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Monday Muse: Over The Rhine “Meet Me At The Edge Of The World”

September 15, 2014


Over The Rhine put out a wonderful album last year that I did not share with you guys and I should have. Meet Me At The Edge Of The World is vast double album (I have the vinyl and it is a gorgeous artifact.)  It’s a very country flavored collection, with lots of steel guitar and two part harmony, in fact it’s the most singing you’ll ever here from Linford. Songs like the title track (above) or Earthbound Love Song and All Over Ohio have a very Nashville feel without ever letting you forget it’s OTR you are listening to. All Of It Was Music evokes the bands origins on Main Street and their growth from kids in pop/folk/punk clubs to the master craftsmen with a farm on the outskirts of town and dogs resting on the porch. It was easily my favorite album of the year in 2013 and I play it once a week or so. Enjoy

Up From the Pit Fantasy Football: Week 2 Preview

September 11, 2014

Greetings Football fans! Week 2 is upon us tonight with the debut of Thursday Night Football on CBS at 8:25 Eastern Time. Tonight’s battle will be between the Steelers and the Ravens. Each meeting between these two teams puts this loyal Bengals fan in quite a quandary. Which of these hated rivals do I root for? The storied Pittsburgh franchise, the team with the most Superbowl victories in league history, including one they shredded Carson Palmer’s knee to get to? Or the Ravens, who were lovable losers back when they were the Browns but became unhinged bullies in Baltimore? A quick poll of my Facebook friends revealed that, given the choice of a) Pittsburgh, b) Baltimore or c) This Guy

The winner was Bane in a landslide.

Our Bengals will face the Atlanta Falcons, who came back to beat the Saints in overtime last week in a thrilling 37-34 fireworks show. Don’t expect Matt Ryan to throw for 448 yards against the Bengals veteran secondary. The Falcons have next to no pass rush so I foresee Andy Dalton having time to pitch a tent in the back field if he so chooses, and they have nobody who can run with AJ Green. I expect solid win for the guys in stripes, who haven’t lost at home since 2012.

In other games I’ll be keeping an eye on, the Titans are next to belly up to the free yardage and points buffet that is the wretched Dallas Defense, the Texans will get to chase Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr all over the field, and I’ll be very interested to see if the Jaguars team that scared the crap out of Eagles fans in the first quarter last week will show up in Washington to face the Controversies or will it instead be the team that the Eagles scored 34 unanswered points on in the second half.

As always, players are locked into place at kickoff. Doublecheck your injury reports, rub your lucky rabbits foot and pray to Lord Voldemort, Week 2 starts in an hour. Have fun everybody.

Up From the Pit Fantasy Football: Week One Review

September 9, 2014

Hello there Fantasy Football Fans! The first weekend of the NFL season is in the books and man was it an exciting… is it still a weekend if it starts on Thursday and ends on Monday? Anyways there was a lot of fun football action that translated into a tight week on the Fantasy Scoreboard. First a warning to newcomers, Fantasy Football tracks a lot of different events beyond the touchdowns and field goals that make up the scoring in a game of real football. SO there is nothing unusual about scores in the 120-140 pt range.

The top spot this week was shared by the Open Carriers and the newly renamed Start your Starters (formerly Captain Chaos) with 135 total points. The Carriers were led by second year Steeler RB Le’Veon Bell (30 pts), whose 109 yards rushing, including a 38 yard touchdown run, were vital in holding off the surprising Browns comeback. The rest of the teams stars did predictably well, with Peyton Manning (looking mortal with 22 pts),  DeMarco Murray (22 pts) and Brandon Marshall (21 pts) all cracking the 20 pt barrier. But the bottom half of the lineup put up some single digit games to keep the OC’s from running away with the week.  Start your Starters total was anchored by a massive 7 catch, 104 yard and three touchdown evening from Bronco’s TE Julius Thomas (35 pts), backed up by Matt Forte (24 pts), whose receiving ability makes him a great player to own in our new Points Per Reception scoring environment. 

Last seasons champion Geatland Grendels came in third this week with 130 pts. The investment in orange and black paid off with Andy Dalton (18 pts), kicker Mike Nugent (17 pts) and AJ Green (25 pts) adding to a big day from TE Vernon Davis (20 pts) covering for a meager 8 total points from his backfield. The Unaccompanied Minors (29 pts) take the 4th spot behind QB Matthew Stafford who shredded the New York Football Giants for 346 yards, 2 TD passes and one with his legs. Carolina TE Greg Olsen (22 pts) joined in on the fun. Lots of scoring from the tight ends so far this year.  Team Scheirer tallied 126 points to snag the 5th spot, joining in on the Broncos/Colts shootout with 370 yards passing from Andrew Luck (29 pts) and 116 yards and a score from WR Antonio Brown. 

