The Weekday Ramble is a daily dose of sports, music, culture, and more from Rambling On founder Erik Ritland. For more information check us out on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or at our website.
Thursday January 15, 2015
Plenty of controversy today in the Weekday Ramble, as Mike Huckabee criticizes the Obama’s parenting and the lunatics are running the asylum in Cleveland. To lighten things up I add a bit at the end about my latest foray into ‘70s Elvis.
A bad politician, a bad politician, and a worse media
Mike Huckabee recently made the news by supposedly “slamming” the Obama’s parenting. Beneath the surface this is just another way the mainstream media are trying to stir the pot. Read my thoughts here.
They are not who we thought they were
When LeBron James decided to return to his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, and they paid a relatively large amount for Timberwolves star Kevin Love, it was understandably expected that the team would be very good. As the Minnesota Wild are finding out, though, sometimes what looks good on paper doesn’t automatically translate into greatness. It’s mid-January and they’re under .500.
Even worse, apparently there is some consternation among teammates and coaching staff. While LeBron’s supposed pushing of head coach David Blatt was simply his trying to stop him from getting a technical foul (which they both said) there are still issues in the clubhouse. Supposedly the players are running different plays than are being called on the bench, assistant coach Tyronn Lue is calling timeouts behind Blatt’s back, and players are openly complaining about coaches. Concerning our old boy, the Cavs knew that Love’s defensive was bad but they didn’t realize it was as bad as it is (hence his getting taken out of the game during some important fourth quarter situations).
It’s hard not to say that it couldn’t happen to a better bunch of people after how LeBron turned his back on Cleveland with The Decision and Kevin Love left Minnesota so unceremoniously. But James has turned things around since then, becoming the proverbial nice guy, and although Love could have handled things better at least he was up front about his desire to leave and didn’t leave the Wolves hanging.
And besides, if your team is just under .500 in the East you’re still guaranteed a playoff spot. I’m sure things will click eventually and the Cavs will make a deep run in the playoffs, or even into the NBA Finals.
He’ll always be the king
Recently I’ve been into a lot of music from 1966 and 1967 because I’m reading Colin Heylin’s interesting but disjointed book about the era, The Act You’ve Known for All These Years. After listening to a bit too much of it I needed a break. So I listened to some rhythm and blues. And some honky tonk. And some Miles Davis.
Eventually I pulled out a box set of Elvis’ 70s material. I had no idea how good it is! Most equate ‘70s Elvis with the fat guy who played a lot in Vegas. This isn’t the case. Throughout the decade, though especially in the beginning, he was in top form. His soulful, country-tinged late ‘60s stuff morphed into hard rhythm and blues, hokey black backing singers and schmaltzy string arrangements (that I still love) replaced with hard hitting horns and an old school ‘50s blues feel. It didn’t hurt that he had the best studio musicians in town.
The best part is how much conviction he brings to every performance. I’ve only listened to a portion of his ‘70s stuff, chronicled on the box set Walk a Mile in My Shoes, but I’ve been blown away. Some highlights: tender, driving “The Wonder of You,” the blistering rhythm and blues of “Patch it Up” (used by the Blues Brothers as their main theme), and gorgeous “Life,” which shows how good Elvis was at telling a story.
Sure it’s a cliché, but when it comes to Elvis it needs to be said: long live the king.
Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik's music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.