Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Alabama vs. Mizzou in '12? It Could Happen.

Click HERE for a solid breakdown of what might happen for the season opener of 2012: a SEC/Big 12 matchup in the new Cowboys stadium.

The Tigers playing the Crimson Tide is a distinct possibility.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Sack

I'm a fan of baseball, and being in a fantasy baseball league for the past eight years has only intensified that passion.

However, I pine for some pigskin, in particular college football.

So to assuage my need for some football, I've trolled YouTube for what Alabama football fans call "The Sack," a brutal hit by Conrelius Bennett that knocked Steve Beurlein out of the game.

Click HERE to enjoy some controlled violence.

Unnecessary Quotes

If you liked the blog about apostrophes, I bet you'll enjoy this one (click HERE) about unnecessary quotation marks, another annoying habit some people have.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Free Mark DeRosa

Dear Cubs Management:

Free Mark DeRosa.

Trade for DeRosa soon. Although we hope that Aramis gets back healthy soon, DeRosa would be a significant improvement at second base at the very least. I like Fontenot, but DeRosa is a big step above him. And DeRosa, when needed, could spell Ramirez or any of the corner outfield spots, especially if Milton Bradley has to be sent home from time to time.

In an interview with the media prior to the Indians series, DeRosa said his two years in Chicago were the best years of his career. And it was obvious to me that he wants to return to Wrigleyville.

Free Mark DeRosa.

Music Friday: "Who'll Stop the Rain"

So you though I would have linked a Michael Jackson video, huh? Think again. I'll let the chattering cable news networks do their thing as they pick through his bones, metaphorical and otherwise.

So click HERE to enjoy Fogerty doing the CCR classic, a song with a chorus those of us in the Midwest can identify with.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Greening with Envy"

If you're interested, click HERE for a short article in The Atlantic that details how the company Positive Energy, led by professor Robert Cialdini, is harnessing the competitive spirit of people to help them make their homes more energy efficient.

I know if I got a utility bill that showed how my energy or water use stacks up against my neighbors, I would make it my goal to destroy them in regard to energy efficiency. I would try to kick their inefficient asses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stay Positive Wednesday: Ice Cream Sandwiches

With summer having awakened here in central Illinois with 90 plus degree days recently, the best prescription after coming in from outdoors is one of the greatest food product inventions ever: the ice cream sandwich.

Although I'm sure there are many highbrow ice cream sandwiches out there that employ different types of ice cream in the middle (cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, etc.), I prefer the simple ones--vanilla in between two basic chocolately product slices. Or, if I want to switch it up a bit, I go Neopolitan.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Chronicling Misuses

A friend of the blog sent along a link to another site that chronicles "apostrophe abuse."

The common mistake most people know about is this one: its (possessive) versus it's (contraction). While I'm not really someone who gets all bent out of shape about grammatical snafus from time to time (However, if they're happening on a regular basis, then there's a problem.), apostrophe abuse is one practice annoys me quite a bit. I especially don't like people writing decades with apostrophes, such as the "80's."

Click HERE if you want to view examples of apostrophe abuse.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Music Friday: "Welfare Music"

I ordered a great cd this summer. It's The Brooklyn Side by The Bottle Rockets, a band based in St. Louis. I had heard their songs from time to time when listening to KDHX, but I had never bought one of the band's albums.

This album from 1994 is outstanding. Click HERE for the opening song of the opus. But there are some great tunes on it: "Sunday Sports," "1000 Dollar Car," "Stuck in a Rut," "Idiot's Revenge,", "Radar Gun" (the one song that got national airplay), among others.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wisdom from Montaigne

I recently purchased The Complete Works of Michel De Montaigne because I wanted to read all of his essays since he's the Frenchman in the 16th century who invited the loose-form essay.

Since the book is over 1300 pages, not a text you want to carry around, I decided to read one essay a day, and I'll be doing that for a good while until I get to his travel journal and his letters.

But I thought I'd share some statements from Montaigne to ponder, ones I particularly liked.

From "By Diverse Means We Arrive at the Same End": "Truly man is a marvelously vain, diverse, and undulating object. It is hard to found any constant and uniform judgment on him.

From "Ceremony of Interviews Between Kings": "Not only each country but each city has its particular forms of civility, and so has each occupation."

From "That the Taste of Good and Evil Depends in Large Part on the Opinion We Have of Them": "To judge of great and lofty things we need a soul of the same caliber; otherwise we attribute to them the vice that is our own. A straight oar looks bent in the water. What matters is not merely that we see the thing, but how we see it."

From "Of Fear": "The thing I fear most is fear."

So I wonder, how does your city have a peculiar or "particular" form of civility? And it seems that F.D.R. channeled an aristocratic Frenchman in one of his most famous speeches.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Stay Positive Wednesday: Bikes

I'm going to try out a new feature of this humble blog, which I'll call "Stay Positive Wednesday."

I tend to have a pessimistic bent, and a recent quiz I took on Facebook might validate that leaning. I took the "What Crazy Writer Are You" quiz, and my result was Cormac McCarthy, who is described in this way: "You love sunsets, the open range, and the freedom of the west... it would be a stretch to say that such things make you happy, though. All you see around you is darkness and greed; everywhere men go, they bring with the darker side of nature. All you can do is escape to your ranch and become one with the part of nature that mankind hasn't yet corrupted, keeping an eye on the evening redness in the west, looking for that glimmer of hope that pierces the darkness. What a fun guy..."

I actually prefer the Midwest or the South, but that's a small quibble. Regardless, to pull me out of the darkness, I'm going to be like The Hold Steady and "stay positive." So here it goes.

