Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Three Finale

On the third day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me 

Three Punk Rock Playlists 
Two Digits Throughout History 
And the debut of Mac McFis-ty

Rounding out Day Three. I'm exhausted, but I enjoyed working on this.  You're forgiven if you gloss over my meandering text, but listen to the music.  If music could talk...
  1. 1970’s punk, excepting three pillars
  2. The Ramones
  3. The Clash
  4. The Sex Pistols
  5. 1980’s through today’s punk
This Is Radio Clarence: Punk Chronicles Vol. 5 

I could talk all day about The Clash. (I won’t.) They are known internationally as The Only Band That Matters. Mattered, I guess, though they seem alive and well when you’re cranking “Clash City Rockers” at a high volume. I consider Joe Strummer to be, in addition to punk rock warlord, a high prophet and one of the coolest guys not just to rock a Mohawk but ever to roam the planet. The Clash are, and have been since the 1980’s, my favorite band of all time. Bar none.

Essential Facts 

Joe Strummer (née John Mellor) – sang and played guitar
Mick Jones – sang and played guitar
Paul Simonon – played bass and sang on rare occasions
 Nicky “Topper” Headon – drummed (like a mf)

[There were others: Terry Chimes, the original drummer who plays on the first album, and the three younger dudes who stepped in and filled out what would later be called The Clash II when Joe sacked most everyone, a subsequently disavowed record and lineup. But the four above comprise The Clash to most.]

They are all still alive except Joe. Joe Strummer died right before Christmas in 2002 at age 52. I know some folks were bummed at the recent deaths of Bowie, Prince, and others they grew up listening to; I talked to our pal Otis, another huge Clash fan, right after Strummer died. The sentiment exchanged was disbelief. Not just that Joe died from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect right as he was trying to re-form The Clash, months before they would be honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . . . but disbelief that the passing of someone we’d never met saddened us that overwhelmingly. It sucked, it still sucks. Years later, this article depicted people who'd obviously been hit harder by it.  Life is short. Live well. Please read this interview and listen to Joe’s BBC words to keep you on the righteous path: Without people, you’re nothing. Amen.
Whitney and Joe, NYC
The Clash began as a band owing some small credit to The Sex Pistols (and The Damned and others who get less obvious credit), a London punk band in 1976. Refusing to rest on those laurels or be caged inside hi-fi stereotype, however, they almost immediately rose above punk’s three chord din and infused a number of other elements into their mix. If you can imagine the Pistols covering “Police and Thieves,” which the Clash did in 1977, as anything but a snide send-up, your imagination is more inventive than mine. Time has been kind to The Clash; my earliest education of the band made them seem runners-up to the Pistols in the punk movement, but by now, the reputation and credibility of The Clash lapped those loud lads in Lydon’s lineup long ago.

That said, their presence on the airwaves is still nearly completely limited to the Big 4:
  1. “London Calling” (omnipresent backdrop to any TV show or movie scene where people travel to the UK…ugh)
  2. “Rock the Casbah” (I’d be sick of it and change the station at first note if it weren’t so damn good)
  3. “Train in Vain (Stand By Me)” still a classic with an oft-sampled Topper drum track
  4. “Should I Stay or Should I Go” (more on this later)
If it unspools, use a pencil
That's all you hear.  Just silly, as there are many more Clash tunes deserving of airplay. I’ll throw some at you below. When I was a kid, I had heard two of the Big 4 on the radio but didn’t know much of the band beyond that.

Then Combat Rock hit in 1982, and it was one of my earliest cassette purchases. Wore it out. Side 1 was aces, Side 2 was deuces. Rewind button hit frequently. Thinking about doing that takes me back.

