Matters of State

I am the last person who should be writing anything that even closely resembles celebratory talk about the Wolfpack’s convincing 35–7 rout of the Tarheels yesterday. Why? Because I’ve barely laid an eye on the Pack all season. That said, I had a lot of fun watching the game, especially in the 4th quarter with about five minutes left when I finally let my guard down a bit, cautiously optimistic that the game was a bit out of reach even for the quick-strike Tarheels. I won’t lie, I even got a little greedy, practically begging the Pack’s defense to hold on for the shutout.

That was actually the most fun I’ve had watching Pack football in a long time. Games where we execute so consistently throughout the entire 60 minutes are few and far between, especially against our arch-rival1 Tarheels. Do I think UNC put their best foot forward yesterday? No way. To be honest, I was dreading this game after watching the performance the Tarheels put up against Duke two Thursdays ago. In fact, the optimistic spin that Tarheel fans might reasonably put on this is that this was a classic hangover/trap game after beating their real rivals, and of course the Pack would come out fired up with an extra week of preparation for their “Super Bowl”. Sour grapes for sure, but that’s to be expected from the wine and cheese crowd and, quite frankly, I’d much rather have this win than whatever’s next for the Pack. Calling it our Super Bowl is probably an apt observation.

Just a quick aside on the note of rivalry. The rise of Duke’s football program under David Cutcliffe certainly won’t do State fans any favors in the not-our-rival conversation. It certainly doesn’t help that Carolina and Duke are in the same division, with their match-ups having potential head-to-head implications if they can ever sync up their relative success. And on top of all of that, you have the Victory Bell – a tangible spoil for the victor.

What does it all mean about our respective programs? Not much more than what we’ve already seen all season. Carolina has shown glimpses of great football, but they still have a long way to go to get back to where they were headed a few years ago. The Pack’s glimpses have been more rare, but it’s nice to end the regular season on such a high note and so convincingly. Hopefully that victory gave the entire team a confidence boost that will propel them into their potential bowl game and on into next season. Don’t let up. Go Pack!

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gerry Broome

  1. That’s right, I said it.

The Dripolator

During a weekend road trip to the mountains a couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to check out The Dripolator Coffeehouse in Black Mountain, NC. I didn’t stay long, but the Killer Bee lived up to what I’d read or heard about it and I loved the branding so much, I bought this mug. If you ever find yourself with some time passing through Black Mountain, stop in the Dripolator. Great coffee and a neat place. I can’t wait for another chance to visit.

The Band

Perhaps bouyed by what I wanted out of it, I have to admit the Apple Watch wasn’t quite what I expected. I was in the camp that guessed/hoped/wanted Apple’s wearable to be more fitness band than watch. Even with the flood of smart watches hitting the market in the last year or so, I figured all of the signs were pointing toward something different from Apple — Nike dropping their Fuelband hardware, the limitations of battery technology, and the relative commercial disappointment of the existing wearables. But Apple pressed on with their vision, concentrating their wearable strategy on fashion rather than utility (though I expect there will still be plenty of utility … eventually) while simultaneously hewing to the popular convention of why such a device exists. Or, maybe not.

But my hopes are not yet dashed, for there is an unlikely hero waiting in the wings. To my surprise, Microsoft of all companies, released the device of my dreams (almost). The Microsoft Band is Redmond’s take on a fitness tracker, that seemingly takes the under-ambitious do-what-you-can-do-well-and-iterate-later approach that often characterizes Cupertino’s take on such devices. The Microsoft Band is not a bug the crap out of you wrist notifier, but instead that quantifiable-self stenographer in the background, recording your every move (and non-move).

For the past few years, I feel like I’ve been shedding my Microsoft skin, abandoning the 90s dominant Windows platform for the trendy Apple platform. I’m not alone in thinking that there have been a few missteps in Redmond, but in the immortal words of Harry Dunne I say this to you, Microsoft: “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”

Photo Credit: Microsoft


A lifelong Carolina fan sent me this piece by Thad Williamson to serve as a representation of his thoughts and feelings of the revelations brought out by the Wainstein Report. The piece is honest, possibly still a bit defensive and deluded (regarding Dean and what he did or didn’t know and the degree, understandably so), and appropriately optimistic:

UNC is still an institution that aspires to greatness, and specifically to the notion that academic accomplishment and high-level athletic accomplishment can go hand in hand. Some of the problems at Carolina stem from the systemic tension between those two goals, when student-athletes are brought to campus without the requisite academic preparation. That’s a tension felt at almost every school in the country that plays big-time sports, and indeed is intrinsic to the current model of college sports.

I had similar thoughts about the program – regardless of how they got to where they are now (good or bad), UNC will always attract a large number of talented individuals, whether they be future professional athletes, doctors, scientists and researchers, writers – you name it. They still have the potential to build on the foundation of historical greatness and, if done right, they can rise to the top, look down and proclaim without irony that they arrived the Carolina way.