If you prefer a more environmentally-focused reason why bicycles are good things to use, you can click HERE and read onward. However, it's fun just to ride a bike because it gets you back to being a kid. For Father's Day, I got the bike that's shown above, a cruiser variety of a Schwinn. Like the famous Howlin' Wolf song, it's built for comfort and not for speed.

But it's a good time for my whole family to take a bike ride, enjoy the wind whipping by, and get a little exercise on a nice day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Pimento Cheese

You see pimento cheese quite a bit in the South, and I like it. Spreading it on bread or some crackers is good eats. I've heard it's also good on top of hamburgers. I might have to try that soon.

Regardless, here's a recipe for making it, a recipe I adapted from a magazine.

24 oz. shredded sharp cheddar
2 4 oz. jars of diced pimentos
4 tablespoons of mayo
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of dried sage
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of Old Bay seasoning
1 tablespoon of Penzey's Northwoods Seasoning
4 dashes of hot sauce
1 tablespoon of kosher salt
Lots of cracked black pepper

Combine all of the above ingredients (I used a mixer) until mixed thoroughly and enjoy.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grocery Store Pontifications

Proper and effective bagging at grocery stores is a lost skill. But I found someone who knows what to do. Her name is Angel.

I went to the local grocery store tonight, and I was pleased that Angel sacked bags right. I use sturdy reusable bags for shopping, and Angel sacked the right way: large items, such as a gallon of ice cream or cans, on the bottom to act a base to support the softer or bruisable goods at the top.

The main culprit to this lost skill are all the damn plastic bags that take up space in our lives and float about America as detritus, symbols of our throwaway consumer culture.

I also noticed as I was checking out that a young couple, college age, was buying a six-pack of Natural Light, a beer that screams, "Buy me in a 12, 24, or 30 pack because you need that much to enjoy my alcoholic treasures."

The image of a six pack of Nattie Light is some good incongruity. A beer that needs to be drank in heavy quantities is bought in six-pack form. To which I ask, "What's the point?" If you're buying that crappy of beer, buy in bulk, my friends, buy in bulk.

Now if they would have bought a sixer of tall boys, then that's a different story. Beer, by its nature, should be quaffed in pint form.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Music Friday: "America's Favorite Pastime" & "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues"

It's another week, and another great musician put out a new album. The incomparable Todd Snider released The Excitement Plan.

Click HERE to watch Snider play a track from his new album, titled "America's Favorite Pastime," in some hotel room with Don Was nodding along with the song. The tune recounts Dock Ellis's no-hitter in 1970 for the Pirates, a no-hitter he threw under the influence of LSD, which he admitted to doing in 1984.

And for more fun, click HERE to watch Snider talk about an encounter with Slash and sing one of the songs he's more famous for.

Since it's baseball season and the first song is about baseball, as Ernie Banks was fond of saying, "Let's play two."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Darby Gets Spooked

Our dog has been spending a ton of time outside lately, which isn't a surprise since it's been nice out. But ole Darby has been on a mission. For the past week it was obvious some type of animal was under our shed in the backyard.

Initially I thought it was a chipmunk since she waged an war with one of those last summer, a war she lost.

This morning I looked out to see the dog light out toward the shed in hot pursuit, and then she suddenly stopped as if she was spooked. And she was. A little, maybe an adolescent about the size of a rat, possum waddled out in front of her from one corner of the shed to the other corner as Darby stared at it in disbelief. 

Ugliness is obviously a natural defense mechanism. 

But with a certain link in mind (Click HERE), maybe I should do some hunting?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Long Tall Abe

What you see here is the enormous statue at Lincoln Springs Resort, which is just east of Charleston. It's billed as the tallest statue of Lincoln in the world. All fiberglass, baby!

Lincoln Springs has the best miniature golf course I've ever played on though. The owner shelled out some serious dough to create those eighteen holes, and the restaurant on the premises has pretty good barbeque too. 

The "resort" is strange though. Right beside the establishment is a quarry and the Charleston Speedway for dirt tack racing.

Shake and Bake!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Collard Greens

My row of collard greens was ready for picking this weekend, so I made one of my favorite dishes: slow-cooked collard greens.

Here are the ingredients:
1 smoked turkey leg
3-4 large bunches of collard greens
Maybe 3 quarts of water (?)
I package of Wiley's "Healthy Southern Classics" Greens Seasoning
1 tablespoon of Penzey's Cajun Seasoning
Lots of cracked black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Dashes of Louisiana hot sauce

I picked up some "greens seasoning" at a store a while back, and I thought I'd give it a whirl.

I started by putting the turkey leg in, covering it with the water, and simmering it for about an hour. Then I chopped my collard greens (make sure you cut out the stems) in one to one and a half inch ribbons, dropped them into the pot, and added a bit of water and the greens seasoning.

After about an hour of simmering, I check the potlikker, and it was okay. My skepticism about the store-bought seasoning was realized. To compensate, I dropped in some cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, and hot sauce.

After about another hour, I cut the heat, served the greens, and enjoyed them. Next time, I'll just go back to using basic seasoning (Cajun seasoning, kosher salt, pepper, hot sauce) and maybe add some smoked paprika. I'm wary of greens seasoning with ingredients I have a hard time pronouncing or spelling. Also, "Uncle Wiley's Company" is based in Fairfield, Connecticut--not exactly ground zero for collard greens.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Music Friday: "Roadhouse Blues"

Click HERE for a tune from Ryan Bingham, a fellow who released his second album this week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Poor Wayne Trimble

Click HERE for a hard-hitting story about how a tavern owner in St. Louis got duped. Thanks to a friend of PlannedOb who passed along the link.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"The Altruism in Economics"

If you're interested, click HERE for what I found to be an interesting article about the flaws of traditional economic models and information about behavioral economics. These economists are going against the "horse-and-sparrow" model.