Wish I’d been old/smart/cool enough to see them at William and Mary Hall that year. Dammit.
Seven years later, I took a job working for part of the summer at Willoughby Bay Marina. The once huge marina facility is now gone, leveled to make room for condos that never got built thanks to recessive times, but you see the land where it was every time you ascend from the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel heading westbound. Crap job I had. I scraped barnacles off the bottom of sailboats and repainted the hulls, did odd jobs, and invented stupid games that the lifers who worked there picked up on immediately. Long hours in the summer swelter with my brain in dry-dock storage. The best hours of the day were in my folks’ car going to and fro. With AC. And a tape deck.

A somewhat random purchase at the start of the summer proved to be a real highlight and an introduction to a back catalogue that made me think that I was way late to the party, but one has kept me entertained for going on three decades since. The Story of The Clash Volume 1, on two clear cassettes. (Vol. 2 never happened.) First listens of “Complete Control,” “Tommy Gun,” "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais,” and the like all thoroughly intrigued. Loved it. Put it in the Walkman while I painted. Wore it out.

*  *  *  *  *

The Clash formed in 1976 as a supergroup with members from the London SS and the 101ers.  The latter band actually had an album of raw but enjoyable materials.  "Keys to Your Heart" and "Letsagetabitarockin" entertain but foreshadow very little of what would come next.

The Clash's eponymously titled first record is pure punk rock. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up. Give 'Em Enough Rope followed, including Dave's favorite Clash song.  Softened some of the rough edges.  Once again, no hint at what would follow.

London Calling was released this month, 1979. And then it was on.  19 songs. 2 LP's.  5 million copies sold. Enough has been written on this record.  Rolling Stone named it the best album since ever, back when they wrote articles about music.  Just get it, sit down, and spend an hour with the volume way up.  ("Elevator, goin' up!")

Sandinista! followed the next year, a bloated 3-LP mixed bag of reggae, pop, experimental, dub, children singing, maybe a little punk, what have you.  Critiqued less glowingly.  Underrated.  I sent Otis a list of what it could have been as a single album.  Damn fine:
  1. The Magnificent Seven
  2. Somebody Got Murdered 
  3. Rebel Waltz 
  4. One More Time 
  5. Up In Heaven (Not Only Here) 
  6. The Sound of the Sinners 
  7. Police on My Back 
  8. The Call Up 
  9. Lose This Skin 
  10. Charlie Don't Surf 
  11. Lightning Strikes (Not Once But Twice) 
  12. If Music Could Talk
The aforementioned Combat Rock followed, after a few one-off singles.  New popular heights, which absolutely killed the band. Trust Clarence, it's hard to handle such acclaim.


Topper gets punted for being a junkie's junkie.  "The Human Drum Machine" wallows in his misery for decades.  This story here is well told and has a happy ending, but not until after some depravity.

Mick, the Keith to Joe's Mick or the John to Joe's Paul, is sent packing while Paul stays.  Follow?  Joe and Paul then pick up three young blokes to round out a pseudo-Clash that produces Cut the Crap but loses remaining street cred and is later considered to never have happened, like Rocky V, Jaws 3-D, or Highlander II.  (It did produce two songs I enjoy.  Guilty pleasure.)

And then they're done.  Big Audio Dynamite, Havana 3AM, The Good Bad and the Queen, Carbon/Silicon, and The Mescaleros ensue.  Decent to very good.  But not The Clash.  They told us lightning strikes not once but twice, but they had it in a bottle for seven years and once it was gone, it was gone for good.  Especially now that Joe is up in heaven.

*  *  *  *  *
Rob knows that I have somewhat obsessively populated my Clash library in the years that followed. Disc and digital acquisitions of every studio album, live material galore, b-sides, rarities, outtakes, demos, compilations of every sort. A bit over the top, actually. (I don't have these.) Here’s what you “need”:

Essential Viewing: I loved The Future Is Unwritten, the documentary about Joe Strummer. Trailer here. Westway to the World and The Rise and Fall of The Clash also entertain and educate. Would like to see the tangentially related London Town, out this year.  Pre-release showings in London, NYC, Norfolk, VA, and I fucking missed it.  Clarence can fail.

