Friday, December 26, 2014

Music Friday: "Brass Ring"

One album I failed to showcase in my "Top Twentysomething Albums of 2014" is Mellencamp's Plain Spoken

It's a good album, one possibly worthy of the top twenty, but I'm not going to revise the previous post.

One of my favorite songs on Plain Spoken is "Brass Ring," so it's below. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top Twentysomething Albums of 2014

It's that time of the year again.

Like I did in 20102011, 2012, and 2013, 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. 

As for the year in music, from my perspective, this year didn't produce the quality of albums that I have gotten accustomed to from the past few years. Maybe it's just my personal music tastes, but the previous four years seem stronger in quality and quantity. 

That's not to say these twensomething albums aren't good. They are. However, there weren't many albums that really blew my doors off. 

If there are other albums you would recommend, please let me know in the comments section.

1. Drive-By Truckers, English Oceans

DBT is somewhat cursed by their past success. While The Big To-Do and Go-Go Boots have a number of solid songs on them, Truckers fans are prone to think about the glories of Pizza DeliveranceSouthern Rock OperaThe Dirty South (which I would argue is the band's best album), and Decoration Day. Fortunately, this year saw a DBT album that offers a roughly equal number of Cooley and Hood songs. I like that change because I've always felt Cooley has been under-appreciated as a lyricist. 

When I first made a draft of the top albums, I had this album further down the list. Then I listened to it a bit more and moved it up to 1. "When Walter Went Crazy," "The Part of Him," and "Pauline Hawkins" have become three tunes to add to my favorite Patterson Hood songs. "Grand Canyon," written for one of their friends who passed away, is majestic. Cooley's "Primer Coat" is a sober recognition of the passage of time. 

Favorite songs: "Seeing Jimmy Loud," "Primer Coat," "When He's Gone," "Grand Canyon," "The Part of Him," and "When Walter Went Crazy"

2. The Hold Steady, Teeth Dreams

It was good to see this band come out with a solid album this year. I liked Craig Finn's solo effort, but I prefer the more raw, straightforward rock-n-roll of THS with Finn's narrative-based lyrics. "Big Cig" is one of my favorite songs of this year. Some of the songs aren't as brawny as what I consider some of the band's classics like "Stuck Between Stations," "Chips Ahoy!," "Constructive Summer," "Sequestered in Memphis," and "The Sweet Part of the City." However, the band provides a strong offering here, a well rounded album. 

Favorite songs: "Runner's High," "Oaks," "On With the Business," "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You," and "Big Cig"

3. Centro-matic, Take Pride in Your Long Odds

I am a big fan of the band's previous album, Candidate Waltz. But this one has really stuck with me. It's been a go-to listen since I picked it up. It's just a solid album of Centro-matic doing their Centro-matic things. I rarely can figure out what the heck Will Johnson is singing about, but the arrangements and melodies are addictive and hypnotic. 

Favorite songs: "Through the Fog, Then Down," "Salty Disciple," "Academy of Lunkers," and "Cynthia Glass"

4. Hard Working Americans, self-titled

So Todd Snider, Dave Schools (bassist of Widespread Panic), Neal Casel (guitarist of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood), Chad Staehly (keyboardist of Great American Taxi), and Duane Trucks (drummer) got together and created an fine album of covers. Check it out. Support these hard working Americans. 

Favorite songs: "Stomp and Holler," "Straight to Hell," "The Mountain Song," "Welfare Music," and "Run a Mile"

5. Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways

I got sucked into this album because I started watching their HBO show that showcased them recording the songs at famous recording studios. As the show makes us want to believe, they would go to a certain city, talk to influential people there, lay down the tunes, and then Grohl would pen lyrics based on the time spent in the location. I don't know how accurate that method is, but I don't see why they would lie. They might fudge the truth a bit, but Sonic Highways is strong hard rock album with songs that become pleasant ear worms. 

Favorite songs: "Something from Nothing" (about Chicago), "I Am a River" (about New York City), "Outside" (about Joshua Tree, CA), and "Feast and The Famine" (about D.C.)

6. Tom Petty, Hypnotic Eye

The past couple of years I've gotten back into Tom Petty and his fine Heartbreakers. Hypnotic Eye is a solid rock album. It didn't generate the hits like his old albums did, but now is a very different music industry/environment. "Forgotten Man" is reminiscent of a Bo-Diddley riff. "American Dream Plan B" provides some social commentary. And "Fault Lines" reminds me that I'm a  middle-aged man.

