Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Ole Miss

The Crimson Tide won, but the win came with significant costs. Wide receiver DeAndrew White apparently has a serious knee injury. Running back and punt returner Dee Hart went down. Cornerback Deion Belue had an injury, and defensive end Ed Stinson got banged up. 

White's injury appears to be the most serious because he came back to the sidelines on crutches, and it remains to be seen how much the injuries will affect the other players. 

In White's absence, freshman Amari Cooper stepped up with his best game of the year: two touchdowns, eight catches for 82 yards. He represented McCarron's go-to receiver in the game. He looked really good. 

The Crimson Tide defense played ... okay. They gave up a total of 218 yards of offense against the up-tempo, hurry-up, Oregon- and Mizzou-like offense and only 80 net yards on the ground. For some reason, it seemed like they gave up more rushing yards than that. The defense did have five sacks and eight tackles for a loss along with three interceptions. But the Ole Miss quarterbacks aren't very good. I'm still anxious about Alabama's road trips to Columbia and Knoxville when they go up against strong passing attacks. 

Probably like many other Alabama fans, I was frustrated by the offense. Ole Miss put all kinds of players near the line of the scrimmage to stop the run, and the play calling was very vanilla. They didn't pass first to set up the run like they did against LSU in the national championship game, so the Crimson Tide wasn't successful on first downs. The pass protection for McCarron was quite good though. 

Here's to hoping the bye week brings good news on the injury front. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Spin Moves

As I was eating my lunch today, I caught this video via TiderInsider and thought I'd share. 

I'm just hope Lacy is back to 100% when the Tide plays Ole Miss tomorrow night. Because he had turf toe last season, I still wonder if he's fully recovered. 

Random Notes from a Crank

The other day I met our new neighbor who moved in across the street. Their family moved to East Central Illinois from Baltimore. And not the suburbs mind you, the city of Baltimore. My neighbor related that she was having a hard time adjusting to our neighborhood being so quiet because they lived in the city where it's noisy all the time. Her kids have also found that they can play on our street instead of only being able to go to public parks out of safety concerns. Later that night I read "Where Are You From?", which was reprinted in Utne. The new neighbor had asked if I'm originally from the town where I now live. However, my answer was that I'm from "Waterloo, Iowa, a city in northern Iowa." I've lived in a number of different places, but I'll always be an Iowan.  

Regardless, these words from Willis seem pertinent: "If we bring ourselves to attend to the place we inhabit now, we can at least say 'I am here,' and treat that hereness with particular humility and alertness to cues we might not otherwise recognize." 

And speaking of the importance of place, this week in a bout of nostalgia, I posted on Facebook about remembering tunes on the jukebox at The Flamingo in Kirksville, MO, a fine establishment some of my readers spent a lot of time at. Or maybe not - I don't remember. 

The post, as I expected, garnered its fair share of replies, with my friends relating their favorite tunes from the tavern. I thought I'd share the ones people posted and ones I remember, some of which I downloaded recently. I could make a mixed tape or something. Here are notable tunes from The Flamingo's jukebox:

  • "The Stroke," Clarence Carter
  • "The Rodeo Song," Garry Lee
  • "John Deere Green," Joe Diffie
  • "Crazy," Patsy Cline
  • "Convoy," C.W. McCall
  • "Ring of Fire," Johnny Cash
  • "If That Ain't Country," David Allan Coe
  • "Suspicious Minds," Dwight Yoakam
  • "Trashy Women," Confederate Railroad

Music Friday: "Leaving Time," "Disappear," & "Better Off Without"

Patterson Hood came out with a new album this month. Of the three he's done solo, this one - Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance - is the best.

Now, if you're expecting the type of music he puts out regularly for the Drive-By Truckers, you will be disappointed. This isn't your guitar-oriented, balls-out rock-n-roll. For example, he's got a dude playing a cello as you can see below.

He's created some damn fine lyrics as usual, but these are more confessional and introspective: darkness and light. 

Popmatters has a good interview with Hood that ventures into matters of interpretation, the creative process, and politics. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Florida Atlantic

Last I heard, the Owls of Florida Atlantic were 51 point dogs in yesterday's game. The sports writer Cecil Hurt had a derisive comment about that when it came out. His tweet was something about how it says something about Arkansas who lost to the Crimson Tide by 52 points the week before. Not nice of Cecil.

I'm pretty sure Alabama was aiming for a third consecutive shutout, which hadn't happened for a Alabama team since the '66 team, the team that should have won its third consecutive national championship were it not for politics.

Regardless, the Crimson Tide looked good for the most part.

