Friday, December 27, 2013

Music Friday: "Joy to the World"

For the past week, our family has been in Fort Dodge-Humboldt for Mrs. Nasty's family's family reunion. Today after driving from Fort Dodge to Waterloo where we'll stay for a couple of days, this song was the last song on my iPod. My kids love this song.

I'm also an admirer of men who have fine mustaches, and the lead singer has a robust 'stache.  

If I ever grow one, I'll become a member of this fine institution.

Anyway, here's Three Dog Night circa 1975. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

As Xmas approaches, I've seen all kinds of jewelry commercials. I don't know why anyone would actually name a jewelry company Jared, an innocuous male name but one that reminds of some bitter late-20s dude who lives in his parent's basement. And Kay jewelers, right... Every kiss begins with them supposedly. How annoying. The portrayal of women is both commercials is the same sexist tripe we see lots of places, but I wonder if "If you liked it, you should have put a ring on it" is not much, if at all, different? 

On one of the InterWeb fora I visit regularly, people were talking about their top five John Cusack movies. Lots of people like Say Anything, but it never blew me away like it has other people. I'm a big fan of one of Cusack's early comedies, Better Off Dead. In the midst of the discussion about Say Anything though, I was reminded of Lloyd Dobler's excellent answer about his career interests. 

I don't have a ton to say about the Phil Robertson interview and suspension, but it's not surprising he holds such dumb, intolerant views. As one of my buddies on FB pointed out, Christians don't pay attention to all kinds of passages anymore, such as the ones that condone slavery, so this seems just to be another case of applying silly passages to the real world. The whole deal reminds me of what either H.L. Mencken said about Christianity (or maybe was it Twain?). I'm paraphrasing here, but the statement was something like this: It's not that Christianity is a bad religion. It's just some of the followers are whack-jobs. 

Nevertheless, here are some quotations about religion by Mencken if you're so inclined: Mencken on religion

This statement seems relevant: "The way to deal with superstition is not to be polite to it, but to tackle it with all arms, and so rout it, cripple it, and make it forever infamous and ridiculous. Is it, perchance, cherished by person who should know better? Then their folly should be brought out into the light of day, and exhibited there in all its hideousness until they flee from it, hiding their heads in shame. True enough, even a superstitious man has certain inalienable rights. He has a right to harbor and indulge his imbecilities as long as he pleases, provided only he does not try to inflict them upon other men by force. He has the right to argue for them as eloquently as he can, in season and out of season. He has the right to teach them to his children. But certainly he has no right to be protected against the free criticism of those who do not hold them. He has no right to demand that they be treated as sacred. He has no right to preach them without challenge."

Music Friday: "Relatively Easy"

Because Isbell's album garnered my number one album for the year, I'm featuring the final song on the album, "Relatively Easy," with lyrics.

Relatively Easy
By Jason Isbell

Are you having a long day,
Everyone you meet rubs you the wrong way?
Dirty city streets smell like an ashtray.
Morning bells are ringing in your ear.

Is your brother on a church kick?
Seems like just a different kind of dopesick.
Better off to teach a dog a card trick
Than try to have a point and make it clear.

You should know, compared to people on a global scale,
Our kind has had it relatively easy.
And here with you there's always something to look forward to.
My angry heart beats relatively easy.

I lost a good friend
At Christmas time when folks go off the deep end.
His woman took the kids, and he took Klonopin,
Enough to kill a man of twice his size.
Not for me to understand.
Remember him when he was still a proud man,
A vandal's smile, a baseball in his right hand,
Nothing but the blue sky in his eye.

Still, compared to those a stone's throw away from you,
Our lives have both been relatively easy.
Take a year and make a break--there ain't that much at stake.
The answers could be relatively easy.

Watch that lucky man walk to work again.
He may not have a friend left in the world.
See him walking home again to sleep alone.
I step into a shop to buy a postcard for a girl.

I broke the law boys,
Shooting out the windows of my loft, boys.
When they picked me up I made a big noise,
Everything to blame except my mind.

I should say, I keep your picture with me everyday.
The evenings now are relatively easy.
And here with you there's always something to look forward to.
My lonely heart beats relatively easy.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Top Twentysomething Albums of 2013

It's that time of the year again.

As I did in 20102011, and 2012, I'm providing my top twenty albums that came out this year. After the top twenty, there's a list of albums that deserve honorable mention. 

If there are other albums that you think should be in the mix, please let me know in the comments section. 

