Podcasts of the Week ending November 10


Planet Money :: The Seattle Experiment  and Hot Dog Hail Mary

What if you could give more money to politicians running for office, and spend less money getting food at a NFL game?  Two different Planet Money podcasts focus on experiments, one in Seattle where voters were given money they could donate to their candidate(s) of choice and one in Atlanta where the Falcons are slashing concessions prices.  Find out how these challenges to traditional economics worked out – or didn’t – by listening to these podcast episodes.

RadioLab :: Tweak the Vote

RadioLab explores how ranked choice voting makes elections more representative of the people and more civil in practice.

99% Invisible :: Devolutionary Design

The story of how an image of legendary golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez ended up being used for the cover of legendary rock band Devo’s first album.

 

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TV Review: Broadchurch (2017)


Title: Broadchurch
Release Dates: 2016
Season: 3
Number of Episodes: 8
Summary/Review:

I recently watched the third and final series of the the British program Broadchurch.  I watched the first two series a few years ago back before I started writing reviews of tv series so I’ll sum up my thoughts on them first.  Series 1 focuses on the murder of an 11-year boy in a small, coastal town of England and the effect that the murder and mystery has on that town. It’s visually striking, well-acted, and takes the time to explore the feelings of grief, anger, and suspicion among the characters.  The second series focuses on the trial of the murderer intercut with the investigation of an unrelated cold case.  This series veered into being too silly and contrived and paled in comparison to the first series.

I really enjoy the work of the actors Olivia Colman and David Tennant as the detectives Ellie Miller and Alec Hardy.  They play ordinary, rumpled people with complicated lives, not at all the typical glamorous television detective.  I love the interplay between them and how amidst the bickering they develop mutual respect and friendship.  The rest of the cast are made up of talented British actors, and a large number of them have been involved in Doctor Who (as has the creator and writer of Broadchurch, Chris Chibnall, who is now the showrunner for Doctor Who).

The third series takes place a few years after series 2, with the focus set on the rape of a middle-aged woman named Trish (Julie Hesmondhalgh).  The explores her personal trauma as well as effect the crime has on Trish’s family, friends, and the townspeople in general.  The first episode is a very stark portrait of Trish being taken into the rape crisis response system.  Beth Latimer (Jodie Whittaker) – the mother of the murdered Danny from the first two series – returns, now working as a Sexual Assault Response Association counselor assigned to work with Trish.

While Beth works to channel her grief into helping crime victims, her estranged husband Mark (Andrew Buchan) can’t let go of Danny’s murder and becomes increasingly unstable. Meanwhile, the men in Trish’s life, even those she’s tangentially associated with her all seem to have secrets and lies, and histories of bad behavior.  Ellie and Alec soon have a long list of suspects as they find toxic masculinity and rape culture at every corner of this small town.  The whole series is best summed up by Alec when he says “What’s bothering me about this case is that it’s making me ashamed to be a man.” Even when the actual rapist is identified, you’re left feeling concerned that there are so many scuzzy men walking free in this town.

Series 3 is a definite improvement over Series 2, although it falls a bit short of Series 1.  It’s good in how it takes the time to respectfully and realistically depict a rape case.  The show feels even more bleak this series, not that you’d consider a show about a murdered child to have much humor, but it did have more light moments than this series.  On the downside I think the mystery part got a little too contrived with a half-dozen suspects all having done something nasty and creepy related to Trish.  It’s weird too that everyone seems to know one another and get together for soccer games or flashlight marches, but don’t seem to know one another at other times. Overall though, this is a well-acted – if harrowing – procedural drama.

Podcasts of the Week Ending November 3


Household Name :: Sears: There Was More For Your Life

The story of the demise of the legendary store, Sears.  Turns out it is owned by an Ayn Rand devotee whose investments make a profit when stores close.  Go figure!

Smithsonian Sidedoor :: Seriously Seeking Sasquatch

You won’t find anything about Sasquatch, a.k.a. Bigfoot, at the Smithsonian museums, but you will find the skeleton a scientist who dedicated his life to researching Bigfoot. Find out why in this podcast.

30 for 30 :: Six Who Sat

The story of the women who fought for equality to participate in running events in the 1970s.

Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Theater of the Mind

The history of radio dramas from the War of the Worlds to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to NPR’s foray into adapting Star Wars.

 

Red Sox World Series Games Ranked


The Boston Red Sox have won four World Series championships in the past 15 seasons, becoming the most dominant team so far in the 21st century. In those four World Series, the Red Sox have played in 19 games, winning a remarkable 16 of them. While every World Series game the Red Sox play in is special to Boston fans, I’ve decided to take on the task of ranking all of the games from 19 to 1. Factors considered in devising the rankings include games that clinched a championship, dominant pitching performances, memorable big hits, victories in close games, wins after losses, wins on the road, late inning runs scored, and what I like to call the “weirdness factor” for unusual moments in World Series games.

19. 2013 World Series Game 2 – 10/24/13 – Cardinals 4, Red Sox 2

The Red Sox swept the 2004 and 2007 World Series, and won Game 1 in 2013, so this loss ended a 9-game win streak and became the Red Sox first World Series games loss since 1986.  This is also the Red Sox only loss at Fenway Park in these 19 games.  Despite the Sox looking lifeless against Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha, David Ortiz put them up 2-1 with a home run in the 6th.  That was all squandered in the 7th inning when two errors contributed to a three-run inning for the Cardinals.

18. 2013 World Series Game 3 – 10/26/13 – Red Sox 4, Cardinals 5

The Red Sox suffered back-to-back losses and were behind in a World Series for the only time in the 21st century after the next game in St. Louis. With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth inning, Dustin Pedroia made an absolutely stellar diving play and threw home to prevent Yadier Molina from scoring the winning run.  But then catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia attempted to get a double play on Allen Craig running to third and threw wide of third baseman Will Middlebrooks.  Craig tripped over Middlebrooks prone body and umpire Jim Joyce made a controversial call of interference allowing the winning run to score for the Cardinals.

17. 2007 World Series Game 1 – 10/24/07 – Rockies 1, Red Sox 13

The Rockies entered the World Series having swept the Phillies in the NLDS and the Diamondbacks in the NLCS, and had won 21 of their last 22 overall.  Meanwhile, the Red Sox had to claw themselves back from a 3-1 deficit to win the ALCS from Cleveland.  So, of course, game 1 was a blow-out for the Red Sox. Josh Becket struck out the first 4 batters he faced on his way to 9 Ks in 7 innings, and rookie Dustin Pedroia homered to lead off the game, among other highlights.

16. 2013 World Series Game 1 – 10/23/13 – Cardinals 1, Red Sox 8

Another Game 1, another blowout.  The Red Sox came out strong with 3 runs in the 1st inning and 2 runs in the 2nd, aided by multiple errors by Cardinal fielders. A great catch by Carlos Beltran at the bullpen wall robbed David Ortiz of a grand slam that would’ve made the game even more of a laugher.  Papi did get a two-run homer later in the game. Jon Lester was masterful in 7-2/3 innings of scoreless pitching for the win.

15. 2004 World Series Game 2 – 10/24/04 – Cardinals 2, Red Sox 6

Curt Schilling returned to the mound for the first time after his famous “Bloody Sock” game in the 2004 ALCS, still feeling the effects of a torn tendon in his right ankle.  Nevertheless, he still pitched 6 innings allowing one unearned run for the win.  The Sox committed four errors for the second game in a row, with 3 by Bill Mueller alone.  Orlando Cabrera, Jason Varitek, and Mark Bellhorn drove in two runs apiece for the Red Sox offense.

14. 2018 World Series Game 1 – 10/23/18 – Dodgers 4, Red Sox 8

Game 1 was touted as a matchup of ace pitchers, Chris Sale and Clayton Kershaw, but neither pitcher had his best stuff.  The Red Sox scored two runs in the first inning and one in the third, but the Dodgers kept chipping away to tie the game up.  The Red Sox went ahead for good in the fifth inning, but the close game felt it could go either way until finally a cathartic 3-run blast by pinch hitter Eduardo Núñez in the 7th gave the Red Sox a comfortable 4-run lead.

