Friday, August 18, 2017

Music Friday: "Sir Duke"

This song rattled across my iPod shuffle this morning when I was doing errands. 

Good ole Stevie Wonder...

Have a good weekend, folks. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Green Chile Chicken Chili

I got this recipe from the magazine Cooking Light, but I made a few modifications. 

3-4 cups of chicken stock
4 cans of Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups yellow onion, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon of flour
2 tablespoons of ground cumin
4 4 oz. cans of mild chopped green chiles
2 cups of shredded chicken
4 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream 
Sliced avocado
Chopped cilantro 

Put a cup of stock and 2 cans of beans into a blender and blend until smooth. Eat olive oil in stock pot on medium-high. Add onions and cook for 4-5 minutes, add shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes, add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. 

Sprinkle flour over aromatics and cook for a minute. Add cumin and chiles and cook for a minute. Add the stock-bean mixture and the rest of the stock and drained beans. Add salt and pepper. 

Reduce to medium heat and let the concoction simmer for about 10 minutes. Add chicken and cook for a 5-10 minutes. 

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, a few slices of avocado, and some cilantro. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

With the current state of affairs related to the despicable nonsense in Charlottesville and the brazen know-it-all unintelligence of the U.S. president, it's no wonder that I'm watching old episodes of The Twilight Zone. I don't like the current reality in so many different ways. 

From what I gather, the Neo-Nazis and KKK and various white supremacists got together in Charlottesville to protest the taking down of Confederate monuments. While I know this may be an unpopular opinion, I tend to lean toward keeping Confederate monuments. Here is why. 

Many of those monuments were erected in the extreme era of Jim Crow America. I personally think they are a stain on American history and should be kept up to show people how institutionalized racism was and is. There's no reason to sugarcoat American history. As Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz has documented in her fine An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, from the the outset the European vision for America was fueled by white supremacist beliefs. 

In another line of thought that is popular around social media these days, the monuments could be similar to participation trophies, which could be an apt way to think about them. But it's troubling that monuments were erected for a group who wanted to secede from the country because of "states' rights," which is just another way to say they wanted certain states to have the ability to enslave people of color because of their white supremacist ideologies based on bullshit and the Bible. 

I went to grad school in the Deep South, and on a number of places at the University of Alabama there are placards that recall the glory of the lost cause. I remember one in particular that, if I remember correctly, references a "War of Northern Aggression." 

For me, when I read it, I found it to be an anachronism that tells how far we've come as a country and how we still have a long way to go.  

This is why I have mixed feelings about tearing down Confederate monuments. 

But to just be clear, MoscowDon is a complete moron, and I denounce the racism of the groups who gathered in Charlottesville. 

My uncle and father enlisted in World War II to fight Nazis, and to see people defending their crazy-ass beliefs sickens and troubles me. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Music Friday: "Burning Stars"

On his Twitter feed, Jason Isbell recommended this album. I took his recommendation and bought the thing. 

It's good - thought-provoking lyrics, softly subtle arrangements, and interesting surprises within. 

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

Random Notes from a Crank

Last weekend, as usual, we spent a small fortune on school supplies for my kids. 

On Sunday I took my daughter to the last day of the county fair. She found a few of her friends, so I just sat on a bench and people watched. County fairs are prime targets for people watching. Here a few of my observations:

  • I don't get some articles of clothing that people wear. 
  • People who wear hi-tops for regular walking-around shoes probably aren't that good at basketball. 
  • Corn dogs and fruit shake-ups are hard to resist.
  • Either there many Cubs fans in my area of Illinois (there are more Cardinals fans), or a number of people have jumped on the Cubs bandwagon.
  • I'm not about fat-shaming people, but Americans need to get in better shape, myself included. 

Check out Greg Fuchs' poem, "Make America Again," from Brooklyn Rail

Friday, August 4, 2017

Music Friday: "Love and Happiness"

A while back I picked up a greatest hits album from Mellencamp called Words and Music. I had forgotten how much I like "Love and Happiness." Like "Pink Houses," it's not a positive portrayal of America. 

It's dated to the time period when he wrote it, but the general problems he tackles are very much with us still. 

When I play the song in the car, my kids are taken aback by the screechiness of the trumpet about midway through the song. I like the dissonant start to the trumpet in the song. I think it works well with what Mellencamp is saying. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

Over at Informed Comment, Juan Cole tells us about how "On One Day in May, Italy got 87% of Its Electricity from Renewables." And Scotland, Spain, France, India, and China are making major steps to move toward a sustainable future as he relates. 