Essential Reading: There are dozens of books about The Only Band That Matters, including at least one with that title. Way too many. Enough cashing in already. I’ve read a few. I liked Last Gang in Town by Marcus Gray, A Riot of Our Own by former roadie and road manager Johnny Green, and the huge neon pink tome simply titled The Clash.

Essential Listening: In the album-buying era, you could do plenty worse than that Story of the Clash Volume 1 grab bag. Clash on Broadway expanded upon that. As far as studio albums, it generally goes without saying that you start with London Calling and travel wherever you want from there. That album brings it well beyond any hype about it.

Honestly, they have five albums, six if you count that the US version of the first album is markedly different than the UK.  Throw in Black Market Clash and you have a 7-pack of the best stuff ever composed and compiled.  I have tried to shy away from good/bad/better/best when it comes to artistic opinion, but come now, children.  This shit is the best.  Listening to all this music while penning this post has reminded me just how much that's true.

Anyway… in August of this year, Dave posted a Stranger Things clip at SoD that featured “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” In a tremendously pompous and music snobby retort, someone commented:
“The Clash is indeed the only band that matters. Though I would put SISOSIG at about my 37th favorite Clash tune.

I can list 1-36 if you run out of content here.”
Dave, after much consideration, here’s the list. Enjoy. And remember: without people, you're nothing.

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Three Continued

On the third day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me 

 Three Punk Rock Playlists 
 Two Digits Throughout History 
 And the debut of Mac McFis-ty

Hope everyone enjoyed a morning full of Social D, Local H, and X.  More Day 3.  Postcount!

  1. 1970’s punk, excepting three pillars 
  2. The Ramones 
  3. The Clash 
  4. The Sex Pistols 
  5. 1980’s through today’s punk

God Save the Clarence: Punk Chronicles Vol.4
- The Sex Pistols -

The Sex Pistols.  It would be hard to name any band in history as surrounded with mythology, misinformation, and made-up memories.  Maybe Spinal Tap or The Rutles.

Most music fans fall into one of two categories:
  1. The Sex Pistols invented punk.  They were the first punk band to make it big, and they were pioneers for all the rest.  Their songs like "Anarchy in the U.K." stand the test of time, and their influence remains visible across the industry.
  2. The Sex Pistols were all hype.  They couldn't play their instruments, but their form of vulgar shock rock made them heroes of the underground, immortalized by public acts of rudeness like the infamous Bill Grundy interview on English television.  They were merely puppets of Malcolm McLaren, and their diminutive half-life is evidence that they were talentless hacks acting the part.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere in between.  There is some actuality in each camp:
  • They were one of the first punk bands to break through into commercial success.
  • While their output is extremely limited, songs like "Anarchy" and "God Save the Queen" are among the very best of punk's heyday.
  • Some of them couldn't play their instruments worth a damn. ('ello, Sid.)
  • They were certainly thrust into the public spotlight by that TV spot and other acts of extreme vulgarity.
There are just as many myths needing debunking, though:
  • They didn't invent anything (musically speaking).  The Ramones' debut, The Damned, and a number of other albums predated Never Mind the Bollocks.  And you could argue that Iggy and others from a decade prior fathered them all.
  • They were not devoid of talent; Steve Jones is a respected guitarist, and Glen Matlock did write good songs.
Let's take a step back and provide some overview.

Essential Facts (I say "facts," but any truths about this band are debatable and usually at least embellished.)