13. 2004 World Series Game 1 – 10/23/04 – Cardinals 9, Red Sox 11

Still giddy after coming back from being 0-3 versus the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, the first game of the World Series proved to be a sloppy one.  The Red Sox made 4 errors and the two teams combined to score 20 runs, a World Series game 1 record.  Things started well with a 4-run first inning powered by a David Ortiz 3-run homer.  But despite having lead the game by as many as 5 runs, by the top of 8th inning the game was tied 9-9. In the bottom of the 8th, Mark Belhorn hit a 2-run homer that pinged off the Pesky Pole to put the Red Sox up for good.

12. 2007 World Series Game 2 – 10/25/07 – Rockies 1, Red Sox 2

The Colorado Rockies scored a run in the first inning off of Red Sox starter Curt Schilling for what proved to be the only time they’d have a lead in the World Series.  Schilling and Red Sox relievers Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon kept the Rockies bats quiet after that.  Jason Varitek and Mike Lowell provided the offense to allow the Red Sox to eke out the win.

11. 2018 World Series Game 2 – 10/24/18 – Dodgers 2, Red Sox 4

Los Angeles was up 2-1 in the top of the 5th when Andrew Benintendi made a balletic catch the nipped a further rally by the Dodgers in the bud.  In the bottom of the 5th, the Red Sox had their own 3-run rally to take the lead for good.  David Price allowed only 3 hits in 6 innings of work, and Joe Kelly, Nathan Eovaldi, and Craig Kimbrel kept the Dodgers hitless for the rest of the game.

10. 2018 World Series Game 3 – 10/26/18-10/27/18 – Red Sox 2, Dodgers 3

The weirdness factor plays a role in getting this Red Sox loss into the top ten.  This game was already a World Series classic after 7 innings with the Red Sox struggling against the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler, and the Red Sox starter Rick Porcello and the bullpen allowing the Dodgers only to score 1 run.  Jackie Bradley, Jr. tied the game with a home run off Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen in the 8th.  What had been a briskly-moving pitchers duel then entered extra innings.  The Red Sox took the lead in the 13th, but a throwing error by Ian Kinsler allowed the Dodgers to score the tying run in the bottom of the inning.  Nathan Eovaldi, who had been scheduled to be the Game 4 starter for the Red Sox, had one of the most remarkable World Series performances as a reliever instead, throwing 97 pitches over 6 innings, allowing only 3 hits.  Unfortunately, one of those hits was a walkoff homerun by the Dodgers’ Max Muncy in the 18th inning.   The marathon game set a World Series record for longest game by innings and by time at seven hours and 20 minutes, longer than the entire 4 game World Series in 1939.

9. 2007 World Series Game 3 – 10/27/07 – Red Sox 10, Rockies 5

At four hours, 9 minutes, this game also set a World Series record for longest 9 inning game (since broken).  The first World Series game ever played at Coors Field saw plenty of offense.  Rookies Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia combined for 7 hits, 4 RBIs, and 3 runs scored.  Daisuke Matsuzaka became the first Japanese pitcher to start and win a World Series game, and even had a hit and 2 RBIs.

8. 2013 World Series Game 6 – 10/30/13 – Red Sox 6, Cardinals 1

The Red Sox were up 6-0 by the 4th inning, and John Lackey pitched masterfully for 6-2/3 innings, with the bullpen preventing the Cardinals from getting any hits for the rest of the game.  Despite being a rout, this is still a significant game for Red Sox fan as it is the only time in these four World Series victories that the Sox clinched the championship at Fenway Park. Five years later this is still the most recent time any team has clinched a World Series victory in their home ballpark.

7. 2013 World Series Game 5 – 10/28/13 – Red Sox 3, Cardinals 1

Jon Lester once again proved he was the ace, allowing 1 run on 4 hits in 7-2/3 innings.  The Red Sox scratched together 2 runs in the 7th inning to take the lead for good.  Koji Uehara took over for Lester to get a four-out save.

6. 2004 World Series Game 3 – 10/26/04 – Red Sox 4, Cardinals 1

From 1998 to 2002, Pedro Martinez was the most dominant pitcher ever to wear a Red Sox uniform.  By 2004, he’d begun to decline, but in this World Series start, Red Sox fans got a glimpse of the old Pedro. Martinez allowed only 3 hits in 7 innings pitched, with 6 strikeouts.  It was also the last time Martinez ever pitched for the Red Sox. A homerun by Manny Ramirez, and great defensive plays by Ramirez and David Ortiz helped earn Martinez his World Series victory.