This is kind of old news, but it's related. France banned fracking, and Macron made a pitch to professionals who give a damn about the environment: "Green France." 

The Guardian's "The Observer" provides a spot-on analysis to the world in which the White House and the U.S can't be trusted to do much of anything: "The Observer View on Donald Trump's Unfitness for Office." I enjoyed the Shakespearian references: "Like some kind of Shakespearean villain-clown, Trump plays not to the gallery but to the pit. He is a Falstaff without the humour or the self-awareness, a cowardly, bullying Richard III without a clue."

Lee Schubert, a transgender women, writing for The Globe and the Mail gets it right in her editorial, "What Trump and His Base Get Wrong about Transgender Americans." Somewhere around 15,000 transgender troops already serve in the U.S. military. The fourth ¶ hits the mark on the "reasoning" behind his tweet about transgender troops: "So let's look behind all the poppycock at the real reason the President wants to keep transgender men and women from serving their country in the military: It is the religious conservatives who helped elect him but who have always questioned whether he is really one of them. (Of course, he isn't - but he does feel he must pander to them)." 

Friday, July 28, 2017

Music Friday: "Witness"

Why haven't any of you people told me about Benjamin Booker? 

I surf the InterWebs about music all the time, and I'm late to the party on this guy. 

The shame...

Here's the title track from his second album that came out in June. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

I made a couple of new dishes based on recipes from Cooking Light and Milk Street magazines. The first was a slow cooker affair that used apricot preserves and jalapeños as the flavoring agent for boneless chicken thighs. They turned out like chicken sloppy joes. The second was a grated carrot salad that used a bunch of flat leaf parsley from my garden, so I got to use my grating implement of my food processor. 

There's some kind of varmint eating my tomatoes in my garden. I suspect it's a damn raccoon. 

Recently I've been researching dog breeds. Our dog is getting older, and when she passes, we'll probably get two dogs, one smallish dog for Mrs. Nasty and a dog I like. Because I want a dog that doesn't shed much and one that will make me take it for walks, the two breeds I'm interested in currently are the Vizsla and the German Shorthaired Pointer. 

Here are some links about those breeds if you're interested:

A scientist wrote a great opinion piece in the Washington Post: "I'm a Scientist. I'm Blowing the Whistle on the Trump Administration."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

I recently read an interesting article in Mother Jones titled "Prison Break" by Dashka Slater that details how the state of North Dakota's prison system is taking some notes from Norway's prison system. The current methods of the American prison system aren't working, so it makes sense to try something different. 

I find the Supreme Court's decision on Trinity Luthern vs. Comer very troubling: "The Supreme Courts Strikes Down a Major Church-State Barrier." 

Check out Jonathan Rauch's "The Conservative Case for Unions." 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Music Friday: "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)" & "Let's Get It On"

When we were on vacation, we made a trip to Cleveland to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I could have spent more time than there than the rest of my family wanted to, but we got to see some great artifacts. 

One was Marvin Gaye's smooth ass white blazer. Check it out. 

Here are a couple of classic songs from one of the best singers of all time. 

Friday, July 14, 2017

Music Friday: "Never Stop"

I was listening to the Never Stop album by The Bad Plus yesterday when I was reading drafts. 

Great tune by a great band. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stay Positive: Ontario

Yesterday the Nasty Family started a bit past 6am and drove from East Central Illinois to Niagara Falls, Ontario. We're on a family vacation based on the fact that my daughter has a national dance competition in Sandusky Ohio starting on Tuesday. We went to Niagara Falls for a couple days, and then we'll drive through upstate New York and Pennsylvania to get to Sandusky. 

We crossed the border at Detroit-Windsor and drove all the way to Niagara Falls, which had us cross a mighty good portion of Ontario, which is an enormous province. 

I wouldn't call the drive beautiful. It's pretty enough. The terrain reminds of certain parts of Michigan.

But I would call the drive impressive. 

Once we got past Windsor and out on Ontario Highway 401, Mrs. Nasty and I were both struck by the sheer number of wind turbines there are in that part of Ontario. In addition, we noticed many households that had solar panels, and there were a number of concentrated solar fields. 

