Saturday, December 13, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

After the Cubs acquired Jon Lester shortly after my last post, Bovada moved the Cubs' odds of winning the World Series to 12-to-1. To me and probably others, moving from 50-to-1 odds to 12-to-1 seems like the folks at Bovada are drunk on Cubs-brand Kool-Aid. "The Chicago Cubs Still Have a Lot of Work to Do" takes a more realistic approach about what went down at the MLB Owners' Meeting this week. And Rob Neyer has a realistic evaluation of where the Cubs with "Even with Lester, Cubs Won't Contend in '15." 

If Ross gets signed, Castillo will get moved for sure. From what I saw of Baez last season, I was impressed with the power and frustrated with the lack of plate discipline, strikeouts, and batting average. The first of that series caused the other two. Whatever happened to hitters shortening their strokes when they have two strikes? Just make some solid contact without jumping out of your shoes. 

As I've noted before, I'm fond of Existential Comics, and this week's strip takes on the absurdity of Candyland. The main characters are Camus and Sartre. As Camus opines, "The contrast between the meaningless, fixed nature of the game and the narratives we tell ourselves as we are playing causes the feeling of the absurd." Exactly.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Music Friday: "Every Mission," "Academy of Lunkers," and "Relative Unto the Aces"

One of my favorite albums that came out this year is Centro-matic's Take Pride in Your Long Odds. It's likely to be placed somewhere in the top five in my top twenty albums of 2014 post later this month. 

Today I offer a trio of song from the album: "Every Mission," "Academy of Lunkers," and "Relative Unto the Aces." 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

I picked up the well received Sex Criminals the other day. It's an interesting, freaky story so far. The problem is this: Where do you store a R-rated comic book volume (vol. 1 collects issues 1-5) when you have kids? I just can't put it in the stack of comic volumes I have downstairs, which include various old and new versions of Daredevil, Fraction's Hawkeye, Gaiman's The Sandman, Fraction's The Immortal Iron Fist, Neurocomic, and Wood's Star Wars series. I found a hiding spot for the volume though, so it's all good. For a sound review of the series, check out Laura Hudson's "The Man Behind the Comic Book That Finally Got Sex Right" on WIRED

And now I'm thinking of checking out The Wicked + The Divine. 12 mythological gods come back every 90 years to inhabit the bodies of humans and then die in 2 years? I might be in. 

The Heisman ceremony is this Saturday. I hope Cooper wins and ends the tyranny of QBs winning the award, but I'm sure Mariota will take home the trophy. 

In the Monday Night Football game, here are the stats from Julio Jones's night: 11 receptions for 259 yards. Roll Tide. 

The MLB winter meetings are being held right now, and a great deal of attention is on which team Jon Lester will sign with. Apparently it's down to the Red Sox and the Cubs. Regardless of whether they sign Lester, the Cubs made some good moves by resigning Jason Hammel and trading for Miguel Montero, a much-need left-handed bat in the lineup. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Mizzou--SEC Chamionship

As much as national championships are major feats for a football team, winning the SEC Championship is almost as sweet. Up until last year, the SEC champion was likely to become the national champion. 

Let's hope that trend reestablishes itself after last night's game. 

The majority of Mizzou's offense was created by Mauk scrambling out of the pocket and heaving it way downfield to that damn 88, Jimmie Hunt. Unlike the Iron Bowl, the nickel and dime backs played the goat on those plays, not Eddie Jackson, who got the start at corner. 

Looking at the stat sheet, you know your team played well defensively for the most part when the leading tackler was a defensive lineman. A'Shawn Robinson had nine tackles, three of which were tackles for loss. 

Blake Sims had an outstanding game. If I remember right, he went six for six on third-down conversions when passing. Overall, he went 23 for 27 for 262 yards and threw two touchdowns. That long touchdown to DeAndrew White a beautiful pass. As usual, Cooper was out there doing Amari-Cooper things with a SEC championship record 12 receptions.

Derrick Henry was another star of the offense with 20 carries for 141 net yards and two touchdowns. Once that guy gets in open space and starts picking up some serious steam, I would hate to be a defensive back trying to tackle him. He's a beast. 

Yesterday Alabama won its 24th SEC championship. Roll Tide.

