Friday, January 29, 2016

Music Friday: "Human Nature"

I'm back to having a subscription to The New Yorker, and I read an article in the most recent issue about Vijay Iyer, the jazz pianist. 

I don't have any of his albums yet, but I have heard of him, and I'm told he's majorly talented. 

Here's "Human Nature" by the Vijay Iyer Trio

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

The other day I roasted a head of garlic because as cooking ingredients go, it's nice to have some roasted garlic around the kitchen. Having to blow your nose is much more pleasant when your fingers smell like roasted garlic.

As I've related before on this blog, Denmark is kicking ass with generating electricity via wind turbines. 42% is impressive

If you've ever wondered, "Why Aren't There More Black Republicans?," mash the hyperlink. 

"Bigwigs Have Big Ideas for Cutting Food Waste" informs readers about an initiative by some heavy hitters to reduce wood waste and in turn greenhouse gas emissions. 

"It's like [choosing between] being shot or poisoned." That's how Graham sums up choosing between Trump or Cruz for the GOP nominee in "National Review Aims to Take Down Trump." 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Music Friday: "A Boy Named Sue"

Here's a classic that almost always makes me smile. 

Have a good weekend, folks. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Music Friday: "I Can't Think About It Now"

Dawes' All Your Favorite Bands came in at number seven on my "Top Twentysomething Albums of 2015" post. 

Here's one of my favorite tunes from the album. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Scouting the 2016 Crimson Tide

The national championship was Monday, and Mark Schlabach's already has his "Way-Too-Early Top 25." He has Alabama at number 2, but I don't know about that ranking. The Crimson Tide will lose many key players. 

Here's a my modest breakdown of the position groups for next year's squad.

With Coker departing, that leaves three, possibly four if you include a freshman already on campus Jalen Hurts, vying for the starting spot. Since Bateman started the Ole Miss game, you would think he has a grasp on the job, but the coaching staff is apparently really high on Blake Barnett. Cornwell is supposed to be really talented, but there have been rumors about attitude issues. 

Running Back
It's safe to assume Henry will be go in the draft, and Drake, unfortunately, is a senior. The Tide will replace those two with players who will be sophomores next season: Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris. Scarbrough reminds me a lot of Henry though I think he runs with a lower pad level. Harris is a highly regarded running back out of Kentucky. Ronnie Clark could get a shot too. 

Offensive Line
The right tackle who had a tough game against Clemson will depart along with a great center Ryan Kelly. Cam Robinson will remain at left tackle, Pierschbacher will likely man left guard, and Shank Taylor will likely return at right guard. We could see Hassenauer take over at the center position, and there are all kinds of possibilities at right tackle: Bozeman, Cotton, Warmack, Casher, et al. 

Wide Receiver
This is probably the strongest position group. Robert Foster will come back from injury, and he was one of the starters at the beginning of the season. Ridley, the guy who became the focal point of the receiving corps, will only be a sophomore. Stewart will be back, and Charlot, Sims, and Falkins round out a stacked position. 

Tight End
I really hope O.J. Howard does not go into the draft. He showed what he can do for Alabama's offense in the final two games of the season, and with another solid season he could be a first round pick. True freshman Hentges played quite a bit this season, though mainly for blocking purposes, so I look for him to see the field even more often. I'd also like to see Ball play more often. 

Defensive Line
The Tide had an outstanding DLine this season. Reed, Pettway, and Lake are gone. In addition, I suspect Allen and Robinson will go into the draft. There is a lot to replace here. Payne will play NT, and he'll need a backup. Tomlinson and Hand will likely start, but Alabama needs to develop a strong second line. Tim Williams will return as a speed rusher/LB on passing downs, and I wonder if he'll nail down a regular starting LB slot. 

Jack Linebacker
Devall will graduate, but Evans and Anderson will man that hybrid position quite well. Both really developed this season. 

Ragland is a big loss, so it'll be interesting to see who becomes the next captain of the defense. Foster could be that guy. Holcombe is likely to get more playing time. Hamilton looks like a rising star, and I've heard good things about Miller. 

Defensive Backs
I hope Eddie Jackson returns for this senior year. He only has one year of playing safety, so another year would possibly help his draft stock. A trio of freshman got important playing time this season: Fitzpatrick and Humphrey at cornerback and Harrison at safety. They were good and should be even better. Maurice Smith could see more playing time or perhaps Hootie Jones. With Fitzpatrick and Humphrey likely to be the starting corners, if Tony Brown is still with the team after being sent home by the team's leadership council prior to the Cotton Bowl (and he didn't suit up for the national championship), he could be the third cb in the nickel package. The Tide loses Cyrus Jones, who was the team's best corner. 