This is what happens when a government provides smart incentives to its citizens to invest in renewable energy. I would say the first 50-60 miles of the drive on 401 there was not a landscape that did not have wind turbines dotting it. Very impressive.

As my daughter smartly said on the drive, "The US needs to take some notes from Canada." 

Here are some links about information and incentives given regarding clean energy:

Once we got on the 403 and around Lake Ontario and the Hamilton metro area, there were wineries all over the place. Every exit around that area had at least two wineries featured. 

I'm not much a fan of Canadian whiskey (bourbon is my drink of choice), but I suspect I'd like Canadian wine, especially if they offer some good red wines. 

Today at the hotel I picked up the self-proclaimed "Canada's National Newspaper," The Globe and Mail

I read that paper today, and in comparison, USA Today, which is also available at the hotel, reads more like a newspaper for dumbasses, for Americans who don't like to read. 

Three articles in the paper offer some helpful, non-US takes on the G20 Summit where MoscowDon basically isolated the US and looked like the doofus he is:

I need to read The Globe and Mail more often. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Music Friday: "No Good"

Since I recently posted some ramblings about SiriusXM radio, I might as well present a song I heard on The Spectrum channel that made me buy a band's album. I had never heard of them before that time.  

Check out Kaleo's "No Good." 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

In a recent Grist "Briefly" article, I learned that Volvo is going to be the first big automaker that is getting rid of the internal combustion engine. In two years, the only new cars the company will roll out will be electric. 

In other good news featured in "Briefly," an appeals court is at least slowing down MoscowDon's EPA decision to gut regulations about methane. 

James Hohlman in The Washington Post shows how MoscowDon's asinine "Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity" is not only nonsense but also an attack on the values of some real Republicans: "Principled Conservatives Show Federalism Is More Than Just a Talking Point by Rejecting Voting Data Requests." 

Our new car, a family edition (has a third row if desired) Nissan Rogue, came with SiriusXM radio, so when I get to drive the car (it is Mrs. Nasty's primary car), I like to explore the radio stations they offer. For the most part, I've settled into a number of "Rock" stations that I alternate among: The Spectrum, Lithium, Alt Nation, First Wave, Pearl Jam, E Street, and Underground Garage. I also listen to Real Jazz, Bluesville, Outlaw Country, and Bluegrass Junction from time to time. 

I wish they offered some kind of "Americana" music station. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

On Monday Mrs. Nasty had the day off, so we took the family and two of my kids'  friends to the Kickapoo State Recreation Area. We kayaked the the Middle Fork River, which from what I gather is around eight miles. It was a lot of fun. The river was cool, and there is great scenery. We plan on doing that again. 

Heck, if we get that into it, we might consider getting our own kayaks. 

On the Fourth of July, Syfy Channel provided a Twilight Zone marathon, which is fitting because narcissistic, pathological lying, juvenile #MoscowDon is POTUS. 

I taped a bunch of those episodes during the marathon. With all the reviving of old shows like The Gong Show, Love Connection, etc., the show that needs to revived is The Twilight Zone. That would be good television. 

Friday, June 30, 2017

Music Friday: "Hold Back the River"

I'm not usually someone who listens to stuff that is played on the radio. "Let It Go" by this fellow is a song that got a lot of traction on pop-focused radio. 

A week or two ago I watched James Bay and his band play on Austin City Limits

I like his stuff. As he related in the interview after the performance, one of his parents listened to rock music, and his other parent mainly listened to soul music. The influences are apparent. 

Here's one of my favorite songs from his album.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Music Friday: "Hope The High Road"

The new album by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, The Nashville Sound, is getting all kinds of deserved attention. 

Here's one of my favorite songs off the new album. 

After the video with lyrics is Isbell's extended interview with Trevor Noah on The Daily Show

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

I started watching the movie Cider House Rules today, and doing so spurred me to buy the novel. I read that book way back in high school, and I remember it as one of those books that fundamentally changed the way I look at things. I might start revisiting books I haven't read since high school. 

But wow, I had forgotten the movie had Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, and Paul Rudd in it. 

News came across my FB feed today, and an ad related that Deer Tick will have two new albums out this fall. Vol. 1 is all acoustic, and Vol. 2 is a rock album. Check out the ad: "Deer Tick New Albums on PledgeMusic." 

