Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hangover Sunday: Bye Week

Woe to Mrs. Nasty, the Ole Miss alumna because Auburn waxed Ole Miss in Oxford Saturday night. I thought the Rebels would give them a good fight, but their offense couldn't eat any minutes and keep Almighty Cam Newton off the field. That stinks because if there is another school I'd root for in the SEC, it's Ole Miss.

So Auburn kept the offensive buzz saw churning, and the other offensive juggernaut in college football, Oregon, got tested by USC. But in the third quarter, the Ducks found their offensive rhythm. That offense is scarier than Auburn's. And if those two teams meet in the future (BCS National Championship Game?), not much defense will be played. I think the Tigers have a better D though.

I also got to watch parts of the Kentucky at Mississippi State game, and the Bulldogs looked impressive: a stout defense, a solid running attack, and a selectively strong passing game. Mullen, a man known to know offense, chose wisely in making Relf the de facto starter at QB for them.

Elsewhere, the Hawkeyes knocked off Michigan State in powerful fashion. The Spartans got woodshedded.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Music Friday: "Flashes and Cables"

I've been listening to the band Centro-matic a lot lately.

Well, to be precise here, I've been listening to Centro-matic and South San Gabriel a lot lately because both of those "bands" and actually one band fronted by Will Johnson. Both Centro-matic and South San Gabriel have the same band members; however, they produce albums under different names and sometimes albums under both monikers.

Centro-matic is the band that has a heavier, fuzz-laden, guitar-oriented sound, and South Gabriel represents the band with a more acoustic and generally slower tempo.

I don't know why Johnson and his mates decided on two names for the same band. Heck, I would have just stuck with Centro-matic to not confuse unenlightened music listeners.

I like their stuff, but the band (I'm just going to use the singular here) is an acquired taste because of Johnson's vocals. I lean toward liking the Centro-matic songs more because they tend to be more up-tempo and have a bit harder edge with amped up fuzziness.

One thing is for sure. The lyrics usually are willfully obtuse ~ a characteristic I'm more prone to tolerate in song lyrics than in poetry.

Readers, especially those of you educated in the liberal arts tradition, you want to take a crack at ciphering the lyrics? The best interpretation earns the distinction of me buying you an adult beverage of your choice (within reason--I'm no Rockefeller) next time I see you.

Here are the lyrics:

If we found the time,
If we found the merriment,
If we found the words,
We'd scratch them in new cement.
But those days are gone, and we've got only pictures now.
A rotary wheel and some leftover shotgun shells,
Nobody told us that the bastards were here.
All the rogues and scoundrels are shedding their tears.
No, nobody told us that the cameras were here.
All the flashes and cables,
Won't someone please save us?
So by our request please turn in your uniforms,
The medallions and pins for the Aries and Capricorn,
And file your complaints with this rookie officer.
He'll lend you his smile; he'll lend you his deafest ear.

But I digress. Click HERE for "Flashes and Cables."

Thursday, October 28, 2010


This link is related to the "Keeping Dusk" post, so I thought I'd pass it along. It's a post from HTML Giant.

Click HERE unless you're too busy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Venting Store

In contrast to yesterday night's post about the tradition of "keeping dusk" by Scandinavians, I came across these two factoids in the October Harper's Index:
  • Date on which the Xinglong Big Family Mall in Shenyang, China, opened a "venting store" for women: 3/8/10
  • Minimum amount a woman must spend in the mall to enter the store and destroy household furniture and electronics: $6
Perhaps the Chinese are experiencing a psychological hangover from mass industrialism?

Regardless, I'm amused that the place is called a venting store and folks get to bust stuff to unleash their pent up rage. It seems like a more money-grubbing take on primal scream therapy.

When I told Mrs. Nasty about it, she was intrigued, so I wonder if the Chinese will import this product over here too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Keeping Dusk

I finally finished a book I've been reading intermittently for a while now. It's The Secret World of Doing Nothing by Billy Ehn and Orvar Lofgren, and in it they detail the "inner world" behind activities that evoke nothingness to us on the surface: waiting, routines, and daydreaming.