1. Jason Isbell, Southeastern

If you know me or follow my Music Friday posts regularly, this selection is no surprise. Isbell garnered all kinds of publicity this year for getting sober and producing probably his best record to date. Compared to his other albums, Southeastern is a more low-key affair. This opus represents some of his best songwriting to date. I'd argue that "Elephant," a tune that presents a husband's thoughts about his wife is dying from cancer, is the song of the year. The song should be studied in poetry classes. 

Here's a stanza from "Elephant": "But I'd sing her class country songs, and she'd get high and sing along./ She don't have a voice to sing with now./ We burn these joints in effigy and cry about what we used to be,/ And try to ignore the elephant somehow, somehow." In a darkly humorous moment in "Different Days," the persona reflects on a troubled young lady before him: "Ten years ago I might have seen you dancing in a different light/ and offered up my help in different ways,/ but those were different days." In "Songs That She Sang in Shower," he works in references to Monty Python's "Bring Out Your Dead" and Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here." And finally in "Relatively Easy," Isbell reminds us, "You should know, compared to people on a global scale,/ Our kind has had it relatively easy,/ And here with you there's always something to look forward to./ My angry heart beats relatively easy." There are good reasons why American Songwriter magazine ranked Southeastern as the number one album of 2013.   

Favorite songs: "Stockholm," "Different Days," "Songs That She Sang in the Shower," "Relatively Easy," and "Elephant." 

2. Pearl Jam, Lightning Bolt

Maybe I'm starved for a new Pearl Jam album or just hankering for a strong offering of hard rock, but Lightning Bolt gets me going. The boys from Seattle provide an excellent mix of uptempo, mid-paced, and slower tunes. "Future Days" is probably the most romantic Pearl Jam song I know of. It took me by surprise. Many of the other songs have sociopolitical messages if you're listening. Favorite songs: "Swallowed Whole," "Future Days," "Infallible," "Getaway," and "Mind Your Manners." 

3. Caitlin Rose, The Stand-In

I was fond of Ms. Rose's previous release, Own Side Now, but she created a more complete album with this one. Just outstanding. It's classified as country, I guess. She certainly has country influences. Her mom writes songs for Taylor Swift, if you consider Taylor Swift "country." From inspecting married obsolescence in "Pink Champagne" to getting vampy in "Old Numbers," there are solid tunes throughout. Favorite songs: "I Was Cruel," "Waitin'," "Only a Clown," "Everywhere I Go," and "Menagerie." 

4. Blitzen Trapper, VII

One way to describe Blitzen Trapper's sound is funky alt-country. I really like it. I was a big fan of the band's previous release, American Goldwing, which for whatever reasons got panned by some critics. VII may overtake that album as my favorite Blitzen Trapper release. Favorite songs: "Shine On," "Thirsty Man," "Neck Tatts, Cadillacs," and "Drive On Up." 

5. Eels, Wonderful, Glorious

I've been of fan of Mr. Everett's work for some time now after discovering the concept-album trilogy of Hombre Lobo, End Times, and Tomorrow Morning. Wonderful, Glorious provides a buffet of earwormish grooves. If you were smart and bought the deluxe CD, you get a bonus disc with extra studio tunes (three of the four are excellent) and live performances of past material. Favorite songs: "Stick Together," "Kind of Fuzzy," "Peach Blossom," "Bombs Away," and "Open My Present." 

6. Anders Osborne, Peace

This is the only album I have by this fine gentleman. Yet. I'll be acquiring more sometime. He's a hell of a guitar player. For those of us in the middle-aged crowd, his song "47" will strike a chord. In contrast to the darkly humorous album cover, the lyrics are reflective and smart. Favorite songs: "My Son," "Peace," "47," "Five Bullets," and "Windows." 

7. J. Roddy Walston & The Business, Essential Tremors

I discovered this band through one of the finer music blogs out there, HearYa. This band has all kinds of energy. It's mainly guitar-based rock that might make you get up to wiggle your ass or bang your head a bit. As the opening song says, "All hail, heavy bells." Favorite songs: "Tear Jerk," "Sweat Shock," "Hard Times," and "Heavy Bells." 

8. Sarah Jarosz, Build Me Up From Bones

Well, doesn't Ms. Jarosz look all sassy and determined on that album cover? She's one of the finest musicians out there right now. Her previous releases were strongly bluegrass, but this one ventures in some interesting directions while keeping to the core. If you do not know about this artist, you need to. Favorite songs: "1,000 Things," "Fuel the Fire,"  "The Book of Right-On," and "Over the Edge." 

9. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Made Up Mind

Excellent guitar work and a lead singer with soulful, bluesy voice complemented by eleven other band members--it's that simple. Well, I suspect it's not simple with thirteen people in a band, but it's a damn good album. Favorite songs: "The Storm," "Whiskey Legs," "Misunderstood," and "Made Up Mind." 

10. JJ Grey & Mofro, This River

Mr. Grey, who was recently featured in Oxford American magazine, keeps churning out solid albums, and I keep buying 'em. His swamp-soul-blues-rock is too hard to resist. One of the shining moments on the album is "The Ballad of Larry Webb." Favorite songs: "Harp and Drums," "Somebody Else," "Standing on the Edge," and "Your Lady, She's Shady." 

11. Queens of the Stone Age, Like Clockwork

Of the Queens... albums I have (only have three), I like this one the best. "If I Had a Tail" is one of the better songs of the year. "It's how you look, not how you feel. A city of glass with no heart." Favorite songs: "My God Is the Sun," "Smooth Sailing," "I Appear Missing," and "Keep Your Eyes Pealed." 

12. North Mississippi All Stars, World Boogie Is Coming

As I think I noted when the album came out and I featured a song from the album and an interview with the band, this is one of my favorite NMA albums, one that basically gets back to the roots of what they're doing and why they're doing it. The album reformulates some older material, but it's mainly new songs. Favorite songs: "Boogie," "Shimmy," "Goin' to Brownsville," and "Goat Meat." 

13. Ha Ha Tonka, Lessons

These fellows from southern Missouri put out another fine album. I think it's the band's fourth. The lead singer continued his literary bent with "Colorful Kids." He's clear he's read his fair share of Mark Twain based on those lyrics and from "The Humorist," my favorite song on Death of a Decade. Overall, if you liked the band's previous work, you'll also like this. Favorite songs: "The Past Has Arms," "Rewrite Our Lives," "Lessons," and "Staring At the End of Our Lives." 

14. Deer Tick, Negativity

First off, that's a great album cover. More importantly, it's an important follow-up album to Divine Providence, which was artistically scattered and seemed as if they recorded it while under the influence." Negativity is a cohesive and pleasing album. Favorite songs: "The Dream's in the Ditch," "Pot of Gold," "Mr. Sticks," and "The Rock." 

15. Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, Carnival

Ms. Struthers is a new artist to me, and I'm glad I found her. Her work is straightforward, old-timey bluegrass. Favorite songs: "Party Line," "Listen With Your Heart," "Sourwood Tree," and "Jack of Diamonds." 

16. Amanda Shires, Down Fell the Doves

I was a huge fan of her last album. In fact, it was my top album of 2011. Down Fell the Doves is a good one, but I'm just not as smitten with it as I was with Carrying Lightning. Solid songs all around this disc. Favorite songs: "Wasted and Rollin'," "A Song for Leonard Cohen," "Bulletproof," "Devastate," and "Like a Bird." 

17. Mount Moriah, Miracle Temple

Mount Moriah produces some great music. I still haven't figured out who the lead singer's voice reminds me of. I can't place it for whatever reason. This band reminds me of a number of alternative bands that came out in the 90s that had female lead singers. And that's a compliment. Favorite songs: "Those Girls," "Rosemary," "Eureka Springs," and "Bright Light."

18. Dawes, Stories Don't End

2013 brought us the third album from Dawes. This band helps me when I need a "adult contemporary" fix of sorts. Or are they considered "alternative"? Who the hell knows. Anyway, it's a strong offering, one that possibly equals the quality of Nothing Is Wrong. Favorite songs: "From the Right Angle," "Someone Will," "Just Beneath the Surface," and "From a Window Seat." 

19. The Black Angels, Indigo Meadow

The neo-psychadelic outfit went less experimental with this offering. If you want to get all groovy, this is your album. Favorite songs: "War on Holiday," "I Hear Colors (Chromaeasthesia)," "Evil Things," and "Holland." 

20. Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Lickety Split

Robert Randolph and his band keep on doing their thing--solid ballads and good-time, uptempo tunes. He hits on an important topic in "Welcome Home." And the album has two songs where there's a collaboration with Carlos Santana and one song with Trombone Shorty. Favorite songs: "Welcome Home," "Take the Party" with Trombone Shorty, "Brand New Wayo" with Carlos Santana, and "Amped Up." 

Honorable Mentions

Avett Brothers, Magpie and the Dandelion

Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite, Get Up!

James Cotton, Cotton Mouth Man

Josh Ritter, The Beast in Its Tracks

Pokey LaFarge, self-titled

Son Volt, Honky Tonk

Southern Hospitality, Easy Livin'

Trombone Shorty, Say That to Say This

Music Friday: "Heavy Bells"

In my annual and forthcoming Top Twentysomething Albums of 2013, Essential Tremors by J. Roddy Walston & The Business comes in at number 7. 

