Sunday, January 15, 2017

In Which I Agree With Dave

My wife and kids are off seeing a movie, and I'm home alone this evening, recuperating from my weeklong walkabout. Just a man and his beer. And his cats.

Most weekend nights when I'm drinking at home, I'll pick up a bomber of something interesting to start the evening. Tonight, perusing my local Wegmans, I saw this:


I'm a huge Stone fan, and the Arrogant Bastard line of hyper-hopped, over the top brews is a particular favorite. It wasn't a hard sell.

The Double Bastard in the Rye is a pretty pour, a dark reddish amber with a nice but not massive head. It smells like fucking magic, boozy and almost sweet in the barleywine way. And at 13.5% ABV, it'll kick your ass. I'm not driving anywhere any time soon.

As I dug in, I wondered how other beer drinkers rated the DBitR, and boy, was I both not disappointed and very disappointed. I recall Dave digging into beer ratings on this site once before (and no, I'm not looking it up) and being amused to the point of mockery. I'd never mock a fellow beer snob, but I thought you might like to hear from people who really, really enjoy describing beers.



And my personal favorite:


In the end, aren't we all just a wood frame for the show, hoping for someone to rub the dregs on our chest?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Easy Does It

I left my house last Saturday morning and returned at dinner time yesterday. That full week away represents the second-longest span I've ever spent away from my family, trailing only a combo canoe trip/OBFT excursion from a couple of years ago. I spent four days in Las Vegas facilitating a strategic planning session for an elite youth soccer league, and parts of three days in San Francisco doing an entirely different kind of planning for my real-world job. My brain got used hard, and the nights weren't really restful. So while I've got a lot on my mind, none of it is particularly organized.

But a couple of things might be worth the attention of this august assemblage.

The first of these are music related. Many of the big festivals have released their 2017 lineups. And if you're anywhere near Boston May 26-28, it's your duty as a music fan to find your way to Boston Calling. I'm not one for hyperbole*, but this lineup is as good as anything since Woodstock. The undercard, the goddamn undercard, features Bon Iver, Sigur Rós, The xx, Run the Jewels, Solange, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, Tegan & Sara, Wolf Parade, Mac DeMarco, Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Frightened Rabbit, Car Seat Headrest, Deerhoof, Modern Baseball, Mitski, PUP, Whitney, The Hotelier, Strand of Oaks, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Kevin Morby. That's fucking crazy, and we haven't even talked about Tool, Mumford and Sons, and Chance the Rapper, who anchor each day's lineup, nor Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Major Lazer, Brandi Carlile, and Buffalo Tom, who somehow aren't even considered the undercard. Fuck me, but that's a sick festival bill.

* I am very much one for hyperbole

Giannis Antetokounmpo did freaky stuff. Again.


On my flight back to DC, I got up to use the restroom about halfway through the trip. As I stood waiting for one of the two rear lavatories to open, I heard a panicked voice from behind me say, "Please. I'm going to be sick."

Without looking back, I stepped forward into the galley, past a startled flight attendant. Her first reaction was to try to stop me, but then she gasped and said, "Oh, my." as the woman who owned the first voice fainted and collapsed on the floor between the two lavatories.

The flight crew swung into action, grabbing an emergency first aid kit, calling for medical professionals on the plane to report to the scene, and assisting the stricken passenger. Two doctors and a nurse practitioner responded as the ailing woman recovered consciousness after a minute or so. They took her blood pressure, hooked up a portable heart monitor, administered oxygen, and tried to figure out what kinds of drugs were contained in the kit (answer: an amazing variety of both orally and intravenously administered chemicals).

They got on the phone with first the pilot, and then a physician on the ground, trying to diagnose the patient and to figure out if we needed to divert to Des Moines. As the patient finally stirred and then sat up, the crew decided it was time to let me and one other guy who were stuck in the galley get back to our seats. After we finally drained our bladders, 45 minutes after we first tried to go to the head.

You don't get that kind of action on just any flight.

My next flight is on Friday. It's to New Orleans, as I bail out on the Inauguration festivities/end of days to spend a couple of days with some friends from my neighborhood. I didn't plan it as a protest against the coming dread, but it sure is convenient. We're gonna drink a lot, see John Boutte at d.b.a. on Frenchman Street, check out the World War II museum (as a means of pacing ourselves), eat some killer food, and drink some more. If the world ends while I'm in Crescent City, I'll miss my family, but I'll be consoled by the sweet narcotic effect of free-flowing alcohol in go cups.

