Friday, May 28, 2010

Music Friday: "Zoysia"

Since my day from 8am to 5pm was spent doing a curb appeal project that involved digging up sod, putting in edging, laying weed guard, and spreading mulch, why not a song about grass?

Well, I listened to this album while I was working too, but the song isn't really about Zoysia grass per se.

Click HERE for The Bottle Rockets playing at the Duck Room.

And here are the lyrics since the recording isn't the best:
In my neck of the woods,
the town where I live,
it's out in the sticks
and conservative.

Got lots of churchs,
we got lots of bars,
and the kids 'round here
they fight our wars.

Out on the left,
out on the right,
they're always arguing
wrong and right.

But in the meantime,
life just goes on,
We pay our bills.
We mow our lawns.

If your neighbor gets the Zoysia grass,
buddy, you get Zoysia too.
And maybe if you hurt yourself,
he'll mow your lawn for you.

I was riding 'round,
listening to the radio.
Why they say those things
I just don't know.

Some states are red;
some states are blue.
We like to simplify
and believe it's true.


Out on the lawns
we got campaign signs.
We always know
when it's election time.

The guy next door,
his signs aren't like mine.
But he's all right,
and we get along fine.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Dressing Up for Games

This afternoon after a morning of writing and yard work and then more writing in the early afternoon, I turned on the TV to one of my favorite channels, the MLB Network. And MLB was broadcasting the fourth game of the 1969 World Series that pitted the Mets vs. the Orioles, of which I caught the last 15 minutes.

In the past, I've stumbled upon old pictures of baseball games and broadcasts of old games. And I've always been fascinated by how people used to dress up for sporting events. In the past, I had usually thought of that practice being firmly entrenched in our culture until the 60s came about.

So I was surprised when a Met hit a foul ball to the right field and I saw some shots of the stands, and there in '69 most of the men were in sport coats and ties, and the women were in dresses and some had fancy hats, at least in the lower echelons of the stands, the good seats. I didn't get to see the upper decks since I only caught the last part of the game.

Unlike games in the 40s and 50s, I didn't notice any men wearing hats, but in the late 60s, people were still dressing up for games. When did this practice of dressing up for game die out I wonder? When was the tipping point?

Nowadays at least, you have all kinds of people dressing for comfort, especially on college campuses where some students seem to revel in dressing like flippin' slobs. And when I've gone to pro baseball games in the past, fans are dressing "up" in their team's gear, not in coats and ties and fancy dresses.

The exception I can think of, however, is college football in the South ~ how people in Greek organizations dress up in formal attire for football games. It's a big deal. You'll see shaggy headed frat boys in sport coats and ties sweating away during games as sorority girls show off fashionable sundresses and outfits.

My one disclaimer is that I don't know if this is predominant across all of the South. I've just seen it first-hand at Bryant-Denny (Alabama) and Vaught-Hemingway (Ole Miss), and I've seen such attire being worn in the stands when I've watched games on TV played in Starkville, Athens, Auburn, Columbia, and Baton Rouge. I'm not clear on whether this Greek formal attire phenomena also happens at Kentucky, Vandy, Florida, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

No Better Than This

One of the good aspects of this Facebook contraption (we could talk about the evil aspects, but that's a subject for another post) is that you can befriend or "like" an artist or a movement or news source that you might not regularly check, but when something's new you'll get updated.

So since I "like" John Mellencamp, I found out today that he has a new album coming out in August, and it sounds quite interesting. It was recorded on vintage equipment at notable historic places in the South.

Click HERE for the whole story if you're interested.

For someone like me who really enjoyed the alternative music scene at one time, Mellencamp was one guy I usually didn't divulge that I enjoy listening to since I've liked his stuff since Uh Huh. Sometimes there's too much schmaltz in his lyrics and the hooks are a bit formulaic. However, his last couple of albums ~ Freedom's Road and Life, Love, Death, & Friendship ~ have been quite strong.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Music Friday: "Tighten Up"

To celebrate the new album by The Black Keys that dropped this week, I offer the video for "Tighten Up."

Click HERE to watch.

And have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Hokum of GE Crops

The link I'm posting is an old report, late '09, but I just happened upon it after reading the Spring issue of Catalyst, the magazine for members of the Union for Concerned Scientists.

As is related in this press release, the claim by seed companies that GE crops reduce pollution is false. While GE crops reduce the use of pesticide, they require the use of more herbicides. And as the link provides, the claim of greater yield is a quite shaky too.

Click HERE for the concise report.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stay Positive: Smoked Beer

I got my grubby little hands on some smoked beer this weekend, and boy that stuff is good.

To many people, the idea of a beer being smoked sounds disgusting. And before I tried it for the first time, I was both intrigued and apprehensive. But I'll try about anything as beer goes, even wheat beer though I still haven't found one I've liked that much.

The O'Fallon (MO) Brewing Company offers a Smoked Porter that is pretty decent too, but the German stuff above is the best I've had.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Music Friday: "Little Lion Man"

A friend of the blog passed on this band, Mumford & Sons, to me. Apparently they just signed a big contract, and this tune is pretty darn solid.

Click HERE for the video for "Little Lion Man."

Anyone have the debut album from these blokes?

Rally Beard?

Since the Cubs have been so woeful this, I'm considering growing a rally beard. Once they get above .500, I shave.

