Ritland Daily Ramble #17

Quote of the day
Civilization had too many rules for me, so I did my best to rewrite them.
– Bill Cosby

Rambles
Return of one of the good guys

bill-cosby

The man.

NBC announced that Bill Cosby is returning to prime time this fall. Fittingly, he’s playing the patriarch of a multi-generational family.

Cosby’s contribution to television and comedy is undervalued. He proves that it’s possible to be very funny without resorting to profanity and cheap, easy sexual jokes. His ‘80s sitcom combined entertainment and meaning in a way very few, if any, other TV shows ever have.

I’m excited at the idea of Cosby making a comeback but I’m also afraid that the network will somehow mess it up. There are no good sitcoms on network television right now. This is largely because networks assume all Americans are idiots and dumb down their programming accordingly. There may be a lot of idiots out there but they must not be that dumb because viewership of network sitcoms is at an all-time low.

If Cosby is given creative control of his show it has a chance to succeed, although perhaps his brand of subtle, intelligent humor will have trouble resonating with contemporary America. One thing is for sure, though: he’ll wear some kick-ass sweaters.

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Picture of the day

a97678_g240_15-strange

I hope I can find this somewhere in Minnesota…

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

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Ritland Daily Ramble #16

Quote of the day
There is a certain logic to events that pushes you along a certain path. You go along the path that feels the most true, and most according to the principles that are guiding you, and that’s the way the decisions are made.
– Michael Nesmith

Rambles
Emphasis, Solidarity, and Pro-Life/Pro-Choice Dialog
Both sides of the abortion debate are, to varying degrees, very bad at getting their point across. In this article I suggest ways pro-life and pro-choice people can better dialog with each other. I also argue, via Cathleen Kaveny and Frederica Mathewes-Green, that the pro-life movement needs to shift their emphasis from attempting to overturn Roe v. Wade to solidarity with all people, especially the weakest among us.

I wrote this article yesterday not realizing that today is the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Prophecy is one of my many talents.

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The last word on Richard Sherman
Seth Stevenson, in his brilliant article for Slate, gets to the bottom of the Richard Sherman controversy even better than I did:

  1. When, after winning the game, Sherman made the choke sign in his losing opponent’s face, then called another losing opponent “sorry” and “mediocre,” he was being a dick.
  2. Even though Sherman grew up underprivileged and beat the odds and now gives back with worthy charitable endeavors, he was still being a dick.
  3. The fact that Sherman is very smart and attended Stanford and approaches his job in a scholarly manner doesn’t mean he wasn’t being a dick.
  4. Whether or not Sherman’s behavior was calculated and self-aware and media-savvy and akin to the monologue of a pro wrestling heel, it was still dickish.
  5. Many athletes play violent, hard-fought, emotional games and still manage to refrain from taunting their vanquished foes and giving dickish interviews.
  6. It is possible to be an entertaining, eccentric, and even boastful interviewee without being a dick.
  7. It turns out that Sherman and Crabtree have history—Sherman’s brother alleges that Crabtree tried to fight the Seahawks player at a charity event. Most of Sherman’s defenders haven’t bothered to mention the existing personal feud. But to be clear: While the prior beef adds some context, those two wrongs don’t make what Sherman did right—or, more precisely, not dickish.
  8. Talking smack in the lead-up to a contest, or in the middle of it, is permissible. It falls into the hallowed tradition of gamesmanship. Dancing on graves after the battle has been won is dickish.
  9. And this is the most delicate of these notions but needs to be addressed: Whatever archetypes may be conjured by the specter of white people tsk-tsking a black man who loudly brags alongside a blond woman, those uncomfortable overtones don’t change the fact that, in this case, in that moment, the man was being a dick.

Well, that pretty much ends that argument.