Bless you all, Gheorghies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy Apocalyptic New Year!

I know Marls gets pissed when I post The Test here, but fuck him, we're still cranking out episodes (and filler is needed). This one is about the impending apocalypse, and it's a tour-de-force.

When we started this project, we assumed we would run out of topics fairly quickly, or get sick of hearing our own voices. Neither has happened yet. Our ignorance is boundless, as is our fascination with how we express it.

This one gets a bit dark . . . beware.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

"What's Old is New Again" Filler

I picture rob discovering this last night, hunched over his phone, excitedly emailing it to me to post this morning. I'll pretend it is the first time I've ever seen it and share with you all, per the tiny dictator's instructions.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: Run It Back

I've got about 10 minutes to breathe in January, so don't expect a lot of deep thought. So, basically, situation normal.

But we'd be remiss as William & Mary's sixth or seventh-leading hoops bloggers (used to be higher, before Teejay became responsible and stopped posting around here) not to acknowledge what happened on Monday in Hempstead, NY.

With Hofstra leading the Wrens, 93-92, and 1.2 seconds left in the first overtime, Daniel Dixon ran off a baseline screen, sprinted towards halfcourt, caught the ball 28 feet from the basket, and did this:



A remarkable ending under any circumstances, but given the fact that the same Daniel Dixon buried Hofstra in a classic double overtime CAA Tournament semifinal two years ago, it etched the Tribe senior's name in the Pride's list of villains.

In case you've forgotten, here's what happened two years ago:



And here's an awesome, painful, brutal first-person account of that contest from FOGTB and Hofstra superfan Jerry Beach.

The Tribe hosts Elon tonight in their first CAA home game. It's the first of a four games in eight days run for W&M (and every other CAA team), with league bully UNCW coming up next. It'd be great to get off on the right wing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Eleven

On the eleventh day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Eleven books for reading

Ten (plus one) Months of Gheorghness
Nine cheers for Mike
Eight Miscellaneous Items - Probably for Next Christmas (or for yourself, or perhaps a fellow GTB'r right now, just cuz)
Seven (Give or Take) Voters (Should Be) Voting
Six Simpler Memories
Five shows to binge watch on TV
Four Random Thoughts
Three Punk Rock Playlists 
Two Digits Throughout History 
And the debut of Mac McFis-ty

Since this post goes to eleven (and some Gheorghies are watching Stranger Things) I'll start by revisiting my son Ian's Halloween costume. He looks almost as much like Eleven as I resemble Brad Pitt (when I face-swap with Stacey).



My annual book list also goes to eleven this year. It's no secret that I love to read, and I still get very excited when I'm in a good book . . . but I will readily admit that as I get older, it's harder for a book to engrave itself in my memory.

Can you read too much?

One thing inevitably reminds me of another, and I end up in a byzantine labyrinth of free-association. I think this may be a consequence of getting old. The same thing happens to me with movies and TV and stand-up comedy. And it happens with music, which drives me crazy.

Music doesn't have the same effect on me as it did when I was young, which is probably a good thing, as when I was young, music often drove me to violence, moshing, fisticuffs, warped and distorted ideas, capricious moodiness, and a general fanatical weirdness that is no longer age-appropriate.

But I miss that mainlining of emotion, the wild highs and lows. It happens occasionally, when I've had too many beers while cooking dinner and Google Play music tosses out a Liz Phair song that hits home, but it's rare. Normally, music evokes a much more manageable emotion: nostalgia. Nobody gets hurt and it's fun to have those moments, but it's not exactly The Cult at Hampton Coliseum, when I lost a pint of blood fighting for Ian Astbury's razor sharp tambourine in a mosh-pit (my friend John also had a grip on the tambourine, and he had to go to the ER for stitches . . . our blood was thin because we had been drinking with Whitney since 9 AM).

I have a hard time listening to new stuff, unless it's very different from what I used listen to. Which is why I listen to a lot of jazz and electronica, which is why my wife and kids often find whatever I'm listening to unbearable . . . although I did have a nice run this year: I totally dug the new Tribe Called Quest album, and this alerted me to the fact that I never listened to their first album, Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm . . . I started my Tribe Called Quest fandom with Low End Theory and never went backwards.

