Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fearless Prediction: Imitation, Flattery

The Indiana Pacers made news this week when they announced that they'd wear Hickory High uniforms several times over the next few seasons, an homage to Hoosiers as that great film celebrates its 30th anniversary. Notwithstanding the pressure that puts on Donald Sloan (who'll wear Jimmy Chitwood's number 15), the move was met with widespread approval.

That nearly universal positivity will undoubtedly translate to dolla dolla bills, ya'll, and since no good idea goes unstolen, the Pacers' play will spark a run on similar promotions across sports. The G:TB investigative team has already heard from a number of franchises across the sporting world about their plans:

In Portland, the Blazers intend to leverage the tenuous same-state connection between Oregon State and Scott Howard's high school mascot and appropriate the Beavers uniforms worn in Teen Wolf. No word on whether P.J. Carlesimo will be asked to come back and don a jersey to make the look work.

On the other side of the continent, the Knicks are grasping at whatever straws they can, realizing without acknowledging the fact that they don't have anywhere near the number of players they need to make a run, even in the tissue-soft Eastern Conference. They'll play in Jesus Shuttlesworth's Lincoln High uniforms, hoping that a) the Jesus connection will have a positive impact, and b) Ray Allen might be convinced to play for them.

Changing sports, but staying with a theme of offensive futility, the Mets have decided that they won't be making any trades that would require incremental payroll. Instead, they're going to wear New York Knights uniforms, welcome David Wright back from the disabled list, and carve a lightning bolt into his bat. He may not be The Natural, but he's pretty dreamy. Just ask Clarence.

Football franchises want in on the action, too. The fictional town of Ampipe, Pennsylvania stands in for Johnstown in All the Right Moves. And Johnstown, less than 70 miles from Pittsburgh, is a rugged, gritty Western Pennsylvania town. The Steelers suiting up in the Ampipe Bulldogs' gold and black is geographically, historically, and colorfully appropriate. Stef Djordjevic would be proud, wherever he is now.

Speaking of geographically appropriate choices, the denizens of the Gulf Coast are already buying up the Saints' homage to The Waterboy. It doesn't hurt that Drew Brees wears Bobby Boucher's number nine. Saints coach Sean Payton has reportedly embraced the tie-in wholeheartedly, planning to wear a bucket hat in honor of Henry Winkler.

"Let them play. Let them play" You'll remember that from The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, when the Bears stole the show during an exhibition in the Astrodome. And even if you don't remember that, the Houston Astros certainly do. Jose Altuve will be wearing the actual uniform originally donned by Tanner.

Outside of J.J. Watt, nobody's ever heard of anyone on the Houston Texans roster, even many of the Texans themselves. A franchise in need of an identity, in a state owned lock, stock, and barrel by that team in Dallas, the Texans are undergoing a makeover. Who better to emulate than Burt Reynolds' badass Paul Crewe? And what better to demonstrate toughness than to wear a prison squad's uniforms? Frankly, this The Longest Yard tribute is probably our favorite.

Finally, another franchise that's essentially invisible is borrowing unashamedly from an iconic film to boost its fortunes. The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced plans to wear Charlestown Chiefs uniforms from Slap Shot. (It's okay to admit that you didn't realize that the Columbus Blue Jackets were an actual National Hockey League team. Someone should make a quiz podcast about sports team nicknames.) Reg Dunlap may even come out of retirement.

We can be certain that these aren't the only tributes that'll follow on the heels of the Pacers' inspired move. Major League Soccer is researching the issue, but having a hard time coming up with anything other than Victory as a model. Keanu Reeves is badgering Bill Belichick about using The Replacements' togs. And expect to see Shaq on the set of TNT's NBA studio show wearing his old Blue Chips uniform.

The possibilities, they're most excellent.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Danimal Checks In from China

Sure, he's back in the States now, but that won't stop us from running this enthralling filler post. These are the emails rob and I receive from what I can only assume is a very jetlagged Danimal when he emails from across the globe...

Subject: Ni  Hao mother effers
Missing my gtb like crazy. 
You're probably in need of some filler. Just a hunch though. 


Subject: Sunny day in Tianjin
This place is such a effing dump.

Subject: Yo
Love me some Mankattan sponge cake bitches!

Some post trip additions....

