Friday, December 22, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 12/22/17

1.  "Eruption" by Van Halen

2.  "Wind Me Up" by Mr. Big

3.  "Farewell To You" by White Lion

4.  "I Wanna Touch U" by Def Leppard

5.  "Slow An' Easy" by Whitesnake

6.  "Knucklebones" by David Lee Roth

7.  "I'll Be There For You" by Bon Jovi

8.  "Civil War" by Guns N' Roses

9.  "Feels Like a Hammer" by Dangerous Toys

10.  "Shake & Tumble" by FireHouse

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Be Careful How You Dilly

After tomorrow's Hair Band Friday post, I will likely be going on a hiatus until 2018, spending next week in a sloth-like state that would make a sloth proud.  But I would never leave you empty-handed over the holidays.  Bud Light generally has a leg up on Miller Lite and Coors Light when it comes to funny TV commercials, and the "dilly dilly" medieval-themed ad campaign is no exception.  I certainly enjoy it, and found myself saying "dilly dilly" at the end of my non-denominational blessing before Thanksgiving dinner.

It seems Modist Brewing Company in Minneapolis also liked the ads, so they decided to name an IPA "Dilly Dilly Mosaic Double IPA."  Rather than be dicks about it, Bud Light sent a town crier dressed up in medieval garb to Modist to deliver a cease-and-desist letter via scroll.  Check out the full article here, where you can read the full transcript of the town crier's proclamation.  Dilly dilly, indeed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You" by Billy Squier

Sometimes I really miss MTV.  Even though I didn't have cable growing up, I managed to watch a good amount of MTV at friends' houses.  And, of course, when I got to college, MTV was basically the default station that was on all day.  

In 1981 (the same year MTV launched), Billy Squier released "Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You" as the b-side to "My Kind of Lover" (the latter of which went to #45 on the Billboard Hot 100).  At Christmas time that year, Squier visited MTV and made this video of the song, backed by the MTV cast and crew, including all five of the original VJs, Martha Quinn, J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, and Mark Goodman.  I'm sure none of them realized how absolutely huge and groundbreaking their four-month-old network would soon become, but everyone is having a great time.  Quinn actually once said that it was her favorite moment working at MTV.  I included a version of the video on YouTube with a lead-in from Quinn, taped during a reunion weekend, and she explains who the crazy woman in the Santa suit is.  And why isn't it socially acceptable to wear sweaters like Squier's anymore?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Shows To Binge On This Holiday Season

If you're anything like me -- and you better pray to Krampus you're not -- then you usually take some time off around Festivus and Boxing Day each year to spend time with kith and kin.  In the age of streaming television, I use my time off to binge on TV shows that I don't otherwise have time to watch.  After all, it's cold outside, and what the hell else am I going to do?

We are living in a golden age of television.  The problem is that there are just so damn many good TV shows, but you don't have all the time in the world.  You have less than a week off.  Unless you're going on some sort of egg nog and coke-fueled bender, you probably won't have time to watch all of Game Of Thrones, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or The Wire, so I'm not going to suggest that you do.  

Instead, I am going to give you my recommendation for eleven shows that have 30 or fewer episodes, so you may actually have a shot at binge-watching them over the holidays.  These are only TV shows that I have actually seen.  Some of them require paid subscriptions, such as Amazon, Netflix, or HBO.  Others are on cable networks, so you may be able to stream them or see them on demand.  Regardless, here they are in alphabetical order:

1.  American Horror Story (FX; 7 seasons; 84 episodes)
Right out of the bat, it appears I've broken my main rule, but alas, fair reader, I have not.  American Horror Story has had seven seasons, but each of them are completely independent of one another and have entirely different story lines.  Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, and Evan Peters are series regulars, with other actors and actresses playing roles in multiple seasons.  I have watched every season except the second (Asylum, which I've heard is good) and the fourth (Freak Show).  In order, here are my four favorite:
-Season 1 (Murder House):  Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton move from Boston to LA, and their new house is quite literally a house of horrors.
-Season 7 (Cult):  After the election of Donald Trump, a twentysomething cult leader (played masterfully by AHS regular Evan Peters) terrorizes his small Michigan town, converting some of its residents and killing others, in support of his own political aspirations.
-Season 6 (Roanoke):  This season was made as a show inside a show.  For the first half of the season, we watch a fictional documentary show called My Roanoke Nightmare about an interracial couple who moves into a giant haunted house in rural North Carolina.  After the escape and the documentary series does well, the producers of the documentary series convince the couple and the actors from the documentary series to spend three nights in the house as part of a reality special, Return to Roanoke: Three Days in Hell.  Without giving too much away, I'll just say that things don't go well.
-Season 3 (Coven):  A all-girls boarding school of witches living in modern day New Orleans deal with the stigma of being supernatural beings, while also battling local voodoo practitioners and a centuries-old serial killer played by Kathy Bates.

2.  Crashing (HBO; 1 season; 8 episodes)
Crashing is a hard-luck comedy series about an aspiring stand-up comic, Pete Holmes (played by Pete Holmes) who lives on Long Island.  After finding out his wife is cheating on him, he moves out and tries to make it as a stand-up in NYC, sleeping in his car and relying on other stand-up comics and acquaintances to lend him a couch to sleep on (hence the title, which is also a double entendre for Pete's less-than-stellar comedy career).  Various famous comics appear in the show as themselves as well, including Artie Lange, Sarah Silverman, Dave Attell, and T.J. Miller.

3.  The Man In The High Castle (Amazon; 2 seasons; 20 episodes)
What would life in America had been like if the Axis won World War II?  Based on the dystopian Phillip Dick novel of the same name, The Man In The High Castle explores that frightening alternate reality, in which FDR was assassinated long before WWII, followed by a succession of weak presidents.  After the Axis won the war, Japan took control of the portion of the U.S. west of the Rockies and the Nazis took control of everything east of the Rockies.  In the middle is a lawless uncontrolled territory.  Every episode is full of tension, as the characters try to cope with living in authoritarian regimes where everyone is watching and no one can be trusted.