Killing Him Swiftly

Editor’s Note: This month’s check-in with The Collector transpired a little differently than last time. Here are The Collector’s thoughts, all at once. Enjoy. I sat on this for a while, hoping to turn it into more of a conversation, so it’s my fault it is being posted with expired information regarding Taylor Swift’s then-still-unreleased new album, 1989.

Haircut be damned: Well I’ve covered a lot of ground since we last chatted but if you’re asking right now I’m in pop overload. I’ve been on a big Sam Smith kick for a while, both the acoustic and regular version of “Latch” (which is really Disclosure I know) and “Stay with me” but “I’m Not the Only One” is also a wonderful soulful song. The first time I encountered Sam Smith was when he was on a latenight show (either Fallon or Conan) a while back and it took me a while to get over that haircut. I’ve moved on from that now and just think he has one of the most wonderful voices in music right now, and the music on “Latch” is amazing but the acoustic version really makes it a completely different song.

The 47 percent: The other recent track I’ve been listening to a lot is … Taylor Swift. If I’m honest, at least 47% of the reason my response has been delayed is the internal debate over how upfront to be about this, but here goes. I’m coming out of the closet, I am, and have for a while now known that I am, a Taylor Swift fan. Her new track is great and always puts me in a great mood, I’ve not been overly impressed with the next two singles from her latest album but am withholding judgement till the full album comes out. Seriously though, I’ve enjoyed most of her singles since she debuted six (SIX!!!) years ago. The other day I was picking up a friend for lunch, her classic track “love story” was on the radio and I absolutely was blasting it. I thought I had timed it so that it would be over by the time I actually made my pickup but a wrench was thrown in my jam when the unnamed friend had taken it upon himself to walk out to the street corner near his office for a quicker pickup. As he opened the door he had to have caught me turning down the last few bars but I guess if he recognized it he’d have to admit he listened to Taylor too. It went unmentioned if it was recognized.

Seriously though, she’s a very talented songwriter and great singer and cute as a button. Yeah she’s got quite the dating history but well what teen/twenty something’s dating history wouldn’t look slightly ridiculous in the media spotlight. And yeah all of her songs are fairly tied up with young love and teenage problems but… so were Chuck Berry’s, strangely it wasn’t a problem when all of his songs were absorbed with teenage themes and he is as close to an inventor of rock as there is. But heaven forbid the little blonde girl put her heartbreak to words. Seriously where would pop music be without those themes, this criticism of Taylor is so derivative and weak and indicative of hipsterism. Anyways, end rant, I enjoy her music and don’t care who knows.

Now that I’ve probably broken your intent of this chat, on to concert talk.

Farm Aid: I had the fortune to attend two pretty significant concerts that came to the Raleigh area the last few weeks. The first was Farm Aid, which us getting Farm Aid seems like a pretty big deal to me but it was also a great concert (and great food I had this like half pound slice of ham in bbq sauce on a roll that was pretty amazing) with a lineup of people I might not have made it out to see individually but definitely feel like my life is richer for having seen live. Willie Nelson’s son Lukas was a revelation, you gotta figure if your dad’s Willie Nelson you’re probably in a band just for something to do but he is an incredibly gifted technical guitarist with a great voice. I enjoyed the whole lineup despite a too short set by local band Delta Mae (they brought an upright piano on stage instead of wimping out with a keyboard). The other finds for me were Gary Clarke Jr. and Preservation Hall Jazz Band which are both worth checking out.

There were the better known acts some of which were good to check off the bucketlist and some like Dave Matthews are always good for a show (more on that later). I’m glad I got to see Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and of course The Coug live. Coug is definitely starting to show his age by the way. Neil Young got the most political about evil corporations and took a swipe at Sen. Richard Burr, I was probably one of the few in the crowd who didn’t have a problem with him getting political but not taking a swipe at anyone on the ballot this year. I also was pleasantly surprised by Jack White’s set, not that I don’t enjoy his music but he’s not someone I would have felt a need to go see live but he did an amazing set and Seven Nation Army is def great live.

But really, that ham roll, unreal.

Bluegrass: The other big concert I got to go to was the last night of Wideopen Bluegrass festival and have since been on a Del McCoury kick. The other great outcome of the festival which is in it’s second of 4 years in Raleigh is that a local station 102.3 that had just moved to another number decided to play bluegrass in the run up to the festival rather than sit empty and have continued since. They play Union Station’s “Bright Sunny South” about once an hour it feels like and of course it’s experimental and doesn’t have any advertisers yet so is a great break from the standard radio fare. I also bought a bunch of classic bluegrass albumns but have not digested them yet.

Dave Matthews: Other recent development is I’ve been back on a big Dave kick. Visiting a friend who had a large vinyl collection a couple months back drunk me fixated on all the Dave records for some reason. I’ve enjoyed my fair share of Dave concerts over the years and enjoyed his clearly hammered set at Farm Aid, but I don’t know if I’m mellowing in my old age but have really begun to enjoy his music in a way I never did before when it just felt like a social necessity to like his band.

Hipster Cred: I ran into Son Little’s “The River” on some music service the other day and have had it on repeat since, in a sign that they have a great promotions and targeted marketing strategy behind them… NPR feels the same way as of 2 days ago.