Friday, December 31, 2010

Music Friday: Avett Brothers Smorgasbord

On a day of excess, I thought I'd offer a number of videos from a band that has become one of my favorites over the past year or so ~ the Avett Brothers. I've featured them before on a Music Friday, but today on New Year's Eve day I'm providing four songs of note. To go to the videos, simply click on the name of each song.

First up is "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise," a slowly paced song with lyrics I enjoy.

Batting second is "Talk on Indolence," and you can find the lyrics below.

And the final of the quartet is "Kick Drum Heart."

All of these videos come from their Live Volume 3 album/dvd.

Talk on Indolence
Well I've been lockin' myself up in my house for sometime now,
Readin' and writin' and readin' and thinkin'
and searching for reasons and missing the seasons.
The Autumn, the Spring, the Summer, the snow.
The record will stop and the record will go.
Latches latched the windows down,
the dog coming in and the dog going out.
Up with caffeine and down with a shot.
Constantly worried about what I've got.
Distracting my work but I can't make a stop,
and my confidence on and my confidence off.
And I sink to the bottom and rise to the top,
and I think to myself that I do this a lot.
World outside just goes it goes it goes it goes it goes it goes...
and witness it all from the blinds of my window.

I'm a little nervous 'bout what you'll think
When you see me in my swimming trunks.
And last night in New York I got raging drunk.
Remember one time I got raging drunk with you.

Now, I can recall a time when we made the city
Streets our playground, kissing in the fountains
Filled with cigarettes and bottles,
Sped through Italian city streets of cobblestone.

Because we had to
Because I loved you
Because the damned alcohol
Because what ever at all

Now I've grown too aware of my mortality
To let go and forget about dying
Long enough to drop the hammer down
And let the indolence go wild and flying through

Because we had to...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Belated Music Friday: "Electric Car"

A few days ago I remembered I had forgotten to serve up a Music Friday post. Sorry about that. I haven't had my laptop on over the past few days, so I never got around to it.

Anyway, on the plane ride back from Florida this afternoon, I read an optimistic article by Kiera Butler in the current issue of Mother Jones. Her "Econundrums" column takes on eight electric car myths, which reminded me of the song "Electric Car" by They Might Be Giants, which is on the band's Here Comes Science album, which followed two previous kids albums: Here Come the ABCs and Here Come the 123s. If you have young kids, I strongly recommend the trilogy of albums/DVDs. And Schoolhouse Rock.

Click HERE to watch the song's video.

And if you are interested in Butler's article, click HERE to start reading.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


A while ago on a Facebook status update by Jason Isbell, he made a ribald crack about accessorizing with mistletoe. When I read his post then, maybe a week ago, I thought, "What's the deal with mistletoe anyway? Why mistletoe and kissing?"

Since I was lazy at that moment, I didn't follow up on my questions.

As I was surfing the InterWeb tonight, I came across a short article on Slate about the origin of using mistletoe during the holiday season. While I found the quotation from Dickens' Pickwick Papers to be creepy, the article relates some of the history behind the plant and its connection to the holidays.

In sum, blame the Celtic Druids and the Greeks and especially the concept of the "kissing ball" from 18th century Britain.

You can click HERE to read the article from Slate. But a more detailed explanation about the plant's significance is available by clicking HERE to read a Web article with a title that is poorly (not) punctuated: "Mistletoe its history, meaning and traditions." The latter concisely details the kissing ball and gives more info about the Druids.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"390 - and rising" & Darryl Cunningham on Climate Change

Click HERE if you're interested in reading an article about global warming from The New York Times. The piece begins with some history and background information about the scientist who started recording levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the 50s. Yes, the 50s.

And that scientist, Charles David Keeling, was a registered Republican.

Below are some choice cuts from the article.