4.  Master of None (Netflix; 2 seasons; 20 episodes)
Admittedly, I have only seen a few episodes of this one, but what I have seen so far has been hilarious.  It stars Aziz Ansari, which is pretty much all you need to know.

5.  Mindhunter (Netflix; 1 season; 10 episodes)
I have always been fascinated with serial killers, and Mindhunter allows me to vicariously appease my fascination.  It is loosely based on the two FBI agents in the '70s and a Boston College professor who invented the term "serial killer" and brought forensic psychology and criminal profiling to the mainstream criminal justice world, in large part by interviewing convicted serial killers and using those interviews to profile common attributes, behaviors, and family histories of serial killers.  In the show, some of the serial killer characters are fictional and based on real life killers, while others are portrayals of actual killers (BTK, Richard Speck).  It's part procedural, part thriller, and all interesting.  David Fincher and Charlize Theron are two of the producers, and Fincher directed four of the episodes in the first season.

6.  Peaky Blinders (Netflix/BBC; 4 seasons; 30 episodes)
This is probably my favorite show on this list, and the impending release of the fourth season in the U.S. this Thursday is what prompted me to come up with the list.  Set in post-World War I Birmingham, England, the series focuses on a local family gang, named the Peaky Blinders for their penchant for slicing opponents' eyes with razor blades attached to their pancake hats.  The unwitting patriarch of the family, Thomas Shelby (played by Cillian Murphy), is a WWI vet who returns to Birmingham and has grand plans for his "family business."  Each season is set a few years after the prior one, and they have all been great, so I'm excited to binge on Season 4 while I'm home next week.

7.  Sherlock (BBC/PBS; 4 seasons; 15 episodes)
I have only seen a little more than a season of this one, but it is really good.  Each episode is basically a movie (some clocking in at 90+ minutes long), following our modern day Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Watson (played by Martin Freeman) as they solve crimes using their cunning and sometimes nothing else.

8.  Stranger Things (Netflix; 2 seasons; 20 episodes)
This is obviously a popular one.  If you haven't yet seen it, I highly recommend it, even if you're not typically a sci-fi person (I am not either).  Just in case you don't know what it's about, it's set in a small town in Indiana in the early '80s.  A preteen boy disappears on a bike ride home after hanging out with some friends, and his mom (played by Winona Ryder), the local sheriff (played by David Harbour), and the boy's friends all try to figure out what happened to him.  I'm a little more than halfway through the second season.  Ryder is great, Harbour is great, all of the kids are great, and the demogorgons are out of this world.

9.  Taboo (FX; 1 season; 8 episodes)
Set in the 1810s, Tom Hardy plays a somewhat insane and seemingly unbreakable Londoner named James Delaney, who has just returned home after spending several years in Africa.  He is at once at war with the Dutch East India Company, American spies, and his own demons.

10.  True Detective (HBO; 2 seasons; 16 episodes)
This is another series where each season is totally different.  The first season starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, and is about as good a crime drama series as I've ever seen.  The second season starred Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel McAdams.  A lot of people didn't like the second season, but I thought it was pretty good (although nothing compared to the first).

11.  The Young Pope (HBO; 10 episodes)
After watching the entire first season of The Young Pope, I am still not sure if I like it or not.  It's certainly an intriguing concept -- a 40-something hardline Catholic, possibly miracle-producing, American archbishop is elected pope.  Jude Law is said pope, and his character, Lenny (aka Pope Pius XII) is great.  Diane Keaton is a nun who raised Lenny in an orphanage after his parents abandoned there him when he was a young boy, and James Cromwell plays Lenny's mentor.  The show does a good job of showing the tension between the way things have been done at the Vatican and Lenny's way of doing things (and more conservative Catholic stances).

Now that you've read my list, I welcome any recommendations you might have.  Happy binging!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 12/15/17

1.  "Pleasure Dome" by Van Halen

2.  "Condition Critical" by Quiet Riot

3.  "Rocks Off" by Def Leppard

4.  "Life Goes On" by Poison

5.  "Inject the Venom" by AC/DC

6.  "Steal Away (The Night)" by Ozzy Osbourne

7.  "Savage" by W.A.S.P.

8.  "You Could Be Mine" by Guns N' Roses

9.  "Alone" by Heart

10.  "Who Cares?" by Extreme

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Jingle Bell Rock" by Billy Idol

Apologies for not posting a Tuesday Top Ten yesterday.  I had a Heisman-related post halfway started, but then I had to, like, work and shit.  It'll have to wait until next year.  Today's Retro Video of the Week is a lovely little cover of "Jingle Bell Rock" by Billy Idol.  It has a rockabilly feel to it, and it's gloriously cheesy.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Midwestern Eavesdropping

Thirtysomething wife to husband:  "You'd probably be a good singer if you weren't tone deaf."
--Austin, TX
Eavesdropper:  Waterloo Sunset

Friday, December 08, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 12/8/17

1.  "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison

2.  "Mama I'm Coming Home" by Ozzy Osbourne

3.  "High Enough" by Damn Yankees

4.  "Panama" by Van Halen

5.  "Bad Boys Running Wild" by Scorpions

6.  "Lay It Down" by Ratt

7.  "Bang Your Head (Metal Health)" by Quiet Riot

8.  "Living After Midnight" by Judas Priest

9.  "I Love Rock 'N' Roll" by Joan Jett

10.  "Heaven" by Warrant

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Ultimate Holiday Party Playlist

It's been a few years since I've blessed you fine people with my Ultimate Holiday Playlist, and for that I insincerely apologize.  Now that we're in December, I can guaran-damn-tee that we're going to be going to some parties.  And if you're throwing one of those parties or for some reason you're in charge of the music at one of those parties, then consider me your sherpa on the journey to the apex of yuletide anal aural bliss.

