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."