The Chicks Are Owed An Apology

Once upon a time, back when the United States was under the leadership of another fairly incompetent Republican President (yes yes, Bush and Cheney look a little better now compared to Trump and Pence, but only because they were actually semi-competent in their evil, but they were still very evil), there was was sensationally good crossover country/pop group known as the Dixie Chicks.

They were country, but never of the “stars and bars” Dixie kind. It was simply an appellation. In fact, they were all pretty forward and progressive thinking and talking. And man did they get in trouble for it. I guess the new term of the day is “cancelled”, which is kind of an idiotic term, but the howlers really did try to obliterate Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire. From Wiki:

On March 10, 2003, nine days before the invasion of Iraq, the Dixie Chicks performed at the Shepherds Bush Empire theater in London, England. It was the first concert of their Top of the World tour in support of their sixth album, Home. Introducing their song “Travelin’ Soldier”, Maines told the audience the band they did not support the upcoming Allied invasion of Iraq and were “ashamed” that President George W. Bush was from Texas. Many American country music listeners supported the war, and Maines’s remark triggered a backlash in the United States. The Dixie Chicks were blacklisted by thousands of country radio stations, and the band members received death threats. Maines issued an apology, saying her remark had been disrespectful; in 2006 she rescinded the apology, saying she felt Bush deserved no respect. The backlash damaged sales of their music and sales of their next album and tour.

In a September 2003 interview, Maguire told the German magazine Der Spiegel: “We don’t feel a part of the country scene any longer, it can’t be our home anymore.” She noted a lack of support from country stars, and being shunned at the 2003 ACM Awards. “Instead, we won three Grammys against much stronger competition. So we now consider ourselves part of the big rock ‘n’ roll family.” Some fans were dismayed, but the group made no clear response.

If you have forgotten, which is awfully easy to do in these pandemic days of Trump, this was a huge deal at the time. The United States government under the Bush/Cheney regime, and the entire country music scene hated on them and ostracized them. It was one of those kind of fulcrum moments. It was not just the Iraq war, it was torture, the unitary executive, free speech, protest…..everything was wrapped up, in a cultural way, in the actions of the Dixie Chicks. It was symbolic of the divide.

But Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire were bad ass and stuck to their morals and thoughts. They got hammered at the time, but they hung in and are still here bigger and badder ass than ever. They are now just The Chicks, having dumped the Dixie part of their original name. The Chicks are owed a debt of gratitude and an apology for the idiocy and bigotry they faced from the howlers during the Bush/Cheney years, and they are here to let you know they are still on the good side of the cutting edge.

The Chicks have a new song and video out. “March March”, and it is truly awesome. A song for this time. I saw it last night at Atrios’ joint, and it is really superb. Take a look. Expand it and watch it full screen, it is worth it. This is the music of protest, and in the best way. Music was key in the 60’s and it is key now. It spreads far and wide what people feel, whether they are in the streets or at home. The “at home” part seems even more pertinent now in the time of unabated pandemic at the hands of yet another evil Administration. And that is our trash talk for this weekend, get on it!

Trash Talk: The NBA’s Insane Money Grab Scheme

I really don’t have a lot for this week, but there is this: The National Basketball Association is desperate to join the Grand Reopening. And boy is it a doozy. Via ESPN:

“the NBA’s board of governors overwhelmingly approved a proposal for 22 teams to return to play, starting July 31 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Before the NBA can come back, teams must reassemble in their home markets. That means bringing back players who left for their hometowns — or, in some cases, home countries — while the league sorted out its plans. Players who return from overseas are likely to be subject to a two-week quarantine upon arrival, under current federal rules.
Teams will continue to hold individual workouts in their facilities. A training camp will start June 30 and last a week. All teams will fly to Orlando on July 7, three weeks before the restart of the season. They will likely have to quarantine for some period; Florida law requires people flying in from some states, including New York, to quarantine for 14 days.”

