Friday, October 28, 2016

Educating the Youth of America (With Bonus Trivia Question)

One of many joys of parenting is the opportunity it conveys to properly educate/brainwash children about the things you find important. In my case, the topics on which my kids actually listen to me are generally limited to liberal politics, respect for our fellow man, and music. I'm doing my best, y'all.

My high schooler was excited to tell me about Miley Cyrus' new song, 'Jolene', earlier this week. For all her eccentricities (and don't try to tell me you wouldn't be just a tad fucked up if you grew up in public), Miley's got some pipes. At least in the sense that she sings loudly and powerfully - we'll leave a discussion of nuance and emotion until she grows up a little. It's a pretty good tune, though.

After I listed to the song, I told my daughter to Google Dolly Parton's original version. As soon as the legend started singing, my daughter's eyes widened, and she said, 'holy shit, she's amazing'. (Colorful language, actually, is one other thing my daughters get from me, now that I think about it.) Ain't that the truth. Now she's been searching for other Dolly Parton tunes to see if she can learn them on the ukelele. Seeds, planted.

I mentioned this briefly on Twitter a few days ago, and a Gheorghie responded to tell me that Dolly's 'Jolene' was on his Top 10 songs list. For extra credit (and assuming you didn't see the exchange online), name that Gheorghie. And for him (or her), I'd love to see that list.

And just for fun, here are Miley and Dolly (goddaughter and godmother, as it turns out) singing the tune together in 2010.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Memory Lane

"Next year is right now. It's 12:30 am, I'm drunk, tears are dried on my cheeks, and I have a perma-grin on my face that's not likely to recede any time soon. To steal from the great Jack Buck, I cannot believe what I just saw." - Misery Loves Company, October 28, 2004

As I settle in to watch one of the most feel-good World Series of my lifetime, I find my mind drifting back twelve years. Thanks to the Chicago Cubs, the 2016 Fall Classic is an opportunity for me to vicariously re-experience one of the great fortnights of my life.

If you'll indulge me, we're off on a blatantly selfish tour of my memory banks.

Popular culture's long past it now, in a millenium when the Red Sox have won three World Series championships, but in 2004, the Boston nine were still losers. Lovable, if you were connected to the Hub, and enjoyably cursed if you weren't. And when they went down 3-0 to the Yankees in the ALCS, one short year removed from a gutting series loss to their greatest rivals, next year seemed impossibly far away.

The morning after the third loss of that ALCS, a mere 10 days before I wrote the quote that leads this post, I said this, "I simply am not smart enough, or talented enough to put adequate words to my utter disappointment with these Red Sox." The Yankees had just pasted the Sox, 19-8, in Fenway, leading to shot after shot of dejected Bostonians sitting in stunned silence in the stands.

Whitney and I started writing Misery Loves Company at the outset of the 2003 baseball season. It made me a better writer, and it made me a better baseball fan. It made me think about the game, and find new ways to talk about it. To be honest, we wrote some stuff over the six years that we did it that I'm quite proud of. (And a decent volume of crap, to be fair.) I really loved doing that blog, and it was made all the better because I got to do it with my best friend. And now, I'm extremely grateful that I wrote all that stuff down more than a decade ago.

I wasn't so grateful after Game 3.

Everyone knows the history (and some of you are Yankees fans), so I'll spare you the blow by blow. That ALCS was so cathartic that I literally fell to the ground after the final out of Game 7 in tears, pounding my living room floor, crying and yelling "they did it!" over and over again.

In all honesty, after the emotion of the ALCS, the World Series against the Cardinals was almost anti-climactic. It's easy to say this in retrospect, but there was no way that particular Red Sox team, that band of idiots, was going to lose. When they finally won, I wrote something that I saw echoed online just this last week:

"Somewhere, Charlie Brown is smoking a cigarette, the Little Red-Haired Girl's head nestled against his shoulder as they lay in the afterglow of beautiful cartoon lovemaking. Lucy's sitting outside wondering how the hell he kicked that ball so far."

