Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sole Searching

As the old saying goes, if you want to learn about a person, walk a mile in their shoes. Or in the case of several adidas aficionados, fly to Argentina to see a man's shoes.

Gary Aspden is the curator of the adidas Originals x SPEZIAL collection, an archive of some of the brand's premium looks. Aspden is also, as you might imagine, a sneakerhead of the highest order. While working on the collection, he was tipped about a store in Buenos Aires with a huge selection of vintage three-stripe gear. As any sane obsessive might, he gathered three friends and a film crew and flew across an ocean to have a look.

The resulting mini-documentary, Sole Searching in South America, is equal parts hymn to the brand, archeological dig, and homage to one man's lifelong passion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shoot the Boot Saturday

Monday night we got to watch a fantastic and fairly stunning upset, that of our beloved Washington American Football Club over the universally loathed Dallas Cowboys.  That was nothing.

On Saturday at 3:30 EST, a contest will kick off that has far less of a real chance for underdog victory.  No matter,  It will be fun to watch, anyway.

Okay, sports fans, here's a chance to show some nationalistic pride, wow your significant other with your international cultural literacy, and watch top athletes smashing into each other while throwing and kicking a ball.

Your USA Eagles take on the single most recognizable international rugby side in the world, New Zealand's All Blacks.  

The match is at Soldier Field in Chicago in front of a sold out crowd of 61,500.
I used to work in Chicago at the old department store.
I used to work in Chicago, I don't work there any more.

And our old roommate Brian Hightower will be calling the game. Not bad, Highcheese. Father Abraham had seven sons, and one of them was Hightower.  And he never passed the ball.  All he did was go like this.

This article quotes US coach Mike Tolkin saying this is just the start for rugby in the US.  Rob may tell him it started with his blogpost, but they may agree on where it's headed.  In an Australian publication, the author writes:
Yes, the All Blacks will win handily, but the match is seen as a stepping stone in the USA’s progression from second tier rugby playing nation to first tier.
The haka in Chi-town with our buddy on TV?  We'll take that.  Tune in.

3:30 PM, Saturday, November 1.  NBC.  


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Leave No Trace

Moth-style: bears, in the woods, doing things.

Monday, October 27, 2014

If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who? Or Is It Whom?

In March, gutted, we posted this:

"But W&M has made three finals in seven years after a recent history devoid even of hope. We're brutally disappointed today, but there will be a tomorrow. As Tony Shaver said last night, "The thing I get angry about is people trying to define whether or not you made the NCAA Tournament as whether you had a good year. If our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament, we can move into a conference that has the same academic restrictions we have. We choose to play at a higher level. I think that's admirable to be honest. We're not going to let the NCAA Tournament define our team." (We're grateful to Defiantly Dutch for finding us that quote.)

In 2003, the New York Yankees came from behind to beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on an Aaron Boone walkoff homerun. That's the worst I ever felt after a sporting event. Second worst, I guess. But one year later, that pain was long forgotten."

Today, on the cusp of a new season, hope's eternal wellspring is renewed, and we're a few short months away from one year later. Time will tell whether we're Kevin Millar or Charlie Brown. (I've asked TJ to frost his tips, Millar-style, to bring the Wrens luck. Still awaiting his answer.)

Hoping to give a few more fan bases that look.
I've spent the last few days trying to figure out a unique angle on this campaign, but the dominant storyline is so obvious as to be unavoidable. There's only one angle. The greatest player in W&M history plays his last season in green and gold. Last March, Marcus Thornton was a quarter of an inch from sending the Tribe to its first NCAA Tournament ever. This season is about him.

Thornton begins his senior season with 1,519 points, best in school history over the first three seasons of a player's career. He trails Chet Giermak, W&M's all-time top scorer, by 532. While it's not a foregone conclusion, Thornton scored 599 points last year, so Giermak's mark is in sight. Thornton also enters the season second in Tribe history with 223 made three-pointers, trailing David Schneider's knuckling jumper by 55. Marcus is also in the top 5 among returning NCAA Division 1 players in career threes.

Beyond the numbers, though, Thornton's the most electric player ever to wear a Tribe uniform, a gym rat who's added a new dimension to his game in each of his seasons in Williamsburg. When we checked in on him this summer, his even-keeled, no drama demeanor was augmented with a bit of an edge, a hardness in the final minutes of a decidedly informal game that we'd only seen glimpses of before. As one of only two seniors on what's suddenly a very young Tribe team, Thornton's going to be called on to lead in a very different way.

