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." 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Fantasy Red Herrings

Below is the the seventh annual installment of my Fantasy Red Herrings post. Like I did in '16'15, '14, '13'12 and '11, I'm providing my usual intro before the good stuff...

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

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

Maybe players on it are.

Maybe players on it aren't.

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

First Base: Matt Holliday, New York Yankees

As much as Holliday has been a suspect outfielder for a substantial part of his career, the dude still can hit. In an OBP league, he's especially valuable because he'll probably cash in a .360ish OBP with twentysomething homers on the season. My only concern would be Bird and Carter taking some of his at-bats. 

Second Base: Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
Big-time sleeper, right? A couple of years ago people were asking, "What has happened to Cano?" The last two seasons have seen him get back to his hitting prowess. With Nelson "the Boomstick" Cruz and Kyle Seager hitting near him in the order, he has a good bit of protection. He's a veteran, but with fantasy baseballers consistently chasing prospects, Cano might get overlooked. He's steady. He's consistent. 

Shortstop: Aledmys Diaz, St. Louis Cardinals
This guy had a breakout season last year, and then he got hurt. I don't know about the quality of his defense, but who the heck cares about that? This is fantasy baseball. 

Third Base: Nick Castellanos, Detroit Tigers
He had a good season last year, and he gets overshadowed by other hitters in the Tigers lineup. The projections I'm using predict he'll hit 25 home runs and provide a respectable OBP. Not bad for a guy you'd select later in the draft. 

Outfielder: Roman Quinn, Philadelphia Phillies
I predict 30some stolen bases, a decent average and OBP, and regular playing time. He could be a solid and respectable fourth or fifth outfielder on any fantasy squad.

Catcher: Austin Hedges, San Diego Padres
I normally punt catcher until the last or next to last pick in the draft. This guy apparently has power and comes at a cheap price. Me like. 

Starting Pitcher: Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox
I was surprised the Nationals traded this guy because he is/was a highly touted prospect. He didn't look that great when he was called up to the majors, but most starting pitchers rarely take the league by storm once they come up. My main concern is that he will have to pitch half of his games in a hitter's ballpark. So there's that. 

Relief Pitcher: Tony Watson, Pittsburgh Pirates
I'm a bit of a homer with this pick. He's from Iowa. I'm originally from Iowa. However, he did well as the Pirates' closer once Melancon was traded. Some of the fantasy intelligentsia predict that he'll go back to middle relief and Daniel Hudson will be the close, but I doubt it. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Music Friday: "Pure Comedy"

I've heard good things about Father John Misty, but I got intrigued after reading "Here Is the Scandalous Father John Misty Interview You've Been Waiting For" on Pitchfork. 

So yesterday I purchased I Love You, Honeybear

I'm looking forward to the new release, Pure Comedy. Here's the title track with lyrics afterward. 

"Pure Comedy"
The comedy of man starts like this.
Our brains are way too big for our mothers' hips.
And so Nature, she divines this alternative.
We emerged half-formed and hope that whoever greets us on the other end
Is kind enough to fill us in.
And, babies, that's pretty much how it's been ever since.
Now the miracle of birth leaves a few issues to address.
Like, say, that half of us are periodically iron deficient.
So somebody's got to go kill something while I look after the kids.
I'd do it myself, but what, are you going to get this thing its milk?
He says as soon as he gets back from the hunt, we can switch.
It's hard not to fall in love with something so helpless.
Ladies, I hope we don't end up regretting this.

Comedy, now that's what I call pure comedy.
Just waiting until the part where they start to believe
They're at the center of everything.
And some all-powerful being endowed this horror show with meaning.
Oh, their religions are the best.
They worship themselves, yet they're totally obsessed
With risen zombies, celestial virgins, magic tricks, these unbelievable outfits.
And they get terribly upset
When you question their sacred texts
Written by woman-hating epileptics.

Their languages just serve to confuse them.
Their confusion somehow makes them more sure.
They build fortunes poisoning their offspring
And hand out prizes when someone patents the cure.
Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them?
What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?
These mammals are hell-bent on fashioning new gods,
So they can go on being godless animals.

Oh comedy, their illusions they have no choice but to believe
Their horizons that just forever recede.
And how's this for irony, their idea of being free is a prison of beliefs
That they never ever have to leave.
Oh comedy, oh it's like something that a madman would conceive!
The only thing that seems to make them feel alive is the struggle to survive.
But the only thing that they request is something to numb the pain with
Until there's nothing human left.
Just random matter suspended in the dark.
I hate to say it, but each other's all we got.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Random Notes from a Crank

I was at one of my local liquor stores the other day, and the car I parked next to had a driver's side window that was covered by plastic sheeting and duct tape, but the plastic sheet was ripped. As I walked to and fro getting my bourbon, I noticed a cat on the the dashboard and a young lady texting. As I departed, the cat meowed at me as if it were asking, "Get me out of this madness. This woman is crazy." 

Pistachios are the best nut on the planet. Behind them, I consider it a tie for second place among Brazil nuts, almonds, and walnuts. 

1. Pistachios

2a. Brazil nuts

2b. Almonds

2c. Walnuts

Ummmm .... nuts. Me now hungry.

As much as Puerto Rico is getting all kinds of attention for moving on to the championship game of the World Baseball Classic, the US government is still screwing its unincorporated territory as you can learn about via John Oliver's feature. 

Check out this lengthy article of strong reporting from Politico about the success of the light rail line in the Twin Cities: "The Train Line That Brought the Twin Cities Back Together."

A couple of weeks ago I finished Florence Williams' The Nature Fix, which I highly recommend. Grist has a good interview with her about the book: "Anxious, Depressed, Distracted -- What If the Cure Is Just Outside?" 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Music Friday: "Lilac Breeze," "What's a Fella Gotta Do?," "A Line in the Dirt," "Little Bird," "Spectacular Girl," "The Man," "I Like The Way This Is Going"

Last night as I was driving home from Wisconsin, I listened to three thematic albums that the Eels put out in 2009 and 2010. 

The first, El Hombre Lobo, has songs about the theme of desire. The second, End Times, is about loss. And the third, Tomorrow Morning, offers songs about redemption. 

Here's a number of my favorites from that fine trio of albums. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Music Friday: "S.O.B." & "I Need Never Get Old"

A colleague of mine recommended that I'd probably like Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. 

So I'm checking 'em out. Here are a couple of songs to whet your appetite

Monday, March 6, 2017

Stay Positive: Bizarro Comics

I get Dan Piraro's comics via my FB feed.

Here are two that I particularly enjoy. 

These two come from his "Disguising Insanity" post from yesterday. Check out the guy's work. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Stay Positive: Road Trip Food

What people eat when they're on a road trip tells something about their character, style, and taste. 

For me, I have staples that I eat when I grab something from a gas station. Junk food might give people a perspective on others' troubled souls.

Here are my regular choices:

Jack Link's Peppered Beef "Steak"

Andy Capp's Hot Fries or Cheddar Fries

Snapple, Peach flavor if available 

Royal Crown cola 

My So-Called Thoughts
I'm a fan of peppered beef. That stuff is just delicious. I don't think cooks use pepper enough in their dishes. 

While the Andy Capp comic is sketchy at times (a strip that portrays an alcoholic ne'er-do-well), I love that dude's "fries." 

Snapple is just damn good tea. 

When the cola wars were happening back in the 80s, I was voting third party. I don't usually drink pop much anymore, but when I do, I choose RC. 

If you're intrigued by RC, check out "The Tragic History of RC Cola" on Mental Floss. 

If you're so inclined, I'd like to read about your staples for road trip food in the comments. 

Music Friday: "Get Your Pants Off" & "Black Mold"

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is a band I probably should have more albums from. I only have Meat and Bone

Regardless, here's a couple of tunes from that album.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fumbling Toward Culinary Soup: Kielbasa-Spinach Immunity Soup

This recipe is similar to both my kale soup recipe and the chicken-based immunity soup

1/2 of big bag of spinach 
2 and a half quarts of free range organic chicken broth (Aldi has it at a reasonable price)
1 lb. of turkey kielbasa, halved and sliced into even slices
half of yellow onion, chopped finely
2 cans of cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes with chilies 
Half a package of button or baby bella mushrooms, sliced relatively thinly
Healthy dose (5-6 cloves) of roasted garlic, chopped (as much as you can chop roasted garlic) 
1 bay leaf
Smidge of thyme
Smidge of basil
Smidge of cayenne pepper
Smidge of smoked paprika 
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop the onion and sausage and brown them in a cast iron skillet with a little bit of oil. Transfer that to a slow cooker. Add in the broth, beans, seasonings, and spinach. Cook on high for at least an hour. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Add in mushrooms near the end, so they don't get too small during the cooking. 

Fumbling Toward Culinary Talent: Breakfast Casserole

After watching an episode of Dinner at Tiffani's, I made a similar egg casserole to what she made in the episode. 

That's right Tiffani Thiessen has a cooking show. 

Perhaps there is a Divine Being of some sort. 

Anyway, here's the recipe. It's basically a quiche without crust. And it's a versatile recipe, so you can switch ingredients as you choose. 

1/2 lb. of country sausage
Most of a package of frozen spinach, thawed and drained
Half of a yellow onion, chopped finely
Sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
8 eggs
Roughly a half cup of milk
Half cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Smidge of thyme
Smidge of smoked paprika
Smidge of cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper

Brown the sausage and set it aside to drain the fat. In the same pan sauté the onions and sun-dried tomatoes. In a pie plate arrange the sausage, spinach, and onion mixture in the plate. Put the eggs, seasonings, and milk in a bowl and beat. Dump in the egg mixture, sprinkle cheese on top, and bake on 350 degrees for approximately 30-45 minutes.