Alabama will face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl on January 1. The Big 10 champion is a hot team. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Music Friday: "Swimmin' Time"

The wife-husband duo Shovels & Rope has a new album out this year. I've listened to it a few times and am enjoying it. 

Here's the title track from the album. 

And here are a couple of stanzas from the song:

And you can't help but wonder
how long it will be
before the restless ocean
comes lapping to
the branches of the trees

The money in your eyes
has left you blind.
You'll be the one drowning
when it's swimmin' time

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

Maybe it's just me, but often when I sit and watch my son do taekwondo, I want to yell out, "Sweep the leg." 

The other week I got a new book: Zen Pencils. If you like comics and inspirational quotations, you should check it out. 

I think we all should try to dance like the kids in A Charlie Brown Christmas

Of all of the fictional characters out there, Snoopy has to be in the top twenty. 

As college newspaper editorials go, this is one I enjoyed reading even though Inhofe and a like-minded cohort of idiots make me angry and frustrated: "It's Time We Call the Science Deniers What They Are." 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Auburn

As far as highly anticipated games go, this one ranked up there with the Florida rematch in the 2009 SEC Championship. 

Even though Alabama had secured the West division after Ole Miss beat State that afternoon, after the horrifying "kick-six" in last year's Iron Bowl, Tide fans surely wanted to win this game really badly. 

And what a crappy first half for the Tide. I was worried whether the defense would hold up because they were on the field so long. The major difference in the game was Alabama's red-zone defense. They held Auburn to four field goals with good defense and a smidge of luck thrown in.

Blake Sims threw three atrocious interceptions in the middle of the game, which led the coaching staff to get Jacob Coker ready just in case he right the QB ship. Sims did, and the Tide defense played much better in the second half. 

Amari Cooper had a record-setting game: 13 receptions for 224 yards and 3 TDs, an Iron Bowl record for yards received. T.J. Yeldon garnered 127 yards on 19 carries and 2 touchdowns. Derrick Henry had some great runs later in the game and gained 72 yards on five carries and had a touchdown. 

Senior Nick Perry had a key interception in the second half. After Eddie Jackson got torched repeatedly, which was a surprise, senior Bradley Sylve came in and played well. I expected freshman speedster Tony Brown to replace Jackson, so it was satisfying to see him step up, especially because Sylve didn't play well in a number of games last season. 

So up next is the SEC Championship against Mizzou, a team that finds a way to win games. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Music Friday: "Down in a Hole"

I've been so out of it that I forgot to do my regular Music Friday post. 

As I sit here angry and befuddled during halftime of the Auburn-Alabama game, this song seems appropriate. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Western Carolina

Yesterday's game is one fans always worry about. 

And Crimson Tide fans got some scares. Amari Cooper went out early with a bruised knee, and both A'Shawn Robinson (starting DT) and Cam Robinson (starting LT) went out of the game with twisted ankles. Thankfully, it sounds like all three will be fine for the Iron Bowl. Unfortunately, it sounds like Brian Vogler and ArDarius Stewart won't be available for the next game. Stewart has looked good recently. He's a deep threat.

While pundits might nod disapprovingly at giving up 14 points to Western Carolina, the first score was a gift because Alabama clearly recovered a fumble, but the officials didn't deem it so. And then Henry fumbled deep in Alabama's territory, which gave the Catamounts great field position, and they then got a touchdown on a back-shoulder pass. There should have been review on it because the receiver bobbled the ball. 

But whatever. 

The Tide offense came out flat, but the D played well. When they ran the ball, Henry and Fowler looked good in place of the usual tandem of Yeldon and Henry. Yeldon was held out because of his slightly gimpy ankle. Besides the stupid fumble, Henry looked great. And I always enjoy when they line up Fowler at running back. 

This is the type of game a fan watches to see how the youngsters play. Of the younger guys, here are some pertinent stats:
  • RB Tyren Jones: 11 carries for 75 yards, 1 touchdown
  • RB Altee Tenpenny: 11 carries for 66 yards
  • WR Chris Black: 6 catches for 101 yards
  • WR ArDarius Stewart: 5 catches for 51 yards
  • WR Robert Foster: 4 catches for 40 yards
  • WR Cam Sims: 3 catches for 33 yards, 1 touchdown
Blake Sims only played the first half, so we got to see the offense under the guidance of Jacob Coker. I wasn't all that impressed. He did an okay job. 