The opening song of the album should get you energized. I have no idea what the lyrics mean, but I dig the song. 

Regardless, head the lead singer's warning...

You're gonna wake up,
You're gonna wake up,
You're gonna wake up,
Find the heavy bells
Toll their tune for you too.

All hail, heavy bells. 
All hail, heavy bells.
All hail, heavy bells.
All hail, heavy bells.
All hail, heavy bells. 
All hail, heavy bells. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Sausage & Cabbage Soup

This is a two-part recipe because I first made a veggie stock as the base for the soup. 

Here are the ingredients for the vegetable stock:

  • 4 carrots, chopped in large chunks
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
  • half of a green pepper, chopped in large chunks
  • 1 whole bag of frozen broccoli
  • 10 whole peppercorns

I put all of that in a stock pot and covered it with water. The water came up to about two-thirds of the way up the stock pot. I simmered that for approximately two hours, and it reduced by at least a half. I cooled it for a while and then strained the goods. 

Here is the next set of ingredients:
  • 3/4 lb. of smoked sausage
  • half of head of green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 32 oz. of store-bought chicken stock
  • Healthy smidge of Boquet Garni
  • Good smidge of Penzey's Northwoods seasoning
  • Some garlic powder
  • Some thyme
  • Salt and cracked black pepper

I took three-quarters of a pound of smoked turkey sausage, sliced it thinly, and then browned it in a cast iron skillet. Once browned, I transferred the sausage to a plate covered in a paper towel and then cut up the cabbage. After all that's done, dump in the chicken stock, sausage, cabbage, and seasoning and then simmer it all for about 30 minutes. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

I try to depend on a Big 10 team to win in that conference's championship game because I don't want Auburn in the BCS Championship, and all I get is disappointment. Thanks Buckeyes. You're a typical Urban Meyer team--good offense with an at-time shaky defense. I have always kind of liked Michigan State though, and they were playing well at the end of the season, so there's a lot of bitter in that bittersweet because Alabama should have won that Iron Bowl. Regardless, the Tide will be in New Orleans to play Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl on January 2nd. 

If there is a team like Alabama though, it's Florida State. Jimbo Fisher used to run Saban's offense when he was the head coach at LSU. When Saban took the job at Alabama, there was rampant speculation that Fisher would become the offensive coordinator at the Capstone, but he kept where he was (FSU, I believe) and then got the head job there after Bowden got forced out. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Music Friday: "Carry Me Back" & "Bobcat Tracks"

My daughter's fourth-grade class is now focusing on the Southeast for the states and capitals. The way it works in her class is that students get to put in for their top-three choices. She requested 1) Alabama, 2) Mississippi, and 3) Virginia. 

She got her third choice, and in the midst of doing research about the state, we found out that the state song of Virginia is "Carry Me Back to Virginia." Interestingly enough, the new album by Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) is titled Carry Me Back, and the lead song is possibly a reformulation of the state song. 

So today I offer OCMS's "Carry Me Back" along with "Bobcat Tracks" from Big Iron World

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

Sunday we finished putting up our outside Xmas lights. So did the neighbors. For the most part, we're pretty traditional. We have some frosted bulbs outlining the front expanse of the house that I put up on Friday, and Mrs. Nasty placed the garland and lights around the front porch. We have a couple of smaller lighted outdoor knick nacks dotting the front yard. Nothing garish but only celebrating the season. Our neighbors across the street, on the other hand, have some of those damn inflatables: one monstrous penguin with a Santa cap that's probably at least seven-feet tall, another large inflatable of Santa and his sleigh, some large lighted presents, and SpongeBob with a Santa hat. SpongeBob, for God's sake. 

In the spring we will put our house on the market. My daughter, a well-known hater of change, informed us the other day that's she's going to "sabotage" the selling of our house. Her tentative plan is that she's going to plant all kinds of bugs throughout the house, so people won't buy it. Who knows if we'll actually sell it because a) we have to find a buyer and b) we have to find a house in the Charleston metropolitan area we like enough to move to something different. I'd like a home with either a pool, a pond, or a barn. I doubt any of those will happen, but we will not buy a new house without a basement. We saw the destruction a tornado can do when we visited Tuscaloosa last fall. I also need space for some manner of a garden, so we'll see what the market brings this spring. 

