Saturday, December 26, 2015

Buffalo Bills Fans (Men Fighting, Men Drinking, Men Wrestling, Men Jumping Through Tables)

Deadspin occasionally posts videos of Buffalo Bills fans doing wild and crazy things. They recently posted "The Year in Bills Fans" video, which is really a compilation of men fighting, drinking, wrestling, and jumping through tables. Around the 1:30 mark, men fight near a grill and you can hear someone saying "Watch the grill, watch the grill." Priorities!

Does this video accurately represent the behavior of 70,000 Bills fans who attend games? Of course not, but that doesn't matter so much. This is clickable stuff, whether you click on it because you find it funny, or curious, or want to condemn it, or analyze it, or just be a voyeur. Most people aren't interested in videos of people tailgating quietly while having a few beers. "Bills fans gone mild" is boring. Bills fans destroying tables is more like it. It's in the mold of Jackass and I suppose it's what some guys do to get attention. I've written before about celebrities and the pursuit of attention. The Bills fans who make it to Deadspin are a good example of ordinary men doing stunts to gain attention. Their actions could be a way of getting attention in their peer group, or in hopes of ending up in someone's social media feed. Or maybe they're just drunk and having fun. If the antics make it to the Internet, people click for laughs or jeers or, in this case, for basic sociological analysis. "Here we are now entertain us" is a more relevant lyric than ever in our 24-7-365 media world.

Monday, December 21, 2015

When Insomnia Strikes

Every episode of Chopped, summarized:
Contestant 1: Your food was not properly seasoned.
Contestant 2: Your protein was under cooked or over cooked.
Contestant 3: I'm impressed with the risks you took, but I'm not sure that was the best use of the basket ingredients.
Contestant 4: Your presentation could have been better.
But I keep watching it anyway.

I couldn't sleep a few nights ago, so I flipped channels to watch episodes of Chopped, episodes of House Hunters International, and the movie Juno.

My summary thoughts of Juno: the film has held up well. Jennifer Garner is the weak link in the film. Ellen Page and Michael Cera are excellent throughout the movie. I like the ending when they sing "Anybody Else But You" by The Moldy Peaches.

One of the House Hunters International episodes took place in a town in Mexico that looked beautiful. There was a married couple and the wife's parents who were looking for a vacation home to buy together. The husband didn't seem thrilled with the whole situation. The in-laws insisted on having the master bedroom. The mother-in-law really wanted a design that she called "Mexican flair," if memory serves. The young couple wanted something modern. The compromise was a modern home, under budget, that allowed the in-laws to add so-called Mexican flair. The son-in-law and father-in-law enjoyed jumping into a terrace pool at the end of the episode. All's well that ends well.

I was tired the next day but with my semester being wrapped up I was able to have a day without doing much work. I watched American Splendor, a film that I love. The ending made me cry.

I almost forgot to mention that during my sleepless night I saw an Infiniti commercial starring Scott Conant. I was like "Whoa, I'm watching Food Network, and here's a commercial for a luxury car featuring Scott Conant." I think that's what people mean when they say meta. Check this commercial out...Scott was a head chef at 24 and he published cookbooks and he's on TV so now he drives a cool vehicle and hasn't forgot his friends. He has a winning smile and winning hair, for sure. I think I'm jealous of his hair. I know I'm jealous of his cookbooks because I want to write a cookbook.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

President Obama is Called a "Total Pussy" on Fox News

Lt. Col. Ralph Peters, "a strategic analyst" for Fox News, called President Obama a "total pussy." A total pussy. Everybody got that? I don't think this got enough attention. I saw the story here at NYMag but it didn't seem to attract a lot of discussion. Granted, there's a lot of things to worry about and infinite fodder available for water cooler talk, but it's not everyday you hear a commentator go out of his way to emasculate the president. Even on Fox News. I have no special ax to grind against Fox News. I think cable news in general is awful. But as I've written previously on this blog, Fox News has somehow become the default station at a variety of places. For whatever reason, there's many a business owner that plays this station for its customers. It's just not a station I want to see at a restaurant or a grocery store. I know there's a significant portion of the country that doesn't care for the president. But I'd bet most of his critics have little or no interest in him being insulted in such a crude way. I'm not super outraged or losing sleep over this segment. But I honestly find it disgusting to insult the president like this.

Friday, December 4, 2015

So Much Depends on the Weather

Scott Weiland has died at age 48. My college days were in the 1990s. I definitely enjoyed the "grunge" bands of the day. Stone Temple Pilots was one of those bands. I'll never grow tired of hearing "Plush." I've always loved the line: "And I feel, so much depends on the weather."

My favorite Stone Temple Pilots song might be "Sour Girl." Here's the video.