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Picture of the day

train

Winter is beautiful.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Ritland Daily Ramble #15

Quote of the day
Jesus is my American idol.
– Andrew Broder

Rambles
The Cloak Ox
Fog was one of my favorite local bands of the ‘00s. Their music mixed a dizzying array of sounds. One song would be a mixture of heavy guitars and a thick hip-hop beat, the next a tender acoustic guitar ballad, the next a jazzy, meandering instrumental. Their live shows were as unpredictable. As a showman Broder is lovingly endearing.

Last year Broder’s new band The Cloak Ox released their debut LP Shoot the Dog. It’s been deservedly highly regarded in indie rock circles, especially locally. Curious North, the blog I write for, published my review of it yesterday and you can read it here.

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Now playing
Lately I’ve been enjoying sitting in my living room and reading. Today I listened to The Beatles’ Hard Days Night and Past Masters Volume One, The Rolling Stones’ self-titled debut album, album two of Twin Cities Funk & Soul: Lost R&B Grooves from Minneapolis/St. Paul 1964-1979, and, currently, Jethro Tull’s Benefit.

I’ve been reading The Beatles Anthology. It’s quite inspiring reading about how John and Paul wrote songs, who the band was influenced by, and how they lived in their early years. Each member has a unique perspective that is fun to hear. Reading early sections about right before they hit big in America influenced me to listen to a couple of their albums and the first Rolling Stones album. Which is more straightforward blues than the Beatles, obviously, but is no less endearing, or well-done.

I plan on writing a review of Twin Cities Funk and Soul but I’ll just say that it’s worth every penny, if not for the music than for the liner notes, which are an entire magazine about the artists on the compilation and the Twin Cities soul scene in general.

When I was a kid I bought all sorts of awful classic rock because I could buy it cheap used on LP: Seger, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Boston, so many others. A band of that sort that I still enjoy very much is Jethro Tull. They had a unique sound and feel. Their songs are big and the band behind Ian Anderson is tight and funky. They get written off too often but they’re certainly better than many overdone classic rock bands that have better reputations. AC/DC and Van Halen come to mind.

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Picture of the day

Jethro_Tull_(agriculturist)

The original Jethro Tull, English writer and agronomist who invented a horse-drawn drill around 1701.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Ritland Daily Ramble #14

Quote of the day
The more stupid one is, the closer one is to reality. The more stupid one is, the clearer one is. Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence squirms and hides itself. Intelligence is unprincipled, but stupidity is honest and straightforward.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

Rambles
Don’t be an Asshole: The Ballad of Richard Sherman
After the NFC Championship game Seattle Seahawk’s cornerback Richard Sherman went on a hilarious rant about how great he is. Some called it disgraceful, others simply an athlete overcome by his emotions in the heat of the moment. In my take, which you can read here, I explain how both sides miss the point.

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John & George on an attic in HamburgPicture of the day
Today I listened to the Meet the Beatles! album, not knowing that it’s the 50th anniversary of its release. It is the copy my Dad originally bought back in 1964. Needless to say it skipped more than once.

The raw power of the Beatles’ early material is unprecedented. Too often people write it off as simply “oldies” but there’s nothing, especially that was coming out around that time, that sounded anything like it.

This picture, from a couple years before the albums release, finds George and John looking particularly badass.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #13

Quote of the day
Whether your name is Gehrig or Ripken, DiMaggio or Robinson, or that of some youngster who picks up his bat or puts on his glove, you are challenged by the game of baseball to do your very best day in and day out. That’s all I’ve ever tried to do.
Cal Ripken Jr.

HDM-LogoRambles
Hockey Day Minnesota
I have the reputation for being too negative. This isn’t something I enjoy because in reality I am actually exceedingly joyful. There’s nothing I like more than being alive.

Something that comes close, though, is celebrating. Some people get off on ruining people’s celebrations. It’s like they think their negativity will somehow make it less special to the people who celebrate. Fortunately this is not the case.

I used to make fun of Hockey Day in Minnesota. It doesn’t really make sense because I actually do like hockey. It’s weird how this sort of negativity it works. There’s a weird feeling inside that wants to be against something just because you see people celebrating and enjoying themselves. It’s so shallow.

