Tom’s hopes and prayers for the new year—and struggles with Spotify

So I’m driving along, doing what I find myself doing more and more often these days—yelling at my car because Spotify (in an unholy alliance with whatever electronic stuff in my car is responsible for playing music) sucks the crud from between the toes of the character El Guapo from the movie Three Amigos. It has become a daily, white-knuckle struggle, one in which I should not have to be engaged at my age and at this point in the Age of Technology. I just want to listen to "Uptown Funk"; is that too much to ask?

Instead, one time I'll start the car and the song that was on when I had turned the car off starts playing (just like it used to with CDs...and cassettes...and 8-tracks). But other times I have to push buttons on the steering wheel or the display screen. Or I have to turn on the phone and do that squiggly code on the nine-point grid or I have to give it my fingerprint (which I sometimes space on and give it the wrong finger).

I also have to go through spoiled brat Google to get to Spotify. If I'm lucky and it (they) feel like talking to me that day, I sometimes (often) get the wrong song. The other day, I asked for "At This Moment" by Billy Vera and the Beaters. But instead of giving me the live version, which hit No. 1 on the Billboard chart in 1986, Spotify, apparently using an algorithm written by a "C" student at a charter school, gave me a studio version of the song. And, of course, I start yelling, "No, not that one!"—like that's going to do anything.

A word of advice: Don't even think of asking Spotify to play "Things Can Only Get Better" by Howard Jones. It'll give you something that sounds like a middle-school pep band whose members had consumed a couple cases of five-hour energy drinks before starting in on the tune.

However, the other day, I asked for (and received) "Son of a Preacher Man," the soul classic by Dusty Springfield. After the song was over, the blind-squirrel algorithm got one right and gave me Springfield's "Wishin' and Hopin'." It got me to thinkin' (and plannin' and dreamin') about 2019. This past year started badly, but the #RedforEd movement in Arizona and the national flipping of the House of Representatives were good signs. But we have work to do and focus to maintain if we are to rid our beloved country of the four-year pestilence that is the Trump Administration.

And so, in this new year:

I WISH fake-ass dude ranch-wannabe state legislator Mark Finchem would mind his own business and/or do his damn job.

Now, it's true, as Finchem claims, that the state Constitution is crazily written to make all of the counties into little state-lets that must do the bidding of the omnipotent state Legislature. But, as most adults have figured out by the time they're in their mid-20s, just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should. Personally, I think Pima County should take the money from the feds to pay for Sheriff's Department overtime. But if county officials don't want to, Finchem shouldn't be allowed to force them to take it.

And now, the Kalamazoo Kowboy wants to institute a code of conduct for teachers that will prohibit educators from introducing political or religious talk in the classroom. That sounds fairly level-headed, which is probably why it's already the law in Arizona. Finchem is just all butt-hurt that #RedforEd was such a rousing success last spring, so he's lashing out.

I HOPE that November's elections really were a turning point for our country. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan floated an interesting theory. She suggested that Trump, seeing the dark clouds gathering all around him and facing another monster repudiation at the polls in 2020, would simply declare victory and walk away after one term. He could claim that he had given himself and his rich buddies a fat tax cut, his cronies had ruined the environment for generations to come, he had dealt a death blow to the integrity of the Supreme Court, and he had all but publicly pleasured his new best bud, Vladimir Putin. What else is there for him to do but to go back to his business and steal money the old-fashioned way?

The only problem with that is that there will be a slew of criminal complaints against him the minute he stops being president, so the only way for him to stay out of the Big House is to stay in the White House.

Finally, I HOPE and PRAY that Clay Parsons and his cattle ranching family can dig their way out of the financial mess caused them by an embezzler. I met Clay through basketball. (The Parsons girls were BALLERS!) He and I gleefully disagree on just about everything politically, but who cares? He and his family are good, decent people and they don't deserve what happened to them.

He should have been able to retire soon, but it's probably going to take several more years of hard work to dig his way out of the hole. If anybody can do it, Clay Parsons (and his family) can.

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