The Seoul Crushers unleashed Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch (25 pts) in the season opener on Thursday night, but unfortunately none of his fantasy teammates managed to get past 20 pts, leaving coach Abby in unfamiliar territory looking up at the rest of the league. Our Sports Team limped through the weekend with disappointing performances up and down the lineup. Not even the Giant Leprechaun, Colin Kaepernick (17 pts) could change their luck this week. Neer Neer Neeeeeeer came in last with 99 pts, but there were encouraging signs of life in last years doormats. The Calvin Johnson (35 pts) half of the Lions attack kept Coach Karl close to the pack and the NNN Bench had 101 pts sitting on it. With a little fiddling I think they could be very competitive this year. 

Player of the Week: Calvin Johnson and Julius Thomas shared the top scoring honors this week.

Coaching Genius Move of the Week: Always a fairly subjective award, and there usually isn’t much finagling in the first week. As Coach Frank says “Start Your Starters” and all that. So this week the award will go to Frank for holding steady, having faith in his draft and getting the season off to a great start.

Dave Shula Memorial Coaching Blunder of the Week: As above, week one doesn’t lend itself to a lot of strategizing, so there is no judging in this pick. But the costliest error this week goes to NNN, who left 20 whole points on the bench when the Rams D/ST (1 pt) got rolled by the Vikings and SF (21 pts) beat the crap out of the Cowboys. 

So that’s week one, I hope we all learned something. We’ll be back on Thursday for a quick and dirty preview of the coming week. 


Monday Muse: The New Pornographers- “Brill Bruisers”

September 8, 2014

I’m in no way an audiophile. I don’t have a high end stereo, such nonsense would be wasted on my beat up old ears. Spotify streaming and the mp3’s on my iPhone are fine with me. But I still love my record collection, I love playing records on my Dad’s vintage “portable” Magnavox mini turntable. There’s something relaxing about the ritual of pulling out a disc, blowing off any dust, loading it onto the turntable, perusing the album cover. I find that I’m more likely to sit and listen to a record when I can’t easily skip to the next track. Not that there is anything essentially wrong with convenience either. I pay Spotify so I can listen to almost anything whenever I want. That obviously has it’s advantages. But actually owning music. I’ve found that it still has some appeal to me.

In fact in the current era of streaming, burning and downloading music I’ve made a conscious decision that if I like an album enough I’ll seek out and buy it on vinyl. Especially something beautiful like the colored vinyl of The New Pornographers latest release Brill Bruisers. And it’s not just pretty looking. Here they are on Late Nite…


 I admit, I haven’t the slightest clue what this song is about. And I don’t fucking care, it’s currently my go to shut out the rest of the world and play as loud as possible song. There is something about how the band just dives straight into this track that invites you to follow them headfirst down the slide. The rest of the album is pretty good too. War on the East Coast was the second single released and is an excellent track, a very good introduction to the Pornographers style. Champions of Red Wine is a delicious taste of Neko Case’s vocal stylings. It’s a great album top to bottom. I’m not sure anything on Brill Bruisers will unseat Mass Romantic as my favorite Pornographers single, but its a worthy addition to the band’s catalog and fills me with hope that this won’t be the last we’ll see from this great collection of Canadians. 

Cincinnati folks should drop by Shake-it Records for their record needs, that’s the only place I go for new music. Because I can walk there ;) Seeya next week for more Musings. 

Up From the Pit Fantasy Football 2014 Preview

September 4, 2014

Welcome! This is the third time I’ve started this fucking preview because the WordPress editor keeps acting up. And no I don’t want to write it in Word and then transfer it. I hate Word. Anyways… ON TO THE FOOTBALL!!!!

Since we are hosting the UFtPFFL here at Raising Hellions this year, I thought I should take some time to explain to both of my readers what makes our league a little more fun for us than others have been in the past. Firstly it is for low stakes. It’s a 20 dollar buy in and all of that money is split between the champion and runner up. I know some people spend hundreds of dollars a year on this game. I personally think that’s crazy. Twenty bucks is just enough to smile about if you win, but not a terrible loss if you (as is most likely) lose. Secondly, even though we use ESPN’s free Fantasy Football service to keep track of things for us, we don’t play the game as weekly head to head matchups. Instead each team is awarded points based on their performance each week, from 8 points for the highest total each week on down to 1 point for the lowest. I have to credit co-commissioner Chris Dunn for the scheme, which is designed to avoid one of the most frustrating experiences in Fantasy Football, the week where it seems like everything clicks, you pull out your highest score of the year and you get bubkus because the team you are paired off with did just a little better. I think it really smooths a lot of the randomness out of the season and does a better job of rewarding good lineup decisions.  We play a 14 game season with the top two teams at the end of the year squaring off in a Superbowl. Last year we played a Toilet Bowl of sorts with a 5 dollar buy in for all the losers to play for over the kind of random last two weeks of the regular season.