Red zone offense hasn't been an issue for the team this season, but Saturday some drives stalled for the Tide, and fans got to watch Cade Foster knock in field goals from 52 and 46 yards and Jeremy Shelley make field goals from 26 and 30 yards.

Knock on wood, but Foster has played pretty darn well this season. His kickoffs are much improved from last year, and he seems more accurate from long distance.

In this game, Lacy probably looked the best he has all year. He had a 106 net yards on 15 carries for an average run of 7.1 yards. The other three backs had similar averages: Yeldon at 6.3 yards, Drake at 7.0, and Hart at 7.2.

From this observer's viewpoint, the team is still having issues replacing Jalston Fowler. While Kelly Johnson started at fullback/H-back, he dropped two passes he should have caught. I wonder if we might see someone else challenge for his starting spot.

It was also good to see Michael Williams with four catches on the day. He and the other tight ends are good weapons, especially when defenses use schemes that leave the middle of the field vulnerable. If you watched the Mizzou/South Carolina game, you know what I mean.

Next up is Ole Miss in Bryant-Denny. The Rebels annihilated the Tulane Green Wave 39 to 0 yesterday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Music Friday: "It Takes Two"

Do you remember back in the day when people didn't use the phrase "back in the day" for "in the past" or "back then"? 

Do you remember Yo! Mtv Raps?

Or when Mtv played videos?

Today I'm talking you back to 1988 with "It Takes Two" by the Rob Base.

I was inspired to feature this staple of parties in the late 80s and 90s by one of my friends on FB. 

The visual aid she posted on her wall this week is helpful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

Sometimes when I'm in meetings, a mental image comes to mind: a dog chasing its tail. See video below:

When I drove my kids home from school the other afternoon, we noticed about a three-year old girl pushing an empty stroller down the sidewalk. Probably a kid about five years old, and presumably her brother, was behind her. He was trying to mount his bike. All he was wearing was his underwear, his whitey tideys out there in broad daylight. It was mid-seventies temp-wise, and I didn't see a parent close by. My daughter's comment was something like, "That kid's outside just in his underwear! That is weird."

In response to the story about a scholar now possibly having evidence that Jesus had a wife,  Jason Isbell had a great tweet: "Disappointingly, the newly-found Jesus text began with the line 'Take my wife. Please.' He actually OPENED with that." 

My eyes look toward you Mary Magdalene. With the hatchet job some Biblical scholars have done on her, it wouldn't surprise me if she was the wife of Jesus. 

And all this Jesus stuff reminds me a Hayes Carll tune and video. Check it out. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Arkansas

When CBS scheduled the Alabama-Arkansas game, they were expecting a more competitive game.

Woodshedding, beatdown, whatever you want to call it, the Crimson Tide dominated 52 to 0. Alabama had a total of 438 total offensive yards to Arkansas' 137. Though Knile Davis got 20 carries in the game, he only netted 58 yards.

If you watched the game, after Alabama's final scoring drive in the second quarter, I felt like the team spirit of Arkansas was broken. They had a tough task against Alabama without Tyler Wilson, and besides some lackluster offensive drives, Alabama pretty much had its way with the Razorback defense.

The rushing attack was mainly a three-person affair with Fowler out for the season. Two freshmen (Yeldon & Drake) gained 57 yards apiece, and starter Eddie Lacy had 55 yards on the afternoon. Dee Hart played some too with 21 yards on four carries. The newer guy in the rotation, Kenyan Drake, looked really good.

My complaints from this game are that Milliner had an interception that was overturned somehow, and Cody Mandell had a horrible day punting with a 35 yard average on his two punts.

Next up is Florida Atlantic and then Ole Miss in Bryant-Denny. Then Alabama has a bye week and travels to Mizzou and Tennesssee. Those two road trips loom large. The Crimson Tide defense hasn't really been challenged by strong passing attacks so far this season, and the trips to Columbia and Knoxville will do just that.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Music Friday: "Linus and Lucy," "Calling Dr. Funk," & "On Green Dolphin Street"

Tuesday was a big day for new releases.

Take a gander at the new albums from these artists that came out this week:
  • Bob Dylan, Tempest
  • Dave Matthews Band, Away From The World
  • The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
  • Calexico, Algiers
  • Patterson Hood, Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance
And heck, next week there will be new albums out from Ben Folds Five, Ryan Bingham, and Band of Horses. 

Calexico's album is excellent, The Avett Brothers album is good, and I haven't gotten the Hood release yet.

I don't know if I'll get Dylan's new album. People love to say he's a genius. Other people contend he's overrated. Both might be right, but I lean toward the latter group. As for the new DMB album, we'll see. 

But I downloaded The Definitive Vince Guaraldi for cheap ($5.99 for 31 songs) yesterday, and I'm mad at myself for not having any of his stuff before now. 

Peanuts fans out there will recognize this first song below, but I've provided two other compositions for your enjoyment.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

SEC D-Linemen

The recent AP article "SEC Dominating NFL on Defensive Line" is an interesting read for college football fans. At least if you go by the outcomes last Saturday in College Station and Columbia, Florida and Georgia's defenses took over in the fourth quarter.

But an article like this makes me think this is a harbinger of a non-SEC team winning the national championship this year. I'm superstitious like that.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

I've read a lot of literature over the years. One lesson I've learned from various stories written by American authors from the 20th century is that if there's a married man and woman who have kids, it's not a good idea for the husband to take the babysitter home. I talking about you, John Cheever, Robert Coover, and John Updike. 

Another lesson I learned was "White folks crazy."

NPR had a story up recently about bias within a survey about young adult novels: "When A Popular List of 100 'Best-Ever' Teen Books Is the 'Whitest Ever.'" 

Sherman Alexie has some things to say in "Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood." 

Recently I rediscovered a poem I really like, so I'm sharing it:

The Loon on Forrester's Pond
By Hayden Carruth

Summer wilderness, a blue light
twinkling in the trees and water, but even
wilderness is deprived now. "What's that?
What is that sound?" Then it came to me, 
this insane song, wavering music
like the cry of the genie inside the lamp,
it came from inside the long wilderness
of my life, a loon's song, and there he was
swimming on the pond, guarding
his mate's nest by the shore,
diving and staying under
unbelievable minutes and coming up
where no one was looking. My friend
told how once in his boyhood
he had seen a loon swimming beneath his boat,
a shape dark and powerful
down in that silent mysterious world, and how
it had ejected a plume of white excrement
curving behind. "It was beautiful,"
he said.

The loon
broke the stillness over the water
again and again,
broke the wilderness
with his song, truly
a vestige, the laugh that transcends
first all mirth
and then all sorrow
and finally all knowledge, dying
into the gentlest quavering timeless
woe. It seemed
the only real and only sanity to me.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Western Kentucky

On the surface, 35 to 0 looks like the Crimson Tide had a great game. 

They didn't. 

The positives are that McCarron tossed two touchdowns apiece to wide receivers Norwood and Jones, and the Tide defense was opportunistic with takeaways. 

So let's move on to the negatives. 

In the fourth quarter, Jalston Fowler, had to be carted off the field with a left knee injury. He's one of my favorite guys to watch tote the rock and they've been using him inventively as a fullback in the I formation to block and catch passes, but I suspect he's out for the season. Kenyan Drake, a true freshman RB who scored a touchdown at the end of the game, will likely get more opportunities. 

McCarron got sacked six times. To consider how this stat is important, consider how Louisiana-Monroe knocked Arkansas' Tyler Wilson out of the game last night. 

The Crimson Tide defense looked soft against the run, gave up too many third down conversions, and a lot of passes were completed over the middle of the field. Overall, the Hilltoppers moved the ball too well for my liking. If it weren't for the three forced fumbles by linebackers Johnson, Hubbard, and Dickson, this game wouldn't have been a shutout. 

Also, the Tide didn't run the ball very well. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Music Friday: "Poison Years," "Sinners and Their Repentances," "Black Sheets of Rain," "Star Machine," & "The Descent"

Bob Mould's new album, Silver Age, came out this Tuesday, and I've been listening the hell out of it this week. It's an outstanding album, and I'm sure it'll be on my top ten/twenty list of albums of 2012, probably somewhere in the top ten. 

For a long time, I've owned Mould's duo of outstanding albums from 1989 and 1990: Workbook and Black Sheets of Rain

I listened to those works quite a bit over the years, and his songs that buffet between introspection and rage matched my moods and perspectives in my 20s and 30s. Heck, let's be honest. They still match 'em. 

So today in honor of Silver Age coming out, I'm featuring three songs from the older solo works and a couple of tunes from the new album. 

Here are "Poison Years" & "Sinners and Their Repentances" from Workbook.

Next is "Black Sheets of Rain." 

And now for the new stuff: "Star Machine" & "The Descent." 

The performance on Letterman reminds me of this Music Friday Post that featured Husker Du on a local Twin Cities talk show called Good Company.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

Last Thursday we went to a typical parent orientation night for our daughter's third grade class. It went well, but it was hard not to notice one parent who showed up a little late to the orientation. It was hot and humid out, so she was wearing a shirt that didn't have sleeves. On her left upper arm was one of the most disgusting and stupid tattoos I've ever seen. The image was of a swastika, but the darkly humorous aspect of the symbol was that it was poorly done. In particular, one of the prongs of the symbol looked bent like the tattoo artist had gotten through three prongs, and on the fourth one, the booze finally took effect. The one prong wasn't comparable to the other three. It looked like someone had come along and taken a hammer to the one prong and pounded it in. Oh, but the tattoo wasn't complete just with a highly compromised design of the Nazi symbol. The artist tried to complement the image with words. Above the symbol there was in script "White," and below the symbol was written "Pride" to create the message of "White Pride." Disgusting. 

On a more positive note, my daughter found out today that she was one of the "top three" people in her grade who read the most over the summer. During the summer, we were encouraged to keep a log of how many minutes she read each day. Because she's one of the top three summer readers, she got some serious prizes: a fancy notebook, a crazy yellow pen that has rubber dreads atop it, a colorful pencil, a booklight, and two free books--Judy Moody: Girl Detective & Geronimo Stilton: A Cheese-Colored Camper. That's quite a haul -- some nice educational loot. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Thoughts on Opening Week in College Football

I've already gone over the Michigan-Alabama game, but here are some other thoughts on this week in college football. 

The venerable writer for the Tuscaloosa News, Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) put it well with this funny tweet on Saturday afternoon: "Saying the SEC East looks 'winnable' is like saying a Kardashian at an NBA game looks 'available.' #WideOpen"

Tennessee looked impressive against NC State because QB Bray is talented as hell, and the Volunteers have big receivers to throw to. With South Carolina and Georgia and Florida struggling in their opening games against Vanderbilt, Buffalo, and Bowling Green respectively, if Tennessee is relatively injury-free, they could really compete in the East considering how lackluster the other three contenders looked. Heck, Vandy looked solid too. 

If I were a betting man and I had loose money to throw around, I'd place bets on Mizzou and A&M to win on Saturday. Georgia (-3 spread to UGA) travels to Columbia, and Florida (-2.5 for FL) visits College Station.

I suspect LeVeon Bell, the running back at Michigan State, will be in the Heisman conversation.   

We watched the Iowa game yesterday afternoon. The big game versus the Cyclones is their next game. I think Iowa State wins that one, and it's in Iowa City. 

Sunday Hangover: Michigan

That was one of the best opening games I've seen from a Crimson Tide squad. It compares to the opening wins in the Georgia Dome against Clemson and Virginia Tech.

If you watched the game, it seemed like it was well in hand by the end of the first quarter because the Tide held a 21 to 0 advantage, and then they tacked on 10 more points in the second quarter.

There were shades of the '10 team though because of the big plays given up in the secondary. With Robert Lester, the lone returning starter in the secondary, apparently hampered by a shoulder stinger, Alabama played a lot of less experienced players in the back end of the defense, most notably Belue, Smith, and Fulton at cornerback and Clinton-Dix and Perry at safety. The defense got burned on three big plays because of busted coverages by Belue and Milliner (who besides that gaffe played an outstanding game).

All this summer on TiderInsider, I read posts about how Belue might be the best cornerback Saban has ever had, but he wasn't the freshman who impressed in this game.

That would be true freshman T.J. Yeldon, who set an Alabama for a freshman running back in his first game with 11 carries for 111 yards. He's fast and has good vision -- knows how to set up his blockers.

Eddie Lacy suffered a small ankle injury that opened more opportunities for the three other backs (Yeldon, Fowler, and Hart) than probably was planned. All three did well, and Jalston Fowler drew time both at fullback/h-back and running back. The only new wrinkle I saw in this year's version of the offense was the use of the old school I-formation with Fowler at fullback. I like it.

Even though 41 points is impressive against a top ten opponent, Center Barrett Jones' comments indicate the team's mindset: "We have a chance to have a really, really explosive offense here. We have a long way to go. We left a lot of points out there tonight. I'm not trying to be arrogant or cocky. That's just how we're trained to think."

On the other side of the ball, the defensive used the same strategy they used against Tim Tebow in the '09 SEC Championship Game and Jordan Jefferson in last year's National Championship Game: keep the QB in the pocket, keep him in front of you.

I suspect the defensive backs will get a heavy dose of intense coaching the next two weeks. The Tide plays Western Kentucky next week, but a road game against an explosive Arkansas offense looms large on September 15. Tyler Wilson is a much better passing quarterback than Denard Robinson. And that is not a good thing for the Tide secondary.