Favorite songs: "Forgotten Man," "All You Can Carry," "Fault Lines," and "American Dream Plan B"

7. Various Artists, Dead Man's Town

Yep, that's right. A tribute album to Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. Younger artists take on these iconic songs and make them their own. Joe Pug's rendition of "Downbound Train" is excellent. Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires start off the album with a justly somber and haunting "Born in the U.S.A." Blitzen Trapper has fun on "Working on the Highway." And a band I didn't know about before I got this album, the Quaker City Night Hawks, provides a fabulous cover of "Darlington County."

Favorite songs: Ones mentioned above plus "I'm Going Down" by Trampled by Turtles" and "I'm on Fire" by Low. 

8. Nickel Creek, A Dotted Line

The band got back together and put out A Dotted Line this year. As for Thile's outfits, I prefer the Punch Brothers over Nickel Creek. If you like their work from the early aughts, you'll enjoy this one. It's a return to form although "Hayloft" seems a bit experimental. 

Favorite songs: "Elephant in the Corn," "21st of May," "Elsie," "Hayloft," and "Destination" 

9. John Mellencamp, Performs Trouble Now More at Town Hall

If you like Trouble No More, and I really do, then you'll really like the live album of the songs performed in 2003. There are also revised versions of "Paper in Fire," "Teardrops Will Fall," "Small Town," and "Pink Houses." 

Favorite songs: "Stones in My Passway," "Paper in Fire," "To Washington," and "Down in the Bottom"

10. Bruce Springsteen, High Hopes

Since Mellencamp came in at 9, I might as well follow it up for another aged rock star. Apparently, the skinny on this album is they recorded a bunch of songs that he and the E Street Band usually play live. It has a live vibe that makes me disappointed that I've never seen Springsteen in concert. Tom Morello was part of the recording of this album and he also was part of the tour. So the album presents a significant revision of "The Ghost of Tom Joad" since Rage Against the Machine revised it. 

Favorite songs: "High Hopes," "American Skin (41 Shots)," "Just Like Fire Would," "Hunter of Invisible Game," "The Ghost of Tom Joad" 

11. John Fullbright, Songs

Fullbright's debut album, From the Ground Up, is so outstanding that it was going to be difficult to live up to those lofty expectations. Songs is a slower moving affair than the first album, with only a few songs with drums on them. I prefer his more uptempo tunes. However, there are solid, introspective tracks on this album. 

Favorite songs: "When You're Here," "Never Cry Again," "Going Home," and "The One That Lives Too Far"

12. The Bad Plus, The Rite of Spring

I was between either putting up this album or the band's other one, Inevitable Western, that came out this year. One of the best jazz trios out there takes on Stravinsky's famous work, an opus that people consider to one of the most influential pieces of music in the 20th century. The Bad Plus is considered to be experimental by some jazz purists, so it makes sense they reinterpreted this classic work that was seen as experimental in its day. Well done.

Favorite parts: "The Augurs of Spring," "First Part: Adoration of the Earth: Spring Rounds," and "Second Part: The Sacrifice: Sacrificial Dance" 

13. St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Half the City

If you're looking for some good old fashioned soul music, you need to get this album. These fellows from Birmingham (AL) do it right. The lead singer's voice reminds me of Otis Redding, and Redding is easily my favorite R&B/soul singer. Fun arrangements and soul butter slappin' you upside the head. 

Favorite songs: "It's Midnight," "Half the City," "Like a Mighty River," and "Call Me"  

14. Justin Townes Earle, Single Mothers

For me, because Harlem River Blues is such a strong album, it's difficult for subsequent JTE albums to impress me. I like this one better than the last, and I look forward to the follow up to Single Mothers, which is titled Absent Fathers. This album is standard JTE and worthy of the top twenty of 2014. 

Favorite songs: "Time Shows Fools," "Wanna Be a Stranger," "My Baby Drives," and "Single Mothers"

15. Keb' Mo', Bluesamericana

I hadn't bought a Keb Mo album in a good while. This year's album got good reviews, so I picked it up. Though it's a bit too polished for my taste at times, he offers a strong set of songs on this album. If you're hankering for some blues, this was a good option this year. On some songs, such as "Old Me Better," there are ragtime influences. 

Favorite songs: "Old Me Better," "The Worst Is Yet to Come," "Do It Right," and "Move"

16. The Secret Sisters, Put Your Needle Down

Their debut album was widely lauded by critics. I think their sophomore album is even stronger. In contrast to the old timey feel of the first album, these songs sound more original and a bit more dark. Nice work, ladies.

