Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

If you like baseball, if you appreciate statistical analysis, and if you value data-driven arguments, the show Clubhouse Confidential on MLB Network is the show for you. Watch it if you're so inclined.

I really dislike it when a major league ballclub builds a brand new stadium, and then a few years later the organization brings in the fences to boost offensive output. They did it with Comerica Park years ago. This season they're doing it to Citi Field. If anything, some parks--such as Coors and Minute Maid--need to push their fences outward if possible. I doubt David Wright approves this post, but as experts suggest, he's getting fooled by breaking balls and missing fastballs more often. It's not the field's fault, Mets executives.

The most common sentence I hear in my life is this one: "Daddy, I'm hungry."

I read a bureaucratic report a while back that used this word as a verb: "incent." If you thought "incentivize" was bad, now the forces of administrative-speak have adopted incent as a verb, as in "You need to incent..."

I was talking to an educator last week, and she used the phrase, "working in the trenches" to describe what she does. Equating teaching to warfare in WWI is a troubling metaphor.

That are a lot of words that aren't used enough in the English language. One of them is hokum. In fact, it's one of my favorite words.

Here's a word that is used way too often in everyday conversation: "like." "Cool" is a close second. I need to eradicate that word from my vocabulary except for when I refer to the temperature of something.

Lately, my synapses don't seem to be firing as quickly as they should be. This could be the sign of a steady decline of something - I forget what - but I hope not.

Since I stayed at a Disney resort last week, they sent me a survey to evaluate their compound. I started to   take the survey because I had some things to say. However, after about ten minutes into it, I was only about 24% done. The number of questions was astounding. Really, couldn't they make a bit more simple? My main complaints were these: the poor selection of food and the horrible ironing board and iron that was in my room (1227 of the Coronado Springs Resort if you ever have to stay there). The ironing board wouldn't stay up, and the iron leaked water. If I'm having to drop a couple of c-notes a day on a room because that's where the conference is located, I want a good iron and ironing board, damn it. What they had in that room was Motel 6 quality. Kneeling to iron one's shirt because the iron board won't stay up is not a good thing. It's aggravating as hell.

I'm looking forward to Todd Snider's new album. It titled Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables. Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell played on it.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Taco Meat Maid-Rite Sliders

You read that right.

I'm touting a recipe that combines my nostalgia of Maid-Rite burgers (or what my Mom likes to call "loose burgers") and the bite-size brilliance of White Castle sliders.

It's simple. Use leftover taco meat, heat it up, and use wheat dinner rolls as little burgers. I topped the taco meat with some shredded taco cheese, which melted nicely. Then eat.

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: That Dip You See at Parties in the Midwest

I have no idea of who started this dip, but Mrs. Nasty got reintroduced to it at a party she and the kids went to on Friday night when I was sequestered in a Disney compound for a conference.

She told me about it, so I made it the next day except that I suspect our version isn't as fat-laden as the version she had at the party.

You need three ingredients and a crock pot. It's cookin', chimp-style.

1 lb. of ground sausage of your choice (I used spicy Italian)
1 brick of low fat of fat free cream cheese
1 10 oz. can of Ro*Tel

Brown the ground sausage, drain, and dump into the crock pot. Then add the cream cheese and Ro*Tel. Cook on low for three to four hours and use tortilla chips with it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Two Refreshing Articles about the Cubs

There are a couple of refreshing articles about the Cubs on the team's website that I thought I'd share.

The first features the new manager's bunting competition: "Cubs Bunting Competition Heats Up at Camp."

The second is a feel-good piece about Sveum: "Sveum All Business In First Camp At Helm."

It's highly improbable that the Baby Bears will be a legit contender in the NL Central. If I'm a betting man, I'm going with the Reds. However, with the relative mediocrity of all of the teams in the division, you never know.

The Cubs winning the Central isn't going to happen though. With the projected starting lineup and rotation below, they aren't going to strike fear in anyone.