The CAA's beat writers tapped Thornton as the league's preseason Player of the Year, while picking the Tribe to finish second behind Northeastern. Though last year's conference Rookie of the Year, Omar Prewitt, joined Thornton on the all-league first team, and Tony Shaver's team is just one year removed from a 20-win season and a CAA finals appearance, there are those that question such lofty expectations. W&M lost six seniors, including career 1,000-point scorers Tim Rusthoven and Brandon Britt, and athletic wing Kyle Gaillard.

All hands on deck on defense around the rim this season.
Despite Thornton's reassuring presence, there's no escaping the fact that this will be a very different flock of Wrens than the one we've watched grow up over the past few seasons. W&M has a roster with excellent size - no eligible player is listed as shorter than 6'4". Ironically, with all that height, the team's biggest question mark will be the frontcourt. 6'9" junior Sean Sheldon averaged 3.4 points and 3.0 boards a game backing up Rusthoven last season, and while he's added muscle (and adopted a Rusthoven-esque longer hairstyle), he'll be hard-pressed to match the departed center's production. Senior Tom Schalk and redshirt freshman Jack Whitman fill out (in a manner of speaking) W&M's interior options. Deep, we ain't.

The size and skill of the guards and wings on Shaver's roster, though, offer the veteran coach a fascinating menu of potential options. The projected opening-day lineup pairs 6'4" redshirt freshman Michael Schlotman with Thornton in the back court, while 6'6" soph wing Prewitt, and hard-working 6'5" junior Terry Tarpey join Sheldon along the front line. 6'6" freshman Oliver Tot is a long-armed, strong guard with international experience, having played for the Slovakian men's national team. 6'5" guard Daniel Dixon blossomed as a defensive stopper and occasional scorer during his freshman season. 6'8" freshman wing Paul Rowley needs to gain weight and learn to create his own shot, but he's deadly from deep, and if he can prove he can defend his position, may get some run.

Tot jokes? Why yes, we have some of those.
As is usually the case for a Tony Shaver team, we expect this group to be able to score on just about anyone, especially given the versatility of the unit, though we'll be looking in the early weeks of the season to see who emerges as a reliable third scoring option. The challenge for these Wrens, though, will be on the boards, and in the defensive end. Teams with talented big men will be a tall order (my bad) for the Tribe's youthful front court. Northeastern's Scott Eatherton, in particular, has to be salivating at the chance to take on this roster twice. Tarpey's a tough, athletic hardass, and led the team in rebounding last season, but he's going to be playing the four at 6'5".

We're less than three weeks away from the season-opener at (gulp) Florida. The non-conference schedule offers several decent tests, all on the road (the Tribe plays at the Gators, UNC, Richmond, and ODU), and a handful of winnable confidence-builders. More than most years, the out of conference slate is a feeling out opportunity. We'll be perfectly happy with 5-5, as long as it looks like progress, and we've figured out how we're going defend the post.

This Tribe season starts for all practical purposes on January 3, when W&M hosts the College of Charleston. We know better than to make predictions about our team, and we know from painful recent experience the pitfalls that come with even the most mildly positive expectations for Tribe hoops. But as the hashtag goes, #inmarcuswetrust, now more than ever, if only for a few more months.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Two Great Tastes

Courtesy of Fast Company, a little Sunday morning culture for y'all.

Illustrator Tracy Worrall created 77 different representations of animals as depicted in rock music lyrics. Everything from the Beasties' 'Brass Monkey' to Survivor's 'Eye of the Tiger' to The Beatles' 'Blackbird' gets the pop art treatment in the collection.

Individual prints can be yours for $48 per print. Just tell 'em Gheorghe sent you.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Week 9- It Just Keeps Getting Worse

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, last Saturday happened. I could be talking about my official wagers or the Florida-Mizzou game. Take your pick. Both were abject disasters. I'm not quite the Jeff Driskel of College Football wagering in 2014 but things are certainly trending in that direction. Thankfully, mercifully the Gators have a bye this week. All the better to rest up for the wood shedding that awaits them in Jacksonville on November 1st. Sadly, for me, I don't get a bye this week. So make some money and go against me.
Rutgers +20 at Nebraska- TR was a week earlier with his 'take Rutgers and all those points on the road' advice. Ohio State has turned into a wrecking ball over the last month. Nebraska is still the Nebraska that we've come to know under Bo Pelini. Good, not great. Near the top of the sorry Big Ten but not at the top or elite. Rutgers bounces back and covers.