The start of December marks the time when the kids and I get into high gear quoting lines from the movie A Christmas Story. We'll recite some lines from that flick from time to time throughout the year, but when December hits, it's ON, baby. Below is the scene we act out most often. 

The Old Man: [angry muttering] Don't you touch that. You were always jealous of this lamp. 

Mom: [feigning innocence] Jealous of a plastic lamp?
The Old Man: Jealous ... jealous because I WON.

The Old Man: [angry] GET the glue.
Mom: [resolutely calm] We're OUT of glue.
The Old Man: [Indecipherable angry noise] You used up all the glue ... on PURPOSE!"

In other fine media matters, new episodes of Clubhouse Confidential have started. C[C] is one of finest sports-related programs around. 

And wow, what about the Doug Fister trade, huh? The Nationals appear to have done very well for what they gave up for Fister. Here's a detailed analysis of the trade from MLB Trade Rumors.  And here's an acerbic analysis by Fangraphs titled "Nationals Steal Doug Fister from the Tigers." 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Auburn

What a horrific ending to a frustrating game. 

If you're reading this post and don't know about the ending of the Iron Bowl yesterday, I am not going to recount it. It's too fucking painful to describe. 

Regardless of the stupid-ass ending, the Crimson Tide should have won this game. During the course of the game, Alabama missed four field goals. Foster missed three, but one that went through the uprights was called back because of a phantom movement penalty on Arie K. 

Nevertheless, the Tide played an unfocused game early (and late), so they were lucky to only be down 7 to nothing in the first quarter. They got it together during most of the second quarter, but the offense was plagued by dropped passes, inaccurate throws, poor blocking, and running the ball into stacked boxes. 

From what I recall, when Auburn passed, they rarely if ever passed on Deion Belue, Alabama's best corner. Cyrus Jones, in contrast, got abused for two big touchdowns. 

As Iron Bowl losses go, this is the worst I've experienced.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Music Friday: "Perfect Far Away" & "Indianapolis"

One album I've listened to quite a bit lately is 24 Hours A Day by The Bottle Rockets. It's a fine album. 

Although you could interpret the first song's lyrics as being creepy, if you have the band's  acoustic album, Not So Loud, you know the song is really about the lead singer being at the VP Fair in St. Louis and not being able to see Dolly Parton perform. He could hear her, but the only spot he could find was one where he couldn't see her. 

In typical Bottle Rockets fashion, the second tune is about a guy held hostage by car repair issues: "I'm stuck in Indianapolis with a fuel pump that's deceased." 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee-Chattanooga

Like we did last season, the Nasty family traveled to T-Town to take in a game. 

For this game we had much better seats, section HH and the 42nd row. Those are probably the best seats I've ever had in Bryant-Denny. We were approximately on the north 40-yard line with a great view of the game--not too high and not too low. 

It was Senior Day in Bryant-Denny, so the fans got to say thanks to likes of AJ McCarron, CJ Mosley, Kevin Norwood, Anthony Steen, Deion Belue, and Kenny Bell, among others.

As was expected, the Crimson Tide dominated the game with McCarron looking good in limited time. Three main players were held out of the game because of minor injuries: running back TJ Yeldon, tight end Brian Vogler, and cornerback Deion Belue. 

So the younger guys got a lot of work yesterday. If I remember right, Cyrus Jones and Maurice Smith started the game at corner, and Bradley Sylve, Geno Smith, and Eddie Jackson also got some playing time. 

On the offensive side of the ball, the two guys who stood out to me were Derrick Henry and Chris Black. While Black only touched the ball twice, the end around he took to the house for 31 yards showcased his raw speed. And for a very large young man, Henry has some speed. On six carries, he averaged 11 yards per carry. He's a bruising but fast tailback. 

Up next is the Iron Bowl. The winner plays in the SEC Championship against either Mizzou or South Carolina. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Music Friday: "Fight the Power" & "By the Time I Get to Arizona"

I have no idea how many current hip-hop artists are socially conscious and making strong political statements in their songs. 

But I remember one outfit that did, and I'm bringing two of their tunes to you now. If you want to revisit the context for the second song, here's "Arizona's Struggle for MLK Holiday." 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

An Odd Career Objective

A colleague told me today about a career objective he saw recently on a resume. 

The objective said this:"An entry-level position in pubic relations"

If you missed the proofreading glitch, it should say "public," not "pubic."

Regardless, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who would like a career in that endeavor. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

A couple of summers ago, the Nasty family took a trip to Des Moines to play at Adventureland. A good portion of our time was spent at the water park. My memory got jogged about that experience because I just saw this article on the world's tallest waterslide under construction in Kansas City. It's call Verruckt, German for "insane." 

