Ryan Welton

Sports + Digital + Music + Life

Monthly Archives: October 2017

3 Albuquerque highlights: UNM football, Old Town, Sandia Peak

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My first trip through New Mexico came 20 years ago when some friends and I drove straight through the Land of Enchantment to Las Vegas for a buddy’s wedding. All I remember is that driving in New Mexico at night must be what it’s like to drive on Mars.

Nothing there. Radio legend Art Bell kept us company, which made it all the more eerie driving across the Southwestern landscape.

Driving through New Mexico two decades older and wiser, not to mention doing so during daylight hours, presents a different view — a view of a state filled with natural beauty, blue skies, clean air and local flavor anywhere you go.

And green chile anything-you-want.

I love New Mexico, and I especially love Albuquerque. It’s for-sure in my Top 10 cities along with New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Denver, Salt Lake City, Houston and St. Louis. Albuquerque has a terrific sense of culture and local art, a respect for its indigenous heritage, wonderful food and a great li’l sports bar called Altitude Sports Grill.

That was our first stop upon arriving in Albuquerque. We rushed in to watch the second half of Oklahoma-UTEP, a season-opening romp for my beloved Sooners, 56-7. Grabbed a cold beer, a big plate of vegetarian nachos and made conversation with our bartender, Rachel, and a colleague of hers whose name I can’t remember. They regaled us with tales about programming on a TV channel called Viceland, especially shows that delved deeply into weed culture.

Sorry, but that’s not my bag. Not at all. They might as well have been talking to a narc.

However, this was a terrific li’l bar, mostly empty, and Rachel was awesome. There were aspects of the programming on Viceland that sounded interesting, especially anything they mentioned that involved investigative reporting. Frankly, the banter alone between the two women was interesting enough for background entertainment.

And then it was off to a college football game of our own, the University of New Mexico Lobos hosting Abilene Christian. As much as I’ve enjoyed my vacations to see baseball stadiums across the country, I wanted to start visiting random college stadiums, and Dreamstyle Stadium was definitely random given both the locale and the team.

I’m not a Lobos fan and have zero tie to New Mexico. I wanted a stranger-in-a-strange-land experience. I wanted to feel what it was like to be an Albuquerque local and root for a team that virtually nobody else in the country knows anything about. I wanted to buy the t-shirt so folks back in Oklahoma could ask me, “You a Lobos fan?”

“I was if only for a day,” might be my reply.

The stadium itself is 57 years old with a number of expansions over the past 15 or so years. The New Mexico Bowl is hosted there each year, and best I can tell, the University of New Mexico is a regular participant. I can’t speak to the food at Dreamstyle, but the beer is cold and the amenities are clean. The stadium locals are not unfriendly although nobody in particular went out of their way to engage us. Let’s put it this way: they weren’t nearly as friendly as the crew at Altitude although, again, nobody was unfriendly.

New Mexico had some trouble with ACU to start but then pulled away for a 38-14 win late, and I got to bring the local boys some luck.

And I got to walk by The Pit. Any college basketball fan of a certain age knows about The Pit and what happened there in 1983.

Lorenzo Charles.

The sports geek in me was in awe. It was also admiring of the stadium used by the Albuquerque Isotopes, the city’s Minor League Baseball team. It might be worth a side trip unto itself. It was a good night.

The next day was filled with a trip to Albuquerque Old Town for some shopping of local wares, a stop at the wonderful Frontier Restaurant for green chile stew and a cinnamon roll and a trip up the Sandia Peak. Our first stop was Old Town.

albuquerque-old-town

The district was filled with shops stocked with beads and jewelry and candles, soap and various knick-knacks. We saw a funny t-shirt with the caption “Homeland Security, 1492” and learned that the word “fetish” doesn’t only mean what I think. For what it’s worth, a fetish is a small carving that depicts animals, a form of Native American art.

albuquerque-homeland-security

We stopped at a store that specialized in marble light fixtures. They were gorgeous.

albuquerque-marble-lamps

There was lots of memorabilia from the hit TV show, “Breaking Bad,” too.

An old lady walking the area needed to sell her last newspaper, a copy of the Sunday Albuquerque Journal, and she didn’t realize she was pitching her ideal customer, me. Two dollars later, I had my Sunday reading for the day. We were off to Frontier Restaurant.