It’s nice to finally be over it. My favorite part of Hockey Day, even in the years I’d make fun of it, was always the outdoor high school games. There are two televised live. This morning saw Cloquet-Esko-Carlton beat Rochester Lourdes 4-1. The game, between two perennial Class A teams, was a lot closer than the score indicates. It was scoreless going into the third period and Lourdes even took the first lead before Cloquet took over.

As I write this Elk River, who is hosting Hockey Day this year, is about to take on Stillwater, another matchup of talented, classic tournament teams. Afterward the Gophers will take on Ohio State and then I’ll have the pleasure of working at Xcel as the Wild take on the Dallas Not-So-North Stars.

The coolest thing about Hockey Day is how damn happy it makes people. Fox Sports North is covering it locally and everyone they talk to and interview is contagiously happy. And that’s what it’s all about. Hockey is important to a lot of people in Minnesota and setting aside a day to honor it means a lot to them. Celebrating something you love lifts up your heart.

And that’s never a bad thing.

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An apology to Cal Ripken, Jr.
ripken 2Cal Ripken Jr. is one of the nicest, and best, people in baseball history. His major accomplishment, setting legendary Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, proves his work ethic and dedication to the game.

Although he’d never want to admit it I get a lot of my negativity from my Dad. When Ripken set the record in 1996 my Dad wrote it off. “Eh, his record doesn’t count,” he’d say. “Did he play during the strike?” Instead of acknowledging Ripken’s amazing feat he didn’t see it as an accomplishment because of the previous year’s baseball strike. But the strike had nothing to do with Ripken and doesn’t at all diminish the dedication it takes to play so many games in a row.

My oldest nephew’s name is Cal. Although his parents deny it I know it was inspired by Cal Ripken Jr., one of my former brother-in-laws heroes. I’d always try to get him going by making fun of Ripken: “You know, his streak doesn’t count because of the strike, right?” It never worked. He’d just shake his head.

Today I watched most of MLB Network’s “My Most Memorable Game” series with Ripken talking about the game he broke Gehrig’s record. Watching it I was finally able to understand why he is so highly regarded in baseball. He has a great attitude and an obvious love for the game. He’s also very humble. He nearly cried several times when he talked about how much his Dad, Orioles’ legend Ripken Sr., meant to him.

Ripken is a good example of some of the most important lessons in life: persistence, perseverance, and love and respect for what you do. As a guy who usually can’t even make it to work on time his dedication is inspiring. It’s finally time that I give Cal Ripken Jr. his due.

And Ron, you done good naming your son after such a great man.

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Picture of the day

RIPKEN C SWEENEY

Cal Ripken with his parents after the game he broke baseball’s consecutive games played streak.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #12

Quote of the day
People call me wild. Not really though, I’m not. I guess I’ve never been normal, not what you call Establishment. I’m country.
– Johnny Cash

Watson

Country badass Dale Watson

Rambles
Song of the day
Dale Watson – Country My Ass (click to listen)
Well that’s country my ass
Who do they think we am?
Force feed us that shit
Ain’t you real tired of it?
Tell ‘em stick it up high
Where the sun don’t shine

Get pissed, get mad
‘Cuz that’s country my ass

I’m working the Jason Aldean concert tonight and earlier I had the, er, pleasure of hearing a bit of the sound check. Without the vocals the band sounded like ‘90s Aerosmith: big, bombastic, updated ‘70s classic rock. I would find out later that if you add two guys rapping over it with a super phony twang you have Florida Georgia Line, one of today’s hottest up-and-coming cuntry sensations.

Sometimes I get bored with complaining about contemporary cuntry music. But when I try to think of its redeeming qualities I stumble. The songwriters are talented, I guess, even though they’re largely manipulating people’s emotions. The producers are good at what they do, I suppose, except with how easy digital equipment is to use that isn’t very impressive either. Some of the hottest women in the world love the stuff, though, so that’s something to be said in its favor.

I love this Dale Watson song because it wonderfully describes why traditional country fans dislike what called country music today. “Don’t get me wrong, to each his own I believe,” he says, “but they’ve took the soul out of what means a whole lot to me.” Sure, people have the right to like it, but people also have the right to point out that it’s a soulless mockery of what country music used to be.

As Dale says, “I can see Hank and Lefty, they’re spinning around in their graves/and if they were here now, I think y’all know what they’d say.”

I reckon ya’all know?

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johnny-cash-middle-finger-billboard

“American Recordings and Johnny Cash would like to acknowledge the Nashville music establishment and country radio for your support. Johnny Cash – Unchained – Winner of the Grammy for Best Country Album.”

Picture of the day
In the early ‘80s Johnny Cash was dropped by Columbia Records because country radio stopped playing his music. After a short stint at Mercury Records failed for the same reason Cash thought he’d never record another album. Fortunately in the ‘90s Rick Rubin took Cash under his wing and recorded several records with him that are considered among his best.

Rubin was used to commercial success. His work with the Tom Petty, Slayer, Metallica, and many others all found radio outlets. He couldn’t understand why country radio refused to play the popular, critically acclaimed music Cash was making.

So after Cash’s Unchained won the Grammy for Best Country Album in 1996 Rubin took $20,000 of his own money to place this full-page ad in Billboard Magazine. It still stands as one of the coolest things anybody has ever done.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Ritland Daily Ramble #11

Pope Francis, the religious and secular in America, a surprise musical collaboration, John Candy with a beard.

Quote of the day
Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.
– Pope Francis

Rambles
Voice of Dissent: R.R. Reno on Pope Francis and Culture
The Catholic Church disagrees with contemporary culture in many fundamental ways. Is Pope Francis helping the situation? Is America a religious nation or a secular one? How should religious and secular people move forward? I delve into these questions on my second reflection on this R.R. Reno piece.

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Surprise collaboration
It is being reported that Jack White and Neil Young have recorded an album of covers together that will hopefully be released soon. Songs include Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and one of my favorite ‘60s folk songs, Phil Ochs’ “Changes.”

I love that guys like Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and Paul McCartney keep working on their craft instead of just resting on their past accomplishments. They don’t just re-hash their old sound, either, instead collaborating with people to keep their music fresh. Young is teaming with White, Springsteen with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello on his new High Hopes album, and McCartney with several noted contemporary pop producers on his last record New.

It’s too bad that people are largely ignoring what they’re doing. Listeners of new music don’t have time for the past and listeners of old music just want to hear the songs they’re used to. Both are ruts worth avoiding.

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Picture of the day

John_Candy

John Candy looks fucking sweet in a beard. That is all.

Erik Ritland is a journalist and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North and writes frequent Daily Rambles. Ramblin’ On catalogs his writings on culture, music (including his own projects), sports, religion, and many other topics. You can reach him via email here.

Ritland Daily Ramble #10

Beyond conservative and progressive, the perils of contemporary capitalism, the disappearing of the middle class, Nostradamus, songs about the end of the world.

Quote of the day
The examined life is not worth the effort.
– Bizarro Socrates

Rambles
R.R. Reno on Economics
As I was doubting whether anything was worth caring about R.R. Reno was writing about how everything is worth caring about. In my first reflection on his piece I comment on the intelligence of his liberal economic theory. Essentially, what today is called “capitalism” is killing the middle class and furthering the marginalization of the poor.

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Another quote, more Chesterton.
On the same topic, here’s a typically perceptive quote from Chesterton:

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types–the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine.

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davinciPicture of the day
In 2010 I watched one too many documentaries about 2012 and the end of the world. It all seemed to make so much sense back then, you know? Many of the songs I wrote around that time were based around end of the world themes. For example, “Firelight” (Eden burns through the night/I see past the firelight) and, even more explicitly, “I Can See the End of Everything” (life will end with a thunder/it will happen soon).