Orlando you say? Yep, they are all going to DisneyWorld to live and play in a “bubble”! The 22 teams include six, including the Phoenix Suns, that were not in playoff contention when the season was stopped. Why, you ask? Well it is literally as simple as more teams equals more games to broadcast, and therefore more money to make for the plantation owners of the NBA. A group that is all white with the exception of Charlotte’s Michael Jordan, Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé, who is Indian and Joseph Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets. The players they are summonsing to live and play in the bubble are, of course, about 75% black.

But there are some problems, of course. One is the players:

“In a string of tweets on Wednesday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski outlined conversations that were taking place over the last couple of days including a large group of “several dozen” players who believe resuming play in Orlando is a bad idea.

According to Wojnarowski, because of the dissenting views, the NBA and NBPA are likely to agree on a provision in which players would not be required to join their respective teams for the restart of the season. The two sides are working toward an agreement that would not include disciplinary action for players who choose to stay home, though they would lose a portion of their salary for games missed.”

Yeah, while players want to play theoretically, who wants to live in a bubble far away from home, with limited, if any fun, friends and nightlife so the league can rake in some bucks off of TV revenue? And probably little to no family contact. There will, of course, be no fans and players and coaches will be Carona tested every day. Older coaches may not be allowed, which would be horrid, and, frankly, probably a violation of age discrimination protections.

There are a LOT more issues too, starting with how Covid secure will “the bubble” actually be? It might work. It might t not. There are a lot of moving parts on that. As to those parts and all the other problems, this article by Zach Lowe at ESPN is really good, and I urge you to take a read of it.

It will be really interesting to see how this plays out. Were I an NBA player, I think I’d take a pass on this harebrained scheme and say see you next year guys.

Well, that’s it. The Zach Lowe piece really is a worth a read to get the full picture. Today’s music is, of course, Roundball Rock, one of the best sports theme songs ever. Yeah, I know, it is John Tesh, but with a full big band, and it is pretty good. Hoop it up folks!

The Fabulous Emptywheel Music Blog: Country AND Western Edition!

Welp, it has been another glorious month week living the glorious life in Trump’s America. So let’s have a little fun and games.

I am pretty much normally a rock and roll person. Ed Walker’s opera and Zappa post was wonderful. So, let’s change it up a bit. Country and Western! Believe it or not, when I was younger, and before I had a drivers license, I went to a few C&W shows with some family friends. He was, seriously the principal of my grade school, and his wife the school nurse. Both simply fantastic people. And they loved C&W.

Pretty sure the first one was Johnny Cash and the Carter Family. I was not expecting much, I was just going because, well why not? And boy was I wrong. Fantastic. Oh, and I do believe the great Carl Perkins was on guitar for Cash at the time and did a truly rocking version of Blue Suede Shoes.

My recollection is that the second was Charlie Pride. Again truly fantastic.

What a presence. What a band. What a voice. Smooth and beautiful.

The third was Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. They had a huge following in Phoenix from very early on. In their early years they were serious regulars, if not kind of the erstwhile house band, at the original Phoenix Honky Tonk, Mr. Lucky’s.

Mr. Lucky’s was a place that regularly hosted some of the biggest names in country music – Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Ray Price, Tom T. Hall, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Waylon Jennings and pretty much everybody else. But Buck and the Buckaroos kind of owned the joint (literally for a while as I recall).

There is truly a lot of great country and Western out there, lets discuss it!

Normal Trash Talk rules apply, anything and everything flies.

Special Trash Talk: Frank Zappa and Opera Chorus. Really.

Pretty much everyone I know sings along with their favorite music. I started singing along with music my folk liked, and then pop stuff, Beach Boys, Beatles, the usual. In the summer of 1966, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention released their first album, Freak Out. I stumbled on it in late 1967, and soon knew all the songs, and bought Absolutely Free and learned those too. They got me through ROTC summer camp, singing a few bars of Plastic People while stupid marching for miles.

Plastic people
Oh, baby, now you’re such a drag.

Or a few bars of Call Any Vegetable.

Call any vegetable
And the chances are good
That a vegetable will respond to you.

After I got out of the Army I bought several more Zappa albums, including Cruising With Ruben and the Jets and Fillmore East — 1971. But then law school and part-time work, and dating, and my time for serious listening shrank to near zero.

And then I met my wife. She loves opera, so we saw every one produced by the excellent opera theater at Indiana University, which has a full-fledged opera venuevivace. The first opera we saw was Wagner’s Parsifal. I saw most of the first tune in each act, and zoned out for the rest. But I went back for more.

Eventually we wound up in Nashville, TN, where some of the leading supporters of the arts established an opera company in the mid-80s. We saw Madama Butterfly, and a couple of more, and then I found myself in the chorus for Il Trovatore, singing in chain mail. tights, dark make-up, and wielding a three-foot long steel broadsword. I was hooked. Not so much on operas per se, but on opera chorus singing.

It’s not like singing in Church Choirs or Symphony Chorus, which I have also done. In those settings, you listen closely to your neighbors and try to blend your voice with theirs. Good technique is a plus, but most amateur choirs are made up of, well, amateurs. In opera chorus singing, you sing with your full voice including vibrato. The blend comes from singing the exact same pitch on the exact same vowel for the exact same length of time. And you do it from muscle memory, singing near the top of your power, while moving, bending, swinging a heavy sword, riding a ten-foot tall barrel wheeled by your comrades, dancing, or, sadly, just standing and singing, which we call park and bark.

What’s the connection to Zappa? As I see it, opera treats the human voice as a primary instrument. The operatic voice is a trained instrument, capable of a wide range of timbre, power, and expression. Operas are spectacles, with sets, costumes, orchestra, and driven by over-the-top emotions. The voices are the critical part of the spectacle, carrying the emotions up. And that’s just like Zappa’s music: spectacular, relentless, and full of emotion, mostly anger, but also ribald or just fun, and the human voice is a critical part of that emotional ride.

Many of his songs feature his band singing instrumental tunes or making vocal noises. On Absolutely Free, you can here a typical bits in several pieces, both sung with words and with vocal sounds. Here’s a short example, Amnesia Vivace. On Fillmore East — 1971 the group performs what amounts to a smutty opera in the extended piece Mud Shark. Bwana Dik is a full-fledged if short aria; it’s at 14:55 here. Zappa had recruited three former members of The Turtles, and they were real singers. Here’s a very strange bit, John Lennon and Yoko Ono join Zappa and the Mothers of Invention starting at about 1:30, featuring Ono shrieking like a hungry cat while Lennon sings a mindless song backed by the Mothers, who put in their own odd vocal bits especially at about 6:50.

To illustrate the difference between chorus singing and opera singing, here are performances of perhaps the most famous operatic chorus song, Va Pensiero, from Verdi’s Nabucco. (Translation.) First is a performance by the chorus of the Teatro Al Fenice in Venice in concert. Compare it to this performance by the Metropolitan Opera Chorus. And for good measure, here’s a Zoom performance in commemoration of Italy’s losses to Covid-19.

One of the main functions of opera choruses is to provide some life to what might otherwise be static. For example, in a typical production of Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, when the baritone meets the soprano, they stand on opposite sides of the stage and sing for about 20 minutes. But the opening of Act 3 is thrilling to sing, and the chorus is asked to perform a standard role, the drunken sailor.

One of my favorites is Brindisi from Verdi’s La Traviata. The chorus is clearly part of the action, attending a fancy dress party. They sing two choruses, and then sing an instrument-like accompanying part at the end.

One more: this is from Act 1 of Puccini’s Turandot. It demonstrates the difficulty of singing opera chorus. Maintaining sound quality while moving, waving your arms, dropping to the floor and then trying to find the conductor because the orchestration is absolutely not helping is hard. Perhaps you can imagine the pleasure that comes from singing these songs with your friends.

So what’s your favorite sing-along music? It’s Trash Talk so don’t be shy about your jonesing for Tom Jones!

The Emptywheel Fabulous Car Blog! Formula One and Car Flicks

So, we shall take a brief respite from the fabulous music blog this weekend to bring you a fabulous car blog. Off to the races!

There has been a shake up in the F1 force. And man is it palpable. By the end of the last circus, it was quite clear that management at Ferrari had come to consider young Charles Leclerc as their number one driver, over four time World Champ and presumptive number one, Sebastian Vettel. It was no secret on the paddock from the people I still talk to. Vettel knew it, Leclerc knew it, everyone knew it. It has so come to pass. The 2020 season driver stables were already set, and they will continue as such. But for the 2021 season, which is now well less than a year away, big changes are afoot.

Vettel is out at Ferrari, and Carlos Sainz is in. Sainz is very, very good, and his family has a rich history in motorsports. He is commonly viewed as a very good pilot, but one hampered by less than first order equipment, and I think that is right. Sainz will have that kind of car now. He and Leclerc will make for a great, and energized young team. That is something Ferrari is not usually known for, but this is a great move, and one for the times at hand. Sainz is leaving McLaren, who is poised to replace him for 2021 with Daniel Ricciardo. This is also a great move for McLaren, who sign up a true number one driver, with numerous F1 wins and podiums, to pair with the still quite young, but promising, Lando Norris. Take note: for 2021, McLaren starts getting Mercedes engines to pair with their already ridiculously good chassis. Don’t sleep on McLaren.

Where do the rest of the chips fall? Now there is the great unknown. Vettel is a four time champ, can he find a home at all? Sebastian can still drive, you would think so, but that is up in the air. Do Hamilton and Bottas stay as a team for 2021? My guess is yes, but that is also a question. The F1 season was supposed to kick off in March with the Australian, but the Covid thing put the kibosh on that. It is tentatively scheduled to start with Austria in seven weeks, maybe for two races, and then Siverstone with two races. They are desperate to get at least a fifteen race schedule in, if possible. And will there be fans in the stands? Initially, it looks like no, but stay tunes.

Okay, since not everybody knows F1 as well, we are tossing in car movies for this weekend. There are a litany of great ones. You know what you have seen and appreciated over the years. I am going to throw out a few of my favorites just to get the ball rolling. They are by no means exhaustive, and not necessarily in a perfectly ranked order.

Grand Prix _ John Frankenheimer’s 1966 opus is the gold standard. It is a tad long, but the characters gritty and the performances beyond fantastic across the board. The driving scenes are some of the best ever, as well as John’s innovative use of split screen, a legendary move.

Vanishing Point – From 1971, and calling it a cult classic is not giving it enough credit. Spectacular and haunting in a myriad of ways.

They Drive By Night – Directed by Raoul Walsh and starring George Raft, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan and Ida Lupino. It is both a driving movie and film noir, both at their best. Fantastic.

Two Lane Blacktop – This movie is great. The genius is obvious. Really, you have to see it, and while James Taylor is surprisingly good, keep your eye on Warren Oates, in a legendary performance. Duel from the same year, generally considered to be Steven Spielberg’s first full movie. is very good, but Two Lane Blacktop is better.

It Happened One Night – There has to be room for at least one comedy here, and this is it. Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert are simply perfect, as is the story. Capra and Cohn at their best. Walter Connolly darn near stole the show.

Some honorable mentions in no particular order: Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, Thelma and Louise, Used Cars (Kurt Russell and Jack Warden were fantastic. A real sleeper, even if a low budget one), Baby Driver (seriously great and a must watch).

Okay folks, rip this joint with your thoughts!

The Fabulous Emptywheel Music Blog: Little Richard

Things come, and they go. And we all do sooner or later. Today, Little Richard passed. I once heard (no, I have no idea where) Keith Richards say, and I am paraphrasing only slightly, “Chuck Berry wrote all the rock and roll songs”. Paraphrasing or not, that is about right. But he should have included Little Richard.

And now Richard Wayne Penniman is gone, There have been rock performers as big, sure. But few as seminal and important as Little Richard. He was, and stands, for everything rock became in his and Chuck Berry’s forever wake.

As Rolling Stone said:

“In 2004 Little Richard wrote a profile of himself for our Immortals issue. He explained why he was so dangerous at the time — because was the first black artist whose records the white kids were starting to buy”

Yes, along with Chuck, that is exactly right. So, a little bit of Tutti Fruity for the weekend.

On another sad note, I was lazy and did not put up a thing last weekend. But our Roving Reporter Rosalind wanted to acknowledge a friend. And we shall do so now. The Covid deaths are real, and they hit home to one and all. So, a few words from Rosalind:

“While we are surrounded by sadness at the growing number of people losing their lives to Covid-19, we mourn also the everyday deaths that take away friends and family. Today I honor my longtime neighbor, Sam Lloyd, the hilarious character actor best known as the lawyer “Ted” on Scrubs. We had side-by-side parking spots at our Hollywood apartment building and caught up with each other regularly heading in and out. Beyond being one of the nicest and funniest human beings, he possessed a gorgeous singing voice, featured regularly with his four-part harmony group “The Blanks” on Scrubs. The tributes to Sam on twitter from all around the world show how far his comedic and musical powers reached. We are so fortunate to have a world of re-runs to keep us smiling, and his memory alive.

For me, I will always remember standing in line at the grocery check-out stand when Sam suddenly rushed up and asked if he could cut in line. He was headed to a show with The Blanks and realized his Commando Action Figure’s batteries were dead (those lucky to see The Blanks show in person know the Commando Action Figure is a highlight of their set). I of course let him in, and he threw down the cash and ran out batteries and Commando Action Figure in hand. Rest in peace, Sam.

Such is where we are at today. The world is going crazy and you wonder if anybody gives a damn anymore. Here, we do. Thank you for doing so along with us. There will, of course, be others. But Little Richard was special. RIP.

The Fabulous Emptywheel Music Blog: Setting The Scene

Okay, alright, enough of that live music stuff. This weekend, off another suggestion by Emptywheel Roving Reporter Rosalind, let’s do music documentaries! These are her remarks:

Music Documentaries (NOT films of live concerts). In 2019 there were several docs I watched that hit the music EW demographic sweet spot, including:

Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice
David Crosby: Remember My Name
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind
Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
Boy Howdy: The CREEM Magazine Story
Mr. Jimmy – story of a Japanese guitar player who takes his Jimmy Page hero-worship to a whole nother level
Echo In The Canyon – Laurel Canyon music scene, 1/2 OK interviews w/various musicians, 1/2 self-indulgent concert featuring Jakob Dylan performing boring versions of the originals.

The Gordon Lightfoot and Miles Davis docs are ones I would never have thought to seek out and sparked a whole new level of appreciation for the two. The footage of their early musical lives is really something.

Rock on.

The Linda Ronstadt one is truly fabulous. I’ll have to look for the Gordon Lightfoot one, but have always loved him. Heard Carefree Highway long ago, and that sits awfully special to people here that actually drive on the Carefree Highway (yes, it really exists).

I’d like to add one music documentary to Rosalind’s list: Super Duper Alice Cooper. It is truly fantastic. You may think “eh, I dunno, that’s crazy”, but it is really good and, I think, available streaming online. And, yes all crazy, but those were the times back then, it “was” crazy.

Also, because this will invariably morph into the greatest music documentaries ever, let me throw in a couple of Scorsese classics: The Last Waltz and Shine The Light.

So have at it, whether music, the NFL draft or whatever. This weekend’s scene setting music is…..You Set The Scene by the incomparable Arthur Lee and Love.

Arrrr Matey, There Be A New Bucco In The Bay

Marcy is penning all kinds of smart posts today, go read them. But as this is now a sports and music blog, I have an incredibly important update.

The Gronk is back! And he is going to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

The Patriots have agreed to trade Rob Gronkowski to the Buccaneers, pending a physical, in a deal that reunites the retired tight end with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay.

Gronkowski’s agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed Tuesday to ESPN’s Adam Schefter that his client was traded to the Buccaneers.

“Pending the physical, Rob has agreed to play for Tampa this season,” Rosenhaus told Schefter. “He will honor his current contract at this time.”‬

Gronkowski, who turns 31 next month, has one year and $9 million remaining on his current deal with the Patriots. New England will receive a fourth-round draft pick while the Buccaneers also receive a seventh-round pick in the trade, a source told Schefter.

Gronkowski already has taken his physical in Boston with a neutral physician, a source told Schefter, and is awaiting the official results. One source added to Schefter that he believes Gronkowski passed “with flying colors.”

Most Receiving TDs From Tom Brady

The 78 touchdowns Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connected on were the most in the NFL from 2010 to 2018. They are also twice as many as Brady has thrown to any other player.

PLAYER TDS
Rob Gronkowski 78
Randy Moss 39
Julian Edelman 36
Wes Welker 34

Tampa Bay was the only place that Gronkowski was willing to play, a league source told Schefter. The Boston Herald first reported Tuesday that Gronkowski asked the Patriots to trade him to the Bucs.

This is exciting. At a time when there is no live sports news, this is huge. It would be huge even if there were not a lockdown on live sports. And, please keep in mind that the coach of the Bucs is Bruce Arians. Few here short of Scribe probably know exactly what that means. I do, because Arians was the gruff and engaging coach of the Cardinals for several years before his short lived retirement.

Arians lives by the motto of “No Risk It, No Biscuit”. In short, he believes in taking the top off and opening up the entire field. Neither Brady nor Gronk have ever had that, and they are made for it. TB12 will have a few more interceptions, and he and Gronk will have a hell of a lot of fun. The Buc’s wideouts, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, were already seriously fantastic. Tampa did not even have to give up tight end OJ Howard (though, with Gronk on board, they likely will for even more help. Watch for it).

This is an absolute steal. Bill Bel needed the salary cap room desperately, but, still, this is a steal. A fourth rounder for as good of a tight end as ever played? And the Bucs get a seventh rounder thrown in too? Jeebus.

We have no idea if, when or how the NFL will return to play. But when they do, Tampa Bay is going to be seriously fun to watch.

Coming Attractions: Emptywheel Live Music Trash Talk

Hi there. I mentioned it previously, but without live sports, and the trash talk we often do and it is hard to see any of that anytime soon, Emptywheel Music Trash Talk is an idea long discussed, but the time may have come. Listen, this would be a kind of dead period anyway. The Boys Of Summer would still be in spring. The NBA and NHL seasons that seem to go on forever, would not have even been close to their playoffs. And don’t start about football, at best that would be over four months away.

So, I started a thing about maybe having some trash talk about music. It was an afterthought that caught more steam than I anticipated, even though I had considered it for many years in one form or the other. Probably would have happened this weekend, but for some unfortunate dental experience that left me a bit daff. But, additionally, I have to figure how to do this, as people will want to post a lot of You Tubes in comments, and that is a bigger concern than you may think.

Assuming my dentist gets me off of the painkillers, maybe this can go off Thursday or Friday where everybody can lob in over several days. In the meantime, Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii will always make the cut of the best. The 2016 Gilmour version, even not as iconic as the original band, but back at the ancient grounds…likely will not, but it is beyond freaking fantastic. Get ready to get live, get ready to rip up this juke joint.

Until we meet again…..

Super Bowl LIV: Who Will Party With The Lombardi

Super Bowl Sunday this year is a special day? How so you ask?

How’s this for a calendrical trifecta: Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday. And it’s Groundhog Day. And it’s a rare eight-digit palindrome when written as 02/02/2020 — the only one of its kind this century.

A palindrome, as you might know, is a sequence that reads the same forward as it does backward.

Apparently the only palindrome in recent memory. But also Groundhog Day too (when will that inanity give way)? If you want to add some other calendar stuff on, 2020 is also a leap year.

We will get to the last NFL game of the season in a minute, but first a couple of quick things.

First, in the middle of the night last night, there was a stunning Women’s Final in the Australian Open. Barely 21 year old American Sophia Kenin, who slayed media darling Coco Gauff in the fourth round, and then world number one Ash Barty in the semi-finals, in straight sets, was also victorious over two time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza. And she did it with quite a bit of aplomb. Lost the first set, and then took over. Kenin may be around a while, get used to the name. And, if you can catch a replay of the match, do it. The announcers universally thought a star was being born, and they might well be right. It was something.

While Kenin was a breath of fresh air early this morning (the Aussies are in a far different time zone), last night was the first Lakers game after the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and Payton Chester and pilot Ara Zobayan. The Staples Center was purple and blue, and, given the obvious emotional difficulty, it was all beautiful. LA and the Lakers got it right. The videos are out there, take a look. The tributes, music, and sometimes combination (the cello guy during the video tribute was spectacular).

Okay, on to the Super Bowl we go. There are, as always, a lot of weird “proposition bets”. I don’t really get into that, but here are a bunch of, um, interesting ones. The current overall Vegas line is vacillating between 1 – 1.5 points, with that historically slim line in favor of Kansas City.

So, what’s the deal? Lol, I dunno. But, in the long run, balance and defense wins. KC has the more explosive offense, but that is partially because they have had to rely on it, and Mahomes, so often to climb out of holes. On the other hand, they have been able to do so, and especially impressively so in the playoffs. The 49ers are different though. The SF defense starts with that they basically only rush the front four to create the havoc they do. Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead are relentless and really good. and with Richard Sherman and Mosely patrolling the secondary, the Niners are extremely solid.

The Chefs, however, while having a winning defense are nowhere near as consistently solid as SF. Frank Clark is not a beloved character in the NFL, but he is extremely good as a pressure point. Chris Jones and Tyrann Mathieu are first team all pro worthy types in the secondary. Honeybadger was here in Arizona his first few years and, when healthy, which he is now, he is a big play game changer of special talent. And as good of a player as he really is, he has grown up to be an even better person. This is a great piece in the WaPo on Tyrann:

For all the new plans and pieces, Kansas City’s defensive transformation began with the player teammates still love to call the Honey Badger. Mathieu is a storm of calculated mayhem, a worker bee who wakes up at 5:45 each morning and a heat-seeking missile who can line up or strike from anywhere on the field. He has changed the Chiefs in elemental ways with his all-pro performance and his mere presence.

“He’s a special person,” Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach said. “It’s really hard to explain the power someone like that has unless you’re actually in the building. . . . You have to get talent. You have to build a deep roster. You need corners, and you need rushers. Until you get a catalyst, it’s hard. You need that one guy that will make everything go. He’s certainly that guy. To have him on our team has meant everything to us.”

Again, what do I think? First off, what I think is beyond irrelevant anywhere but here. Secondly, I am a dope. So, given those caveats, here we go. Honeybadger can sit and snipe on Jimmy G enough, or the Niners O-Line gives Jimmy G the time that San Francisco’s D-Line does not afford Mahomes. I have no real idea, but with betting no real money, I think….think….The balance on the Niners is better and wins. No, I do not feel good ab out that pick.

As a parting note, today’s music is Heart playing Stairway To Heaven at the Kennedy Center for the remaining members of Zep, assorted dignitaries and President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. To say it is stunning is a gigantic understatement. I had never seen it before last night, when I stumbled on it by accident. WOW. Shared it with numerous friends and the universal reaction was still WOW. It is that good, especially when the choir/chorale kicks in. It is soooo good. Check it out. I was almost lifetime tired of Stairway to Heaven before I saw this, and was immediately mesmerized. Yeah, it is that incredible. And if you want full screen, just click to embiggen it.

Rock and roll, and enjoy the Super Bowl!

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