Friday, September 30, 2011

The Return of Rocktober

As I have done the past two Octobers, starting Monday I will again honor the greatest month of the year by discussing a different hard rock album every weekday I am in town and am able to listen to music at work and blog about it that evening.  In the past two years, I have reviewed a total of 43 albums, and, yes, there are still many more to be reviewed and more coming over on boats every day.  Some albums will be well-known, and some will be less well-known.  Genres will range from punk to indie rock to classic rock to metal.  Fridays will, of course, feature albums by hair bands because that's what Fridays do.  The week before Halloween will feature albums that have relatively mysterious, evil, macabre, or dark themes.  Rest assured, everything album reviewed will, in fact, rock.  For it is Rocktober!

And this Rocktober, there will be an additional treat:  your opportunity to vote for the Best Band ofOur Generation.  The 32-band field will be revealed on Monday, and voting will start Monday as well.  Good God, what a Rocktober.

Listen to Hair Band Friday - 9/30/11

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Win with Wilson . . . Eventually

With IU's 1-3 start, many fans are undoubtedly freaking out. It's not that we're used to winning (we're definitely not); it's that we had such high hopes for Kevin Wilson, especially with what looked like a potential 3-1 or 4-0 non-conference slate. Don't lose hope yet, Hoosier fans. It's an understatement to say that IU isn't a football power, so building a winning program takes time. For instance, several coaches who have built successful programs out of perennial losers had miserable first years.
  • In 1989, Bill Snyder took over at Kansas State – arguably the worst program in Division I at the time. He went 1-10 in his first year. In 1991, he had his first winning record, and in 1993, he went to his first bowl game. In his 20 seasons at K-State (he took a 3-year hiatus from 2006 to 2008), he has compiled a 152-80-1 record, had 12 winning seasons (including 7 10+-win seasons), gone to 12 bowls (where he has a 6-6 record), and had one Big XII championship.
  • In 1990, Barry Alvarez took over at Wisconsin, which was usually at or near the bottom of the Big Ten standings. He went 1-10 in his first year. In 1993, he had his first winning season, which also happened to include a share of the Big Ten title and Wisconsin's first trip to the Rose Bowl since 1963. Alvarez coached the Badgers until he retired after the 2005 season as Wisconsin's all-time winningest coach, compiling a 118-73-4 record, 11 winning seasons (including 4 10+-win seasons), 11 bowls (8-3 record), 3 Big Ten titles (2 shared), 3 Rose Bowls (3-0 record).
  • In 1987, Frank Beamer began his tenure at Virginia Tech (which was not a football school by any means), and went 2-9 in his first year and 3-8 in his second. He then had a couple winning seasons and a couple more losing seasons before taking the Hokies to his first bowl game in 1993, where they defeated by beloved Hoosiers. In his now 24+ seasons, he has won 7 conference titles, had 12 10+-win seasons, and gone to 18 straight bowl games (8-10 record).
  • Hoosiers fans should remember Bill Mallory, IU's all-time winningest coach. While he may not have had the same success as Snyder, Alvarez, or Beamer, he still had the most successful run as IU's football coach. In his first season, 1984, the Hoosiers went 0-11. In 1986, he went to his first bowl with IU. In his 13 years as IU's head coach, he compiled a 69-77-3 record (which may not seem all that impressive, but let's not forget that this is Indiana), had 6 winning seasons, went to 6 bowls (2-4 record), and, in 1987, became the first (and only) coach in IU history to beat both Ohio State and Michigan in the same year.
  • In 1992, Gary Barnett was named head coach of a school that, ten years earlier had set the Division 1 record for consecutive losses. In his first season, he went 3-8. In 1995, he guided Northwestern to its first Big Ten title since 1936 and its first Rose Bowl (or any other bowl) since 1949. The next year, the Wildcats clinched a share of the Big Ten title and went to the Citrus Bowl. While Barnett left after the 1998 season with a losing record at Northwestern (35-45-1), his tenure in Evanston completely changed the football program's mindset from perennial doormat to "Expect Victory." Since he left, Northwestern has continued to have success, going to six bowls.
  • There are others who had slow starts who ended up being successful at their respective universities: Dick McPherson at Syracuse, Mark Mangino at Kansas, Bobby Ross at Georgia Tech, Glen Mason at Minnesota, George Welsh at Virginia, Paul Johnson at Navy, Gary Pinkel at Missouri, and Greg Schiano at Rutgers.
All of this is to say, be patient, Hoosier fans. Wilson has the right staff, the right experience, and the right attitude to win at Indiana. Just as Rome wasn't built in a day, neither can the IU football program be built in a season (or probably even two or three).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hilarious Google Searches

