Friday, February 28, 2014

Music Friday: "Flippen (The Flip)"

Bluegrass or newgrass bands don't have enough songs that feature bass solos. 

I found one though. 

The bass player of the Punch Brothers begins solo in this performance of "Flippen (The Flip)." 


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

I've had a cold for about a week or so. Yesterday I facilitated a workshop for two hours. Later that evening, my voice started to go. I'm all hoarse. Sounds like a bout of laryngitis, which I checked out on WebMD because I've never had it before. There appears to be no reason to go to a doctor because all that person will tell me to do is drink lots of fluids and rest my voice. I don't need to waste time in a waiting room and spend money on that advice. But this ailment will certainly challenge my work tomorrow night because I teach a class from 7 to 9:30. Time to teach with my mouth shut, which is what Donald Finkel argues for

"Roll Tide" is a wonderful expression, but apparently the librarians at one of the libraries on Alabama's campus have had enough of it being yelled in the library

I've shared this commercial before, but the phrase can serve as a floating signifier

I'm looking forward to two new releases this spring: English Oceans by Drive-By Truckers and Teeth Dreams by The Hold Steady. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Music Friday: "The Sky Is Crying"

It's hard to beat a good ole blues tune on a Friday afternoon. 

Below is Albert King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Paul Butterfield, and B.B. King performing "The Sky Is Crying." 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fantasy Red Herrings

Below is the the fourth annual installment of my Fantasy Red Herrings post. Like I did in '13'12 and '11, I'm providing my usual intro before the good stuff...

Since I know some readers of this blog are my comrades who will draft players in our fantasy baseball league in March, I thought I'd post about players that GMs might want to target for the upcoming season.

But my fellow GMs might think this document is simply a list of red herrings.

Maybe players on it are.

Maybe players on it aren't.

Regardless, here are players to target or low risk/high reward players for 2014. 

First Base: Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
I remember when Pujols signed with the Angels. Oh, weren't some of those Cardinals fans angry and upset. As I said back then and I'll say it again now, the Cardinals were smart not to sign him. He was going into a decline. In fact, it's been a steady decline since he cashed in. But injuries have been a factor. When I saw him play last year, he ran the bases like a constipated duck. A GM certainly isn't going to get the old Pujols, but if healthy, he'll provide above-average stats at a loaded position. That would normally be a compliment to most players, but for this dude, that's a serious fall from hall-of-fame play. 

Second Base: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
How many Altuves does it take to win a fantasy baseball league? Just one if you get him at the right draft position. This vertically-challenged player doesn't provide power, but he's stolen over 30 bags each of the past two seasons and possesses an over 20% line-drive rate for his career (21.3% to be exact). I suspect the Astros offense will be improved from last year (how could it not?). More runs scored is a probable outcome.  

Shortstop: Starlin Castro, Chicago Cubs
When the staff attempted to "coach" Castro to be a more selective hitter and have a better OBP, it backfired. Classic Cubs. His numbers last year were atrocious. Just awful. Horrible. And his fielding stunk too. The hope is that a new manager will help get Castro's head and hitting right. You could buy this guy low as a bench player, and it might turn out well. With all manner of excellent prospects behind him, that could be motivation to excel this season. Or he could become the next Corey Patterson. 

Third Base: Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers
He's a middle-of-the-order bat. The perennial question, however, is whether he can stay healthy. 

Catcher: Brian McCann, New York Yankees
A lot of rankings have this guy further down than I expected. Let's think about this. He's going to be playing in a hitters park with a short right porch. He's likely to DH from time to time and will be able to increase his counting stats because he's no longer playing in the NL. He's hit 20+ home runs in seven of the last eight seasons. Need I say more? 

Outfield: Khris Davis, Milwaukee Brewers
Where have all the power-hitting outfielders gone? Each year it seems like the fantasy pickings for OF get thinner and thinner on power. This guy has power, but one concern is how much he'll strike out. But Ks only count for pitchers in fantasy baseball. 

Starting Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays
Two seasons ago, this guy helped me win my league. He wasn't even drafted. I picked him up two weeks into the season. He cashed in that great season for a lucrative contract with the Blue Jays and had a poor season: 4.21 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. As WHIPs go though, 1.24 ain't bad, and it's more in line with his 2010 (2.84, 1.19) and 2011 (3.28, 1.23) numbers with the Mets. If you expect 2011ish numbers and draft appropriately, that seems good to me. 

