Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free Garlic Sauce with each Ticket

So yesterday, Paul, Stew, JD, Mark (JD’s friend) and I went to the third installment of the Papajohns.com Bowl at historic Legion Field. Sadly, I don’t think they had invented spell check when Legion Field was built??

I heard Bo Kerr (Head of Sales & Marketing for the PJB) speak a few months back about the Bowl and how important it was for Birmingham to support it, the economic impact for our city, yada yada yada, and I was pretty pumped as this was supposed to be the first year to feature an SEC team (too bad we could only qualify 8 teams, and Papajohns.com got the 9th pick). Luckily, Birmingham scored an ACC team instead of having to go to the Sun Belt conference (I know everyone does enjoy a good LA-Monroe game though).

Face value for a ticket to watch the N.C. State Woflpack (6-6) duke it out with the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-5) was $43. We got 5 for $40 at the gate, and I think we could have gotten them cheaper, if we had tried longer than 5 minutes with a scalper.

We sat in the NC State section the first half, and then moved to the Rutgers section for the second. Since my Mom and Grandparents are from the great state of New Jersey, I had to support the Scarlet Knights. Did you know Rutgers was the first school to play college football (vs. Princeton in 1869)? If you forgot, Rutgers fans were sure to remind you with their festive “throwback” headgear (PS – did anyone see Leatherheads? That movie looked awful).

I think Rutgers is only team to ever score a touchdown on a Fake Field Goal and then miss the extra point?? They probably should have faked the extra point . . .

Even though Rutgers was down 6-17 at the half, they came back to win 29-23 in what was actually a pretty exciting 4th quarter. I read in the paper, that about 38K fans made it out to the game this year. I’m sure next year, when ‘Bama plays UConn (or some other 6-6 Big East team) it will sell out . . . too bad Andre Smith won’t be playing in that bowl game either . . . in ya face, Saban!!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What Child is This?

Merry Christmas from That Much Further 'Ham and the Mrs.

PS - Yes, I got Masters of the Universe on dvd, and I'm really excited!! (thanks, Mom)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

In keeping with the tradition of posting really old photos this month, I thought I'd wish you a Very Merry Christmas from the McKinley House (circa 2003)

The $9.95 Holiday Portrait special at Wal-Mart is always worth it . . .

Friday, December 19, 2008

Baby, It's Warm Outside . . . Seriously, It's like 70 degrees

Anybody lookin for a jolly good time this Monday (December 22nd) should come out to Workplay and see Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors play a Special Christmas Concert with Red Mountain Church.

I've known Drew since the 6th grade (our lockers were beside each other at Houston Middle School) and he is living the American dream (or every American musician's dream). After graduating from UTK, Drew set out on the road and has played at least 500 shows across the US. He's recorded some great albums (his latest, Passenger Seat, made it to #4 on iTunes Top Folk Albums the week it was released), got some great press (he was featured in the November Paste music sampler) and married a great girl (Ellie has joined Drew out on the road and they make a great musical team). This week also saw Billboard and USA Today review his "A Neighborly Christmas" album.

I've never been to RMC, but it looks like their music is pretty similar to the Auburn RUF albums from the early 2000s (Boundless Free and Love Unknown) and those are really good.

Hope to see yall out Monday night. Drew and I will probably try and recapture this image from ECS Prom '98 (I had some wicked Bama Bangs in high school).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Nostalgia has a Playlist

And it starts off with “Glory Days” by the Boss . . .

Am I starting to go through one of those “What does it all mean” phases?? No, not really, but I am a bit taken aback that it’s been FIVE YEARS since I graduated from college?!?!? What happened?? Seriously, I can vividly remember the first night I moved my stuff into the J.A.M. House and had Cancun’s Mexican Grill for dinner, when I was a wee, baby freshman . . .

Well, not only has it been 5 years since I graduated from Auburn (I did go back for an extra year to get my MAc), it’s also the 5 Year Anniversary of the final “On the Backporch” broadcast (my weekly alt.country/bluegrass/folk/Americana radio program on WEGL 91.1 FM)!

