Sunday, July 28, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

If you care about poetry, I suggest checking out Mark Edmundson's "Poetry Slam: Or, The Decline of American Verse" in the July issue of Harper's. While I find the article to be an academic version of a lit professor saying, "Back in the old days..." with occasional whining and pontificating, he does have some good points. Take these two examples: 
  • "What happens when poets at the height of ambition somehow feel the need to be programmatically obscure? The obvious result is that they shut out the common reader. But they also give critics far too much room to determine poetic meanings--and this may be why some critics so love Graham and Muldoon and Carson and Ashbery. Their poems are so underdetermined in their sense that the critic gets to collaborate on the verses, in effect becoming a co-creator. This is a boon to critics, but readers rightly look to poets to make sense of the world, even if it is a difficult sense--and not to pass half the job off to Ph.D.s"
  • "It is they [big-name poets] whom younger writers are to look up to, they who set the standard--and the standard is all for inwardness and evasion, hermeticism and self-regard: beautiful, accomplished, abstract poetry that refuses to be the poetry of our climate."
I wonder if the good Dr. Edmundson has read Sullivan's Every Seed of the Pomegranate, Vanderberg's The Alphabet Not Unlike the World, or Williams' The Road to Happiness? I also wonder if Edmundson writes his own poetry. 

Recently I became a subscriber to I don't know why it's taken me so long to do something like this. First, it's free, so that appeals to my frugal nature. Second, daily I get old strips and current ones. Every day I'm reading Doonsebury, Get Fuzzy, Pearls Before Swine, F Minus, Candorville, Off the Mark, and Strange Brew along with editorial cartoons from Tom Toles, Mike Luckovich, and Michael Ramirez. Also, I'm getting recycled strips of Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes. Those are my top two comic strips of all time, and I read them when I was a kid.

Coincidentily, I looked at Utne's nominees for the its Media Awards, checked them out, and subscribed to various Web-based magazines like TomDispatch, Grist, and OnEarth. I'm also getting updates from The American Conservative for some variety in my political reading diet, and there's an article about Calvin & Hobbes by Gracy Howard that's worth a quick read: "Imagination and the Artistic Value of Calvin & Hobbes." I look forward to watching the documentary she writes about. The strips below showcase Watterson's artistry. 

Sorry for the bleeding into the right bar, but the only way to see them well is making them extra large. 

Last night Mrs. Nasty and I went out to supper and then watched The Wolverine, the latest Hollywood offering from the Marvel universe. As comic book-based movies go, it's a good one. From my perspective, Jackman seems to get the character of Logan/Wolverine, and this movie provides a good character study. I remember reading the Wolverine four-part series in the early 80s when he went to Japan, which I think the screenplay chose parts to use in the film. I remember the comic book differently though. The love interest angle was a bigger theme, and I vaguely remember him training as a samurai, but I could be wrong. Because I enjoyed that short series back then (1982), I bought the book (below) that collects the issues. I'm looking forward to this rediscovery. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Pickled Eggs

If you read my comment in the Fumbling... post about pickles, you saw this coming. 

I pickled some eggs. After touring various recipes on the InterWebs, I came up with this recipe. 

Dozen hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 cups cider vinegar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of pickling salt
quarter of an onion, chopped
Smidge of chopped bell pepper, approximately a 1/4 cup (tops)
2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
1 cayenne pepper split in two
1 teaspoon of dill seed
1/2 teaspoon of dill weed
1/4 teaspoon of ground mustard

Hard boil the eggs and peel them. Then put together the wet ingredients for the brine. Boil. In the bottom of a large mason jar, place the garlic, dill, mustard, split hot pepper, 2/3 of the chopped onion and pepper. Then place the eggs inside the jar (The jar I used only held 11, so I had to eat one). Sprinkle the remains of the chopped onion and pepper on top. Temper the jar in hot water and then pour in the boiling brine. Cap, wait for a day, and eat. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Future of the Cubs

With Nate Schierholtz and Kevin Gregg still on the team, I doubt the Cubs are done trading players for prospects. We've witnessed trades of Scott Feldman, Matt Garza, and Alfonso Soriano so far. While a similar fire sale should have happened years ago, like any Cubs fan, I'm looking toward the future.

Hey, it's all I've ever had. I was born after 1907.

Let's take a look at options for the future with estimated times of arrival (in parentheses) based from the MLB webpage that details the top twenty prospects of the Cubs. You have to click on the "20 by Team" tab.