Relief Pitcher: Sergio Santos, Toronto Blue Jays
I've been on this guy's bandwagon for years. Even if Janssen doesn't lose his job, last year Santos provided metrics you like to see: 9.82 K/9, 1.40 BB/9, and a 50% groundball rate. 

Music Friday: "The Morning"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

If you're looking for a good laugh, and I certainly am these days, check out this segment on Jimmy Kimmel's show called "Celebrities Read Out Mean Tweets About Themselves." I'm sorry I've missed the first five installments. 

On the 19th, my daughter will receive a Kindness Award at her elementary school. The deal is that every teacher nominates a kid from their class to receive the award. I have to say it fits her character. If there's an example of Mom's teachings and actions flowing to the younger generation, Hannah receiving the Kindness Award is one. 

When we talked about the award last week, my daughter said she liked that she received the award, but she really wanted the Perserverence Award because, as she said (and I"m paraphrasing here), perserverence means you work hard toward your goals and never give up. For those of you who know my interest in the "growth mindset" and research about "grit," you understand the pride that enveloped me when she said that. 

When I was driving my daughter to school this morning, she asked when her grandma's birthday is. It's the 23rd of this month, and she wants to celebrate her grandma's birthday even though she's gone. We decided we could make pies for her birthday because my mom was an excellent maker of pies. I'm sure we'll make pecan, but I need to figure out what to make for the second one. This weekend will entail making pie crusts and then putting them in the freezer. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Music Friday: "Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern"

My mom died Wednesday morning. On the drive up to Iowa yesterday, I listened to CDs in an attempt to get my mind on other things. 

When listening to Todd Snider's Happy To Be Here, I realized one of my favorite songs by Snider reminds me of my mom because the advice Miss Virgie provides sounds like something my mom would say. 

So the song today is a sort of a tribute to my mom. Lyrics are below the video. 

Ballad of the Devil's Backbone Tavern
By Todd Snider

Old Miss Virgy tended bar at this shack out in the hills.
It never made her any money boys but paid of all her bills.
Now she must have been 80 years old, 

but her heart was warm, and her beer was cold.
She gave away more than she ever sold,
smiling all the time.
I used to sing off in the corner every Friday night

to a loud crowd of cowboys, bikers, and bar room fights.
They were drinking beer, carrying on, not a one of them listening to one of my songs.
But old Miss Virgy sang along.
She said she knew 'em all by heart.

And then one night after closing she poured me another beer
She said "Come on over and sit down you little shit.
I got something you need to hear"
She said "Life ain't easy getting through. Everybody's gonna make things tough on you,
But I can tell you right now if you dig what you do, they will never get you down."
She said life's too short to worry.
Life's too long to wait.
Too short not to love everybody,
Life's too long to hate
I meet a lot of men who haggle and finagle all the time,
trying to save a nickel or make a dime.
Not me, no sireee, I ain't got the time.

Now I ain't seen Ol' Virgy in must have been about ten years.
I've been bumming around this country singing my songs for tips and beers.

Now the nights are long.
The driving's tough.
Hotels stink, and the pay sucks.
But I can't dig what I do enough, so it never gets me down.
I say life's too short to worry
Life's too long to wait.
Too short not to love everybody,
Life's too long to hate.
I meet a lot of men who haggle and finagle all the time,
trying to save a nickel or make a dime.
Not me, no sireee, I ain't got the time.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Random Notes from a Crank

If you're aware of Sherry Turkle's work or know about her through her appearances on various talk shows, you might find "The Eavesdropper" by Megan Garber worthy of a quick read. Turkle is working on a follow-up book after Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. The new book is tentatively titled Reclaiming Conversation. As she says at the end of Garber's article, "Everybody's talking. And nobody's talking about anything except what's on the machines." "The Flight from Conversation" is a good read too, one that appears to be a preview of her new book. 

One of the books I'm currently reading is The Art of the Commonplace, which is a collection of essays from Wendell Berry. It'll be good to revisit a bunch of essays I read years ago, some of them probably been a decade or so. 

If you like good defense, the Super Bowl was fun to watch if you were rooting for the Seahawks. The Nasty family backed the Ospreys because Seattle has two former Tide players (James Carpenter and Jesse Williams) on its squad. Also, Mrs. Nasty loves those uniforms. 

As newfangled uniforms go, I'd have to agree with her. But it's hard to beat the college uniforms of Alabama (home and away), Penn State (home), USC (home), LSU, Iowa, Ole Miss, and Michigan (home). 

As for the NFL teams, I've always been fond of the uniforms of the Vikings, Packers, Colts (classic look), and the old-school Jets.