I had high hopes for the book but am disappointed. Most of the book is a synthesis of research about these non-activities, which is interesting, but the text ventures toward data dumping at times. The activity I am most interested in--daydreaming--got the most coverage in the book, however. And in that third chapter, the authors (both Swedes) introduce a cultural ritual that I was unfamiliar with, what Scandinavians call "keeping dusk"

Here's how Ehn and Lofgren describe it: "After a day of work people sat silently in the approaching darkness [of dusk] and let their thoughts wander freely. After a while, the light was turned on and the magic disappeared. It was one of many special daydreaming situations that still are remembered by older people all over Scandinavia, and some still practice it today" (162-3).

As they further relate, "The tradition of 'keeping dusk' was a way of creating a space of rest between day and evening. The actual lighting of the first candle or lamp turned into a ritual," and "To those who were not used to this kind of meditation the behavior could seem strange. In houses everywhere people sat staring, with the vacant gaze that is typical of daydreaming, at the fireplace, at the window, or out on the veranda" (163).

I'm really intrigued by this cultural practice since it seems to have served as a traditional mass meditation, simply a time for quiet amidst the solitude of inner thoughts. The slow quietness enveloping the room, a certain degree of solemnity surrounding the ritual, thoughts on people's minds playing freely in silence, this is a tradition we Americans might want to appropriate.

No TV, no music, no computer, no interactive clutter--just you and the interplay of duskdreams.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee

Finally, a downfield passing game. I've been waiting for long pass plays all season.

Julio Jones had a career day with twelves catches for 221 yards, Richardson had over 100 rushing yards, and Ingram had two touchdowns.

McElroy bounced back with a solid game passing the ball, but he got hit too much for my liking.

While the Tide defeated the Volunteers 41-10, I have concerns, as always, with the games left on the schedule.

Tennessee's running back Tauren Poole ran for for 117 yards last night. That performance ends an impressive a streak of 41 consecutive games in which, as Alabama's Media Relations relates, "Alabama hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher, dating back to Oct. 13, 2007, when Mississippi’s BenJarvus Green-Ellis went for 131 yards." Poole got most of the yardage on a 59-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but giving up that much in the run game is disconcerting since the opponents next on the schedule are all run-heavy teams.

LSU runs the ball a lot, and their QB Jefferson has started to run the ball much more this season. Mississippi State is heavily run-oriented. And Auburn, a serious contender because of Cam Newton, is dangerous.

So the bye week comes at the right time. The Tide will travel to Baton Rouge for their next game in two weeks. Then they finish the season by hosting Mississippi State, Georgia State, and Auburn in T-Town. If Alabama can survive the next two SEC opponents, it sure would be great to spoil Auburn's undefeated season on November 26th. But, as I said, Auburn is a dangerous team, very dangerous.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thou Shalt Call Me Minister

After my niece's wedding, I was inspired. The officiant of her wedding, which I missed unfortunately because my car's alternator blew near Galesburg on our way to Waterloo, was able to marry them without going to a seminary. He got his license to be an officiant at the wedding from some online "seminary."

I checked this out, folks, because I too would like to have the ability to marry people, etc.

As of yesterday, I am now an officially ordained Minister under the auspices of Universal Life Church, a church that only has two tenets, principles that I can wholeheartedly get behind: "To promote the freedom of religion" and "To do that which is right."

While I'm not interested in creating a church of my own, which is my right, and I'm not interested, as my certificate relates, to "[a]bsolve others of their sins," and I'm not interested in providing a baptism, performing a marriage would be a suitable task. Also, officiating a funeral, ceremonial rites (renewing vows, etc.), or last rites are options, but I'm not intrigued in those unless someone would really want me to do them for them.

I know what some of you are thinking, that I'm making fun of religion by doing this.

I'm not.