Catcher: Castillo
1B: Rizzo
2B: Barney, Castro, or Gioskar Amaya ('16)
SS: Castro, Javier Baez ('14), Arismendy Alcantara ('14), or Junior Lake
3B: Mike Olt ('13), Josh Vitters ('13), Javier Baez, Kris Bryant (?), Christian Villanueva ('14), or Junior Lake
OF: David DeJesus, Brett Jackson ('13), Matt Szczur ('14)
OF: Junior Lake, Albert Almora ('15)
OF: Nate Schierholtz, Cole Gillespie, Mike Olt, Ja-Hoon Ha ('14), Jorge Soler ('15) 
Starter: Jeff Samardzija
Starter: Travis Wood
Starter: Edwin Jackson
Starter: Carlos Villanueva, Justin Grimm (AAA), Jake Arrieta (AAA), Arodys Vizcaino ('14), Dillon Maples ('16)
Starter: Chris Rusin, Pierce Johnson ('15), C. J. Edwards ('16)

Looking at all that above, I would think the ball club might try to acquire a starters in other trades or via free agency this off season. Junior Lake, who is currently playing out of his mind, is really an infielder, but he's playing in the outfield out of need. 

It'll be interesting what they do this season with the platoon of Ransom and Valbuena at third base. While both are okay, I suspect we'll see Olt or Vitters this season. If Schierhotz and DeJesus get traded before the deadline, you're looking at an outfield of Lake, Jackson, and Gillespie unless Olt or Vitters can play in the outfield. Olt has played a couple of games as a right fielder as a major leaguer. That might make some sense once (if and when) Kris Bryant is ready. 

Music Friday: "Take the Power Back"

"The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair." ~H. L. Mencken

"The present curriculum,/ I put my fist in 'em./ Eurocentric every last one of them."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New Album Forthcoming from Amanda Shires

One of the new releases I'm looking forward to next month is Amanda Shires' Down Fell the Doves

Two years ago her Carrying Lightning beat out her (now) husband's Here We Rest in my Top Ten/Twenty Albums of the year post. 

2013 looks like another year where Isbell and Shires might battle for the top spot. 

For some info about Shires' forthcoming album, check out "Is Amanda Shires the Sexiest Violinist Since Thomas Jefferson?" on the Wall Street Journal blog. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Stay Positive: Old Advertising

What you see above is my recent purchase from eBay. For over a decade, I've had a couple of framed Schlitz magazine ads from 1951, but I finally got around to getting a beer sign for downstairs. 

The ad on the left is a locker room scene that depicts a victorious golfer pouring "The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous" since he's the "Club Champion" of 1951. 

Here's the text of the ad: "Best round I've had all day!" [at the top of the copy] There's no more rewarding beer than Schlitz, and that's not merely a professional opinion. It's the verdict of the people we make Schlitz for--people, like you, who buy the beer that tastes best to them. More people like Schlitz than any other beer. So it's not surprising that  today Schlitz is... The Largest-selling Beer in America 

The one to the right is hilarious. A little cub stole a six pack of Schlitz from a fellow on picnic with his significant other. She's behind a tree in the background with a "Oh my gosh" look on her face.

Here's the copy of the ad: "You may be cute, but I'm thirsty!" [at the top of the text box] If the cub should happen to open one of those cans, he would know why that two-legged creature is growling about losing his package of Schlitz! Once you've enjoyed the special taste of Schlitz--the taste no other beer can match--you'll know why no beer lover likes to lose a single swallow of the Schlitz he has set his heart on. So many people feel this way about Schlitz that it's... The Largest-selling Beer in America

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

One of the simple pleasures in my life is walking around in my underwear to make my kids say, "Put some clothes on Dad!" This tactic usually happens in the morning. Just fyi. 

What gets me from time to time is how people who eat meat draw the lines on certain animals. It all seems so silly. They'll eat chicken but won't eat pork because they're "dirty animals." Please. When I was a kid, I watched my uncle Raymond's chicken coop up close. Chickens are nasty animals. I could go into gruesome detail if you like. Regardless, I understand the environmental stances against eating meat, which usually have logical coherence to them. In addition, there are health reasons that make a lot of sense why you shouldn't eat a lot of meat each day. However, I find it silly that people recoil at people eating squirrel, crawfish, rabbit, lamb, pheasant, oysters, bison, and other such varmints. They've obviously never tried them. They're delicious. Don't get me wrong. I respect vegetarians and appreciate the various reasons why people are vegetarian, but I like eating meat, though portion control is a good idea. In addition, the eating of meat is part of our evolutionary heritage because that move in our history helped homo sapiens expand brain size, which now gives us the ability to reason why we shouldn't eat or shouldn't eat a ton of meat in our diets. 