I’ve been to Frontier before, as part of a trip I had taken the year before, on the way to spring training Cactus League baseball in Arizona. My former boss had told me about the place, and she knows everything cool about her home state (she’s from Logan, New Mexico), especially where to get great green chile stew.

Green chile stew is a thing in New Mexico; be prepared to eat it or be willing to go hungry. Trust me: you’ll love it. I could live off it.

What newbies to the city might not know about Frontier, which is located right across from the University of New Mexico campus, is that they’re mostly known for their sweet rolls. These pastry delights are slathered in sweet butter and sugar, and you might not ever put anything more awesome in your mouth. It’s easily the best sweet roll I’d ever had.

If you go to Albuquerque, you have to, have to, have to eat at Frontier.

Now that we were filled with eats, it was time to take a tram to the top of the Sandia Mountains along the Sandia Peak Tramway. At a height of 10,378 feet, it was as high as I was going to get in New Mexico (obligatory weed joke given the previous story), and it was as high as I’ve been since a stay in Deer Valley, Utah, a couple years before.

albuquerque-sandia-peak-drive-2

My first experience with high altitude was a weird one. My heart palpitated in a very odd fashion, as it was sloshing through molasses or mud. I did not have that experience on this day.

While the view at the top of the mountain was terrific, the blue skies to which I had admiringly referred earlier in this post weren’t a thing this late Sunday afternoon. It was very hazy. The highlight of the Sandia experience was the trip up and down the mountain itself via the tram. We even made friends with an older fellow from Chicago who was in town for something or other. It was weird: he was a University of Michigan man wearing an Indiana Hoosiers cap.

Maybe he just liked the hat. Or lost a bet. Little things like that make me want to ask strangers questions.

Speaking of sports, it was back to Altitude Sports Grill to watch the UCLA season opener versus Texas A&M. Kristi and her family spent a lot of time in California, and many of them are fans of all-things-Los Angeles, including UCLA. I’ve become something of a UCLA watcher as well.

We got to the bar, ordered some drinks and watched Texas A&M jump out to a huge lead. Huge. Think President Donald Trump saying, “Eeeeeeuge!”

Rachel was our bartender again (yay!) and we befriended a dude named Aaron and his wife, Felice. Because the Bruins were getting drilled, we started to notice our surroundings, specifically that Aaron and Felice were playing NTN trivia.

Couldn’t resist. We played. We watched UCLA get drilled. It was 38-7, I think, at one point, and then 44-10. And then we got to chatting with our barroom neighbors He’s from the Texas Panhandle. We talked Texas high school football, digital marketing, beer, trivia, you name it. We served as ambassadors for Oklahoma City, as we do wherever we go — and we hit it off so well that I sent him a Facebook friend request right afterward, telling him that it’d be a cool thing to have a friend or two from the great city of Albuquerque.

The fans at the UNM football game might not have been too outgoing, but everybody at this little bar was. I kind of loved the place. To be perfectly fair, it was also 91 degrees outside the night of the football game.

We chilled, literally, and then we got hungry.

As a thunderstorm approached the city, we ventured over to Sauce Pizza and Wine for some dinner. If I remember correctly (and I do have photographic evidence somewhere), I had a prosciutto and fig pizza with arugula, and hold the prosciutto (veggie-style). The restaurant had a cool vibe, and the incoming storm (moving from east to west on radar, very odd) was a welcome relief to the 90-degree temperatures we’d had all day.

The pizza was delicious, too, and our day had come to an end. Almost.

After a stop at Walgreen’s and an attempt to give a homeless guy some food (the idea of my saintly girlfriend, not me, although I was certainly cool with it), we ventured back to the hotel and turned on the last bit of the UCLA-Texas A&M game.

UCLA came back to win 45-44, and I remember thinking, “Well, I’ll be damned.” Maybe this team is special.

They’re not. (Lol.)

The drive from Albuquerque back to Oklahoma City is the better part of eight hours, but it’s an easy trek. Two tanks of gas. Listened to an NPR station out of Las Cruces, home of the Fightin’ Aggies of New Mexico State, and we also listened to a weekend soul music show on a radio station at Amarillo College. Great little station. Highly entertaining local radio.

If you were considering, I’d suspect the best time to visit Albuquerque is during the spring, at least weather-wise. Here’s to hoping I get to make many more trips to the Land of Enchantment, especially ABQ.