As I've mentioned in the past, the playlist is geared towards adult parties where people will not want to fall asleep (at least not without the help of some wicked egg nog your brother makes with lighter fluid), so the list does not contain some slower holiday classics like Nat King Cole's "Christmas Song," Bing Crosby's version of "White Christmas," or any of the many versions of "Baby, It's Cold Outside."  If you want your playlist to conjure in your guests images of people fire-roasting nuts that no one really eats anymore, a man beating his children with a sack of sweet Valencia oranges, or a man slipping a girl a mickey so she won't leave his apartment, then by all means, add those songs to your playlist.

Also, my list does not contain songs geared towards children, like "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" or "Nuttin' For Christmas."  If you are going to have a holiday party with children who hate snitches or who are enamored with the thought of an elderly woman being trampled to death by nine 400-pound hoofed animals, then by all means, add those songs to your playlist.

I should also note that I haven't had a chance to listen Cheap Trick's new Christmas album, which is supposed to be good, so next year's list may include a selection or two from Rockford's finest.

What my list does contain is 58 holiday-themed songs from different genres and time periods that will make your holiday party one to remember.  Or not remember if you make it a "Baby, It's Cold Outside"-themed party, which may be a nice satirical way to commemorate 2017, aka the Year of the Groper.

So you can download these songs, make a mix tape, make a YouTube playlist, or make a Spotify playlist -- or whatever it is you kids do these days with music you don't own forever -- and just stick to these or add some non-holiday songs into the mix if you're feeling haughty.

Here are the songs in alphabetical order by song title.  Yes, there are some songs with multiple versions, but I assure you, they are all worth -- and that's why the "shuffle" feature was invented anyway, just in case you were going to play these in order:

1.  "2000 Miles" by The Pretenders
2.  "All I Want for Christmas is You" by Mariah Carey
3.  "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter
4.  "The Bells of St. Mary" by Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans
5.  "Blue Christmas" by Elvis Presley
6.  "The Chanukah Song" by Adam Sandler
7.  "The Chipmunk Song (Please Christmas Don't Be Late)" by The Chipmunks
8.  "Christmas All Over Again" by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
9.  "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" by Darlene Love
10.  "Christmas In Hollis" by Run-D.M.C.
11.  "Christmas Is Going To The Dogs" by Eels
12.  "The Christmas Song" by The Raveonettes
13.  "Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End)" by The Darkness
14.  "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses
15.  "Christmas Vacation" by Mavis Staples
16.  "Do They Know It's Christmas?" by Band Aid
17.  "(Everybody's Waiting For) The Man With the Bag" by Kay Starr
18.  "Everyday Will Be Like a Holiday" by William Bell
19.  "Father Christmas" by The Kinks
20.  "Frosty the Snowman" by The Ronettes
21.  "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" by John Lennon
22.  "Here Comes Santa Claus" by Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans
23.  "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" by The Jackson 5
24.  "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday" by Wizzard
25.  "(It Must've Been) Ol' Santa Claus" by Harry Connick, Jr.
26.  "Jingle Bell Rock" by Bobby Helms
27.  "Jingle Bells" by Wayne Newton
28.  "Jingle Bells" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
29.  "Just Like Christmas" by Low
30.  "Last Christmas" by Wham!
31.  "Little Drummer Boy" by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
32.  "Little Saint Nick" by The Beach Boys
33.  "Mele Kalikimaka" by Bing Crosby
34.  "Merry Christmas Baby" by Lou Rawls
35.  "Merry Christmas, Baby" by The Beach Boys
36.  "Merry Xmas Everybody" by Slade
37.  "Oi To the World" by No Doubt
38.  "One Little Christmas Tree" by Stevie Wonder
39.  "A Party for Santa Claus" by Lord Nelson
40.  "Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy" by Bing Crosby and David Bowie
41.  "Please Come Home For Christmas" by Charles Brown
42.  "Rock and Roll Christmas" by George Thorogood & The Destroyers
43.  "Rock-a-Billy Christmas" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
44.  "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee
45.  "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by The Crystals
46.  "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by The Temptations
47.  "Run Rudolph Run" by Chuck Berry
48.  "Run Rudolph Run" by Lemmy Kilmister
49.  "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" by The Crystals
50.  "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" by Bruce Springsteen
51.  "Santa's Beard" by The Beach Boys
52.  "Sleigh Ride" by The Ronette
53.  "What Christmas Means to Me" by Stevie Wonder
54.  "White Christmas" by Darlene Love
55.  "White Christmas" by The Drifters
56.  "White Christmas" by Otis Redding (my favorite version of "White Christmas")
57.  "Winter Wonderland" by Darlene Love
58.  "'Zat You Santa Claus?" by Louis Armstrong & The Commanders

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Father Christmas" by The Kinks

Now that we are into December, as we do every year here at GMYH, the Retro Videos of the Week this month will be holiday themed.  First up is The Kinks' "Father Christmas."  While technically it falls outside the time limitations of Retro Video of the Week (i.e., the MTV era), it's too fucking important to worry about time limitations and, frankly, there are only so many holiday-themed music videos from the MTV era to go around.  Plus, it's a great song.  So there you go.  Happy St. Nicholas Day, bastards.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Best Breweries of 2017