Projected Starting Lineup:
1. Starlin Castro (SS)
2. David DeJesus (RF)
3. Marlon Byrd (CF)
4. Alfonso Soriano (LF)
5. Geovany Soto (C)
6. Bryan LaHair (1B) with Anthony Rizzo waiting at AAA
7. Ian Stewart (3B) with Josh Vitters at AAA
8. Darwin Barney (2B)

Projected Starting Rotation:
1. Matt Garza
2. Ryan Dempster
3. Randy Wells
4. Chris Volstad or Paul Maholm
5. Travis Wood or Jeff Samardzija

Music Friday: "Who's Feeling Young Now?" & "Another New World"

Since I'm sequestered at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort for a conference, I thought about providing some music that is distinctly un-Disney-like, such as the Henry Rollins Band or Rage Against the Machine.


Instead, I offer a couple of songs from the Punch Brothers. The first is from their new album of the same name. The second is an excellent cover of Josh Ritter's "Another New World" that I posted about a good while back

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

When it's only 11 p.m. your time and you want to order room service for breakfast and they say you can't, that makes a body grumpy. I simply want an overpriced ham & cheese omelet with hash browns and toast with a healthy dose of coffee.

Ryan Braun must have good lawyers. For those of us thinking about fantasy rosters, Mr. Braun is a top ten pick.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Garden Desires

With the mild winter we've had so far in central Illinois, it's easy to pick up my Johnny's seed catalog and think about what I'll be cultivating in my backyard garden.

I'll plant what now have become my usuals--green beans, different varieties of lettuce, spinach, shallots, potatoes, Anaheim peppers, and bell peppers--but I plan to try out some new crops this summer: Chinese cabbage, pickling cucumbers, and radishes.

This past summer I bought pickling cucumbers a couple of times at our local farmer's market. After the one season where I got so tired of cucumbers that they began to repulse me, I'm finally ready to grow them again. This time I'll be making pickles and eating the cucs raw because they are fairly mild. A couple of years ago, I pickled all kinds of okra over the summer, but I'm the only person in the Nasty household who will eat pickled okra, so I'm hoping the rest of them will help me out.

I've always liked cabbage, but growing those big heads of that veg is daunting. They take up a lot of room anyway. Chinese cabbage seems like a more versatile green vegetable. I might also be able to fool my son into thinking it's lettuce, which he likes.

Lately I've had a thing for radishes but have been consistently disappointed with the ones I get at the supermarket--all pithy and little heat. My dad used to grow them all the time in his garden, and they had some hotness to them. I never liked them much as a kid. Not now though.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Afro Sheen & Frederick Douglass

Another point of the Soul Train documentary I just recalled was the bizarre commercial related to the hair care products from Don Cornelius' company.

This commercial deserves some deep rhetorical analysis.

"My sentiments almost exactly."

Music Friday: "I Want To Take You Higher" (1969 & 1984) & "Thank You"

Some Fridays and Saturdays I stay up late, sometimes to 1 or 2 a.m., and I don't know why.

A couple of weekends ago, I stayed up and watched a documentary about Soul Train. It was really damn interesting. I knew about Soul Train. Heck, I watched Soul Train when I was a kid because I was interested in all kinds of music. However, I hadn't realized how influential the show was and still is.

When I was watching it, I saw part of Sly & the Family Stone's performance, which reminded me of how I have always liked their work. I mean, it's straight up FUNK.

And we all need to make this world more funky, metaphorically speaking of course. This documentary spurred me to purchase The Essential Sly & the Family Stone CD, which has been in the rotation on my car stereo since then. Lately, it's been a dyad of Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger and the Sly compilation.

What you have below is "I Want To Take You Higher" from Woodstock and 1984.

The third video is "Thank You" with a short slideshow and then a picture of the head man while the song plays.

In parting, "Peace, Love, and Soul."

R.I.P. Don Cornelius.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

I'm sure this has been proposed before, but in order to make meetings more concise and to keep myself in shape, I propose that all meetings will no longer have chairs and tables. Instead, meetings will take place with the participants arranged in circles as they use treadmills, stairmasters, and eleptical machines.

I just finished reading a really interesting collection of poetry, Ardency: A Chronicle of the Amistad Rebels by Kevin Young. Young writes from multiple personas but mainly from the perspectives of the slaves of the Amistad who won their freedom and then went back to Africa. If you like poetry and history, this collection is for you. For me, poetry + history = win. 

I'd rather have someone disagree with me than ignore me. At least there's communication happening. 