From page 1:

As the political debate drags on, the mute gray boxes atop Mauna Loa keep spitting out their numbers, providing a reality check: not only is the carbon dioxide level rising relentlessly, but the pace of that rise is accelerating over time.
“Nature doesn’t care how hard we tried,” Jeffrey D. Sachs, the Columbia University economist, said at a recent seminar. “Nature cares how high the parts per million mount. This is running away.”
From page 2:
By the late 1960s, a decade after Dr. Keeling began his measurements, the trend of rising carbon dioxide was undeniable, and scientists began to warn of the potential for a big increase in the temperature of the earth.
From page 3:
In an interview in La Jolla, Dr. Keeling’s widow, Louise, said that if her husband had lived to see the hardening of the political battle lines over climate change, he would have been dismayed.
“He was a registered Republican,” she said. “He just didn’t think of it as a political issue at all.”
The basic physics of the atmosphere, worked out more than a century ago, show that carbon dioxide plays a powerful role in maintaining the earth’s climate. Even though the amount in the air is tiny, the gas is so potent at trapping the sun’s heat that it effectively works as a one-way blanket, letting visible light in but stopping much of the resulting heat from escaping back to space.
From page 4:
The Internet has given rise to a vocal cadre of challengers who question every aspect of the science — even the physics, worked out in the 19th century, that shows that carbon dioxide traps heat. That is a point so elementary and well-established that demonstrations of it are routinely carried out by high school students.
However, the contrarians who have most influenced Congress are a handful of men trained in atmospheric physics. They generally accept the rising carbon dioxide numbers, they recognize that the increase is caused by human activity, and they acknowledge that the earth is warming in response.
But they doubt that it will warm nearly as much as mainstream scientists say, arguing that the increase is likely to be less than two degrees Fahrenheit, a change they characterize as manageable.
From page 5:
At midnight Mauna Loa time, the carbon dioxide level hit 390 — and rising.
From Darryl Cunningham Investigates:
For a comic presentation about climate change, click HERE to read a conversation between a guy and a penguin, a very smart penguin.

Flashbacks of Junior High

I was reading a post on Roxane Gay's blog the other day, and she makes a funny crack about how the members of her writing group should all get Members Only jackets.

The image of Members Only Jackets created flashbacks to junior high school, the fashion thereof, and other desires.

I admit I had a Members Only jacket back then in sixth and seventh grade. I got compliments from girls, which naturally made me nervous and self-conscious. Well, for full disclosure here, I doubt it was a true Members Only jacket but a knockoff of some sort that my mom picked up at the Waterloo K-Mart after strategic whining from yours truly. So a K-Members Only jacket. It wasn't in an elite membership -- let's just say that. My parents, two people who lived their early childhoods during the Great Depression, were/are the practical sort, so the jacket although goofy in obvious ways wasn't too dissimilar from regular jackets. And at K-Mart prices, there's no problem there.

The other fashion staple of the early 80s were pants that were the rage in my corner of northeastern Iowa at the time, probably a year or two after they were the in-garment on the coasts. You might have guessed what I'm talking about here: parachute pants.

Yes, parachute pants. I'm still waiting for them to make a comeback simply because I want to laugh at people for wearing the stupid garment. I will not lie though. I wanted a pair. At least one pair to be like the cool kids would suffice. But Virg and Deloras saw right through that fashion silliness. Add the strangeness of somewhat skintight garments with multiple zippers and pockets to the fact that they were expensive, that's not a good equation for this guy. No parachute pants for this fellow. No way.

Oh but I did appreciate them. I did a lot of appreciating since as we know junior high is when puberty hits. And young ladies at that time, well, they wore parachute pants. The noise the pants made as girls walked down the halls of West Junior was erotic to me. Like others, I had sensitive antennae to such things, which leads me to the accidental foresight my parents had when I get to thinking about it.

I mean, how do you hide a boner in parachute pants?

As you might have predicted, there are stores on the Internet who will gladly truck in economic nostalgia for those of us who desire, who desperately need, parachute pants. Click HERE for one such store. I wonder if I can talk Mrs. Nasty into buying a pair.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Yahtzee Mind, Beginner's Mind

It had been such a long time since I played Yahtzee that I returned to having a "beginner's mind" about the game as I tried to sort through how exactly you play the game and then explain it to my daughter a couple of days ago.

As Shunryu Suzuki says in his famous book, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In expert's mind there are few."