A few days ago, I came across an article on the World Wide Web entitled "The 10 Best Breweries of 2017."  I like beer, so I decided to check it out.  They all sound fantastic, and I take it as a good sign that I haven't heard of many of them despite the fact that I drink a lot of beer.  They all appear to be regional/local breweries.  Here's the list:
-Brew Gentlemen (Braddock, PA)
-Triple Crossing (Richmond, VA)
-Two Roads (Stratford, CT)
-WeldWorks (Greeley, CO)
-Jackie O's (Athens, OH)
-Perennial (St. Louis, MO)
-Societe (San Diego, CA)
-J. Wakefield (Miami, FL)
-Austin Beer Garden (Austin, TX)
-Tired Hands (Ardmore, PA)

I went to the almighty Untappd to see if any of the 2,276 unique beers I've checked in belong to any of these ten breweries.  The only one was Perennial, and I've had six of their beers.  Here they are (with my rating), in reverse chronological order of when I drank them:
-Sump Coffee Stout (4 stars)
-Meriwether saison (4.25 stars)
-Suburban Beverage gose (3.5 stars)
-Dual Artisanship saison (3.5 stars)
-Black Walnut Dunkel dunkelweizen (4 stars)
-Saison de Lis (4 stars)

So if Perennial is any indication of the quality of the rest of the list, then apparently I need to take a trip to Binny's to see if any of they have non-IPAs from any of these breweries.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 12/1/17

1.  "Love On The Rocks" by Poison

2.  "Cabo Wabo" by Van Halen

3.  "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensr├┐che

4.  "Electric Gypsy" by L.A. Guns

5.  "Fractured Love" by Def Leppard

6.  "Signs" (live) by Tesla

7.  "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" by Cinderella

8.  "Spiders" by Ozzy Osbourne

9.  "Seasons of Change" by FireHouse

10.  "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Beat It" by Michael Jackson

Tomorrow is the 35th anniversary of Michael Jackson's Thriller, the highest-selling album in the history of the world.  I'm not sure there's anything else I need to say.

Undefeated After Week 13

It was another action-packed and upset-heavy weekend of college football, as #1 Alabama fell in the Iron Bowl to #6 Auburn, 26-14, while #2 Miami lost at unranked Pitt in a 24-14 shocker.  That leaves only two undefeated FBS teams:  #4 Wisconsin (who finally makes an appearance in the CFP Top 4) and #14 Central Florida.

In last night's release of the College Football Playoff rankings, there were some major changes, as expected.  Alabama and Miami fell out of the Top 4, to #5 and #7, respectively.  Clemson moves up to #1, Auburn leaped everyone else to get to #2, Oklahoma moved up a spot to #3, and, as mentioned above, undefeated Wisconsin moved up from #5 to #4.  

The crazy thing is that all four of these teams could lose this weekend because they are all playing teams in the Top 11 of the CFP rankings that conceivably all still have a shot at getting into the Playoff with a win.  Clemson plays #7 Miami in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, which is a hell of a lot closer to Clemson than Coral Gables, but those Hurricanes are going to be pissed after last weekend.  Auburn plays #6 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.  Oklahoma plays #11 TCU in the Big XII Championship game in Arlington -- about 18 miles from TCU's campus, and about 175 miles closer to TCU's campus than OU's.  Finally, Wisconsin plays #8 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis.  Needless to say, it should be a hell of an exciting championship weekend.  Whatever happens, I just hope Alabama doesn't sneak in the back door again without winning the SEC West, like in 2011 when the Crimson Tide went to the BCS championship game despite finishing 2nd in the SEC West.

Here are the top 4 teams in the CFP ranking, along with each team's best win and worst loss, where applicable:
1.  Clemson (11-1)
Best win:  #2 Auburn (9/9; 14-6)
Worst loss:  at Syracuse (10/13; 27-24)
2.  Auburn (10-2)
Best win:  #5 Alabama (11/25; 26-14)
Worst loss:  at #17 LSU (10/16; 27-23)
3.  Oklahoma (11-1)
Best win:  at #8 Ohio State (9/9; 31-16)
Worst loss:  Iowa State (10/7; 38-31)
4.  Wisconsin (12-0)
Best win:  #21 Northwestern (9/30; 33-24)
Worst loss:  N/A

Here is a breakdown of the remaining undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are CFB Playoff Committee rankings):

#4 Wisconsin 12-0
12/2 – Big Ten championship game (Indianapolis) vs. #6 Ohio State (10-2)
Best win:  #23 Northwestern (9/30; 33-24)

#14 Central Florida 11-0
12/2 – AAC championship game (at UCF) vs. #20 Memphis (10-1)
Best win:  #20 Memphis (9/30; 40-13)

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Best Current British Rock Drummers

Between gorging myself with food and drink over the last six days, sleeping and sitting on my couch while millions of idiots woke up at 4 a.m. to go shopping on a Friday, and satisfying my ubiquitous acute fecalphilia, I haven't had time to write my own Tuesday Top Ten this week.  However, I came across this article entitled "The 10 best British rock drummers in the world right now," which I thought was a good read.  While I don't know several of the bands, I was happy to see that Rufus Taylor of The Darkness and Ben Thatcher of Royal Blood -- the drummers for two of my favorite current bands -- made the list.  Tally-Ho!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Big Ten Bowl Outlook

This year, I somehow managed to post a weekly look at the Big Ten's bowl chances, so now that we're in the last week of regular season games for the Big Ten, it's now or never.

As we enter Rivalry Week, we know who will be playing in the Big Ten Championship Game on December 2 (Wisconsin and Ohio State), but there is still a lot at stake for most of the Big Ten schools, whether it's bowl eligibility, beating a rival, or just getting a better bowl berth.

This past Saturday, my beloved Hoosiers trounced Rutgers, 41-0, for their first Big Ten shutout since 1993.  The Hoosiers are now 5-6.  Meanwhile, those loathsome Boilermakers upset Iowa at home to get to 5-6.  That means this Saturday's Old Oaken Bucket game in West Lafayette will be for more than just bragging rights.  Whoever wins becomes bowl eligible, and whoever loses will stay home for the holidays.  Meanwhile, Minnesota is also sitting at 5-6, looking to pull a major upset in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe with Wisconsin this Saturday.

