Friday, September 30, 2011

Music Friday: "Daddy's Cup"

This is a song about passion and persistence. It's on what I consider the Drive-By Trucker's best album, The Dirty South.

I've never been all that attracted to car racing, but I know and I've met folks who follow NASCAR religiously. The head secretary at work here loves racing and goes to events on a regular basis, for example.

Well, I guess I did go to a dirt track once when I was a little kid. My oldest brother took his sons and me to it. I remember liking it as a kid because, well, it involved cars, a subject I was interested in. I read about cars. I drew cars. I dreamed about driving cars. My parents bought me Hot Wheels. I played with them. A lot.

But that went away. I've owned four cars in my lifetime: a '78 Buick Regal, a '88 Chevy AstroVan (the UAV), a '95 Ford Escort, and now a '05 Ford Focus wagon.

I'm a real hot rodder, ain't I?

My four-year old son takes after his father. He has a plethora of Hot Wheels, but he got really interested through the movie Cars, which as animated kids' films go, isn't a bad movie at all.

So because of Lightning McQueen, we've watched some NASCAR races here and there, and it is an interesting phenomenon even though I still think of it as a monumental waste of gas. Quinn's a fan of Jeff Gordon because he likes the look of his car, and he also likes whoever drives the M&M car. Race car + Candy = Win.

So the video above goes out to all "them other crazy fools with racing in their blood" referenced in the song and the people who watch them. The lyrics are after the jump.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Random Notes from a Crank

I was in a grumpy mood today, so I tried listening to music as I cooked. The new Blind Pilot didn't work--too upbeat and poppy. The new album by Dawes didn't work either. I finally hit the sweet spot by listening to Glossary's Feral Fire, a fine album. They should be coming out with a new one soon I think.

I finally got around to reading an interesting, depressing, detailed, and somewhat hopeful article by Don Peck in The Atlantic today. It's "Can the Middle Class Be Saved?" if you're interested.

When I was reading about SEC realignment talk the other day on TiderInsider, I realized I left out Ole Miss and Mississippi State from my proposed North-South divisions in the comments section of my post. Sorry about that Magnolia State or Black Bear State and whatever the hell people call you. Here's a revision of those if Mizzou joins since I now have the road atlas in front of me. North: Mizzou, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Ole Miss. South: A&M, LSU, Mississippi State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Florida. Or heck, why not divide the conference using I-65? West: A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, LSU, Ole Miss, State, and Alabama. East: Vandy, Kentucky, Tennessee, Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

I'm sad to report the current state of proofreading in America has dropped to an all-time low: weather and whether are getting confused now. @#$% you, Spellcheck systems.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Hangover: Arkansas

I was concerned after the first successful drive of the Razorbacks. The Tide defense wasn't getting much pressure on quarterback Tyler Wilson, and they were giving up conversions on third on long.

Adjustments were made, and Alabama won 38 to 14.

A constant in the game though was that the Tide made Arkansas one dimensional. The Razorbacks didn't have any semblance of a ground game. They didn't have much of a vertical passing game either.

While I still think McCarron scored a touchdown on first and goal with a quaterback sneak, how the Arkansas D held up against Alabama at the goal line is disconcerting. After McCarron presumably didn't score on first and goal, the Tide went backwards on second and third down.

What Alabama did to Arkansas is exactly what other teams are going to do the Tide: attempt to shut down the running back tandem of Richardson and Lacy. Thankfully, both running backs had solid games versus the Hawgs, but there's going to be a game where the passing game is going to be relied on more heavily, and McCarron better be ready whether it's next week versus Florida in the Swamp, when Tennessee comes to Tuscaloosa, or when LSU, whose defense is scary good, visits T-Town in November.

Yesterday's game provided a lot of variety in the way of scoring: a fake field goal that turned into a touchdown pass to Williams, a pick six by Menzie, a fantastic punt return for a touchdown by Maze, and a dump-off pass to Richardson that went for a long touchdown.

C. J. Mosley going down with an injury to his elbow is a major concern going into the Florida game, however. He's arguably the Tide's best linebacker against passing-oriented/spread teams. From what I could tell, the youngster Adrian Hubbard filled in for Mosely and did a good job, but if Mosley isn't available, that's an important factor with the Gators' two very quick running backs who will go out for pass patterns in Gainesville Saturday.