In fact, as much as I've given religious folks good-natured trouble over the years by questioning some of their beliefs, I do believe in the freedom of religion and the freedom to not have to have a religion or belong to a certain denomination or religious worldview. Heck, I'm a guy who subscribes to Shambhala Sun, a Buddhist monthly publication; I have studied religions that are dead, old, and alive; and I've always been interested in different religious/mythological worldviews and perspectives since I was a kid.

One of my favorite courses as an undergrad was Mythology where we studied, in essence, religions of the past and present, and the research and reading I've done in mythological/religious studies broadened my perspective substantially to the extent that I would consider myself leaning toward not being fully agnostic but spiritually inclined because at one time in my life I thought about becoming a minister (for real). I guess if I had to define myself, I'm a spiritual, partial agnostic.

And I'm much more open to others' religious beliefs than most Christians or atheists I've met. So there. I also feel that people should have the right to perform ceremonies as the ones above if the parties involved are okay with it.

So here I am, ordained if you need me.

Music Friday: "Wide Eyes"

Click HERE to watch the Local Natives perform the lead song on their album Gorilla Manor.

These fellows have gotten a lot of pub from Daytrotter over the past year, so I checked 'em out and was pleasantly surprised. They remind me of various alternative bands from the late 80s and early 90s. One aspect that I really like about the album is that percussion plays a strong role in a number of their songs. In a lot of bands, the drums just work as the propeller of songs, but percussion plays a prominent role in the work of the Local Natives so far.

Here are the lyrics:
Oh some evil spirit,
Oh some evil this way comes.
They told me how to fear it
Now they're placing it on their tongues.
Oh to see it with my own eyes.
No food or water for the better part of ten months,
Quietly he sat below the folds of a free trunk.
Oh to see it with my own eyes.
All the men of faith and men of science had their questions.
Could it ever be on earth as it is in heaven?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stay Positive: "Hi-Fi Home Furnishings"

As is her custom, Mrs. Nasty usually buys her sales team a gift before they kick off a new market. For this upcoming market, she purchased some flippin' sweet recycled and repurposed goods: coasters made from old vinyl records.

Since she was putting in an order, we got an extra set of our own. Here are our six: Woody Guthrie's Libary of Congress Recordings, a live album by Grand Funk Railroad, Beethoven's Concerto No. 5, Mancini Plays the Great Academy Award Songs, Barry Manilow Live, and Elvis Sings the Wonderful World of Christmas.

Click HERE to check them out at

So my water, coffee, or adult beverage will now sit atop the inner portion of side three or four of Woody Guthrie's work, gems like "Hard Times," "Pretty Boy Floyd," "Jolly Banker," "Okies," "Worried Man Blues," "Lonesome Valley," "Railroad 'Bulls,'" "Government Camps," et al.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunday Hangover: Ole Miss

Sloppy. Man, that was a sloppy, Big 10esque game. Lots of punting and ineffective offenses.

But at least the Tide's defense came back and played a strong game against the Ole Miss Rebel Black Bears.

The Tide D kept the Rebels in check throughout the first half with a stifling defense that rattled and contained QB Masoli. Alabama also kept Ole Miss in really difficult field position most of the game. The only time I recall the "Bears" having good field position was when Maze fumbled after stupidly fielding a punt on his own five-yard line. He had a good return but got plastered by two defenders, one of whom used his helmet to knock out the ball. Ole Miss scored a touchdown on that possession.

Once again, the Tide's O, thought to be the major strength of this team, struggled getting any consistent rushing game going. The Tide only had 319 total yards offensively, and Ole Miss, like South Carolina, limited the running game by stacking the box and using various run blitzes. McElroy was sacked four times, and Julio Jones played only a little bit because of his broken left hand that has a plate and screw in it. I would imagine it would be hard to catch passes with that issue.

