Monday, December 11, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Five

On the fifth day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Five bits and bobs
Four reasons to save 68 CDs
Three balls a-rainin'
Two more automotive wormhole websites
And a bald guy and some random hor-seys

Bits & of my favorite sayings from the other side of the pond, defined as "a random assortment of things." Day 5 of Gheorghemas is just that - lots of randomness here including a couple of ties to years past and a dream that includes one of our very own, and it is strange.

Fireball. RumChata. Together.
Everyone knows Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey. Some better than others I imagine. When our winter rolls around, the wife and I like to store a bottle in the ice box. Give it a little chill and viscosity.  We’ll cozy up on the couch in our flannels and sip on the core warming hooch after the kids retire for the evening. In truth we have ever done this, never even thought about it really but it’s a nice visual for our audience. No more than a rock’s glass worth. Shots work too but best when socializing outdoors when the mercury dips down to the mid-50’s.
A neighbor introduced me to RumChata a couple of years ago. Rum, cream, cinnamon & vanilla it’s a bit on the heavy side (see ingredient cream), tasty and chock full of calories. Feel like a few but feel for your gut? Do you long for some spice in your cocktail? Go equal parts with the chilled Fireball, or favor the latter for some extra kick. I love this drink. When both bottles are in the house, they aren’t here long. I urge you to try this concoction and soon. Do it of for me. Do it for the children.

The Jacksonville Jaguars
My wife and I moved here in the summer of ’07. That next football season was the most recent with a winning record at 11-5, and a playoff appearance losing to you-know-who. And in that first year, I wasn’t REALLY a fan. Sure there was early rooting and interest, but I hadn’t jumped in the sack yet. An 8-8 record three seasons later is the best we’ve seen since. Between then and now, absent being a Browns fan there hasn’t been a squad as hopeless. With 22 victories over a 6-year period...I’ll leave it at that.

I write this during and after the Jags pretty convincing win over the Seahawks. Sure they almost fucked it up. My certainty that they would was real, but it didn’t. Instead, the city of Jacksonville, or “Sacksonville!” rather, earned its biggest victory since Round 1 of the ’07 playoffs.  Sure, some may say our fans tarnished the moment a tad with the tossing of soda pop onto ejected player Quinton Jefferson at the end of the game, I say otherwise. Screw that guy. He deserved it.

With three games remaining, the Jags have more wins than in the previous two seasons combined and should they sweep, make that the three previous seasons combined. More importantly, they seem to have the goods. Even Bortles is not throwing pick 6’s every other game – that is progress my friends. By now most know of their prowess on the other side of the ball. It’s fun to watch – and dare I say they could make a mark this year in the post-season. If you are without a club and have any ties to North Florida, jump on the surfboard. I’m looking at you Rob.

A Few Quick Reviews from 2016 Product Review
Tommy John underwear – mixed sack. Two pair have developed holes right in the taint area. Must go with the form-fitting draws if you purchase which you shouldn’t. Screw you Tommy. Stick with Fruit of the Loom or Hanes from your local Sears. Or Amazon if you like putting people in your area out of work.
Virtual Reality Goggles from Samsung – haven’t put them on in 48 weeks. 
YETI – yes! Thermos, beer coozie, cooler. It’s all great!
Alexa – way underutilized like most technology at our disposal. The night before I head out of town I ask her what the weather is there, wherever there is. She’s pretty quick, 30 seconds or so faster than the I-pad.

Howard Stern
When Howard went to satellite radio, he lost me as a listener. Whatever car I had at the time was not equipped. The next one was and I subscribed to the basics, but wasn’t forking over the extra whatever it was to listen to Howard. Was it maturity? Frugality? Probably both – I had been a loyal Howard listener for years and did find it entertaining, but could definitely do without it.

A new car was recently purchased that came with three months of Sirius/XM including Howard. It is all I listen to. He has changed a lot. Terrific interviews – Seinfeld, Sting, Bono & Edge, JB Smoove, Robert Plant!, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel joining for days at a clip, James Franco the other day, and many more! Really though – a 90-minute commercial free interview with Stern is hard to beat. He’s grown up a lot, more introspective. You can tell he and his staff conduct more pre-interview research than anyone in his field. Podcasts are available. If you do take the plunge and subscribe, I encourage you to change the channel from Stern to something else prior to turning the car off, otherwise the next time you get in the car and you happen to be with your kids the first words you hear could be "cock" or "tits". Maybe he hasn't grown up that much. 

Really Weird Random Dream Featuring Z-Man the Barber
You read it right folks. Weird. 
Backstory – last weekend I took my son to the barber shop but one we hadn’t been to in a long time. As a refresher, I don’t really have hair, or at least I don’t let it grow out much. On a weekly basis, clippers without a guard cut what little I have off. Once or twice a month, I shave it completely when the itch gets me.

I had a week worth of growth at this time. When I was about to pay for my son’s cut, the female barber that worked on him asked if I’d like to get cleaned up. I was surprised, delightfully so, that she had the goods to perform a straight-edged shave. Time didn’t permit but I would definitely make an appointment soon.

This Saturday I went ahead and did the deed myself. I find shaving my head to be an inconvenience, hence the infrequency of the act. Extra time must be available as well as motivation and both were the other day.