I played the heck out of that game when I was younger. During the holidays or when my nephews (sons of my oldest brother are around my age) would spend the weekends at my parents' house per the divorce agreement, we'd all sit around the kitchen table and play Yahtzee, Risk, and other assorted board games. Yahtzee and Risk were my favorites.

So now I'm thinking about the different options I have for strategy when Hannah and I play, not closing off the many possibilities for winning the game via diverse means.

But I have some questions and concerns about Yahtzee that I might not have thought of back then.

In the Upper Section once you add up the scores for aces, twos, and so on, if your total score is "63 or over," you "score 35" more points. So why that number, 63, a number that seems odd to me now? It doesn't even look strong. It's a wimpy number. It exudes wussiness. If I were to see 63 on an offensive lineman, the number doesn't exhibit greatness. I can think of no famous 63s in college football or the NFL. Even looking at the number, it's soft, all roundy and stuff -- not jagged lines that inspire greatness like 72 or 54 or 78 or 77.

Ok, maybe the above about 63 is a stretcher. But how did the R&D folks at Parker Brothers come up with this number I wonder. Was it based on weeks of playing the game, or did some statistician calculate the possible variations of total scores in the upper section and find the mean or median? I would assume the latter method is what went down, but I prefer to believe that a group of four folks playing for weeks on end, drinking cocktails, and scarfing down food at Hasbro HQ in Pawtucket, RI. I prefer that story. I have preferences.

From my perspective now, I have issues with how the Lower Section is arranged, an arrangement that I propose is the reason why I still have problems figuring out what beats what in poker. You see, in poker here are the hands in order of strength: straight flush, four of a kind, full house, flush, straight, three of kind, pair, etc.

Now in the Lower Section of Yahtzee, it's all screwed up. From top to bottom it goes: 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, full house, small straight (sequence of four), large straight (sequence of five), yahtzee (five of a kind), and chance. All you can see, there's no semblance of order here except for 3 and 4 of a kind. Statistical and organizational tomfoolery.

Because of this, to this day when I play poker, I still get an overwhelming feeling that a straight should beat a full house. I feel it in my bones. You see, Lg. Straight is right next to Yahtzee.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Click HERE if you're interested in watching some of the ways you can apply the phrase "Roll Tide" in everyday life.

Apply liberally.

Roll Tide.

Music Friday: "It Didn't Make a Sound" & "The Coast"

One album I didn't feature in a previous post that came out this year was the debut of the Court Yard Hounds, a band that is the two sisters from the Dixie Chicks with a backing band.

Click HERE to watch them perform "It Didn't Make a Sound," and/or click HERE to watch a video for "The Coast."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doing the Elliptical... Thinking

As our Xmas gift to each other, Mrs. Nasty and I decided to purchase an elliptical machine because we both want to get in better shape.

For me, since both my mom and my oldest brother have had multiple heart surgeries over the past few years, I'm getting apprehensive about my health. Once you add in that I'm going to be 40 in January (and my 40s will be the personal decade that I really start kicking some ass by the way, so be careful) and I'm feeling not only flabby but also "worthless and weak," to invoke the famous video by Twisted Sister (click HERE for that), it's time get my girlish figure back.

So today I was doing the elliptical... thinking.

I don't know why I've been so obsessed with music lately, but listening to tunes does provide joy in my life. It always has, and it's definitely (or defiantly as many college students prefer to "spell" it) better than the fare offered on most of the channels of the squawk box.

I'm rediscovering some old bands whose work I only had on cassettes through the power of cheap downloads.

But to return to the elliptical, some bands just work well for me when I'm pumping my legs and arms on the NordicTrack contraption that is iPod compatible. I'll hit a good song, such as "Mountain Song," and want to push it further.

The band that helped me with this morning's workout is Jane's Addiction, in particular the first album, Nothing's Shocking.