Monday, November 30, 2015

THE ELF ON THE SHELF: AN ENDORSEMENT

THIS IS THE TIME OF THE YEAR WHEN PEOPLE CIRCULATE HOT TAKERY ABOUT THE EVIL WEIRDNESS OF THE ELF ON THE SHELF. LISTEN UP, EVERYBODY. AND YOU KNOW THIS IS SERIOUS BECAUSE I'M TYPING IN ALL CAPS. I'M SERVING UP THIS ALL CAPS TAKE TO COMPETE IN THE ATTENTION ECONOMY. PAY ATTENTION, ELF ON THE SHELF HATERS. PLEASE CONSIDER MY LUKEWARM TAKE, ELF ON THE SHELF DOUBTERS. I TRIED TO TELL YOU ALL IN NICE TERMS LAST YEAR (CLICK HERE CLICK HERE CLICK HERE) THAT THE ELF ON THE SHELF IS, OVERALL, A HARMLESS PRACTICE. MY FAMILY IS DOING THE ELF ON THE SHELF AGAIN THIS YEAR. AGAIN I TELL YOU! JUST LIKE LAST YEAR, I'M TRYING TO GET AN EDGE ON MY KIDS. THEY ARE GREAT. THEY ARE WONDERFUL. THEY ARE THE BEST KIDS I HAVE. I LOVE MY KIDS. AND IF ELF ON THE SHELF HELPS KEEP MY KIDS IN CHECK JUST A LITTLE BIT THEN THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. MY  WIFE IS PROBABLY LESS CONCERNED WITH KEEPING OUR KIDS IN CHECK AND MORE CONCERNED WITH ESTABLISHING A FUN FAMILY TRADITION WHILE THE KIDS ARE YOUNG AND THINK IT'S FUN THAT AN ELF MOVES AROUND THE HOUSE. YOU SEE, THEY'RE AGES 8 AND 5 AND THEY GET A KICK OUT OF IT WHEN THE ELF MOVES AROUND THE HOUSE. IT MAKES THEM SAY "LOOK THE ELF MOVED!!!!!" THEY LIKE IT. IT WORKS FOR US. MY WIFE LIKES TRADITION. SHE LIKES FUN. I'M A GRUMP AND A GRINCH AND I HAVEN'T HAD FUN SINCE 1985 (OKAY I'M LYING I HAD FUN AT A LOLLAPALOOZA CONCERT IN THE EARLY 90S AND I HAD FUN LAST WEEK AT A STEVIE WONDER CONCERT) BUT I DON'T HAVE MUCH FUN SO I'M NOT REALLY ABOUT THE FUN. OH CRUD I LOST MYSELF IN THIS TAKE AND CAN'T SEE MY WAY OUT SO LET ME GET OUT OF HERE SOON BY SAYING IT'S COMBINATION FUN AND TRADITION AND HOPING THE KIDS WILL LISTEN SOMETIMES AND THAT'S WHAT THE ELF REPRESENTS TO US. THEY CAN MAKE UP THEIR OWN MINDS IN DUE TIME ABOUT WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT A SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. LET'S NOT ASSUME THE ELF ON THE SHELF TRAINS PEOPLE TO LIVE IN A SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY. I LEAVE YOU WITH A PICTURE. LOOK AT ME TAKING A PICTURE OF OUR ELF ON THE SHELF. OMG SEE WHAT I DID THERE I MADE IT INTO A SELFIE! YOU KNOW WHY? BECAUSE SOME PEOPLE GET ALL WORKED UP ABOUT SELFIES. SELFIES ARE BAD, SOME PEOPLE SAY. I SAY LET THE PEOPLE TAKE SELFIES. I SAY LET THE PEOPLE PUT ELVES ON SHELVES IF THEY WANT. AND IF YOU'RE WONDERING WHY I'M WEARING A WINTER HAT IN THE HOUSE I DON'T HAVE AN ANSWER FOR YOU. SO LISTEN UP MEDIA: PLEASE DIRECT ALL YOUR INQUIRIES TO ME IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ELF ON THE SHELF. I AM A SELF-PROCLAIMED EXPERT ON THE ELF ON THE SHELF. MY ALL CAPS RANT IS PROOF THAT I'M AN EXPERT. AND ONE MORE MESSAGE TO ELF ON THE SHELF DETRACTORS: CONSIDER YOURSELF SERVED!!!!!


Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grading Grading Grading Grading and a First Try at Sheperd's Pie

Most of my weekend was spent grading papers. Today, on one of my breaks from grading, I made Sheperd's Pie for the first time. I don't recall ever eating Sheperd's Pie before today. I remember my best friend Ron ordering it at a diner a long time ago and having no clue what he ordered. I came across this recipe and wanted to give it a try. I followed the recipe most of the way and was pleased with how it turned out. Since I'm in grading mode, I'll give it a B. I don't have a rubric for Sheperd's Pie. My thinking is it tasted good but not great. It was more than satisfactory but not outstanding. It wasn't enough of a pie, as the picture reveals. So a B sounds about right. I don't know if the picture is Instagram worthy but I'll share it here anyway. If I had Instagram and posted it there, it certainly wouldn't generate Instagram Envy.

Cooking is fun and a stress relief for me. I like cooking big meals on Sunday so my wife and I have leftovers for lunch on Monday. I cook simple things that don't cost a lot of money. I think I actually have a dream to write a cookbook. Publishers, get at me. Click here for the recipe. I didn't use fresh thyme or fresh rosemary like the recipe suggested. I used a spice mix instead.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

David Beckham is the Sexiest Man Alive. Plus, He Vacuums!

The cover celebrates David Beckham style masculinity. He's tough and tender. He's a romantic husband and devoted dad--on top of all that, he vacuums! So here's a question that will blow your mind. Is he the sexiest man alive and it's a bonus that he vacuums? Or, is he the sexiest man alive because he vacuums? Mind blown? On a petty note, I'm jealous of his hair.