So I got a little bit of that "It Feels Like the First Time" feeling, and it felt good. But mainly, I've heard too much, seen too much, consumed too much, and while it's made me intelligent and well-versed it has also made me a bit calloused and jaded and rather cavalier. Everything reminds me of something else, or a combination of several things . . . Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman.

Whitney would attribute this to my mental age (91) and he's probably right . . . but that's another post.

The music metaphor also describes much of my reading.

According to Sentence of Dave, I read over forty books this year . . . which is fairly typical. If you project that over my life, it ends up being too many books, many of which are derivative. If were pressed, I could only recount a few in detail. The one surefire winner on this year's list is Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather. I reread it when we traveled to New Mexico, and I loved it even more than the first time I read it. So that one holds up.

As for the rest, who knows? I'm not sure that reading strengthens my mind. My brain is all clogged up, full of junk, it's a demented, disorganized, jumbled mess. Judging by the amount I've read, I should be smarter or have a better memory or be a better writer or something. I understand reading a book is a major commitment, and there's a good chance that you won't remember the details in ten years. Still, the process is meditative, and according to a recent study, book readers live longer than non-book readers. So while I can't assure you that these books will change your life, or that you'll remember them, they still might be worth reading.

This post is long enough, and I'm tired from our family vacation in Vermont, and so instead of providing blurbs, I've simply linked the titles to the Sentence of Dave summaries of each book.

Or just trust me, and take a couple of these titles out of your local library. That's what I do. What have you got to lose? True, the previous borrower may have taken your copy into the bathroom and perused it while taking a huge smelly dump . . . but you could exact vengeance on the next borrower and do the same thing . . .

Confession: while I try not to take library books into the john, I certainly stain a few pages of every book I check out with various foodstuffs.

Happy reading!

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark For the Ivy Leagues by Jeff Hobbs

Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols

Roadside Picnic by The Strugatsky Brothers

But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Ten

On the tenth day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me

Ten (plus one) Months of Gheorghness
Nine cheers for Mike
Eight Miscellaneous Items - Probably for Next Christmas (or for yourself, or perhaps a fellow GTB'r right now, just cuz)
Seven (Give or Take) Voters (Should Be) Voting
Six Simpler Memories
Five shows to binge watch on TV
Four Random Thoughts
Three Punk Rock Playlists 
Two Digits Throughout History 
And the debut of Mac McFis-ty

Man, I have no idea how Dave Barry does it. Reading a year's worth of posts and selecting the 'best' is hard goddamn work. You're welcome, jerks.

As ever, in the midst of our earnest dipshittery, we wrote some pretty good stuff. I've said it before, but our takes on the election were really fucking spot on. Hell, I predicted the outcome in May. Sort of. Wish I'd sent that post to the Clinton campaign. Zman delivered more than a few lengthy, giffy, and intelligent pieces. And now that the Teej has graduated from big boy school, we can expect the pace of his memery to pick back up.

Looking back on some of my own crap, I realized that I really leaned way to hard on 'if I'm/we're being honest' this year. I'll work on that in 2017, though, if I'm being honest, I won't have much success. Shrug emoji.

But enough prelude. Herewith, the best Gheorgheness of 2016. Nice job, kids.

January

We started fast, with 24 posts in each of the year's first three months. We didn't keep up that pace, as one might expect. Gheorghemas 2015 ended on January 11, so we're right on target this year.

Complex magazine dropped a piece on the rapper of the year for every annum since 1979. It had killer artwork.

We had high hopes for the Wrens. Shocker, that.

In the first of many Gheorghe Explains the Election posts, we examined the Assholian Candidate.

Behold, the Gheorghian Singularity.

Soccer on soccer on soccer.

Even more soccer, and arguably the greatest post title in G:TB history.

February

February was really top notch. Clearly the Most Valuable Month of 2016. Good content, the highest post/day ratio of the year. Every month should be February.

Two violins and a DJ.

Soul Train. Dazz Band. Genius.

Fratty filler from the Teej.

We still had high hopes for the Wrens, and then a week later one of us was exposed as an idiot.

I was depressed about the election. In February.

Zman giffed the electoral process.

Dave wrote an editorial about education. I don't think he really understands our audience.

Zman bouillabaise.

We didn't get much Greasetruck this year, but this song about a dog and the blues was dope.