So I don't care how "down" Tennessee is this year. Alabama is going to have to play a lot better offensively to win in Knoxville next Saturday because as this weekend showed, any squad, regardless of perception, can get beat. The Tide D seemed more strongly focused and fundamentally sound, but the offense has to get it together.

But the Tide won 23-10 on a day when there were some surprises in the SEC. State beat Florida without the Bulldogs attempting a pass in the second half, and Kentucky beat South Carolina after Steve "Evil Genius" Spurrier used Les Miles-like clock management and decisions at the end of the game when the Gamecocks could have at least gotten into overtime against the Wildcats with a short field goal. Elsewhere number one Ohio State lost to Wisconsin and Nebraska lost to Texas, which opens the door for the Mizzou Tigers in the Texas Ten North. So maybe you're not a Mizzou sunshine pumper, travolta. Maybe you're on to something.

So I'm sure Oregon will move up to no. 1, and they better watch out this Thursday versus UCLA since the last two weeks the number one team has lost. You know, the old adage about things happening in threes?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Music Friday: "Lone Pine Hill"

One of the best albums I've purchased this year is Justin Townes Earle's Harlem River Blues. The song featured by Earle this Friday isn't from that album but from a previous one called The Good Life. And that's a very good album too.

"Long Pine Hill" is written from the perspective of a Confederate soldier. Click HERE to watch him perform the song.

But as I write this, a good chunk of Earle's tour dates have been cancelled since he's in rehab. You can see a post on No Depression that has his press release by clicking HERE.

There are all kinds of stories floating around on the Internet about what happened at a Indianapolis club a short while back, but I'm not going to truck in those. Needless to say, Earle, like his father Steve Earle, has demons to deal with. Both he and father have addictive personalities, and they're also great musicians.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


In the recent issue of Utne, there's an article about the literary press called Broadsided. What they do each month seems like a lot of fun.

While I thought the October Broadside, which is a piece of flash fiction, was okay, I have the September Broadside on my office door, and I look forward to the November edition.

Click HERE to read "Open-Air Publishing" from Utne.

And by clicking HERE you can go directly to Broadsided.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stay Positive: That Dog & The Virtue of the Process

This past Saturday the local PBS station had a deal in Kiwanis Park where kids could meet the Cat in the Hat and Clifford, get a free book, and do some other activities.

The payoff was a "gift bag" that the kids could get after doing four activities where their little activity cards were stamped.

The gift bags, however, were just full of ads mostly, and the process to get them was more enjoyable than the payoff.

Huzzah for the process and that dog.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A trying morning is when you have to get out the Yellow Book to find companies under the heading of "Asbestos Abatement and Removal, etc."

I won't go over the many rooms I've painted in the Nasty home since we took possession of the house in the summer of '07, but it seems like we've been working on the kitchen/dining room area forever.

First, we ripped down wretched, 80s era wallpaper. Then I painted the walls two types of green for the desired color scheme. Then after roughly a year I painted a small stripe of Millsport Blue at the top of the walls combined with light blue as the main color and off white on the chair rail and moldings. Then I replaced the hardware on the cabinets and painted the cabinets. Then we got a faux granite countertop and new kitchen sink put in. And now we're having professionals lay down some Allure flooring.

The flooring dudes ripped up the carpet in the dining room this morning, and that was about it since they're not going to go any further because they're worried the old flooring might have asbestos in it.

I have visions of guys in Area 51 suits and two-ply plastic cordoning off the area as they work and money mercilessly bleeds out of our bank account.

So I had to call a guy to come out and test samples of the flooring to see whether it's asbestos-laden. For what's it's worth, he didn't seem to think it has asbestos in it, so that calmed my nerves a bit. But we'll find out Friday once the lab report gets back.

In the meantime, we're stuck with flooring in the dining room circa 1974 (see picture above). It's godawful ugly, unpleasant to walk on in bare feet, and a reminder how I might be screwed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Hangover: South Carolina

I had forgotten how grouchy I get after an Alabama loss. I hope there isn't more grouchiness in store this season.