Now, factory farming is a good reason not to eat certain kinds of meat. Check out Factory Farm Map or "The Hidden Health Hazards of Factory Farms" if you're interested.

I recently got around to reading Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco. I'm not far into it, but I'm enjoying it so far. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Music Friday: "Down Under," "And We Danced," & "White Wedding"

The Nasty family is on vacation at an indoor/outdoor water park/amusement center/convention center because my daughter performs today and tomorrow with her dance squad at a national dance competition. 

Yesterday I spent three hours at the outdoor water park, which is some kind of personal record for me.

I noticed today and the day before that the in-house radio station knows its audience. The music played is a smattering of hits from the 80s and early 90s with some contemporary shit crap nonsense music mixed in. 

This afternoon, for example, they played a trio of tunes from Men at Work, The Hooters, and Billy Idol

I present them below for your own trip down nostalgia lane. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Music Friday: "Too Long in the Wasteland"

I've been in a cranky mood lately. There are various causes for this, which I won't bore you with. 

However, I'll provide a video today from an artist who usually provides a skeptical and cranky view on all manner of subjects. 

Below is James McMurtry and his band playing "Too Long in the Wasteland." 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Dill Pickles

Two or three years ago I made pickled okra. Lots of it. For a number of weeks, I was pickling about every other day. 

This summer I acquired seeds for pickling cucumbers, I planted them in late spring, and this week I started harvesting. Yesterday I made my first couple of jars of pickles. 

Because it had been so long since I had pickled anything, I had forgotten my recipe, so I had to call my dad to see if he remembered it. He didn't remember it fully, and the recipe I'm providing below is about as close as I can get to what I did with the okra (with the help of Virg and the InterWebs). 

I'll probably experiment with ingredient ratios from time to time, but this is the base recipe, and I'm sharing it not only for my readers but also for myself. 

Pickling brine ingredients:
1 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of white vinegar
2 cups of water
2-3 tablespoons of pickling salt

In the jars:
1/2 teaspoon of dill seed
Snip of fresh dill weed
1/8 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes
1-2 cloves of garlic
Pickling cucumbers, whole or quartered if they're bigger ones

Put the dill, garlic, and pepper flakes in the bottom of the jars and then assemble your cucumbers. Put the jars in a pot with water in it and heat on medium-high to temper the jars.

Bring the brine to a boil and let it roil for a while. Using some kind of dipper, fill up the  jars to the line and then cap. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Random Notes from a Crank

I rarely get into casual conversations about politics, but when I do, if the person I'm talking with says he is worried about "entitlement programs," that's usually a tell that person grew up with the benefit of financial assistance from his parent/s once he screwed up and needed a sweet influx of cash. Rich people like to worry about "entitlement programs" because they've been entitled to stable financial backing. Poor people worry about getting through the week. 

I finally got around to reading my spring issue of The American Scholar. The feature article is "Color Lines: How DNA Ancestry Testing Can Turn Our Notions of Race and Ethnicity Upside Down" by W. Ralph Eubanks. It's worth  a good read. Ponder this passage if the title intrigues you: "What we see when we look at a person may or may not correlate to his or her ancestral and ethnic background. DNA results confirmed for me that identity cannot be constructed based on a “percentage” of African ancestry, and that our society’s generally accepted racial categories cannot begin to address the complexity and nuance of our heritage. I soon began to think about race only in terms of culture and biology together. And as race became an abstract rather than a concrete concept, the categorical ways in which I had thought about race in the past were quickly broken down. Once we see how small the differences are that bring about the characteristics we think of as racial—hair, skin color, eyes, facial features—in relation to the entire human genome, it’s hard to make a fuss about them. Our differences are astonishingly slight."

During the summer I interact with incoming college students and their parents on a regular basis. In yet another sign I'm getting old, one recycled fashion trend I've noticed is the resurgence of boat shoes. I didn't care for them in the 80s, and I still don't like them. Regardless, happy boating everyone! 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Music Friday: "Bound for Glory"

How 'bout a bluesy, soulful, and funky tune from a big-ass ensemble band for a change? 

That's right, the Tedeschi Trucks Band. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

George Carlin on "Stuff"

I received an email today from a co-worker who told me she had some "stuff" to give me when we meet next week.  

Stuff is a much more interesting word after you've viewed the classic bit by George Carlin. 

So I thought I'd share.