G:TB beefed with the Aussie hoops web community.

Danimal hijacked my post about Rickie Fowler's hideous shoes, made it better.

March

TR dropped a porn-related throwback. Because he's TR.

Dave faceswapped with his colleague, which was unpredictable. And then made an outlandish claim about it, which was entirely predictable.

I'll put our election coverage up against the mainstream media's any day. This one was about Trump's Vice-Presidential options.

According to science, being a Gheorghie is good for you.

A National Cereal Day throwback.

The oblong ball is rolling.

The first of multiple posts about Morgans this year. Who knew that the Mog was the official automobile of G:TB?

Dave posted something like 40 episodes of The Test in 2016. Postcount! This one was about Zombeavers. I don't know, either.

Z appreciated Phife. And some other shit.

Rappers and the law.

How I learned to love the hustle, Dominican-style.

April

April kinda sucked. We only managed 17 posts, and more than half of them could be defined as filler. And both Prince and Pearl Washington died.

Zman found a beaut of a 911. Pretty sure he didn't buy it.

We had high hopes for Gianni Infantino. Results, mixed.

I turned Dave on to some new podcasts. And that's it, you freaks.

Danimal hung out with Tiger. Got some television face time, too.

We were so desperate for content that we dug up something Clarence wrote 16 years ago. No shit.

May

As much as April sucked, May ruled. Decent number of posts at 22, but more importantly, a significant percentage of them were good to sublime.

Zman continued to demonstrate his mastery of the .gif-based post, this time in reference to the NFL draft.

Chat shit, get banged, win the whole goddamned Premier League.

Read Charlie Pierce on Pearl again.

I wrote about digital currency. And Abba. As one does.

Holy fuck. Holy fuck. Holy fuck. You guys. You guys. I predicted Trump's win in May, when I wrote this about InBev changing the name of Budweiser to 'America':

"No, this marketing campaign - which may well prove to be brilliant in terms of reversing the slide of America's once-dominant beer brand - is inspired by and catering to the rising nationalism stoked by Trump. And unless I miss my mark, America the brand will amplify Trump the candidate's message throughout the summer, peanut butter to his white chocolate. He'll hold cans up as props at rallies, telling us how A-B InBev recognized the path to America's greatness he promises. His supporters will buy it by the keg in symbolic support of the candidate and the country.

And the shitshow will roll on.

Winter is coming, friends, and I'm not sure anyone can stop it."

God damn, but our election coverage was fucking good. From my completely unbiased perspective.

Minnesota high school hockey hair FTW.

More Z-style giffery, this time about Kanye and a Hungarian.

I. Can. Drive. Twenty Fiiiiive.

Zman with the giffy hat trick, in which he kills Jeffrey Loria.

To round out one of the best months in GTB history, in terms of individual performances, Z also did this:


June

Steph versus Bron, and I couldn't decide.

Muhammad Ali died, but that was balanced out by The Test's second season debut.

We wrote about the U.S. Open Cup. Because soccer.

Gordie Howe died, too, and we tried to define a G:TB Hat Trick.

Gheorghe endorsed Gary Johnson. For the weed, mostly.

We learned that TR fathered Zson.

When TR's feelin' it (and 'it' isn't Zman's wife), we get some sweet music posts.

Quietly, ESPN's on the subversive tip.

"Go Fuck Yourself."

July

The year started going downhill in July in terms of quantity - we never hit 20 posts in any month after June. But there were some highlights:

Zman can't help himself when it comes to tennis.

There was a G:TB tie-in to FBI Director Comey's public release about Hillary Clinton's emails. It was funny at the time.

Terry Tarpey, oui.

Consecutive political/social commentary posts, one somber and one...not.

Automatic, hydromatic, Strat-O-Matic.

TR took a month off (Summer of TR!), wrote about Lionel Ritchie.



Fucking Poke Bar, man.

Too much Morgan isn't enough. (Joke for 4 or 5.)

Zman did a T-NC book report, and Shlara said this in the comments:

"I endorse reading "Between the World and Me" and the case for reparations in the Atlantic.
Then watch all 6 parts of OJ Made in America
Then watch Straight Outta Compton
Then wander over to the Undefeated and read anything by my friend Domonique--especially that piece about black babies and alligators. Well, you can read basically anything non-sports on the site by other writers too.