Without further ado, here are the teams for 2014, in Draft Order.

Open Carriers: Coach Chris Dunn.

Named after those brave Americans ready to protect our freedom to shop at Target whilst heavily armed, the OC’s led off the draft by picking last years NFL and UFtPFFL Most Valuable Player (and possible Son of Man) Peyton Manning. His Majesty will be supported by some great receivers in Brandon Marshall and Jeremy Maclin. A lot of this teams fortunes may ride on the balky knees of Rob Gronkowski.

Neer Neer Neeeeeeer: Coach Karl Hiller

Named after a sound effect I believe? Coach Hiller is in his second year of Fantasy Football and gamely fights on despite knowing less about the NFL than my 9 year old. Hoping to improve on last years last place finish, NNN picked up a fairly pass heavy roster, starting with Drew Breesat QB and the dangerous Calvin Johnson at WR. He’ll be very pleased if Bronco’s RB Montee Ball responds well to getting the starting nod in Denver’s high powered offense.

Our Sports Team: Coach Lou Doench

“We’re Great! You Suck!” sings Weird Al Yankovic in this teams fight song. I went with an old school Fantasy approach, snagging Shady McCoy and Eddie Lacy as my starting RB’s in the first two rounds, adding possibly the best receiver in the draft in Demaryious Thomas, and gambling in the later rounds on TE’s Zach Ertz and LaDarious Green.

Team Sheirer:  Coach AJ Sheirer

AJ joined the league for fun and to help us get to an even number, but he’s never been able to make the draft so we drafted him by committee again. AJ “Purple Jesus” Peterson was his reward for picking fifth, and he has a nice passer in Andrew Luck coming back in round 2. With AP and Arian Foster at RB he has a Superbowl Backfield from 2012, but may be getting a little long in the teeth at this point.

Seoul Crushers:  Coach Abby Stevenson Doench

Korean import Abby honors her forebears this year and hopes to make her ancestors proud behind Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, super TE Jimmy Graham and the omnipresent Victor Cruz, who has been on all three of Abby’s rosters. She’s a former champion and she’s looking for revenge for last years Super Bowl loss, so watch out.

Unaccompanied Minors: Coach Tony Doench

Abby’s loyal husband, Tony Went for blazing speed as his teams hallmark, with Jamaal Charles, Giovanni Bernard and CJ Spiller giving him a squad of running backs who can score from anywhere on the field. His receiving corps will depend a lot on players with new addresses this year, Eric Decker leaving the high flying Broncos for the more stationary Jets and DeSean Jackson (also a speedster) leaving the high octane Eagles for the three ring circus of the Washington Controversies. Will his gambles pay off?

Captain Chaos: Coach Frank Mcelwain

Hoping to channel the spirit of the late Dom Deluise, Frank Did a fine job this year drafting from the 7 spot. Matt Forte, Aaron Rodgers and Dez Bryant form the potential core of a championship team. A lot will be expected from an aging Andre Johnson and Reggie Bush to step up and support the stars.

The Geatland Grendels: Coach James Geers

Last years champions defend their title sans Manning this year. They focused on acquiring Bengals, showing an optimism for the hometown team usually reserved for members of Mike Brown’s immediate family. But AJ Green, Andy Dalton, and the Bengals Defense can score points. He’s just going to have an interesting bye week to navigate.

Week One Preview

The season kicks off with great game tonight, pitting the defending champion Seattle Seahawks and the ferocious defense that embarrassed the Bronco’s in February against the Green Bay Packers and the returning Aaron Rodgers. Tonight’s game might be an indicator of the rest of the season. Do you start your star players against the ‘Hawks? Or go fishing for a better match up with lesser players. The Bengals begin their defense of their AFC North Crown on the road against division rival Baltimore Ravens. Will Marvin Lewis finally win a playoff game? The quest begins Sunday.

