Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Huzzah to Us

This morning my co-author shipped the manuscript of our basic writing textbook to our publisher in New York.

The book has 12 chapters and two appendices that weigh just over six pounds. The initial manuscript is 435 pages.

Huzzah to us.

Grading the Outfitters

I happened upon this short article from TreeHugger.com today and thought I'd pass it along.

The article grades assorted retailers on the working conditions of their supply chains.

Click HERE if you're interested to see how Target, Ann Taylor, Levi's, Wal-Mart and others rank. What I'm curious about, however, are the specific reasons behind these grades. For example, what are the significant differences between a C+ and B rating?

And I usually worry about grade inflation in general anyway since from my experience people think they deserve Bs for C or D level work.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Hangover: Auburn

If it isn't bad enough that the Tide loses to Auburn in Bryant-Denny, they lose the Iron Bowl to a team they pretty much dominated most of the game. Like the trip to Baton Rouge, Alabama should have won this game.

As the adage goes, when you get a team down, you have to bury them when you have chances. And the Tide had multiple chances to bury Auburn in the first half. An opportunistic poke of the football after a huge pass play that ended in a touchback, a dropped pass that would have been a touchdown, a downright whiff by the right tackle that led to a sack of and fumble by McElroy, these are the plays that kill you -- the missed opportunities.

If the Tide converts a touchdown on any of those three trips to the red zone, Auburn gets the loss they deserve.

There's plenty of blame to be given to the defense though with the two huge pass plays for touchdowns. The glaring weakness of this team in the pre-season was the secondary with only having one front line guy back (Barron) from last year's team in the nickel package. And Barron, the veteran and one hell of a player usually, had a bad game on Friday. Saban is a consummate secondary coach, but when you trot out redshirt freshman, true freshmen, and players with little SEC experience in the secondary, you will get burned. And it goes back to giving up big plays.

South Carolina thumped the Tide in Columbia. There's no doubt there. Like the big pass plays on a green secondary in the South Carolina game, those also hurt the good guys versus the obnoxious tigers of LSU and Auburn.

9-3 is disappointing, especially with the result of the Iron Bowl. I didn't have high hopes for another national championship this season. Those thoughts were for Kool-Aid drinkers and unanalytic sports journalists. However, the losses to LSU and Auburn smart. They are painful markers on this season even though this Tide squad is a strong one. Not a great team but a strong one.

So I'll sit here and wait for what bowl and matchup awaits the Tide, what decisions will influence the personnel and chemistry for next season's squad, what recruits sign with the Tide in February, and what the A-Game shows about the potential of next year's team along with the interesting quarterback competition between McCarron and Sims.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Music Friday: "For Whom the Bell Tolls"

As we got closer to Waterloo on Wednesday, I tuned into 107.9 FM, which is the radio station I listened to when I was living in this area along with KUNI because those were the two best options. And 107.9, whatever its name is now, still plays lots of hard rock and metal.

To go along with the fare the station dishes out, I offer one of my favorite songs by Metallica. Click HERE to watch the band perform it in Moscow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Grouchy Old Men

I have reasons why I'm usually reading three of four different books at the same time, but right now I'm reading the work of two grouchy old men along with my devotional slog through the whole obtuse but intellectually compelling A Grammar of Motives by Kenneth Burke.

Besides Professor Burke, the curmudgeons on my reading list are H.L. Mencken (The American Language) and Anthony Bourdain (Medium Raw).

I've read lots of Mencken. He did very interesting and insightful work on a range of topics (Treatise on the Gods mixes erudition and humor quite well), and I've heard about how excellent The American Language is supposed to be. The man doesn't disappoint. I've always enjoyed the Sage of Baltimore's style--how he uses simple and complex sentence structures and selects a wonderful variety of word choices, the high and low--and his Juvenalian study of American English at that time is a lot of fun. Besides focusing on our use of the English language, the book is also an examination of American character. In particular, one statement stands out for me when Mencken talks about how Americans love to adopt new or in vogue words, how they are not linguistically conservative like the British: "A new fallacy in politics spreads faster in the United States than anywhere else on earth, and so does a new fashion in hats, or a new revelation of God, or a new means of killing time, or a new shibboleth, or metaphor, or piece of slang" (30-1).