Next week I leave for a conference in Florida, specifically in Orlando. The conference is being held at one of the many Disney Resorts. I don't care for Disney in general, which is challenging because I have two kids. My co-presenter at the conference also dislikes Disney. We should officially call our trip "The Curmudgeons Go to Disney."

All I'm asking for is some Saturday and Sunday mornings where the whole Nasty family sleeps in late, say to 8:30 a.m. Is that so wrong? Is that asking so much?

A couple of weeks ago the supermarket had a sale on frozen pies. Because I perceived the pies to be a deal, I bought a peach pie to do some culinary recon since I haven't had a store-bought, frozen pie in years. Result: It's not very good. But I keep eating it. It's pie after all. I dislike it, but I keep eating it. I keep eating it even though I dislike it. And now it's gone. Peach pie, it dead.

A Bastardized Haiku of Verbal Fluff

--And things of that nature
plus what not of said
such and such etcetera.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Stay Positive: The Writing Process

I haven't done a "Stay Positive" post in ages. So here goes. I got three 'graphs to drop on you.

My daughter was telling me today about how she's required to revise her writing because she said she had written a rough draft of something, but she was trying to remember the name of the word of what's she's supposed to do after the rough draft. I correctly guessed the word was "revision." Since I do some volunteer tutoring on Thursday afternoons every week, I've noticed that her second-grade teacher puts her students into pairs, and they workshop drafts. As you can imagine, I'm hoping my son gets this teacher when he hits second grade.

My daughter was also telling me today about the story she's writing in her journal. She's very proud she's on page six of the tale. From what I'm told, here's the deal. It's about a princess who loves her dog so much that one day when she gives the dog a kiss, the dog mysteriously disappears. After some investigation, the princess finds out that three boys used some manner of magic to make her dog disappear. They're holding it for ransom. The band of culprits are named Bob, Quinn, and Tim. That dastardly trio then tells her that she can get her dog back if she goes into a creepy cave, which has a dragon living in it. But it's a "friendly dragon who's just lonely." So then the princess and the dragon go to Florida, and then it snows there. Then they travel to New Mexico, and it "rains ice." I think she was just brainstorming about the Florida and New Mexico trips, but I'm curious to read this story when it's finished. Her journal is twelve pages, and she's halfway there.

I travel to a conference next week to do a research presentation. So this morning I shut the door to my office and sequestered myself to write a draft. From 8:30 to approximately 10:30, I churned out what Anne Lamott would probably call a "shitty first draft," and it felt good. I've had ideas bouncing around in my head about this topic for a while, and like always, I discovered ideas and points through the process of writing.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Masters of Our Domain

Because Mrs. Nasty took our daughter to a gymnastics meet in Indianapolis today, my son and I were masters of the domain this morning and afternoon. We usually go along to meets, but with them driving early in the morning, el nino and I decided to hang back at the homestead.

Cue "The Boys Are Back in Town" because here are the highlights of our day:
  • After a relaxing morning of me reading the paper and two of my books, him playing MarioKart for a short while, us playing with his Star Wars figures (I was Darth--he was Luke), and us watching Here Come the ABCs and part of Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants, we dined at the local restaurant Planet Wiener. 
  • We bowled a game at the local alley. He rolled a 64. I scored a bumper-aided 95. I stink at bowling.
  • We went to the new grocery store in town. He talked me into a package of Bomb Pops. 
  • We played some board games, notably Operation and The Ladybug Game.
  • He asked me when "Son's Day" was since we have a Father's Day and a Mother's Day. Good point. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Band Names Gratis

Although I did play the drums back in junior high and part of high school, I've never been in a band. I wrote some lyrics for my buddy's band back in college, but that's about the closest I ever got.