Losing Jones and Drake are major losses because as we saw against Michigan State and Clemson, they can take it to the house. I have no idea who be the punt and kick returners. Scott and Griffith return. 

Overall Assessment
As I said, the Crimson Tide will lose a lot from the national championship team. Pre-season number 2 is way too high because of key losses on the defensive line and running back and questions at quarterback. Somewhere in the top ten is more sensible. 

On offense, I could see the team being more reliant on the passing game because of the strong talent at wide receiver. I think the offensive line could be better. They certainly need to improve in pass blocking. If the team loses Howard, that'll be a big blow. 

As for the defense, if Jackson returns, that grouping is the strength of the defense. The defensive line will likely be strong, but it needs depth. Younger defensive linemen and new recruits will get a shot at a great deal of playing time. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tuesday Hangover: Clemson

Last night's national championship was epic. 

We saw signs of the offense using O.J. Howard in the Michigan State game, but Kiffin really dialed up plays last night to feature Howard. He was the offensive MVP of the game with 5 catches for 208 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Of course, the well designed onside kick and Drake's fabulous kick return for a touchdown were the difference because Deshaun Watson is an absolute freak. If anyone is doing a pre-season top twenty for college football, Clemson needs to be number 1 because they will not lose many players from their squad, and that quarterback carried the offense. 

Besides the one long run for a touchdown in the first quarter, Henry had a relatively quiet game. He amassed 158 net yards on 36 carries and had one touchdown, but the Clemson defense gave Alabama's offensive line some trouble, particularly the right side of the line. 

Congrats to Alabama for its 16th national championship and its fourth in the last seven years. 

Roll Tide. 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Music Friday: "Southern Sadness" & "Burn. Flicker. Die."

Wolves by American Aquarium was ranked 17th on my annual best albums list

"Southern Sadness" is one of my favorite tunes on that album. 

And here's the band performing "Burn. Flicker. Die." It's from the band's previous album. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Random Notes from a Crank

The other day I was driving on I-57 and passed a heavy duty pickup truck pulling a very large boat, a vessel that looked like you could live on it. The name of the boat was "Final Argument." I'd like to learn the story behind that name. 

I'm desperate enough for some small-screen drama that I'm rewatching the seasons of Daredevil and Jessica Jones on Netflix. 

Mrs. Nasty and I decided we're going to do some 5Ks this year. To follow up on that verbal commitment, I bought some running shoes recently ~ a fancy pair of Sauconys. Thank goodness I bought them at a store that had all their stock 40% off. I do look forward to the Zen quality my mind gets when running, but I'm not looking forward to getting started and running in the cold. 

I ran today on a little over a two-mile route that I ran on a regular basis years ago. I had to stop about halfway through because it was cold as heck and I felt a little upchucky. After a bit of walk, I started running again and finished off the route. I probably ran a mile and a half. Baby steps...

Friday, January 1, 2016

Friday Hangover: Michigan State

The last time Alabama played Michigan State was after the 2010 season. With the help of Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Greg McElroy, and many others, the Tide whipped the Spartans that day.

I was concerned about this game because this Michigan State squad had a highly regarded defense. 

The Spartans held Henry to 75 net yards and Drake to 60 net yards on the ground. However, Henry scored two touchdowns, and Coker and the receiving corps had an outstanding game. 

Ridley had a monster game: 8 receptions, 138 yards, and 2 TDs. Stewart caught 7 passes. Mullaney had some timely grabs. And O.J. Howard has 3 excellent receptions for 59 yards. 

The defense gave up some yardage in the passing game from time to time, but the D got a key stop at the end of the first half with Cyrus Jones's interception near the end zone. 

In addition to that important play, Jones set the single-season mark for punt returns for touchdowns since he had a sick punt return for TD in this game. This season he had four touchdowns on punt returns, which topped both David Palmer and Javy Arenas who had three in a season.

Robinson, Reed, Allen, and others all played well on the front three/four as usual, but Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams have really stepped up their games over the past few games. I'd like to see more of that in a little over a week. 

Next up is a match with the Clemson Tigers on January 11.

Music Friday: "Before We Disappear"

Chris Cornell's Higher Truth came in at 5 on my "Top Twentysomething Albums of 2015." 

As we start a new year, I give you "Before We Disappear."