But I was impressed by the play of Tyren Jones. He's reminds me of Mark Ingram, but he's probably a a bit shorter and slimmer. His legs are always chugging. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Music Friday: "Green Machine"

This week I've been playing the heck out of an old album, Kyuss's Blues for the Red Sun circa 1992. 

Back in the 90s, my buddy Roy and I went to a show in Columbia, MO and saw a triple bill of these bands: Kyuss, Biohazard, and Fishbone. It was excellent, and as much as I'm a huge fan of Fishbone, Kyuss was the band that really impressed both Roy and me. 

So today I offer up "Green Machine." Listen to it, and you can thank me later. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

One of the knocks against Alabama's strong defense this season is that they haven't created a lot of turnovers. That changed yesterday. 

Though State dominated the game from a statistical standpoint, the Tide dominated the game from a realistic standpoint. Key interceptions from Nick Perry, Cyrus Jones, and Landon Collins deflated the Bulldogs yesterday. And the D's ability to shut down State's fine running back Josh Robinson made their offense pretty predictable ~ either Prescott was throwing or running. 

I hadn't seen a safety in a while, so it was fun to witness one of those in the first quarter. 

As for the offense, it sustained some drives, but it wasn't clicking like it could have. Sure, Amari Cooper was out there doing Amari Cooper things, but State's D is pretty salty, especially in the red zone. The offense and Yeldon got it going in the fourth quarter to finally put the game away even though State came back in the fourth, scored a touchdown late, and didn't succeed with an onside kick.  

If I'm getting this right, the SEC West breaks down this way: 

  • If Alabama wins against Auburn, it goes to the SEC Championship.
  • If Alabama loses to Auburn and State beats Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, State goes to the SEC Championship.
  • If Alabama loses to Auburn and Ole Miss beats State in the Egg Bowl, Ole Miss goes to the SEC Championship.
The East breaks down this way:
  • If Mizzou loses a game, Georgia goes the SEC Championship.
  • If Mizzou wins the rest of its SEC matches (Tennessee and Arkansas), they go to the SEC Championship.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Music Friday: "In the Meantime"

I've been in a musical rut lately. However, I purchased the new Foo Fighters album this week after having watched the first four episodes of their HBO series Sonic Highways.

It's the only album I have from the Foo Fighters. I don't know why I never got into them. I like uptempo hard rock, so you think they'd appeal to me. The band usually employs three different guitars at a time. I like that. And they have a good drummer. 

I'll ponder this all while in the meantime, I'll give you a classic song circa 1992, Helmet's "In the Meantime."  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Hangover: LSU

Last night in Baton Rouge we watched a typical Alabama-LSU slugfest. None of this spread-you-out, soft, finesse football. Hard hits abounded. No bullshit football. 

Besides a few drives by the Crimson Tide, LSU dominated the the game in regulation. Alabama beat the Tigers in total offensive yards - 315 to 259 - but LSU had the ball the most on offense: 38:16 to Alabama's 21:44. That's a huge difference in ball control. 

Credit the Tide D for hanging in there and sustaining a pounding. 

Credit the offense for waking up with 50 seconds to go in regulation. Sims came alive, and so did the receiving corps. 

On defense, DL Jarran Reed and LB Reggie Ragland accounted for 28 total tackles:
  • Reed: 2 solos, 13 assists, one of which was a tackle for loss
  • Ragland: 4 solos, 9 assists, one of which was a tackle for loss
The great catch and run by Cooper for a TD and the beautiful fade pass to White for the winning touchdown in overtime are plays to remember from this game. 

As much as I'm happy about the win, I'm concerned about the Tide's running game. The Tide will get tested by Mississippi State's "Psycho Defense" this coming Saturday. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Stay Positive: How To Suck at Your Religion

I'm not as huge of a fan of The Oatmeal as I'm sure other people are, but the recent offering of "How to Suck at Your Religion" hits my sweet spot. Check it out. 

Music Friday: "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing"

After watching the Mr. Dynamite documentary (mentioned in my previous post), this week trips in my car have been funkified by listening to James Brown's 50th Anniversary Collection, which is a two-CD set of fifty songs. 

One of my favorite songs is the one below. That video is an extended version of the song. And I've linked the song as covered by Living Colour