I dislike ketchup on hot dogs and sausages. I was glad to find out that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council supports my disdain via its "Hot Dog Etiquette" guidelines.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

My paranoia about electronic voting machines appears to be well founded. As the article "Homeland Security Offical: Russian Government Actors Tried to Hack Election Systems in 21 States" relates, an FBI counterintelligence official said that "Russia’s goal was to 'sow discord' in the United States and to 'denigrate' Clinton and help Trump." 

As I've said before, I talk about the 45th president as "MoscowDon." So should many other people. 

I just worry about anyone, let alone Russian hackers, being able to screw around with electronic voting machines and alter election results. I want to go back to old fashioned ballots. 

Men's Health magazine provides advice in "11 Things Men Shouldn't Wear This Summer." I'm good with all of those recommendations except for one. I wear cargo shorts on a regular basis. 

The guy who founded Cook's Illustrated has left the magazine and started his own cooking mag. It's called Christopher Kimball's Milk Street magazine. I signed up for the charter issue. It's free.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

On Father's Day Mrs. Nasty, the kids, and I went to the Wonder Woman movie. I enjoyed it. I'm not a DC Comics kind of guy, but it was an entertaining movie. Of the DC comics characters, Wonder Woman is one of my favorites. 

And the actress who plays Wonder Woman is hotter than the hinges hanging off the gates of Hell. 

Unfortunately for her, "Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman Salary Was Shockingly Low." 

This past weekend I took my son to the local comic book store, and he picked up a copy of Black Panther Vol. 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates. I read it that afternoon. I really enjoy Coates' work, but the narrative was a little too fragmented for me. 

One of my excellent discoveries was that Bendis created a new stand-alone Jessica Jones narrative. Good stuff people. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Music Friday: "Early Bird Cafe"

Some people might not know this, but John Mellencamp put out a new album this year. It's titled Sad Clowns & Hillbillies

Five songs on the album feature Carlene Carter, but the song I'm featuring today does not. 

Here's "Early Bird Cafe." 

Friday, June 9, 2017

Music Friday: "Prayer for Peace" & "Run Red Rooster"

The North Mississippi Allstars have a new album out. I think it's one of the stronger albums in their catalog. 

If you like blues-rock bands, you need to check it out. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

Some people get obsessed with how their lawns look. I don't. There are already too many herbicides polluting the hell out of our waterways. This time of the year my lawn is sprouting lots of clover, which I find appealing. I like the way it looks ~ this little white sprouts dotting the lawn. Also, honeybees like clover, and honeybees need all the help they can get these days. 

MoscowDon pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement. Here's the op-ed piece by the co-director of the MIT Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. He basically calls the current president on his bullshit and lies: "Trump Used Our Research to Justify Pulling out of the Paris Agreement: He Got It Wrong." 

I'm currently watching the Comey Hearing. Some of these dipsticks are really going to run with the wording of "I hope..." Stop the bullshit. MoscowDon was asking Comey to gut the Russia investigation. That is obvious morons.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Stay Positive: Parks & Recreation

I finished watching all of the episodes of Parks & Recreation last night. 

It was an outstanding series. I don't know why I didn't watch when it was actually on TV, but Netflix bailed me out. 

Nick Offerman is the man (read his books, btw), and he got the opportunity of a lifetime to play Ron Swanson, who is a character I agree with on some matters (related to manhood) and not many others (government, vegetables, etc.). 

Unfortunately, I suspect there are some folks who literally (as Chris is fond of saying) take the character as he is. Satire is wasted on dumbasses.

And oh, Leslie Knope, as I've stated before, oh how I have a crush on you. 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

[Belated] Music Friday: "Southern Bells"

I missed yesterday's post - just plain forgot about it. 

Sorry about that, folks. 

I've been listening to Langhorne Slim & The Law a lot recently. A number of his songs are being used for commercials for whatever reason. 

Good money if you can get it...

Here's a song that isn't being used for advertising purposes. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Brussel Sprout Salad

I saw this recipe made on a cooking show recently. I was not skeptical of it because I've always liked brussel sprouts. The only problem with them is that when they're overcooked, they stink to high hell. 

2 lbs. of brussel sprouts
1/2 cup of pine nuts, toasted
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
Pepper to taste
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, grated on a microplane

Rinse the sprouts, cut the butt ends, cut them in half, and chop them finely. Use a salad spinner, rinse them, and spin out the water. Toast the pine nuts. 

In a bowl put in the lemon juice, mustard, shallots, and garlic. Whisk. Slowly incorporate the olive oil as you whisk. Fold the sprouts into vinaigrette and then add in the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. 

