Quick Hits

It’s been a while since I did a Quick Hits post, but there’s been a significant campaign development (already!) in the gubernatorial races.  So I thought I’d lead with that, and throw in some other news in the world of sports and music.

Alaska candidates form “unity ticket”

Alaskan gubernatorial "unity ticket," (from left): Democrat Byron Mallott, and Independent Bill Walker.
Alaskan gubernatorial “unity ticket,” (from left): Democrat Byron Mallott, and Independent Bill Walker.

Previously, the gubernatorial race in Alaska hadn’t been grabbing much attention.  Republican Sean Parnell was expected to win the race, having the advantages of both incumbency and being a Republican in a red state.  However, Independent Bill Walker threw a wrench into the works when he announced that he and Democratic candidate Byron Mallott were merging their campaigns.  Walker will run at the top of the ticket with Mallott as his running mate for Lieutenant Governor.  The campaign is touting this as a “unity ticket,” even though Walker is not running as a Republican.  Walker did, however, run against Parnell in the Republican primary for Governor in 2010, losing badly.  Mallott, meanwhile, has some record of bipartisanship during his political career, having served as co-chair of Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski’s reelection campaign in 2010, which she won as a write-in candidate over Republican nominee Joe Miller.

So what does this all mean?  No public polls have been taken since Walker and Mallott merged their campaigns, and Alaska is a very difficult state to poll.  The latest poll taken of the race showed Parnell ahead with 37% of the vote, and Mallott and Walker with 22% and 20%, respectively.  Does this mean that we can simply add Mallott and Walker’s percentages and conclude that they are ahead?  Not so fast.  This situation bears some resemblance to the nutso race in Kansas that I covered in my previous post.  Once Greg Orman comes to be recognized as the de facto Democratic candidate, any crossover support he had from Republicans will likely deteriorate.  The same goes for Walker and Mallott.  The Alaska Democratic Party has even come out and endorsed their bid, so they will definitely be seen as a sort of Democratic ticket.  This means that at least some of their supporters in the poll may switch to Parnell or stay home.  Walker and Mallott’s bipartisan records may keep some voters in the fold, but how many?  We won’t know until we see fresh polling, and we may not even know for sure until election night.  I still think Parnell will win here, but one thing’s for sure: nobody was talking about this race two months ago, and plenty are now.  Which means anything can happen.

Packers Start Season 1-1

Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson
Green Bay Packers receiver Jordy Nelson

I elected not to do an in-depth Packers preview this season, mostly because this year’s team strongly resembles last year’s team: an offensive machine with limited defensive capabilities.  I wasn’t sure the acquisition of aged linebacker Julius Peppers from the Bears nor the drafting of Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was going to change all that.

That description of the team has mostly rung true as the Pack has started the season 1-1.  They weren’t able to topple the defending champs on their home turf as the Seahawks pulled away late for a 36-16 win.  Green Bay’s defense couldn’t contain Seattle’s speedy receivers and mobile quarterback, just like in our playoff loss last year to the 49ers.  The Packers’ offense even got into a funk last week against the Jets (a game I attended!), falling behind 21-3 before rallying for a 31-24 win.  The defense was able to contain a mobile QB here for at least half the game, but Geno Smith’s supporting cast is nowhere near as good as Russell Wilson’s in Seattle.  Wide receiver Jordy Nelson is off to a historic start, pulling in 18 receptions for 292 yards in his first two games.  The receptions mark is a team record, and the yardage is second all-time for the first two games.  Despite that, I don’t think the Packers have the firepower on D to keep up with the elite teams in the NFC.  I think they’ll advance to the divisional playoffs, and possibly the NFC championship game, before running into a buzzsaw team like the 49ers or Seahawks that will exploit their weaknesses.  I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see a Super Bowl win in the cards this year.  Then again, I didn’t see one in 2010, so who knows.

Mark Tremonti releases another b-side

Tremonti GoneFor those who don’t know me, I’m a huge fan of the bands Creed and Alter Bridge.  One member they have in common is guitarist Mark Tremonti, who I view as one of the greatest living rock guitarists on the planet.  So, naturally, I was just short of giddy when he released his first solo album, All I Was, back in 2012.  I reviewed the album for a friend’s blog, but the site has unfortunately been dismantled since.  I still have a Word document of the review if any of you would like to read it.  Tremonti has since released two b-sides to the album: “All That I Got” in April 2013, and “Gone” five days ago.  I really liked “All That I Got,” as it had a nice groove to it, but I can see why it didn’t make the album.

“Gone,” on the other hand, fits in very well with the rest of All I Was.  It has the same titanic entrance that most songs on the album do, and combines the thunderous sounds of thrash metal with the melodic sensibilities of a band like Creed.  This one features more effects on Tremonti’s vocals than the rest of the album, which I think takes away from the song a little.  The lyrics are pretty vague too, describing someone who finally found their way in life after many difficulties.  While I like the song, it’s nowhere near as interesting as several of the others on his album, and I would recommend listening to those first as an intro to his solo project.  Right now, there’s only live performances of “Gone” on YouTube, so I’ll link you to one of those below, in addition to one of my favorites from the album, “The Things I’ve Seen.”

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