Friday, December 30, 2016

Music Friday: "Long December"

It's been a long December, and next year probably won't be better than the last. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Top Tensomething Albums of 2016

It's that time of the year again.

Like I did in 2010201120122013, 2014, and 2015, I'm providing my top ten albums that came out this year. After the top ten, there's a list of albums that deserve honorable mention. 

In the past, I've usually had twentysome albums on this list, but this year I didn't buy as much music as I usually do. It was not some kind of concerted effort to save cash. Rather, from my perspective, this was a down year for my musical tastes. Maybe I'm missing something. 

So if there are other albums you would recommend that came out in 2016, please let me know in the comments section.

1. Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor's Guide to Earth

Mr. Simpson had a tough draw trying to follow up Metamodern Sounds in Country. But he did so in an excellent fashion. At first listen, I was surprised by all the horns and strings. After the second or third listen, I was addicted. It's a stunning album with a strong Americana backbone. From the rocking "Brace for Impact (Live a Little)" to the poignant "Breakers Roar," from the standard "Keep It Between the Lines" to the wonderful cover of "In Bloom," this is just a fantastic album. 

Favorite Songs: "Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)," "Keep It Between the Lines," "In Bloom," and "Sea Stories"

2. Tedeschi Trucks Band, Let Me Get By

I'd really like to see this humungous band in concert because I don't think their albums give a person a full realization of how good this band really is. Tedeschi's voice sounds great as ever, and the arrangements are spot on. Just another strong TTB album for our listening pleasure. 

Favorite Songs: "Laugh About It," "Don't Know What It Means," "Let Me Get By," and "Crying Over You"

3. Drive-By Tuckers, American Band

I liked English Oceans, and I like this offering a lot too. There was all kinds of press touting this album as the band's best in a long time. I don't know about that. The lyrics and topics on a number of tunes certainly got the attention of people because of what was a rhetorical shitfest of an election, one that saw a second coming of George Wallace (crossed with P.T. Barnum) winning the presidency. Scary times and an album with political lyrics. Dislike the former--enjoy the latter. 

Favorite Songs: "Ramon Casiano," "Guns of Umpqua," "Sun Don't Shine," "Ever South," and "What It Means"  

4. Dawes, We're All Gonna Die

Dawes is a band that has filled the musical hole that R.E.M. once occupied. I wouldn't compare the band's sound and lyrics to that hallowed band. Dawes is more straightforward, and the band's lyrics are understandable--not the language poetry Stipe spun. Dawes is a rock band with a slight pop sensibility. We're All Gonna Die is another solid offering from these dudes. The lyrics of "Quitter" might be my favorite lyrics of the year. 

Favorite Songs: "Roll with the Punches," "Less Than Five Miles Away," "Picture of a Man," and "Quitter"

5. Metallica, Hardwired... To Self-Destruct

To longtime Metallica fans, I don't think any new album will ever live up to the early ones, but this one reminds me of ...And Justice for All. The album has the fellas going back to their speed metal roots. There are some really good arrangements and as usual solid guitar work. For those pining for straightforward metal, this is probably the go-to for 2016. 

Favorite Songs: "Moth into the Flame," "Confusion," "ManUNkind," and "Spit Out the Bone"

6. St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Sea of Noise 

These fellows from Birmingham, Alabama followed up their breakthrough debut album quite nicely. Like we saw two years ago, they offer no nonsense soul/R&B. 

Favorite Songs: "Is It Me," "Brain Matter," "Waves," "Midnight on the Earth," and "All I Ever Wonder"

7. Weezer, White Album

I desperately want the 90s back ... in so many different ways. This band is still putting out its alt-rock stylings. There's a lot to be said for just a rock band doing its thing and not getting caught up in some art-house, funhouse shenanigans. Just play something that rocks. And Weezer did that. 

Favorite Songs: "Thank God for Girls," "Summer Elaine and Drunk Dori," "Jacked Up," and "Endless Bummer" 

8. Jack Garratt, Phase

About the last thing you'd think I'd buy is music that could be labeled "electronica." But I saw this guy perform on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and I was impressed. I guess his stuff could be categorized as pop music. He's a Brit. I shut down my prejudices against electronic music and enjoyed the ride. 

Favorite Songs: "Breathe Life," "Weathered," "I Know All What I Do," and "Chemical" 

9. Ben Harper, Call It What It Is

After his fabulous collaboration with Charlie Musselwhite, I was sort of expecting a more bluesy offering. "Call It What It Is" provides that vibe with a obvious political statement: "Call it what it is ~ Murder." This is not one of my favorite Harper albums, but it's worth your time. 

Favorite Songs: "Call It What It Is," "How Dark is Gone," "Shine," and "Dance Like Fire"

10. Luther Dickinson, Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger's Songbook), Vol. I & II

The front man for the North Mississippi Allstars put out his own solo affair with some songs on the album from the NMA canon. The whole affair is stripped down to the basics with a couple of guests. 21 songs on this bad boy. 

Favorite Songs: "Mean Ol' Wind Died Down," "Ain't No Grave," "Highwater (Soldier)," "Ol' Canonball," and "Mayor Langford Birmingham Blues" 

Honorable Mentions

Quaker City Nighthawks, El Astronauta

Elizabeth Cook, Exodus of Venus

Mount Moriah, How to Dance

Bob Mould, Patch the Sky

Amanda Shires, My Piece of Land

Hard Working Americans, Rest in Chaos

Lydia Loveless, Real

Regina Spektor, Remember Us to Life

Sarah Jarosz, Undercurrent

Music Friday: "Hard Times"

I wish this band would put out a new album soon. I have their first two albums, and they are staples in my music rotation. 