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Greatest

Today, Pedro Martinez formally takes his rightful place among baseball's all-time legends. In actuality, he's been there for years.

Perhaps my favorite athlete in the years since I crossed the line from boy to man (it's an indistinct line, really), Pedro remains for me one of the most compelling examples of athletic arrogance, that indefinable but obvious quality that separates the greats from the mere goods. Though he stood just 5'11 and weighed less than 190 pounds, he was an intimidating as Randy Johnson in his own way, his countenance and bearing telling hitters that he knew that they knew they had no chance.

In honor of this day, and his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, we're running back something we wrote about him four years ago. Viva Pedro.

April 8, 2011:

I took the kids to the National Portrait Museum last weekend. Ostensibly, the trip was part of our ongoing effort to fight against the perfectly natural urge to completely take for granted the immensely interesting and diverse cultural opportunities in our area. But Daddy had an ulterior motive.

Peter Gammons called it "duende", from the Spanish word that, roughly translated, means having soul, an authentic expression of emotion. I always loved that description as attached to Pedro Martinez, the most remarkable athlete in my experience as a fan. Pedro's duende manifested itself in a loose-limbed, heavy-lidded arrogance, as this slip of a man whipped a baseball from his long fingers towards the artificially-muscled sluggers of his day, besting them again and again.

In 1999, at the height of the steroid era, Pedro was 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA, 313 strikeouts and 37 walks. His ERA in 2000 was a ludicrous 1.74, more than 2.5 runs lower than the league average. From 1997 to 2003, he strung together what Gammons describes as "the most dominant stretch of any pitcher in major league history".

Like many of the greats, Pedro held on long enough for us to watch his gifts diminish. And though he was still more than serviceable in his final years with the Mets and Phillies, he wasn't Pedro. Nobody could be.

Gammons himself donated Susan Miller-Havens' portrait of Pedro to the National Portrait Gallery, where it hangs today in a wing of other new additions to the museum's collection, near Ann Landers and a tribute to Hunter Thompson. In it, Pedro wears a Sox cap with a uniform of indeterminant provenance that features a Dominican flag, combining his U.S. glory days with the work he continues to do in his native country.

Duende, it seems, stays with a man.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Dave Tries (and epically fails) to be a Hipster Douchebag

Greetings from Sea Isle City, my favorite beach town on the East Coast. I should be writing this in an air-conditioned coffee shop, sipping on some kind of exotic coffee brewed from a rare Guatemalan bean, while I sit on a high stool at a comfy little table, accessing the free wifi . . . but, alas, I'm not. I'm writing it in the bedroom of our condo, and it's rather warm (the AC is broken) and I'm slugging down iced coffee.

This is the story of a dream deferred.

The day started wonderfully. My wife and Ian went on a kayaking excursion and my brother brought Alex to the arcade and then to the beach, so I was left with no kids and some free time. And I had done my requisite beach time earlier that morning: I went for a jog and watched the dredging machines, I took my cousin's paddleboard out on the ocean, and I swam some laps. So I was tired and ready for some screen time.

I decided I would pack up the laptop-- my trusty MacBook Pro-- and walk down the street to the hip little coffee shop, Red White & Brew. I would get a coffee, sit at a little table, edit some audio for my podcast, and do some blogging. I would be a total hipster douchebag. I had never sat down in a coffee shop with anything other than a book, and this was very appealing to me . . . to wear my headphones in public, snip some things, amplify some things, normalize the audio, upload it to Soundcloud and write a little post about it. All while drinking coffee in a cool little place, watching people in swimsuits making their way to the beach. Perhaps someone would ask me a question, and I would take off my headphones and say, "What was that? Sorry . . . I was just editing some audio for my podcast. On my MacBook Pro. You wouldn't believe how old it is, but it gets the job done. Never gets a virus." The person would think to themselves: what a hipster douchebag. And I would think to myself: mission accomplished.

But Red White & Brew provided none of this. They didn't have wifi, they didn't have comfortable little tables, and they didn't have AC . . . or I couldn't feel it. It's actually cooler in this breezy bedroom, though I'm not particularly comfortable, lying on the bed with my MacBook Pro perched on my lap. And my mom just asked me something about throwing wet bathing suits in the laundry. You can't be a hipster douchebag when your mom is asking you shit like that.