Stevie Wonder's Timeless Message of Love

I'm a huge Stevie Wonder fan. I've liked his music since I was a child. I have distinct memories of my mom's best friend playing Stevie Wonder songs when I was growing up. Songs in the Key of Life is one of my favorite all-time albums. Stevie came to Buffalo this week for a concert. He and his incredible band played the songs from that album and tossed in additional songs as a bonus. It was amazing. Stevie preaches love. It's a timeless message. Stevie's voice remains amazing and his harmonica skills are incredible to me. I'm so happy and lucky that I had a chance to see him in person.

Here's a few videos I took at the concert. First we have "Sir Duke." Love love love this song.


Next we have "Knocks Me Off My Feet" which was probably the highlight of the concert. This song sounds so beautiful to me every time I hear it. I'm a fool for not recording the entire song. Here's another one of my favorites, "All Day Sucker." And here's an example of Stevie venturing away from the album, with a cover of "People Get Ready." Awesome.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Brief Coverage and Discussion of Events at University of Missouri (Video)

This is a helpful resource for instructors who want to talk with students about what's happening at University of Missouri. Dr. Scott Brooks, a sociologist at University of Missouri, appears in the video.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/student-revolt-ferguson-ousted-mizzoup/


Friday, November 6, 2015

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Pretty happy with my quick run to the grocery store today. Here we have the makings for a pizza (use Naan for pizza crust, I'm telling you!), some beautiful flowers, and tasty beer. Please disregard the frosted tiles in the background. 1977 wants its back-splash back, right?! Have a great weekend everyone! You know what they say: everybody's working for the weekend. True that.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why The Hell Am I Watching Below Deck?

Below Deck is a show on Bravo that my wife and I watch together. I've been asking myself why I watch this show. I think I have answers. For one, it's about money and social class. Rich people chart a yacht for leisure and luxury. It's a variation on the theme of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. For whatever reason, it's interesting to watch rich people hang out on a boat and be served upscale food. Maybe I'm jealous. Maybe I picture myself having the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ to vacation like this in my next lifetime. I do like when the crew makes fun of the guests behind their backs.

Another factor is sexual intrigue. There is sexual tension on the yacht and sexual tension makes for good television. The most recent episode I watched included a liaison in the laundry room between two crew members. One of the participants, named Rocky, is a feisty and funny woman who in earlier episodes seemed close to a sexual encounter with Emile, a young man who seemed all too eager for sexual shenanigans. Rocky seems like a breakout star in the making. I wouldn't be surprised if she gets her own reality show after this season or at least is cast in a more high-profile show.

It's not all about sex. There's general fighting and bickering that occurs between crew members. Kate, the serious and always on her game crew member, is constantly busting the chops of chef Leon and accusing him of not trying hard enough to please the guests. Leon defends his culinary skills and tells Kate he doesn't like her, and usually does just enough in the kitchen to make the guests happy. I guess it's fun to watch people fight at work.

One more thing. There is drinking. Lots of drinking. The guests party. The crew parties. A deck hand named Dane showed up for a few episodes but was kicked off the yacht for excessive drinking. He was let go by Captain Lee, the cranky leader who demands high-level performance from his crew. The steady Captain displays a soft side in providing compliments and positive reinforcement at just the right times. He also distributes tip money to the crew that guests leave when they depart, usually in the $15,000 range. 15 large, baby!

So there you have it. Money. Rich people. Good-looking crew. Sex. Drinking. Arguing. Some of your basic ingredients in a 21st century reality show. Get your popcorn ready! And then get back to your normal life, buddy!


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

When Your Day Starts With Crying

Some days are harder than others.

It's not always a smooth operation getting out the door. I get our 7-year-old on the bus and then drive 50 minutes to work. My wife takes our 4-year-old to preschool on the way to her 15 minute ride to work. There are fundamental things to remember: are the lunches in their backpacks? Have they brushed their teeth? Does our 7-year-old have clothes for gym? My wife might ask me "How do these shoes look?" and I might ask her "Does this shirt look stupid?"

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we try to do a twenty minute workout in our basement before we make sure the kids are ready for school. It's twenty minutes with Denise Austin or Jillian Michaels. It's a good feeling to get a workout in and everybody out the door without incident.

Today was not a smooth morning. Our 4-year-old was crying before school. Some days he's cool about going to school. But there are days he cries, and this day he cried a lot. It's horrible to wipe tears off the face of your 4-year-old before he leaves for school. It's not even 8:00 in the morning and there are tears. Lots of them. What's the rest of the day going to be like? How can you concentrate at work knowing your child was so upset before the day even really began? You know there are days like this because you had the same kind of days when your 7-year-old was a 4-year-old. But it doesn't make days like this any easier.

There have been many times when my wife has said she doesn't feel great at work or at home. It's a day like this when we both feel that way. You're torn between work and home. You're not fully "present" at either place. Your priority is your children but there are bills to pay. No shit, Sherlock, right? I have no self-help message to peddle or sage advice to offer. I'm just expressing the reality of a lousy day and the challenge of going on with your business as if your day didn't start in such a shitty way. My wife will manage to be the best social worker she can be today. I'll head into the classroom in twenty minutes and try to teach three good classes today. But on a day like this, we just want to get home, have our family together, and see our kids smiling.






Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bad Habits. This is No Way to Grade.

I just finished grading a large pile of essay exams. It feels good, except I've been grading since 4:30 this morning and I have three classes to teach today. I told myself to spread out my grading. I didn't. I I graded all day yesterday and finished grading this morning. The process would have been smoother had I graded throughout the weekend but my preference and choice was to do other things during the weekend, like remembering I have two children and that it might be nice to go outside. Much of Saturday was spent with the kids at soccer, and Sunday involved a little bit of football and time spent with relatives.