Google is a funny little bird because it often tries to guess what you're searching for as you type a search in.  The result can be exactly what you're looking for or hilarity, or both.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about (or even if you are), here is a post entitled "The most insane search suggestions ever seen on Google."  Thanks to Jamie for the link.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Favorite Oktoberfest Beers

One year ago and four years ago today, I was in Munich, enjoying all of the wonders of Oktoberfest, the most important of which is the beer. The style of beer that is predominantly served at the Oktoberfest tents is märzen, a style of beer developed in Bavaria centuries ago, when beer could only be brewed between late September and late April. The beer was brewed in March (Märzen), and then opened up in the late summer and, later, for Oktoberfest. It is stronger than normal beer, as it must withstand not only the summer months, but also hundreds of thousands of drunkards.

In addition to the delicious märzenbiers produced by the Bavarian breweries, in recent years, a number of craft breweries here in the U.S. have put out their versions of märzen beers, often aptly entitled "Oktoberfest" beers. I have had the pleasure of consuming many of them. Here are my ten favorite Oktoberfest beers.

10. Harpoon Octoberfest

9. Bell's Oktoberfest

8. Shiner Oktoberfest (which I am enjoying as I write this)

4 (tie). Paulaner München Märzen, Hofbräu Oktoberfest, Augustinerbräu Oktoberfest Märzen, and Spaten-Bräu Ur Märzen

These are all Bavarian Oktoberfest biers. All are good, but there isn't one that I necessarily like better than another.

3. Sam Adam's Octoberfest

My favorite of the Sam Adam's seasonal beers.

2. Magic Hat Ourtoberfest

I had this for the first time this year, and it is really good.

1. Hacker-Pschorr Oktoberfest

Not only have I consumed far too many of these in the Pschorr-Bräurosl tent, but I have also purchased bottles stateside, and it is just as tasty when you're not listening to Südtiroler Spitzbuam singing "Ein Prosit" for the 45th time.

I'm always looking for new beers to try, so I kindly invite you to let me know if there are any Oktoberfest beers you like that I haven't listed.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Best Band of Our Generation

Back in late 2008, I enlisted your help to choose the Best Hard Rock Anthem of Our Generation.  We had a 32-song bracket (seeded by me, since I am the only one who writes this blog), and you voted on match-ups each day until we had a winner.  Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar On Me" won the crown fairly easily, as it should have.

With Rocktober a mere few days away, I have a new challenge for you lovely readers.  As I sit here, alone with my thoughts and an infant child who does nothing but stare at me with a combination of suspicion and concern, I have come to the conclusion that we must choose, once and for all, the best band of our generation.

"But GMYH, what's "our generation"?  Shit if I know, man.  We're post-punk, children of the '80s, who came of age and went to high school and college in the '90s.  For sake of ease, I will go with the first year people my age probably remember anything to the year my class graduated from college, assuming no victory laps.  Thus, the timeframe for this will be 1980 to 2000.  Unfortunately, this means several awesome bands, like Van Halen and The Strokes, will be excluded, but there has to be some cutoff.  This isn't Nam.  There are rules.  If you think another timeframe is more appropriate, please let me know. 

"But GMYH, how will you choose bands for this most worthy of competitions?"  Well, fair reader, it will be a combination of subjectiveness and objectiveness.  I will choose bands who play rock and roll (regardless of genre), who are awesome, and who released their first album between 1980 and 2000.

"But GMYH, what's a band?"  More than one person.  Jesus.  But seriously, it's a group of musicians who play their own instruments.  Thus, Backstreet Boys doesn't count.

I scoured my vast catalog of compact discs, tapes, 8-tracks, 33s, 45s, and 78s, as well as AllMusic and Wikipedia.  Hopefully I haven't left anything off.  Here's my list of locks for the list, maybes, and others I considered (in chronological order, with release date of their first album):

The Cure (1980)
Def Leppard (1980)
Iron Maiden (1980)
Huey Lewis & The News (1980)
The Pretenders (1980)
U2 (1980)
Mötley Crüe (1981)
R.E.M. (1982)
Metallica (1983)
Bon Jovi (1984)
Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984)
Guns N' Roses (1987)
Soundgarden (1988)
Nine Inch Nails (1989)
Nirvana (1989)
The Black Crowes (1990)
Green Day (1990)
Pearl Jam (1991)
Smashing Pumpkins (1991)
Rage Against the Machine (1992)
Radiohead (1993)
Dave Matthews Band (1994)
Weezer (1994)
Foo Fighters (1995)
The White Stripes (1999)

Depeche Mode (1981)
Duran Duran (1981)
Poison (1986)
Jane's Addiction (1988)
Stone Temple Pilots (1992)
Counting Crows (1993)
Oasis (1994)
Wilco (1995)
Coldplay (2000)

Other bands I considered:
INXS (1980)
The Go-Go's (1981)
The Replacements (1981)
Violent Femmes (1982)
Sonic Youth (1983)
The Bangles (1984)
The Smiths (1984)
The Flaming Lips (1986)
Phish (1986)
Goo Goo Dolls (1987)
Pixies (1987)
Alice in Chains (1990)
No Doubt (1992)
Blink-182 (1994)
Matchbox Twenty (1996)

Before I make the bracket, however, I will give you guys a few days to marinate over this.  Please leave a comment to let me know if there's anything you think I've missed, or let me know if there are any maybes you think should be in the bracket more than others. After a few days of comments, I will release the brackets, seeded from 1-32, incorporating any bands I may have missed and eliminating bands I don't think should be on there in light of any new bands. Then I will be posting a new poll every day or so with a new matchup.  As with most bracket competitions, whichever band has more votes goes to the next round, eventually culminating in a champion.  Then it will be settled.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Unique Mascots by Conference

A lot of times, I ask myself meaningless questions that have meaningless answers. That does not stop me from figuring the answer out and sharing its meaninglessness with you. One such endeavor grabbed hold of me last night, as I was drinking some peyote with a horned frog, a Vandal, and a ragin' Cajun. The horned frog asked, "GMYH, did you see the size of that chicken?" I said something off-color in Aramaic and dug a hole to Atlantis. While there, I asked myself, "When you remove all the FBS teams with the same mascots -- the Wildcats, the Cougars, the Bulldogs, and such -- which conference has the most schools with the mascots that no other FBS team has? And how are you breathing underwater?" After a quick game of pogs with Buster Poindexter and a giant orange ball with limbs, I closed my gills with some This is Spinal Tape, thanked Hess for the link, grabbed a trident, and headed to the computer in my mind. Here's what I found.

The Big Ten, in addition to being the most awesome all-around conference ever, has the highest percentage of unique names. On the other side of the coin, the wiggity wiggity wiggity wiggity WAC is the least unique. Here's how it breaks down, from most unique to least unique:

1. Big Ten – 10 of 12 (.833) unique mascots: Badgers, Boilermakers, Buckeyes, Cornhuskers, Fighting Illini, Golden Gophers, Hawkeyes, Hoosiers, Nittany Lions, Wolverines

2. Sun Belt – 7 of 9 (.778) unique mascots: Blue Raiders, Golden Panthers, Hilltoppers, Mean Green, Ragin' Cajuns, Red Wolves, Warhawks

3 (tie). ACC – 9 of 12 (.750) unique mascots: Blue Devils, Cavaliers, Demon Deacons, Hokies, Hurricanes, Seminoles, Tar Heels, Terrapins, Yellow Jackets

3 (tie). Conference USA – 9 of 12 (.750) unique mascots: Blazers, Golden Eagles, Golden Hurricane, Green Wave, Knights, Miners, Mustangs, Pirates, Thundering Herd

5. Pac-12 – 8 of 12 (.667) unique mascots: Beavers, Bruins, Buffaloes, Cardinal, Ducks, Golden Bears, Sun Devils, Utes

6. Big East – 5 of 8 (.625) unique mascots: Bearcats, Mountaineers, Orange, Panthers, Scarlet Knights

7. Big 12 – 6 of 10 (.600) unique mascots: Bears, Cyclones, Jayhawks, Longhorns, Red Raiders, Sooners

8 (tie). MWC – 4 of 8 (.500) unique mascots: Aztecs, Horned Frogs, Lobos, Rams

8 (tie). SEC – 6 of 12 (.500) unique mascots: Commodores, Crimson Tide, Gamecocks, Gators, Razorbacks, Volunteers

10. MAC – 6 of 13 (.462) unique mascots: Bobcats, Chippewas, Golden Flashes, Redhawks, Rockets, Zips

11. WAC – 2 of 8 (.250) unique mascots: Vandals, Warriors

So, you're never going to get that minute back.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pig Tricks

We try to encourage Daughter not to be a little twat.  For instance, we repeatedly tell her not to play with her food.  She is not yet two and, therefore, does not always take direction very well.  This evening at dinner, she was drinking milk and, at some point, decided it would be a good idea to fill her mouth up and dribble milk down her chin.  Jester noticed it before I did and yelled, "No!  That's a pig trick!

Daughter looked concerned at first, but it's hard for one parent to effectively discipline a child when the other parent is laughing his ass off.  How utterly confusing that must have been for Daughter, not only because I was laughing (which then caused her to start laughing), but also because what the hell is a pig trick?  Holding back tears, I asked Jester what it meant.  She responded as she often does with this sort of thing, as if this is a common saying.  "Haven't you ever heard of a pig trick?"  No.  "You know, it's something piggish."  No.  The phrase -- which I am sure is not real -- makes no sense at all, contextually or abstractly.  Pigs aren't known for drinking milk, especially not from sippy cups, and they aren't known for spitting milk out.  Also, I don't see where the trick comes in.  Daughter wasn't trying to pull anything over on us; she was just being your average insolent toddler.  Pigs aren't known for their cunning, and I've never met a pig who mastered sleight of hand.  For the next half hour or so, I kept thinking about it and cracking up.  A pig trick.  Love ya, Jester.

Monday, September 19, 2011

MLB Opening Day Lineups 1991-2010

Being on paternity leave has been nice.  While I am generally busy, thanks to my lazy children, I have also had some down time during coordinated naps and such.  This down time has given me the unique opportunity to lose myself in Sporcle without retribution from Jester.  Last year, Sporcle had a series of quizzes challenging you to name every MLB Opening Day lineup from 1991 to 2010, on a team-by-team basis.  Over the last week, I have now taken all of them.  Here are my best scores.  I invite you to beat them, which I'm sure you will be able to do.  (Some have been updated in include 2011 Opening Day):
Arizona Diamondbacks (56/126)
Atlanta Braves (99/180)
Baltimore Orioles (67/208)
Boston Red Sox (104/200)
Chicago Cubs (112/180)
Chicago White Sox (155/200)
Cincinnati Reds (89/180)
Cleveland Indians (98/210)
Colorado Rockies (80/162)
Detroit Tigers (105/200)
Florida Marlins (67/162)
Houston Astros (127/180)
Kansas City Royals (49/200)
Los Angeles Angels (76/200)
Los Angeles Dodgers (75/180)
Milwaukee Brewers (79/197)
Minnesota Twins (68/200)
New York Mets (89/180)
New York Yankees (149/200)
Oakland Athletics (81/200)
Philadelphia Phillies (89/180)
Pittsburgh Pirates (78/180)
San Diego Padres (78/180)
San Francisco Giants (73/180)
Seattle Mariners (119/200)
St. Louis Cardinals (70/180)
Tampa Bay Rays (36/130)
Texas Rangers (80/200)
Toronto Blue Jays (91/200)
Washington Nationals (21/60)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


My posting over the next couple weeks may be limited, as the wife just birthed another one of my offspring.  We decided to name her Lollipop instead of Poppy-Honey.  (Jester won that battle, despite my tear-filled pleas.)  Thus far, Lollipop is satisfactory in almost every way.  We took this picture of her floating in the midnight sky.  Oh yeah, she can levitate.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years After

Exactly ten years ago, right around 9:30 a.m., I woke up like any other Tuesday, ready for another busy day as a second-year law student.  My room was in the basement, and I went upstairs, through the kitchen and into the dining room.  Trashton, one of my roommates, was sitting on the couch in the living room, talking on his cell phone.  I didn't think anything of it, but it sounded like he was in a serious conversation, so I went back into the kitchen without going into the living room because I didn't want to bother him.  I poured a bowl of cereal and went back downstairs.  15 or 20 minutes later, I came back upstairs, still not knowing anything.  When I was in the kitchen, the phone rang.  I recognized the number as Jester's.  We were "on a break" at the time, so it was odd that she was calling me, much less on a Tuesday morning.  I answered, somewhat curious and annoyed, when she asked whether I had turned on a TV yet.  I said "no," and she said that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center.  I didn't believe her.  It seemed like something so outlandish that it could only have been from a bad disaster movie.  Then again, she had no reason to lie, and practical joking was not really her style of humor.

After we hung up, I walked into the living room, where Trashton was still sitting on the couch, now done with his phone call.  I saw the TV, and was numb.  Trashton brought me up to speed, and then the towers collapsed.  It just didn't seem real.  Obviously, classes were cancelled.  The on-campus interviews I had that week were cancelled, not that I would have gotten the jobs anyway.  My roommates and I pretty much just sat on the couch all day watching the coverage in shocked silence.  I emailed The Weez, my only friend who was living in New York at the time, to make sure he was okay (he was).

There's nothing profound I can say about 9/11 that hasn't already been said. For Gen X and Gen Y, 9/11 was our JFK assassination. I will never forget where I was or how angry and helpless I felt.  It's still unfathomable to me that anyone would do such awful acts, fabricating a religious justification for the slaughter of innocent people simply because they disagree with our way of life.  It sounds cliche by now, but it really was an attack on America, not just in a physical sense.  They targeted symbols of American freedom -- the White House (which thankfully never came to fruition), the Pentagon, and the city that, more than any other, expemlifies the American melting pot ideal and has accepted so many different races, nationalities, and religions.  We'll never be the same as a country, which in a way is a good thing, because since 9/11, we have done everything we can to prevent another attack, from increased security to collaboration with other intelligence agencies to infiltration of terrorist cells.  If the international reaction to 9/11 results in the prevention of future attacks and lost lives, then I suppose the innocent people who died ten years ago didn't do so in vain.  That said, nothing will ever make it right, and things will never be the same as they were on September 10, 2001.  Be proud to be an American, don't take your freedom for granted, and, for the love of God (or whatever deity you might believe in), be nice to each other.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

New Potential Name

So this second kid isn't here yet, despite the prognostications of the charlatans who hold themselves out to be medical doctors.  As I indicated a couple weeks ago, we haven't picked out a name yet.  Our problem, apparently, is that we were limiting ourselves to the 1000 most popular names in the U.S. for each of the last 130 years.  Not finding any name that glorified our love of the vernacular of Puerto Rican strippers and deep Southern diner waitresses, we decided to buy a baby name book that contained 60,000 names.  You can imagine how happy we were when we came across the name of our soon-to-be-born daughter:  Poppy-Honey.  Yes, that's a real name.

Top NFL Per-Team Performances of the 2000s

As the first NFL game of the season kicks off, I invite you to take the following quiz on Sporcle:  Can you name the players who had the best single game performances for each NFL teams since the 2000 season?  You have to name the best single game rusher, passer, and receiver for each team.  I got 89 out of 96.  Whatever.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tuesday Top Ten: Enthralling Storylines for the 2011 NFL Season

Back in late July, right after the NFL lockout ended, I posted the Top Ten Things I'm Looking Forward to This NFL Season.  Presumably, some have called it provocative. The good people at recently emailed me and asked whether I would post a link to their post entitled "Ten Enthralling Storylines for the 2011 NFL Season."  Since the season starts in a mere two days (insert excited panting here), I think it's more than appropriate.  So, check out the link.

Of course, something that neither I nor OnlineCertificatePrograms could have predicted was today's news that Jacksonville cut starting quarterback David Garrard -- a bold move with less than a week before their first game.  It will be interesting to see where he ends up, as I think he is a better QB than several starting QBs.  I'm looking your way, Seattle.

In non-NFL news, check out Google's homepage,which has a nice animated musical tribute to Zanzibari minstrel Farrokh Bulsara, who would have turned 65 today.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Topps v. Donruss

If you grew up as a male in the '70s and '80s (and even the early '90s), you undoubtedly collected baseball cards at some point. As we began to collect baseball cards, our fathers began to tell us their horror stories that they had pent up for the previous 10-20 years. Every middle-aged man tells a similar tale. When our fathers went to college, our grandmothers bestowed upon the boy next door all of our fathers' baseball cards, which undoubtedly included at least one Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays rookie card in mint condition. The windfall for this boy, we were told, was probably worth thousands of dollars now (if not tens of thousands). Presumably, that boy's mother then did the same thing when he went to college, assuming he even needed to go to college, given the reserves he was sitting on.

As a result, we were told to hoard our baseball cards. And hoard we did. I remember specifically telling my mom not to touch any of my baseball (and football, basketball, and hockey) cards when I went to college. They still reside in the same corner of my old closet. Of course, this hoarding helped to dry up the baseball card market.

But I digress. The two biggest baseball card companies were Topps and Donruss. The main way to tell if a player was either going to be awesome or a total bust was if his rookie card bestowed by Topps with the All-Star Rookie stamp or by Donruss with the Rated Rookie stamp. Because of these designations, the likes of Andy Benes, Ben McDonald, and Delino DeShields will live forever in infamy in the minds of now-thirtysomething men because, in our wistful youth, we undoubtedly traded far more valuable cards for their cards based on a single little stamp arrogantly placed on a piece of cardboard. "What's the goddamn point, GMYH?" I'm getting there.

Have you ever wondered whether the Topps All-Star Rookies had better careers than the Donruss Rated Rookies? "Every goddamn day, GMYH." Me too. Thankfully, someone else has performed the analysis. As you can see, Topps came out on – wait for it – top(p). It's an interesting and welcome comparison. Thanks to The Weez for the link.