To extend my streak of morose/depressing/angry-song Music Fridays, I offer "Hard Times." 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: V8 Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I got the base of this recipe from Slow Cooker Kitchen on FB, but here's my modification of the recipe.

1 and a half lbs. of stew meat
1 lb. of top round steak
1-2 bags of tiny Yukon Goldish potatoes, quartered
4 carrots, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tablespoons of Worchestershire sauce
2-3 12 oz. cans of low sodium V8 juice
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
Smidge of paprika
Healthy smidge of smoked paprika
Healthy smidge of Penzey's beef roast seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim unnecessary fat off of the meat. Cut the meat into small pieces and place it in a large bowl. Coat the meat with the flour. 

Coat a cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil and brown the meat over medium-high till it's browned. 

In the meantime dump in the vegetables into the slow cooker. One the meat is browned, transfer it to the crock pot and use some of the V8 to deglaze the pan. Pour the rest of the juice into the slow cooker and add the seasonings. Mix. 

Cook on high for five hours and mix the concoction from time to time. After five hours, add in the mushrooms, set the machine to low, and cook for another hour. 

For me, I will probably use just one bag of potatoes next time I make this and add more carrots. Also, I will possibly use more V8 juice, so the stew is almost like a soup. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

Music Friday: "Chitlins con Carne"

In a world filled with bad news, frustration, and anger, I sometimes reach for music to help me out. 

So here's a classic from Stevie Ray Vaughan. 

As a side note, I will be posting my top ten/twenty albums of 2016 sometime here soon. I may have to limit it to ten because I haven't done as much album buying as I have in previous years. 

Just fyi loyal readers.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

[Belated] Music Friday: "Snow and Lights"

It's that time of the year when I watch TV in my living room with all the lights out except for the lights I have around a dead pine tree in our house. 

No real decent snowfall yet, but we got lights. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Sunday Hangover: Florida--SEC Championship

54 to 16 is a lopsided score. 

We got back from my son's basketball game to watch the start of the second quarter, so I didn't watch the first quarter until after the game was over. Florida had a good first drive. After that, not so much. 

It was another dominant game from the Alabama defense:
  • 4 sacks
  • 3 interceptions, one of which was a pick-6 by Fitzpatrick
  • 9 tackles for loss
  • Florida gained 0 net yards rushing--gained 51 but lost 51

A large loss in the game was the injury of staring LB Shaun Dion Hamilton, who will be out apparently for the rest of season. I assume Rashaan Evans will take over his spot, so he needs to get ready. There was a bust in coverage by Evans (or possibly Foster, though I doubt it) that resulted in a Florida pass TD in second quarter that will be a teaching moment. 

Next up is Washington in a revisit to the Georgia Dome on New Year's Eve day. 

Friday, December 2, 2016

Music Friday: "Will O' the Wisp"

As I finally rolled into the office this morning, this is the song I started with. Sketches of Spain is a masterpiece. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stay Positive: Skills, Attributes, or Attitudes That Do Not Require Much Talent

I rarely talk (if ever) about my work on this blog, but I've had a frustrating semester with one class. I know they can do the work and can improve, but it sure doesn't seem like they want to invest the time and effort to actually get better. And it's frustrating the hell out of me. 

In honor of that frustration, below I offer you items that don't require much talent at all. This is cribbed, in part, from a meme that's been galavanting about social media. But these are things I've thought about for years as an educator. 

Skills, Attributes, or Attitudes That Do Not Require Much Talent:
  • Effort
  • Paying Attention
  • Being Coachable
  • Work Ethic
  • A Growth Mindset
  • Being Prepared
  • Following Directions
  • Active Listening
  • Being on Time
  • Positive Body Language
  • Caring about the Quality of Your Work
  • Giving a Damn

So I'm trying to stay positive about things that work and get good results. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

[Belated] Music Friday: "ManUnkind"

I had planned on doing a post on Friday, but obviously it slipped my mind for the whole weekend. 

So I'll simply share one of the songs from the new Metallica album, which I'm really enjoying. 

[Belated] Sunday Hangover: Auburn

If you hadn't watched the game and based your impression of the Iron Bowl on the sports highlight shows, you probably would have thought Alabama had control the whole game. 

That's partly true. The defense didn't give up a touchdown, but Hurts had two dumb interceptions that gave Auburn great field position. However, they only came away with field goals. 

Alabama went into halftime with only a four point lead. After halftime the Crimson Tide went to a more run-heavy offense, and success followed. 

Next up is the SEC Championship game versus Florida. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Crock Pot Chicken Chili

I made this chili this past weekend. It's a slight variation of a recipe you can find online via, but I'm posting it here just for ease of use (for me).

1 1/2 lbs. of boneless chicken cut into cubes
1 onion, chopped
vegetable oil for sautéing 
2 cans of great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans of chopped green chilies
2 32oz. chicken broth
1-2 tsp of kosher salt
1-2 tsp of oregano
1-2 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp dried shallots
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
1 cup of sour cream
1/2 cup of heavy cream

Saute the onion and chicken in the oil for a good bit (15-20 minutes). Dump that mixture into the crock pot and then add beans, chilies, broth, and seasonings. Cook on high for one hour. Then move it to low for 2-3 hours. Fifteen minutes prior to when you want to eat it, add the sour cream and heavy cream. Stir thoroughly. 