In other interesting games, The Jets and the Raiders will vie for the title of  “Most Directionless Organization”, the 49’ers will be the first beneficiaries of facing the Cowboys and what may very well be the worst defense in the NFL in quite some time. And the Colts and Bronco’s will hook up once again for another silly “Peyton Manning’s Revenge” game.

Remember folks, players lock in at kickoff of their game. Get your lineups in, doublecheck the injury reports, sacrifice a fatted calf, do what you feel you need to do to be ready. Then lets go have a fun Fantasy Football season.

Good Luck Everybody!

Long Overdue Update Post!

September 4, 2014

Coolest Hat Ever

Hey there internet friends! It certainly has been a long time since we had a post here at Raising Hellions. If this blog is the only way you keep up with me then it would certainly look like I fell off the face of the Earth! Which is not true at all. But there have been some big changes in my life the last year that I should probably explain to both of my readers.

Thing one is a Great News Thing. Last year I was given the opportunity to join an awesome collection of bloggers at the newest Skepchick sister site Grounded Parents. The GP’s are an awesome gang of intelligent and funny moms and dads and other interested parties who are dedicated to secular and science based parenting. We aren’t all experts, heck most of us are just avid amateurs, but we blog to share our stories, our passions, our insights and our gripes. It has been an incredible amount of fun and I feel like I’ve made some awesome E-migo’s . You can check out what I’ve written for GP here. I’m especially proud of my series examining common social media memes that give bad parenting advice or commentary, the Internet Meme Demolition Derby. I’ll try and get into the habit of posting a link here whenever I have a new GP piece, usually on every 10 days or so.

The other thing is more of a Bad News/Good News thing. Last year I began seeing a psychologist for the first time in my life. What started as a way to ask some questions about how much of my Dad’s hypochondria I inherited (the answer is a good bit) became a long overdue examination of my own mental well being. So I’ve been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The anxiety was bringing on panic attacks and the ADHD has been interfering with my life for 45 years. I now take Stratterra , which is a non stimulant ADHD treatment which luckily also has an off label application for anxiety treatment. I’m also benefiting a great deal from the weekly talk therapy sessions, hashing out some of my issues with my particular life situation. We’re having some interesting discussions about how hard it can be to be an extrovert who has to spend too much time cooped up in non social situations, something I’ve had to do as a SAHD for 9 years now.

So the gist is that my SAHD and skeptical parent blogging has moved to another venue and the personal blogging has been… unmotivated. But I need to write more. At the blog Writing about Writing, fellow GP Chris Breechen exhorts those interested in becoming writers to write every day. Now I’m not sure I am interested in becoming a “writer” in the sense that I’d like make money at it or anything, especially if it would interfere with my real job of supporting the Girl and raising our Hellions, which is what keeps me in whiskey money. But I do want to become a better blogger, which requires practice. So Raising Hellions will continue as my personal blog, a home for my writing about friends and family and whatever else comes to mind.  I plan on restarting the Monday Muse posts, I have a bunch of new music to share with y’all. And I’ve decided to make Raising Hellions the home of my weekly review and preview essays for the Up from the Pit Fantasy Football league, the first of which will be landing sometime before the kickoff of tonight’s Green Bay/Seattle season opener. UFTP Fantasy Football  is a labor of love, a low stakes friends and family affair started by my friend Kester and myself when we grew frustrated with the way previous leagues had been run. I had a lot of fun writing these last year, here’s a sample.

Up from the Pit Fantasy Football Week 7 Review
or The battle for second place rages on.

Hey there Pitters! Better late than never comes this weeks recap of bone crushing Fantasy Football action. The Return of the Sunday Hotties (135 pts) seem to be intent on erasing the sibling kissing taste of last years tie for the Championship. Another first place finish widens Abby’s lead in the overall standings to 8 points over the Grendels with seven weeks to go. The Hotties attack this week was led by Matt Forte’s (28 pts) three touchdown performance and Vincent Jackson’s (25 pts) 138 yd, 2 td scorching of the beat up Atlanta Falcons.

The Green Arrows (103 pts) surged back into contention for second place when their namesake wideout AJ Green (21 pts) blasted out of his slump with 155 yards against the Lions, as well as a 22 pt day from veteran RB Frank Gore (more on him later). Captain Chaos (96 pts) closed to one point behind the Grendels for third place on the year on the back of Aaron Rodger’s 28 point Sunday.

The Grendels (94 pts) continued their surprising rise from last years basement with another MVP level game from possible Terminator robot Peyton Manning (31 pts), although that wasn’t enough in real football to stay winless as The Bronco’s fell to the Colts in Manning’s return to Indianapolis.