Favorite songs: "Black and Blue," "Rattle My Bones," "Let There Be Lonely," and "I Cannot Find a Way"

17. Trampled by Turtles, Wild Animals

The bluegrass dudes from Duluth scored another fine album this year. In comparison to other releases, Wild Animals is, in general, a slower paced affair. But it's good. 

Favorite songs: "Western World," "Are You Behind the Shining Star?," "Repetition," and "Winners"

18. Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

I don't have Simpson's first album, but this album is a definite breath of fresh air for country music. It contrasts, thankfully, to the bro-country offerings of schmucks like Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, et al. This is country music that's old school, and that's a very good thing. 

Favorite songs: "Life of Sin," "Turtles All the Way Down," "It Ain't All Flowers," and "Living the Dream"

19. Counting Crows, Somewhere Under Wonderland

Yes, these guys are still around. I hadn't bought one of the band's albums since Hard Candy (2002). I doubt any of these songs were big hits on the charts like how the band captured the music industry's attention with August and Everything After, but if you yearn for good poppy rock music, this album is worth your time. 

Favorite songs: "John Appleseed's Lament," "Scarecrow," "Dislocation," and "Palisades Park"

20. The Barr Brothers, Sleeping Operator

If you missed their first album, you should start with that one. Sleeping Operator is a good second offering, but I think I could sum up this album in one word: atmospheric. It's a good listen if you're in the mood for that kind of music. 

Favorite songs: "Valhallas," "Even the Darkness Has Arms," "Wolves," and "Static Orphans"

Honorable Mentions

The Bad Plus, Inevitable Western

Delta Spirit, Into the Wild

The Afghan Wigs, Do To the Beast

Rod Picott, Hang Your Hopes on a Crooked Nail

Shovels and Rope, Swimmin' Time

Friday, December 19, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

Since the US normalized relations with Cuba this week, I'm contemplating going back to smoking cigars, so I can get my hands on some Cuban stogies. Regardless, The American Conservative has a detailed article about the President's smart decision: "Obama's Cuba Opportunity." 

If you like visuals, check out "100 Diagrams That Changed the World" via Brain Pickings.

How can anyone deny the wondrousness that was/is Ginger Spice/Geri Halliwell? You know you can't. 

Bowl games start tomorrow. Thank the Gods. 

Music Friday: "We Looked Like Giants"

I'm in a Death Cab for Cutie kind of mood. So here's a good video of a live version of "We Looked Like Giants" with Gibbard explaining his motivation for writing the lyrics about halfway through the song.  

"God bless the daylight, the sugary smell of springtime, 
remembering when you were mine
in a still suburban town. 

When every Thursday I'd brave those mountain passes,
and you'd skip your early classes,
and we'd learn how our bodies worked.

God damn the black night with all its foul temptation.
I became what I always hated
when I was with you then."

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

After the Cubs acquired Jon Lester shortly after my last post, Bovada moved the Cubs' odds of winning the World Series to 12-to-1. To me and probably others, moving from 50-to-1 odds to 12-to-1 seems like the folks at Bovada are drunk on Cubs-brand Kool-Aid. "The Chicago Cubs Still Have a Lot of Work to Do" takes a more realistic approach about what went down at the MLB Owners' Meeting this week. And Rob Neyer has a realistic evaluation of where the Cubs with "Even with Lester, Cubs Won't Contend in '15." 

If Ross gets signed, Castillo will get moved for sure. From what I saw of Baez last season, I was impressed with the power and frustrated with the lack of plate discipline, strikeouts, and batting average. The first of that series caused the other two. Whatever happened to hitters shortening their strokes when they have two strikes? Just make some solid contact without jumping out of your shoes. 

As I've noted before, I'm fond of Existential Comics, and this week's strip takes on the absurdity of Candyland. The main characters are Camus and Sartre. As Camus opines, "The contrast between the meaningless, fixed nature of the game and the narratives we tell ourselves as we are playing causes the feeling of the absurd." Exactly.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Music Friday: "Every Mission," "Academy of Lunkers," and "Relative Unto the Aces"

One of my favorite albums that came out this year is Centro-matic's Take Pride in Your Long Odds. It's likely to be placed somewhere in the top five in my top twenty albums of 2014 post later this month. 

