Friday, July 3, 2015

Music Friday: "Scream at the Night" & "Something for Nothing"

I tried out an album from a new band (to me). Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band is an outfit from southern Indiana. 

They truck in a bluesy-country-rock, ass kickin' brand of music. The first song is from the album I purchased this week, and the other is from one of the band's first two albums I don't have. Check 'em out. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stay Positive: Vladimir Guerrero

The international signing period is underway. The Cubs inked a number of players to contracts, but another fact that got my attention is that the Mets signed Gregory Guerrero, who is Vladimir Guerrero's nephew. 

During his peak playing days, I coveted Vlad as a player, but I never could seem to draft him in my fantasy baseball league. He had a cannon for an arm. He'd hit like crazy and drive in rbi. And back in his younger days, he stole some bags. 

Let's take a look at his numbers. 

He played for 16 years ('96-'11). Here are his career numbers (thanks to Baseball Reference):
  • 2,590 hits
  • 477 doubles
  • 449 home runs
  • 1,496 rbi
  • .318 batting average
  • .379 OBP

When he was with the Expos and early on with the Angels, he raked. 

Check out these stat lines per year when he was at his peak:
  • 1998: 108 runs, 38 home runs, 109 rbi, .324 ba,.371 obp
  • 1999: 102 runs, 42 home runs, 131 rbi, .316 ba, .378 obp
  • 2000: 101 runs, 44 home runs, 123 rbi, .345 ba, .410 obp
  • 2001: 107 runs, 34 home runs, 108 rbi, .307 ba, .377 obp
  • 2002: 106 runs, 39 home runs, 111 rbi, .336 ba, .417 obp
  • 2003: 71 runs, 25 home runs, 79 rbi, .330 ba, .426 obp (112 games played and last year with the Expos)
  • 2004: 124 runs, 39 home runs, 126 rbi, .337 ba, .391 obp
  • 2005: 95 runs, 29 home runs, 108 rbi, .317 ba, .394 obp
  • 2006: 92 runs, 34 home runs, 116 rbi, .329 ba, .382 obp
  • 2007: 89 runs, 45 home runs, 125 rbi, .324 ba, .403 obp

Guerrero was one of the best players of his era, and I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame on his first ballot, which will be 2017. 

If you want to read more about this fine ball player, check out Jonah Keri's "Vladimir Had Hubris, And He Had Balls." 

While you'll have to put up with hearing crappy music, below is a highlight video for Vlad. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

(Belated) Music Friday: "Little Lights" plus "Look Up"

I'm way late with this post. The boy and I drove over to the Cincinnati area on Friday for my daughter's dance competition. The ladies de Nasty had already gone over there on Wednesday, and we came later because the boy had rookie league games on Wednesday and late Thursday. 

But enough of my excuses. Let's get to the music. 

If you look at the back of the cd case of the Punch Brothers' The Phosphorescent Blues, you'll find all members of the band starting at smart phones with their faces illuminated. 

"Little Lights" closes the band's recent opus. 

While I guess you can read the lyrics as being positive, I see the song as negative and morose, a commentary on our "connectedness" via technology. Turkle's Alone Together comes to mind. 

These verses support my reading: "Look at us we're glowing/ tripping the dark fantastic," "I can love it all to distraction/," Look at us hold each other spellbound/ Every moment a polished silver/ link in a chain forever," and "Guide us back to where we are/ From where we wanna be." 

Here are the full lyrics to the song: 

"Little Lights"

Look at us we're glowing
Tripping the dark fantastic
Singing the phosphorescent 
pinks and blues
To beloved tunes
In beloved rooms
I can love it all to distraction
With this...

