Friday, May 26, 2017

Grappler? She's My Daughter!

According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, more than 13,000 girls participated in high school wrestling programs last year, up from 804 in 1994. More than 20 states held female-only high school state tournaments this year. 30 colleges sponsor women's varsity wrestling programs. Helen Maroulis won America's first Olympic gold medal in women's freestyle wrestling at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

At this point, you're asking yourself, Why does he know this, and why do I care?

It's a fair question.

My eldest daughter is nearing the end of her freshman year of high school. She ran cross-country (slowly) during her the Fall, and has been a competitive dancer since she was 7. She's short, and compact, and fit, and has above-average strength and balance from all those years of dancing. And about two months ago, she came home and told her parents that she was going to wrestle next year.

Careful readers of this blog, and casual followers of my impotent ranting on Twitter know that I'm a pretty progressive guy. I believe strongly in gender equity, and that our society has treated women shamefully for far too long in matters of public health, equal compensation, and sexual violence, among others.

But goddamn if the thought of some pimply-faced punk working an arm bar on my baby doesn't give me serious pause. I've seen what wrestlers do to each other. I watched a fraternity brother use a butt drag to successfully maneuver an opponent in an intramural match. This move is colloquially known as 'checking the oil'. I Ghooghled it, so you don't have to. If some fucking kid pulls that move on my little girl, I can't be held legally responsible for my actions.

Initially, my wife and I thought this was a bit of passing phase, an infatuation with something different, which isn't out of the ordinary for my kid. But after she went to a wrestling clinic a few weeks ago, and came back saying, "I got my ass kicked. I loved it.", we're starting to think she might be serious.

By complete coincidence, we found ourselves a few weeks ago seated at a communal table in a local brewery next to the wrestling coach from my daughter's school. He's a passionate dude, full of inspirational moxie and motivational nuggets. And he's committed to getting more girls involved in wrestling. There were three girls on the team last year - his goal is to double that next season. He sold us hard on the notion that wrestling is excellent for girls' self-confidence, fitness, and discipline.

I wouldn't say I was ready to take the mat, but I was a little more ready to let my daughter do it.

She's her father's daughter, so there's a 50/50 chance that she fails to follow through on this interest. But if she does, I'll support her.

Just don't ask me to be relaxed when I watch.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie: Dog Bites Man

As a veteran newsman, Dave Fairbank knows the oldest story in the book - dog bites man pieces don't sell. Dog bites kid, though, that's a horse of a different color. 

My dog’s morning constitutional is usually a routine, welcome exercise. Gets us both out of bed. Clears the cobwebs. Makes sure he’s still the master of all he surveys. Reminds me who actually runs the show. Except when we’re at a public campground, with kids and other dogs and a million new sights and smells. Then it’s jarring and potentially terrifying and what little control I believe I have is out the window. Yeah, pretty relaxing.

We spent the weekend at the KOA just outside Williamsburg on a getaway with friends. We rented camping cabins – “glamping” in the outdoors vernacular – because we all like creature comforts, and the fact that our dog tethered to a tent and a traditional, no-frills campsite is untenable.

Not that he’s a bad dog. On the contrary, he’s a pretty sweet-natured fellow, a 25-pound crotch-seeking missile of cocker spaniel-poodle mix named Nappy. But he’s a little neurotic and territorial and possessive. He fancies himself an alpha dog, but that’s an act. While probably not an omega dog, he’s more like an upsilon or maybe a chi. He gets along with people better than with other dogs. He’s given to brief bursts of energy and enthusiasm, followed by lengthy periods of sloth, much like his doggie daddy.

Which brings us to Sunday morning, following an evening of eating, drinking and general goofballery, and dragging myself out of bed for the morning’s unexpected and unwanted adrenalin rush.

I’m walking him up a hill when he spies another dog maybe 50 yards away being walked by his owner in our direction. He starts barking, because that’s what he does when he sees other dogs. Ahead of them, bounding rapidly down the hill toward us, are two young boys who appear to be brothers and are all about my dog, and apparently, all dogs.

“Can we see your dog? Can we see your dog? We have a dog, too,” says the older of the two, who looks to be 7 or 8 years old.

I say, sure, while I pull him up close on my left side and try to get him to quit barking at the other dog. The younger brother stands to my right and starts telling me about their dog. While I’m watching and listening to him, the older brother moves in close to Nappy. Suddenly, I feel the leash jerk and out of the corner of my left eye, I see the older brother leaning in to try to hug Nappy, and Nappy lunge forward.

The kid recoils and slaps his hand over his right cheekbone and says in shock, “He bit me. Your dog bit me.”

Oh fuck. I immediately envision blood and bite marks and scars and pissed-off parents who want to kick my ass and have my dog put down and tetanus shots and lawsuits and Lord knows what else. Dogfight at the KOA Corral. Or something like that.