With JA's hard-edge true alternative rock and Perry Farrell's sometimes creepy lyrics, my mind wandered in an extended Jack Handy-like fashion today, so here's a partial offering:

I've always found this phenomenon about seeing the Virgin Mary in various stuff really strange. I respect religious beliefs, but finding all these images of Mary all over the place seems a bit silly. Also, why is she usually crying? I guess I could see that maybe she's crying for the "walking sarcasm" (Twain's words, not mine) of humanity and how we're fouling up Creation, but for Christ's sake, she was the mother of Christ. Who else has that distinction? I would imagine it was awfully hard though to break it to the in-laws that she was indeed pregnant without Joseph and her doing the deed. I mean, how do you explain that you got knocked up by God or the Holy Ghost or whatever, the immaculate conception deal? At least the Greeks had Zeus doing the deed in various but unwholesome guises. Then again, how would you like to come into being like Athena did, out of your father's head? Her birth explains why she was Zeus' favorite. But, to get back to Jesus, how do you think his brothers (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas) and sisters (who are unnamed tellingly) felt about him? I mean, your brother is supposed to be the son of God. That's intimidating.

And today those were some of my thoughts on the elliptical.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's Bowl Season

In this post I'm going to feature some prominent or interesting bowl games and offer my so-called thoughts on the matchups. I'm not going to go over all of the bowl games because that would just be way too much and way too much work. If you thought the top ten/twenty albums of 2010 was long, then a breakdown of all of the bowl games would be ridiculous.

So here you go:
Maaco Bowl Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Utah, Dec. 22
Oh, how the mighty have fallen, eh? If TCU put a whipping on the Utes in Salt Lake during the regular season, then the Broncos will also destroy Utah. I don't think this will even be close.

Insight Bowl: Mizzou vs. Iowa, Dec. 28
It's been a disappointing season for the Hawkeyes, and with the team's leading receiver arrested for drug-dealin' stuff and the starting running back suspended, I don't think Iowa's offense is strong enough to keep its defense fresh and off the field. Mizzou by 10.

Valero Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Arizona, Dec. 29
The Cowboys offense is downright unstoppable it seems, but the Pokes defense doesn't stop anyone. I expect a shootout, with the Wildcats losing in the fourth quarter.

Bridgepoint Holiday Bowl: Nebraska vs. Washington, Dec. 30
This is just a mismatch, plain and simple. Nebraska will win handily, but this is well worth watching to see how the NFL-bound Washington QB responds to the tough and salty Black Shirt defense.

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: South Carolina vs. Florida State, Dec. 31
The Gamecocks were embarrassed in the SEC Championship Game. Florida State's last game saw the Florida Gators scoring only 7 points and getting soundly beaten by the 'Noles' multi-faceted offense. It'll be close, but FSU, which is now once again a rising power under Jimbo Fisher, wins by a touchdown.

Capital One Bowl: Michigan State vs. Alabama, Jan. 1
This season has been a disappointment for the Tide. The last time they played a bowl game after a loss at the end of the season (vs. Florida in the SEC Championship Game), things didn't go well at all versus Utah. It was one hellacious first quarter, one that Alabama never recovered from. And sans their brain fart of a game in Iowa City, Michigan State just wins. I don't like this matchup. Flip a coin. If it's heads, Tide's secondary steps up without having Mark Barron as captain of the defense. If it's tails, Alabama's defense gets hurt once again by big plays in the passing game, which is the main reason for the losses to South Carolina, LSU, and Auburn this season.

Gator Bowl: Mississippi State vs. Michigan, Jan. 1
The Bulldogs have a strong defense, and the Wolverines a matador type of defense. Mississippi State's offense is mediocre, and Michigan's offense is prolific. When in doubt, the SEC trumps the new Big 12 here by a close score.

All State Sugar Bowl: Ohio State vs. Arkansas, Jan. 4
I have a bad feeling for the Razorbacks in this one since the Buckeyes usually have strong defenses. This is one of my upset picks even though I want Arkansas to win. Ohio State wins a close one carried by the performance of Pryor.

Tostitos BCS National Championship Game: Auburn vs. Oregon, Jan. 10
God, I would love to see the Ducks beat the living daylights out of the Tigers or War Eagles or Plainsmen or whatever the hell Auburn people seem to think is their mascot. The Iron Bowl debacle is one of the worst losses in Alabama football history in my opinion. It was more painful than when Mrs. Nasty and I watched the Tide lose in Bryant-Denny 9-0 on a day when it sleeted on us for a while. Believe me, that day sucked.