If I had to do it again, I'd probably add a tablespoon of lemon juice, use two more tablespoons of oil, and add honey to sweeten it up a bit. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Music Friday: "Friday I'm in Love"

I heard this song today as we were coming back from Effingham for my son's travel baseball game. 

This song was played loudly on many a Friday at the Gin Mill in Kirksville, MO. 

Smooth move Coleman. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Music Friday: "Before We Disappear" & "Rowing"

Chris Cornell died yesterday

He is one of my favorite singers and frontmen. Such a distinctive voice. 

A loss to music. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

The current issue of Utne has three articles I want to share. 

The first is "Picture Day" written by a Bosnian-Canadian. It puts the refugee crisis into a more personal perspective. As she says, "Today, more than twenty years after my parents and I left Bosnia, there are still refugees in the world--hundreds of thousands of them, in fact. The current refugee crisis, fueled by wars in Syria and across the Middle East, has been immortalized by photos of families just like mine: men, women, and children sitting in bus stations waiting for food, trapped behind border fences, and holing up in dilapidated refugee camps."

Here's a good example of Girl Power: "Women Mayors Lead the Charge on Climate Change." 

A long and interesting interview with ecologist Carl Safina titled "Signs of Intelligent Life"  makes me want to buy his book, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel. There are many nuggets of fact-based wisdom in the interview, but here is one of my favorites: "I think humans are the animal who embodies the most extremes. We can give ourselves credit for being the most technologically talented, the most compassionate, and the most creative, but we also must own that we're the most destructive, the cruelest, and the most violent." I have similar feelings as he does about religion.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

In a recent visit to my local CVS, I scanned the clearance liquor/wine rack. To my surprise, I found bottles of Manischewitz Blackberry wine for $2.77. It's a sweet, kosher wine that I sold at my dad's liquor store way back when. In fact, if I remember right, a Lutheran church bought cases of the Concord grape variety for communion wine. 

I'm a sucker for clearance booze racks, which reminds me of Colonial Party Mart. 

Colonial Party Mart was a liquor store back in my undergraduate college town of Kirksville, Missouri. They went out of business sometime in my junior or senior year. They were selling booze cheap as hell, probably at cost, and boozehounds  descended upon that establishment and got lots of good stuff at great prices. Unfortunately, when my friends and I got there, all that was left was mixing liquor and off brand stuff. I do think we bought some Ouzo though. I can't remember if it was the cheap stuff or one of the good Greek brands.


Figuring out how to spell that exclamation above led me to this interesting article: "What Does the Word Opa Mean Exactly?"

And that expression reminds me of the Norwegian expression of "Uffda." My mom had a plaque of that expression hanging on our back door. I need to use that expression more often. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Music Friday: "Wasting Time"

This song is popping up via shuffle on my iPod on a consistent basis for some reason. 

It's one of my favorite songs on that album. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Green Vegetable Soup

I created/adapted this soup based on a recipe that was in Cooking Light that is called "Minestrone Verde." That recipe uses basil, and I didn't have basil or leeks, and I had other ingredients that I wanted to use. I forgot to add peas, so if I make it again I might use basil, green onions, and peas. 

2 garlic cloves, minced
Half of a yellow onion, chopped finely
Olive oil for sautéing 
2 medium size zucchinis, sliced into half moons
1 head of broccoli
2 containers of chicken stock
3 handfuls of spinach, chopped coarsely
Half a box of tricolor rotini, cooked
Lots of cracked black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Healthy portion of Penzey's Ozark Seasoning

In stock pot, heat olive oil on medium and dump in the onion and garlic. Sweat those until the onions are tender. Add the zucchini and broccoli and cook for a while. 

Once the zucchini are tender, add the stock and spinach. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and then add the pasta and cook for 5 minutes or so. Add in salt, pepper, and seasoning.  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

Here are some select, interesting factoids from recent Harper's Indexes (April and May):
  • Factor by which more Americans work in the solar industry than work in the fossil fuels: 2
  • Ratio of average annual number of deaths in the United States cause by drowning to those caused by gun violence: 1:8
  • Of federal research funding for drowning to funding for gun violence: 1:1
  • Percentage of Trump voters who believe he should be allowed to have a private email server: 42
  • Who believe he should not: 39
  • Factor by which sales of George Orwell's 1984 increased during the three weeks after the presidential inauguration: 90
  • Number of books on a list that a Virginia judge assigned to five teens for defacing a historic black schoolhouse: 35
  • Average percentage change in suicide rates among gay and bisexual teens after their state legalized same-sex marriage: -14
  • Percentage change since 1997 in the number of times married Americans have sex each year: -19
  • Length, in minutes, of a weekly break during which employees of a Swedish town are encouraged to have sex: 60

I'd call that last one a "nooky break."