5. 2007 World Series Game 4 – 10/28/07 – Red Sox 4, Rockies 3

The Red Sox had a 3-0 lead by the 7th inning, but the Rockies chipped away in the 7th and 8th inning to make this the closest of all the Red Sox World Series clinching wins.  World Series MVP Mike Lowell hit a home run and Jonathan Papelbon got the save for starter Jon Lester.

4. 2018 World Series Game 5 – 10/28/18 – Red Sox 5, Dodgers 1

David Price, who started Game 2 for the Red Sox, and faced three batters in the Game 3 marathon, started once again for Game 5.  He did not appear tired at all, but stronger than ever, allowing only 1 run on 3 hits in 7 innings.  World Series MVP Steve Pearce hit a 2-run homer in the 1st inning, and then Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, and Pearce again each had solo home runs in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings. Joe Kelly and Chris Sale both struck out the side for the final 6 outs to clinch the Red Sox 4th championship in 15 years.

3. 2013 World Series Game 4 – 10/27/13 – Red Sox 4, Cardinals 2

Down 2 games to 1 and still smarting over the previous night’s interference call, this game felt like a must win for the Red Sox.  The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the 3rd, and Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was lifted for a pinch hitter in the 4th.  But Red Sox relievers – including remarkable performances by Felix Doubront and John Lackey – were able to hold the Cardinals to just 1 run on 3 hits the rest of the game.  Jonny Gomes’ 3-run homer in the 6th inning put the Red Sox ahead for good.  Koji Uehara got the save, memorably picking off Cardinals’ pinch runner Kolten Wong for the final out.

2. 2004 World Series Game 4 – 10/27/04 – Red Sox 3, Cardinals 0

Red Sox fans waited generations to see this game, played during a lunar eclipse that made the moon appear a deep red color.  Johnny Damon lead off the game with a home run, and David Ortiz and Trot Nixon each drove in a run in the third for all the offense the Red Sox would need.  Derek Lowe allowed only 3 hits over 7 innings of work, and the bullpen maintained the shutout, the only time in these 19 games when the Red Sox did not allow a run.  Keith Foulke got the save and all of New England celebrated the end of the 86-year World Series drought.

1. 2018 World Series Game 4 – 10/27/18 – Red Sox 9, Dodgers 6

After a disheartening loss in the 18-inning game earlier that morning, the Red Sox looked to be in a bad place having used their planned Game 4 starter Nathan Eovaldi and most of their bullpen in Game 3.  The Red Sox batters definitely looked tired as they only managed one hit off of Dodgers’ starter Rich Hill in the first six inning.  Red Sox emergency starter Eduardo Rodriguez held his own for five scoreless innings, but then allowed 4 runs in the 6th, including a devastating 3-run blast by Yasiel Puig.  It looked like the turning point in a World Series going in the Dodgers’ favor, but the Red Sox did not follow the script.  Mitch Moreland hit a 3-run homer in the top of the 7th inning.  Then Steve Pearce hit a solo home run to tie the game in the 8th.  Just as fans began to fear another extra-inning marathon, the Red Sox pounded out 5 more runs in the top of the 9th inning, including 3 runs driven in by Pearce’s base-clearing double.  With 9 runs scored in the final 3 innings, the Red Sox did not just win the game but took a commanding 3-1 lead in the World Series.

Red Sox World Series Victory Parade 2018


Once again, the Red Sox paraded through Boston aboard Duck Boats, carrying their four trophies and receiving cheers from fans (and returning the favor).  My kids and I watched from the same spot on Tremont Street opposite Boston Common that we watched the 2013 parade.

The photographic highlights are below, with my full photo album also available at http://www.othemts.com/redsoxparade18/.

Construction workers get in some welding while waiting for the parade to arrive.
Big Papi rides in his fourth parade.
Chris Sale victorious.
Beer toss!
David Price with a big David Price head.
Craig Kimbrel.
The trophy!
Puerto RIcan pride on the Common.