Spot on.

Bourdain of No Reservations fame, on the other hand, writes like he tends to talk, which goes against the usually useful mantra of folks who teach writing. But Bourdain talks/writes in very interesting ways (except for the overuse of profanity), and his book, and I hadn't realized it came out this year, courts my fascination with food, my growing exasperation with the Food Network, and other food/cooking concerns. His "Heroes and Villians" essay, for example, has the directness of a punch in the gut, and I look forward to reading the "Alan Richman Is a Douchebag" chapter.

But rather than this post being some sophomoric book report, what I'm pondering is why I'm drawn to such grouchy old men. Even Burke in his massive tome has occasional snarky comments about Aristotle, Emerson, Kierkegaard, et al.

Sure, I'm getting older myself (creeping up on the big Four-O); however, I think I've always sort of been a seventy-five year old dude in a younger body ("What the hell are all these people texting about? Don't they have better things to do?").

I should be thankful, I know. I have the loving Mrs. Nasty as my wife, and my kids are my main joys even though there are some times when I understand the old saying, "Madness is hereditary. You get it from your kids." I've been called a lot of names in my life, but my favorites are "Dad" and "Daddy."

I'll chalk up my grouchiness and penchant for reading grouchy old men to my defensive pessimism, which is a phrase I was introduced to recently from an article in Ode Magazine, and I can't link the article from Ode's website for whatever reason (See why I'm defensively pessimistic, especially about technology?).

So I'm thankful but wary.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Hangover: Georgia State

63-7. The touchdown the Panthers scored was on a kickoff return, but the Tide's final tally could have been larger since Georgia State (a start-up program) played Alabama to help fund their athletic department. Nevertheless, it was a beat-down, a wood-shedding.

After watching the game last night, there are a few aspects to ponder about the Tide's performance and the prospects of playing Auburn on Friday, November 26. Like Isbell sings in "Outfit," "I'll lay it out real nice and slow."

Alabama is a top twenty team, and they have a lot of young talent. Georgia State is not a good team, and they have young talent.

Alabama, for whatever reason, is still having difficulty running between the tackles.

Mark Ingram is still held back, speed-wise and cut-wise, by his left knee. The good guys need Richardson healthy for the Iron Bowl.

There was reasoned anticipation that Eddie Lacy would become the third back in the rotation, which is the role Upchurch held last year, and he was a nice change of pace to the Ingram Richardson duo. But the 3rd back role and Lacy's role in the offense never materialized.

Julio Jones, when healthy, has to be the best all-around wide receiver in the country and easily the best blocking WR around.

Good luck to McElroy on his interview to become a Rhodes Scholar tomorrow in Birmingham. I hope he gets that honor, and I hope his smarts and athletic ability help us beat the Tigers Friday.

Though Preston Dial has played well this year, the Tide still doesn't have a consistent threat at tight end in the passing game.

The team misses Rolando McClain, Marquis Johnson, Javier Arenas, and Kareem Jackson mightily because of their athletic prowess and leadership.

The Tide is strong at home, but an excellent defensive game plan and solid execution of that game plan is necessary to beat the Tigers. Just containing Newton will be a hard enough task, however.

Since the Nasty family will be in Iowa and Virg's desktop computer is antiquated, don't expect a post mortem of the Iron Bowl to be up on Saturday. I'll get it out late Sunday maybe.