The habit of working in the early hours of the morning goes back to college. I would spend normal hours studying in the library but run out of time and mental gas and shut it down to toss and turn in bed and have a pitiful night of sleep, only to get back up before the sun and resume studying. I was rewarded for doing so in the form of good grades and academic success. So, in a way, it works. But what a lousy habit. Surely there has to be some other way to find proper hours in the day to get done what needs to get done. Or maybe not.

I'll end this now that I'm probably in the realm of self-pity but really it's just a journal entry in the form of a blog that says to myself, "Get your shit together." I need to develop better habits because my habits around grading are in desperate need of improvement. Okay, I'm off to teach my three classes and they'll probably be good ones because I'm happy that the grading is done and I'll probably be loose in the classroom and manage to find my A or A minus game. Should that happen, it will further reinforce how I tend to go about my work.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Process of Meal Planning


































What we have here, aside from my poor handwriting, is meal planning in action. I usually do the grocery shopping and try to plan meals that everyone in my family will eat. This morning I was browsing recipes and came up with White Chicken Chili (recipe here) and Slow Cooker Stuffed Pepper Soup (recipe here). So I scribbled the ingredients I need on the list along with a few other life essentials (coffee and cake mix).

You can see I have Fall on the brain with these meals.

And this only covers two meals for the week.

I find it hard to plan for meals. I also notice it's not a typical topic of everyday conversation. These days I hear people talking about fantasy football, craft beer, and Pinterest, but I don't regularly come across people talking about what they make for dinner.

You can file this post under Mundane Moments of Everyday Life (click here for my roasted broccoli post as another example). Meal planning, while not exciting, is an important part of my routine in an attempt to make meals for my family that taste good and are budget friendly.




Thursday, September 17, 2015

Keeping the Attention of Students

I have written before about the complicated lives of students. They are tired. They are stressed. They have a lot going on in their lives. I can't always command their attention and that's okay.

I actually complimented two of my classes yesterday for paying any attention to me, at all. Seriously. I talked briefly about video games in my Introduction to Sociology class. The best selling video game so far in 2015 is Mortal Kombat X. I showed the trailer in class to discuss the game as an element of American culture. Several students told me they play the game/like the game and said the trailer is actually a tame representation of the game. It was then that I said out loud that it's miraculous they pay any attention to me carrying on about sociology. I know that taking an interest in video games doesn't automatically mean not taking an interest in academic matters. It's just a reminder that students aren't always going to be excited about a sociologist talking about feelings and humanity and structural inequalities. It's easy for me to stay engaged. I'm constantly moving around the classroom and hustling for class participation. They are sitting in chairs with a million distractions in their heads and another million distractions on their devices.

It also occurs to me that this is a society in which Donald Trump is running for president. This is a society with people who take Donald Trump seriously as a presidential candidate. Most of my students could probably care less about Donald Trump. Still, we are part of the same society that includes Donald Trump having the time of his life tweaking the American electorate and working over the media.

So what does it all mean in this day and age to be a sociology professor? Hell if I know. I do the best I can to teach my subject matter. I always try to be a sympathetic and flexible professor. I'm appreciative that very busy students in a very strange society give me a chance to teach them sociology.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Three Words of Wisdom for New Professors

I was asked to attend the new faculty orientation and offer words of wisdom about teaching our students. I gave them three great words to use in the classroom and I'll share them here: “I don’t know.” It’s liberating to say "I don't know" in the classroom.

There are lots of times I'm caught off guard and there are many times I just don't have the answer. So I say things like "I have to think about that" and "I’d have to read up on that before I give you a clear and confident answer." None of us knows it all, so I take the pressure off myself by not pretending to be a know it all.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Kleenex Commercial Accurately Points Out That Boys Care About Feelings

This commercial caught my eye this morning. A boy gives a brief sociological speech about how boys aren't all about being loud and immature. In fact, he explains, boys care about feelings. He proves it by handing a tissue to a girl who is crying about the first day of school. Not bad. I might have written the commercial a different way. Imagine the boy handing a tissue to another boy--that would have been a welcome image. As the actual commercial plays out, it could be read as a young fella helping out a young damsel in distress. It's not a perfect commercial by any stretch, but what commercial is without its flaws and critics? This one isn't bad because it acknowledges the simple truth that boys care about feelings.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Song of the Day - "Mystery" by Boxed In

I like this song. Especially the drums and piano.

"Inspiration comes from the most unfamiliar places" - very good line.

"What will be, will just be" - also a good line, and probably true.

Click here for background about the song or here for analysis of the lyrics.

I like how this song captures the early phase of a relationship ("Back to the place where we went slow").

"Mystery" in this song can mean lots of things -- a person's vulnerabilities, their naked truth, their naked body. When you fall for someone, you want to see everything about the person. You want to be with the person, totally. If you stay together long enough, you grow together and hopefully look back to your early days as a couple with happy memories. In times of trouble, it might even help to look back to when you first met and believed you were at your best.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Apple Watch. To Buy or Not to Buy? That's Always the Question.