Tito’s Puentes (80 pts) dialed up Cybertron and received help from Megatron (Calvin Johnson) who caught every ball thrown anywhere near him on Sunday for 27 pts. The Least of Your Problems (75 pts) squeaked past Team scheirer (74 pts), led by the Carolina Defense mangling the Rams to the tune of 19 pts, while TS suffered from disappointing outings across the board (although AJ has to be happy with the 30 pts Cam Newton put up in Thurday night action lasy night.) Breaking Wind (67 pts) continued to struggle despite the efforts of Possible Giant Leprechaun Colin Kaepernick (21 pts) and the long awaited return of Rob Gronkowski (11 pts).

Player of the Week: Peyton Manning (again)

Coaching Genius Move of the Week: Nobody. The starters did their jobs this week and no coaching gamble really paid off.

Put Me in Coach Award: Oof this was a rough week for QB’s. Tito’s Puentes swapped Nick Foles (6 pts) in for Matt Ryan (25 pts) on the advice of a lot of experts. But the award this week goes to TLoYP, who managed to miss Andrew Luck’s (31 pts) triumphant performance in upsetting the Bronco’s, although is is not Karl’s fault the red hot Jay Cutler (1 pt) suffered a torn groin early in the game.

Transaction News: We had our first big trade this year as Captain Chaos offered to solve The Green Arrows’ revolving door at QB in exchange for dealing from the GA running back depth. Aaron Rodgers and Frank Gore swap teams as both coaches fight to catch the Grendels for second place.

This week features a huge slate of byes, with Chicago, Tennessee, Indianapolis, San Diego, Baltimore, and Houston taking the week off to work on their Halloween Costumes.

Good luck and have fun this weekend!

So that’s the plan folks. Music, Football, more silly pix of the kids. Raising Hellions is back in action. Hope everyone has fun.

Monday Muse: Laurie Berkner

July 8, 2013

So far I have been blessed to to be spared the affront visited on all parents by their progeny, that they will have terrible taste in music.   It seems every generation is visited with this curse.  The old fuddy duddies hated, in no particular order; Jazz, Rock and Roll, New Wave, Disco, Rap, Trip-hop, Electronica, Heavy Metal, Chamber Music, Mozart,  The Blues, Swing, Sinatra, Choral Music, Country and Western, Bluegrass, AM I MISSING ANYTHING?

I’m positive that somewhere back in the mists of time there was a caveman lamenting to his cavewoman about the “Kids these days with their new fangled DRUMS,  Back in my day we banged two rocks together and that was damn fine music!  And don’t get me started on those obscene cave paintings grumble grumble…

Now there has been a slow infiltration of “new” music into the Hellions playlist.  Katy Perry pops up now and then.  The Peanut loves Thrift Shop for some reason (which is fine, because I do as well).  I’m fine with that though.  I don’t buy into generational music resentment.  There is always great music being made, and there has never been a better time than today to find it.  As the Who sang many years ago “The Kids are Alright”. They always have been.

Still, I’m glad that the most requested artist from the Hellions is still a “kids” musician.  And in my opinion the Queen of kids music today is Laurie Berkner.  Ms. Berkner  first appeared on our radar from her many guest spots on Nick Jr’s Jack’s Big Music Show, a delightful program that taught youngsters a lot about music  in fun and friendly fashion. It ceased production in 2007, but it’s absolutely worth your time to check it out. It will definitely be on my upcoming list of “Kids TV that won’t drive you bonkers or insult your intelligence”  It’s a longer list than I thought it would be.

Laurie mixes  her own takes on classics like “Wimoweh(the lion sleeps tonight” and “O Susanhah”, songs that grandma or grandpa can tap along to, with her delightful original compositions, little songwriting gems like “Victor Vito”, “Under a Shady Tree”, and “I’m a mess”.  And it’s in her original compositions that she really shines.  She writes inventive and challenging songs for an audience that is often ill served by Barneylevel dreck and recycled nursery rhymes  (Barney is definitely not on the list).

Still cranking out tunes at the age of 44 (she’s 6 months younger than me!),  The Laurie Berkner Band (Laurie, Susie Lampert on piano.  bassist Adam Bernstein, and drummer Bob Golden) are still writing and touring. In fact they will be in the Heart of it All at the Big Fun Kid’s Fest in Columbus, Ohio this September 1st.  Maybe we’ll see some of you there?


PS. The Wikipedia article on Laurie Berkner clued me into the term “Kindie Rock”.  I’ll be exploring that term and the artists it covers at a later date.



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