Music Friday: "Nobody"

I was introduced to Robert Randolph and the Family Band probably over a month or two ago. I had initially thought they played on Austin City Limits, but after a fruitless search on that program's website, I got nothing. Thinking about it a bit more, I think I might have watched a video of the North Mississippi Allstars at one time with Randolph doing his thing since his band opened for NMA, and I got intrigued.

Regardless, I find these guys to be an amped-up reincarnation of Sly and the Family Stone. And that's a very good thing.

Click HERE to watch them perform "Nobody."

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

Let's see, Ingram had a touchdown, Jones had a touchdown, and Maze had a touchdown, all of which were big plays.

It was like old times except for the Tide's inability to run the ball between the tackles.

This inconsistent part of the offense has held back the team in many games this season. So Alabama got the ball to playmakers at the perimeter of the defense's fronts, and doing so paid off. I hope this is a preview of what we'll see when the Tide host Auburn the day after Thanksgiving.

Alabama will host Georgia State this Thursday, a game that was originally on Saturday the 20th, but the AD moved it to Thursday, so they could have a more regular week before they take on Auburn, the sixth SEC team in a row to have a bye week before they play Alabama.

The Tide's D played fairly well against a respectable State offense, but they'll need to play much better and more fundamentally sound when they take on the Tigers and Cam "The 200 Thousand Dollar Man" Newton.

I hope the Alabama squad is up for the challenge of this Iron Bowl. Georgia and other teams have exposed the weaknesses of Auburn's defense, but the key is keeping the Auburn offense off the field as much as possible and limiting the damage of Newton and crew. No one has been able to do that effectively yet, so I'm not optimistic about the Tide's chances.

But I want to be pleasantly surprised.

A defeat of Auburn this year would help assuage my memory of sitting through the 2000 Iron Bowl when Mrs. Nasty and I got sleeted on and the Tide lost 9-0 in a game that was horrible in many ways.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Music Friday: "Bastards of Young"

I'm in the mood for one of the finest bands in the history of the world, The Replacements.

This footage comes from a show in 1989, the year I graduated high school, and the song comes from their album Tim. Click HERE to watch the performance that has sketchy video and sound quality, but hey it was the late 80s, people. C'mon.

If I remember right, The Replacements were the first band I ever saw in concert at some old theater in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A good time was had, especially by the band that was known for its partying ways. In fact, I read a blog post a while back by Patterson Hood about how when The Replacements opened for Tom Petty when he saw them during high school (DBT was opening for Petty this summer, so that's why Hood was talking about the memory), Petty kicked them off the tour because the band members, known for all manner of shenanigans, raided Petty's area and stole a some of his wife's dresses that they then wore on stage that night. So I think The Replacements knew something about self-destructive zones, and they seemed to enjoy them.

A band out right now that reminds of Paul Westerberg and the boys is Deer Tick. After reading a post about Deer Tick on No Depression recently, I think there are some striking similarities. Click HERE for Dana Blaisdell's post about them if you're interested.

And here are the lyrics of "Bastards of Young":
God, what a mess, on the ladder of success
Where you take one step and miss the whole first rung.
Dreams unfulfilled, graduate unskilled.
It beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten.

We are the sons of no one, bastards of young.
We are the sons of no one, bastards of young.
The daughters and the sons...

Clean your baby womb, trash that baby boom.
Elvis in the ground, there'll ain't no beer tonight.
Income tax deduction, what a hell of a function.
It beats pickin' cotton and waitin' to be forgotten.

We are the sons of no one, bastards of young.
We are the sons of no one, bastards of young.
The daughters and the sons...

Unwillingness to claim us, ya got no war to name us

The ones who love us best are the ones we'll lay to rest
And visit their graves on holidays at best.
The ones who love us least are the ones we'll die to please.
If it's any consolation, I don't begin to understand them.

We are the sons of no one, bastards of young.
We are the sons of no one, bastards of young.
The daughters and the sons...

Thursday, November 11, 2010


This post is a counterpoint to my "Abatement" post in mid-October, and it also serves an after photo.