Regardless, good luck to Arkansas the rest of the way, especially against Auburn and LSU.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Music Friday: "New York City's Killing Me"

A good while back one of my friends on FB mentioned that he just "can't get into" the music of Ray Lamontagne even though he is critically acclaimed as a singer-songwriter. My reply to Augie's post was that I feel the same way about Wilco--just never have understood what the hullabaloo is all about.

I have a couple of Lamontagne's albums, and I like them though I'm not a huge fan. Lamontagne has a soul-folk-blues vibe that hits me in the musical sweet spot when I'm in that kind of listening mood.

The song featured today comes from Lamontagne's most recent release, God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise, and the tune acts as rhetorical hand grenade against the perception that New York City is such a vibrant and great place to be.

Take that, you damn Yankees.

For me, it also touches on how American culture has a bias or this silly idea that large cities are the places "to be," that smaller towns, rural areas, and the Midwest in general is "flyover America" and/or "boring." Call it "East Coast bias" or what Wendell Berry has called a war against rural America, there's a pervasive sentimentality about New York or other large cities in our culture.

Over the years, I've met lots of young adults who are in that in-between stage of their lives where the future is uncertain. Often, when asked about their plans, they've told me they're planning on moving to some major metropolitan area without any real game plan, and the two cities that often come up are New York and Seattle, which are two of the most expensive places to live in the US.

Since, as Mrs. Nasty could tell you, I'm notoriously tight-fisted with money, I often thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be smarter to pick a cheaper place to live?" when hearing about a person's plans to live in a metro area on the one of the coasts. In addition, there are really interesting US cities that don't have all kinds of media-induced sentimentality and nostalgia about them that offer just as good if not better opportunities for people.

New Orleans, St. Louis, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Chattanooga, Portland, Fort Collins, Little Rock, and Memphis come to mind.

I just got to get me somewhere,
Somewhere that I can be free,
Get me out of New York City, son,
New York City's killing me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.E.M. Calls It Quits

As they related on their website yesterday, R.E.M., one of the groundbreaking bands of my lifetime, is calling it quits.

R.E.M. was alternative before alternative became a mass-market genre. Back then, if memory serves, many folks labeled them and other bands as "college rock," back when Rolling Stone covered the "college charts." I've listened to a lot of R.E.M.'s tunes over the years. The second concert I ever went to was R.E.M. playing at Carver-Hawkeye Arena during the Green tour.

When I look at the band's discography, there are only a few CDs of the band that I don't own: Dead Letter Office, Out of Time, and Around the Sun. I had Out of Time once, but I don't know what happened to it.

As much as I felt Reveal was a dog of an album, I went along and bought the band's last two discs, Accelerate and Collapse Into Now, both of which are good. For me though, they'll never stack up to the early works of Life's Rich Pageant, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction, and Document.

In yet another sign I'm getting old, a band I grew up with finally disbands after 31 years of making music.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mizzou to the SEC?

I came across an article today on Mizzou's Rivals site.

In "If Mizzou Moves, All Signs Point South," Gabe DeArmond provides an article that will probably light up the message boards. He intimates that if Mizzou moves, it sounds like the SEC would prefer to add them as the league's 14th member after Texas A&M.

He concludes the article with this paragraph: "As has been the case throughout the realignment situation, there are many moving parts. No deal is done until it is officially done. But all indications are that if Missouri chooses to leave the Big 12, or if there is no Big 12 to leave, the SEC is the likely landing spot for the Tigers."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday Hangover: North Texas

41 to Nothing.

If you just go by the box score, you'd think the Crimson Tide had a great game, but they didn't. Too many field goals were attempted when the offense should have done a better job of converting opportunities to touchdowns in the red zone.

I will admit Alabama's defense looked excellent in the first half, but they gave up some yardage in the second, even leading to a goal line stand in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout. That defense was composed of second- and third-teamers.

In the ongoing quarterback competition, McCarron looked better than Sims, at least initially. I also noticed that heralded freshman left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio received a lot of playing time. I wonder if he's going to start soon and Barret Jones is going to move back to right guard. Or they're just building depth.

Both Richardson and Lacy had career games in rushing yards although most of that yardage came on two big runs for each. Regarding the wide receiver corpos, two youngsters contributed to depth there, with strong performances by Kenny Bell and Christion Jones.

It should be an interesting game versus the Razorbacks next Saturday. I'm betting the coaching staff goes with McCarron the whole game like they did at Penn State. And the offensive line better shore up some issues.

SEC play begins.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Music Friday: "Outshined"

Just when I think I might have a chance, I have a week where my hopes shatter and cascade about my head.