Every once in a while, I have possible band names float through my little brain because I'm into music, so I thought I'd share some that have rattled through my head as of late:

  • Wintry Mix
  • Freudian Slips
  • Pudding Film
  • JFK's Mistresses
  • That Funny Feeling
  • Those-Guys-You-Know-From-High-School-Who-Say-Weird-Things-At-Parties, & You're-like-"WTF"
  • Pizza Sluts
  • Tubas United
  • Collective Unconscious
  • Cassius Marcellus Clays
  • American Exceptionalism
  • Gridlock
  • Regret
  • Rubbish
  • Cognitive Dissonance
  • White Privilege
  • Nostalgia Unlimited
  • Kale Lovers
  • Ex-Boyfriends
  • Local TV Personalities
  • The Shoals
  • The Duke & the Dauphin
  • William Cullen Tyrants
  • Wario Lovers
  • That Fried Food Smell
  • Condescending Remarks
  • The Thing about John
  • Facebook "Friends"
  • Pancake Makeup
  • Relationship Trouble
  • Emotional Distance
  • Fat Man's Candy
  • Bad Perms
  • Summer of the 22s
  • Bad Comedy
  • Black Humorists
  • The Sound of Crickets
  • Hunger Artists

Friday, February 10, 2012

Music Friday: "Shanghai Cigarettes" & "Sinful Wishing Well"

At the end of the year, I trolled a number of "Best Albums of 2011" articles/posts provided on the InterWebTube, and Caitlin Rose's Own Side Now is one that surfaced on many of them.

I don't know much about her and I'm not sure how I would label her sound, but I like her debut album.

So today I offer "Shanghai Cigarettes" and "Sinful Wishing Well."


Monday, February 6, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

My daughter informed me this afternoon that one of friends in her class broke her foot. My daughter apparently was the only one to volunteer to help her friend as she hobbles along throughout the school. A harbinger about the younger generation, or the kids weren't paying attention when the second-grade teacher made a call for volunteers? You decide.

Twain was right when he stated that human are "imitative animals." I think he said that in Letters from the Earth, but I'm not 100% confident about that. When your son says "Jesus H. Christ" with a similar intonation of voice as his father, anecdote supports assertion. And what does H stand for anyway? Herbert, Henry, Hayden, Hieronymus, Holden, or Hugh? I'm betting on Hank. He was supposed to be a carpenter after all.

When the bookstore in the local mall closed a while back, I picked up a copy of The Worst-Case Scenario Almanac: Politics for a dirt cheap price. One of my favorite quotations related in the opus is this sentence take from a Pravda article: "Stalin spoke briefly for about an hour." Nice positive spinning right there.

My other favorite from the book is a cartoon with a politician at a lectern, and a pie is being thrown at his face. The caption is "Be mentally prepared to be hit by a pie in the face at any moment." That advice can be applied to many professions.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Music Friday: Trailer for Everyday Sunshine, "Servitude," "Everyday Sunshine," & "Ma and Pa"

One of the best bands I've ever seen live is Fishbone

Pure Energy

I first saw them as part of a double-bill with Primus. And then the second show I went to had them as the headliner of a triple-bill with Kyuss (the precursor to Queens of the Stone Age) as opening act and Biohazard as the second band.

Below I offer the trailer of documentary about the band: Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone. Then we move to the videos of "Servitude" from Give a Monkey a Brain and He'll Think He's the Center of the Universe, "Everyday Sunshine" from The Reality of My Surrounding, and "Ma and Pa" from Truth and Soul

Have a good weekend and keep skankin' to the beat

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I've Had It With Honey Badgers

The viral video of the honey badger has its place in Web's hall of shame, and I'm tired of hearing how supposedly tough the animal is.

Compound the incessant references to the animal and the inane repetition of "he don't care" in pop culture, it's no surprise I'm also no fan of Tyrann Mathieu, the LSU cornerback, who gave Dre Kirkpatrick a concussion in the first LSU vs. Alabama game because of a cheap, dirty shot on a punt.

Regardless of that non sequitir, I wasn't introduced to the creature by the viral video. I learned about the mammal through, no surprise, a children's TV program. Wild Kratts showcased the African honey badger in the "Honey Seekers" episode.

Sure, it's a tough animal, but if you get yourself edified by the Kratt brothers, the honey "badger" is a mammal who's fearless, but it also intimidates by pooting.

It's a strong, aggressive skunk.

There's a series of children's books that my daughter has told me about. The books pit animals against one another to see who would win a fight between the two. For example, one book has a lion and tiger squaring off. An orca and shark get it on. A komodo dragon versus a king cobra and so on.

I propose a new book for the authors of these books: Honey Badger vs. Wolverine.

A wolverine, pound for pound the toughest animal on the planet, would kick that surly skunk's arse.