Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunday Hangover: Auburn

The Tide's performance in the Iron Bowl is one that doesn't inspire confidence about how they'll fare against Florida on Saturday.

But Alabama won behind the solid play of McElroy and Julio Jones in the fourth quarter. The Auburn defense held Ingram in check while both Richardson and Upchurch (pictured above after the game-winning touchdown) played well even though Auburn's DLine consistently created problems for Alabama's OLine.

However, Javier Arenas showed why he's one of the best return men in the country with his prolific punt and kickoff returns, and the Tide won. Statistics were on Auburn's side, but Alabama won through pluck and grit.

I wonder whether playing a cream puff the week before left a mental hangover for the team because the first quarter brought back memories of the horrific Sugar Bowl versus Utah. But besides Barron getting beaten badly on a stop-and-go route early in the third quarter, the D got it together after Auburn threw all kinds of reverses and trick plays at them.

Once again, the SEC Championship is the route to entering the BCS Championship. I hope the Tide plays much better in Atlanta.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Disney Post-Mortem

As is our fashion, when we visit the grandparents in Florida, we usually take in a Disney theme park or two.

Here are some random observations from this trip to Disney:
  • What is it with going to Disney that makes college football fans wear all of their gameday gear? I saw scads of LSU fans with their garb on along with Auburn, Tennessee, Florida, and Alabama. There was lots of double- and triple-dorking going on. For example: a guy wearing a Michigan jersey along with a hat; a dude wearing a strange camo-like sweat suit with LSU on the pants, jacket, and hat--all matching; and a fellow decked out in Georgia red and black. Less is more, people.
  • I'll say this again: tattoos don't age well.
  • I'm not being xenophobic here, but in America we tend to walk on the right side of the street like we drive our cars. Get with it, Europeans.
  • We destroy main streets across America, but then we create hokey facsimiles of them in theme parks? Is America, as Bill Bryson relates I'm a Stranger Here Myself, prone to celebrating things it destroys? Is American culture a Faux Culture?

Music Friday: "Gin and Juice"

To celebrate the day after Thanksgiving, I hereby present the Gourds' cover of "Gin and Juice."

Click HERE to watch them perform this hip-hop classic via the medium of bluegrass.

"Laid back ... with my mind on my money and my money on my mind."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stay Positive: Looking at the Stats

I like it when people look at assumptions by examining raw data.

This is college football related, but if you read and listen to the pundits, Greg McElroy is doing a really poor job as Alabama's QB. McElroy has admitted that he had some rough games during the middle of the season, especially versus South Carolina and Ole Miss.

Well, the good folks at The Bama Sports Report examine this situation by comparing McElroy against the rest of the SEC QBs. Their analysis is quite revealing. Click HERE if you're interested.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't Call Me Warrior

The latest issue of Mother Jones interviews one of the best American writers out there, Sherman Alexie.

If you're interested, you can read the interview by clicking HERE.

His collection of short stories, Ten Little Indians, ranks as one of the best short collections in American literature, in my opinion. I look forward to reading War Dances.

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee-Chattanooga

I don't have much to say about this game since we're weren't home yesterday. I did get to catch the last ten minutes of the fourth quarter, however. I was happy to watch Roy Upchurch (pictured above) score a touchdown since he's a senior and he's battled injuries all his career at the Capstone.

After reading post-game interviews, examining the stats, and perusing some articles about what some folks would call a scrimmage instead of game, it sounds like Ingram had a solid game in limited action, and the Tide decided to get a lot of players involved in order to rest folks for the Iron Bowl, which is earlier this year--the Friday after Thanksgiving.

So Alabama travels to Auburn for its final regular season game. The Plainsmen/War Eagle People/Tigers would love to spoil the Tide's season. And they have solid athletes on their team; it's not like Tubberville left the cupboard bare. We'll see what happens.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Music Friday: "Belvedere"

Click HERE to watch a video from one of Patterson Hood's songs from his solo effort, Murdering Oscar.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Brief Tracks

I received a postcard in the mail today from Truman State University where I got both my Bachelor's and Master's degrees.

I was sad to see that one of my former professors passed away this year. Jim Thomas was a Professor of English at Truman for over thirty years, and students knew him well as a kick-ass raconteur and poet. On December 3rd, there will be a poetry reading in honor of him in the 'ville, and Truman State University Press has published a selection of his poems from his lifetime collection called Brief Tracks.

Thomas had a wicked sense of humor, and he loved to read his poetry in class. I took him for three classes: creative writing, American Realism & Naturalism, and a special topics course where we read the novels by John Updike and Toni Morrison (an odd pairing). One of my favorite short quips of his was that one of Dreiser's lesser known but great novels was A Canadian Tragedy. He turned me on to Updike, which led me to write my Master's thesis on Updike's four novels about Harry "Rabbit" Angstrom.