Mississippi -3 at LSU- The Tigers are a very popular pick to pull the upset this weekend. This is a by product of (a) this game being played at night in Tiger Stadium and (b) a general skepticism that still exists toward Ole Miss. Both of these a fine reasons. I'm not buying either of them. I'm a believer in the Ole Miss defense and I still think LSU is a below average SEC team this year. A night game in Baton Rouge helps keep things close before the Rebels pull away in the second half.

Texas +10 at Kansas State- Kansas State is coming off a win at Oklahoma. A win that included a pick six from mediocre Sooner QB Trevor Knight, a missed OU extra point and a missed 19 yard Oklahoma FG late in the 4th quarter. Kansas State's defense is legit as they've shown against Auburn and last week against Oklahoma. The Wildcat offense, on the other hand, is average and now QB Jake Waters is banged up. Texas has quietly come together in recent weeks. They followed up a gutsy game against Oklahoma with a last minute victory on the road at Iowa State last week. Charlie Strong knows what he's doing. If only Florida had a guy like Strong on their staff before they chose Will Muschamp to succeed Urban Meyer...(siiiiiigh). Hook Em.

Mark has been good to me this year but I expect him to turn it around. Looks like he has a good opportunity here with a head-to-head matchup at LSU. To the picks of Danimal!

Mississippi Rebels -3 at LSU Tigers
Mississippi heads to Baton Rouge unbeaten against the spread at 6-0-1, and….unbeaten. They’re quite good on both sides of the ball and more accurately they have an exceptional defense, #1 in the SEC West. Average yards per carry for the Vols last week? 0.0 Another factoid – they are undefeated against the Spread this year at 6-0-1.

LSU kicked the poop out of Kentucky last weekend 41-3. Many thought Kentucky had a chance after LSU’s season to date. They were mistaken. Though in their last 4 contests they’ve dropped games to Auburn where they were demolished and Mississippi State which we all know now was the Bulldogs’ coming out party (and Florida almost beat them, sadly) LSU believes they are still in the mix and they certainly will be with a win here. Baton Rouge is going to be cray cray on Saturday. If LSU ties or wins the turnover battle, I think they win the game.
Tigers. Hear them roar.

Oregon -17.5 at Cal
Ranked #6th are the Ducks, bright-eyed and bushy tailed as they head toward the finish knowing they are so very much in the thick of things with what has and will continue to happen in the SEC, ND’s loss (with likely another one to come imo), and their reasonably easy schedule the remainder of the year. This year’s slip-up, to their fortune, came early against Arizona. With the Bears’ D 120th in the land, Oregon’s Offense 6th, I look for Oregon to put a ginormous beat down on Cal. I’ll go ahead and give the rare score prediction here – Oregon 55 Cal 24
Michigan +17 at Michigan State
It has likely been a decade, maybe two? since either in this game were favored by more than two touchdowns. There is no reason Michigan State won’t win this by 4 or more touchdowns. None I say!
Well, maybe there is. This is it for Michigan. This and the Ohio State game. Their season is over and for the seniors their careers. For many, how they play in this one will define them as players. As a team. And as men! They have been humiliated, the butt of many a joke. I expect the Spartans to be a little lackadaisical here, a little overconfident with their success and their rival’s lack thereof. I think something nutty is going to happen here. I’ve gotta feelin about this. Michigan State wins by 16 and the UM covers. And the Predator pic is a shout out to Buckles.  

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Post, Interrupted

I'd planned to post our annual Tribe Hoops preview today, but I got a call from my boss at 10:30* asking for some changes to a presentation, so my prolix plans were postponed. Instead, far fewer words about music.

(* EST. Worse for him than for me, as I'm in Minnesota.)

Zman alerted us to the brilliance of Birmingham's St. Paul & The Broken Bones a few days ago in the comments section, and we had a group moment. Then, in Williamsburg, Marls and I had a conversation with FOG:TB Dave Fairbank, a fellow-traveler music fan, in which I tipped the veteran Daily Press scribe to the band's brilliance. Or so I thought.

He gave me a half-smile, reached into his laptop case, and pulled out...a copy of Half the City, the band's debut album. It was a cosmic convergence like we haven't seen since Gheorghefest, at least.

And a sign that we need to fill some space with SP&TBB videos. My mind remains blown. These guys are phenomenal.

This post also doubles as a heads up for our Charlottesville readers, as the band plays tonight at The Jefferson, which in its own right is a pretty cool little joint. Get some.

And as a little lagniappe for our viewing audience, when I semi-drunkenly tweeted another FOGTB, Mike Litos, about the band, he gave me this gift in return: