Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

Halfway through the game, I thought the Crimson Tide would make this game a shut out, but the Bulldogs managed to score with a little over four minutes to go in the game -- their twos against our twos. 

Even though the score was lopsided -- 38 to 7 -- State did have a decent drive in the first half and another really good drive in the second half. On the first, the Tide blocked their field goal. On the second, Robert Lester picked off a pass in the end zone. He's done that in two straight games

While the defense only allowed 47 yards rushing, the secondary did give up some long passes, and from the look of it, they were because of mental errors on the part of the secondary. There were a couple of shots of Coach Saban reprimanding (a nice word for what was happening) Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and then true freshman Geno Smith. 

T.J. Yeldon had another good game, and true freshman Kenyan Drake had more yards than starter Eddie Lacy (though Lacy 51 yards in the passing game). But Drake played only late in the game, so I'm wondering if he's ever going to get a chance to tote the rock when the game is in question. 

Freshman linebacker Denzel Duvall had an impressive stat sheet on the night considering he plays in the second wave of the defense: two solo tackles and both were tackles for a loss, one sack, and two quarterback hurries. There were a number of plays where he absolutely abused  State's left tackle. 

Next up is LSU Saturday night in Baton Rouge. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Music Friday: "When We Were Wicked" & "Trouble Won't Always Last"

I've featured Glossary a number of times on my Music Friday posts because they're underappreciated and they're one of my favorite bands. 

This song comes from their latest album, Long Live All of Us

As I related in my Top Ten/Twenty Albums of 2011 post, here's one of the many reasons I like the album: "If I'm in a grumpy mood, listening to this album makes me feel better." 

So let's all get wicked. 

4:55 p.m. When I drove the kids home this afternoon, I had Long Live All Of Us playing in the car. My son heard the song below and said, "I like that song." 

So do I.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Peas & Mushrooms Shell Pasta

I made this for dinner this evening, and it was pretty dang good. 

2-4 tablespoons olive oil
Half of a yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
Half of a bell pepper, diced
1 package of mushrooms, sliced, approximately 2 cups
1 and a half cups of thawed frozen peas
2 cups of lower sodium chicken broth
1 lb. of medium shell pasta
1 tablespoon of margarine
Healthy smidge of dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Healthy dose of Parmesan cheese 

Bring a large pot to boil, drop the shell pasta, and cook to al dente. Drain and set aside. 

In a large skillet, heat up some olive oil on medium-high heat. Throw in the onion, carrot, and pepper and sweat it down until tender. Salt and pepper. 

After 7-10 minutes of doing that, reduce the heat to medium, throw in the mushrooms, lightly salt them, and cook for approximately five minutes.

Then pour in the stock and drop in the margarine and peas. Simmer for approximately ten minutes until the the liquid reduces by about half. After it has reduced, drop the heat to low or just turn it off. Then put the shell pasta into the skillet (or a pasta pot), so the liquid coats the pasta. Mix thoroughly and top with Parmesan (and/or a shredded cheese). 

Random Notes from a Crank

Today I got my check for winning the fantasy baseball league I've been a member of since 2001, and the Commish of our league wrote this in the memo portion of the check--For: "Romney/Ryan '12." I laughed out loud at that when I saw it. I then proceeded to donate $44 to Obama/Biden and cashed the check this afternoon. 



I can't say I'm confident about the President's chances, however. The polls in the swing states have tightened up considerably, especially in Ohio, which is crucial. I rarely think debates help or hurt candidates because the work on the ground is most important (ask John Kerry about what all his debate "wins" got him), but that first debate made Obama vulnerable. He shat his rhetorical bed in that one. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee

That is six victories in a row against the Volunteers. 

Barrett Jones, a native of Memphis and the Tides' starting center, shared his his thoughts after the game: "There is no better feeling than watching the stadium [Neyland] empty out before the game is over." 

Two freshmen dominated the game last night. 

Wide receiver Amari Cooper caught seven passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. 

Running back T. J. Yeldon had fifteen carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns. 

Although he probably won't get talked about that much, another freshman had a good game. Cyrus Jones worked as the Tide's punt and kickoff returner. He was filling in for Christion Jones. He looked good back there. 

There were some negative aspects of the game, however. The defense gave up some big plays in the passing game against the uber-talented Tyler Bray. Cade Foster missed two field goals of 44 and 45 yards. Some of the kickoffs weren't so great. And Blake Sims, the backup quarterback, fumbled late in the game. 

Overall though, these numbers tell how the game went:

  • Alabama's 23 first downs to Tennessee's 11
  • Alabama's 233 net yards rushing to Tennessee's 79
  • Alabama's 539 total offensive yards to Tennessee's 203
  • Alabama's 36:47 minutes in time of possession to Tennessee's 23:13
  • Alabama's 6 of 12 on third down conversions to Tennessee's 2 of 13

Friday, October 19, 2012

Two of My Favorite Tirades

I thought I'd share two of my favorite movie tirades of all time. 

"You know what that makes you?     Larry?"

"How'd we ever win eight?"
"It's a miracle!"

"I'm going anyway."

"Coffee's for closers only."

"Third prize is you're fired." 

Music Friday: "Science Is Real," "I Am a Paleontologist," "Roy G. Biv," & "Put It To The Test"

The cd I've been listening to a lot recently is one by They Might Be Giants. Not Flood, their breakthrough album in 1990, but my kids love the band's Here Comes Science cd/dvd. 

Although edifying and fun, the songs are earworms, so I might as well share them to infect you too. And you might learn something along the way. 

Here are some of my favorites. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Stay Positive: The Road to Happiness by Johnathon Williams

The other week I read "Weekly Update: The Road to Happiness, The Museum of Americana, and a Shout Out" over on Myself the only Kangaroo Among the Beauty, which is blog written by my friend and poet Sandy Longhorn, who I went to high school with (Wahawks, Class of '89!, and all that stuff).

She persuaded me to purchase The Road to Happiness because she's an excellent poet, and it sounded like Williams' poetry might be similar to hers. Her description of the book sucked me in: 
This is a book that tells the truth about the speaker's life growing up a country boy near Mena, AR, always on the edge of poverty and never far from the reach of religion.  These are poems so firmly rooted in place that there is no question about their authenticity.  We follow the speaker as he reaches adulthood, marries as is expected, and buries his father, all the while questioning his life and yearning for something more, something bigger.

In particular, "poems so firmly rooted in place" struck a chord with me. 

As I know I've related before, I've always enjoyed reading poetry, but I get tired of poetry that obfuscates for the sake of pretension. As much as I like T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland," his and others' poetry turned the poesy game into an academic scavenger hunt, verse only for the enlightened, where if you want to try to figure out what the hell's going on or what the persona is trying to say in a poem, you're going to have to prepare yourself by packing a divining rod, a fifth of Maker's Mark, an Encyclopedia of World Religions, an Orphan Annie decoder ring, a first-aid kit, and some marijuana brownies.

I mean, really, why do some poets have to make their verse so damn hard to figure out? Why can't plain language be put in the best words in the best order with the right kind of flourishes? 

But I'm digressing. The point of Stay Positive posts is that I'm supposed to say something positive. So here goes. 

The positive I have to say is that The Road to Happiness is wonderful collection of poems. I got the book today. I read the first poem and was hooked. 

I read the book straight through. I think the only book of poetry I've ever done that with was Hayden Carruth's Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey. Or maybe also Things That Happened Once by Rodney Jones. 

Here are some snippets of verse that worth sharing:

from "Mena, AR"
the minister and his fat, sweaty hands,
the men filled with the Spirit, shaking
in the aisles, the women washed in the blood, 
gibbering from the pews...

from "The Road to Happiness"
They're men
who don't mind stained shirts
or rings in the toilet bowl,
who went out one night for diapers
and never came home.

from "Letter to Ash from Fayetteville"
June Cleaver is the most despicable
character in the history of television.
I could punch that bitch in the face. This has gone on
too long....

from "Pentecostal Girls"
they hold out their cups, so you sneak them
out of Jesus camp, float downriver to the dam, 
the black water a roll of witch bones,
a glyphic  fortune written in unfamiliar stars.

I look forward to taking more time with poems on the second read. 

This book should be on stands in checkout counters. And no, I'm not saying that to somehow demean the book because we all know the crap you find at checkout counters, but I say that because this a collection that people should be exposed to because they can relate to it in contrast to the verse of the willfully obtuse. 

At one time in our history, in the 19th century, people put pictures of poets on the walls of their living rooms, of folks like Longfellow, Whittier, and Bryant (my favorite). 

I doubt Johnathon Williams will have his portrait on any family's walls, but the collection reminds me of when poetry connected intimately to people's lives and perspectives. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

I've written about collard greens in a "Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent" post before, but I made some Sunday afternoon that were outstanding. Because I haven't been able to get my hands on any good smoked turkey legs lately, I purchased a smoked pig jowl from my local megamart instead. It worked pretty well at imparting smoky porcine goodness to the pot likker, but I didn't keep the jowl in there. After I cooked the jowl for an hour, I set it aside, let it cool, and threw it outside for my dog to happily scarf down. And then I simmered the collards for about two more hours, and they turned out excellent. The greens got to the desired tenderness and almost had a sweet flavor to them. Using the spice combination of Penzey's Old Fashioned and Northwoods seasoning worked well. 

About a week ago, I was playing football with the kids in the neighborhood, and I asked one of the neighborhood kids what he was going to be for Halloween, and he answered, "Bibleman." You see, his dad is a preacher and he doesn't go to public school but a private, religious grade school, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It did take me aback initially though because I've never heard of such a superhero. I guess if the protagonist has some superpowers, maybe it's persuading Congresspeople to promote stupid legislation or oppose smart legislation based on interpretations of Scripture. Reminds me of when President Dubya compared stem cells to snowflakes. 

The other day I bought a bunch of doughnuts. At the supermarket, I got a couple of blueberry fritters. They're different than the regular old apple fritters, but they're healthier because they have blueberries in them. Blueberries are extremely good for you, so the pastry isn't fattening or unhealthy. 

Recently one of my daughter's favorite words to say is "Nuts!" She's infected me. I've been thinking that word internally, but I haven't started verbalizing it yet. Fair warning. 

Lately, I've been thinking about debates, compromises, and whatnot, and the phrase that comes to mind is an evocative one: argumentative dumpster fire. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Mizzou

Mrs. Nasty and I looked into going to this game, but after finding out how exorbitant even the cheap seats would have been, we decided against it. Lucky us because that weather was horrible. There was a 38-minute delay in the middle of the second quarter because of a lightning strike, and then the halftime was only five minutes because they spent so much time inside locker room during the delay. 

After the weather delay, the Crimson Tide looked lethargic, just going through the motions in the rest of the second quarter and part of the third. 

Unlike more recent games, no one blew out his knee although there was a scare with McCarron, who twisted his right knee. Alabama has depth at a number of positions. However, quarterback is not one of them. 

With Mizzou playing their second-string quarterback, the defense held the Tigers to nine first downs, 3 net yards rushing, and 129 total net yards. The score was 42 to 10, and Mizzou's lone touchdown came on a kickoff return after the suspension of play because of the weather. 

Alabama really didn't pass all that much (171 net yards), but the two running backs had  excellent days:
  • Eddie Lacy: 18 carries for177 net yards, 3 touchdowns
  • T.J. Yeldon: 18 carries for 144 net yards, 2 touchdowns
I was surprised Kenyan Drake didn't get more playing time later in the game because he's now third string with both Fowler and Hart out for the season. 

I watched a good portion of last night's Tennessee vs. Mississippi State tussle. Both teams look challenging, and Alabama plays them next: first the Volunteers in Knoxville and then the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa. 

Both squads will test the Alabama secondary and pass rush. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Music Friday: "Down With The Shine"

The new Avett Brothers album, The Carpenter, came out a couple of weeks ago.

One of my favorite tunes on the album is "Down With The Shine,"which considers our obsession with whatever's new or flashy. And you can also interpret it as discussing materialism.

Hope you enjoy the tune and the additional video where Scott Avett where talks about the genesis of the lyrics -- from vulgarity to social commentary.