The Players
  • John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, sang and whined and shouted and postured (sod off)
  • Steve Jones, played guitars and bass when Sid sucked too bad
  • Paul Cook, drummed
  • Glen Matlock, played bass and wrote music; jettisoned mid-launch
  • John Simon Ritchie or Simon John Ritchie or John Beverley or Simon Beverley, aka Sid Vicious, smacked his bass around and sang a few bits
  • Malcolm McLaren, shop owner (called SEX) and manager of the band, master manipulator
  • Nancy Spungen, screechy girlfriend who was Yoko x 100 but suffered a terrible fate
The Stats and Story
  • Number of studio albums: 1 (Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols)
  • Number of RnR Hall of Fame inductions: 1 (sort of... they rejected it)
  • Formed in 1975
  • In 1977, Glen Matlock left. Cited reasons vary, the one I like best is that he was sacked because he said he liked The Beatles.
  • Enter Sid Vicious, Johnny Rotten's buddy who'd been window dressing in Siouxsie and the Banshees and just a fan who got in fights at shows. He played bass, but the consensus was among everyone that ever played with him that he had zero skill at it.  No matter, as he wasn't really hired to play bass, but rather complete the look, attitude, and reputation of The Sex Pistols.  Cursing, spitting, sneering, fighting, self-mutilating, and doing extraordinary amounts of very hard narcotics were all part of the job description, and Sid's performance evals were tip-top.
  • Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols released 10/28/1977.  1.3 million copies sold worldwide.
  • The Pistols imploded in January 1978.  D-bag McLaren had booked them gigs in redneck bars in the American deep south, then waited to see what would happen.  Sid's heroin habit had ballooned and he brawled with fans.  A number of dates were cancelled.  Not one month into the tour, they split, with Johnny Rotten formally announcing the end. Cited reasons vary, as always.
There were a number of reasons why they couldn't sustain this carnival: it was never about the music to at least half the band; they had a self-serving weasel of a manager who fueled chaos without the experience or inclination to actually lead the band somewhere beneficial; a reputation that become bigger than the band, one they had to live up to at every moment, and which elicited hatred from the mainstream masses and violent fanaticism from the disenfranchised. (Sound familiar?)
  • Sid went solo, silly as that is to say.  His take on Sinatra's "My Way" is everything you'd guess it would be and much, much less.  Worth a cringy listen (below).  
  • Johnny Rotten reverted to John Lydon and formed Public Image Ltd (PiL), an eighties band you'd file under "alternative" more than "punk rock." I like "This Is Not a Love Song," "Rise," and "Seattle." He's now 60.
  • Steve Jones and Paul Cook formed a band called The Professionals, then Jones did some solo work plus some acting and disc jockeying in LA.  Pre-Sentence Dave bought his solo album Fire and Gasoline, mainly because it had Ian and Billy on a song or two.  It wasn't terrible, as I recall. Jones is now 61, Cook is 60.  Steve Jones also did a brooding PSA about not doing drugs, the kind of ad that was de rigeur in the 80's. Drugs suck.
  • Glen Matlock formed the Rich Kids upon his departure, and has subsequently been a member of a whopping 15 different bands.  Honestly, it reads like the Monty Python "Rock Notes" sketch that was the genesis of Toad the Wet Sprocket's name. He is 60.
  • Malcolm McLaren created something called The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, a film and accompanying "album" in 1980 that tried to make one last buck off their name, reunion tours in 1996, 2006, etc. notwithstanding. He died in 2010 at 64.
No one involved ever became part of anything that overshadowed their 2+ years as The Sex Pistols. Some parlayed it into serviceable careers in the music and adjacent industries.  John Lydon even has a very reputable body of work behind him.  Malcolm McLaren should've made this list when it came out, and he went on to propel/wreck Adam and the Ants and Bow Wow Wow along the way, but it's worth saying that he somewhat intentionally, somewhat inadvertently created the largest punk rock sensation that ever was.

The legacy of the Pistols was less in punk music but more in the style-over-substance engineered fame for fame's sake that was sadly repeatable through the ages.  How many bands could we name who fit that description?  It was never really about the music.  We're lucky we got a few great songs out of the whole affair.