That's one of the best paragraphs I'll ever write.

In the days and weeks after the Red Sox series-clinching win, I saw and heard a lot of people writing about how things would change for their fans. That the curse-busting championship would forever change the essential character of Sox fandom. Maybe they were right. I certainly don't follow the Red Sox with the same intensity, though that's a function of the way my life has changed more than any diminishing interest. My Dad's Sox fandom took on a different character as he got older, even though they never won one until he was 57.

But I wouldn't trade those 10 days in October 2004 for anything, even if it means I don't get to feel the same gut-twisting, will-it-ever-happen anxiety again. That time brought me a joy that I still find hard to express. Everyone should be so lucky.

And right now, Cubs fans are four games away from being just that. My own memories of 2004 are fresh enough that I know exactly how they feel. This was famed Cubbie backer Bill Murray after the Cubs toppled the Dodgers to win the National League pennant.

I know how you feel. Boy, do I.

FOX Sports opened its coverage of this World Series with a montage of elderly Cubs and Indians fans talking about their excitement to have a chance to see their teams win it all just one time. It reminded me of hearing about so many New Englanders in their 70s, 80s, and 90s experiencing the bliss of the Sox finally winning it all.

Sometime in the next week or so, another long-suffering group of fans will feel a joy they worried they'd never experience. And I'll be thrilled for them. Joy, after all, is worth celebrating.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WWzD: Big and Classy, but Cheap

I like to kill a few minutes here and there by browsing through the Hemmings app, usually looking at cars I can't afford but occasionally finding a few gems that make me consider clogging up my driveway. I'm typically looking for something undervalued or underappreciated by the masses, ideally for sale by the original owner. One particularly effective category of zclickbait is big classy old cars that are surprisingly cheap. And by "classy" I mean the type of car that people notice and recognize but isn't overly ostentatious. You can find a Turbo R or Eight for under $20,000 but unless you're a senior citizen with a British accent you'll look like a dooshwhistle in a Bentley. I'm looking for the type of car your grandfather bought as a gift to himself on his 69th birthday.

For example, this 1983 BMW 733i is available for "$15,000 negotiable." And it looks pretty crispy. I love the angular shark-like front ends of early 80s BMWs and the 733i was the flagship of the US line in 1983. It has a straight six making 181 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque. The 5 speed manual transmission makes it especially choice. It only has 88,000 miles and it's being sold by the owner (as opposed to a used car dealer) who bought it new and states "As I approach 90 need for a highway tourer has diminished and I believe it is time for another caring owner." And it's in Greenwich so the whole story sounds legitimate. The price is well above book value but I suspect it's worth it. If you're looking for a big old Bimmer this is a great place to start--see if you can haggle your way down to $12k and don't look back.

This 1986 Jaguar XJ6 can be taken home for the paltry sum of $7,900. If not for the fact that we're redoing zbathroom next month I would be hard pressed to come up with a reason not to buy this. The XJ6 might be the most beautiful sedan of the past 45 years. This one has the classic Jag straight 6, under 58,000 miles, very good paint, an excellent interior, and it's about 13 miles from my house--for sale by owner nonetheless. It would be perfect if it were green. But if you're looking to get into a hand-built British luxury car for less than a Nissan Versa (which is the cheapest new car in America), look no further. It's less reliable than the 733i, but you won't find a better combination of price and beauty. People will automatically assume you're old money when you pull up in this thing.

The most obvious big classy cheap car is a four-door Mercedes. There's a reason Jay-Z has a thing for them big body Benzes. They're iconic. The W123 series are also plentiful, nearly indestructible, and typically pampered by their original owners. I have a soft spot for the ones with matching hubcaps and my love of station wagons is well documented. This 1981 300TD pulls especially hard on my heartstrings because it has the legendary turbodiesel 5-cylinder engine. And it's a manual. Yes, that's right, a 35 year old red Mercedes stick-shift inline-5 turbodiesel station wagon with matching hubcaps. I'm completely smitten. It's for sale by a dealer, which gives me pause, but their video is absolutely pornographic.