It took almost a month, but abatement wasn't needed. After getting second and third opinions on our situation, covering the the surface with new subflooring and putting down the Allure has worked out well. And that route was substantially cheaper.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday Hangover: LSU

It's pretty difficult to win national championships back-to-back. The Crimson Tide did so in '78 & '79 and '64 & '65. And they should have been given the mythical national championship in '66. Heck, Keith Dunnavant wrote a whole book about that, The Missing Ring, which I highly recommend.

I didn't get to watch the game live since I was traveling from the Indianapolis airport at the time of the game. I caught score updates from the radio, and Mrs. Nasty would call to let me know what was going on too. So it wasn't fun watching the dvred game last night after knowing the good guys came up short.

Alabama was doing okay until the fourth quarter, and in uncharacteristic fashion, the Tide faltered in the final frame. The defense gave up too many big plays in the passing game throughout the game, but the interception and fumble by McElroy were the big plays in the game.

Just when I thought the pass defense was fairly dependable, the mediocre duo of LSU quarterbacks made the Tide pay. That was a surprise.

Alabama's national championship hopes are dashed on the greasy rocks of Baton Rogue.

There's still an outside shot of winning the SEC West. However, the Tide would have to beat both State and Auburn, Georgia would have to beat Auburn at Auburn, and Arkansas would have to beat LSU in Little Rock. A way outside shot with all of those variables.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Music Friday: "Baltimore Blues No. 1"

Since I'm here in Baltimore for a conference, I thought I'd pass along a performance of one of the three songs I'm familiar with that have Baltimore featured in its name. It's "Baltimore Blues No. 1" by the mighty Deer Tick, and the other two songs I can think of are "Raining in Baltimore" by Counting Crows" and "Baltimore Oriole," which Mellencamp did a fine cover of on his Trouble No More album.

Anyway, click HERE if you want to watch Deer Tick perform on Letterman's show.

I was in Baltimore probably about a decade ago for a different conference when I was in grad school. As I shared to folks on FB, I think Baltimore needs to be renamed The City of Police Sirens because I heard a ton of them the first day I was here. My hotel isn't as close to the harbor as last time; I'm located toward the center of the city.

Last night I went to seafood restaurant, had a half dozen raw oysters, ate some crab cakes, and quaffed a couple of locally produced beers. And then it was back to the hotel because of this simple math: lots of seafood + beer + being at an academic conference = sleepy Quintilian B. Nasty.

After I take in sessions on today's conference program, I plan to head down to the Inner Harbor, grab some grub, and get some stuff for the Nasty family. For whatever reason, my son is intrigued by crabs, so I suspect Quinn will soon be acquiring a stuffed animal or hopefully something better that's crab-like.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Last Patrol

One of the benefits of undertaking air travel alone is that you get to read in solitude.

On my trip to Baltimore today, I took advantage of this and read some good stuff.

One article I read in The Atlantic was pretty darn powerful, at least to me. "The Last Patrol" by Brian Mockenhaupt recounts the final patrol of Charlie Company, which was a combined mission with a new artillery unit. The author, Brian Mockenhaupt, is described as "a former infantryman," who "is a writer in Detroit." And the story he tells is one hell of a piece of nonfiction, and I want to read more of his stuff. Click HERE if you're interested in reading his work in the November issue.

The article made me think about many things. But one point that rattled in my brain later is the paucity of strong non-fiction or literature that has been written about either of our excursions into Iraq of Afghanistan. I've read Here, Bullet by Brian Turner, which is a collection of poems based on Turner's experiences in Iraq, and that book has its moments. Other than that though, I don't know of a lot of non-fiction or fiction that is delving into the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Maybe it's too early for that. I don't know.

I just find it odd that there hasn't been a lot of strong writing about these wars besides maybe the screenplays to the Generation Kill HBO miniseries, which is based on the experiences the First Recon Battalion of the Marines.