All of that didn't come without a significant casualty.  Simon/John/Sid.  After the Pistols disintegrated, Sid went to New York with Nancy.  Bad times ensued.  Of all the unknown/mistold stories of the Sex Pistols, what happened the night of October 12, 1978 remains the biggest mystery to most.  Nancy was stabbed in the stomach and died.  Sid found her when he awoke from a heroin-induced slumber. Hypotheses vary greatly, ranging from the Occam's razor postulation (no pun intended) that she was annoying and he was a blithering idiot and killed her, to some interesting third party accusations, to the utterly ridiculous, but the scene has been much investigated and leaves some room for doubt.

After bail and legal counsel (aided by Mick Jagger), some more legal trouble, and an ominous sense of a prison sentence, Sid was hanging with family and some junkie buddies on 1 Feb 1979.  He partied, OD'ed, was resuscitated, and partied some more.  Then some more.  And then he passed out and died.  Allegations include the one that his mom gave him the lethal dose, fearing a worse fate for him in prison. A suicide note was found in his pocket, one which read, "We had a death pact, and I have to keep my half of the bargain. Please bury me next to my baby. Bury me in my leather jacket, jeans and motorcycle boots. Goodbye." Horrible all around.  His ashes were scattered on Nancy's grave.  He was 21.

Depraved and disgusting, utterly romantic, pathetic, or sadly tragic, depending on your worldview.

Essential Listening: Never Mind the Bollocks.  That's it.
Essential Viewing: Sid and Nancy.  Gary Oldman,  Chloe Webb.  Ebert gave it 4 stars.  It's gritty, well-acted, and pretty cool. Good soundtrack that includes Joe Strummer.

If you haven't seen it, watch the whole movie, but if you have, and liked it, and want to be reminded of a phenomenal last scene that gave me chills, watch this 2:37 clip again.  I don't know, I used to err on the Sid was pathetic side, but I now think he was victimized pretty fully in it all, and in the end he was just a romantic fool in love with someone who was bad for him but who loved him warts and all in a way that cost them both everything.  Wow.  All right.

Here's your playlist, you stupid gits.

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Three

On the third day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me 

Three Punk Rock Playlists 
Two Digits Throughout History 
And the debut of Mac McFis-ty 

On Friday, November 15, 2013, I unveiled a the first in a 5-part segment on punk rock. The quintet of posts would be a love letter to the music genre, as I hold punk in very high regard. (Clarence’s loves are known as the 3 P’s: punk, pilsner, and, well, this is a family blog, so we’ll leave it at that.)

I didn’t reveal the breakdown of the five posts at the time, but here’s what it came down to (click the links to review if you're killing time):
  1. 1970’s punk, excepting three pillars 
  2. The Ramones 
  3. The Clash 
  4. The Sex Pistols 
  5. 1980’s through today’s punk 
Ah, the best laid plans of squirrels and men. Part 2 arrived on the G:TB scene in August of 2015. Reminiscent of the Cauc Hop final. But a hair better than Whitney’s still to-be-delivered Day 12 from last year. Or TR’s never-to-be-completed Topps baseball card review.

And so today I determine not to drag this out any further. It’s not all that fascinating a series of posts, and if this year has taught us anything, we just don’t know how long we have on this orb. I’d hate to have our intern have to finish this for me posthumously. Here we go, Parts 3, 4, and 5. In pieces. In reverse. Punk rock.

Holiday in Clarencia: Punk Chronicles Vol. 3 
-1980's until today-

Punk was preheated in the late 1960’s by The Stooges and MC5 and the like, prepped a bit in the early 70’s by the New York Dolls and T. Rex and friends, and then served up at the end of the decade by the horde of acts listed in Chapter 1 of this bus wreck and beyond. So what happened next?

