April 22nd, 2010

NCC-1701 Nebula 1

Sports-Mind

There was a choice. Wait for the start of Lost in the Backstage Cafe in the back part of the Bagdad Theater and Pub, where TVs were showing the NBA playoffs, or wait for the start of Lost in the front pub. Might have friends show up in either place, come to think of it; I know plenty of basketball fans. I could eat in either place. But what made me decide last Tuesday to go to the front as usual wasn't just that it was my usual thing to do before Lost at the Bagdad, but that, at that moment, I wasn't really in a sports-following mood.

That happens. I'm much more invested in the NFL, as my fall and winter journal entries make clear, but I can follow other sports. I've given glancing attention to the NBA this season, especially the Blazers. I've followed the Blazers much more closely in the past, in the 90s era of Clyde Drexler, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth and the mid-90s move to the Rose Garden Arena. (By the way, my first impression of that arena in 1994 was that I saw it and thought of the crashed Starship Enterprise saucer section in Star Trek: Generations.) It helped that my dad's parents, still around at the time, were BIG Blazers fans, and my cousins Jeff and Cindy were developing fans, too, so the family watched plenty of games. I attended one, too. The Blazers broke my (and many many other Portlanders') hearts in the 2000 playoffs Game 7 fourth-quarter collapse, which people are STILL pissed about. They could've beat the Lakers! They just deflated! And later came the Era of Troubles (when the team earned a derisive nickname I'd rather not use), and I just cringed more and more at the Blazers. That was one of the factors in my not following basketball so much. But that I've come up with this verbiage this quickly shows that, at some level, I definitely still care about this stuff.

And I've been following people who REALLY care about this stuff: longer-term and more involved Blazers fans, who boggled at all the injuries this season and the Blazers' frequent ability to still perform with so much of the team hurt or flat-out out of commission. To get to the playoffs with that much on-court drama (even COACH McMILLAN got hurt) shows a lot of heart, to use a sports cliche. Many friends of mine, and a fair amount of my family (save my dad's parents, who are no longer with us), have kept following and supporting the team, and cringing, but cringing for better reasons than the embarrassing behavior the team was known for some years ago. No, it's because we all know what getting hurt feels like. We can sympathize.

See? Lot of drama, as sports can provide, in that controlled in-the-court (or, for football, baseball or soccer, in-the-field) way, and I *can* get into it.

I wasn't into it Tuesday night.

I'm more into it tonight.

Right now my TV's on to Game 3 of the Portland Blazers-Phoenix Suns (and it's a frustrating game, I can tell you), and my radio is on to the Portland Timbers minor-league soccer game happening at PGE Park, across the river from the Rose Garden. The Timbers are doing much better -- they're ahead, for one thing (3-0 against the St. Louis expansion minor-league soccer team) -- and the crowd is excited, both for the game and for the coming move-up to major league soccer, which happens next season. I know lots of Timbers fans. I'm starting to absorb their enthusiasm, too. And so I predict I'll be in the sports-watching mood more often this year. And next year. And probably next year...
iAm iSaid

My kind of stark

I've been a bit conflicted about KINK FM's replacing most nights of "Lights Out" -- the quiet-music-at-day's-end music block that the station's had since at least 1984 -- with "The Lounge After Hours," replays of songs from the station's archive of live musical performances. I like "Lights Out" -- now reduced on the radio to Sunday nights, but streaming online 24 hours a day as soothing music can be useful any time of the day, I guess -- and it's been a big part of KINK FM's identity. The station is now owned by Alpha Broadcasting, and, well, I've been mad at the company before, which is continuing to say "We'll be local we'll be local we'll be local" while firing longtime employees left and right, so I don't know how much of this change was wanted by the station or if it was ordered by Alpha's corporate heads. I can't know (so THAT PREVIOUS SENTENCE WAS JUST SPECULATION DON'T SUE ME). Initially I wondered if the station would go half-and-half eventually, do the live music recaps from 10 to 11 and go back to "Lights Out" from 11 to midnight. Looks like "The Lounge After Hours" is sticking around, though.

And tonight it meant that I finally, finally, re-heard a song played live on KINK nearly a decade ago.

David Gray visited the station for the first time in 2001, supporting his album White Ladder. I heard that session when it first aired. The song that stuck with me was his nothing-but-piano-chords rendition of "Please Forgive Me." It stuck with me because of how stark it was without the lovely synth orchestration the original has...and the song worked as nothing but a few chords. It was as stripped as it could be without getting rid of lyrics, and it was lovely. My kind of stark. (I considered saying "My kind of stripped," but that might have a double meaning.)

Okay, if KINK FM's "The Lounge After Hours" can keep happily surprising me like that, I'll likely grow into liking it more. Though the station can't surprise me too much with this: a lot of the songs are also on the KINK Live CDs that the station's done each year since 1998, and I have all 12 of those CDs. It's a worthy collection of CDs, I tells you.

You can still happily surprise me, KINK FM. I hope you keep doing so.
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