Because of my son being on travel basketball and baseball teams and my daughter being on the volleyball and track teams for her middle school, I've gotten to visit some of the hamlets in east central Illinois. Friday we were in Teutopolis for a track meet, and that school system has one of my absolute favorite mascots: wooden shoes. 

If I'm not rooting for the Charleston Trojans, I root for the Shoes. FEAR the Wooden Shoes. 

This all leads to "10 Unique Illinois High School Mascots." The Shoes are the staunch rivals of the Flaming Hearts by the way. 

Music Friday: "Laveau Dirge No. 1" & "Here Come the Girls"

I realized Trombone Shorty had a new album out and promptly bought it. 

Check out two tunes from the new album. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Stay Positive: Iron Fist

Of the Marvel Netflix series, Iron Fist is the one that has not gotten a lot of positive critical acclaim. 

In fact, it has received its fair share of negative reviews. For example, check these out: 

I'm here to tell you that it's a decent show. 

There is some just (but minor) criticism in those reviews, but I enjoyed the series. 

One issue out there is that there was a campaign to make the main character Asian-American. I don't get that. 

Danny Rand has always been a rich white dude. Sweet Christmas. 

In comparison to the comic books, the TV Danny Rand is a bit of a darker character. Thinking back to the old Power Man and Iron Fist comics and even comparing the TV series to the current run of Power Man and Iron Fist by Walker, the comic book versions of Danny Rand are sometimes more light-hearted. 

And to think more positively, the Iron Fist series moves us toward the new series, The Defenders

And here are possible explanations to the end of season 1. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

Music Friday: "Bixby Canyon Bridge"

This Saturday the family is taking a short trip to Indy for my daughter and her friend to compete in a dance competition. They're performing their duet, which is set to "On Broadway."

The first dance competition of the year they competed in had one squad (a competing dance team) dancing to the song below. It was one hell of a routine. And I enjoyed it a lot because I really like this song. 

So here you go. It's a live version.

Dance on. 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Sunday Hangover: A-Day

Another A-Day in the books. And it was a competitive one. 

The Crimson squad, first-team offense and second-team defense, won 27 to 24. 

The main focus for many folks was the quarterback competition between Hurts and Tua. Both played really well. It was obvious Hurts had worked on his deep ball throws in the off season because he threw a number of long-pass strikes to Ridley and Foster. 

The White team, on the other hand, had its own standout: Jerry Jeudy, the early enrollee freshman wide receiver. He amassed 134 yards on 5 catches and had two touchdowns. That kid is a difference maker. 

With the top two running backs not in action because they're rehabbing, Najee Harris and Joshua Jacobs toted the rock. Both looked good. 

As for the defenses, guys that stood out to me were Keith Holcombe, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Rashaan Evans, Raekwon Davis, Terrell Hall (he had a fabulous pick-6), and Mack Wilson. 

With losing so much defensive talent to the NFL, it'll be interesting to see who steps up and becomes a leader. Same schemes and system in place, but the defense needs to gel. 

As for offense, they didn't run it that much. I don't know if that's because of only having a few tailbacks available, or it was because there's a different offensive philosophy because of a new OC. What I enjoyed was a emphasis on a down-the-field passing attack. While I see the need for shorter passes, Alabama has talented wide receivers who can get down the field in a hurry. They might as well take advantage of that asset more often. At times during the game, I thought "Air Bama." However, since Saban took over in '07, the offensive game plan has always been "balance" between running and passing. I don't think that'll change. 

Roll Tide.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

I'm a fan of reading historical accounts, and the book I just finished reading described one of the more interesting ploys that led to an attack. In Michael McDonnell's Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America, he details how Ojibwe warriors attacked Fort Michilimackinac in 176@ during the second Euro-Indian War (the first was the "French and Indian War"). The Objiwe warriors played lacrosse as a distraction and then got into the fort. Here's McDonnell's description: "Under the cover of a game of baggataway, or lacrosse, the Ojibwe waited until Etherington and Leslye came outside the gates of the fort to watch. On a signal, they flipped the ball into the fort and rushed after it, just as a group of them seized Etherington and Leslye. Inside the fort, the Ojibwe collected hatchets and 'Spears' from 'a number of their Women' who had 'concealed them under their Blankets.' They killed at least sixteen soldiers and a trader named Tracey in the initial attack." 

After I got done with that book, I quickly picked up Tom Verducci's The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building The Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse. It's one hell of a book that fellow Cubs fans and many baseball fans should read. The author's recounting of Game 7 mad me almost as nervous as I was when I was watching the damn thing. Well worth any baseball fan's reading time. 

The firing of Bill O'Reilly is something behold. This column in the Washington Post opines that that this episode is the start of something good for working women: "'Be Brave': Bill O'Reilly's Downfall Teaches a Wonderful Lesson to Working Women." I don't know if I'm as sanguine about workplace harassment changing.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Music Friday: "Holy Shit" & "I Went to the Store One Day"

I've been listening to the new Father John Misty quite a bit lately. 

But here are two of my favorites from his previous album. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Music Friday: "Subliminal Fascism," "Ghetto Soundwave," & "Ugly" with Interview

We were in St. Louis a little while back, and on Sunday of that weekend we did the tourist thing and ate at Blueberry Hill

As we were driving past, I noticed a tour bus, and one of the guys smoking outside it was wearing the iconic black Fishbone t-shirt. 

Mrs. Nasty checked on what band was playing that night down in The Duck Room, and it was Fishbone. 

So in tribute to that great band that is still doing its thing, here are two songs from Truth and Soul that still certainly resonate. And the performance of "Ugly" and "When Problems Arise" with an interview in between are worth a listen. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

CVS enjoys giving me coupons, but what's the point if I can't use them on booze and milk? 

Speaking of booze, I watched the initial episodes of Brockmire, and that character really enjoys his Sazerac Rye. 

Can't say that I blame him. 

Great show so far by the way. 

I finally got around to reading Alan Moore and David Lloyd's V for Vendetta, a dystopian graphic novel about Britain under fascist rule. Page 2 of the first issue features radio news/propaganda playing, and one panel says this: "Mr. Karel went on to say that it is the duty of every man in this country to seize the initiative and make Britain great again." 

Let that sink in. 

If I were at this dude's college, I'd take his class for sure: "Professor Caveman." 

Another interesting article from The Atlantic is "Welcome to Pleistocene Park." Scientists in Siberia are combating climate change by bringing back grasslands. The really sexy part of the whole project is that they want to genetically resurrect wooly mammoths. 

Music Friday: "Migration Blues" and "Prayin' for Shore"

At a time when MoscowDon bombs Syria instead of taking in Syrian women and children as immigrants, Eric Bibb's new album, Migration Blues, is timely. 

First is an interview with Bibb. After that video are a couple of other videos with songs from the new album. 

"Really, we're all in the same boat." 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stay Positive: The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

I've praised the work of Florence Williams in a previous post, but I thought I'd do a Stay Positive post about her book, The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

Starting with E.O. Wilson's biophilia hypothesis, Williams investigates the scientific support why humans are drawn to natural settings and how they positively affect our emotions, intelligence, and cognition. 

She travels to places across the world to talk with researchers and be part of research experiments in some cases. 

Here are some quotations of note, some of which I'll be transcribing into my commonplace book

  • "When we are relaxed and at ease in our environment, our parasympathetic system--sometimes called the 'rest and digest' branch--kicks in" (25). 
  • "It sound totally hokey, even unbelievable, that evergreen scents--not unlike the thing that dangles from taxicab rear-view mirrors--could help us live longer" (29). 
  • "Moreover, task-switching, which is something we do an awful lot of these days, burns up precious oxygenated glucose from the prefrontal cortex and other areas of the brain, and this is energy we need for both cognitive and physical performance" (44). 
  • "At least one MRI study (using photographs of nature) show it's ["the neural growth factor BDNF"] going to parts of the brain like the insula and the interior cingulate that are associated with pleasure, empathy, and unconstrained thinking" (53). 
  • "Noise may well be the most pervasive pollutant in America" (87). 
  • "There's some evidence that more introverted or neurotic people are more annoyed by loud noises" (93). 
  • "To the extent that nature sounds are soothing to most humans, three in particular stand out: wind, water, and birds. They are the trifecta of salubrious listening (favorite music and the voices of loved ones are perhaps the happiest of all, engaging almost every part of the brain, according to neuroscientist and musician Daniel Levitin, in This is Your Brain on Music" (98). 
  • "our brains are surprisingly similar to parts of birds' brains that hear, process, and make language. Humans share more genes governing speech with songbirds than we do with other primates" (99).
  • "Finland scores high on global scales of happiness. Many people assume this is because there isn't much income disparity here. But perhaps it's also because everyone has access to what makes them happy--a bunch of lakes, forests and coastlines, combined with ridiculously long, state-sanctioned vacations and a midnight sun" (135). 
  • "Physical activity changes the brain to improve memory and to slow aging; it improves mood and lowers anxiety; in children, it increases the capacity to learn; some studies show it is as effective as antidepressants for alleviating mild depression without the unwanted side effects" (151).

