THE AUTHOR

Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, MLive.com and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Thursday
Jun182015

Watch: Wilco covers Pavement's 'Cut Your Hair'

Wilco covering Pavement's "Cut Your Hair"? Yes, I would like to listen to that, please! 

Every Other Summer - "Cut Your Hair" from dBpm Records on Vimeo.

So what's the story? The clip above is from Every Other Summer, a documentary about the Solid Sound festival, which Wilco holds every two years at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). The footage in the film is from the previous festival two years ago. 

The film can currently be purchased for download or stream (or rented) via Vimeo

Tuesday
Apr212015

Cooking and eating: Edward Lee's collard greens and kimchi

As you might expect, collard greens have become a much bigger part of my diet since moving to the South. Perhaps I just didn't notice before or things have changed since leaving Michigan, but I don't recall collards being plentiful at the grocery store and farmers markets, and certainly not at restaurants. 

I was a slow convert. The greens were typically a side with whatever barbeque meal I ate. Some places made the greens too heavy with pork and pork fat, while others took a lighter touch which I preferred because you could taste the vegetables. 

But since going to a low-carb diet, I've tried to mix up my vegetables as much as possible to avoid getting bored. So I've been eating more collards for those days and weeks when I just can't have another salad or any more broccoli. There are different ways to cook them, and I often prefer more Asian flavors like soy sauce and sesame oil with mine.

This week, I tried a recipe from Edward Lee on PBS' The Mind of a Chef (one of my favorite shows, especially season three, which features Lee) in which he adds kimchi to the collards and it's become an instant hit with me. 

As Lee says while cooking, the kimchi adds a crunch to the soft, wilted greens, which makes for an appealing combination of textures. But more importantly (at least to me), the tang and spicy punch of the Korean staple provides a nice contrast to the sweetness of the greens and the saltiness that comes from the country ham. (I also used some leftover bacon that I had in the fridge.) 

Lee uses lard here, but I couldn't quite bring myself to do that. (I'm just not willing to go that Southern, maybe.) I used olive oil, which I hoped would keep the dish a bit lighter. And I actually forgot to add soy sauce, but with the salty pork and kimchi, I didn't really miss it. 

Collard greens and kimchi are my eating jam for the week. Here's how my version of the dish turned out.

Monday
Jun022014

Tom Morello's awesome speech for KISS at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This past Saturday, HBO broadcast the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for 2014.

It's a little bit annoying to be writing about something that actually took place six weeks ago — and has been covered online already — but I guess HBO wants the time to properly edit the show. I can certainly understand that, and I realize HBO has always done it this way.

In previous years, this didn't bother me so much because I didn't really watch the broadcast. I might have tuned in if it was on, but it was usually audio wallpaper as I goofed around online or was reading. Off the top of my head, I can't think of an inductee that I wanted to see perform.

But I had two dogs in this year's hunt: KISS and Nirvana.

Nirvana's induction and performance was certainly special, especially because the group had several lead singers in place of Kurt Cobain, including Joan Jett, Kim Gordon and Lorde. Michael Stipe giving the induction speech was a reminder of the one great musical collaboration we were deprived of with Cobain's death. I'd like to write more about this, either here or at The AP Party

For now, however, I have to talk about Tom Morello's speech for KISS. Every act that's inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should get an advocate like Morello, whose fandom for KISS was spilling out of him with every word. 

"And while there is often debate on who should and shouldn’t be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," Morello said, "I think the criteria are actually quite simple: impact, influence, and awesomeness. And Kiss have all three in spades."

The speech got so much better from there, building as Morello described each member of the group. Eventually, Morello could barely contain his jubilation over his favorite band being honored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 

"All of them, in frightening, horror-movie, comic book, superstar, sexified Kabuki makeup. All of them, in black and silver warrior bondage gear and seven-inch platform heels, the place blowing up with explosions, screeching with fire... bare knuckled and bad ass, heavy duty, liberating rock and roll? What would you say if you saw that? You’d say, 'That band’s fucking awesome! That band deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!' That's what you would say!"

I'd say your speech was fucking awesome, Tom Morello. That's what I'd say.

You can watch the 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on HBOGO. Of course, it will be re-broadcast several times on the HBO group of networks throughout June. You can also read an interview with Morello about the speech at Vulture, which includes a transcript of his tribute. 

Here's a video of the speech, as well, though it's not from the HBO telecast. This was taken the night of the actual ceremony (April 10) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. 

Tuesday
May062014

Fingers crossed for Fox's 'Gotham'

I know I've been quiet with the blog here. One big reason is that the pop culture stuff that I might normally post, such as a review of The Amazing Spider-Man 2, has been going up at The AP Party. But I should still put shorter stuff here, when inspiration strikes. 

I've also been trying to keep AVL Tourists Trap, the supplementary blog to my weekly Asheville Tourists column for Ashvegas, updated semi-regularly. My role at The Outside Corner has changed a bit for the 2014 MLB season. I've been writing more news and quick-hit type of posts, in addition to my columns. That's been more fun for me. 

Anyway, that's where I've been for the past month. If you've been checking in for new stuff, I apologize for not keeping things interesting.