Monthly Mixtape – October 2018


Princess Chelsea :: The Loneliest Girl

DeVotchka :: Second Chance

Tunde Olaniran :: Mountain

Pip Blom :: Pussycat

Our Girl :: I Really Like It

Beirut :: “Galipoli”

SOAK :: “Everybody Loves You”

The Sha La Das :: “Okay My Love”

Yaeji :: “One More”

AdriAnne Lenker :: “symbol”

 

Previous Mixtapes:

Red Sox are the 2018 World Series Champions!!!


When I moved to Boston 20 years ago, the Red Sox were a team that always played well but often fell short of making the playoffs.  Or if they did make the postseason, they would lose in some horrible way.  Now they seem to win World Series Championships routinely.  Last night’s win by the Red Sox finished a 4 games-to-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.  They’ve added another trophy to go alongside the ones from 2004, 2007, and 2013 for 4 championships in 15 years.

Each team is special in there own way, but the 2018 team is by far the most dominant Red Sox team I’ve ever seen.  After winning a team-record 108 games in the regular season, they beat the 100-win Yankees 3-to-1 in the ALDS, the 103-win defending champion Astros 4-1 in the ALCS, and the Dodgers – returning for a second consecutive World Series – 4-1.  The team went 7-1 on the road in the postseason and clinched all three series in the opponent’s ballpark.

This team also just seems to be plain likable.  There’s the core of young killer B’s – Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Xander Bogaerts.  There are veterans brought in from other teams specifically to get the Red Sox to another World Championship – J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale, and David Price.  And there are the role players who stepped up big in the most unlikely situations – Nathan Eovaldi, Joe Kelly, Brock Holt, Eduardo Nunez, and World Series MVP Steve Pearce.

I got to see the Red Sox with my family at several games at Fenway, as well as at the White Sox ballpark in Chicago, and even game 2 of the ALCS.  Is was a fun and entertaining season.  And now the long winter of baseball emptiness begins.  But first, there’s a parade on Halloween!

Album Review: Love is Magic by John Grant


Album: Love is Magic
Artist: John Grant
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Love is Magic,” “Tempest,” “Diet Gum,” and “Is He Strange?
Thoughts:

American expatriate John Grant resides now in Iceland where he makes very weird music.  The synths and disco beats make the album feel straight from the early 80s complete with spoken word segments reminiscent of Laurie Anderson.  The lyrics are crude, angry, deeply personal, and sometimes just plain bizarre.  It took me a few listens to warm up to Love is Magic, but it still doesn’t feel as good as Grant’s earlier work.

Rating: ***

Podcasts of the Week Ending October 27th


Believed :: The Good Guy

This podcast series from Michigan Radio investigates the story of Larry Nassar, the women’s Olympics gymnastic doctor found guilty of sexual abusing his patients for decades.  This first episode depicts how Nassar was seen in the gymnastic community as a respected and lovable figure, not appearing as a monster despite performing monstrous acts.  There are obvious content warning for rape and trauma for anyone considering listening to this episode.

The Memory Palace :: The Dress in the Closet

This Halloween episode is a ghost story of sorts telling the sad story of Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone and how they were haunted by being guests of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on the night of his murder.

Hit Parade :: The Oh. My. God. Becky Edition

The Hit Parade visits the charts circa 1991-1992 when hip-hop hits finally reach #1.  It was a transitional period for hip-hop between its party song roots and the West Coast gangsta rap that emerged as a hit-churning style later in the 90s.  The new styles sampled pop and R&B songs and featured more conscious lyrics.  Artists included De La Soul, PM Dawn, Arrested Development, and … Sir Mix-A-Lot.  Host Chris Molanphy credits the newfound success of rap on the charts partly to Billboard introducing the new SoundScan system which more accurately tracked record sales and airplay.  This was another nostalgic episode for me as I liked a lot of the rap music from this period but never cottoned on to gangsta rap.

Album Review: Sugar & Spice by Hatchie


Album: Sugar & Spice
ArtistHatchie
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Sure,” “Sleep,” and “Try.”

Thoughts:

The debut EP by Australian singer/songwriter Hatchie (no apparent relation to Waxahatchee), a.k.a. Harriette Pilbeam, is five tracks of dreamy, ethereal vocals over layered, jangly pop.  It’s reminiscent of the early 90s alternative acts (think The Sundays or cranberries) who were drowned out by grunge, but nevertheless created some of the best music of the period.  It’s a sweet treat and I look forward to more from Hatchie.

Rating: ****