Will I have a beard similar to Redford's depiction of Jeremiah Johnson?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Conference Shakedowns

As I wrote about in mid-December (click HERE for that post), there's talk out there about the Big 10[11] expanding, and that speculation is being discussed here in Big 10 country. As I dropped off the kids this morning, two pundits on 670 The Score out of Chicago were talking about expansion possibilities.

Apparently, a Kansas City radio station reported (maybe yesterday) that the Big 10 offered membership to Notre Dame (they still can't let it go, can they?), Rutgers, Nebraska, and Mizzou.

To me at least, Nebraska and Mizzou make sense geographically, but the Big 12 has to angry as hell. Throwing in the Kansas schools would make some sense here if you consider geography. Rutgers makes little sense to me, especially since Pitt would be a better fit.

The guys on The Score also floated a rumor about SEC expansion by saying that "reportedly" the SEC is interested in adding Florida State, Miami, Clemson, and Georgia Tech to make the conference a sixteen-school league.

While I'm fine with the SEC as it is, those four schools are attractive because all of them would have natural rivals within the conference: Clemson and South Carolina; Georgia Tech and Georgia; and Florida State, Miami, and Florida.

Whatever may eventually happen, the people within the higher echelons of the Big 12 and ACC have to be some grumpy and paranoid folks right now.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Music Friday: "Stuck Between Stations"

When I first listened to this song closely, I thought to myself, "Is he talking about John Berryman, the poet?" And, what do you know, the lead singer of The Hold Steady, Craig Finn, is talking about that icon of Confessional poetry known for The Dream Songs.

But it's not just a song that's about Berryman. It's more a smattering of different themes that the album, Boys and Girls in America, plays with, such as relationships, alcoholism, self destructive behavior, and alienation.

The first stanza of the song works with general detail of how "boys and girls in America have such a sad time together, the second stanza relates a specific couple from the male's perspective, the third and fourth stanzas work in Berryman's suicide ("The devil and John Berryman took a walk together. They ended up on Washington [Ave. bridge] talking to the river"), and the finals three stanzas make general statements about humans in an almost "Ozymandias"-like fashion:

These Twin City kisses
Sound like clicks and hisses,
And we all come down and drown in the Mississippi River.

We drink.
We dry up.
We crumble into dust.

We get wet.
We corrode.
We get covered in rust.

Click HERE for The Hold Steady playing the tune on Letterman.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Strawberry Sandwiches & John Henry

Lately we've been getting strawberries at the local grocery store and also because they're one of my son's favorite snacks. That kid loves strawberries ~ and not the cut strawberries partially macerated in sugar. He likes them simple, just cut in two or quarters au natural. He's obsessed with those berries.

My daughter isn't obsessed with strawberries, but she did come up with an interesting way to eat fresh ones. Since we had some leftover hot dog buns, she decided to place a few strawberries inside the bun and enjoy a "strawberry sandwich."

Of course, I'm thinking about doing this now but with the modifications of Cool Whip and Hershey's chocolate syrup. Since hot dog buns are so bland, I figure the whipped topping and chocolate will make the concoction more palatable. At least that's going to be my rationalization. We adults, we like to rationalize.

In other daughter-related matters, I finally got her to let me read her John Henry book (Julius Lester) tonight, and she really liked the story even though the hero dies in the end. The story of John Henry has always been one of my favorite American folktales, and I'm happy she likes it too.

That tale is also the subject of a very good Drive-By Truckers song too, which you can enjoy by clicking HERE. This video is Isbell doing the song solo.

"It's Tea Party Time"

I don't usually care for Kathleen Parker's columns, but I found yesterday's edition interesting since she discusses how respected GOP candidates who actually work with Democrats from time to time are being targeted by the Tea Party followers.

It's TARP-erific! And as Parker relates, this is what D.C. is lurching towards, even more so now than it has for the past couple of decades: "What non-ideologues may see as cooperation, however, is viewed by true believers as weakness. Any attempt at compromise is viewed as surrendering principle. Under the new order, a Good Conservative wouldn't cross the aisle to perform a Heimlich Maneuver.

The long-promised purge is on, in other words, and anyone fantasizing about bipartisanship can choke on that hope."

Click HERE for Parker's column.

The Tea Party folks are definitely and perhaps defiantly (which is how my students seem to enjoy spelling definitely these days) moving the GOP in a stronger rightward direction. I don't know if this is smart move for the GOP as a party, but it's interesting.

In a somewhat related article that tangentially connects to the Tea Party people and the proprietors and spin doctors of Fox News, you might want to check out this article in Mother Jones titled "Oath Keepers and the Age of Treason." Click HERE for that one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Games Over

I closed out the spring semester late this morning by finishing up some grading for my basic writing class. I'm glad to see this academic year put to rest ~ it's been a tough one. So that game is over, but I've decided to put a halt to another game after tonight's dinner.

I have vowed not to make ribs again. I'm just not good at it, and it's not like I haven't been trying for a while. What I need to a serious smoker to do it up right, and I'm not willing to go that far. I make a good rub for the ribs and for pulled pork, and I will continue to make that rub for the latter, but I either find mediocre ribs to work with, or I just can't seem to get them like I want to. It's been frustrating, and I plan to leave the ribs to people who have the wherewithal to make them effectively. I'm done.

I guess I've just been spoiled by eating good barbeque. Although I didn't find St. Louis to be a good barbeque town at all, my year of living of KC was wonderful with Smokehouse, Gates, and Arthur Bryant's. And living in Alabama put me in contact with all kinds of great barbeque joints. The South loves pig parts being cooked slowly over low heat until the end products transform to heavenly porcine goodness.