When I do this recipe again, I might add some other herbs or some kind of herb blend to the mix. I'd also consider adding a third can of chilies and using fresh shallots. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Music Friday: "Everything's Ruined"

There's not enough bourbon in the world to numb my senses enough to distract me from the direction this country is going in. 

So I offer Faith No More's song from Angel Dust with partial lyrics.

Soon our boy became a million.
People loved him so
and helped him to grow.
Everyone knew the thing that was best.
Of course, he must invest.
A penny won't do,
but he made us proud.
He made us rich,
but how were we to know
he's counterfeit.
Now everything's ruined. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Hangover: Mississippi State

The word before the game is that Alabama wanted to work on the passing game more. 

And they did just that in a 51 to 3 blowout of the Bulldogs. 

Stewart had a huge day, and the play calling focused on getting O.J. Howard heavily involved. 

Hurts had one very long run, but it seemed like the coaching staff wanted limit his runs to work on the passing game. 

Scarbrough didn't play in the game to rest his tweaked knee ligaments, but with the game turning into a blowout, we got to see four running backs in the game. One of my favorite plays of the season was a swing pass to Jacobs, and then the freshman running back juked the heck out of some defenders. 

With Auburn's loss at Georgia, the Tide has won the SEC West. 

Tennessee-Chattanooga is up next and then the Iron Bowl. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Music Friday: "Crazy Train"

Since the American people elected Donald Trump as our president, I feel this song is appropriate for this week. And for the next four years. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

[Belated] Sunday Hangover: LSU

That was a game of defensive brilliance by the Crimson Tide. And LSU was no slouch either. 

The Tide's D stifled what was a strong offense and earned the honor of the whole defense being named the Walter Camp Defensive Player of the Week. Ryan Anderson was named the SEC defensive player of the week, and J.K. Scott was named the SEC special teams player of the week. 

The Alabama defense held LSU to a total of six first downs, 33 net yards rushing, and 125 yards of total offense. 

Besides the one long pass to Stewart, the Tide's passing game wasn't prolific at all, and LSU, to their credit, played the run pretty well for a good portion of the game. Unfortunately, the fine pass to Stewart didn't result in a score. The Crimson Tide went for it on fourth and goal, but the play got all kinds of discombobulated. 

Eventually the Tide's offense got into gear in the second half on the shoulders of Jalen Hurts. Also, Scarbrough had a solid game with sledge-hammer runs reminiscent of Derrick Henry.

Next up is Mississippi State, a squad that shocked many by beating Texas A&M on Saturday. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Scouting the 2017 Chicago Cubs

I know. I know. They just won the whole thing a few days ago. But I can't help myself. 

As a devoted Cubs fan, I'm scouting what the team will possibly look like next season. 

Willson Contreras
Miguel Montero
Kyle Schwarber-?

Analysis: Ross is retiring, so Montero, a veteran and someone who has put up good numbers over the years, will split time with Contreras. The big question is which guy will catch Lester. I doubt Schwarber will play much at catcher, if at all, after coming back from a major knee injury

Anthony Rizzo-1B
Javier Baez-2B, also plays SS, 3B, and 1B
Addison Russell-SS, can also play 2B
Kris Bryant-3B, can also play all OF positions
Ben Zobrist-2B, SS, and 3B, also plays LF and RF
Tommy La Stella-2B and 3B

Analysis: Going from the right side to the left, the best defensive lineup is Rizzo, Baez, Russell, and Bryant. It'll be interesting if they resign Kawasaki, a role player. La Stella provides solid depth here. It's a strong defensive and offensive infield. 

Albert Almora Jr.-CF, LF, or RF
Ben Zobrist-LF or RF
Jason Heyward-RF or CF
Jorge Soler-RF or LF
Kyle Schwarber, LF
Matt Szczur

Analysis: There are real questions here with Fowler likely to sign elsewhere. Coghlan is a free agent. The Cubs traded for him mid-season, so they obviously like his makeup. But he's bench material amongst this group. To me, Szczur played well enough to earn regular pinch-hitting and defensive substitution duties. 

Do the Cubs make the decision to have Almora play centerfield or move Heyward there, so Zobrist can play RF and Schwarber can play LF? Unfortunately, the odd man out seems to be Soler, a guy I see as a really promising hitter. He has tremendous power but needs to stay healthy. Regardless, there's depth here even without Fowler resigning, but the big question is, "Who plays centerfield?" 

But if you think about the lineup without Fowler, the other important question is "Who bats leadoff?" Almora had a .308 OBP this season, but those numbers came in limited playing time. Heyward's OBP was not good. So if the Cubs invest leadoff duties in Almora and he falters, the options aren't good. They could put Schwarber as their leadoff hitter, which is an unconventional move but Maddonesque. I like Schwarber in the 2 hole though because you have Bryant batting third and Rizzo batting fourth. Finding who will be the leadoff hitter is crucial for next season. 

The elephant in the room is Heyward's hitting. They have to work on his quirky swing this off-season. As commentators talked about during the playoffs (and I think it was Smoltz), he has a consistent habit of squeezing the bat before he starts his swing, which makes him late on fastballs. For a guy that physically talented, he should be hitting for a much better average and much more power. I know I got tired of him flying or grounding out with runners on base this season. 

Starting Pitchers
Jon Lester
Jake Arrieta
Kyle Hendricks
John Lackey
Jason Hammel

Analysis: This is a solid rotation. If anyone falters, I could see Montgomery working as a starting pitcher. That's what he was doing for Seattle when the Cubs traded for him. 

