Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stay Positive: Charlie Murphy's True Hollywood Stories-Prince

"Assemble your crew. I'll be outside." 

"Is anyone up for a game of basketball?"

"The shirts against the blouses"

"Computer Blue"

"Why don't you purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka." 

"Game ... Blouses"

Click HERE to watch the video from Chappelle's Show

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Music Friday: "Sign O' the Times," "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," & "Starfish and Coffee"

Unfortunately, Prince died this week. 

I was never a huge fan of the guy. I liked his music but was never "in to him." I always thought he was talented as hell, and I sure know a number of high school girls in the 80s who loved his music. 


My favorite album of his was Sign O' the Times


Here are a few of my favorite tunes from that fine album. 







Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

If you're like me, you'll enjoy Bill Maher's points about US taxpayers subsidizing religions. For the short version, here's an article on RawStory: "Bill Maher Calls for Taxes on All Religions." 

For the full argument, here's the video.




His argument works nicely with the fact that many of the founding fathers were freemasons who believed fiercely in the strict separation of church from state.

Grist has an interview with a chef who tries to have his restaurant be sustainable. I had never heard of blue fish, but I like his point about using broccoli leaves. I am growing baby broccoli in my garden this summer. Something to remember. 

Also from Grist, there's an article about how "More Californians Work in 'Advanced Energy' Jobs than Farming or Hollywood." The final ¶ of the article sums up what we might see more of from politicians: "In the world of politics, 'jobs' are solid political gold. They are the glittering beacon that politicians will cross party lines to get closer to, in their eternal quest to find the perfect factory floor for shaking hands. This particular study is only in its second year, but it already bodes well for even more legislation in support of clean energy, in California and beyond."

Monday, April 18, 2016

[Belated] Sunday Hangover: A-Day Game

The defenses dominated this season's spring game at Bryant-Denny. 

I feel bad for the poor guy who had to try to block Tim Williams. He and Rashaan Evans, who had 17 tackles, took over the game. Quarterbacks rarely had time to throw passes, so it was difficult finding out who won the quarterback battle. The four players vying for the job will take the competition into fall practice as has been usual the past few seasons. 

The quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is expected to redshirt, this season arguably had the best day of the four quarterbacks. He's a dual-threat qb who has quite a bit of quickness. 

The first-team offense was able to do very little against the first-team defense. In contrast, Damien Harris, who worked at running back for the second-team offense, had a very good day. Scarbrough has generated a lot of attention because of his similarities to Henry, but Harris reminded me of a cross between Kenneth Darby and Mark Ingram. 

From my perspective, I'm feeling good about the defense. The offense has an outstanding receiving corps at wide receiver and tight end, but the quarterbacks had little time to get them the ball. The work in the off-season will determine who starts on the o-line and at quarterback. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

Here's some positive news about what could be possibly coming: "The Future Will Be Quiet." The author points to five probable changes that will ease noise pollution. I'm especially pleased about number two because I hate gas-powered leaf blowers and weed whackers because those small engines pollute the hell out of the environment. And they're loud. 

Speaking of noise pollution, the family that moved in up the street has a son. I guess he's probably somewhere in his mid-teens and doesn't seem the sharpest. This kid enjoys driving his noisy, rickety lawn tractor up and down the street. He approached me the other day about him possibly mowing my lawn on a regular basis, which is not going to happen since I have lawn mower, and using a lawn tractor in my front and back yards is silly. I don't think riding up and down the street is a sound marketing plan. Instead of wasting gas, he should read a damn book or something. 


I've lived in this area of east central Illinois for years now, but not until recently did I start shopping at Aldi. The grocery store is in the town that is about eight miles away, but I go to that town usually three days a week to drop off or pick up my daughter from dance and tumbling practice. So I'm now finally reveling in how much good stuff I getting for good prices. Just last week it was announced that my town will be getting an Aldi this fall. Huzzah for the frugal shoppers of Coles County. 


Last night I finished the first season of Marco Polo, which is an Netflix series. I really enjoyed it. I don't know much about Marco Polo or Kubla Khan or Chinese history, so I see a book purchase or two about Polo or Khan in my future. 