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I’d love it if you’d venture on over to my YouTube channel, http://www.youtube.com/soonerryan2000, and subscribe. Besides being a blogging raconteur, I’m a musician who dabbles in all-things-smooth. Yacht Rock. Smooth Jazz. If that world is your jam (Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Toto, etc.), come on by.

I’m also trying to grow my Instagram channel @ryanwelton2013. Would love it if you’d give me a follow there as well.

Hell, stop by Twitter, too. I’m in the social growth business, folks.

RIP, Robert Guillaume: A look at 2 Isaac Jaffe moments – the trust monologue, Confederate flag speech

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Legendary stage and television actor Robert Guillaume died today at the age of 89. Children of the 1970s knew him as Benson DuBois from the ABC TV shows “Soap” and “Benson.” However, the cool kids from the 70s and, frankly, the 80s knew him as Isaac Jaffe from the great “Sports Night,” an Aaron Sorkin TV show that ran on ABC from 1998-2000.

Yes, I’m a Sorkin apologist. I also love Apple and Starbucks.

“Sports Night” was a TV show made for people who work in TV; I’m convinced of it. Another Sorkin show, “The Newsroom,” was also a nod to journalists and the business — and they were both terrific. The former was a show centered on a SportsCenter-esque broadcast called “Sports Night” on a network called CSC, and the latter centered on a nightly news program called “News Night” on a network called ACN.

ACN was led by Charlie Skinner, played by Sam Waterston, a hard-drinking but affable boss who was a righteous news manager. Skinner stood up to Leona Lansing, played by Jane Fonda, although he was also a pragmatist and would push back on anchor Will McAvoy on the micro when he felt he was losing the macro.

On the other hand, CSC’s Isaac Jaffe was 100% righteous albeit not beyond his daily 10 mistakes, as he explained to Dan Rydell, played by Josh Charles, at the start of Season 2, soon after Jaffe’s character had suffered a stroke and had forgotten to tell the team that “Sports Night” had been pushed back to make room for a show on “lumber sports.”

Guillaume himself also suffered a serious stroke, and lived another 19 years, by the way.

Alas, two examples of Jaffe’s managerial style that stood out to me were his monologue about trust that he delivered to Jeremy Goodwin, played by Joshua Malina. Listen to the part where Jaffe refers to an obligation to change his mind in the face of conviction, Jaffe telling Goodwin that he should have spoken up about his abhorrence to hunting.

And then eight episodes later, watch Jaffe live that truth as he called out CSC’s fictional owner Luther Sachs on the air over the flying of the Confederate flag at Sachs’ alma mater, Tennessee Western.

Sure, this is all fictional, and it aired nearly 20 years ago. However, I know a lot of folks in TV who revered this show, and I’m one of them.

Toast to you, Isaac Jaffe.

Stay smooth.

Photo credit goes to Alan Light. It’s a photo of Guillaume at the 1980 movie premiere for “Seems Like Old Times” with Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn.

 

Health & Fitness: Can you lose weight with a walking-only exercise regimen?

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I’m a runner insomuch that I enjoy running. To me, it is not a chore; it is respite from a day’s stress. I have gone weeks where I run 4-5 times, and I’ve gone weeks where I don’t run at all.

As much as I enjoy running, there are aspects of it that are hard to make habit:

  • Sometimes I get sore after a 3-4 mile run.
  • My allergies act up when I run outside.
  • It eats up time.

Unless my knees give out or I lose a foot to a freak accident, I’m going to keep running.

But I’m also going to walk.

I’m going to walk at least for the next 2-3 months to try to solidify a habit of going to the gym every single day and doing something to put my body in motion. My plan is to do this without injury and without ever making my body feel like it’s been overworked.

My plan is to do this and lose that extra 10-15 pounds that have been nagging at me.

But science.

Yes, I understand that it requires a deficit of 3,500 calories to lose one pound. However, the way I see it, when I run 3-4 miles, I eat as if I just ran a half. In an hour, I walk about 3.25 miles on the treadmill with zero soreness.

It gets me to 10,000 steps each day.

I’m not famished afterward.