With their losses last Saturday, Maryland, Nebraska, and Rutgers join Illinois in the ranks of non-bowl-eligible teams.  Nebraska has now lost 5 of its last 6 (and giving up 50+ points in three of those losses), bringing Mike Riley's three-year tenure in Lincoln to an unceremonious end.  The Cornhuskers will miss a bowl for the first time since 2007 (and for the first time since joining the Big Ten in 2011) and for only the third time in the last 47 seasons.  If they lose to Iowa this weekend, they will fall to 4-8, which would be the most losses in a season for Nebraska since 1957.

Here are this past Saturday's results, as well as this coming week's slate of games (rankings are CFP):

Week 12 results:
Indiana 41 Rutgers 0
#5 Wisconsin 24 #24 Michigan 10
#9 Ohio State 52 Illinois 14
#10 Penn State 56 Nebraska 44
#17 Michigan State 17 Maryland 7
#23 Northwestern 39 Minnesota 0
Purdue 24 Iowa 15

Week 13 schedule (times listed are Eastern)
Friday 11/24
Iowa at Nebraska (4 p.m.; FS1)
Saturday 11/25
Indiana at Purdue (12 p.m.; ESPN2)
Ohio State at Michigan (12 p.m.; Fox)
Wisconsin at Minnesota (3:30 p.m.; ABC)
Penn State at Maryland (3:30 p.m.; BTN)
Michigan State at Rutgers (4 p.m.; Fox)
Northwestern at Illinois (4 p.m.; FS1)

Big Ten Bowl Partnerships
Before I delve into my analysis of each Big Ten team's bowl prospects, it makes sense to discuss which bowls are in play.  The Big Ten has partnerships with nearly a dozen bowls, but the selection process can be a bit confusing, as some bowls will only take a Big Ten team in certain years, others won't take a team if that team has played in the bowl within the past few years, and no school can go to the same bowl in consecutive years (not counting the CFP and Rose Bowl).  This is where the Big Ten's bowl determination procedures come into play.

Here is a breakdown of the Big Ten bowl selection hierarchy.  It is important to remember that, for the bowls not involving the champion or CFP rankings, the bowls do not have to choose Big Ten teams by order of finish.  For instance, if a particular bowl has third choice, it is not required to take the third-best Big Ten team.  Anyway, here is my attempt to wade through the muck.

1.  College Football Playoff (Pasadena and New Orleans, 1/1; Atlanta, 1/8)
Obviously, if a Big Ten team finishes the season in the top four of the CFP rankings, it will play in the College Football Playoff.

2.  Cotton Bowl (Dallas, 12/29), Fiesta Bowl (Phoenix, 12/30), or Peach Bowl (Atlanta, 1/1)
If the Big Ten champion does not qualify for the College Football Playoff this year, then it will play in one of these three bowls.  Normally, it would play in the Rose Bowl, but the Rose Bowl is hosting a CFP semifinal game this year.

3.  Orange Bowl (Miami, 12/30) OR Citrus Bowl (Orlando, 1/1)
The Orange Bowl will take the highest-ranked of the Big Ten non-champion teams, SEC teams, or Notre Dame to play an ACC team.  The Big Ten is guaranteed at least three Orange Bowl appearances between the 2014 and 2025 seasons.  Thus far, Michigan (last year) is the only Big Ten team to have played in the Orange Bowl in that span.

If a Big Ten school isn't selected by the Orange Bowl, then the Citrus Bowl gets first choice of the remaining Big Ten teams.  However, five different Big Ten schools must appear in the Citrus Bowl during the six-year agreement, which I think started with the 2014 season. Michigan and Minnesota have appeared in the Citrus Bowl since then.

4.  Outback Bowl (Tampa, 1/1)
Five different Big Ten schools must appear in the Outback Bowl during the six-year agreement, which appears to have started in 2014.  Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Iowa have played in the Outback Bowl since then.

5.  Holiday Bowl (San Diego, 12/28)
Five different Big Ten schools must appear in the Holiday Bowl during the six-year agreement, which started in 2014.  Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota have played in the Holiday Bowl since then.

6.  Music City Bowl (Nashville, 12/29) OR TaxSlayer Bowl (Jacksonville, 12/30)
The next choice is either the Music City or TaxSlayer Bowl.  During the six-year agreement (which began in 2014), each bowl gets three Big Ten teams, but no Big Ten team can play in each bowl more than once.  Thus far, Nebraska has played in the Music City Bowl, and Iowa and Penn State have played in the TaxSlayer Bowl.

7.  Pinstripe Bowl (Bronx, 12/27)
Six different schools must appear in the Pinstripe Bowl during the six-year agreement, which started in 2014.  Penn State, Indiana, and Northwestern have played in the Pinstripe Bowl since then.

8.  Foster Farms Bowl (Santa Clara, 12/27)
Five different Big Ten schools must appear in the Foster Farms Bowl during the six-year agreement, which started in 2014.  Maryland, Nebraska, and Indiana have played in the Foster Farms Bowl since then.

9.  Quick Lane Bowl (Detroit, 12/26)
There is no limitation on the Quick Lane Bowl, other than the team must be bowl-eligible.  Since the bowl was founded in 2014, Rutgers, Minnesota, and Maryland have played in it.

10.  Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas, 12/26)
The Big Ten has an alternating tie-in with the Armed Forces Bowl and Heart of Dallas Bowl.  This year, the Heart of Dallas Bowl is up.  Like the Quick Lane Bowl, there is no limitation, other than bowl eligibility.  Illinois is the only Big Ten team that has played in the Heart of Dallas Bowl since the current agreement went into place in 2014.