But I digress. Auburn wins by four points.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top Ten/Twenty Albums of 2010

The folks over at No Depression are doing their annual reader's poll of the top twenty albums of 2010. Below I'm going to provide my top ten of the year with an assortment of significant and honorable mentions (the next ten). I posted my own top twenty over at No Depression, but after I posted, I realized there were some other albums I would have put it the top ten if I had remembered them.

So here goes my revised top ten/twenty. If you've enjoyed some albums that came out in 2010 that are on this list or ones that aren't on it, feel free to post ones that you feel are worth mentioning.

1. Justin Townes Earle, Harlem River Blues
This guy is an artist I've really grown to like over this year, and this album is outstanding. The songs are written from the p.o.v. of characters in his new town, NYC. His work melds country, blues, and folk traditions. If there were an artist I would want to do an album of Hank Williams' covers, JTE would be the man. Favorite Songs: "Harlem River Blues," "Workin' for the MTA," and "Ain't Waitin'."

2. Drive-By Truckers, The Big To-Do
DBT is not known for its uplifting lyrics. Although the band does have some work that is darkly humorous, they're not a feel-good band. The Big To-Do got back to what the band does best: playing straightforward, guitar-oriented, twangy rock-n-roll with dark lyrics. Favorite Songs: "The Fourth Night of My Drinking," "This Fucking Job," and "Eyes Like Glue."

3. Frontier Ruckus, Deadmalls and Nightfalls
This band's sophomore release is just as good if not better than than its first, The Orion Songbook. I don't know how to classify these folks, but I like their old-timey/alternative instrumentation and willfully obtuse lyrics. Favorite Songs: "Nerves of the Nightmind," "Springterror," and "Pontiac, the Nightbrink."

4. Deer Tick, The Black Dirt Sessions
I saw these guys in concert this year, and they are a trip. To a degree, I think they're a reincarnation of The Replacements, and that's high praise from me. While I don't find this album as strong as previous ones, it's good stuff. Favorite Songs: "Twenty Miles" and "Mange."

5. Glossary, Feral Fire
This is a band, in my opinion, that more people need to know about. They're not flashy. They're not particularly hip. They just play good music. The band from Mufreesboro put out a solid album here. Favorite Songs: "Lonely is a Town," "Save Your Money for the Weekend," and "Hope and Peril."

6. The Hold Steady, Heaven Is Whenever
Guitar-oriented rock-n-roll with interesing lyrics. It's that simple. Favorite Songs: "The Sweet Part of the City," "The Smidge," and "Our Whole Lives."

7. Trampled by Turtles, Palomino
The Duluth-based "thrashgrass" band put out another good album this year. While I don't think "thrashgrass" captures their work, that's what the band calls itself for lack of a better desciptor. Favorite Songs: "Wait So Long" and "New Orleans."

8. John Mellencamp, No Better Than This
As Mellencamp has said before, "It's never been cool to like John Mellencamp." His teaming up with T-Bone Burnett combined with the old fashioned recording process at historic American spots created an excellent album, one that grows on you. Maybe he is becoming "cool"? I doubt it, but who gives a @#$%. Favorite Songs: "Save Some Time to Dream," "No Better Than This," and "Clumsy Ol' World."

9. The Henry Clay People, Somewhere on the Golden Coast
Straight outta the O.C. Or something like that. describes the band as "a type of no-frills, pretention-free rock that has sorely been missing from LA." I know little about the current L.A. music scene or most music "scenes" for that matter, but I like the album a lot. Favorite Songs: "Working Part-Time," "End of an Empire," and "This Ain't a Scene."

10. Mumford & Sons, Sigh No More
A loyal reader of this blog turned me on to these guys, so thanks TG Dem. While I usually have a weird revulsion to the British accents of certain bands besides the Beatles and the Spice Girls, Mumford & Sons' Sigh No More is a very good album I need to listen to much more often. Favorite Songs: "The Cave" and "White Blank Page."

Honorable Mentions (the next ten):

JJ Grey & Mofro, Georgia Warhorse
Mr. Grey still hasn't outdone his second album, Lochloosa (under only Mofro's name), but this is a strong effort.

Ryan Bingham, Junky Star
I found this album to be kind of uneven and lethargic at times, but it's still a good one. If you liked his first two albums, you'll like this one.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, self-titled
Ms. Potter has a very good voice, and the band that backs her rocks. The album is overproduced, however.

Punch Brothers, Antifogmatic
I'm thinking about seeing these guys in concert sometime. They meld bluegrass and chamber music.

Blue Giant, self-titled
This band has a strong debut album--alt-countryish, folky leanings.

Local Natives, Gorilla Manor
Daytrotter has been featuring the hell out of these guys. While they're a little poppy at times, the songs stay with you.

Truckstop Darlin', self-titled
Sure, they have a sketchy name, but the the band reminds me the Drive-By Truckers, Lucero, Uncle Tupelo, and Whiskeytown. I like those comparisons and the debut album.

Trombone Shorty, Backatown
This guy will make you get up and dance.

The Sheepdogs, Learn & Burn
This band seems to have taken in elements of classic rock and reformulated it for now. And they're from Saskatoon. How often do you get to say you like a band from Saskatoon?

Centro-matic/South San Gabriel, Eyas
Eyas is a EP, but if you can only download one song from this, download SSG's cover of Lionel Ritchie's "All Night Long." They turn a party song into something completely different. Check it out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Cabbage Soup with Smoked Sausage

I followed the base recipe for a traditional cabbage soup today since I had a head of cabbage in the fridge that I needed to use soon. And I also had some smoked turkey sausage that I had been looking to use for a while.

1 whole sweet onion, diced
1 bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 shallots, chopped roughly
3 scallions, the whites cut into medallions
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
4 cups of low sodium chicken stock
2 cups of water
2 carrots, sliced into medallions
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small head of green cabbage, quartered and chopped into ribbons
1/2 lb. of smoked sausage, cut into half moons and browned on a skillet
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley
Small smidge of smoked paprika
Smidge of Herbs de Provence

I sweated down the onion, bell pepper, shallots, garlic, and scallions for maybe 10 minutes on medium-low and then poured in the chicken stock, water, carrots and potatoes.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. After roughly fifteen minutes, put in the cabbage smoked sausage. Get the concoction to the simmer stage again, and then let it do its thing for about fifteen minutes more. At the end, add in the salt, pepper, herbs, paprika, and parsley.

I was surprised by how this soup turned out. Since the cabbage is simmered for a short time, it comes out with a slightly sweet taste. Although I've always enjoyed corned beef and cabbage, I don't usually eat a lot of this vegetable because I don't know many dishes that call for it. And let's face it, when people think of vegetables, cabbage is not one that leaps into their minds. Cabbage, sexy it ain't. Even the sound of the word is guttural and ugly sounding almost to the extent that it could get verbed, such as "The criminal cabbaged his victim" or "My ex-wife, she cabbaged me up real bad."

If I ever can get my get my hands on some andouille sausage, that good stuff would be an excellent replacement for the smoked turkey sausage in this recipe even though the fat content in andouille is a much higher than what I used today. But hell, andouille is good with just about anything to me -- in soup, with pasta, on a pizza, inside of a bun, etc.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Music Friday: "Paris (Ooh La La)"

I happened upon Grace Potter one night when I was watching a documentary about Woodstock. She was briefly featured in the film because she was talking either about the influence of Janis Joplin or Grace Slick or both. I can't remember.

Regardless, this song is from the self-titled album, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, which I believe is her third album. It's a good album but a little over-produced for my liking since I usually like my tunes with some grit and darkness in them. At least based on the reviews, the first two albums are held in high esteem and not as slick sounding.

Click HERE for "Paris (Ooh La La)."

Thursday, December 9, 2010


On our way back from the great state of Iowa after Thanksgiving, I was listening to a program on NPR, and the host did a feature of a strange little website that I've visited a few times since I heard about it.

The people at Zero Views select YouTube videos that have at the time of selection "0 views."

If you're looking for a place to visit for some quick entertainment/weirdness that showcases people's penchant for uncritically presenting all sorts of "stuff" to the world, you might enjoy the site. Click HERE to check it out.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Wow. The breaking news in college football right now is not related to Cam Newton. Coach Urban Meyer is resigning as the head coach of the Florida Gators.