And I even get some work done while on the treadmill, although tonight that consisted only of doing a single Instagram post. Mostly, I walked (at 3.5 on the treadmill most of the time at various inclines) and watched Gary Vaynerchuk and Seinfeld re-runs — the one where Kramer butters himself, Bania prompts Jerry to tank a set and Elaine nicknames an airplane passenger, Vegetable Lasagna, while breaking up and making out with David Puddy.

But can you lose weight with only a walking regimen?

I think you can if you do it consistently without eating beyond your workout efforts. My plan is to not adjust my diet otherwise. Truth is: I eat a lot of fish, lean chicken and veggies. My culinary vices are the occasional donut (especially the maple bars at 7-Eleven), Fritos, A&W (and only A&W rootbeer) and Guinness Draught or Newcastle Brown Ale.

As of Oct. 23, I’m at 212.8 pounds. I might mix in some basketball, racquetball or some runs at my discretion — but mostly I’m just going to walk.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Stay smooth.

Cover + Chords: Learn how to play Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop”

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Listening to my favorite Yacht Rock radio station yesterday, SiriusXM’s 311, on the SiriusXM app, I heard Gino Vannelli’s “I Just Wanna Stop,” a No. 4 hit here in the United States back in 1978.

His other big hit here, “Living Inside Myself,” peaked at No. 6 in 1981. Great song.

However, as I keep thinking about how to develop content around my music, I find it wise to listen to people who visit my site and my channels and my Instagram and Facebook, all of it. I’ve had several other musicians ask for chord structures on these songs — a little somethin’ to provide them with value beyond a listen.

So, here goes. Hoping that if you like it, you’ll “like” it and come find me on YouTube. Let’s grow the community together!

Basically, the song starts with an Emaj9 and a Dmaj7 / E back and forth, or as I call it “a B chord on top of an E and then a D chord on top of an E.”

The verse is Emaj9 to C#m9 to Amaj9 (or 11th or 13th, depending on how fancy you wanna get), and then than Amaj9-11-13, A/B (which is an A chord on top of a B in the bass line) and Emaj9 with the turnaround being a sweet Cmaj9, B11.

Repeat the verse and then the bridge is Amaj7, G#m7, F#m7, Amaj7 with the money chord being the Bbm7-5 before the start of the chorus. That chord is basically a Bb-Db-E in the right hand on top of a Bb in the bass line.

The chorus is easy. It’s Amaj7, G#m7, Dmaj7/E and then repeat before closing out the chorus with Amaj7, G#m7 and F#m7 and that Cmaj9,B11 turnaround.

Does that help at all? Hope you enjoy. Here’s the finished product:

http://www.youtube.com/soonerryan2000

 

Yacht Rock Original: “Everybody’s Girl”

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I’ve loved all-things yacht rock before the genre even had a name. Christopher Cross, Toto, Boz Scaggs, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Hall & Oates: love all of it.

And after 20 years I finally have a classification for all the music I write. Well, that and smooth jazz.

Here’s my latest. It’s a tune about a girl who is the ultimate people-pleaser. She’s “Everybody’s Girl.”

 

Oh, if you dig the song, please come subscribe to my YouTube channel. I post all sorts of stuff out there but try to keep it to all-thing smooooooth. My channel is YouTube.com/soonerryan2000

Lyrics below:

EVERYBODY’S GIRL (a yacht rock original) c. 2017, Ryan Welton

Verse 1: You talk about us, you never stop I can tell: my ears are ringing

You’re chirping here and you’re buzzing there I’d much rather hear birds singing

But if everybody talks, then nobody listens

To the words they say

Maybe I’d have a fightin’ chance some other way

 

Verse 2: I’ll meet you down at the club tonight

You can tell the boys you’re single

Wear that black dress that’s extra tight

I’ll observe you while you mingle

Pour me a whiskey

Hell, make it a double

Dance the night away

But I can’t pretend to be at ease while you’re at play

 

CHORUS: She’s everybody’s girl (everybody’s)

If you can be OK with her as everybody’s girl

Then go ahead and step inside her crazy, crazy world

There’s few who can survive it for long

Everybody’s girl

 

Verse 3: She looks at me but she dreams of him

That’s a constant game she’s playin’

She never says what she really means

Unless she punctuates, “Just sayin'”

Call her a phony

Or just a pretender

You can call me a fool

The girl plays with minds like she plays with hearts: no rules

CHORUS INTERLUDE CHORUS 2x

Stunning views atop the Empire State Building at night 

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One year ago tonight, I was in New York City, the second of a three-day stay for business. Earlier in the afternoon, I visited the Hearst Building, something I had always wanted to check out.