I would eventually swap out the clear fog lights for yellow ones, that's easy. I can live with the few interior flaws, but the hood ornament doesn't stand up straight which makes me wonder what happened to the front end over the past three-and-a-half decades. And it's in Michigan. If a little old lady in Bronxville was selling this thing though ... I'd be hurtling up the Henry Hudson with $9000 in cash instead of writing this post.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Dave Is Brilliant (according to Dave)

Although we've been a little slower pumping out the episodes since school started, we are still making The Test.

I haven't posted all the episodes up here, because my prolific creativity annoys Marls, but the newest episode is something special (and my favorite one so far). This is mainly because the final question-- which I conceived in my super-brilliant brain-- is a culmination of not only everything we've learned on the podcast, but quite possibly ties all the knowledge in the universe together, an enormous version of Lebowski's rug. The ladies might not wholeheartedly agree with my assessment, but they don't totally disagree either.

I also set a cunning pepper-related trap, which they fall into headfirst (and refuse extrication). And we solve a mystery.

It's an amazing tour-de-force. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll shoot mucous from your nose, and if you're not careful, you just might learn something (pepper-related).

Sunday, October 23, 2016

World Series Open Thread

(Read: lazy man working on a World Series post didn't get it done.)

We'll break down the Series, G:TB style, over the next few days, but suffice it to say that our editorial position is that it's really freaking cool to see the Cubs make it to the this point, and it's hard for some of us to root against Terry Francona.

Friday, October 21, 2016

I'm going to miss Joe Biden

I never understood how I went to college in southeastern Virginia, NASCAR country, but only met one other car guy (El Weenaldo). We need more car guys. Guys like Joe Biden and his mint 1967 Corvette. 1967 was the final year of the second-generation (or "C2") cars, and I think they are some of the most beautiful sports cars ever, especially the convertibles. Biden's has the base 327 engine but it can still lay a patch.

Any car guy would love a C2 Vette in Goodwood Green. But this is more than just a great classic car to the Vice President. Watch this video.

Every time he sees this car, he's reminded of his father whom I'm sure he loved. Every time he sees this car, he's reminded of his wedding with his first wife who died tragically. Every time he sees this car, he's reminded of his son Beau who also died tragically. I can't fathom the memories and emotions this hunk of iron and fiberglass stirs in him. The smells of combusted leaded gasoline and burned rubber, the clatter of sixteen pushrod-activated overhead valves and almost unfettered exhaust, the feel of the road through the bottom of the seat and the huge skinny wheel, the whole experience has to be moving every time he gets behind the wheel.

Maybe you never worked on a car with your father, or your father never had an American car with a big V8 and a convertible top, or maybe you saw your father every day so your only quality with him wasn't the drive to and from his house on Saturdays. Maybe this video doesn't choke you up from 1:15 to 2:20. Maybe you aren't a car guy. But if you are, you understand why I went from misty-eyed at the 2:10 mark to full-on "FUCK YEAH JOE!!" joyousness at the 2:27 mark.

I'm going to miss Joe Biden. I hope that in a few months he gets to drive his cherry Vette as much as he wants and that he enjoys everything it evokes inside him.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Progress Is On The Ballot

I've struggled for a while, probably for this entire cycle, to articulate the reasons why I'm voting for Hillary Clinton. I mean, I'm unequivocally voting against Donald Trump, for reasons that are self-evident to anyone that knows me. But when I saw this ad a few days ago, it fell into place for me.

I'm voting for Hillary Clinton because she's a continuation of the progress that I believe President Obama has made. And because she's a direct repudiation of the strategy of obstructionism, cynicism, and yes, racism, that the modern GOP employs. I don't love everything about her, but I'm with her.

I'm with her because of him.