But when I looked at the Tide's schedule before the start of this season, I had thought Alabama would lose one of the past three games against Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina. I was most worried about the Hogs at the time, but yesterday the Gamecocks helped Spurrier finally get a "signature win" for his program since he arrived in Columbia. If there ever were a season where South Carolina has a very good shot to play in the SEC Championship, this year is it.

At the most basic level, the Tide just put themselves in too big of a hole early on in the game. When a team is down 3 to 21 against a very good SEC team at home, it's going to be very difficult to come back and win the game.

South Carolina played a heck of a football game with their QB Garcia having a career day. He and the Cocks' main receiver Alshon Jeffrey abused the Tide secondary early and often. There for a while, Garcia had no incompletions in the game, but he ended with a line of 17 of 20 pass completions and three touchdowns. Jeffrey had seven catches for 127 yards.

Ouch, babe.

Combine those stats with the facts that Alabama continually made stupid mistakes (four offsides penalties I believe) and had some poor tackling in the game, it isn't surprising Alabama lost by two touchdowns.

But South Carolina's defense played inspired football too. You can't discount how their D held Ingram and Richardson to less than a hundred yards rushing combined. McElroy had a good game to offset the poor rushing performances, but it just wasn't enough to overcome the Tide D giving up big plays and McElroy getting sacked seven times.

Next Saturday It'll be interesting to see how Alabama plays against a dangerous Ole Miss team, a squad that is quite good offensively but quite poor defensively. And the right Rev. Nutt loves being the underdog.

As McElroy said in a post-game interview, "This is an opportunity for ourselves to take a look at ourselves in the mirror and regroup and re-commit ourselves to what we want to accomplish."

That's about the only good thing you can take out of this loss. That and perhaps that the loss is against an SEC East opponent. With LSU and Auburn still undefeated, there's a lot of schedule left to win the West.

I'd love for the Tide to win the West and get a rematch with South Carolina in Atlanta. But as I said after the Arkansas game, "I have a feeling this season's defense is going to make me a nervous wreck." [Hey, that's me quoting me ~ apologies to Gray of Razzball.]

I stand behind that statement, and I hope the Tide players "re-commit" themselves and become a much stronger team.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Music Friday: "Close Every Valve in Your Bleeding Heart"

If you're a native Missourian you might recognize the name of this band: Ha Ha Tonka.

I had read about this band a couple of years ago and never got around to picking up any of their albums. I got reminded about them yesterday and promptly downloaded their most recent work, Novel Sounds from the Nouveau South.

Most of the band isn't from Camdenton where Ha Ha Tonka State Park is located, but three of members are originally from West Plains, a small town in the deep southern middle of Missouri, although it sounds like their base of operations is Springfield.

Click HERE to enjoy "Close Every Valve in Your Bleeding Heart," a song that references Dostoevsky.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Culture Through a Story

Through my son's daycare facility and through my daughter's elementary school, we've been buying loads of books from Scholastic. One of the many joys of having children is that you get to relive your childhood through their literature: The Lorax, Sammy the Seal, Puff the Magic Dragon, Green Eggs and Ham, Goldilicks and the Three Bears, and many, many others.

Lately the featured book for Quinn has been The Three Billy Goats Gruff, easily one of my favorite bedtime stories. I equate my Dad with the telling of The Three Pigs, another of my favorites, since he told the traditional story where the pigs scare the Big Bad Wolf with the butter churn. I had no idea what a butter churn was back then, but once explained, I found the situation hilarious. Stupid wolf.

But the story I equate with my Mom is those three goats and that bastardly troll, a jerk and a bully. My grandmother was a full-blooded Norwegian. She came over on a boat alone, knowing no English, with a tag around her wrist telling people where to send her: some town in Minnesota - perhaps a story for another post. So my Mom is quite familiar with trolls because of the stories she was told as a child. In fact, she told me that when she was a kid, her mother would occasionally scare her my telling her that if she didn't do this or that, trolls might visit the house. And no one wants that if you've read The Three Billy Goats Gruff. A troll would eat you. Not a good situation at all.