Big Ten Bowl Outlook
Let's take a look at the bowl chances of each Big Ten team who is still eligible.  I'll list each team's current record (overall and conference), and then I'll break down each team's (1) remaining game and whether it is a likely win, loss, or toss-up, (2) analysis of the team, (4) how many more games they need to win to become bowl-eligible, where applicable, and (5) for those teams that have clinched a bowl, the realistic best and worst-case bowl scenarios.  For sake of ease, I'm just going to go in alphabetical order.

1.  Indiana
Record:  5-6 (3-5)
Remaining game:  Purdue (11/25) (likely win)
Analysis:  As I mentioned above, IU dominated Rutgers last weekend in Bloomington, setting up a trip to West Lafayette with bowl eligibility on the line.  A win would mean the Hoosiers' third straight bowl game, which they haven't done since 1986-1988.  It would also mean a five-game winning streak for IU over Purdue, which would be the Hoosiers' longest winning streak against the Boilers in their 120-game rivalry.  Purdue is vastly improved this year, but I think the Hoosiers can squeak out a victory in that glorified high school stadium they call Ross-Ade.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1

2.  Iowa
Record:  6-5 (3-5)
Remaining game:  at Nebraska (11/24) (likely win)
Analysis:  Iowa is hard to figure out.  One week, they are dropping 55 points on Ohio State and then two weeks later, they are scoring only 15 points en route to losing to Purdue at home on Senior Day.  At least they are already bowl eligible.
Best case bowl scenario:  Pinstripe Bowl
Worst case bowl scenario:  Heart of Dallas Bowl

3.  Michigan
Record:  8-3 (5-3)
Remaining game:  Ohio State (11/25) (likely loss)
Analysis:  Another week, another Wolverines QB injured.  With Ohio State coming to Ann Arbor this weekend, it's not great timing for Michigan.  Perhaps, they can rally to pull off an upset, but I wouldn't bank on it.
Best case bowl scenario:  Outback Bowl
Worst case bowl scenario:  Music City Bowl or TaxSlayer Bowl

4.  Michigan State
Record:  8-3 (6-2)
Remaining game:  at Rutgers (11/25) (likely win)
Analysis:  After a down season last year in which Sparty didn't go to a bowl, Michigan State bounced back this year and should win 9 games with only Rutgers left on the slate.
Best case bowl scenario:  Citrus Bowl
Worst case bowl scenario:  Pinstripe Bowl

5.  Minnesota
Record:  5-6 (2-6)
Remaining game:  Wisconsin (11/25) (likely loss)
Probable win total:  5
Analysis:  Barring a major upset on Saturday, it looks like the Gophers' streak of five consecutive bowl games will come to an end.  After starting out 3-0, Minnesota has lost 6 of 8, scoring more than 24 points only twice in the process.  Then again, it is Paul Bunyan's Axe up for grabs on Saturday, so the Gophers may put together an emotional win at home.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1

6.  Northwestern
Record:  8-3 (6-2)
Remaining game:  at Illinois (11/25) (likely win)
Analysis:  The Wildcats continue to chug along as a formidable Big Ten team, already clinching their eighth bowl of the Pat Fitzgerald era.  Fitzgerald has already taken the Wildcats to more bowls than all other coaches in Northwestern history combined.  With lowly Illinois up next, Northwestern should win 9+ games for the fourth time under Fitzgerald and eighth time in school history.
Best case bowl scenario:  Citrus Bowl
Worst case bowl scenario:  Music City Bowl or TaxSlayer Bowl

7.  Ohio State
Record:  9-2 (7-1)
Remaining game:  at Michigan (11/25) (likely win)
Analysis:  The 2-loss Buckeyes are still trying to sneak in the back door of the College Football Playoff, but they have to beat Michigan in Ann Arbor this Saturday and then Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game next Saturday (and some other teams will have to lose).  Most importantly, they can't look past the Wolverines to next weekend -- not that the Ohio State-Michigan game could ever be a trap game.
Best case bowl scenario:  College Football Playoff
Worst case bowl scenario:  Citrus Bowl

8.  Penn State
Record:  9-2 (6-2)
Remaining game:  at Maryland (11/25) (likely win)
Analysis:  The Nittany Lions are looking for their second consecutive 10+-win season, which hasn't happened since 2009-2009.  With Maryland up next, it should be doable.
Best case bowl scenario:  Orange Bowl
Worst case bowl scenario:  Holiday Bowl

9.  Purdue
Record:  5-6 (3-5)
Remaining game:  Indiana (11/25) (likely loss)
Analysis:  Fuck Purdue.
Number of wins still needed to become bowl-eligible:  1

10.  Wisconsin
Record:  11-0 (8-0)
Remaining game:  at Minnesota (11/25) (likely win)
Analysis:  The Badgers are 11-0 for the first time in school history, and only two games stand between them and a CFP berth.  Like Ohio State, Wisconsin can't look past this weekend to the Big Ten Championship game, especially since Minnesota needs a win to become bowl-eligible.
Best case bowl scenario:  College Football Playoff
Worst case bowl scenario:  Citrus Bowl

Friday, November 17, 2017

Hair Band Friday - 11/17/17

1.  "Shame Shame Shame" by Ratt

2.  "Lipstick and Leather" by Y&T

3.  "Dead Horse" by Guns N' Roses

4.  "Unskinny Bop" by Poison

5.  "Silent Lucidity by Queensr├┐che

6.  "Bullets To Spare" by Dokken

7.  "Bad Girl" by Trixter

8.  "Addicted to That Rush" by Mr. Big

9.  "Love Song" by Tesla

10.  "Steeler" by Judas Priest

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Midwestern Eavesdropping

In a crowded elevator, two middle-aged men discuss one of the men's sons, who plays college lacrosse:
Man #1:  "Do they have a concussion protocol?"
Man #2:  "Yeah, although if you talked to my son on a normal day, you wouldn't be able to tell if he had a concussion or not."
--Chicago, Daley Center, 50 W. Washington
Eavesdropper:  GMYH

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Retro Video of the Week: "Never Gonna Give You Up" by Rick Astley

Tomorrow marks the 30th anniversary of the release of British ginger crooner Rick Astley's debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody.  It was a force to be reckoned with in 1987 and 1988, producing four Top 3 hits in the UK -- "Never Gonna Give You Up" (#1), the title track (#3), "When I Fall in Love" (#2), and "Together Forever" (#2) -- as well as three Top 10 hits in the U.S., "Never Gonna Give You Up" and "Together Forever" both hit #1, with "It Would Take a Strong Man" reaching #10.  The album went to #1 on the UK album charts and #10 on the Billboard album charts.

I have to go with "Never Gonna Give You Up," which was famously the subject of "rickrolling" about a decade ago.  You see, kids, people used to pretend to send their friends a link to a video, and then the link would actually take their friends to the video for "Never Gonna Give You Up."  Hilarious.  YouTube even pulled an April Fool's Day prank on April 1, 2008 by making every video on the site "Never Gonna Give You Up."

While most people believe rickrolling began in 2007, I beg to differ.  In the spring of 2000, during my senior year in college, my roommates and I invented rickrolling, or at the very least, we inspired it.  That semester, my roommates and I all had afternoon classes at the same time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so we were out of our room in the fraternity at the same time for several hours each afternoon those days.  One Tuesday or Thursday, we decided that we would blast "Never Gonna Give You Up" on repeat as loud as our speakers could go, and then head to class, locking the door behind us.  I was the first to arrive back to the house after my class, no doubt enjoying Bloomington's magnificent spring weather.  Astley's soulful baritone greeted me as I turned down our hallway.  What a song! I thought to myself.  Then, one of the guys in the room next to ours popped out as I removed my keys to unlock my door.  He informed me in no uncertain terms that if he ever heard that song again, anywhere, he would maim and/or dismember each and every one of us.  You just got rickrolled, Jeff!

Undefeated After Week 11

Last night, the latest College Football Playoff rankings came out, after an epic weekend in college football, where we saw two of the top three teams (Georgia and Notre Dame) get curb stomped, and #2 Alabama squeaked out a late victory at Mississippi State.

Unsurprisingly, Alabama now sits at the top of the rankings.  Clemson is #2, Miami is #3, and Oklahoma is #4, with undefeated Wisconsin lurking at #5.  The selection committee's rankings are released each Tuesday evening, so I'll be taking a look at the remaining undefeated teams for the next few Wednesdays.  I got a little bit of a later start this year than I had in years' past, but better late than never.

There are only four undefeated teams left in the FBS:  Alabama, Miami, Wisconsin, and Central Florida.

If Central Florida remains undefeated, assuming they are the highest-ranked non-Power Five team (which they are as of now), the worst the Golden Knights could do is go to a BCS bowl.

Looking at the remaining games, none of the undefeated teams has a cakewalk, and it's not out of the question that all four will lose before the end of the regular season. 
-While Alabama has its usual late-season FCS matchup (Mercer) this weekend, the Crimson Tide have to travel to #6 Auburn next weekend for the Iron Bowl and, if they win that, they will play #7 Georgia in the SEC Championship game.  Alabama's schedule thus far has been relatively weak, so they haven't been as battle-tested as they might usually be this time of year. 
-Miami has the easiest path of these four teams, as the Hurricanes have two very winnable games against Virginia and Pitt before playing #2 Clemson in the ACC Championship game. 
-Wisconsin has had a pretty light schedule this year, which explains why they are undefeated, but still looking in from the outside of the CFP Top 4.  They play #24 Michigan this week before traveling to Minneapolis to play Minnesota next week for Paul Bunyan's Axe.  The Badgers' opponent in the Big Ten Championship game has not yet been determined, but it will be Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, or Michigan. 
-UCF plays at Temple (last year's AAC champion) this weekend before facing 8-1 South Florida next weekend.  Assuming they win those games, they will have a rematch with #21 Memphis in the AAC Championship game.

Here are the top 4 teams in the CFP ranking, along with each team's best win and worst loss, where applicable:
1.  Alabama (10-0)
Best win:  at #16 Mississippi State (11/11; 31-24)
Worst loss:  N/A
2.  Clemson (9-1)
Best win:  #6 Auburn (9/9; 14-6)
Worst loss:  at Syracuse (10/13; 27-24)
3.  Miami (9-0)
Best win:  #8 Notre Dame (11/11; 41-8)
Worst loss: N/A
4.  Oklahoma (9-1)
Best win:  at #9 Ohio State (9/9; 31-16)
Worst loss:  Iowa State (10/7; 38-31)

Here is a breakdown of the remaining undefeated teams and each team's remaining games (rankings are CFB Playoff Committee rankings):

#1 Alabama 10-0
11/18 – Mercer (FCS) (5-5)
11/25 – at #6 Auburn (8-2)
12/2 – SEC championship game (Atlanta) - #7 Georgia (9-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record:  22-8 (.733)
Best win:  at #16 Mississippi State (11/11; 31-24)

#3 Miami 9-0
11/8 – Virginia (6-4)
11/24 – at Pittsburgh (4-6)
12/2 – ACC championship game (Charlotte) - #2 Clemson (9-1)

Remaining opponents' combined record:  19-11 (.633)
Best win:  #8 Notre Dame (11/11; 41-8)

#5 Wisconsin 10-0
11/18 – #24 Michigan (8-2)
11/25 – at Minnesota (5-5)
12/2 – Big Ten championship game (Indianapolis) - TBD

Remaining opponents' combined record:  13-7 (.650)
Best win:  #23 Northwestern (9/30; 33-24)

#15 Central Florida 9-0
11/18 – at Temple (5-5)
11/24 – South Florida (8-1)
12/2 – AAC championship game (TBD) - TBD

Remaining opponents' combined record:  13-6 (.684)
Best win:  #21 Memphis (9/30; 40-13)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday Top Ten: Funksgiving Songs

In little more than a week, the wife and I will be hosting Thanksgiving for the third year in a row.  As someone who rarely has time to make a proper meal for myself -- depending on whether you consider breakfast for dinner a "proper meal," in which case I make myself a "proper meal" several times a week -- I enjoy trussing, stuffing, and cooking the turkey, as well as making some fantastic sweet potato casserole and mashed potatoes with an alarming amount of butter.  Of course, I also enjoy having people over, watching football, drinking whiskey, and eating so much food that my body is unable to function.  It's the American way.