Look at us hold each other spellbound
Every moment a polished silver
link in a chain forever
rattling through
Our beloved tunes
In our beloved rooms
God I've loved you all to distraction
With this

This little light of mine
I'm gonna let it shine

Shine little lights of ours
Like Orion's belt of stars
Connected only from afar
Shine little lights of ours
Like Orion's belt of stars
Guide us back to where we are
From where we wanna be

The tune reminds me of the video "Look Up," which I got introduced to this year at one of my daughter's other dance competitions when a large group of ladies danced to the audio of the video. See below. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

As I was driving down a main road in my town today, coming the other way was a 4x4 pickup truck parading down the road with two large flags situated at the front of the truck's bed, flapping in the wind as it drove. One flag was the American flag. The other was the Stars and Bars. With what happened in Charleston and with the governor of SC wanting to take the Confederate flag down from the state capitol building (as if that act would assuage what happened in that church), you can't pinpoint the motivations for what those two morons in that truck are trying to do. Regardless, it was a spectacle of idiocy I haven't seen in a while.

Roxane Gay has a solid opinion piece in the New York Times: "Why I Can't Forgive Dylann Roof." 

Later that day I was watching my son doing his tae kwon do class. The large women two rows in front of me had one of the uglier tattoos I've seen in a good while. It was on her left shoulder, and it was large version of Hello Kitty, but it was green to make it a zombie Hello Kitty. 

Recently I noticed my son likes saying, "Holy smokes." Then I noticed that I say that too. I can't figure out if I picked it up from him or he picked it up from me. It's a rooster-and-egg thing. 

Since I'm an assistant coach for a machine-pitch baseball team, I've been contemplating pitching a new reality series: Baseball Moms. 

The season premiere of True Detective was quite the episode. Wow. That Colin Farrell character looks like a classic antihero. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Music Friday: "Right on Time" & "Things Happen"

Dawes came out with a new album this month. It's titled All Your Favorite Bands, which comes from a line in one of the songs on the album.

Here are a couple of songs from the album if you want to check them out. One of my favorite tunes on it is "I Can't Think About It Now," but these two songs are more accessible via YouTube. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

Here are some provocative gleanings from the Harper's Index from the past few months:
  • Portion of American who think it is safe to eat genetically modified foods: 2/5
  • Of U.S. scientists who do: 9/10
  • Percentage of deaths in the developing world caused by chronic diseases: 64
  • Percentage of all medical development aid allocated to fighting chronic diseases: 1
  • Percentage of evangelical Christians under the age of 40 who supported gay marriage in 2003: 20
  • Who do today: 43
  • Percentage of Americans who believe vaccines are safe and effective: 53
  • Who believe that houses can be haunted by ghosts: 54
  • Factor by which a Democratic senator is more likely  than the average Amercian to be a lawyer: 127
  • Projected portion of global wealth that will be held by the richest 1 percent of the world's population by the end of 2016: 1/2
  • Portion of high-school dropouts who say they left school to work: 1/4
  • Portion of those dropouts who earn less than $10,000 per year: 3/5
  • Number of the ten most challenged books at U.S. libraries last year whose main characters are non-white or LGBT: 8

One of the more depressing articles I've read in a while is "Rotten Ice: Traveling by Dogsled in the Melting Arctic" by Gretel Ehrlich in April issue of Harper's

It's officially lightning bug season here in east central Illinois. With all the wet weather we've gotten, they're thick as thieves at night.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Music Friday: "American Idiot"

As a prelude to election season, most of the lyrics of this song seem appropriate. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

While I side with the folks who think the Washington D.C. national football league team should change its stupid mascot (a more appropriate mascot would be "Lobbyists," "Super PACs, "Corporate Shills," or "Dark Money"), I also tend to agree with Jerry Seinfeld's recent comments on the Collin Cowherd show. Strangely enough, I saw a number of solid comedians ~ Seinfeld, Rock, and George Wallace ~ on my college campus when I was an undergrad. But that was back in the early 90s. 

Monday's post on Bleed Cubbie Blue is a fair evaluation of the Cubs after a third of the season in the books. With Javier Baez now on the DL because of dumb face-first slides, we certainly aren't going to see him anytime soon, so there's been some wild speculation that they might bring up Kyle Schwarberwho is raking at AA right now, to play DH when they play interleague games. I doubt that happens though. 