I was going to provide what she offers at the end of the book, which she calls "essential take-homes," but you should buy the book. Support writers and good writing, people. 

However, the quotations above offer me some take-homes, or should I say "take-outsides"? 
  • Get candles that waft evergreenish, lavender, and rosemary scents. 
  • Stop multi-tasking. 
  • Embrace silence more often when I can find it (I'm introverted and one might describe me as neurotic sometimes). 
  • Exercise.
  • Go outside more often, especially the trails around Lake Charleston.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Stay Positive: Scarlet Witch

As far as comic book superhero characters go, one of my absolute favorites is the Scarlet Witch. When I began reading comic books in the late 70s and then the 80s, Wanda and Vision were part of The Avengers. 

The new Scarlet Witch series out now is outstanding. I'm loving the artwork, and it's a solid story so far. If you too are a fan of Wanda Maximoff, check it out. Volume 3 is not out yet, but you can nab volumes 1 and 2. 

Check out the covers. 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

In general, I avoid public restrooms whenever possible. However, if you have to squat down and do your business, I have one place to recommend if you ever find yourself there. This past weekend, my daughter had a dance competition at the Scottish Rite in St. Louis. It's an old building with old fashioned bathrooms. Even though it's a hard seat, the toilet seats in those restrooms are comfortable. They are molded to fit one's butt nicely.

Sorry to get semi-scattalogical on you.

This post on is worth a read: "The National Park Service Guy's Face When Getting That Bullshit Check from Trump Is The Blackest Thing That Ever Happened This Week." 

Check out this article about the show that will come out later this month: "One of the Best Trump Impersonators Is Getting His Own Late-Night Comedy Show." 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Music Friday: "Life's a Bell"

This song came up the other day when I had my iPod in the car and the shuffle function was doing it's thing. 

"LIfe's a bell that must be rung.
Life's a song that must be sung." 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

The other day a friend on Facebook shared a listicle about left handers. One of the few surprises of that click bait was that only 10% of the population is left handed. That's astonishing to me. Only 10 flippin' percent. How is that even possible? I know back in the bad old days, people would "turn" lefties into righties for various stupid, inane, and insane reasons. But you'd think so-called progress would catch up and produce more lefties in this world. 

As you can tell, I'm a southpaw. 

It's not surprising the Raiders got approved to move to Las Vegas. Not soon after the news hit, there are various articles featuring a businessman who is providing the Pirate's Booty Sports Brothel. 

I need to start reading Informed Comment by Juan Cole more often. I've now put it on my "Blog Roll." Check out "The Simple Number That Will Defeat Trump's Attempt to Roll Back Obama Energy Policies." 

In the March issue of Harper's, the magazine has an excerpt from Simple Sabotage Field Manual put out in 1944 by the U.S. Office of Strategic Services, which is a manual intended for people living in "enemy states" at the time. What I find darkly humorous about the manual is that many of the recommendations I see happening in organizations -- both public and private, both government and industry -- all the time. Here are some juicy snippets related to to the behavior and actions of Employees, Managers and Supervisors, and Organizations and Conferences (which I quote in full):
  • Employees: "When you go to the lavatory spend a longer time there than is necessary." 
  • Managers and Supervisors: "To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions."
  • Managers and Supervisors: "Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done." 
  • Organizations and Conferences: "Make 'speeches.' Talk at great length, illustrate your 'points' with long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible. Haggle over precise wordings of communications. When possible, refer all matters to committee for 'further study and consideration.' Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible."