Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Test 36: TV Themes and Beatboxing

This week on The Test, the gang reunites. We got together yesterday afternoon, after a long week of teaching, and crammed ourselves into my son Ian's bedroom, along with two microphones, and a laptop. We recorded three episodes in a row. The sound in there is sweet-- lots of corners and soft objects to break up the reverb, and the addition of a second microphone really improved what you can hear (it's one of my old condenser mics, connected with a Blue Icicle . . . we're living in the future).

While the quality of the recording is an improvement, and the quality of Cunningham's TV Theme quiz is superb, the quality of Stacey and Dave's brain power is lacking. Stacey waxes philosophically about her malfunctioning mind, and she sounds almost poetic about it: "I can't even remember my memories." I just get angry and indignant and blame having to work a five day week and then claim to have Alzheimer's.

We get our act together and come on strong by the end, however, and finish with an astounding display of verbal prestidigitation. Including some beatboxing.

Check it out, keep score, give us a good rating on iTunes and/or stitcher, and don't be stingy with the points (I'm certainly not).

Also, I bring up an incident which Whitney will recall better, with his elephantine memory. There was a fraternity brother of ours (the O-dog?) who would allow you to diminish the amount of paddling your pledge-ass received, if you could guess a TV theme song. He would only play a few notes of it, on his record player. When I tried my luck, he played the theme from Bonanza or something equally unidentifiable, and I failed to guess it. Then he missed my ass with the paddle and hit me in the hamstring. Ouch. So I could also blame my poor showing on the PTSD that TV theme songs trigger when I hear them in a competitive setting.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Internet is Neat - Old School Hip Hop Edition

I was channel-surfing in my automobile the other day and went to the Backspin station, a no-brainer preset on Sirius. I was grooving out to the classic "White Lines (Don't Do It)" by Grandmaster Flash in the sad way that a 40-something Dad running errands in the 'burb grooves out. I remember thinking how awesome that bass line of that tune was, and I wanted to find the origin of that sample...after I picked up the dry cleaning, bought wiper fluid and got some Boar's Had Honey Maple Turkey from the deli for the kids' lunches.

Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, I was able to dig up this information in about 20 seconds. Many of you may know this information already, but I did not. Turns out the sample is from an early 80's new wave band called Liquid Liquid (which I'm sure Whitney knows and loves and could write a 5-page essay on from the top of his head, because he knows and loves every non-Mike Love band around). 

Turns out Grandmaster Flash did no do a whole lot, other than rap on top of that bass line about the dangers of booger sugar, while adding in a bit of scratching. The original is below. That bass line is is incendiary. Incendiary.

Gheorghe Explains the Election with a Caption This!

Two recurring features colliding! Caption this while explaining the election!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Week in Wrenball: Time to Find Out

In 1997-98, the William & Mary Tribe men's basketball team - almost out of nowhere - went 20-6 in the regular season, 13-3 in conference play. Hopes were raised in a place where hope was as rare as a rational Tea Party voter.

And as those hopes crested in Richmond at the CAA Tournament, an injury-hobbled Tribe team, with star players Jim Moran and Randy Bracy ailing, lost to seventh-seeded American University and their hot-shooting guard, Nathan Smith. Or, Nathan Fucking Smith, as he's known in W&M lore*.

* possibly only to me

Eighteen years later, a W&M team in somewhat different circumstances, having made consecutive CAA Tournament finals and four in the last eight years, finds itself among the elite teams in the league. Tony Shaver's boys are 17-6, 9-3 in the league, and winners of four straight. W&M is currently ranked 37th in the RPI, and have a non-conference resume that matches up with any mid-major and a lot of power conference teams. People are talking about this squad, and not just us. John Feinstein wrote perhaps the longest non-GTB piece I've ever seen about the Wrens.

Tonight, the Green and Gold begin perhaps their toughest stretch of the season.

Hofstra, boosted by likely CAA Player of the Year Juan'ya Green and double-double machine Rokas Gustys, travels to Williamsburg tonight in a battle for second place. The Flying DutchPride hammered the Tribe by nearly 30 points in Hempstead late last month on the strength of an otherworldly offensive performance in the game's second half. Hofstra trails W&M by one game in the league after blowing a big lead and losing at JMU in overtime.

Two days from now, W&M travels to Towson, hoping to avenge their only home loss of the season. Like Hofstra, the Tigers are only a game behind the Tribe in the CAA standings.

And a week from tonight, league leaders UNCW come to the Tribedome hoping to sweep W&M. The first matchup between these two was a classic, the Seahawks topping the Wrens, 97-94, in overtime.

Omar Prewitt was just named CAA co-Player of the Week after a pair of 20+ point games. The Tribe is balanced, with six players averaging at least 8.0 points per game, and a seventh, sophomore Connor Burchfield, averaging 6.0 and leading the nation in three-point shooting percentage (.614). Sophomore point guard David Cohn is averaging 7.0 assists/game over the last seven games, with an assist/turnover ratio of 4.1:1 over that span. Over the team's four-game winning streak, the Tribe has averaged 1.24 points/possession while shooting 50.6% from the floor. (The NCAA leaders in offensive efficiency, Saint Mary's, average 1.19 ppp on the season. W&M is 37th at 1.09.) There is reason to believe this team is better than last year's.

You can see where this is all going, can't you.

Three wins, and W&M is the odds-on favorite to win the regular season title. Three losses would suck, and burst the #1bid4wmtribe at-large bubble, but wouldn't really have a material impact on the Tribe's CAA tourney chances - W&M's probably already done enough to avoid having to compete in the tournament's play-in round. Neither of those outcomes is terribly likely, given the vicissitudes of this conference season.

At the end of the above-mentioned Feinstein piece, which chronicles the pain many of us have felt personally over the past several years, Shaver allows himself to dream just a little bit. Asked what he might do if W&M finally gets over the hump, he said, “I’m pretty sure I’ll hug my sons and [wife] Ann first. Long hugs. I know there will be tears.”

Dammit. The way this year is shaping up, there will be tears, alright. Just hard to tell which kind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My email has stepped into the wayback frat machine

Yesterday, these two messages were atop my phone's email...very kind of Dr. Sam Beckett to check in every now and again.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Snowy, Rainy Stock Market Blues

It's cold and snowy here in NYC. The stock market is a hot mess. Oil prices are a hot mess. My company did some layoffs two weeks ago and may not be done. And my office is literally raining b/c some construction bozos doing work on the floor above me in my building ruptured a water pipe.

I need something to make me feel better. This may do the trick:

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Ball Open Thread

According to legend, the Super Bowl was named by Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who was inspired by his kids' infatuation with the Superball, which was first marketed in 1965. That's as good a backstory as anything, I guess.

Feel free to weigh in about today's sporting contest, or about your experiences with Superballs, in the comments below.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Test: Not as Hip as Black Violins . . . but Almost

This week on The Test, Stacey delivers another one of her super-hip song quizzes. She confounds special guest MJ and me for a while, but we eventually come up with the answer. See if you can beat us to the punch. You're going to need to identify the artist and/or title of each clip, and then string those clues together to figure out the overarching theme. Good luck.

Also, as a bonus, listen to Stacey's warm welcome at the end of the show to next week's special guest.