As I've written about before on this forum, or maybe I haven't, I'm a geek about typefaces. Recently, I decided to use Avenir Heavy typeface for headings in a document, and my mind started wandering. Who invented Avenir, and why call one version "Heavy"? I imagined a bunch of stoned graphic designers playing with the typeface one night, and then one of them adjusts the typeface so it's so thick and bold that boldface is not needed. Then one of his pot-smoking designers says, "Wow, that's heavy, man." And there you go: Avenir Heavy was born. Unfortunately, that narrative is improbable since Avenir was created in 1988 when the word "heavy" was not in mass use for that kind of meaning like in previous decades. 

And if you care about typefaces, here's "Best Practices of Combining Typefaces", "Typographical Twins: 20 Perfect Font Pairings,"  and "19 Top Fonts in 19 Top Combinations."  

A comic of note:

I started reading Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware the other day. It's one of those adult comic books, one in which the main character deals with finally meeting his father he never knew. It's semi-autobiographical, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. I think Ware wrote the tale for cathartic reasons, but it seems a bit too confessional for my blood. I'm usually not a fan of confessional stuff, and I guess I'm used to comic books graphic novels that have more action to them, such as the outstanding series Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt. Do yourself a favor and read that series, people. It's worth your time, money, and mental energy. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

What a lackluster game. State played the Crimson Tide tough, but last night's game exemplified Alabama trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

I don't know how many third-and-longs Alabama had to deal with, but it seemed like a lot. And then when they finally got things going, something stupid would happen. McCarron had two interceptions. One might not have been a pick and was not his fault, but the other one was definitely his fault. In addition, Yeldon and Drake had one costly fumble each. Ugly. 

Lost in last night's yawnstipating performance is the fact Yeldon had a career-high 160 yards on 24 carries. 

Also, punter Cody Mandell had an outstanding game with two punts downed inside the ten and an average punt of 55 yards. Alabama needed that performance. 

Looking ahead to the Iron Bowl, what concerns me about the defense is how they played against the spreadish, zone-read offense of State's that bears some similarities to Auburn's. Auburn has a bye before they play us in Auburn, but the Crimson Tide takes on Chattanooga this coming Saturday, a game three-quarters of the Nasty family will be attending. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Music Friday: "Since Jimmy Came" & "I Bought a Pie"

I discovered yesterday Shonna Tucker and her backing band named Eye Candy had an album come out last month. 

For those of you who might not recognize the name, Shonna Tucker is the former bass player for the Drive-By Truckers and the ex-wife of Jason Isbell. After Isbell was kicked out of DBT, Tucker started singing some of her own songs for DBT, tunes some fans found to be the weakest part of those albums. 

I think a lot of that reception has to do with reference point (see info on prospect theory), meaning after having a stable lineup of who sings ~ Hood, Cooley, or Isbell ~ introducing Tucker as the third voice of DBT got mixed reviews partly out of the quality of the songs (her Alabama accent is pronounced on some of them) and probably because of sexist reasons (for some people). 

That said though, her songs weren't my favorites of those discs, Brighter Than Creation's Dark, The Big To-Do, and Go-Go Boots. I'm a fan of "Where's Eddie?" though.   

After I found out about the new album, I plopped down my $6.99 for a download and acquired A Tell All by Shonna Tucker and Eye Candy. 

It's good. Her voice is smoother and more sustained, and the album has a solid mix of songs. Without the expectation of her songs being Truckers' tunes, I really like the album. In other words, my reference point has changed. 

Below is "Jimmy Came Here" and "I Bought a Pie."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

In yet another moment of middle-aged reflection, I happened to be listening to the local classic rock station the other day. They played "Even Flow" by Pearl Jam. Early Pearl Jam has now become classic rock radio fare -- ear candy canon fodder. So depressing.

That moment of reflection and depression moved me to put Ten into my CD rotation in the car though. What an outstanding album. 

Because of certain media outlets' love affair with Governor Christie, Grist have provided an important article that details his track record with environmental issues: "Chris Christie is No Moderate on the Environment." 

In a related post on Climate Progress, "Top Climatologist Slams Science Magazine for Getting the Extreme Weather Story Very Wrong," Joe Romm recounts researchers' reactions to a Science magazine article.  

One of my pals sent this article, "Your Personality Type Determines Your Paycheck," to me. As an INTJ (very strong introversion and moderately strong in judging), I'm miffed that the ENTJs are supposedly making more loot than others of us in the "rationalist" category. As I said in a different forum, "I will quietly reflect on this 'fact,' consider the implications, and judge the extroverts for being the bastards they are." [That's me quoting me.] What's clear though is that it doesn't pay to be an idealist. However, the graphic distorts the differences quite a bit. 

