I’m glad Cat Power sobered up. The song that quite possibly has meant the most to me so far this year is The Greatest, the first cut on her album of the same name. I first heard it late last December, just before Abby was born. It surprised me, the first time I heard it, lush with Moon River strings and cottony smooth Teenie Hodges soul.
Abby is talking. Or mimicking. Probably both. Words are coming out of her mouth anyway. “Daddy” last Monday. “Dora” last Wednesday. “Grandpa” on Thursday. Then nothing quite so crisp and intelligible for the past week. She's letting her teeth grow. And she’s moving. Insatiable needs to climb legs, roll, tumble and climb again. She sees many things that she must, absolutely must, get a hold of and she zeroes in on them with great singular purpose if not an accompanying patience. And she’s dancing now, too-- with an excited wiggle whenever the rhythm catches her.
If I were to write an autobiography, this particular chapter of my life would be titled: “Crushed Cheerios Underfoot.”
In one of her New Yorker reviews Pauline Kael called a film (and I can't seem to find or recall just what film this was) "pleasantly bananas.” That’s exactly what I thought of Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz when when I managed to check it out (Comcast On Demand, under “Free Movies,” offers a healthy dose of old classics, crap and Hollywood curiosities such as this one) a couple weeks ago during Abby’s morning and afternoon naps. It was completely, pleasantly bananas. It ends with its protagonist (Roy Schneider, just a few years post-Jaws) performing a deathbed musical with Ben Vereen (just a few years post-Roots) as the MC. Hollywood didn’t make another musical as completely and pleasantly bananas until Moulin Rouge 20 years later.
I adore a lot of vocalists who’ve multi-tracked their voices. But none of them has so consistently emotionally walloped me over the years like Marvin Gaye’s multi-tracked vocal masterpiece, What’s Goin’ On. It’s my favorite vocal performance of all time. In fact, when the Motown marketers or the Gaye estate are planning the next reissue it should be requisite that an a cappella version of the entire album be included. This way we can luxuriate in his heartbroken doo-wop meditation. I think the party chatter that begins the album is still one of the coziest, funkiest and downright coolest slices of introductory ambience ever committed to magnetic tape.
It’s hard not to care when Ohio State finally has a great quarterback in Troy Smith. And is ranked #1. I usually don’t care at all this early in the season. I am truly a fare weathered Buckeye fan. While reading for school last Saturday I found myself moving incrementally—from checking in on the score via Yahoo to feverishly watching most of the third and then all of the fourth quarter on TV. At the beginning of the fourth quarter Troy Smith had one of those plays that cause excitable, tension prone viewers like myself to spontaneously uncoil from our chairs and leap into the air while manically pumping fists in the air and shouting boasts and brags. Here’s how Joe Drape described it in last Sundays NYT’s:
Smith, who came into the game as the nation’s third-most efficient passer and had not thrown an interception in 152 attempts, was struggling as the Nittany Lions’ defensive backs consistently bumped Ginn and company out of their routes.
Two minutes into the fourth quarter, on second down and 9 on the Penn State 37-yard line, Smith dropped back to pass and immediately felt pressure. He rolled right, and then did what Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel tells him never to do: he reversed field.
Suddenly, Smith was on his own 47-yard line.
“The first read wasn’t there,” he said. “I tried to come back and look to the other side of the field, but it was kind of clogged and crowded, and I just tried to improvise and keep things going. The Penn State defender was making ground on me.”
Robiskie, a sophomore and the least heralded member of the Buckeyes’ receiving corps, had run a hitch route to the sideline and recognized Smith was in trouble.
“I just wanted to work to get open because I know he can always make a play,” Robiskie said of Smith.
As Robiskie angled to the middle of the field, Smith launched a rocket. The ball split Penn State defensive backs Tony Davis and Anthony Scirrotto, hit Robiskie in the shoulder pads and carried him into the end zone.
“Smith made a super play,” Paterno said. “You can’t give up big plays in a game like this.”
Troy Smith, who was 5 years old when I was a Buckeye freshman.