So that was my big chance to be a hipster douchebag, and I blew it, but my kids are going to 4H camp in a couple of weeks and there's a hip little coffee shop in Highland Park and I'm going to try again. I will keep you guys posted on my progress and maybe I can even take a "selfie." Meanwhile, my mom just walked into the room and plopped a bunch of my kid's bathing suits on the bed and sang "laundry service." Not very hip at all.

Episode 5 of The Test is called "Everyone Fails" because I fail, Cunningham fails, and even Stacey fails . . . and she made the test. So give it your best shot, listen up for a new character, and tell us how you did. Good luck . . . you're going to need it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Public Service Announcement

Today is National Hot Dog Day. As a service to our readership, and the public at large, here's a piece that tells you where to find free/cheap dogs all across this fine nation.

And here's a picture of a Ben's Chili Bowl halfsmoke, my favorite hot dog in all the world.

The Teej and BaconBaking vote for...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

So What'd We Miss?

As hard as it is for me to believe, it appears that the world kept spinning while I spent eight glorious, responsibility-free days paddling down a river and then downing a canoe full of Red Stripe and PBR. At the time of this writing, I'm going on 206 hours since I last combed my hair, shaved, or checked email.

But while I was incommunicado and then inebriato, things happened. Vitally important things, mundane things, really stupid things. Here's a rundown:

Our old friend the Large Hadron Collider helped scientists prove the existence of the pentaquark, using maths. The subatomic particle had long been theoretically assumed, but only now confirmed. Noteworthy to those of us who know the Collider's dark secrets: pentaquark sounds more than a little satanic. This seems important.

Mere days after zman called Tesla's Insane Mode to our attention, company founder Elon Musk went one better. "No one was asking for ludicrous model because it's too ludicrous," said Musk in a call with reporters and stock analysts. Zman called it plaid in a message to me. Whatever you call it, the newest Tesla Model S can get to 155 mph 20% faster than any previous version, and goes 0 to 60 in 2.8 seconds. Stupid.

I'm sad to say that new music doesn't come out on Tuesdays any longer. With the overwhelming majority of music purchased digitally, and music's increasingly global marketing, the industry has decided to release new albums on Fridays. As the story in the link above notes, this sucks for record stores (if such thing still exist), but it's generally supported by consumers. Kinda bums younger me out a little, though.  

A U.S.-led coalition of nations reached a nuclear deal with Iran that seems way too complex for me to really understand. The people I generally agree with seem to support it, and the people I generally think are reactionary assholes with no ideas other than bombing our enemies back to the stone ages seem to really hate it, so I guess my initial take is that it's a good thing. One of my normal barometers for complex policy issues, James Fallows, is optimistic, as are contributors to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. That's good enough for me, because in truth, like 98% of Americans, I have no idea. That won't stop 98% of Americans from having an opinion.

Our man Marcus dropped 21 on the Heat in NBA Summer League play. Heat check, indeed.

Finally, and probably most importantly, NEW SEUSS! The good doctor's wife found a manuscript he'd written in the late 50s or early 60s while cleaning his office after he passed in 1991. It finally made its way to print. What Pet Should I Get is available in stores in 7/28, but hit the review circuit while we were away. Talk about burying the lede.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cauc Hop Revisited

It's been just over six years since G:TB's 1st Annual Caucasian Hip-Hop Artist Invitational. Perhaps unsurprisingly we never revisited this topic, and I'm too lazy to do so fully. But I posit that there are two artists who deserve to be seeded in the top half of the draw: Action Bronson and El-P.

Action Bronson continues to come up large. He's at the point where he even dominates his cameo appearances. He merely gets a "featuring" credit on "Driving Gloves," a new track from Gangrene (i.e., the Alchemist and Oh No) but it's pretty clear he's the star of the show.

If you made it to the end of that video you saw the reference to Meow the Jewels, a Run the Jewels spinoff project in which El-P remixed RTJ2 using only cat sounds. We've mentioned this lunacy here before and I wasn't sure if it was a joke or not. It appears to be real, based on the following from SoundCloud.

I'm not much of a prognosticator, but if these guys couldn't pull off at least 7 or 8 seeds then the legitimacy of the Cauc Hop undertaking has to be called into question.