Then listen to the conversations in this country about lives and guns and jobs and access and education.

Then think about what you can do in your little slice of the world, with the people you know, to make things a little bit better for everyone. Then go do that. And when that commitment to make a difference starts wavering--go back and watch or read some of these things again.

It's all about everyday people being decent to everyday people--every day."

That last part is required behavior, and all the more important right now.

Zman couldn't let TR be the only one who wrote about his impressive dadding.

Jack Urbont! Winner!

August

Ichiro!

Curt Schilling is a Nazi douchewhistle asshat. But he loves the troops.

Someone doesn't care for NoVA drivers.

Anna Kendrick wants to be Squirrel's Girl. I might've added an 's to that. A boy can dream.

Mark Post Alert!

Donna Martin Graduates! So does Teejay. Shlara, too. Legit proud of both of you.

In the first of the zTravelogue series, our hero flies to and from Japan, and all we got were these lousy media reviews.

And in the second, squirrel socks and cultural insight.

The Little Red-Haired Girl died, and I used the occasion to congratulate myself. In retrospect, that seems pretty fucked up.

I got hip to the Hip right at the very end.

The aliens are coming. Maybe just breathing heavy, but still.

Summer Dave came and went. Lifespan of a fruit fly. But he did leave us this nugget, which is profound in its simplicity:

"I don't think I've done anything particularly out of the ordinary to deserve this good fortune. I was just born in the right place, at the right time, with the right color skin, and the right genes. As Woody Allen said, '80 percent of life is showing up.'"

Too many folks with the wrong genes are fucked if the rest of us don't show up over the next few years.

September

The Clarence Institute of Finding Shit Out (CIFSO) went public with its first survey. Results were enjoyable.

Zman has my legal back. This is some tortious interference right here.

The next zTravelogue makes me hungry as fuck.

The week of Z continued apace: WWZD.

And a Bills season preview. Guess who wrote it.

I don't usually link to The Test posts (there were nearly 40 this year, after all), but when I do, they've got lots of words.

Gheorghe, still an advertising icon in the DMV.

Arnold Palmer died. And Danimal recounted a doozy of a story. Fucker still can't figure out how fonts work, but we still love him. (Danimal, that is.)

October

Bruges knows from brews.

Men in Blazers celebrated me celebrating Bob Bradley. Which was awesome at the time, and like everything else in 2016 turned to monkey shit not 90 days later. Fuck you, 2016.

In which Donald Trump and the Humpty Hump became intertwined for your reading enjoyment.

Barack Obama told us this was a great time to be alive. That seemed awesome at the time. Wish that fucker had told Hillary to spend some fucking advertising dollars in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Ichiro! (Whiskey)

Joe Biden drove his old Corvette. Fuck, but we're going to miss Uncle Joe. And if it seems that this recap is starting to use 'fuck' a lot, well, we're getting close to November, aren't we?

I wrote about the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series. I have a blog and you don't*, so you will listen to every damn word I have to say.

* not necessarily true

Dolly. Miley. Jolene.

November

In a simpler time, I got drunk and taught my kid about music.

On November 8, I wrote this:

"Intellectually, I feel pretty good this morning. Barring a cataclysmic, systematic, and unprecedented failure on the part of the American political polling establishment, the facts suggest that Hillary Clinton should be elected President, and this godforsaken shitshow of an election will come to its only sane conclusion."

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Zman and The Teej took a break from their morning show to analyze the election results, each in his own way.

And then Zman and I reviewed the new ATCQ album and previewed the new Tribe hoops season, all at the same time.

I laughed.

Continuing this month's collaboration theme, Mark and I previewed the SEC Championship. It didn't go as well as the greatest thing in the history of the internet.

There you go, boys and girls. Another year of dipshittery in the books. We're slowing down in our old age, but we still managed to drop 235 self-referential, fillerful, and every once in a while compelling piles of words in this steaming pile of a year.

I don't know if 2017 will be better - given the coming change at the top, it's a decent bet that it'll suck even more - but I do know that this little corner of the internet brings me joy. And this fucked up world needs all the joy it can find.  For that reason, this year's Most Valuable Gheorghie is G:TB itself. A shining beacon of sublime silliness and a welcome break from reality. Treat yourselves to something nice, my friends. You've earned it.

Happy New Year, you magnificent bastards.