My wife tries not to roll her eyes when I talk about my time as a “college DJ,” but it’s one of my proudest and fondest memories of Auburn. I started out as a freshman in the “prime” 12-2 am Tuesday and 2-4 am Thursday night slots, and eventually moved my way into, in my opinion, one of the better slots in college radio . . . 6-8 pm Sunday night (students are driving back into town, studying for tests on Monday, etc.).

I started “On the Backporch” my Junior Year, and took a very Accountant-like approach to the show. I had Excel spreadsheets with every artist and frequency of play. I typed up mailing lists with every record label I could find in No Depression and sent out e-mails asking for freebies. I had a (basic) HTML webpage set up where I posted my playlists every week, and I made flyers for the show in Word, to post around campus. I really liked being a college DJ.

I’m grateful Zandura101 helped capture my last show on CD (I put a lot of thought into what songs would be played on the FINAL broadcast) and hope you enjoy (reading) it. If I was real tech-savvy, I would stream the show on-line, but I feel like that may not “be cool” with the Music Industry and/or Google/Blogger. If any of y’all are interested, I can actually burn you a copy (complete with PSA’s and my riveting commentary).

On the Backporch - December 14, 2003

Neil Young - Everybody Knows this is Nowhere
Boys from Indiana - Call This Country Boy Home
Son Volt - Windfall
Be Good Tanyas - Lakes of Pontchartrain
Faces - Ooh La La

Whiskeytown - Dancing with the Women at the Bar
Ween - I Don't Wanna Leave You on the Farm
Jesse Malin - High Lonesome
Longview - Leavin' Tennessee
Bob Dylan - Girl from the North Country
Byrds - Christian Life
Patty Griffin - Long Ride Home
Wilco - Dash 7
White Stripes - We're Going to Be Friends

Blair Combest - Every Once in a While
Tom Petty - Angel Dream No. 2
Rolling Stones - Wild Horses
Big Star - Thirteen
John Prine - Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You
Catherine Irwin - Will You Miss Me
Wildwood Valley Boys - Heartbreakin' Devil
Bottle Rockets - Lawd, I'm Just a Country Boy in this Great Big City
Bright Eyes - You Will. You?Will. You?Will. You?Will.

Alison Kraus - Oh, Atlanta
Reeltime Travlers - Little Bird of Heaven
Tennessee Boltsmokers - Turn Out the Light (Love me Tonight)
Cory Branan - Crackerjack Heart
Cory Branan - (She's My) Rock and Roll
Gram Parsons - Medley Live from Norther Quebec: Cash on the Barrelhead - Hickory Wind
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Johnny Cash - We'll Meet Again
Uncle Tupelo - Acuff-Rose
Lucero - The Last Song

Red Hot Hummus Peppers

A couple weeks ago I realized that Hummus is quite possibly, the easiest appetizer known to man (or just me). You take a bunch of chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans). You put em in the food processor, add a few ingredients, and BAM, you got hummus! Now, I don't get all crazy and add Tahini paste (what else am I gonna use Tahini in??), so Hummus purists, may not approve, but I've made this roasted Red Pepper hummus twice in the last month, and I think its pretty tasty.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

2 cans Chickpeas (drained, but reserve a little of the liquid)
2 large Roasted Red Peppers (I bought a jar or RRP in olive oil, and I think there were about 3 large ones in the jar)
3 Garlic Cloves
Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)

Combine Chickpeas, RRP, Garlic and Salt/Pepper in food processor. Add a little of the chickpea liquid until you get the right consistency. I also added a little of the RRP olive oil. Serve with fresh pitas or pita chips.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Cult of Personality

If there is one good thing about the public accounting profession (ok, there are lots of good things), it’s that they take a pro-active approach to Training and Continuing Education. As a CPA, you are required to take 40 hours of CPE (Continuing Professional Education) a year. There is a wide variety of topics to choose from, and in addition to riveting titles like “Auditing Derivative Instruments, Hedging Activities, and Investments in Securities” or “FIN 48 – Uncertainty in Income Taxes: A Must Know for Tax CPAs & Accountants/Auditors,” you can take 8 hours of “Behavioral” classes a year, too.