Do I need this computer on my wrist? Hell if I know. I still don't know if I need an iPhone in my pocket but you convinced me anyway. This watch will probably sell big because it will make people feel like superheroes. Now if you can combine a computer with a Trapper Keeper, call me, I'd be all in for that baby!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Ta-Nehisi Coates - Between the World and Me

I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates over the course of three days. He is a tremendously talented writer. His book reads like poetry and history. At other times it reads like a memoir. Above all it is a letter to his son. I definitely recommend it and can assure you it will stay in my brain, like Derrick Bell's Faces at the Bottom of the Well (a book that Coates references in Between the World and Me). I think it's an important book that people will be talking about for a long time. 

No part of me would react by telling Coates he distorts history and I certainly wouldn't lecture him about the American Dream, as David Brooks did. The book puts me in a deeply reflective mode. It's a serious book and I hope to be able to talk about it in serious ways with friends and colleagues who've read it. I also want my sons to read it when they get older. 

I have written about my sons (ages 7 and 4) on this blog in whimsical ways. Look through the blog if you care and see them having fun and see me celebrating them. I have imagined myself writing letters of my own to them some day. In fact, one of the reasons I keep this blog is so they can see what their father was up to for a stretch of his life if they are moved to do so. If I were to write a book with them in mind some day, it would sound almost totally different from what Coates wrote, and that's one of the points of his book. Different positions in American society lead to different vantage points about America. I can't tell Ta-Nehisi Coates what to think about the American Dream. It would be wrong and arrogant for me to do. I think he knows more about the American Dream than David Brooks. I think he knows more about America than I ever will. 



Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sociology on the 4th of July

As we know, there are no days off in sociology. Every day is a good day to use our sociological imaginations. The 4th of July presents a nice opportunity. Keep an eye on how people perform patriotism. Maybe it's flags in their yard. Maybe they're wearing red, white, and blue. Maybe they're roaming through the streets chanting U.S.A. U.S.A. Okay, probably not the last one.

Will you be attending a cookout-barbecue? If so, pay attention to who does the grilling. Will it be a fella who "mans" the grill? How is the work shared at the party? Who's watching the kids and engaging them in fun activities? Is drinking taking place? If so, do you notice a difference between what men and women are drinking, or is it Bud Light for everyone? Any party is a good party to observe what people are talking about--aside from actually participating in conversation, I like to observe if people are talking about work, sports, family, politics, celebrities, etc.

So while you have some beverages and devour hot dogs (or is your party more upscale?), put on your sociological thinking cap and analyze the fine and awkward art of social interaction! I'd be honored if you share your observations with me sometime.

There Is No Empirical Evidence That This Summer Will Hurt Like a Mother

I think we all know there's a song on the radio that doesn't make any sense. There is a clean version and an explicit one. The clean version keeps popping up when I drive around town. I can't make it through the entire song, nor can I actually summon the courage to read all of the lyrics for proper content analysis, but as a trained social scientist I am comfortable making the conclusion that no empirical evidence exists to warrant the assertion that this summer will hurt like a mother. Those fellas can continue making trillions of dollars but just know it is under false pretenses.

Friday, July 3, 2015

You Call This a Sociology Blog?!?!

Earlier this year, I claimed that this blog had come to an end. I am back, until I am not. I am like the Brett Favre of sociology blogging, except not really. I wanted to share a recipe for a somewhat tasty and healthy dish that I made last night. My wife saw the recipe on Facebook. Thanks, Zuckerberg, for all the ways you enhance our lives. This recipe features two ingredients that I don't usually eat (orzo and arugula). They're ingredients I didn't know as a youngster and ones that haven't showed up much in my adult life. But they're easy enough to work with. I don't love arugula (#TeamIceberg #TeamRomaine) but it works well in this recipe. So here's what you do. Cook fresh corn however you prefer. Grill if you're a boss, or boil them if you're me. Then shave off the beautiful kernels. Then throw orzo in boiling water. While the orzo is cooking, saute onions in olive oil. When the onions have softened, mix in the corn. Slice up grape tomatoes. When you strain the orzo, toss it with olive oil and squeeze in some fresh lemon juice. Lay down the arugula on the plate. Then the orzo and onion/corn mix. Then sprinkle with tomatoes and fresh Parmesan cheese. Do not use Kraft Parmesan! Use the fresh stuff. There are probably ways to enhance this dish by way of spices, herbs, or, as my beautiful wife suggested, pine nuts. Do what you think is right. Here's how it came out. Sorry for the glare in the picture. On a scale of one to yum, I rate it yum.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Stephen Colbert Interviews Eminem

There's something delightful about this interview. I think it's the way Eminem plays along in an understated manner and the way Stephen Colbert sings Bob Seger tunes. It could also be that the interview takes place on public access television, a refreshing change of pace from the usual corporate-infused venues. The interview has the air of two guys who know they have it very good to be famous in America. It's as if they know this interview would go viral because people like me are so easily amused.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nicki Minaj Reminds Us That Life is a Journey



I like good pop songs in my life.

As a 42-year-old college professor, I am probably not Nicki Minaj's target market. But I can still like her song "The Night is Still Young."

There's not much mystery to the song. The message is simple: Have a drink, enjoy the night. Life is a journey, so enjoy the ride. 

Best line in the song? I vote for "My only motto in life is don't lose."

It's summer, the perfect time for a fun pop song. And this one's in my rotation.


Don't Call It a Comeback

In March, I announced that I was ending this blog.

I am back for a day to announce my simple program for getting my energy back after a very stressful academic year. It was a tough year, as hard as I can remember in my 15 year career as a college professor. I am starting to feel better. There are even rumors that I'm getting my groove back, but let's not jump too far ahead. So why am I feeling better? Here's what works for me.