Today I offer a trio of song from the album: "Every Mission," "Academy of Lunkers," and "Relative Unto the Aces." 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

I picked up the well received Sex Criminals the other day. It's an interesting, freaky story so far. The problem is this: Where do you store a R-rated comic book volume (vol. 1 collects issues 1-5) when you have kids? I just can't put it in the stack of comic volumes I have downstairs, which include various old and new versions of Daredevil, Fraction's Hawkeye, Gaiman's The Sandman, Fraction's The Immortal Iron Fist, Neurocomic, and Wood's Star Wars series. I found a hiding spot for the volume though, so it's all good. For a sound review of the series, check out Laura Hudson's "The Man Behind the Comic Book That Finally Got Sex Right" on WIRED

And now I'm thinking of checking out The Wicked + The Divine. 12 mythological gods come back every 90 years to inhabit the bodies of humans and then die in 2 years? I might be in. 

The Heisman ceremony is this Saturday. I hope Cooper wins and ends the tyranny of QBs winning the award, but I'm sure Mariota will take home the trophy. 

In the Monday Night Football game, here are the stats from Julio Jones's night: 11 receptions for 259 yards. Roll Tide. 

The MLB winter meetings are being held right now, and a great deal of attention is on which team Jon Lester will sign with. Apparently it's down to the Red Sox and the Cubs. Regardless of whether they sign Lester, the Cubs made some good moves by resigning Jason Hammel and trading for Miguel Montero, a much-need left-handed bat in the lineup. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Mizzou--SEC Championship

As much as national championships are major feats for a football team, winning the SEC Championship is almost as sweet. Up until last year, the SEC champion was likely to become the national champion. 

Let's hope that trend reestablishes itself after last night's game. 

The majority of Mizzou's offense was created by Mauk scrambling out of the pocket and heaving it way downfield to that damn 88, Jimmie Hunt. Unlike the Iron Bowl, the nickel and dime backs played the goat on those plays, not Eddie Jackson, who got the start at corner. 

Looking at the stat sheet, you know your team played well defensively for the most part when the leading tackler was a defensive lineman. A'Shawn Robinson had nine tackles, three of which were tackles for loss. 

Blake Sims had an outstanding game. If I remember right, he went six for six on third-down conversions when passing. Overall, he went 23 for 27 for 262 yards and threw two touchdowns. That long touchdown to DeAndrew White a beautiful pass. As usual, Cooper was out there doing Amari-Cooper things with a SEC championship record 12 receptions.

Derrick Henry was another star of the offense with 20 carries for 141 net yards and two touchdowns. Once that guy gets in open space and starts picking up some serious steam, I would hate to be a defensive back trying to tackle him. He's a beast. 

Yesterday Alabama won its 24th SEC championship. Roll Tide.

Alabama will face the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl on January 1. The Big 10 champion is a hot team. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Music Friday: "Swimmin' Time"

The wife-husband duo Shovels & Rope has a new album out this year. I've listened to it a few times and am enjoying it. 

Here's the title track from the album. 

And here are a couple of stanzas from the song:

And you can't help but wonder
how long it will be
before the restless ocean
comes lapping to
the branches of the trees

The money in your eyes
has left you blind.
You'll be the one drowning
when it's swimmin' time

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

Maybe it's just me, but often when I sit and watch my son do taekwondo, I want to yell out, "Sweep the leg." 

The other week I got a new book: Zen Pencils. If you like comics and inspirational quotations, you should check it out. 

I think we all should try to dance like the kids in A Charlie Brown Christmas

Of all of the fictional characters out there, Snoopy has to be in the top twenty. 

As college newspaper editorials go, this is one I enjoyed reading even though Inhofe and a like-minded cohort of idiots make me angry and frustrated: "It's Time We Call the Science Deniers What They Are." 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Auburn

As far as highly anticipated games go, this one ranked up there with the Florida rematch in the 2009 SEC Championship. 

Even though Alabama had secured the West division after Ole Miss beat State that afternoon, after the horrifying "kick-six" in last year's Iron Bowl, Tide fans surely wanted to win this game really badly. 

And what a crappy first half for the Tide. I was worried whether the defense would hold up because they were on the field so long. The major difference in the game was Alabama's red-zone defense. They held Auburn to four field goals with good defense and a smidge of luck thrown in.

Blake Sims threw three atrocious interceptions in the middle of the game, which led the coaching staff to get Jacob Coker ready just in case he right the QB ship. Sims did, and the Tide defense played much better in the second half. 

Amari Cooper had a record-setting game: 13 receptions for 224 yards and 3 TDs, an Iron Bowl record for yards received. T.J. Yeldon garnered 127 yards on 19 carries and 2 touchdowns. Derrick Henry had some great runs later in the game and gained 72 yards on five carries and had a touchdown. 