The day before, I got to run in Central Park. Knocked out three miles and crossed something uber-cool off my bucket list.

Photos to come.

Free for the evening, I did what I do when I travel: explore. I got hustled by a rap-CD salesman who thought I looked like I was from Arkansas.

“Nope! Couldn’t be more wrong,” I said. “Oklahoma!”

I also got lost on the subway, headed toward Coney Island instead of back toward east Midtown and the San Carlos hotel.

But the highlight of the night was dropping $50 to visit the top of the Empire State Building. I had been up once before, but this was a better experience given that they had opened the TOP top of the building.

A secondary part of the historic building had previously been as far as one could climb.

Plus, in 2017, so there was social media for me to share it with you! If you get a chance, go. There’s not a long wait, and you’ll see views of the city you can’t get anywhere else.

Lights flickering & dim? You probably have a partial power outage

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So, a few nights ago, I get home and my AC won’t turn on. The fan turned on but the HVAC unit proper would not.

Bizarre, but I could survive. It was only 75 degrees inside, and it was projected to get cool that evening.

I called the good folks at Norman Heat & Air, and Brandy hooked me up with an appointment the next morning, a Saturday. They had come out a couple times before since my new HVAC installation this spring. They know me.

But then I noticed my lights slightly flickering. Weird. I thought I might be having an electrical problem of some sort. So, I turned my breakers off and back on.

My Pioneer stereo receiver started working properly, so there’s that! But now my lights weren’t just flickering; they were about to peter out altogether!


That’s when I googled a 24-hour electrician in Norman, Okla. I stumbled upon an answering service who in turn connected me with Mr. Electric, a local shop.

Their office manager, Denise, instantly texted me:

Mr Electric here. The head electrician said you should contact OGE first to see if their lines are good (that could cause the flickering). They may be able to do that from their office.

The “OGE” to which she’s referring is Oklahoma Gas & Electric, better known as OG&E in these parts. However, I wasn’t convinced of what she was telling me, so I asked for more details.

I wrote:

The lights were ON and lightly flickering. I turned the breaker off and on and now half the house is barely getting juice.

She replied:

Yes. There may be a leg coming from their pole to your house that is a problem. We have an emergency fee of $246 to come out.

The symptoms that you are describing are typical of losing half your power from OGE. OGE Will come and check their side of your power at no cost to you. That way if it is their problem they will fix it at no cost. If you need an electrician they will tell you

I took Denise’s advice and called OG&E, who promptly came to my neighborhood. Lineman named Jason. He was met outside by myself and a neighbor lady who had been watching coverage of the Las Vegas shootings and bemoaned her addiction to television.

Mine is to AC.

Alas, Lineman Jason got the problem solved. It was dropped phases from a connector on the transformer above a neighbor’s house. Half my house (and half of my neighbor’s) wasn’t getting proper power.

The whole ordeal cost me some time but no money. Lesson for anybody suddenly confronted with dim, flickering or partial lights — and a huge thanks to Mr. Electric for the help. Saved me $200!

Cover & Lyrics: The secret to playing Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne”

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Last week, I got to see the legendary Steely Dan although I certainly, remorsefully didn’t ever get to see Walter Becker. I wrote about the gig at the River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, too. If you haven’t been to River Spirit for a show, I highly, highly recommend it.

Easy find. Easy parking. Awesome staff. Coffee shop open after the show.

If you read that post, you know that Donald Fagen and company did “Kid Charlemagne” as their encore. “Kid” is my favorite ‘Dan’ song of all time. It mixes rock with jazz and his wonderful on guitar as it is on keys, kind of a perfect blend of Becker and Fagen.

So, this weekend I decided to cover it. Show me a little grace on this one; I worked it up in 30 minutes and memorized most of the words. The secret to playing this tune is the beginning. You can’t just hammer a C7 and call it good. In the right hand, it needs to be an Eb, E and Bb — three notes with a C bass.