This picture is from Nostradamus. There’s a lot of convoluted meaning behind it but I don’t remember it. Pretty foreboding though, eh?

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Ritland Daily Ramble #9

Quote of the day
Loving the world is the same as fighting the world.
– G.K. Chesterton

Rambles
Each small candle lights a corner in the dark
Am I too negative? Well, maybe sometimes. In today’s longer ramble, which you can read here, I explain why it’s important to write about and discuss important topics, even if it means occasionally being too overly critical. I also describe a little bit about how I went from being a Protestant to being Catholic.

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My boy.
NPG x6021; G.K. Chesterton by James Craig AnnanG.K. Chesterton is a 300 pound, beer drinking, cigar smoking saint. Okay, so he hasn’t been canonized, but he’s a saint. He’s also my hero.

I have a long way to go before I become like Chesterton in any way (except as a Catholic convert which I will become in April). At my very best I’m like Chesterton at his worst through a mirror, darkly. He has taught me to look beyond what is presented to me. To be a truly critical thinker. To look towards the eternal.

This means looking at the world critically, which he did. Chesterton may have seemed negative but he was only looking at things for what they are. He perceptively saw what was wrong with the world (he wrote a book with that title, actually) and explained it in such a funny, charitable way that even those he disagreed with loved him. He understood what he criticized because he put it in the broader perspective of the eternal.

I try to do that but I have a long way to go. I’m not as perceptive about what I disagree with, I’m certainly not as fun or funny about it, and I barely have a clue about the bigger picture that it all fits in to. My only hope is that the more I read, the more I write, and the more I observe the better and better I’ll get.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Ritland Daily Ramble #8

Quote of the day
There is a condition worse than blindness, and that is seeing something that isn’t there.
– L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of Scientology

Rambles
Tell it like it is
Wikipedia doesn’t refer to famous people in history by their titles. So St. Paul becomes Paul the Apostle, King Henry VIII becomes Henry VIII of England, and so on. This is because technically a person’s title isn’t a part of their name, but I argue that it is actually more influenced by the hubris of academics. Read my thoughts here.

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My passion legitimized
beerA recent study shows the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption:

Medical science has known for years that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol actually have a reduced risk of death. In general, they are healthier and have better cardiovascular function that those who don’t drink alcohol at all.Now, new research from Oregon Health & Science University adds a fascinating twist: moderate drinking may actually bolster our immune system and help it fight off infection.

I always get laughed at when I say that I don’t drink to get drunk. Sure, I like getting a buzz occasionally, but I always consider it a failure when I get drunk. But, as this study shows, not only is moderate drinking possible, it is also beneficial.

Even the good book agrees, explaining that God created wine to “maketh glad the heart of man” (Psalm 114:15a). The joy of those who enjoy an occasional drink, or smoke, is also what helps them live longer and healthier. The positive medical effects of joy can never be quantified.

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Bdu9a_rCUAAgY7M.jpg large

This boat is worth as much as my house and was selling for how much I have left on my mortgage after paying it off for 3 years.

The Sportsman’s Show
This week I’ve been working the Sportsman’s Show at the convention center in Saint Paul. It always trips me out because half the RVs and boats cost more than my house did. Sadly, they are probably more useful. And certainly more durable.

I wonder how long it’ll be before the Sportsman’s Show get its name changed to the Sportspeople show. If that does happen I guarantee the campaign will come from someone who doesn’t care at all about hunting or fishing that just wants to force their morality onto others. These, of course, are the same people who criticize the Church for forcing their morality onto others. In our culture today irony is the rule, not the exception. See the L. Ron Hubbard quote above.

Erik Ritland is a writer and musician from St. Paul, Minnesota. His blog and podcast Rambling On features commentary on music, sports, culture, and more. He is also a contributor for Minnesota culture blog Curious North. Support Erik’s music via his Patreon account, reach him via email, or find him on Facebook and Twitter.