Senior Nick Perry had a key interception in the second half. After Eddie Jackson got torched repeatedly, which was a surprise, senior Bradley Sylve came in and played well. I expected freshman speedster Tony Brown to replace Jackson, so it was satisfying to see him step up, especially because Sylve didn't play well in a number of games last season. 

So up next is the SEC Championship against Mizzou, a team that finds a way to win games. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Music Friday: "Down in a Hole"

I've been so out of it that I forgot to do my regular Music Friday post. 

As I sit here angry and befuddled during halftime of the Auburn-Alabama game, this song seems appropriate. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Western Carolina

Yesterday's game is one fans always worry about. 

And Crimson Tide fans got some scares. Amari Cooper went out early with a bruised knee, and both A'Shawn Robinson (starting DT) and Cam Robinson (starting LT) went out of the game with twisted ankles. Thankfully, it sounds like all three will be fine for the Iron Bowl. Unfortunately, it sounds like Brian Vogler and ArDarius Stewart won't be available for the next game. Stewart has looked good recently. He's a deep threat.

While pundits might nod disapprovingly at giving up 14 points to Western Carolina, the first score was a gift because Alabama clearly recovered a fumble, but the officials didn't deem it so. And then Henry fumbled deep in Alabama's territory, which gave the Catamounts great field position, and they then got a touchdown on a back-shoulder pass. There should have been review on it because the receiver bobbled the ball. 

But whatever. 

The Tide offense came out flat, but the D played well. When they ran the ball, Henry and Fowler looked good in place of the usual tandem of Yeldon and Henry. Yeldon was held out because of his slightly gimpy ankle. Besides the stupid fumble, Henry looked great. And I always enjoy when they line up Fowler at running back. 

This is the type of game a fan watches to see how the youngsters play. Of the younger guys, here are some pertinent stats:
  • RB Tyren Jones: 11 carries for 75 yards, 1 touchdown
  • RB Altee Tenpenny: 11 carries for 66 yards
  • WR Chris Black: 6 catches for 101 yards
  • WR ArDarius Stewart: 5 catches for 51 yards
  • WR Robert Foster: 4 catches for 40 yards
  • WR Cam Sims: 3 catches for 33 yards, 1 touchdown
Blake Sims only played the first half, so we got to see the offense under the guidance of Jacob Coker. I wasn't all that impressed. He did an okay job. 

But I was impressed by the play of Tyren Jones. He's reminds me of Mark Ingram, but he's probably a a bit shorter and slimmer. His legs are always chugging. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Music Friday: "Green Machine"

This week I've been playing the heck out of an old album, Kyuss's Blues for the Red Sun circa 1992. 

Back in the 90s, my buddy Roy and I went to a show in Columbia, MO and saw a triple bill of these bands: Kyuss, Biohazard, and Fishbone. It was excellent, and as much as I'm a huge fan of Fishbone, Kyuss was the band that really impressed both Roy and me. 

So today I offer up "Green Machine." Listen to it, and you can thank me later. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

One of the knocks against Alabama's strong defense this season is that they haven't created a lot of turnovers. That changed yesterday. 

Though State dominated the game from a statistical standpoint, the Tide dominated the game from a realistic standpoint. Key interceptions from Nick Perry, Cyrus Jones, and Landon Collins deflated the Bulldogs yesterday. And the D's ability to shut down State's fine running back Josh Robinson made their offense pretty predictable ~ either Prescott was throwing or running. 

I hadn't seen a safety in a while, so it was fun to witness one of those in the first quarter. 

As for the offense, it sustained some drives, but it wasn't clicking like it could have. Sure, Amari Cooper was out there doing Amari Cooper things, but State's D is pretty salty, especially in the red zone. The offense and Yeldon got it going in the fourth quarter to finally put the game away even though State came back in the fourth, scored a touchdown late, and didn't succeed with an onside kick.  

If I'm getting this right, the SEC West breaks down this way: 

  • If Alabama wins against Auburn, it goes to the SEC Championship.
  • If Alabama loses to Auburn and State beats Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl, State goes to the SEC Championship.
  • If Alabama loses to Auburn and Ole Miss beats State in the Egg Bowl, Ole Miss goes to the SEC Championship.
The East breaks down this way:
  • If Mizzou loses a game, Georgia goes the SEC Championship.
  • If Mizzou wins the rest of its SEC matches (Tennessee and Arkansas), they go to the SEC Championship.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Music Friday: "In the Meantime"

I've been in a musical rut lately. However, I purchased the new Foo Fighters album this week after having watched the first four episodes of their HBO series Sonic Highways.