Carl Edwards Jr. 
Justin Grimm
Mike Montgomery
Hector Rondon
Pedro Strop
Rob Zastryzny

Analysis: Big questions here. Chapman and Travis Wood are free agents. I'd like to see the Cubs resign both. The former is going to be expensive. The other two true closers out there on the market are Jansen and Melancon. Both are filthy. If the Cubs don't land Chapman, I could see them going after either of those dudes. Or they could go back to Rondon as closer. He did well when he was the closer this season, so that's a possibility. 

Edwards has emerged as a strong reliever, and it's clear Maddon has confidence in Montgomery. Grimm had his ups and down this season, and when Strop is on, he's a solid reliever. One guy who did well for them was Zastryzny, a lefty. I expect he'll be on the opening day roster next season. 

So we'll see whether the Cubs land one of the big-time closers and whether they resign Wood.   

Music Friday: "Wolves"

Since I've been listening to The Spirit Moves by Langhorne Slim & The Law this morning, I thought I'd share this gem of a song. 

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

At the Friendly Atheist, there's a short article about how a group of humanists, agnostics, and atheists at the U of Wisconsin do an annual "Graveyard of the Gods." Check out "In Madison, 'Graveyard of the Gods' Asks Students when Their Theology Will Become Mythology." 

Also religiously related is The Atlantic's interesting article on Pastafarians: "The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster." I like the critique of organized religion they're doing, but in some cases, it's actually becoming like a religion. 

Over at the Daily Stoic, Stephen Hanselman gives out some good advice about Election Day: "A Stoic Remedy for Election 2016: Choices, Character, and the Common Good." 

My beloved Cubs won the World Series last night. My years of torment are finally over. 

And some people are likely to be gettin' it on: "Brace Yourself for a Chicago Cubs Baby Boom Next August." 

Monday, October 31, 2016

[Belated] Sunday Hangover: Bye Week

With the Nasty family running the Hot Chocolate Run 5K in Chicago Sunday morning, driving back to Charleston afterward, and then watching the Cubs finally win a game of the World Series in Wrigley, I forgot about posting my so-called thoughts about the bye week. 

I'm concerned about how well Auburn is doing. I hope Georgia can get it together to defeat them in two weeks. 

But it's been a tough season so far for new coach and former Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. 

South Carolina beating Tennessee was surprising. Muschamp is putting together a decent record without much big-time talent. 

Ohio State barely got past Northwestern. The smart money will probably be betting on Michigan when Ohio State plays them. 

Clemson and Washington keep winning. 

I'm perplexed that I am not able to watch the game this Saturday versus LSU because the family is going to a traveling Price Is Right performance on Saturday evening. If Alabama loses, I better win a damn car at the event. 

Friday, October 28, 2016

Music Friday: "24 Frames" & "Songs That She Sang in the Shower"

I haven't really delved much into new music lately, so I'm sharing a couple of tunes from Jason Isbell. 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Sunday Hangover: Texas A&M

It was another big win for the Crimson Tide yesterday. Texas A&M is a difficult team, but the Tide made them one dimensional by shutting down their running game. A&M's one running back, Ford, gained more yards than I liked, but the D pretty much made Trevor Knight pass the ball and limited his running, which had to be a huge priority yesterday. 

Alabama let the Aggies hang around by kicking two field goals and missing one, so when A&M went up 14 to 13, I got nervous. 

But the Tide offense finally started capitalizing on its opportunities and scored twenty unanswered points, with one touchdown being another scoop-and-score by Jonathan Allen. 

The horrible loss was that Eddie Jackson broke his leg and will be out for the rest of the season. He's an All-American type player at safety and an outstanding punt returner. He was the leader in the secondary. 

Losing Jackson stinks. 

The Tide will have an off week to prepare for playing LSU in Baton Rouge.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Music Friday: "Blood"

One of my friends on FB recently posted about how Pearl Jam is his favorite band. 

In honor of Mr. Grone, I offer "Blood."

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Sunday Hangover: Tennessee


Taken out behind the woodshed.

Total domination. 

That's what that game was. 

Besides a brutal sack that made Hurts cough up the football and then the Tennessee offense had a short field to score, the Vol offense didn't do much yesterday. They only managed 11 first downs, 32 net yards rushing, and 131 net yards passing. 

The Crimson Tide ran the ball well with Hurts being the leading rusher: 132 net yards and 3 touchdowns. Scarbrough contributed 109 yards with one huge run for a score, and Harris provided 94 net yards. 

From the look of it, the running game has gone back to having three solid contributors at running back (Harris, Scarbrough, and Jacobs), which reminds me of the running trio of 2009: Ingram, Richardson, and Upchurch. However, Hurts is a clear threat to defenses. That's a wrinkle we saw when Blake Sims was QB. 

Hurts needs to improve as a passer. He missed some guys yesterday, and Saban was quite vocal about getting better in that phase of the game. 

Next up is Texas A&M, a really good team. 

[Belated] Music Friday: "Blue Train"

Here's a classic in jazz history, "Blue Train" by John Coltrane. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stay Positive: Power Man and Iron Fist

I finally finished Luke Cage last night. It was a good series, but I think I enjoyed Jessica Jones more. One plot line I had a hard time buying was that Diamondback was Cage's half brother and that he somehow became this major crime kingpin. So I had to suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the show. The first season did provide some surprising plot twists, and I guess I didn't really know Cage's origin story. At least I didn't remember it.   