This has to be one of the best headlines I've seen in a while. It's about an "amphibious" pitcher. I bet he likes water.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Music Friday: "Use Me"

To commemorate Withers' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I thought I'd share his sultry "Use Me." 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

Lately I've been thinking of some statements people say all the time that don't have any real counters, any opposites that make sense. For example, here are some statements people would likely never say:
  • I love needles. [counter of the often said, "I hate needles."]
  • It's the heat, not the humidity.
  • I enjoy standing in line. [which reminds me of a humorous story about a guy whose hobby is "queuing"]
  • I wish this meeting could go longer. 
  • You need to think inside the box [I might actually use this one because I despise the cliche, "thinking outside the box."]
  • We need to be retroactive.
  • It is what it isn't. 
  • Take the low road.
  • I don't teach or believe in critical thinking.
  • Let's go find my future ex-wife. [I think I've actually said that, however.]

The Nasty household has gotten back to making popcorn the old fashioned way. I use a cast-iron Dutch oven, use three tablespoons of veggie oil, and a half cup of popcorn kernels. Good stuff, people. 

After the watching the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame induction/performance, I promptly got myself a couple of new CDs: The Essential Bill Withers and Green Day's American Idiot

The TV channels I frequent often have pecker-pill commercials on them, and I mute them with the kids in the room. Who wants their kids to hear about "erections" and "erectile dysfunction"? Regardless, I'm worried that after seeing so many commercials about erectile dysfunction that I'll suddenly catch it like the commercials with sultry 40some women could spread ED like a communicable disease. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Music Friday: "Firewood"

So how about a song of melancholy? 

It fits my mood. 

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Asian Kale Salad

Our mortgage guy sends us recipes from time to time. They come on postcards from his company. 

The most recent one is an Asian Kale Salad I just made. I have a ton of kale in my garden, so I figured I'd try it. 

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and discarded, leaves then chopped
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup of diced red onion or three green onion, sliced
1/4 cup of bell pepper, chopped
1 cup of shredded carrots
1/2 cup of sliced almonds

1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons of rice vinegar
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon of honey
Smidge of red chile flakes

Combine the ingredients and toss. Whisk the dressing together and pour over the kale mixture. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes but toss often so it slightly wilts. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

One method the Cubs' owners might get around having trouble with the ridiculous rooftop owners is purchasing the rooftop businesses

While I'm still skeptical the Cubs will make the playoffs, they sure are more interesting to watch this season. The past few seasons were brutal. They weren't fun to watch. 

I'm currently in the midst of reading Bill Pennington's Billy Martin: Baseball's Flawed Genius. When Martin was manager of the Twins, he pulled off a triple steal. I wonder if Joe Maddon has ever thought about doing that. 

The past few years I've gotten into a routine of reading a trio of biographies during late spring/early summer, and the Billy Martin book is the last of the trio. Madison's Gift and a biography of Thomas Hart Benton preceded the Martin biography. 

Here's Benton's controversial Persephone. I viewed this painting when I visited the Nelson-Atkins Museum when I lived in Kansas City. 

If you're a fan of wolves like me, you'll enjoy this video about the wolves in Yellowstone and how their introduction to the park helped improve forests, increased the songbird population, attracted beavers, helped the rivers, and in general improved biodiversity.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Music Friday: "Why I Sing the Blues"

In honor of the passing of B.B. King, today I'm featuring my favorite song of his. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Random Notes from a Crank

If recent hiring practices in MLB are any indication, in the distant future maybe I can become a major league baseball manager. Good luck Marlins

This week I planted a number of plants that repel mosquitoes. On the back patio I have a little garden that has rosemary, lemon thyme, mint, and basil. Then in a couple of medium-size pots, I have some lavender. In the big pot right now I only have rosemary, but I'm waiting for when the citronella plants hit the stores. The bonus of the little garden spot is that I can use those herbs in dishes. Might have to try my hand making a mint julep. 

Tonight when I was driving IL backroads I got nostalgic about the old foot clicker that cars used to have for turning on and off the brights. I'd pay extra for that feature on a new car. 

Minor league baseball put on a "Clash of the Caps." The El Paso Chihuahuas won, but I'm partial to the Montgomery Biscuits, Orem Owlz, Chattanooga Lookouts, Hillsboro Hops, and Lansing Lugnuts.