1. Sun. Just a little time sitting in the sun, whether it's watching the kids play, hanging out with my wife, or having a beer, or all of the above. It helps. Especially after an epic cold winter. Have you seen my home video of the brutal storm we had in Buffalo in November?!?!

2. Exercise. My wife and I do exercise videos together in the morning. It's a good way to start the day and it's time spent with my wife not talking about home repairs, finances, kids, life, what's for dinner, etc.

3. Sleep. I don't sleep much during the academic year. Once it hits late September, my sleep is off until the academic year ends. I even catch a cat nap here and there during the summer months. I need to sleep while I can.

That's about it. The days aren't totally spent exercising, sleeping, and enjoying the sun. I do some other things too. But the point of this post isn't to celebrate productivity or scratching items off my to-do list. The point of is that rest and relaxation are important and necessary. I don't expect academic year 2015-2016 to be any easier so I'm taking it easy while I can.



Sunday, March 8, 2015

The End

It was a good run.

First I blogged for Everyday Sociology, which was a great experience. Then I started this blog in July 2011. I've had so much fun.

I think my favorite story I wrote for this blog is called "The Lake," probably because it contains a Van Halen reference.

Here are the three posts that have gotten the most pageviews on this blog, in no particular order:
1.) Doing Gender
2.) To Parents of Sociology Majors
3.) Ideas for Breaching Experiments

I like a few posts I wrote about Facebook...
1.) Nobody Has Sex (Thinking About Facebook Norms)
2.) Facebook is Television

I wrote a lot about being a parent and family man on this blog, and had fun doing so.
1.) Just Another Day
2.) A Good Day in the Life
3.) Housework, Childcare, and Life
4.) My Report Card as a Father and Man
5.) Skating in Buffalo (and other Good Times)

I'm proud of a list of resources I compiled for teaching and learning about race and ethnicity (click here to see).

In 2015, I posted homemade comic strips for a series called Stick Figure Society (click here for an example).

I promised I would perfect the art of the cold take this year. If I do, it will take place elsewhere. I'm not sure what writing adventure I'm going to pursue. But I know it's time to try something new.

If you like my writing style, please consider checking out my intro-level book Sociology in Stories, now in its second edition. Click here for a description of the approach I took in writing the book. It's a short, accessible book. I've actually taught a nine day summer course, enough time for students to get through the book. If you're a sociology instructor looking for a different book to use in your introduction course, I hope you'll keep it in mind or consider adding it to whatever book(s) you already assign.

It isn't easy for me to leave this blog. I've already left Twitter, which I explain here. Twitter and this blog were important ways for me to write in the past several years. But frankly, I grew concerned my writing on Twitter and this blog became stale, so I'd like to retool.

I might go old school for a while--keep a journal, write in a composition notebook--or, who knows, maybe I'll stay in the 21st century and record a TODD Talk. I still have a few dreams up my sleeve so I think I'll just see if I can figure out exactly what they are.

I'm done blogging, at least for now, but I'll still be writing. I'm in constant pursuit of the perfect sentence. Until I write one, I'll keep writing.

Where my writing will take me, I don't know. Until then, you can find me by e-mail (tas@niagara.edu) or at a grocery store in the suburbs of Buffalo.

And so he rode off into the sunset, listening to Billy Idol. And people thought that was strange.

The end.
















Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Just a Friendly Reminder: America is a Circus

Previously on this blog, I made the case that America is a circus.

In case we need more proof, we can examine the details of Judge Judy's new contract. Under her old contract, she reportedly earns approximately $45 million per year.

America is a circus, case closed.




Sunday, March 1, 2015

Today is March 1. It's Still Snowing.

The view from my car as I drove to the grocery store this morning:

















That's a person on a bicycle.

Spring can't arrive fast enough.


That's all I have for today.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Thursday in February

On Thursdays, I usually take my 4-year-old to my parents and then I head to my office for the day to grade, prepare for class, etc. But my parents are in Florida, so I'm with Mack today. It was too cold to play outside, so all I could think to do was go to the grocery store and then Subway for lunch (his choice).

Mack likes to look at the lobsters so we spent a moment doing so.






















Suddenly, "Your Love is Driving Me Crazy" came piping through the store. This song will stay in my head for days. Thanks, grocery store soundtrack maker.



The song put a little pep in my step, I won't kid you.

Then I came across Kardashian news.























Fast forward to lunch. Mack wanted to go to Subway. I took our picture. Look how this winter has aged me.























I like Subway better than most other fast food places. I don't have much to say except maybe it's the best of a bad lot. When I finish off a veggie delite, I certainly feel better than when I drop a cheeseburger in my stomach from McDonalds or other burgercentric places. However, with due respect to Subway, I doubt they have the Best. Breakfast. Ever.























Recently, my friend and fellow sociologist of everyday life Matt Loveland wrote a good piece about Subway. Check it out here.

Well, I'm writing this while Mack watches Calliou. Don't judge. Soon he'll take a nap and I can do some grading and e-mailing.

And how was your day?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Song of the Day: "Empty Nesters" by Toro Y Moi

Do 42-year-olds listen to Toro Y Moi? What's the rule book say about that?

Whatever the case, I like this song. It has positive energy, and I can use some.