The early 80’s saw some continuity; The Ramones, Dead Kennedys, and Black Flag kept on keepin’ on, while newcomers like X, Descendents, Minor Threat, and Social Distortion assumed the mantle. But… a number of bands previously punk now fell more into the new wave synth and melody, even they retained their punk f-u sensibilities. Devo, I’m looking at you. The Jam began flexing muscles that had a whiff of Motown. Blondie went pop, and for a second, hip-hop. Talking Heads got really good, but went to world music and a dozen other genres. And a bunch of groups who were pretty much punk could better be labeled something else. Bad Brains (hardcore), The Misfits (horror rock), The Cramps (psychobilly), and a whole lot of music that now got called “alternative rock.”

Hell, there are way, way too many categories and tons of crossover to where it’s pointless to even try: pop-punk, underground, indie, garage rock, post-punk, ska-core, 15 kinds of metal, alt-whatever, grunge, and just rock and roll. Random Idiots were as punk as they got, but the label filed them under “death reggae” and “folk speed metal.” What a mess.

So let’s not get hung up on rigid genre characterization. Let’s listen to some music. Enjoy the Spotify playlist below that is compiled of 69 Punk or Punkish tunes from 1980-2016.  There are the usual suspects (Dropkick Murphys, Green Day, The Minutemen, Fugazi), but more than a few random surprises.  Feedback and favorites welcomed.

It’s not really safe for work. You figured that, I figure.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Gheorghemas Gift Guide

This isn't a Gheorghemas post, but if it were, it'd fit perfectly on day number two. You'll understand soon enough. Honestly, I'm kinda pissed at my kids for not showing me this until last night.

Please enjoy this commercial interlude for an actual, real product. If you like this one, the makers have numerous other adverts to satisfy your interests.

I wonder if these guys know about Toto. The synergy there could be world-changing.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Two

On the second day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me

And the debut of Mac McFisty
Two Digits Throughout History

Is it possible to fall victim to recency bias and still be watching something historically unprecedented? Let's find out.

Most NBA observers expected Russell Westbrook to put up large numbers in the absence of long-time running mate Kevin Durant, but I don't think very many of them thought he'd take a run at Oscar Robertson. Through 20 games, nearly a quarter of the way through the season, the Thunder guard is averaging 31.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 11.2 assists. Not since the Big O's second season in 1961-62 has anyone averaged a triple double for an entire year - and that's the only time it's ever happened.

Westbrook is in the top 10 in the league in all three categories (2nd in both points and assists/game and 10th in boards. He's a 6'3" guard. This isn't normal.). Despite the fact that his usage rate of 41.0 is off the charts, he's third in Basketball Prospectus' Player Efficiency Ratings.

It's not just the numbers that tell the story of Westbrook's absurd season, nor the fact that he's carried a Thunder team widely expected to struggle to a 12-8 record. No, the thing that's always made Westbrook a must-watch remains intact, and then some. He's the most athletic player in a league comprised of the most athletic people in the world. Watch what he does here to 7'0" Clint Capela:

That dunk, over a seven-footer, with his off hand, won that game for the Thunder. Westbrook is impossible.

People thought Oscar Robertson was impossible, too, in 1961-62. After one of the more remarkable rookie seasons in NBA history, the Big O was even better in his second campaign, recording 30.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 11.4 assists per game for the Cincinnati Royals. While the Royals wound up bowing out of the playoffs in the first round, Robertson's season echoes in history.

It says here that Westbrook's is better (or will be, if he sustains this pace). In 1961-62, Robertson's Royals averaged 124.9 possessions per game. The 2016-17 Oklahoma Thunder are averaging 98.7, fairly quick by current NBA standards. Basketball today is a very different game than it's predecessor. Robertson had 26 more opportunities per game to grab a board, drop a dime, or score a bucket than does Westbrook. The Big O's PER of 26 was fourth in the league, but it trails Westbrook's 30.1.

Russell Westbrook is on pace to have one of the most incredible seasons in NBA history, and stamp himself as the King of the Triple Doub...wait...that's...I hate to burst your bubble, but it's triple double trouble:

That's Magic Johnson's music!