It's the only album I have from the Foo Fighters. I don't know why I never got into them. I like uptempo hard rock, so you think they'd appeal to me. The band usually employs three different guitars at a time. I like that. And they have a good drummer. 

I'll ponder this all while in the meantime, I'll give you a classic song circa 1992, Helmet's "In the Meantime."  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Hangover: LSU

Last night in Baton Rouge we watched a typical Alabama-LSU slugfest. None of this spread-you-out, soft, finesse football. Hard hits abounded. No bullshit football. 

Besides a few drives by the Crimson Tide, LSU dominated the the game in regulation. Alabama beat the Tigers in total offensive yards - 315 to 259 - but LSU had the ball the most on offense: 38:16 to Alabama's 21:44. That's a huge difference in ball control. 

Credit the Tide D for hanging in there and sustaining a pounding. 

Credit the offense for waking up with 50 seconds to go in regulation. Sims came alive, and so did the receiving corps. 

On defense, DL Jarran Reed and LB Reggie Ragland accounted for 28 total tackles:
  • Reed: 2 solos, 13 assists, one of which was a tackle for loss
  • Ragland: 4 solos, 9 assists, one of which was a tackle for loss
The great catch and run by Cooper for a TD and the beautiful fade pass to White for the winning touchdown in overtime are plays to remember from this game. 

As much as I'm happy about the win, I'm concerned about the Tide's running game. The Tide will get tested by Mississippi State's "Psycho Defense" this coming Saturday. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Stay Positive: How To Suck at Your Religion

I'm not as huge of a fan of The Oatmeal as I'm sure other people are, but the recent offering of "How to Suck at Your Religion" hits my sweet spot. Check it out. 

Music Friday: "Talkin' Loud and Sayin' Nothing"

After watching the Mr. Dynamite documentary (mentioned in my previous post), this week trips in my car have been funkified by listening to James Brown's 50th Anniversary Collection, which is a two-CD set of fifty songs. 

One of my favorite songs is the one below. That video is an extended version of the song. And I've linked the song as covered by Living Colour

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Stay Positive: James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party

Earlier this week I watched the HBO documentary Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown. It's quite a good one if you're interested in music documentaries. 

But since I grew up watching SNL, anything about James Brown reminds me of Eddie Murphy's great skit, James Brown's Celebrity Hot Tub Party. It's below for your viewing pleasure. 

James brown celebrity hottub by codordog

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

Saturday night was a disappointing night. 

Mrs. Nasty went to Ole Miss, so the Rebels' loss to Auburn was difficult. Their best WR broke his ankle on a play that would have had Ole Miss go ahead in the game (if I remember right). He released the ball in pain before the ball crossed the plane, and Auburn recovered the fumble in the end zone. 

At right around the same time, the Razorbacks drove in the waning moments of their game against State. The Arkansas QB threw up a ball short in the end zone, and a Bulldog made an interception to seal a victory in Starkville. Arkansas will upset someone in the SEC this season, and they only have a few games left to do so. 

The annual cocktail party in Jacksonville was really interesting to watch though. Georgia having two losses has put the East up for grabs, and Mizzou is leading it now. 

I didn't watch much of the Notre Dame-Navy game, but I would imagine a service academy putting up all kinds of points on the Fightin' Irish isn't going to impress the AP voters and the selection committee. 

In Morgantown, West Virginia lost at the end when they probably should have won that game against TCU.

Kansas State continues to roll along. They demolished Oklahoma State last night.

 Oregon soundly defeated its consistent nemesis Stanford. 

I suspect the top four teams the selection committee will have on its board this Tuesday are Mississippi State, Florida State, Auburn, and Oregon. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Music Friday: "Different Names for the Same Things"

This summer I was reading a document with two other people, and two of us go hung up on terminology. I thought the concept should be called a certain term, and another person thought it should be called something different.

In the end, they were different names for the same thing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

In the November election in Illinois, there are a number of ballot initiatives. The Millionaire Tax Increase for Education has a certain degree of appeal. You could argue that it's a flat-out voter turnout generator in response to Rauner running for Governor (and probably winning since Quinn and the Democratic Party of IL are so inept). Then again, maybe there's something more to it if you've read "Right vs. Left in the Midwest" from political science professor Lawrence R. Jacobs. 

Here's how US Uncut described the situation on its FB page:

Today The Onion provided a fine article from its archives. Check out "18-Year-Old Miraculously Finds Soulmate in Hometown." 