My fantasy baseball team is stinking right now. Of course, just skip to the Soundgarden video if you don't have any interest in the subject.

My mighty Schlitzophrenics have been hanging among the top three or four spots in my league for quite some time now. But my squad has had a pathetic week and has lost all kinds of points.

Sunday, the bums had a combined .182 OBP while my ERA and WHIP numbers ballooned. Monday provided another bad day of stats. Tuesday's pitching numbers righted the ship, but the offensive stats were pedestrian. Though I collected some saves, Wednesday's pitching performances fattened my ERA. And another crappy day yesterday.

I'm currently fourth. The way it's going, I may not even win freaking third.

I'm feeling outshined.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Bottle Tree: There Goes the Neighborhood

Mrs. Nasty and I installed an art project last weekend, and it got the neighbors talking.

Since we live in the Midwest, our neighbors aren't familiar with bottle trees. We never knew about them either until Mrs. Nasty went to school at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi where John Grisham has a home, the guy who has a bottle tree in one of his (many) novels that got turned into a movie, A Time to Kill. In fact, a fine eating establishment in Oxford is called the Bottletree Bakery, and it's one of the best places I've ever eaten for breakfast. Really good strong coffee too.

I've always associated bottle trees with being a Mississippi thing although I've read that they're used as garden ornaments throughout the South. The folklore goes that bottle trees capture and/or ward off evil spirits. And I've always liked them because they're colorful and strange looking. They aren't subtle.

As we also found out, they invite questions. After we installed the metal tree with its empty bottles on Sunday, our next door neighbor stopped by that evening because, as she said, "The neighbors are all wondering what that thing is in your front garden." So the other neighbors sent her to ask about it.

I explained the whole deal to her--that we got used to seeing them in the South, we've always kind of liked them, they're supposed to have protective qualities, and so on.

I can certainly understand the initial shock of seeing a bottle tree since I had a similar reaction myself when I saw one. My initial thought was, "What the hell is that?" 

And probably to some, the bottle tree says, "Hey clowns, I really LIKE wine!"

To get the colorful array of bottles you see above, it took some time since our tree handles 16 bottles. And good God, I'm tired of drinking that crappy German white wine that comes in a blue bottle, whatever the hell it's called. Mrs. Nasty is crazy about the blue bottles, so I drank that stuff like a man as much as that cliche can be applied to drinking white wine. Unfortunately, I can't get one of the azure-ensconced bottles of wine I actually like in this little burg I live in, St. James Winery's School House White, a German style wine out of St. James, Missouri. Nevertheless, I prefer red wine, which comes mainly in green bottles.

One of the funnier comments I've heard about our bottle tree is what our neighbor told us her husband said over the phone. Her husband is long-distance trucker who travels mainly in the South. She told him about the bottle tree and how it's supposed to ward off evil spirits. His comment to her was that it obviously doesn't work since it didn't keep her from visiting our porch.

That's some funny ball bustin,' Doug. Cheers to you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sunday Hangover: Penn State

Yesterday was a good win for the Crimson Tide. They traveled to a stadium that's difficult to play in and came out with a W based mostly on a solid defensive performance.

It's not that the offense played poorly, but they certainly could have played better.

Besides the opening drive of the Nittany Lions, Alabama's defense pretty much bottled up Penn State's offense, giving up only maybe three explosive plays for the whole game. Penn State got a field goal out of that first drive and didn't score their touchdown until late in the game when they were playing against a mix of first- and second-teamers on the Tide's defense.

As I'm sure many other Tide fans feel, they're happy with the victory but are concerned about the team's run-blocking. While Richardson and Lacy both had good games--Richardson with over a hundred yards rushing--for a good portion of the contest, Richardson wasn't making very large gains, and the offense was forced into third and longs. In fact, to my inexpert eyes, Lacy seemed to run better than Richradson yesterday even though he gained fewer yards.

Then again, the offense has been very vanilla in the first few games. Most of the running has been situated between the tackles. And we haven't seen anything of Blake Sims, who is the third string quarterback who also plays running back and wide receiver.

Next up is North Texas where we'll probably get to see more of Phillip Sims at quarterback. He only played in mop-up duty in this game. Although I initially thought Sims would be the quaterback of the team based on spring performances, McCarron might have secured the job after yesterday. His throw to Michael Williams on Alabama's first touchdown was a pass into an NFL-like window. However, there were a few throws that were underthrown or innacurate.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Music Friday: "Holier Than Thou"

Can you tell I've been busy? No posts since Sunday...