I've always enjoyed the story arc of the Three Billy Goats Gruff since it appeals to my hatred for bullies and loudmouths. And there's deception. The brothers knew the biggest goat would take care of the troll. While I don't like hoaxes in academia or government or politics, I like a good hoax in fiction.

But the whole story makes me sad a bit too since I never had a chance to meet that grandma (or most of my grandparents for that matter) since I was the last-born, born so out of place in the line of siblings that it was obvious that I was an unplanned pregnancy. As my Dad told me once over a beer after playing eighteen holes of golf, "The damn rubber broke." It's not as harsh at it sounds. We had a good laugh about it, and then he added something along the lines of "but you've been a blessing" or something like that.

So here I am, an example of the absurdity of existence, an effect of faulty birth control.

Regardless, since I'm a mutt and I never really had much of a connection to my other bloodlines (Danish, German, English, and French) other than how my Mom has a fierce loyalty to Norway, I am jealous of folks who have a deep connection to countries where their ancestors came from. I've always been fascinated by Norway because of my grandmother's connection to the country (she grew up there as a child), but I've often felt like a poseur if I talk a lot about it.

These thoughts have come up recently because I'm reading an excellent memoir that discusses living with a divided consciousness. White Field, Black Sheep is a book that, in part, delves into how being a hyphenated American can be a burden and a pleasure. The book takes me inside a mindset and circumstances I'm not familiar with, and learning about the author's background, that part of Chicago, and her experiences has been interesting and insightful. Click HERE if want to check out the book.

But back to goats. They're the real stars of Quinn's life right now, anyway. This Norwegian folk tale engages him, and I'm happy for that because, besides a few stories, that's about all I have to cling to about my Norwegian heritage besides some really tasty Christmas cookies: cringla and fudamumbuckles.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday Hangover: Florida

Ok, maybe the second half of the Arkansas game woke up the defense. We'll see. Regardless, last night the Tide dominated the Gators, defeating them 31-6.

Still, this skeptical fan didn't like how the Gators moved the ball on the Tide at times, but Alabama's D seemed to turn on a switch once Florida got into the red zone. It was a thing of beauty when the Gators went for it on fourth and goal in the first quarter. Burton attempted a bad impression of Tebow with a jump pass, and Alabama had it properly defended, which resulted in a interception by linebacker Nico Johnson.

Coach Saban and the players know they didn't play a good second half though. The offense was barely on the field, especially in the third quarter, and the only score the Tide had in the second half was freshman linebacker C. J. Mosely's pick-six (pictured above). In other words, Alabama could have done much better in the game, which I'm sure Saban will remind them about.

But looking at the schedule, Alabama survived the first two games of its SEC Bermuda Triangle: Arkansas, Florida, and South Carolina. But the conference schedule doesn't get any easier.

So let's check it out. Now, who did South Carolina play this week before they take on the Tide? They have a bye week.

Who will Ole Miss play before they take on the Tide in Tuscaloosa? They have a bye week.

Who will Tennessee play before they take on the Tide in Knoxville? They have a bye week.

Who will LSU play before they take on the Tide in Baton Rouge? They have a bye week.

Who will Mississippi State play before they take on the Tide in Tuscaloosa? They have a bye week.

Who will Auburn play before they take on the Tide in Tuscaloosa? They have a bye week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Music Friday: "Excuses"

A fellow I was talking to the other day mentioned a band he's been listening to recently called The Morning Benders, so I checked 'em out and downloaded the band's most recent album, Big Echo.

The video provided HERE shows the recording of "Excuses," which involved a whole lot of folks, and as the lead singer talks about in the intro, they were going for a "Wall of Sound" vibe to the recording, which I really enjoy.

I'm not blown away by the album as a whole. It's decent. The band is a little too poppy for my taste, but I thought I'd share the interesting video.