While Westbrook is having a truly epic season, he's got work to do to track down the greatest triple double creator in league history outside of Robertson (who finished with 181). Magic recorded an amazing 138 in 905 career games (while Westbrook's up to 46 in 605 with the nine he's dropped this year - including four in a row).

Magic clearly wasn't the scorer, or devastating physical presence that Westbrook is, but his game remains the most unique blend of skills in the modern era.

I think I'd still rather watch Westbrook, though. I really just wanted a chance to post that song.

Friday, December 02, 2016

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day One

Well folks, it's that most wonderful time of year again. No, not when we get to listen ad nauseam to such mega holiday hits as "Christmas Shoes" and "Christmas Eve in Washington", rather it is once again time for everyone's favorite faux holiday, Gheorghemas.

Gheorghemas has been around quite a few years now (get an intern on the official count), and it seems that once again Day One will be focused on yours truly, mainly because I am an egomaniac and lazy so by posting on Day One I get the other 11 days off. Gone is the fat guy in a jer-sey, and we're even eschewing Insane in the Posehn this year for something fun but of course still Teej-centric. To that end, I give you...

On the first day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me
The debut of Mac McFisty

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I had no idea this existed

It is awesome and horrific all at once. Enjoy.

P.S. I love that we already had a "Bee Gees" label

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Believe the Hype

Back in the halcyon days of G:TB, or at least the days when we gave a shit about college football (as a collective - I know that many of you still do), Mark and I used to make a pretty serious effort to preview the SEC Championship when our teams were involved.

That happened in both 2008 and 2009, and though I'm not one to brag, I think our work speaks for itself. In 2008, as a matter of fact, no less a sporting expert than the late, lamented Jerry said this about our prognosticating prowess:

Florida and Alabama met again for the SEC title last season, two programs in decidedly different places than they were in the late aughts. And they meet again next Saturday, champions of their respective divisions, to decide who holds the belt as the winner of the country's best conference. (Get out of here with that Big Ten nonsense. Two teams worth a shit and Wisconsin, who might have a puncher's chance to win the SEC East.)

That's Leeburg's own
Jonathan Allen
Neither Mark nor I have the time or inclination to repeat our earlier efforts. We're both still a little worn out from the exertion, truth be told. And if we're telling the truth, I haven't followed the Tide nearly as closely this year as I have in years past, a combination of apathy, coaching soccer, and Alabama's entertainment-sapping dominance draining my reservoir of attention. I'm a pretty lousy fan. Alabama doesn't need me, though. They're going to win, and win handily. Let's call it 34-10. Local kid Jonathan Allen's gonna score a defensive touchdown. And Jalen Hurts is only a damn freshman. That doesn't seem very sporting.

In the spirit of nostalgia, and of hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again, I asked Mark for his prediction. Reached on a barstool during the Florida/Florida State game, he offered this, "I reserve the right to change it if Florida continues to suffer a plague of injuries. As of now I'll say 40-13."

Careful observers will note that both of us predicted the same digits. So if there's a way to bet on a score that contains a 0, 1, 3, and 4, I'd advise you to get on it. The past suggests it'll be worth your investment.

Each of the previous three times the Gators and Tide met in the SEC Championship, the winner went on to close out the season as National Champions. Odds are good that Alabama will make it four straight - they're basically a professional organization at this point. Barring a gymnastics meet, or a dance competition, or a really good soccer game on television, I might even watch it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, Alternatively Titled: Ain't No Such Thing As Halfway Cooks

Happy Tgives! Are you stressed out because you have to make a side dish and have no idea where to start? Don't worry, Prodigy from Mobb Deep has you covered! He learned a bunch of cool recipes while in prison, so many that he wrote a cookbook called Commissary Kitchen. Here's how to make a dish using only stuff found at your corner bodega:

Despite Prodigy's assertions to the contrary, all that mayo and salt doesn't look particularly healthy. But who cares, it's Thanksgiving! Indulge.