See also: Ryan Welton’s YouTube channel filled with original songs, comedy tunes, smooth jazz and video randomness

Here are the lyrics for you to follow along:

While the music played, you worked by candlelight
Those San Francisco nights
You were the best in town
Just by chance you crossed the diamond with the pearl

You turned it on the world
That’s when you turned the world around
(Did you feel like Jesus?)
Did you realize
That you were a champion in their eyes?

On the hill the stuff was laced with kerosene
But yours was kitchen-clean
Everyone stopped to stare at your technicolor motor home

Every A-Frame had your number on the wall
You must have had it all
You’d go to L.A. on a dare and you’d go it alone
(Could you live forever?)
Could you see the day?
Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away?

Now your patrons have all left you in the red
Your low-rent friends are dead
This life can be very strange
All those day-glo freaks who used to paint the face

They’ve joined the human race
Some things will never change
(Son, you were mistaken)
You are obsolete
Look at all the white men on the street

Clean this mess up else we’ll all end up in jail
Those test-tubes and the scale
Just get it all out of here

Is there gas in the car?
Yes, there’s gas in the car
I think the people down the hall know who you are

‘Cause the man is wise
You are still an outlaw in their eyes

Review: Steely Dan’s Tulsa show a party for Walter, total fan delight

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On a night when country star Jason Aldean got all the headlines for playing in Tulsa, his first gig since the horrific Las Vegas shooting a week and change earlier, Steely Dan was also in the city, only a month and nine days removed from the death of its co-founder, Walter Becker.

In essence, Steely Dan these days is Donald Fagen with a big band of sorts. Even before Fagen took the stage, these cats entertained the River Spirit Casino crowd with the theme from “Inspector Gadget.” You could have given me a billion guesses, and I wouldn’t have come up with that one for an opener.

The band was comprised of a baritone sax player, a guy on tenor and alto, a trumpet player and a trombonist. You had a lead guitarist and bass guitarist, and there was a piano player. Three female singers made up the “Danettes,” and there was Fagen himself on Rhodes. Most of my own playing is done on a more electric piano sound precisely because of Donald Fagen, who oddly enough is looking more and more like Ray Charles every day, with back-and-forth head movement and sunglasses on stage that make him look blind.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention the drummer yet. His name is Keith Carlock, and he plays for Steely Dan and Sting and might be the best drummer I’ve ever seen live. He was easily the highlight of the hired help, if you’re askin’ me. Carlock is so good that he warranted a drum solo within the first three songs, and he received high praise from Fagen, who called him one of the “greatest drummers of our time.”

But everybody at this show knew who was missing, and that was Walter. Fagen acknowledged it early, although he did so without much ado, adding that “life goes on,” a stoic acknowledgment from the man who met his music partner 50 years ago this year at Bard College. It was a stoicism that shows up a ton in Steely Dan music, but it wasn’t without sentimentality either as they played a Becker-penned “Book of Liars,” from the 1995 live album “Alive in America” with family pics from Becker displayed on the big screen.

Fagen told an adoring crowd that he did and would forever miss “his pal.”

steely-dan-1

Fagen didn’t trot out all the hits with this bunch on this night. Notably missing were “Do It Again,” “Deacon Blues,” “FM,” “Bad Sneakers,” “Babylon Sisters,” “Any Major Dude” and anything from “Two Against Nature” or “Everything Must Go.” Most of the focus was on Aja, with the title track, “Black Cow,” “Peg” and “Josie.”

As Fagen walked to the stage upon the end of “Inspector Gadget,” (feels weird to type those words) the band broke into “Black Cow” and followed it up with “Black Friday” before moving into Aja. The one solo track that Fagen did wasn’t the hit, “IGY,” it was “New Frontier,” an equally delightful song from the brilliant “Nightfly” record from 1982. God bless, what a great album that was.

Steely Dan played “Hey Nineteen,” “Time Out of Mind” (their final Top 40 hit), “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (their biggest chart hit), “Dirty Work” (with the Danettes on vocals instead of David Palmer, an original vocalist with the group) and “My Old School” before closing with “Reelin’ In The Years” from the wonderful “Can’t Buy A Thrill.” Side note: I would have loved to hear them do “Brooklyn” and “Midnight Cruiser” from that same record.

However, it wasn’t meant to be — and that seemingly included omitting huge hit, “Do It Again,” and fan favorite “Kid Charlemagne,” until we realized that Steely Dan’s departure from the Tulsa stage would only be temporary. There would be an encore, and I was resigned to it being “Do It Again,” a perfectly acceptable song but just nowhere as good as “Kid Charlemagne.” I personally consider “Kid Charlemagne” to be the best song they ever did.