I’m sorry, I say, I’m sorry. He doesn’t know you. He didn’t know you were just being friendly. The kid’s hand is still covering his cheekbone. Are you OK, I say, can I see where he bit you? The kid takes his hand away, and there’s a tiny pink mark on his cheekbone. I lean down closely to look. No blood, no broken skin. Nappy just nipped at the kid when his face got too close and he reached for him.

By this time, the kids’ dad finally catches up, with their dog alongside, and is about 15 feet away. I say, hey, I’m really sorry, but I didn’t see your son get that close to my dog, he can be a little skittish around strangers, and probably three or four more, I’m sorrys.

The guy earns the Chill Dad of the Week Award. He shakes his head, says don’t worry about it. He says something about their dog and how the kids hug him all the time, and they know better than to run up to strange dogs. He tells his son to come see him so he can look at where Nappy nipped at him. Says, you’re OK and go see your mother. Kid runs off toward their cabin.

Meanwhile, the younger brother is standing there the entire time. Dad says to him, what do we do if we want to see other dogs? We have to ask permission. Younger brother looks at Dad, looks at me, asks can I see him? I say OK, but hold out your hand first. Kid holds out his hand, Nappy sniffs it, isn’t interested. I tell Chill Dad again, I’m really sorry. He shakes his head, resigned look on his face, says don’t worry about it. They know better.

Meantime, Nappy still hasn’t evacuated yet, and I haul him in the opposite direction of the other folks’ cabin. He drops a hand-warmer and we quickly circle back to our cabin. I glance over at their cabin and I see Mom on the front porch swing in some state of agitation – gesturing, pointing, head bobbing, arms moving up and down. Dad’s standing in front of her, chill and still, dog on leash at his side. We scoot inside and I fully expect a knock on the door at any moment.

Doesn’t happen. I feed the dog and climb back into bed to try to sleep a little more. That doesn’t happen, either. I’m wide slam awake and still expecting a visit from Mom or Dad. Nappy, meanwhile, goes sideways and sleeps off breakfast until everybody starts moving.

I find out later that our friends, who also brought their dog and were in a nearby cabin, had a similar run in with the same kids. Our buddy takes his dog for a walk. The kids rush the dog and want to pet him and get close. His dog, a rescue who’s quieter and younger than ours, just kinda cowers behind him. We depart without further incident or confrontation.

To all of you who juggle kids, pets, and kids and pets, you have my undying respect.

Monday, May 22, 2017


It was a whirlwind of a weekend for me, complete with graduation ceremonies, a roundtrip to and from Hampton, VA in the span of 18 hours, a state gymnastics meet (I did really well, and thanks for asking), some lawn grooming, and sadly, a continuing bout of Mexico-related gastrointestinal issues. As a consequence, I didn't really sit down to look at the coverage of Chris Cornell's passing until last night.

Like most men my age, I was pretty into the grunge era. We've talked before about how the W&M Gheorghies of a certain age are responsible for Nirvana blowing up on our campus, so you could argue that we're responsible for the flannel explosion. Hell, we had friends in a band named the Flannel Animals. But while I liked Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and dug Soul Asylum and Screaming Trees (and fucking hated Smashing Pumpkins), I didn't really elevate Soundgarden, even as I appreciated Cornell's otherworldly pipes.

And I don't think I appreciated those pipes until Cornell and Eddie Vedder went voice to voice on Temple of the Dog's 'Hunger Strike'. Vedder's bassline foundation with Cornell wailing over the top? That's a hall of fame vocal.

As I spent a little time listening to Cornell's work, I came across something I'd never heard before. It was recorded live about four years ago, and it's completely unique. To hear Cornell tell the story, he wanted to cover U2's 'One', but when he Googled the lyrics, the words to Metallica's song of the same name were the first things to come up. So he decided to mash up the two. The result, in his voice, is pretty remarkable.

Cornell, Cobain, Weiland, Staley - the leading men of the grunge movement are all but gone. Every generation's leading men is destined to fade away, but this one feels closer to home than most.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Never Forget

This is one of the greatest moments in television history. Enjoy.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Perils of Male Groupthink

Men, it must be said, are the perpetrators of nearly all of history's great atrocities. More specifically, groups of men, thinking as one, are responsible for some heinous shit. The catalogue is too long to give a full reading here, but it spans the spectrum from war to famine to genocide to fraternity hazing. (Not all atrocities exist on the same scale.)

We have President* Trump because the (mostly) men of the Republican Party couldn't see past the confines of their party to call a stop to something that represented a clear and present danger to the future of our country.

Man, to put it bluntly, are fucking morons. And bros are men evolved to their most moronic.