When I worked out Tuesday, I listened to Metallica's major commercial success, the band's Black Album.

That album is solid, and the songs that garnered the most attention were "Enter Sandman," "Sad but True," "Wherever I May Roam," and "Nothing Else Matters."

Strangely enough, "Enter Sandman" was such a hit that Alabama used the song as the Intro before Alabama basketball games when I was in Tuscaloosa. To this day, when I hear the song, I think about Coleman Coliseum. They may still be using the tune for all I know.

But today instead of featuring one of Metallica's hits from the Black Album, I give you "Holier Than Thou," a tune from that fine opus that matches my attitude in general. I'm grouchy. I'm stressed. I'm juggling all kinds of @#$%.

Once next week is over, I'll be in a better frame of mind, I hope.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thoughts on Deconstructionism

I was watching an episode of Iron Chef America tonight, and a judge's evaluation of "Deconstructed Gumbo" sums up my thoughts about Deconstruction in general:
  • "You know, for me, you actually deconstructed this to the point where the okra no longer plays that big role. Conceptually, it's interesting. But I think it missed the mark in terms of doing justice to the okra."

Sunday Hangover: Kent State

It's hard to expect a close to flawless game on the opening game of the season. With Alabama's situation, however, I wanted to see the basics happen: a stifling defenisve effort, the running backs churning up yardage on the ground, and good decision making from the quarterbacks.

So I was disappointed.

Saturday versus Kent State showcased a strong defensive effort on the part of the Crimson Tide. Although it's hard to read too much into their solid performance because Alabama played a MAC team, the linebackers looked great, the defensive line got a decent pass rush, and the defense as a whole shut down the running game of the Golden Flashes.

Surprisingly, Alabama's ground game didn't look too good early on. Richardson didn't have a lot of yards though he did score three touchdowns. I was disappointed with the run blocking in the game since there were a number of plays where Kent State's defense got strong penetration into the backfield. As the sideline announcer for the game informed us, Hightower got into offensive linemen's faces during the game and challenged them to play with more fire and aggressiveness. Eventually, the run blocking got better, and both Eddie Lacey and Jalston "The Beast" Fowler had solid efforts.

Lacey had a long run in the game and showed off his signature spin move to avoid tacklers. I've been waiting to see Fowler at running back for some time since Alabama needs a dependable third running back like they had with Roy Upchurch in '09 when he came into games fresh to spell Ingram and Richardson. As we watched the game, Mrs. Nasty questioned whether Fowler was a tailback or fullback. He's a regular running back, but he's a big dude, at least 240 or so pounds, and has decent speed. He'll also bring the wood to defenders if they get in his way.

The quarterback situation is what most Tide fans are focused on early this season, and Saturday's game might have clarified matters. Or maybe it didn't once you interpret Coach Saban's post-game comments. He commented that both QBs did good things though there were some serious low points. Although two of the four interceptions in the game were the result of receivers not getting the job done, two of those four were really bad. One by Sims almost resulted in a pick 6.

I expect both quarterbacks to play in Saturday's game versus Penn State in Happy Valley. However. yesterday A. J. McCarron separated himself from Sims in the quarterback competition. As a whole, McCarron made better decisions, and he seemed to get the ball out more quickly. I expect McCarron to start again, and I hope both quarterbacks are better with ball security when they face the Nittany Lions.

When I watched the A-Day game (spring game), I felt Sims looked better when he played with the no. 1 offense, so McCarron playing better was kind of a surprise to me. Then again, McCarron had real game experience before yesterday, and Sims didn't.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Music Friday: "Things About Coming My Way," "Cain't Be Satisfied," & "Matchbox Blues"

When I started actively listening to music, like many adolescents of my generation, I was drawn to hard rock, heavy metal, and classic rock. Listening to Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, bands that reformulated blues music or ripped off blue riffs and songs (depending on your perspective), led me to the Blues.

Long live the Blues.

Today I'm featuring Guy Davis, a traditional blues musician who puts out great stuff. All of the songs are covers, but he also writes his own tunes.

The first for today is "Things About Coming My Way."

Next is a cover of a Muddy Waters' song, but Davis plays it on banjo. Before the song, there's also a short commentary about the spelling of "cain't" while performing before royalty and the British.

And the trio closes with Blind Lemon Jefferson's "Matchbox Blues."