I'm thinking about buying some dark brown, old-school wingtips. I've always liked wingtips.They look good with dress slacks, and they look good with jeans. Yes, I just used the word "slacks." If you like wingtips, that old-fashioned term is appropriate. 

If you're not watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, you should. Grist has a short intro to his report about sugar. Here's "John Oliver's Takedown of the Sugar Industry is Pretty Sweet."  

I don't know if I buy the pseudo-Rogerian argument that leads to a delayed thesis in this article, but "Why Comics Are More Important Than Ever" made me think about my reading practices and some of the reasons I like comics/graphic novels. 

Speaking of comics, in the mail today I got Brian Wood's final installment of his four-volume storyline of Star Wars after the Rebels destroyed the first Death Star and are looking for a base of operations. 

May the Force be with you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee

It was the Amari Cooper show again. He earned a school record for the most receiving yards last night with 9 receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The first touchdown was on the first play of the game for 80 yards. 

The Crimson Tide started out the game throttling the Vols, but then Tennessee got it together and found a quarterback in Joshua Dobbs, a dual-threat QB who ran for 100 yards. 

I was surprised the Alabama D didn't get more sacks last night with Tennessee's makeshift OLine. However, they did have 7 tackles for loss to go with 2 sacks. 

Yet again there was some sloppiness from Alabama with two fumbles, one of which was deep in Tennessee territory that thankfully only led to a field goal. 

The running game was mediocre to Alabama standards. Yeldon seemed off last night, Henry was good, and Sims had some key runs/scrambles on third down. 

The Crimson Tide will need to get healthy, clean up their game, and get their rushing D ready because the next game in two weeks will probably be a night game at LSU, a team that knocked off Ole Miss last night. 

A significant injury in last night's game was starting left tackle Cam Robinson suffering a high-ankle sprain. He's probably the best offensive lineman on the team. 

LSU played a heck of a game last night. The Crimson Tide will need to play cleaner offense along with much stronger defense when they travel to Baton Rouge. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Music Friday: "Bring on the Night-When the World is Running Down"

This week I downloaded an album I played the hell out of when I had it as a cassette. It's the live album of Bring on the Night

I have always been a huge fan of the Police, and I enjoy Sting's early solo work. I haven't followed his more recent stuff, recent signifying anything past the mid-90s. 

Back in the late 80s/early 90s, his band mixed in jazzy feel into his pop-alt sound, and I dig it because I like jazz. Heck, back then he had Branford Marsalis as his sax player, and he's one of my favorite saxophonists of all time. 

Anyway, here's a live performance of Sting and his band circa 1993. Enjoy. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Texas A&M

Yesterday's game was like if you combined the offensive performance of the Tide in the 2012 BCS National Championship and the defensive performance of the Tide in the 2011 BCS National Championship.

The Crimson Tide dominated the Aggies yesterday afternoon. 

Halfway through the second quarter it was clear Alabama had broken the spirit of Texas A&M. 

The recently maligned offensive line played well. They paved the the way for 298 net yards rushing and a grand total of 602 net yards gained. Yeldon had a great game (13 for 114 yards), and Derrick Henry amassed 70 yards on 7 carries. Both Tenpenny and Jones got playing time starting in the third quarter. And Blake Sims looked much more comfortable than he did in the two previous games. 

Amari Cooper was back to his old self -- 8 catches for 140 yards and 2 TDs. Alabama still needs to create a consistent set of foils for Cooper. TE O.J. Howard is certainly a player Tide fans want to see emerge as a consistent threat. DeAndrew White has a solid track record. I'm interested in seeing what Chris Black can do, and both true freshman Cam  Sims and redshirt freshman ArDarius Stewart got some playing time. 

As much as the performance by the offense provides hope, I was most impressed by the defense. Alabama's D held A&M to 8 first downs, 31 net yards rushing, and 172 net yards gained. As would be expected with those numbers, Alabama won time of possession, 36:31 to A&M's 23:29. 

My only complaint about the game is most of the kickoffs weren't touchbacks. With that said though, coverage was solid, especially the play of LB Reuben Foster, who reminds me of a violent brick running down the field. 

Next up is the Tide visiting Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers. Despite their record, the Vols are an improved team, most significantly on the defensive side of the ball. They're going to upset someone this season, and I hope it's not Alabama. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Music Friday: "Danger Zone"

In honor of that compilation of danger-zone moments from Archer, this Music Friday I'm getting all Kenny Loggins on you. I have been always more fond of "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack fame, but here's that Top Gun video.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stay Positive: Archer Quotations for Everyday Use

If you are a fan of the adult, sometimes raunchy, animated TV series Archer, you should appreciate "All the Archer Quotes You Should Be Using in Everyday Conversation." 

