bump and initial disqualification that almost got her to World Indoor championships last winter.

Well, it seems like Hasay is on the right path to not needing somebody else to get DQ’d to make the Worlds. At the Armory, Hasay took the lead just before the bell and then outkicked for the win in the women’s two mile. Good for her.

Hooray, Hasay!
The men’s two mile was headlined by another former Oregon runner and Alberto Salazar runner, Olympic silver medalist Galen Rupp. He already holds the American record in the indoor two mile and was ten seconds off that pace, finishing in 8:17.24, while Oregon Project teammate Cam Levins- the first ever Canadian winner of the Bowerman Award for best college male athlete- won it.

In the field portion for the men, the most notable performance there was by London triple jump silver medalist Will Claye, who also took long jump bronze that year. He won the triple jump crown, going 55 and a half feet, a yard behind the world record and his personal best so that’s a decent start to his season.

In the other notable women’s event, the 800, former high school phenom Mary Cain, still just 18, finished 5th in a bunched up field, 1.1 seconds behind the winner Ajee Wilson, who is just 20 and also turned pro straight out of high school.

Early in the season and already a world record down, even if it’s the kind of world record that makes people go, “wait, how do you do that?” instead of “that’s awesome!” but that’s indoor track and field for you. It’s all a warm-up for outdoors, and this year, a real early warm-up for an event a year and a half away.

Pictures courtesy: USATF.org, cloud259.com

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kansas Jayhawks Need To Keep Clint Bowen

The almost should-have-been near upset of TCU would never have happened if Charlie Weis was still the Kansas Jayhawks head football coach. Clint Bowen deserved to keep the job before Saturday, he deserves to keep it just because of Saturday, and he will continue to find ways to deserve it the rest of the season.  Opposing coaches know it and everybody who’s seen KU football recently knows it, but the athletic director is still hedging. I suppose that's in case Peyton Manning decides to retire and become a college coach. But just in case you needed it spelled out, here are the five main reasons:

5.            He’s A Proud Alum

I don’t know of any potential coach out there who takes the success of KU football as personally as Clint Bowen. He wants the program to succeed as much as I do or any other long time KU fan. You can tell the losing and the jokes get to him. It can backfire because there’s a potential for burnout, but it would be nice if a KU football coach worked too hard.

4.            Recycled Coaches Don’t Work

Gary Barnett wants the KU job. Gary freaking Barnett. The former Colorado/Northwestern coach. Gary Barnett is 68. His reasoning as to why they should hire him? “Why shouldn’t they?” I’ll tell you why, Gary. Because you’re 68. You’re less than a decade younger than Bill Snyder (he’s 75). Also, Gary, you’re a recycled coach. Just like Charlie Weis. You know how well that worked. That is not a road to success.  

On a side note that is probably more relevant than it isn't, Gary Barnett is now a color commentator on college football radio broadcasts. I listened to him a couple weeks ago. Not only did he and the play-by-play guy pronounce the Oregon quarterback's last name as "Mary-ohta" the entire game which is is wrong, wrong, wrong, (it's "Marr-ee-ohta") Barnett's "this is what I would do if I were the coach" thoughts were also less than correct. To put it nicely. Gary Barnett last coached a college game in 2005. Joe Paterno last coached a college game more recently than Gary Barnett. By six years. Joe Paterno died almost two years ago. And Gary Barnett wants to coach again. At Kansas.

3.            Fan Base/Athletic Department Patience

Also, if Gary Barnett gets hired and things stay as they have been, in two years Gary Barnett gets fired and Clint Bowen is already head coach somewhere (like Washington State or Iowa State, etc. and so on). Then Bowen isn’t even an option. However, if Bowen gets hired, he has a built-in extra few years of leeway. At least, he better have.

2.            He’ll Never Leave

If Clint Bowen builds KU into a success, we know where he’ll be in ten years. And twenty years. And 25 years. He’ll still be at KU, trying to make it even better. He. Will. Never. Leave. Lawrence-born, Lawrence-bred, Lawrence-educated, Lawrence-married, Lawrence-worked…. And Lawrence-buried. Bowen’s a lifer if you give him the opportunity.

1.                   Seriously, You Have A Better Idea? 

Any other coordinator who wants to become a head coach might have better credentials on the field, but he’ll never have the passion and dedication to Kansas like Clint Bowen. Never. This was the job Clint was born to have.   

Our continuing feature, "Both Bowens."

photos courtesy: ljworld.com, celebritypost.net 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Kansas Jayhawks Football Game 9: The Last Best Chance

Skipped previewing the Kansas Jayhawks football game last week against Baylor because we all had better things to do than think about a guaranteed loss.

This is a home game for KU, which is nice, but what kind of advantage is it when there are barely 20,000 fans in a stadium that seats 50,000? In Clint Bowen’s first home game as interim head coach (second overall) the Hawks almost beat Oklahoma State, which is nice, but that was a month ago and they haven’t looked remotely competitive since.

This week is not only a home game, it’s easily KU’s last chance to win a football game this season. As a proud alum, I want to give them a chance in the rivalry game against Kansas State that ends the season, but…. Well, I suppose anything’s possible. Not likely, but possible.

Both KU and Iowa State come into this week’s game with identical 2-6 and 0-5 records. Both nearly lost by the same score last week, KU to Baylor 59-14, ISU to Oklahoma 60-14. Most other team stats are really comparable, except that ISU’s offense is averaging almost ten points a game more than the Hawks. I think teams without football programs are averaging more points per game than KU, so that’s really not a shocker.

Where KU has some sort of advantage, bizarrely, is defense. The Cyclones are giving up close to 38 points and 500 yards a game, KU is right around 32 and 450. I could throw numbers out that give the Hawks a fighting chance here, but I’ve been a KU football fan too long to try and talk myself into thinking victory before the game starts.

The Hawks could win, and it would be a nice thing for Clint Bowen and the rest of the team, who have been searching relentlessly for something that clicks long enough to put a W up there. But they could easily lose.

On the bright side…. It’s basketball season! 

Weekly guaranteed "Bowen" picture returns
photos courtesy: kuathletics.com, popsugar.com