Last year (my first since leaving the Big 4), we had a day-long training session on the time management method/book, Getting Things Done (GTD). Apparently, this book has developed a cult following, and people can get pretty rabid about the “43 folders.” One of the more interesting take-aways from that day was the idea of a “Brain Dump” where you basically spend 6 minutes, scribbling down every thought/activity/to-do list you have running through you mind. You don’t focus on details or how you will actually accomplish all of these things, you just write them all out, so you can sort through them afterwards. Pretty neat idea, in my opinion.

Well, yesterday my firm brought in some folks to teach us about our DiSC profiles. In case you aren’t familiar with the DiSC, it’s a personality/behavioral assessment, similar to Myers-Briggs, or any of the other personality profiles/quizzes out there. You basically answer a bunch of multiple choice questions and it determines which of the 4 dimensions (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) you are higher or lower in. According to the results, “you learn about your tendencies, needs, preferred environment, and strategies for effectiveness.” I guess the thinking is, as we learn more about our co-workers’ (and really ourselves) profiles (traits, strengths, weaknesses, etc.) we can learn how to better relate and work as a team. In addition to the 4 dimensions, there are 15 “classical patterns” you fall into, depending on how you score.

We have about 100 people in our organization, and throughout the day, the facilitators would have us stand up, so everyone could see who was what (it did get a little old, since you had High, Medium & Low for each dimension (12 different groups standing and sitting), and then you had 15 groups for each of the patterns). As different groups stood up, the leaders would ask us “What do you think about their assessment?” or “Do you see that person as a ___” etc.

Well, according to the DiSC, my highest dimension is “C” (Conscentiousness – over half of our firm were “High C’s”) and my classical profile is an “Appraiser.” Here’s what the DiSC says about Appraisers (PS – I just Google Imaged “Appraiser”):

Appraisers help others visualize the steps that are necessary to accomplish results. Appraisers usually speak from a detailed plan of actions that they have developed to ensure an orderly progression towards results. In the eagerness to win, Appraisers can become impatient when their standards are not maintained or when extensive follow-through is required.

Appraisers are good critical thinkers. They are verbal in their criticisms, and their words occasionally may be caustic. Appraisers have better control of the situation if they relax and pace themselves. A helpful axiom to achieve this is, “You win some and you lose some.”

When, it came time for the Appraisers to stand up, it was myself, our HR/Recruiting Coordinator, our Marketing Coordinator, and our recently hired Training Coordinator. That’s right; I was the only CPA, who has the same traits as our various Coordinators have. So, pretty much the rest of the day, myself and other folks were joking around “Well gee, Alex, guess you picked the wrong profession” or “Oh, wow, looks like I better hang up this accounting business”, etc.

All in all, it was a pretty interesting day, and I’m glad my firm takes the time (and money) to invest in our people’s culture and work habits. Plus any day not tying down a Deferred Tax Liability is a good day in my book.

My Wife is Cool

This is the text message I got from my wife at 3:30 pm, Wednesday, December 10th:

"Cardinals are coming march 6 Alabama theater. Aren't I so with it?"

Is my wife really breaking Music news to me?? She sent this one hour after Pitchfork broke the story????

Like I said before, I don't think we'll be buying any tickets to this show (now if I happen to win any off the radio???), but to answer your question, Yes Dear, you are so with it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me (Dec 9)

Is there anything better than Facebook on your Birthday?? Seriously, you get birthday well wishes all day long!