Have a good weekend, folks.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

The other week, my nine-year old daughter asked me this simple question, "What's a Trojan?" You see, the town we live in has one high school, and its mascot is the Trojan. It's a knockoff of the USC Trojan because there the same icon on the football helmet with the red-yellow color scheme. That got us into an interesting conversation because she already knew about the Trojan Horse, which flushed me with pride because I love classical rhetoric and literature -- Isocarates, Artistotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Sapho's poetry, The Illiad, The Odyssey, The Aenead, The Georgics, all that good stuff. So I told about the story of the Trojan Horse in The Illiad, the brave character of Hector, Aeneas' escape and eventual founding of Rome. But I've also wondered why Trojans are the chosen mascot of schools. Think about it: They lost. Why would you want your mascot to exemplify a loser? At least if you go by the depiction of them via the USC mascot, they do have awesome helmets and pointy short swords though. And the noble Hector is someone to look up to; he's much better than that sulky, dishonorable Achilles. Of the Greek force, I always preferred Ajax anyway. 

For a long time now, I've been interested in how physical environments help or hurt learning. If you have a similar interest, check out Tanner's "Explaining Relationships Among Student Outcomes and the School's Physical Environment." 

Often you suspect what a decision is going to be, but sometimes it's worth the chance that patterns of thought and behavior might change. Often they do not change though.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

The Crimson Tide spent this week healing up and working on fundamentals.

There were some interesting games yesterday, however. 

Florida State got outmuscled and outhustled by the Wolfpack of NC State. The ACC's best chance for a national title contender is out of the mix. 

South Carolina looked great last night by demolishing the Georgia Bulldogs, but their next two contests are versus LSU in Baton Rouge and versus Florida in Gainesville -- tough sledding.

Watching Ace Sanders from South Carolina returns kickoffs and punts makes me miss Javy Arenas. Alabama hasn't had a serious punt return threat since Javy. Now with Dee Hart out for the year because of knee injury, Alabama needs to find someone at that position. 

That Gillislee guy from Florida is one impressive running back.

One of my "friends" on FB last night said he'd like to see a National Championship Game between West Virginia and Oregon. I would hate that. That idea is dog shit. It would be horrible with their "oley bullshit" defenses.  

Friday, October 5, 2012

Music Friday: "Catfish Blues," "Don't Owe You a Thang," & "When My Train Pulls In"

I'm looking forward to a number of upcoming albums such as Soundgarden's King Animal and Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit's Live from Alabama, but another I'm excited about is the first full length album by Gary Clark Jr.

I have his four-song Bright Lights EP. It's outstanding. And some of you might be familiar with the title track to that record if you watched any of the NFL Draft. ESPN was playing the hell out of that tune for its intro music. 

So today in anticipation of his album, Blak and Blu, that comes out October 22, I offer the traditional "Catfish Blues" along with two of his songs, "Don't Owe You a Thang" and "When My Train Pulls In." 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stay Positive: Glorious Victory

I started playing fantasy baseball back in 2001. In my rookie season as a GM, I won it all. 

Yesterday after an eleven-year drought, my squad, The Schlitzophrenics, won the private league I've been playing since '01. 

Here's a look at past years in the league to show the ups and downs and mediocrity of my GMing experience. 

  • 2012: 1st, won by 3 points
  • 2011: 5 of 14
  • 2010: 7 of 14
  • 2009: 7 of 13
  • 2008: 7 of 15
  • 2007: 3 of 20
  • 2006: 7 of 19
  • 2005: 9 of 17
  • 2004: 16 of 17
  • 2003: 7 of 19
  • 2002: Yahoo doesn't have records of that league for some reason
  • 2001: 1st, won by 1.5 points

Glorious victory.

Roll Schlitzophrenics Roll. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Random Notes from a Crank

Sometimes when I'm at meetings, I can sense it coming. I get this visual image of a wave in the ocean starting to break, and I think "Rationalizations a-coming!" We're awash in them. 

One of the magazines I subscribe to, the magazine formerly known as Ode but now renamed The Intelligent Optimist, had a nice little editorial about the periodical's name change. The Editor-in-Chief, Jurriaan Kamp, relates what I find to be a productive and energizing frame of vision because I can tend toward pessimism and morose moods: "I argue that optimism -- intelligent, not mindless, optimism -- is the only realistic strategy for life. It is not going to prevent bad things from happening. On most days, more will go right than wrong; still, nobody can escape problems and setbacks. But the intelligent optimist accepts reality without immediately coming to a negative conclusion."

I keep thinking that my fantasy baseball team, The Schlitzophrenics, is going to collapse in the end (there's tonight and tomorrow left in the fantasy baseball regular season). I'm trying to be optimistic, but I'm a Cubs fan. We're used to heartbreak, pain, and suffering.