If you're looking for more visual stimuli, check out Reid Wilson's "Which of the 11 American Nations Do You Live In?" in the "GovBeat" section of The Washington Post. Wilson talks about Colin Woodard's argument that the US can be seen as 11 politically separate nation-states. I'm sure the dividing lines are a bit murkier than presented, but here's how my life has played out according to Woodard's map. I grew up in the upper Midlands but very close to Yankeedom for eighteen years. I then lived at the northwestern edge of Greater Appalachia for eight years with one year in a major metro area in the Midlands. Then I spent four years in the Deep South and returned to a metro area in the Midlands surrounded by Greater Appalachia. And now the Nasty family lives in Greater Appalachia in a strong "blue state."  

Sunday Hangover: LSU

I'm trying to remember a game where Alabama had a second-half adjustment like they did last night, but I can't think of one. After the Tigers scored a field goal early in the third quarter after the Tide D gave LSU a bunch of gifts, the Crimson Tide pounded the ball at the LSU defense. Then they pounded it and pounded it some more. Alabama walloped the Tigers 21 to 3 in the second half. 

Besides the interception he should have secured, linebacker C. J. Mosley had an outstanding game: 12 tackles, 7 of them solo, 1.5 tackles for loss, and 2 passes broken up. In addition, he  was an integral component in Alabama's fake punt when he got the snap and handed off the ball to Jarrick Williams. 

When asked about trusting Mosley on that play in the press conference after the game, Coach Saban had this reply: "I trust C. J. to do anything -- watching my kids, taking care of my house. So faking the punt isn't that much. C. J. is so conscientious that you know he's going to execute it."

T. J. Yeldon benefited from the dominating play of the offensive line. Even when an unblocked guy was after him, he usually made him miss. 25 carries for 133 yards. 

Last year after the dramatic win versus LSU, the Crimson Tide had a serious letdown at home against A&M. I would imagine that would be a point of emphasis -- not wallowing on the past win -- this week before they travel to Starkville to take on the Bulldogs, a team that looked decent when they played against Texas A&M yesterday. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Music Friday: "Mind Your Manners"

I got the new Pearl Jam album, Lightning Bolt, when it was released. Typical of that band's albums, it has taken some listens for me to warm up to the disc. For some reason, their albums get better with age. 

For example, as I write this, I'm listening to the band's second album, Vs., and I had forgotten how outstanding it is. Kicks ass. 

One song from the recent album that has really grown to my liking is "Mind Your Manners," a good rockin' tune with interesting lyrics.

Below you can find a video and the lyrics. 

Mind Your Manners
by Pearl Jam

I've got an unfortunate feelin'
I been beaten down. 
I feel that I'm done believing.
Now the truth is coming out. 

What they're taking is
more than a vow.
They're taking young innocents,
and then they throw 'em on a burning pile.
Ah ah ay ay

And all along they're saying,
"Mind your manners!"

I caught myself believing
that I needed God.
And if it's out there somewhere
We sure could use a hymn now.

Try my patience!
My patience tried.
This world's a long love letter
that makes me wanna cry.
Ah ah ay ay.

And all along they're saying,
"Mind your manners!"
That's all they're saying.

Self-realized and metaphysically redeemed,
may not live another life,
may not solve our mystery.

Right round the corner
could be bigger than ourselves.
We could will it to the sky,
or we could something else. 

And all along along they're saying,
"Mind your manners!"
Always praying. 

Go to Heaven,
that's swell. 
How you like your living Hell?

Go to Heaven,
that's swell. 
How you like your living Hell?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

The Crimson Tide spent the bye week healing up, practicing, and getting ready for the annual tussle with LSU. LSU also had a bye week. 

I watched a smattering of games on Saturday. The Nasty family walked up to O'Brien Field to watch the EIU Panthers destroy the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles. Last time I checked, the Panthers were ranked third in the FCS. They could make some serious noise when the playoffs begin, but the number-one ranked team, North Dakota State, has won the championship for two straight years. The Bison are strong. 

In other games, for a while it looked like Arkansas might make a game of it versus Auburn. But they faded in the third quarter. 

Florida mounted an impressive comeback against Georgia but eventually lost. Fred Taylor's son, a freshman running back for the Gators, looked good, but Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs found a way to win. 

I thought the Volunteers would challenge Mizzou in Columbia, but Tennessee continued to not capitalize on opportunities and play poor defense. 