I got this comic book in the mail this week. 

I read all of it, the collected issues (1-5), in one sitting. Issue 5 is hilarious. I mean laugh-out-loud hilarious to me. 

As you can imagine, I'm geeked up about this upcoming series. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

Unfortunately, whenever I buy Skittles or Tic Tacs, I'm going to feel weird doing so. Thanks to Donald Trump for ruining that for me. 

This issue reminds of how Bill Clinton made me think of cigars in a different light. The difference, I believe, is that Lewinsky was probably cool with that. 

I was surprised that Monica's name didn't come up in the second presidential debate. Trump was throwing everything else at Hillary. 

If Trump loses, I hope he takes down the GOP and split the party into two factions: the Tea Party people and somewhat reasonable and civil conservatives (like the people who write for The American Conservative). I don't think that'll happen though. If Trump loses, it'll certainly damage the Republican brand for a short while. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

I detest people who tell me that I "should believe in God" and people who want to insert all kinds of religious-based nonsense into politics and government. Now we have people wanting to put "In God We Trust" on cop cars and governmental buildings. As a curative to this crap, read "The Danger of Claiming That Rights Come from God" from Psychology Today

This happening is a bit of a surprise, but The Atlantic has endorsed Hillary Clinton for the presidency. That current affairs/cultural magazine has only endorsed a presidential candidate twice before with Lincoln and Johnson. Check it out: "Against Donald Trump." 

Here a some juicy quotations from the article: 

  • We are impressed by many of the qualities of the Democratic Party’s nominee for president, even as we are exasperated by others, but we are mainly concerned with the Republican Party’s nominee, Donald J. Trump, who might be the most ostentatiously unqualified major-party candidate in the 227-year history of the American presidency.
  • Donald Trump, on the other hand, has no record of public service and no qualifications for public office. His affect is that of an infomercial huckster; he traffics in conspiracy theories and racist invective; he is appallingly sexist; he is erratic, secretive, and xenophobic; he expresses admiration for authoritarian rulers, and evinces authoritarian tendencies himself. He is easily goaded, a poor quality for someone seeking control of America’s nuclear arsenal. He is an enemy of fact-based discourse; he is ignorant of, and indifferent to, the Constitution; he appears not to read.
  • We believe in American democracy, in which individuals from various parties of different ideological stripes can advance their ideas and compete for the affection of voters. But Trump is not a man of ideas. He is a demagogue, a xenophobe, a sexist, a know-nothing, and a liar. He is spectacularly unfit for office, and voters—the statesmen and thinkers of the ballot box—should act in defense of American democracy and elect his opponent.

In light of Friday's bombshell from the Washington Post about Donald Trump, the Tic Tac company made some comments: "Tic Tac Denounces Donald Trump." 

Sunday Hangover: Arkansas

The Tide offense pretty much did whatever they wanted against the Razorbacks. 

On the first series of the game, Alabama marched right down the field, but Jacobs fumbled after being clocked on his funny bone. He was cleared to come back in the game in the second half, but the coaching staff held him out. As a result, Damien Harris rushed for 122 yards, and Scarbrough got more playing time. He gained 58 yards on 7 carries. 

It was great having Stewart back. He had an outstanding game in receiving. Hurts also hit TEs Howard and Forristall for long gains, but the balls were a bit behind them. If they would have been thrown more accurately, both might have gone to the house on those plays. 

The D played great at times, but in some series, Austin Allen carved up the secondary with accurate throws. Cornelius is the Razorbacks' best receiver, and he had 146 yards receiving. How he had that good of a game is disconcerting. 

If Alabama wants to beat Tennessee next Saturday, the Tide's passing defense will need to be much better. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Music Friday: "All I Ever Wonder"

If you want to listen to some old school R&B, St. Paul and the Broken Bones is the band you might want to listen to. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

Instead of focusing so much on the how Trump maligned a former Miss Universe, I think the media needs to focus on how Trump needs to lose weight and the horrible effects of tanning beds. 

Esquire reports that Let It Be by The Replacements is Tim Kaine's favorite album and then does a bout of pop psychology about that choice

As an avid book reader, I am troubled by books not providing the traditional "About the Type" information. For example, here is the "about the type" statement for Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me: "The book was set in Bembo, a typeface based an old-style Roman face that was used for Cardinal Pietro's Bembo's tract De Aetna in 1495. Bembo was cut by Francesco Griffo (1450-1518) in the early sixteenth century for Italian Renaissance printer and publisher Aldus Manutius (1449-1515). The Lanston Monotype Company of Philadelphia brought the well-proportioned letterforms of Bembo to the United States in the 1930s."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

With college football on Saturday and us doing stuff on Sunday, I forgot that Luke Cage was available on Netflix this past Friday. I'm only a few episodes in, but I like it a lot. 

One of my favorite classes I had as an undergrad was Mythology. I stumbled across this article via Scientific American the other day: "Scientists Trace Society's Myths to Primordial Origins." I like the research this person is doing, but you can see these patterns just by studying world mythologies. There are four types of creation myths and two types of fertility myths. Reading Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Frazier's The Golden Bough, and Mencken's Treatise on the Gods can do everyone a lot of good. Reading those could certainly help people from saying their religion/mythology is the "right" one. 

One of my dad's stories that he has related over the years is that when he was in Iowa and went to bar and asked the waitress for a Griesedieck, he got slapped. The company is apparently going to open a brewery sometime soon

I read recently that ABC is reviving The Gong Show. I look forward to that. In that same article, the author relates that both the 20,000 Pyramid and The Match Game were aired this summer, and they'll be back. How the hell did I miss those? 