In the meantime, here's a trailer for Fox's new Batman-related show, Gotham. It looks promising — though I'm not a huge fan of Ben McKenzie, who's playing Detective (and future Commissioner) Jim Gordon. Showing the development of Batman's rogues gallery, in addition to Batman himself as a child, is intriguing.

I do believe I'll be watching this one, while hoping it's anything close to as good as the Gotham Central comic book from years ago. 

Thanks again for clicking over. I'll keep trying to do better.

Monday
Mar032014

'Ordinary Love' isn't that bad a song... unplugged

Trying to get settled back in — and back on the horse with this blog — after spending a week in Florida to watch the Tigers in spring training. (There was also a road trip to Clearwater to watch the Phillies and Blue Jays. I was hoping to take at least one more, but scheduling didn't work out.) 

After unpacking, doing laundry, grocery shopping and other catching up after a week away, sitting down to watch three-and-a-half hours of the worst Academy Awards show I can remember was tough. (At The AP Party, I wrote something on Lupita Nyong'o and how she saved the evening.) I have no problem with Ellen DeGeneres as a host. She's a fantastic comedian and fun talk show host.

But she just couldn't make that thing go Sunday night. Not sure it was entirely her fault, though. The whole production was a mess, with long pauses, missed cues, cameras on the wrong people and abrupt cuts. 

Many people are ragging on U2's performance during the show. More specifically, I think people don't like their Oscar-nominated song, "Ordinary Love." But I liked the acoustic rendition. (I wonder if the band got the idea to play it that way after doing so on The Tonight Show a week or so ago. Or maybe they were working on it then and wanted to try it out.)

No, it's not U2's best song. Far from it. However, it's a catchier tune stripped down. I've been listening to it often today. 

Tuesday
Dec172013

For your consideration: Peter O'Toole in 'Troy'

I'm not about to suggest that Troy should be among the first films listed on Peter O'Toole's obituary. Lawrence of Arabia has to be in that first line, right?

I believe the first time I saw O'Toole was in My Favorite Year on cable, but I watched Arabia years later at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, filling a large hole in my "movies I've seen" list. 

I doubt I've seen much of O'Toole's filmography. But when news of his death circulated, I did eventually think of a great scene he had in Troy, during which his Priam asked Brad Pitt's Achilles for the dead body of his son, whom Achilles had killed in battle. 

Priam knows he's humilating himself, but is willing to do so in the name of honor, appealing to Achilles' sense of respect. He also faces the possibility of Achilles killing him right there and then in the tent. O'Toole portrays both of those emotions well, as well as a sense of defiance, daring Achilles not to do the right thing. It's easily the best scene in a not-so-great movie. 

Monday
Dec162013

The 'Interstellar' trailer tugs hard on nostalgia

When the teaser trailer for Christopher Nolan's next film, Interstellar, hit the internet on Saturday, I was a bit underwhelmed. There's so little footage from the actual movie.

But this is supposed to be a teaser, and I much prefer a hint as to what a movie is about than two minutes of five-second cuts of footage that compel movie websites to screen-cap everything in an attempt to find some gem or speculate as to what we were being shown. 

According to IMDB, this is what Interstellar is about: "A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage." 

OK, so there's none of that in this teaser. But the trailer does capture something. That sense of wonder, of possibility. Like when we were kids and wondered what it would be like to go into space, to be an astronaut, to fly the Space Shuttle. Obviously, this also portrays a different time, when we as a country actually achieved a new frontier. 

That was enough to pull me in. But I just hope Nolan takes that vibe into the movie, rather than just try to tease by tugging on nostalgia. 

One other thing: To me, Nolan has become a master of the teaser. The best in recent years was the teaser trailer for Batman Begins. Is this a crime drama? A psychological thriller? A globe-spanning adventure? Yes, but it's also a Batman movie! 

Friday
Dec132013

Thor's thunderous closing credits 

I've been watching Thor quite a bit lately. Well, I watched the entire movie on Netflix recently after seeing Thor: The Dark World in theaters. As I wrote, I didn't like that film as much as I thought I would and wanted to compare it to the first "Thor" film, hoping if I could figure out why. 

Did I accomplish that objective? Maybe. Thor had a great villain in Loki. Also, love interest Jane Foster was a far more realized character with ambitions, drive and a sense of wonder over discovering that her theories were reality. In Thor: The Dark World, she's a spurned girlfriend and damsel in distress. 

Above all, Thor was fun. I was skeptical of that character making a good movie, since Iron Man tried to base itself in reality. So how was a story about the Norse God of Thunder going to play? But Marvel did a smart thing in making it a sci-fi/fantasy hybrid. Thor's not a god; he's an alien. Is that realistic? Well, no — but it fits better with the Marvel movies. 

Besides Netflix, Thor has also played on EPIX and FX in recent weeks. And I've watched bits and pieces of it whenever I've noticed it's on. But mostly, I just want to watch the end credits. Surprisingly, I didn't appreciate this as much when watching on Netflix. But on EPIX and FX, I just kept rewinding to the part where the film ends and cuts to the closing credits with Patrick Doyle's score kicking in hard. 

I was so grateful FX didn't do what basic cable networks typically do with movies now and shrink the credits to a smaller screen and speed them up two or three times, so the channel can just get to what's on next. Maybe it's because Thor — like all Marvel movies — has a mid- or post-credits scene. But I'd like to think that even the FX people know that these closing credits are glorious.