Florida State looked outstanding against the Hurricanes.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

Music Friday: "Harvest Moon"

I've had the Neil Young Unplugged album playing in my car today. 

And since it's fall and all, I thought I'd share "Harvest Moon."

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee

This game was over at halftime, possibly at the end of the first quarter when the Crimson Tide was up 21 to 0. The score was 35 to 0 at the half, and the teams tied in the second half by scoring 10 points each. 

I was hoping for another shutout, and I know that's greedy, but besides a dumb fumble by Drake near the goal line, Alabama pretty much did what they wanted. 

Norwood had an outstanding game, and Cooper started out the first quarter right with a 54-yard touchdown. 

Oddly enough, no back had a 100-yard game--Drake with 89 and Yeldon with 72 yards. 

Trey DePriest, a linebacker who doesn't get enough credit in my opinion, had a good game.

On the defensive side of the ball, true freshman Eddie Jackson is obviously in Saban's doghouse because he hasn't played much at all lately. Cyrus Jones got a lot of work at corner in this game, and then later John Fulton played when the second-teamers came into the game. The rumor I heard on the InterWebs is that Jackson's not taking his academics seriously enough, so he's riding the pine because of it.  

Next up is a bye and then LSU the week after at Bryant-Denny. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Music Friday: "Cotton Mouth Man"

I don't know how much attention this album has drawn since James Cotton is an elderly blues musician, but Cotton Mouth Man is a solid offering for the blues/boogie-inclined. 

The title track below features Joe Bonamassa on vocals and guitar, and the album also features appearances by Gregg Allman, Keb Mo, Warren Haynes, Ruthie Foster, and Delbert McClinton. 

Check it out. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Dog Visits a Beer Festival

As some of my readers know, I'm a fan of craft beers. So when I saw the video of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's visit to the Great American Beer Festival, I thought I'd share. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Arkansas

The Crimson Tide did what they should have done last week against Kentucky. They got a shutout, 52 to 0.

The Tide looked good yesterday, a day when there were all kinds of upsets.

Like BTO, Alabama took care of business. For the second consecutive game, Alabama had two 100-yard backs because of Henry's 80-yard touchdown run in fourth quarter. 

Strangely enough, the score yesterday was the same score of the game when the Tide played in Fayetteville last season. 

Next up is Tennessee, the team that upset South Carolina yesterday.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Music Friday: "I Don't Want to Grow Up"

The Nasty family left this afternoon to travel to Iowa for my parents' 65th wedding anniversary. We go into Waterloo somewhere around 9:45 this evening. As we pulled into the parking lot of the Hampton Inn, this song was playing.

Seems fitting. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"Playing at Violence"

I read Pacifique Irankunda's "Playing at Violence" article in The American Scholar recently. It reminded me of one of my former professors, a Vietnam veteran, who liked to talk about how he had never hunted after being "in country." "After hunting humans," he said, he lost all interest in using a gun and hunting.  

Having survived a civil war, Irankunda has similar feelings about violent video games. It's not a diatribe masquerading as an essay. Rather, the contrasts he presents will make you think about people's fascination with and enjoyment of war-based video games. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Hangover: Kentucky

After a dominating yet shaky first quarter, the Crimson Tide got it together and finally started converting on their dominance. 

In the first quarter, both T. J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake fumbled balls deep in Kentucky territory with Alabama threatening to score. In addition, Kenny Bell had two dropped passes, and Yeldon dropped a possible touchdown pass (and smart play call by the OC) early in the game too.

If you're going by numbers, the Tide had 668 total offensive yards. Kentucky had 170. The final score was 48 to 7, but it could have been uglier than that. They probably left three possible touchdowns on the field. Alabama had two 100-yard rushers -- Yeldon with 124 and Drake with 106. Both backs had two touchdowns each. And Altee Tenpenny had a touchdown late in the game. 

On the defensive side of the ball, Cornerback Eddie Jackson didn't play because of an ankle injury, but Bradley Sylve played well opposite Deion Belue. A'shawn Robinson had yet another solid performance at DT and DE. The guy is a wrecking ball. He had six total tackles, two of which were tackles for loss, and two sacks. And this dude is only a freshman. 

One surprising part of the game was that true freshman Grant Hill played quite a bit at right tackle. He didn't start. Austin Shepherd did. But it's hard to tell whether this was just an opportunity to see how he would do or whether this indicates there might be a change ahead on the starting offensive line. As for another replacement, as far as I could tell, Landon Collins did fine working at Clinton-Dix's position. 

Next up is Arkansas at Bryant-Denny.