A listicle about the "20 Saddest Cities" came across my FB feed, so I figured to click away. Some of my quick takeaways are the following:

  • Don't move to Ohio.
  • I'm surprised St. Louis and Indy are on it.
  • Knoxville is supposed to be great, I'm told.
  • Detroit and Buffalo are not surprising.
  • Same goes for Birmingham.
  • I like Louisville, and how can it be sad with easy access to such a diversity of bourbon?  
  • Memphis has the second-highest violent crime rate in the nation? Wow.

Monday, October 3, 2016

[Belated] Sunday Hangover: Kentucky

It's been a while since Alabama played Kentucky in football. 

As we've seen in past games this season, the Tide's D played well. Harrison picked up a stripped ball for a touchdown, which adds yet another non-offenisve touchdown to the season. 

As for the offense, they put together some good plays in the first half but didn't put together many decent drives. Despite Coach Saban barking at Hurts for not hitting a wide-open O.J. Howard on a long pass and some other gaffes, the freshman quarterback played fairly well. 

Ridley had a heck of a game. So did true freshman Joshua Jacobs. He rushed for exactly 100 yards. During the game both Mrs. Nasty and I commented that he reminds of Mark Ingram, one of my favorite Alabama running backs. My next dog will probably be called Ingram even though it'll probably be a female. 

The next three games are going to be tough: at Arkansas, at Tennessee (who seem to be able to pull wins out of their ass), and vs. Texas A&M. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Music Friday: "Santa Fe" & "The Fourth Night of My Drinking"

I purchased two new releases this morning: American Band by Drive-By Truckers and Remember Us to Life by Regina Spektor. 

Since I haven't given American Band a few listens yet, I thought I'd share a couple of songs from one of the band's more recent albums, The Big To-Do.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Stay Positive: Death Wishes

Some might consider this post morbid, but it is a way to officially lodge how I want my funeral to happen. 

I remember back to when one of my friends, Roy, died. He knew he was going to go, and he obviously laid out how he wanted his funeral to happen ~ down to music that was played at the service. 

First off, I don't want a religious service when I die. No priest or reverend or other such stuff. Religion need not apply when I die. I'm not "in a better place now." 

I want to be cremated. So the place I'll be in is some kind of receptacle. 

For the service, just gather people together to have a good time, to celebrate that they're still alive. And you can talk about me if you like, but the point is that you're still alive, you lucky bastards. 

I don't know if a funeral parlor will allow this, so you may have to rent some kind of a hall for the proceedings. Have a potluck dinner where people bring what they like to eat or maybe dishes I liked to eat. Food is important. I like pie, so note that point. 

There needs to be libations. If possible, get a keg of Schlitz for the party. If Schlitz isn't available, Sam Adams Boston lager will work. Also, some manner of a good IPA is necessary. Bourbon is my favorite hard liquor, so have some of that on hand, but not any of the boring and rudimentary bourbon like Jack Daniel's or Jim Beam. Some good choices are Four Roses Single Barrel, Heaven Hill 100 proof 6 year old (you'll have to travel to Indiana or Kentucky to acquire that juice), Eagle Rare, Elijah Craig, Old Forester 100 proof, Evan Williams 100 proof, and Buffalo Trace. I also like gin, so I suggest Beefeater and Bombay regular. Gin and tonics would be a good choice if I croak in the summertime. 

But overall, you just need to get together and have a good time some night to celebrate life. 

Like my friend's funeral, I want to control the music choices. So what follows is the playlist that should happen. 

This is a long list, and it's done via alpha order (via iTunes) of the artists:

  • Born Under a Bad Sign, Albert King
  • I Stay Away, Alice in Chains
  • Shake the Walls, Amanda Shires
  • Katherine Belle, American Aquarium
  • Burn. Flicker. Die, American Aquarium
  • Moanin', Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers
  • Show Me How to Live, Audioslave
  • Shadow on the Sun, Audioslave
  • Down with the Shine, Avett Brothers
  • Talk on Indolence, Avett Brothers
  • I and Love and You, Avett Brothers
  • Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise, Avett Brothers
  • Never Stop, The Bad Plus
  • In 3s, Beastie Boys
  • Shake Your Rump, Beastie Boys
  • Selfless, Cold, and Composed, Ben Folds Five
  • Army, Ben Folds Five
  • Shimmer and Shine, Ben Harper
  • Ground on Down (Live from Mars version), Ben Harper
  • Till I Get My Way, Black Keys
  • Tones of Home, Blind Melon
  • Change, Blind Melon
  • No Rain, Blind Melon
  • Shine On, Blitzen Trapper
  • Street Fighting Sun, Blitzen Trapper
  • See a Little Light, Bob Mould
  • Black Sheets of Rain, Bob Mould
  • Disappointed, Bob Mould
  • Welfare Music, The Bottle Rockets
  • Perfect Far Away, The Bottle Rockets
  • Zoysia, The Bottle Rockets
  • Give Me Room, The Bottle Rockets
  • Shape of a Wheel, The Bottle Rockets
  • Keep Your Heart Young, Brandi Carlile
  • St. Thomas, Branford Marsalis Quartet
  • Lonesome Day, Bruce Springsteen
  • American Land, Bruce Springsteen
  • Waitin', Caitlin Rose
  • Everywhere I Go, Caitlin Rose
  • When I Win the Lottery, Camper Van Beethoven
  • One of These Days, Camper Van Beethoven
  • Life Is Grand, Camper Van Beethoven
  • Come On In My Kitchen, Cassandra Wilson
  • All the Talkers, Centro-matic
  • Salty Disciple, Centro-matic
  • Murderer of Blue Skies, Chris Cornell
  • A Murder of One, Counting Crows
  • Holiday in Spain, Counting Crows
  • Pedestrian at Best, Courtney Barnett
  • God Shuffled His Feet, Crash Test Dummies
  • Afternoons and Coffeespoons, Crash Test Dummies
  • From the Right Angle, Dawes
  • All Your Favourite Bands, Dawes
  • You Are a Tourist, Death Cab for Cutie
  • The New Year, Death Cab for Cutie
  • The Sound of Settling, Death Cab for Cutie
  • Little White Lies, Deer Tick
  • American Pie, Don McLean
  • The Day John Henry Died, Drive-By Truckers (John Henry is my favorite folktale)
  • Grand Canyon, Drive-By Truckers
  • Postcard from 1952, Explosions in the Sky
  • One Day, Fishbone
  • Everyday Sunshine, Fishbone
  • When My Train Pulls In, Gary Clark Jr. 
  • Shout It From the Rooftops, Glossary
  • Nothing Can Hurt You Now, Glossary
  • Poor Boy, Glossary
  • Headstones and Dead Leaves, Glossary
  • Hold Me Down, Glossary
  • Days Go By, Glossary
  • Save Your Money for the Weekend, Glossary
  • Trouble Won't Always Last, Glossary
  • A Shoulder to Cry On, Glossary
  • Some Eternal Spark, Glossary (I obviously like the band Glossary a lot. It's a band most people don't know about.)
  • Welcome to the Jungle, Guns-n-Roses (Delta Delta)
  • The Humorist, Ha Ha Tonka (a song about Mark Twain, one of my favorite writers)
  • Kiss You Down There, Hackensaw Boys
  • Hey Good Looking, Hank Williams (My mom used to sing this often.)
  • Long Gone Lonesome Blues, Hank Williams
  • There's a Tear in My Beer, Hank Williams
  • Stomp and Holler, Hayes Carll
  • Bad Liver and a Broken Heart, Hayes Carll
  • She Left Me for Jesus, Hayes Carll
  • Stuck Between Stations, The Hold Steady
  • Stay Positive, The Hold Steady
  • Sittin' on Top of the World, Howlin'Wolf
  • Used to Did, J Roddy Watson and the Business
  • I Don't Want to Hear It, J Roddy Watson and the Business
  • Gone, Jack Johnson 
  • Sleep Through the Static, Jack Johnson
  • We Can't Make It There, James McMurtry
  • Choctaw Bingo, James McMurtry
  • Something in the Way She Moves, James Taylor (for Mrs. Nasty, our wedding song)
  • Ocean Size, Jane's Addiction
  • Grown, Jason Isbell
  • The Blue, Jason Isbell
  • Streetlights, Jason Isbell
  • Alabama Pines, Jason Isbell
  • Songs That She Sang in the Shower, Jason Isbell
  • Relatively Easy, Jason Isbell
  • 24 Frames, Jason Isbell
  • Goddamn Lonely Love (Live in Alabama version), Jason Isbell
  • Waiting for the Sun, Jayhawks
  • When You're Hot, You're Hot, Jerry Reed
  • Bad, Bad Leroy Brown, Jim Croce (one of my favorite songs when I was a kid)
  • Come On (Let the Good Times Roll), Jimi Hendrix
  • Beautiful World, JJ Grey and Mofro
  • On Fire, JJ Grey and Mofro
  • 99 Shades of Crazy, JJ Grey and Mofro
  • Harp and Drums, JJ Grey and Mofro
  • John Deere Green, Joe Diffie (I used lots of quarters for this song to play at The Flamingo)
  • Stay and Dance, Joe Pug
  • The Great Despiser, Joe Pug
  • Downbound Train, Joe Pug
  • Blue Train, John Coltrane
  • Satan and St. Paul, John Fulbright
  • Human Wheels, John Mellencamp
  • Longest Days, John Mellencamp
  • Stones in My Pasway, John Mellencamp
  • Ring of Fire, Johnny Cash
  • A Boy Named Sue (live), Johnny Cash
  • Man in Black, Johnny Cash (My daughter's favorite Johnny Cash song)
  • Wolves, Josh Ritter
  • Thin Blue Flame, Josh Ritter
  • Change of Time, Josh Ritter
  • Rattling Locks, Josh Ritter
  • Another New World, Josh Ritter
  • Getting Ready to Get Down, Josh Ritter
  • Where the Night Goes, Josh Ritter
  • Lone Pine Hill, Justin Townes Earle
  • Ain't Waitin', Justin Townes Earle