Case in point, the ubiquitous news this week of the rise of the RompHim, a romper for dudebros that, despite my incredulity, seems to actually exist. And not only does it exist, but Reebok is in the process of copying it.

Feast your eyes on these doucheweasels:

We did some immensely stupid, and in some cases grossly misogynistic stuff as younger men. We had a Naked Party, which was mostly harmless, except to our egos. We had a Scale Party, which was harmless in our eyes, and egregiously offensive to our female friends. In retrospect, we were assholes, and I apologize on our behalf.

I look at the fuckmonkeys in the picture above, and I see the worst in modern male culture. I see entitlement, and preening self-satisfaction with a joke that's gotten big enough to get mass laughs.

And I think, there but the grace of God and the span of 25 years go I.

Men. What a bunch of dicks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Joe Montana is Laughing

Leonard Marshall played defensive tackle for the New York Giants for 10 years, and for the Jets and R**skins for one season each. He went to the Pro Bowl twice, he was named NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year twice, he won the Super Bowl twice (including XXV against my beloved Bills), and he almost killed Joe Montana once.

He recorded 83.5 sacks and 711 tackles. It's safe to say that he had a good career in football.

Like many retired professional athletes, Marshall began a career in business after hanging up his cleats. In particular, Marshall became the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Brand Ambassador for ED Healthcare LLC, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in the manufacture of sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) to treat erectile dysfunction. To put it another way, Marshall started selling boner pills. At the price of $4.95 a pill! Through telephonic hotlines! He now lives on Prospect Avenue in Hackensack, NJ.

I know this because Marshall filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County Division, against ED Healthcare alleging that he was fired for telling the CEO that two female employees said they were sexually harassed by one of the EVPs. According to the complaint, the CEO "explicitly stated to [Marshall] that he was terminating [Marshall] because [Marshall] had conveyed the aforesaid sexual harassment complaints to him." Apparently the EVP was particularly terrible to one woman, he allegedly "repeatedly touched her breasts, asked for pictures of her in sleep wear, put his hand up her skirt, and used sexually explicit language ...." This is bad stuff but are we surprised given that this company sells hard-ons? Maybe he was all hopped up on boner pills? Or he was just trying to act presidential?

The plot thickens: "In further retaliation for [Marshall's] protected activity, Defendants cut [Marshall] out of all financial benefits due him from sales of Sildenafil by and on behalf of ED." I bet he isn't the first guy to be cut off due to ED. Marshall also claims that he "suffered and continues to suffer career damage, economic loss, damage to his reputation and emotional distress, as well as physical pain and suffering." I guess selling boner pills didn't damage his reputation? And his 12 year stint in the NFL didn't lead to any physical pain?

In fact, his 12 year stint in the NFL did lead to physical pain as Marshall described in this interview where he advocates for legalizing marijuana. Actually that's not 100% accurate--Marshall advocated for legalizing cannabidiol, a marijuana extract sold by ... wait for it ... a company owned by the CEO of ED Healthcare! It all comes full circle (or maybe it doesn't if you've been cut off from your sildenafil supply).

I suspect that all this and more will come up in Marshall's deposition, and it won't go smoothly. I'll update you as the case firms up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Big ups to the entire community of Gheorghe for keeping the home fires burning while Whitney and I served as our ambassadors to Mexico. Set new standards, y'all did.

Pretty proud of me and the big fella. We dazzled with our erudition during pre-wedding toast festivities, then with our athletic ability during poolside stupid-ball games, and finally with our charm and beer-drinking ability at the reception. So what if I've spent most of the past two days in gastrointestinal distress. Small price to pay.

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is a gorgeous place, all rugged coastline and quirky towns. I can see why Andy Dufresne wanted so much to be there. The wedding itself was held at Puerta Paraiso, owned by the bride's uncle, a nine-room inn in a remote area outside of Zihua (that what we locals call it). If anything, the pictures on its website don't do it justice.

We got home last night after midnight (and had it way easier than Whitney, who still had three hours to drive after my head hit the pillow), so I'll be taking it easy for a day or two. But when I'm back to full strength, I know what's on my to-do list.

My man Squeaky sent me an email a week or so ago saying, "Hey Rob, I have a few spare cans of Heady Topper and Focal Banger. What's your address and I'll try to send you some." I resisted the urge to give him shit for having leftover beer (Editor's Note: No, I didn't.) because I didn't want to look a gift pint in the mouth.

And when I got home from Mexico, here's what was awaiting me:

For those scoring at home, that's an Alchemist Beelzebub American Imperial Stout, a Trillium Cutting Tiles IPA, an Alchemist Focal Banger, and an Alchemist Skadoosh American IPA. Four beers from two of America's greatest breweries. I don't know what I did to deserve a friend like Squeak, by I'm going to try to keep doing it.

Looking forward to some rest and recovery, and to reading all the posts you guys wrote while I was away.