I'm a fan of "I swear to god I had something for this," "Phrasing," "That's how you get ants," "Boop," and "Idiots doing idiot things because they're idiots." 

All these quotes will be helpful if you ever find yourself in the .......... Danger Zone. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Arkansas

What an ugly, uninspiring win. 

To be blunt, the offense, and the offensive line especially, looked like crap. The Tide only had 66 net yards rushing and 227 net yards of offense. Three and outs all over the place. The Tide was starting its second string center and right guard has been a revolving door with Brown and Taylor getting time there, but jeesh the run blocking was poor. 

The punt return squad looked horrible because of stupid decisions on poor punts from the Razorback punter. I would imagine the punt return team is going to hear some harsh language this week. 

If you're looking to name stars of the game, one would have to be the freshman punter J.K. Scott. He punted eight times in the game. Seven of those punts settled inside the 20. 

LB Reggie Ragland was all over the field and amassed 12 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a pass broken up. Landon Collins had a key interception. Xzavier Dickson, Trey DePriest, Cyrus Jones, A'shawn Robinson, and Jarran Reed had good games. Jonathan Allen  gets kudos for blocking the point after. 

Besides a few big plays, the Tide defense played well and bailed out the offense in this game. 

The D better play just as well if not better next game, and if the offense doesn't get it together, I see a number of losses in Alabama's future. And perhaps a change at quarterback because Sims did not play well. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Music Friday: "Half Crazy" & "Love Ain't Enough"

I realized today that I had never done a Music Friday for the Barr Brothers. 

The band's second album, Sleeping Operator, came out this week. I have the band's first album, which is self titled. If you're fond of acoustic, folky, sometimes bluesy tunes, it's a band you should check out. Heck, a harpist is part of the band. They're doing some interesting work. 

Below are two songs from the new album. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Ole Miss

What a horrific game. Kenyan Drake's injury rattled the Crimson Tide though they finally got it together in the first half. His season is probably over, but I hope he can still play football next year. 

In the second half it was a healthy smattering of stupid penalties, dropped balls, the anchor of the OLine going out with injury, two or three major blown coverages, and dumb turnovers. 

Alabama beat Ole Miss in number of first downs, net yards rushing, total net yards of offensive production, and time of possession, yet they lost the game. 

Cooper was limited early in the game but still had 9 catches for 91 yards. Yeldon had another 100-yard game. 

But Christion Jones's fumble on a kickoff really flipped the game. The Tide D was given a another short field to defend and fell behind by only six after Tony Brown blocked the point after the touchdown. 

Alabama did drive the length of the field at the end of the game, but Howard couldn't make the catch in the end zone, and an Ole Miss DB made a great interception. 

When a team dominates statistically, they'll still lose because of penalties and dumb penalties that negate solid plays. 

Next Saturday the Tide travels to Fayetteville to take on the Razorbacks. We'll see how this team responds after losing a game they could have easily won.

Coulda Shoulda.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Music Friday: "Dance Anthem of the 80s" & "Eet"

This week I bought a pair of Saucony Bullet Sneakers, which are essentially Saucony track shoes circa 1985 without the cleats. See below.

So those shoes serve as an uneasy introduction and transition to Regina Spektor's "Dance Anthem of the 80s." 

And I'm throwing in another song from her, "Eet."

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

A few teams I wanted to win yesterday didn't. 

I wanted Arkansas to beat Texas A&M. They couldn't put the Aggies away when they had the opportunity in the fourth quarter and eventually lost in overtime. 

A similar story line played out in Columbia, South Carolina. After playing the Tigers tough for three quarters, the Gamecocks played crappy defenses against Mizzou and lost. 

NC State lead for much of the game against Florida State, and then the Seminoles took over. 

From what I can tell from reports on the U of Memphis-Ole Miss game, it sounds like the Rebel defense played quite well, but their offense got into trouble with self-imposed mistakes. 

I expect Ole Miss will give Alabama everything it has this Saturday. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Music Friday: "Troubled Man"

As the artist has admitted in interviews over the years, it's never been cool or hip to like John Mellencamp. 

I guess I'm not hip then. 

Mellencamp's new album, Plain Spoken, came out this week. 

If you're not cool, watch this video of the opening song of the new album. Kudos to all of the troubled men out there in the world.