I haven't studied the lyrics or analyzed the video. I'm taking my sociology hat off for three and half minutes and enjoying the music.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cold in July (The Movie)

My wife and I watched Cold in July last night. A reviewer for Variety described it as Texas pulp fiction. Don Johnson is in the movie. I have to say, he steals some scenes. We liked the movie. Good, not great. There were odd and surprising moments. I won't spoil any plot details here. All I'll say is the payoff came at the end, in the form of the song that played when the credits rolled. It was "Wait" by White Lion, a song from my adolescence. Enjoy this, my friends. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Panel Study Penguins

I made this to have fun with students in my Research Methods class.



































Also, this is my 300th post on this blog. Celebrate!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

This Time of Year, NFL Prospects Working Out is a Television Show

A glimpse of the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine.

































Recently, Ellen DeGeneres did a spoof of 50 Shades of Grey, featuring Matt Lauer.



And this concludes your popular culture in America update.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mark Anthony Neal and Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: A Conversation



In the book I assign in my Race & Ethnicity course, there is a excerpt from Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's Racism without Racists book. In looking around for a video related to the reading, I came across this conversation between Bonilla-Silva and Mark Anthony Neal. Just wanted to share.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Time Out Doesn't Work. Also, It's Freezing.

Our 4-year-old doesn't like following rules at home. Obedience is not his thing. There is the matter of the best way to discipline your child. I won't say much about the approach that my wife and I take, but I will say that time out is in the rotation. For our wonderfully spirited 4-year-old, time out doesn't work. He doesn't take it seriously. Although I haven't scientifically measured the impact of time out on his behavior, I can confidently conclude that it doesn't change anything. So be it.

We all have cabin fever. It's 0 degrees today in the Buffalo-Niagara region. It has been snowing since November. I mean, just watch this one minute video I made during a snowstorm in late November. We do what we can to enjoy the winter. We went ice skating, we went sledding, we make hot chocolate, we play the Wii as a family (shout out to Santa for bringing Wii U for the kids, it's awesome). But sometimes the cold and snow beats you down, and this is one of those times. When you're stuck inside the house for hours on end, it's inevitable that kids will get restless and occasionally get in trouble. I have no platitude to insert here so let me just move on to the next paragraph.

To conclude: time out doesn't work for our four-year-old. But I'm sure it works in other households, so power to the parents for whom it works. I shall look on the bright side of life. One day it will be spring. Until then, I'll do what I do: shovel snow and make things in the crock pot. Today it's Buffalo Chicken Chili, even though a ranch dressing packet and cream cheese have nothing to do with Buffalo. I'm not a purist, so game on.




Friday, February 13, 2015

Yusor Abu-Salha: "Growing up in America has been such a blessing"

I wanted to share this audio clip of Yusor Abu-Salha, one of the victims in the shooting at Chapel Hill this week.
Original source: http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/2/13/yusor-abu-salha-blessed-to-be-american.html

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Crock Pot Sunday


"Hearty Beef & Beer Stew for the Slow Cooker" - let's give this a whirl. Recipe here.

Don't mind my not-HGTV-approved backsplash.




Update: So how did this stew turn out? A miserable failure. I don't know where I went wrong, but it didn't come together. I'm thinking of joining Facebook just so I can tell my family and friends about this horror show. I don't even think I can eat this for leftovers tomorrow. This is not the way I wanted to start the week in the kitchen. Crud.












Saturday, February 7, 2015

This is a Great Idea. And Humanity Still Exists.























Love this idea. Think I'll make this on Valentine's Day.

I had time to page through this issue of Good Housekeeping when I was in line at the grocery store this morning. The article called it "love toast." I dig it.

The lines were long because there were only two cashiers working. The person behind me in line noticed a fellow customer with only a few items in her cart. The person (I'll call her Mary to make this clearer) suggested to the customer that she could go through the self-scan aisle because it would be much faster. The woman was reluctant to do so; she explained she didn't know how to use the self-scan technology. I think I heard her say something about being embarrassed about not knowing how to do it. So Mary told her fellow customer she would show her how to use the technology. The woman was surprised but took Mary up on her offer. Mary walked her through the process until the customer was all set and finished with the process. And then Mary returned to a "regular" line (she had a lot of items in the cart. Like me, she apparently preferred to wait to be checked out by a paid employee). The woman was very grateful for Mary's assistance and thanked her numerous times. What Mary did was the nicest act in public I've seen in a while. And Mary's instruction was some of the best teaching I've observed since a different trip to a grocery store that I describe in a previous blog post.

It's easy to observe people acting like fools in public. So it was refreshing to see an act of kindness play out this morning.

So that's a dose of humanity that I wanted to share.

I'll share a picture of the love toast I make on Valentine's Day, assuming I follow through.

In the meantime, let's raise our glasses to toast this eggcellent moment of humanity.

P.S. I live for puns.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cold Take: Super Bowl 49

A cold take comes too late. It's not bold enough. It's not provocative. It just kind of sits there, failing to inspire anyone to share. See, for example, my cold take on elf on the shelf, or my cold take on the Super Bowl 48 halftime show.

Speaking of the Super Bowl...

I did not enjoy the Katy Perry halftime performance. Her songs all sound like commercials to me. I'm not sure why Lenny Kravitz had a cameo, but I guess he was playing to 1990s nostalgia. I will say that just typing Lenny Kravitz's name makes me want to hear "Are You Gonna Go My Way," a song I'm tempted to include in my all-time favorite 200 songs list. Let me tell you about that song: we danced to it many a night on the stage at the Old Main Inn in Fredonia in our undergraduate days in the early 90s. As for the halftime show, I do think Missy Elliott did a good job and I believe she outperformed Perry.