Music Friday: "Birdhouse In Your Soul" & "Your Racist Friend"

I'm going back to the late 80s with this one. When I entered college in 1989, the guy across the hall and two doors down from my dorm room loved playing Flood by They Might Be Giants. 

It's a good album. 


And these are two of my favorite songs on the album. The second video is their appearance on Letterman's old show. 




Friday, April 8, 2016

Music Friday: "Someone Take the Wheel" & "Happy Town"

As I mentioned in a previous Music Friday post, I was reading Trouble Boys, a book that recounts the rise and fall of The Replacements. 

For the most part, All Shook Down was a Westerberg solo affair and not really a band album. But I've always enjoyed the album even though purists of The Replacements have negative feelings about the work. Of course, some of those people probably think the band was at its best with Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash! and Hootenanny. I am not one of those people. 


Regardless, in his book Mehr notes that the album is like a suicide note for the band. He's on the mark with that comment. Westerberg picked the album cover because the two dogs summed up the state of the band: he and Tommy Stinson out there trying to keep it going. 

So here are a couple of tunes from that disc.





Friday, April 1, 2016

Stay Positive: Greatest Simpsons Religious Jokes

As much as the Simpsons' cavalcade of characters are seen in church, the series definitely has had some satirical comments about religion. 

Check out "The 18 Greatest Simpsons Religion Jokes." 

Stay Positive: Adult Jokes on the Simpsons

The Simpsons series has been inserting adult jokes into the series from the beginning. 

Follow the link to remember the "27 Dirtiest Simpsons Jokes in the History of the Series."

Music Friday: "Centerfield"

Baseball starts Sunday night. 

Tomorrow I'll be in St. Louis for my fantasy baseball draft. Draft Day is one of my favorite days of the year. In addition, I'll be bringing back my league's trophy because I won the league last year. 

Roll Schlitzophrenics Roll. 

I'm sure this song will be played at all kinds of ball parks this season. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

This is a really basic recipe that I made the other day. For Taco Tuesday, the Nasty family scarfed down on some chicken tacos. 

Ingredients 

I package of boneless and skinless chicken thighs
1 Anaheim chili, finely chopped
Half of a yellow onion, finely chopped
Quarter of a bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup of chicken stock
Healthy smidge of Penzey's salsa seasoning
Health smidge of Penzey's taco seasoning
Small smidge of ground cumin

Process

Take roughly half of the chili, onion, and pepper and put it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Lay in the chicken and then sprinkle the rest of the chili, onion, and pepper. Dump in the stock, add some salt and pepper, and let it cook on the low setting for six hours or so. 

When the chicken is ready, transport it to a cutting board with however much of the chili, onion, and peppers you want. Shred the chicken and then sprinkle the seasoning on it and  mix. 


When I do it again, I plan to use more chicken stock because the chicken got a little too dry for my taste. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Fantasy Red Herrings

Below is the the sixth annual installment of my Fantasy Red Herrings post. Like I did in '15, '14, '13'12 and '11, I'm providing my usual intro before the good stuff...

Since I know some readers of this blog are my comrades who will draft players in our fantasy baseball league this Saturday, I thought I'd post about players that GMs might want to target for the upcoming season.

But my fellow GMs might think this document is simply a list of red herrings.

Maybe players on it are.

Maybe players on it aren't.

Regardless, here are players to target or low risk/high reward players for 2014. 


First Base: Chris Carter, Milwaukee Brewers

This dude is often overlooked because he hits for such a low average. But I play in an OBP league, so Carter is a good guy to nab in the later rounds to fill in at the Util spot. He moves from a home hitter's park (Houston) to another home hitter's park (Milwaukee), so I expect him to sustain his high home run and decent rbi totals. The last few years he hit 24 ('15), 37 ('14), and 27 ('13) home runs. Anywhere in the 25-35 home run range should be expected. 