You may not know this about me, but I also like music and word combinations.  That's how Funksgiving came about.  I need music to function as a human being, and certainly to help me jam vegetables into a fowl's empty body cavity.  Last year, I decided to make Thanksgiving a little funkier, by including in the playlist a whole lotta funk music.  If nothing else, it will make it more likely that you and your guests tap their feet and do the worm, so as to burn off some of those 5,000 calories we will all be ingesting to honor our nation's long history of coming together for gluttony.

The cool thing about funk is that is has, in one way or another, spanned the last 50 years, from James Brown to Sly & The Family Stone to Curtis Mayfield to Stevie Wonder to Earth, Wind & Fire to Parliament/Funkadelic to Prince to Red Hot Chili Peppers to Bruno Mars, so the Funksgiving playlist includes songs both old and new.  The entire playlist isn't funk music, but a significant portion of it is.  If you're thinking about following my lead -- and you should always consult a licensed physician before doing so -- here are my top ten songs on the Funksgiving playlist, in alphabetical order by artist, along with the year the song was released after the artist.

1.  "Pick Up The Pieces" by Average White Band (1975)
This is a classic funk song that hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, performed by six white Scottish guys -- not exactly the typical make-up of a funk band.  It has been featured in tons of movies, including, most memorably for me, Swingers.

2.  "Hot Pants, Part 1" by James Brown (1971)
It was a tough choice between this and "Get Up Offa That Thing" (both of which are on the Funksgiving playlist, along with several other James Brown songs), but I think "Hot Pants" is just a little funkier.  That repeating guitar riff is kind of the essence of funk, isn't it?

3.  "Atomic Dog" by George Clinton (1982)
It would be tough to have Funksgiving without "Atomic Dog."  It has been sampled in countless hip hop songs, including Dr. Dre's "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')," Ice Cube's "Bop Gun (One Nation)," 2Pac's "Holler If Ya Hear Me," and perhaps most famously, Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)"

4.  "Backstrokin'" by Fatback (1980)
Fatback's 1980 electrofunk hit "Backstrokin'" rose to #3 on the Billboard R&B charts. I can't listen to this song without at least bobbing my head.  You may be surprised to learn that it's not about swimming.

5.  "You Dropped A Bomb On Me" by The Gap Band (1982)
This is another electrofunk classic.  With its synthesized bomb-dropping effect and upbeat tempo, it reached #2 on the Billboard R&B charts and #31 on the Billboard Hot 100.

6.  "Jungle Boogie" by Kool & The Gang (1973)
Before they were singing about celebrating good times, girls named Joanna, and cherishing things in the '80s, Kool & The Gang was a legit funk band.  "Jungle Boogie" was the band's first Top 10 song on the Billboard Hot 100, climbing all the way up to #4 in 1974.  It's a great song, with that Tarzan-esque yell near the beginning of the song providing the right start for the horns and grunting vocals to follow.  Unless my BAC is at least twice the legal limit, I generally don't dance, but "Jungle Boogie" has always been one of those songs that makes me want to gyrate my hips suggestively, even when I'm sober.  Those of us Gen Xers probably remember this song most for its inclusion on the Pulp Fiction soundtrack.

7.  "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield (1970)
"Move On Up" is nearly nine minutes of soul and funk jamming bliss.  It's not only a great Funksgiving song, but it's a staple on my everyday party playlists because it's upbeat and a good background song. Just a great song from one of Chicago's best. Of course, Mayfield would go on to write and perform the soundtrack to Super Fly, a delicious amalgamation of gritty funk songs, focusing on the darker side of street life.

8.  "Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" by Parliament (1975)
Parliament/Funkadelic is kind of like The Beatles of funk.  They didn't necessarily invent it, but they took it to another level and are probably the most influential funk band.  Parliament's 1975 song "Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)" is one of the quintessential funk songs, going gold as a single and becoming the band's first Top 40 song (hitting #15 on the Billboard Hot 100).

9.  "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" by Sly & The Family Stone (1969)
Sly & The Family Stone was one of the pioneers of funk.  They were not only a blend of genders and skin colors, but they made all sorts of fantastic music.  "Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" was one of their earliest forays into funk, and they nailed it.  The song hit #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard R&B charts, becoming one of the first successful funk songs.

10.  "I Wish" by Stevie Wonder (1976)
Stevie Wonder had a pretty solid run of great funk songs in the '70s and very early '80s, including "Superstition," "Higher Ground," "Boogie On Reggae Woman," "You Haven't Done Nothin'," "Sir Duke," and "Masterblaster (Jammin')," among others.  His four-album run from 1972 to 1976 -- Talking Book, Innervisions, Fulfillingness' First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life -- might be one of the best four-album runs in music history.  It was tough to pick one song (and all of the songs mentioned above are on my Funksgiving list), but I'm going with "I Wish" is off Songs in the Key of Life.  It's a catchy, brass-and-bass-heavy song that became Wonder's fifth #1 song in the U.S.