The commercials during the Super Bowl were mostly humorless, or flat out depressing. My 7-year-old saw the Nationwide commercial. It caught us both off guard. It scared him and left a pit in my stomach.

I think the best commercials in recent years aired months before the Super Bowl, like the Geico commercials with Salt N Pepa and Ickey Woods. What is it with late 80s-early 90s nostalgia? I guess we can't help ourselves.

Well, we all know how the Super Bowl ended. Pete Carroll will be judged harshly for the rest of his life for allowing a pass play to take place at the end of the game. The masses say that Marshawn Lynch should have ran the ball instead. I'm actually one of those people who didn't think it was the worst call ever. It could have worked. Malcolm Butler made an amazing play, so credit to the rookie for being prepared and being in the right place. I'm sure Carroll regrets the call, same as I regret not making better guacamole during the Super Bowl. It wasn't my best work. My cheeseburger sliders weren't special either. But let's not despair, there's always next year.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bang Your Head

I think the highlight of my weekend was watching the documentary about Quiet Riot ("Well Now You're Here, There's No Way Back"). I feel like smashing guitars and joining a metal band. Not really, but I seriously liked the documentary and recommend it. I think you'll like it, even if you didn't scribble Quiet Riot on your book covers in high school in the 1980s (I did).

In other music news, I heard "Poetry Man" by Phoebe Snow on the radio when I was driving somewhere this weekend. It's a lovely song.

So now there are Quiet Riot songs rattling around in part of my brain, and "Poetry Man" calmly resides in another part. Or are they playing together in the same part? I don't know, I'm a sociology professor. I wonder how this brain activity will influence my preparation for classes tomorrow.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Peace Is More Precious Than Diamonds


Martin Luther King Jr.'s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech took place on December 10, 1964, in Oslo, Norway. Take 12 minutes if you can to watch the entire speech. If you want to read the full text of the speech, click here.

A few highlights:

"I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. I refuse to accept the cynical notion that nation after nation must spiral down a militaristic stairway into the hell of thermonuclear destruction. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. I believe that even amid today's mortar bursts and whining bullets, there is still hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe that wounded justice, lying prostrate on the blood-flowing streets of our nations, can be lifted from this dust of shame to reign supreme among the children of men. I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up."

"Today I come to Oslo as a trustee, inspired and with renewed dedication to humanity. I accept this prize on behalf of all men who love peace and brotherhood. I say I come as a trustee, for in the depths of my heart I am aware that this prize is much more than an honor to me personally. Every time I take a flight, I am always mindful of the many people who make a successful journey possible - the known pilots and the unknown ground crew."

"I think Alfred Nobel would know what I mean when I say that I accept this award in the spirit of a curator of some precious heirloom which he holds in trust for its true owners - all those to whom truth is beauty and beauty truth - and in whose eyes the beauty of genuine brotherhood and peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold."

A Society Is Only As Good As Its Worst Magazine Cover


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Stick Figure Society


Still Waiting For My Spandex Jacket

In 1982, Donald Fagen predicted a future with spandex jackets, "one for everyone."

Where's mine?!


The Role of Friendship in Marriage

I'm bookmarking this article in The New York Times about the role of friendship in marriage. I'll probably discuss this article with my Research Methods class in the upcoming semester. The article notes: "Those who consider their spouse or partner to be their best friend get about twice as much life satisfaction from marriage as others, the study found." I try to reference a classic rock song whenever an opportunity presents, so here's "You're My Best Friend" by Queen:


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Father is Bigger Than You and Other Happenings

A few days ago I picked up my 4-year-old from daycare. Some of the other kids huddled around us as I gathered his things to bring home. This has happened on a few occasions. They will hug him and say little kid funny stuff before we have a chance to leave. On this day, one of his friends said to me "My father is bigger than you. He's 6'5." I'm still impressed the kid could report his dad's exact height. I doubt my 4-year-old knows or could announce that I'm 5'5. There's not much one can say to a 4-year-old about being short. It kind of reminded me of elementary school/middle school/high school/the rest of life when people have occasionally observed my height. What can I say, I'm short? It's pretty comical that a 4-year-old got in my head and I'm writing about this. But really it was just an interesting interaction that I wanted to file here.

I have no else to put my brief review of Handlebar in Buffalo so I'll briefly do it here. I went there last week for the first time. When I walked in, "Teenage Riot" by Sonic Youth was playing, so that set the stage for a great experience. I love that song. It always sounds better in winter. The song pairs perfectly with a long, cold Buffalo winter. They have a bunch of beers on tap and serve flat breads and other good lunch fare. I enjoyed the Marrakech rice bowl (chickpeas, carrots, red peppers, cilantro). One good song after another played while I was there, including "Cut Your Hair" by Pavement.  When the Pavement song came on, I caught the attention of the person who looked to be in control of the tunes and said "That's one of my top ten all-time favorite songs." It's probably true. It's easily in my top twenty. Truth is they could have played lousy songs and had sub-par food because the major reason I had such a great time is that I was having lunch and drinks with a friend who is super smart, nice, and funny. The good food and music were icing on the cake.

The Spring semester begins soon so I'm working on a syllabus today. I also baked banana bread today.  This recipe was easy and worked like a charm. I added chocolate chips. It came out nicely. Next time someone busts my chops about my height, I'll say "Yeah but I make the best banana bread." Confusion usually does the trick.