Wednesday happenings

I just submitted another graduate paper. Six done for the semester, four to go.

For reasons I can’t quite pin down, I’d like to think the quality and depth of my papers has increased in recent weeks; I think that’s a tribute to the content we’re studying -- the history of higher education in America -- along with the fact that I enjoy history and drawing connections to current trends.

But that isn’t decreasing the stress and effort that goes into writing these papers each week.

I spent Monday night and last night fighting off sleep to finish my reading. Tonight, I somehow managed to handle my media relations duties at a lecture on campus and still write my paper in less than three hours to get it posted before our midnight deadline.

Some day I’ll look back at these days and smile, right?

* * *

The big news of the day around these parts was the damage caused by a tornado that passed through Branson overnight.

As I finished my reading last night, the wind gusts outside our house were so loud and ferocious-sounding that all I could think about was that freight train sound that people describe when they experience a tornado. … This morning we had a few branches down in our yard, but there were no reports of tornadoes or heavy damage near The 'Ville.

At one point last night, with all the wind outside, I turned on the TV to check the weather. The Kansas City stations already were reporting the damage in Harveyville, Kan., and projections showed the storm was heading for Branson and Springfield -- the area where my brother and his family live -- next.

This morning when we heard the news that a tornado hit Branson, my heart sank. Fortunately, my brother and his family are ok, and their home sustained no damage.

The reports and pictures coming out of Branson are impressive. It seems a person living in this region, after the devastation in Joplin and other parts of the region last year, can only think, Here we go again.

* * *

Monday it was Jan Berenstain. Today, another beloved piece of my childhood died with the passing of Davy Jones.

When I think about my childhood and how my love for music developed, the Monkees were right in the thick of it. From playing a 45-inch record of “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” one of my all-time favorite songs to this day -- and its B-side “Words -- over and over again to watching reruns of The Monkees television show to the cassette tape of Monkees records my dad helped me record.

Since I started collecting vinyl records a few years ago, I’ve proudly added a few Monkees albums to my collection. And I was just spinning them Sunday night.

Davy will be missed. The memories will live on.

A lot of music mags are now publishing their top Davy Jones performances. My list would have to include “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You,” “Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow),” and, of course, “Daydream Believer.”

(Updated 08.16.2012) Good reads ...
a EW: The Ultimate Davy Jones playlist
a Rolling Stone: Readers' Poll: The Best Monkees Songs of All Time
a Rolling Stone: In Memory of the Cute One: Davy Jones' Greatest Musical Moments
a Rolling Stone: Michael Nesmith Remembers Davy Jones
a Micky Dolenz on the Monkees' Reunion With Michael Nesmith

* * *

The talks have been ongoing for months, but it appears Major League Baseball is following through on plans to expand its playoffs and will add a Wild Card team to each league for the 2012 playoffs.

Initially, I hated the idea and fell on the side that it diluted the competition of the playoffs. But if it’s only a one-game playoff, as proposed, I can handle that -- and I’ll admit that scenarios for one-and-done playoff games for Wild Card teams actually do sound exciting.

Still, there’s the little part of me that wishes Major League Baseball would just. stop. tinkering.

That said, as a diehard baseball fan, I found a series of tweets on the subject today by a local sports reporter  to be pretty amusing, and with merit …
Really psyched to see MLB embracing the YMCA mentality that makes sports unbearable these days. #EveryonePlaysEveryoneGetsATrophy

Why even call it the playoffs? Let's just set up a bracket where everyone qualifies so no one's feelings are hurt

Now maybe the #Royals can make the playoffs and we can hang a 3rd in the AL Central flag in left field. #Priceless

Clearly MLB just needed to find a way to make sure that NYY and Boston make the playoffs EVERY year, not just 9 out of 10

I remember when the reward for winning in baseball was a 7-game series against the other best team in the league for a trip to the WS

Remember when the 2011 MLB season culminated w/ really exciting final day of reg season and gave way to unique thrilling postseason?

Under new system, Boston's collapse would have meant squat. Red Sox would have played Rays again in 1 game with chance to advance
Good reads ...
a Play-in game is just another Selig gimmick
* * *

Remember where Kates and I were four years ago today. Being Leap Day, it’s hard to forget, but here’s the answer.

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