  • Hangover Heart, Kudzu Kings
  • What Are You Willing to Lose?, Lucero
  • Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology), Marvin Gaye
  • One, Metallica (one of the best music videos of all time)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls, Metallica
  • Yea Alabama, Million Dollar Band (Alabama's fight song ~ please play this more than once)
  • Ho Cake, Mofro (mmmm, a song about Southern cooking)
  • Brighter Days, Mofro
  • Fireflies, Mofro
  • I Just Want to Make Love to You, Muddy Waters
  • Don't Let It Bring You Down, Neil Young
  • Heart of Gold, Neil Young
  • Walk On, Neil Young
  • Thrasher, Neil Young
  • Pocahontas, Neil Young
  • This Tornado Loves You, Neko Case
  • Zigaboogaloo, Nicholas Payton
  • Elephant in the Corn, Nickel Creek
  • Lithium, Nirvana
  • Shake Em On Down, North Mississippi All Stars
  • I Can't Turn You Loose, Otis Redding
  • Crazy Train, Ozzy Osbourne
  • Evenflow, Pearl Jam
  • Go, Pearl Jam
  • Blood, Pearl Jam
  • Love Boat Captain, Pearl Jam
  • Faithful, Pearl Jam
  • Do the Evolution, Pearl Jam 
  • Wishlist, Pearl Jam
  • Infallible, Pearl Jam
  • Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
  • Everybody's Trying, Poi Dog Pondering
  • Fruitless, Poi Dog Pondering
  • Spirits in the Material World, Police
  • When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around, Police
  • To Defy the Laws of Tradition, Primus (one of the best shows I saw was a double-bill of Primus and Fishbone)
  • Harold of the Rocks, Primus
  • Tommy the Cat, Primus
  • Rye Whiskey, Punch Brothers
  • Who's Feeling Young Now?, Punch Brothers
  • Magnet, Punch Brothers
  • Little Lights, Punch Brothers
  • Find the River, R.E.M.
  • It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine), R.E.M.
  • Feeling Gravity's Pull, R.E.M.
  • Driver 8, R.E.M.
  • These Days, R.E.M.
  • Sad Professor, R.E.M
  • Wake Up. Rage Against the Machine
  • Two Birds, Regina Spektor
  • All the Rowboats, Regina Spektor
  • Unsatisfied, The Replacements
  • Left of the Dial, The Replacements
  • I Don't Know, The Replacements
  • Valentine, The Replacements ("You wish upon a star, and it turns into a plane." For whatever reason that sentence has haunted me for years.)
  • Can't Hardly Wait, The Replacements
  • Anywhere's Better than Here, The Replacements
  • Happy Town, The Replacements
  • 10,000 Chinese Walk into a Bar, Robert Earl Keen
  • Soul Refreshing, Robert Randolph and the Family Band
  • Blues Jam, Rollins Band
  • Of Kindred Souls, Roy Hargrove
  • Strasbourg/St. Denis, Roy Hargrove Quintet
  • Working Man, Rush
  • Ring Them Bells, Sarah Jarosz
  • Broussard's Lament, Sarah Jarosz
  • Sing a Simple Song, Sly and the Family Stone
  • Everyday People, Sly and the Family Stone
  • I Am One, Smashing Pumpkins
  • Out of the Picture, Son Volt
  • Driving the View, Son Volt
  • Bandages and Scars, Son Volt
  • Down to the Wire, Son Volt
  • When the Wheels Don't Move, Son Volt
  • Rusty Cage, Soundgarden (If I could have a "walk-up" song before I teach like baseball players before they hit, this would be it.)
  • Jesus Christ Pose, Soundgarden
  • 4th of July, Soundgarden
  • Superunknown, Soundgarden
  • Non-State Actor, Soundgarden
  • Rowing, Soundgarden
  • Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Testify, Stevie Ray Vaughn
  • Higher Ground, Stevie Wonder
  • Consider Me Gone (Bring on the Night live album), Sting
  • Another Day (Bring on the Night live album), Sting
  • Life Ain't Fair and the World Is Mean, Sturgill Simpson
  • Turtles All the Way Down, Sturgill Simpson
  • Come See about Me, Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • Let Me Get By, Tedeschi Trucks Band
  • Hunger Strike, Temple of the Dog (basis for our pledge class song)
  • Monk's Dream, Thelonious Monk Quartet
  • Birdhouse in Your Soul, They Might Be Giants
  • This Land Is Our Land, Todd Snider
  • Moon Dawg's Tavern, Todd Snider
  • Statistician's Blues, Todd Snider
  • D.B. Cooper, Todd Snider
  • Keep Off the Grass, Todd Snider
  • Ballad of Devil's Backbone Tavern, Todd Snider (great message)
  • Happy New Year, Todd Snider
  • In the Beginning, Todd Snider
  • Big Finish, Todd Snider
  • Runnin' Down a Dream, Tom Petty
  • Wildflowers, Tom Petty (For my daughter ~ I want it to be the song played for the dad-bride dance at her wedding.)
  • Even the Losers, Tom Petty 
  • Suburbia, Trombone Shorty
  • Hurricane Season, Trombone Shorty
  • Gin, Smoke, Lies, Turnpike Trobadours
  • Mooshiner, Uncle Tupelo
  • Chickamauga, Uncle Tupelo
  • Linus and Lucy, Vince Guaraldi
  • Thanksgiving Theme, Vince Guaraldi
  • Skating, Vince Guaraldi (Some of my favorite childhood memories are watching Charlie Brown specials with my parents. Reading Peanuts and then comic books primed my passion for reading.)
  • Thank God for Girls, Weezer
  • Hard Luck Story, Whiskeytown
  • Tennessee Square, Whiskeytown
  • Ain't Life Grand, Widespread Panic
  • Coconut, Widespread Panic ("Gone" by Jack Johnson and this one are songs I used to play in my daughter's room in St. Louis, and we'd dance.)
  • This Land Is Your Land, Woody Guthrie
  • Uptown Ruler, Wynton Marsalis (I listened to Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, particularly vol. 2, often when revising my dissertation.)