Today I turn the Big 2-7 and celebrating with a mock interest look-back tax project at work!! Tonight the the Mrs. and I are heading to Rojo for some fish tacos! Oh man, I love fish tacos!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Man's Best Friend

So, about 3 months ago, the Mrs. and I “adopted” a dog. Ok, the dog really belonged to my wife, but had been living at her parents’ house the last 8 years (they got it for her when she was a freshman . . . in college, not high school).

Phoebe (aka Pheebers) is a Brussels Griffon, and although if you had asked me a year ago if there would be a dog in my house, I would have said a resounding “HECK NO!” she has slowly, but surely melted away my cold, icy heart (that is one long run-on sentence). According to Wikipedia, “Griffons tend to bond with one human more than others,” and my wife will reluctantly admit that person is me. I was also glad to see the Wikipedia entry mention the fact they bear a strong resemblance to a certain species in the Star Wars galaxy.

Anyways, I was bored last night, and made another short film with Pheebes. The wife and I had to leave her with her “grandparents” (aka the wife’s parents) this weekend, and when she returned to us, she was happy to see me . . .

PS - I know I’m removing the black veil of secrecy over my identity. Please internet world, don’t steal it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oh, I heard of them 3 weeks ago . . .

Has anyone else seen The Deer Hunter? I saw it a couple years ago (I think I fell asleep during part of it – it’s over three hours) and remember being BORED OUT OF MY MIND! My taste in film must not be that classy, because it won an Oscar for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (plus Best Editing and Sound, but those are kind of boring awards). The only scene I can remember is the one where DeNiro plays Russian Roulette with the other Vietnamese guards/prisoners (MAU! MAU! DIDI MAU!)

Well, this weekend JD and I are going to get ROCKED OUT OF OUR MIND, as Deerhunter (the indie blog-darlings of the season) comes to the Bottletree on Saturday night! I had never listened to them until this week (I got a copy of Microcastle), but I’d compare them to an up-tempo My Bloody Valentine (and my exposure to MBV is only limited to Loveless). I should have guessed they were pretty uber-hip as Pitchfork had their latest album review on their front page for what seemed like forever.

Anyways, I’m bringing along my trusty Nikon, so you might see some of my picts over at Bham.fm next week.

Hope everyone has a good weekend! CHOMP!! CHOMP!!

Slap Yo Mama

Oh man, I think I found my new favorite BBQ joint in Birmingham . . . Moe’s Original BBQ

What started in Colorado by three Bammers, has now landed in Orange Beach and two Bham locations (in Vestavia and downtown in the Massey Building, home of the former Bombay Pub). Before I talk about how tasty Moe’s was/is, can we have a moment of silence for Bombay Pub?? Best sandwich in downtown Birmingham. Too bad we never invited Pete, right Andy . . . lolz.

I went to Moe’s with Jay for lunch (I doubt the downtown location is open for dinner) and ordered the Pulled Pork platter, Bama-style (vinegar slaw on top) with Mac n Cheese (nothing special) and Collards greens (fantastic, but not as good as Sweet Bones Alabama). We got there pretty early, as they had limited seating (maybe 5 or 6 tables) and our order was up fast. The meat (pork shoulder) was tender and the sauces (white and red) had great flavor. And they have REALLY good grilled cornbread. Jay also mentioned they make some mean Ribs and Brunswick Stew.

I am definitely down to go again if anybody’s interested . . .

Thursday, December 4, 2008

War Damn Tubby

After 10 years as Auburn’s head football coach, ole Tubbs is out.

Did anybody watch the official AU press conference on Coach Tommy Tuberville’s “resignation”? We are supposed to believe that on Monday morning, CTT met with the powers that be, and told them he wanted to coach at Auburn for another 5 years (to let his sons finish out high school in Auburn). Then, on Wednesday afternoon, he tells Jay Jacobs (Athletic Director) and Jay Gogue (AU President) that he wants to resign??? And Auburn is just going to honor his $5.1M buy-out out of the goodness of their heart??? I know the AU administration is in a tough place (that they put themselves in), but I can’t believe they would say that with a straight face to the Auburn family (and media).