Second Base: Logan Forsythe, Tampa Bay Rays

This guy put up a solid season even though most non-rotowhores don't know who he is. He'll put up mid-teen numbers in steals and homers along with decent runs and rbi totals. Also, he's projected for a .345 OBP. If you don't draft one of the elite second basemen, Forsythe is a good option for later in the draft. 




Shortstop: Jung-Ho Kang, Pittsburgh Pirates

I'm planning on drafting all kinds of players from the Far East this year, and Kang is on my fantasy radar. He's an excellent hitter with decent pop. Like Forsythe, he's projected for a .340ish OBP. He also qualifies at third base. 




Third Base: Maikel Franco, Philadelphia Phillies

In 80 games last season, he hit 14 home runs and had 50 rbi with an OBP of .343. Based on that track record, if he plays 150 games, he'll hit 26 home runs. One would expect him to hit for a lower average now that pitchers know his weaknesses, but I have on rose-colored glasses when viewing this guy. He has tremendous power. 




Outfield: Nori Aoki, Seattle Mariners

I've been high on this guy since he's been in the league. He's a late-round pick who can fill in at outfield when other guys are not playing. He'll get on base, steal an occasional bag, and score a good amount of runs.




Starting Pitcher: Jon Gray, Colorado Rockies

Yes, I'm featuring a Colorado pitcher. And no, I'm not drunk. He's expected to an "ace" by scouts across the league. He had a less than stellar season last year, but he is supposed to make a major step forward this season. The projections I'm using say he's going to have 4.02 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP, which isn't bad for a late-round pick. Heck, he might be the kind of player you could stream or just start on the road and only at home versus weak offenses. 




Relief Pitcher: Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks

The pride of the Missouri State Bears had a great season last year. With an improved rotation and a burgeoning offense, the Snakes should be a stronger ball club. My only concerns would be that he's only been a closer for one season, and his 2014 season was atrocious ~ 8 blown saves. 


Friday, March 25, 2016

Music Friday: "First Breath After Coma"

When I have a decent writing task, I prefer not to listen to music with lyrics. If I have a complicated writing task, I don't listen to music at all. 

I was writing some letters of recommendation this morning, so I was listening to Explosions in the Sky. 

This song is a good one, the first track on The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

If you're not watching Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, you're missing something. It's too bad the show is only on once a week. 

Here's a greatest hits from the first six weeks of the show posted on sheknows.com: "8 Times Samantha Bee Has Positively Owned Late Night."  

The other day my daughter and I were watching the program, and she said, "I want to be like her," meaning she wants to be someone who does investigative reporting and calls out people on their bullshit. 

This is the same young lady who volunteered to enter a speech contest and won second without any help from her parents. If she does it again next year, I'm going to make sure I consult on the speech. Next time we'll be gunning for first. 

Seth Meyers had a nice piece on the nonsense of trickle-down economics happening in Kansas. Those policies are as dumb as a box of dildos. Literally. 





"Why Donald Trump Is Wrong about Manufacturing Jobs and China" from The New Yorker is an interesting read. I wrote about reshoring in 2012 and 2013. I'd still like to see more jobs come back to the U.S.A. One move both Trump and Sanders have made is tapping into resentment about "free trade." In fact, Trump talks like a protectionist, which among other Trump-based matters, is roiling the GOP establishment.

Unfortunately, Sports Illustrated has predicted that the Cubs will be in the World Series this season. That's bad news because SI is notorious for being horrible at predictions. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Music Friday: "Never Mind" & "Shooting Dirty Pool"

I'm halfway through Bob Mehr's Trouble Boys: The True Story of The Replacements, which I'll probably prattle on about in a "Stay Postive" post in the future. 

The only other music artist biography I've read is one about Woody Guthrie, so it's not often I read major long form work about musicians. But The Replacements are one of my favorite bands of all time, a fact you'd know if you've been reading this blog for some time. 


See the following: 


Anyway, here's a couple of tunes from Pleased to Meet Me. The first is mostly about Westerberg trying to apologize to Bob Stinson, one of the founding members of the band who was kicked out the band prior to recording that album. The second song is about sleazy music venue owners. 

Enjoy.