Read also: The secret to covering Kid Charlemagne

And then the first notes of the encore hit, and we knew this Steely Dan show was for the hardcore fans. Fagen and company closed with a killer rendition of “Kid Charlemagne,” complete with stellar guitar work from Jon Herington, who’s been with the group since the mid-80s. The original guitar work on that track, by the way, was from guitar legend Larry Carlton.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but when Walter Becker died, it immediately made me incredibly remorseful that I hadn’t seen them together, just as I hadn’t seen lots of folks over the years. This show became a priority for me, especially to see Fagen, whose solo work I knew before I was even aware of Steely Dan. As a 12-year-old Oklahoma boy with a transistor radio, “IGY” was a staple of early-80s pop radio, and his sound and style became a major influence on my music, too, moreso as I get older than ever before.

Long live Steely Dan.

(If you’re not familiar with “Kid Charlemagne,” here it is live, complete with Michael McDonald, who I’ll be seeing in Tulsa next month. Much of this band, however, is part of the crew that played in Tulsa last night including Carlock and Herington and even the Danettes.)

And last but not least, I put together my own cover version of “Kid Charlemagne,” posted to my YouTube channel at youtube.com/soonerryan2000. Hope you’ll give it a look sometime!

Baseball aspirations: Dodger Stadium and an NLDS sweep over Arizona

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Long before I rooted for the Texas Rangers, I rooted for the New York Mets. Those were the 80s, and I was a teenager.

Before that were the Kansas City Royals, the result of weird TV rules in Oklahoma during the early 1980s where more Royals games were shown on Muskogee television than were Cardinals games.

Hated the Cardinals. Always have. Unfairly so given that I love St. Louis and really enjoyed the new Busch Stadium on my visit four years ago. The 2011 World Series didn’t help.

Now it’s the Cubs I kind of loathe. I’d even root for the Cardinals.

But where it all started for me in baseball was with the Yankees and Dodgers, the Celtics-Lakers of its era, the 1970s. New York had Ron Guidry and Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson and Graig Nettles, Roy White, Willie Randolph, Brian Doyle and more.

And the Dodgers had Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey, the most recognizable infield of the 1970s. It seemed, at least it did to a 7-year-old, that one was either a Yankees fan or a Dodgers fan. The choice was easy for me.

New York’s uniforms were drab: gray and black (to a 7-year-old, there was no difference between dark navy and black). But Los Angeles’ uniforms were bright and clean: white with blue lettering and red front-side numbers.

There was no choice, and my first baseball love was born: the Dodgers.

Make no mistake: At the age of 47, I’m set in stone as a diehard Texas Rangers fan. I’ve been that way since the late 80s. They’re my team, and despite their recent taste of success, they have caused me great consternation over the past several years. Given their absence from the 2017 playoffs, I needed to root for somebody, so I picked the Dodgers.

Truth is: I picked the Dodgers at the beginning of the year to win the World Series…over the Astros. My pick is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it?

But do you know what else looks great? Dodger Stadium. It’s the third-oldest stadium in Major League Baseball, behind Fenway and Wrigley — and for those who love mid-century modern design, this stadium is really kind of perfect. It was built in 1962 and to an outsider like me, it sure looks like it’s stuck in the 1960s.

Not that this is a bad thing, architecturally. And not that I’ve ever been.

I’ve visited a lot of ballparks, many of them over the past few years. I’d certainly like to make it to L.A. for a game in 2018 (as World Champs), but I just haven’t made it out there yet. In fact, I’ve never been to Los Angeles.

That needs to change.

Until it does, I’m sharing some pics from Game 1 of the 2017 NLDS between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. These photos were taken by my girlfriend’s aunt’s friend Robbie McGraw. See if you can follow along with that!

Did you know that even the coloring of the seats in Dodger Stadium is purposeful? When the seats were replaced in 2006, owner Frank McCourt returned them to their original colors of sky blue, yellow and orange. One was a reminder of the bright blue sky in California, while the yellow represents sandy beaches and the orange California’s bright sun.

Pretty cool.

Enjoy the pics. Hope to make Dodger Stadium one of my next baseball park visits.

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