Tubbs is the 4th winningest Auburn football coach behind Shug Jordan (who they named the Stadium named after), Pat Dye (who they named the Field named after) & Mike Donahue (who they named a Street on campus after). Tubby won 9 of the last 14 games against teams ranked in the AP Top 10. Until this year’s shellacking by UAT, Tubbs had a higher Iron Bowl winning percentage (9 W, 2 L - 78%) than “the Bear” (19 W, 6 L - 76%).

The world of college football coaching salary/buy-outs has gotten out of control and with that the expectations. It will be interesting to see who Auburn brings in, and the amount of time they get, before getting ousted for a losing season (Auburn’s last losing season before this year was 1999, Tommy’s first year as head coach).

In honor of the Riverboat Gambler, let’s pour out a bag of delicious Golden Flake potato chips and remember some of his Greatest Hits.

10/13/2001 – An (unranked?) Auburn defeats #1 ranked Florida 23-20, with a last second FG in the rain. Bandaniel sends me his first congratulatory webcam video from the UK.

9/18/2004 – #14 Auburn defeats #5 LSU 10-9, after Courtney Taylor comes up with a touchdown reception late in 4th quarter. The crowd goes wild!

10/14/2004 – #3 Auburn defeats #5 Georgia 24-6, to continue their 2004 undefeated season. One of the largest crowds on Auburn’s campus for College Game Day (I heard it took the cleaning crew a week to pick up all the trash)

12/03/2004 – #3 Auburn defeats #15 Tennessee 38-28 in the SEC Championship (2nd time to defeat UT that year). Good times to be had in ATL by all!

11/12/2005 – #15 Auburn defeats #9 Georgia 31-30, after Aromashodu’s 63-yard reception in the 4th quarter, set up a field goal with seconds remaining.

11/19/2005 – Stanley leads #11 Auburn over the UAT Crimson Tide 28-18, with Brodie Croyle suffering 11 sacks. Fear the Thumb!

10/14/2006 – #11 Auburn defeats #2 Florida 27-17. Just like UAT, Auburn owned Florida in the 2000’s.

9/23/2007 – Urban Meyer can’t freeze Wes Byrum, as (unranked) Auburn defeats #4 Florida 20-17, with another last second FG.

Thanks for the memories, Tubby! We'll miss ya . . .

Monday, December 1, 2008

Top five musical crimes perpetuated by Stevie Wonder in the 80s and 90s?

Back in college, Mike P. and I came up with a “Cool Quiz” (what a lame name, right?) to gauge one’s music knowledge and street credibility. Here are some of the questions we came up with:

The Velvet Underground & Nico cover art was created by what famous art icon? Andy Warhol. What was on the cover? A Banana

Can you name one or more of David Bowie's alter egos? Ziggy Stardust, the Thin White Duke

Who is Pete Best? The Beatle's original drummer

Where did Tom Morello graduated from college? Harvard

Well, you can imagine my excitement when I saw the Bottletree started hosting a Music Snob Trivia Night a few weeks ago!!! Every Tuesday, teams compete in eight rounds of music trivia benefitting Scrollworks.

Whaley, JD, D. Rooney & I went 2 weeks ago (JD came up with the best team name in the history of music snobbery - “Oh, I heard of them 6 months ago), and although I was confident we would walk away victorious, we came in 5th (apparently there are a lot of music nerds, err, snobs in Birmingham). The rounds range in categories from Album Cover Art, Music Theory, Misheard Lyrics, Rolling Stones, etc. and you weigh your answers 1, 3 or 5, depending on how confident you are. Does anyone know what Andy Summers is doing on the cover of the Police’s
Synchronicity . . . yeah, me neither (he was making a telephone call).
Anyways, if anybody wants to join us, we’re heading up there tomorrow (Tuesday) and it starts around 8:30.