The Gators, who were soundly whipped by Alabama in Bryant-Denny, had a disappointing year after Brantley was anointed as the new great Gator QB who would obviously command the scions of gridiron talent at the University of Florida. Instead, the Gators ended up with a 7-5 record.

I have no idea who will be the next Florida coach, but if I were a Mississippi State fan, I would hope the Athletic Department in Starkville is working toward getting Dan Mullen, former Florida offensive coordinator and current head coach of the Bulldogs, inked to a lucrative long-term contract if they haven't already.

As an Alabama fan, I would like to see Mullen at Florida because he's somehow turned State into a contender in the West, but I don't think that'll happen.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Judging Melons

In the recent issue of Utne, there's an article taken from Small Farmer's Journal titled "The Watermelon Whisperer."

Like the author, David Feela, I also don't seem to have the best luck picking out watermelons, but his short essay recounts his encounter with a older lady named Margaret, who gives him the low-down on how to judge melons. There's a three-step process, and you can read the article by clicking HERE.

I remember reading or hearing about the "sugar spot" on watermelons, and the color factor is kind of obvious. But the article finally explains the thumping method. I have seen people thumping melons since I was a little kid (my Dad is a proficient thumper), but I never understood exactly what they were listening for. Apparently the ideal is a vibration "radiat[ing] through the entire melon."

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Luke's Cauliflower Salad with Modifications

Before the fall semester began, I went to a get-together for the graduate students that I've worked with this semester. One of the grad students named Luke brought a cauliflower salad to the potluck that was quite good. So I asked him for the recipe since Mrs. Nasty is crazy about cauliflower, and I'm a fan also. Usually I find ranch dressing to be an abomination, but the stuff works for me in this salad.

What follows is the base recipe that Luke provided:
1 whole cauliflower chopped, the florets chopped to bite size pieces (4 cups)
1 stalk of celery, chopped finely (1/2 cup)
1 large carrot or two small carrots shredded (1 1/2 cups)
3-4 green onions, chopped finely (1/2 cup)
3/4 cup of Ranch dressing
3/4 or a full cup of Parmesan
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of dried parsley

You mix the wet ingredients into the dry and let it chill for at least fifteen minutes.

Since I don't have dried parsley in house for whatever reason and I have a penchant to add herbs and spices to recipes, I modified the recipe a bit by making these additions to the wet ingredients: one small shallot chopped finely, a large smidge of thyme, a small smidge of marjoram, a very small smidge of tarragon, and a smidge of smoked paprika.

Oh, and I also added a half slab of turkey bacon into the mix, cut into small pieces of course.

Music Friday: "I Don't Know" & "Catfish 2 Boogaloo"

After finding out about this band via Daytrotter, I had to have their album, Learn & Burn. The four-piece band from Saskatoon plays some solid, straightforward rock-n-roll. No overly artsy bullshit.

Click HERE to enjoy the video for "I Don't Know."

You can watch them play "Catfish 2 Boogaloo" in concert by clicking HERE.

And if you want the free download of their four-song session at the Pop Montreal Festival via Daytrotter, click HERE. The title of the session is "The Sweet Music of the Sippin' Whiskey."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Ten Years After O'Brother"

One of the posts on No Depression today reflects on the effects of the soundtrack of O'Brother Where Art Thou? and the state of Americana music. Click HERE if you're interested in reading it.

I found the post interesting because the soundtrack does seem to represent a tipping point of sorts for old timey and bluegrass influenced artists and how those genres started to attract more fans in this decade. I don't agree with what he's saying about the influence on 9/11. Sure, it's part of the milieu. How couldn't it be? But I don't see it as a significant factor why people started listening to Americana music.

Instead, I'll use Occam's razor and propose that people were exposed to really good music that they didn't know much about or didn't have much of, and they got hooked like I did since I got back into Woody Guthrie, Johnny Cash, various blues musicians, and alt-country folks along with discovering artists like the Hackensaw Boys, Trampled by Turtles, Emma Hill, Old Crow Medicine Show, the Gourds, Neko Case, Railroad Earth, et al.