If you're interested in checking out Brief Tracks, click HERE.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

I got a fever. And the only prescription is less cowbell.

If you watched this game on ESPN last night, you might have noticed all that noise in the background. Yes, those were cowbells.

The Bulldogs came out strong in the first quarter, but the Crimson Tide D and offense did a fine job of silencing, well perhaps more like muffling, them since they're catalyzed by the play of the Bulldogs of Mississippi State.

I do have to say that Anthony Dixon, State's senior RB, is a load.

But the Alabama D played well, especially the two fellows featured above, safety Mark Barron (4) and cornerback Marquis Johnson (24). Barron had two interceptions while Johnson had one at the end of the game. And Johnson had some excellent pass breakups. And you can see Barron's vertical leaping ability after he had knocked the ball off course on one play. Since Kareem Jackson and Javy Arenas are the top two corners on the team, Johnson gets thrown at a lot, and he's been doing well under the heat. He needs to keep it up.

Ingram had yet another solid game, and McElroy had two long TD passes.

A game against the Tennessee-Chattanooga this Saturday, and then it's the Iron Bowl on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Music Friday: "Times Like These"

It's been a hell of a week. I won't bore you with the details.

But click HERE to enjoy the smooth musical stylings of Jack Johnson.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Hangover: LSU

This game lived up to the hype. There was great defense, and both teams made big plays.

Thankfully, QB McElroy looked much better. The Crimson Tide offense started out by passing more than running. Although Coach Saban stated that the game plan was to begin the contest by passing more and doing so had nothing to do with getting the Alabama QB some confidence, I suspect the coaching staff wanted to get their QB off to a good start while showing LSU that, yes, Alabama can and will pass.

But there were missed opportunities. In the first half, McElroy failed to hit Maze on a long pass that no. 4 would have taken in for six, he missed a wide open Julio Jones for a score, and threw an interception to stop an impressive drive at the end of the second quarter.

Pundits and LSU lovers will cite the "incomplete" pass in the fourth quarter that wasn't overturned as some mass conspiracy. But with six minutes to go, no timeouts left, and their second string QB who is prone to throwing interceptions in the game, it's improbable that the Tigers would have overcome the seven point deficit. LSU would have had the pass a lot, and the Tide D would have eaten up that QB like it did last season.

And Ingram is one heck of running back--22 carries for 144 yards.

Total offense for Alabama: 452; total offense for LSU: 253.

The Tide has now won the SEC West with three regular season games to play: Mississippi State, the mighty Moccasins of Tennessee-Chattanooga, and finally Auburn at Auburn. The Tide needs to finish strong.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tim O'Brien Reading

While I've only read two books by Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried and In the Lake of the Woods, I was really impressed by both. My academic speciality is in Writing Studies and Rhetoric, but I like reading a good selection of short stories, a book of poetry, and even a novel from time to time even though most of what I typically read is non-fiction.

O'Brien was at EIU for the annual James Jones Lecture, and he was impressive.

Since the lecture is associated with the James Jones Literary Society and that Chairship in WWII Studies shared by the English and History departments here, much of what he talked about was war-related. He talked a great deal about one of his stories in The Things They Carried where a young man who is going to be drafted spends a week in International Falls, MN contemplating going over the border to Canada.

The salient message of his talk was the power of the story to approximate the complexity and truths of our lives but to also be wary of those profess to know the "truth."

That message is one that doesn't necessarily have to relate to fiction writing, but our lives.

Music Friday: "Mount Marcy"

I can't remember exactly how I came across this band. I suspect I happened upon them while I was surfing the InterWebs. Or maybe from some magazine? But I recently purchased The Orion Songbook by Frontier Ruckus (great name).

If I remember correctly, they're from the Detroit area, and they have this folky, quasi-bluegrass sound with trumpet added. The lead singer's voice takes a while to get used to. Fair warning.

Click HERE if you want to watch them perform on a porch somewhere in Portland, Maine.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

While the Crimson Tide got some much needed rest this weekend, I still watched some games on Saturday.

I enjoyed the Oregon Ducks giving the USC Trojans a beat-down in Eugene. The offense of the Ducks is powerful and diverse. Wow. Whoever has the misfortune of getting them in a bowl game is going to get clocked. They made the USC D look like a tattered collection of two-bit chumps.

The Gamecocks losing to Tennessee was disappointing, but when a team has that many turnovers, it's hard to win the game. Regardless, no matter how you might feel about Tiffin, I look for Tennessee to be a force next year, especially with Tebow gone (finally) and Georgia trying to learn how to play defense.

In other bad news, the Ole Miss Rebels got their butts kicked by Auburn.

And if you're interested in why Florida's LB Brandon Spikes should be suspended for a game, click HERE.