PS – For those of you who have not been to Bottletree, they have some of the best food (vegan and “regular”), and also bring in some of the the indiest of indie acts in music (I can't believe I missed Vampire Weekend earlier this year!)

Week in Review

I really did have good intentions to catch up on a little blogging over the holiday weekend, but I’m sure you’ve noticed . . . nothing! I’ll try not to bore you (nobody likes a “vain blogger”, right??) with what I did instead . . .

Wednesday night, the wife and I went to John Cassimus’ (of Zoe’s fame) newest restaurant venture, Maki Fresh, a Sushi Bar & Japanese Grill. I like the concept, but would like to see more variety in the Sushi options (Crunch Crunch – good, Summer – ehhh??). We also decided at the last minute to finally go see Fireproof. I really didn’t think the acting was that bad (if you really want some bad acting, check out Facing the Giants . . . no offense, both were good movies with positive messages . . . just not Oscar winning performances).

Thursday, the wife and I celebrated Thanksgiving at her sister’s house with some tasty food catered by Sweet Bones Alabama. Now, before you go and cast guilt and shame on us (who am I kidding, we just brought the rolls) for catering, there were 24 folks there (6 kids, 18 adults). Sweet Bones Alabama (formerly BoneDaddy’s) recently opened in the former On the Border location at the Scummit. They spent a lot of time and effort re-doing the interior, and the menu is on par with any of the award-winning BBQ you’ll find in Memphis. FYI - If you go for Sunday brunch, they have really good BBQ Bloody Mary’s . . .

Friday, the Mrs. was up and at ‘em at 4:30 am to brave the Black Friday crowds but was back home and in bed by 6:30. We headed back out to brave the Scummit after lunch, and then spent some time hanging out with Wyatt (and Fef & Clay) before going to Four Christmases. I know the reviews weren’t that great, but we both thought it was hilarious. Then again, if you’re a Vince Vaughn fan, he basically plays the same character he’s been playing the last 5 years (Old School, Wedding Crashers, etc. ) and has some really funny lines . . .

Saturday we went to Tuscalooser, to watch the worst Alabama Ass-Whuppin’ since 1962. We sat in a Bammer section. The traffic was awful. I mentally checked out of Auburn’s football season five losses ago . . .

And finally Sunday, the nephews and nieces (yep, there’s two if you count the bun in Jessica’s oven) came over to our house to take the annual grandchildren Christmas Card picture. This is the third year all the kiddies have dressed up in a Nativity scene for the In-Law's Christmas Card (Made on a Mac). Note: this is NOT the OFFICIAL finished card . . .

What I’m thankful for this year:

My sweet wife *

I really am so blessed to have a wife that loves me as much as the Mrs. She’s such a good hearted (she’s a kindergarten teacher), beautiful, hilarious woman (doesn’t “woman” make it sound like she’s 40?) who not only loves me unconditionally, but also challenges and inspires me to be the Godly leader I want to be.

That God loves me enough to send his Son, Jesus to die for my sins. Everyday I fall short of His standards, but I know He loves me just the same. I’m sad to say, I’m not the “boldest” Christian, and although most people know I’m a “good guy” I’m not the kind of guy that can just drop in verses or “Christian” dialogue naturally in conversation. I don’t mean to get all preachy, but I can’t thank God enough for what He has done for me and praise Him for who He is.

My friends and family, in Birmingham and everywhere else throughout the U.S. We had 26 groomsmen/bridesmaids in our wedding. We love our friends and family. We’re glad we get to see a lot of them on a regular basis here in the Magic City and would love to see more of you here (wink, wink, nudge, nudge . . . Brad come work for Harbert!!)

Google Reader. Seriously, if yall are not using Google Reader, you are wasting your time on the internet (which if you are reading this blog, I guess you already are??)

PS – This post is so self-servingly long, but I’m trying to make up for lost time . . . please forgive me.

* Yes, I know I’m already posting my one “sentimental” post on 12/1 . . .