I woke up today early as always – 5’ish/5:15 to use the john and then typically head out for physical improvement. Today, it was just the pisser. Ya know how you wake up and immediately recall the dream you were just having? You wonder what the hell just that seemed real! That’s what I did. The dream I had just woken from went like this:

-Dan working in the city, presumably NY
-Dan heads to barber on his day off, Saturday
-Z works there part-time – he’s my barber!
-Dan steps into the chair and Z & Dan share in small talk. We’re apparently pretty good buddies!
-Dan closes his eyes cuz he’s sleepy while Z trims the eyebrows

After the brows are trimmed, the action stops. I think maybe Z has taken a phone call or heads to the crapper. I’m like, dude! Where the eff is Z?! I open my eyes and he’s right there in the next chair over, reading the paper! Why are you reading the paper????!!!!

Andrew calmly moves his attention from the newspaper to me and says, “Dan, you don’t have any hair on your head – it was already shaved when you came in here.”

The end. Translate that if you will

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Four

On the fourth day of Gheorghemas, the swarthy Romanian gave to me:

Four reasons to save 68 CDs
Three balls a-rainin'
Two more automotive wormhole websites
And a bald guy and some random hor-seys

You all have heard me cyber-whining about our ongoing/neverending renovation. We are approaching the ninth inning of the project. And while I wonder if it's a fifteen inning game, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. A point of influence to my wife amid this project was the need to purge objects as we prepare to settle into a wildly different home. I am an anti-pack rat, but my wife likes to hang onto things. We hit a purge groove last w/e. When we were both under the influence of wine, I got her to part with some stuff. I strongly urge you all to use wine as a lubricant to get the wife to purge items with little emotional value. And to get her in the mood for sexy time.

I decided to lead by example (again) last w/e. I made the hard decision to get rid of my CDs. They are stored in many (very) heavy boxes. I have moved them many times since burning them to a hard drive about a dozen years ago. It is inconceivable to think I will ever need ALL of them ever again. Removing boxes creates space. Everybody wins, right?
So I pulled all the boxes down from the attic and stuffed them in the garage until we figured out how to recycle them. But then I got nostalgic and decided to rip through them one last time, for old time's sake. Memories flooded back. I saw CDs I special-ordered from The Band Box. I saw CDs I had bought on cassette and vinyl. I saw CDs that expanded my mind in high school. I saw CDs that blew my mind in college. And I saw shit sandwiches. TONS of them. So much wasted money!

I decided I should hold onto a select, manageable group of the CDs I own. I gave myself no limit on saving. I just went through every one and kept each one that checked some opaque box in my brain/heart, keeping the hurdle rate pretty high. I looked at the keepers pile as I was almost finished sorting and became excited in an immature way, given where I thought the total might land. So where did I end up? 68 CDs. 68. Sorry dudes. I would love to have serendipitously landed at 69, but a CD had to meet some emotional threshold to be kept. No Korn. No MC Serch solo album. No POD. No Pietasters. No Rave 'Til Dawn. And no Dee Lite. Little Feat didn't make the cut either. Is it fun as hell? Yes. Yes it is. But is it an emotional anchor? No. But they did play at Jazzfest during my bachelor party. The reasons are entirely personal. Some I could explain and some I couldn't.

So here are the four reasons why I saved 68 CDs:

1) My kids may want the social equity from a robust collection of "old school" music, much like I gained with my hippie-ish mother's classic rock vinyl collection. So they now have a stack to choose from.

2) If I die one day (which some folks say is possible), my kids can play some of these and hear a lot of the music that influenced me as a kid and young adult. This was a key (and largely irrational) reason behind my decision to stash some tunes. My kids already like some Beatles, Rolling Stones, White Strips and Widespread Panic that I play them. So those are layup keepers. McCoy Tyner, Velvet Underground and Terrapin Station may take a bit longer to resonate, but they're still building blocks, at least in my warped view.

3) It hurts too much to be so clinical and toss all of it away. This is the soundtrack to my days as a young buck, when I was bird-dogging chicks and banging beaver, after all!

4) Adding an element of emotion to the process of decluttering makes my wife think I'm a normal human being and lets her know I'll give a bit of an emotional cushion when it comes to chucking crap into the garbage. Happy wife, happy life.

Here are the 68 CDs I saved. They skew towards rock for obvious reasons. Metal made it in the mix a bit  (Metallica, Rage Against the Machine, Iron Maiden). Public Enemy's Fear of a Black Planet is my lone hip hop album. The collection might have been bigger had I not lost so many CDs along the hazy days of my youth. I'd bet a couple of you out there have a scratched-up CD w/ "TAR" scribbled on it.

Artist Album/Box Set
Allman Brothers Band Live at the Fillmore
Beatles Rubber Soul
Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde
Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks
Bob Dylan Bootleg Series Volume 1
Bob Marley Songs of Freedom (Box Set)
Broken Social Scene You Forgot it in People
Bruce Springsteen The River
Bruce Springsteen The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds Live at Luther College
Dave Matthews Band Crash
Elton John Greatest Hits
Elton John Greatest Hits Vol II
Grateful Dead Reckoning
Grateful Dead Shakedown Street
Grateful Dead Terrapin Station
Guns n' Roses Appetite for Destruction
Iron Maiden Live After Death
Jane's Addiction Nothing Shocking
Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin I
McCoy Tyner Blue Bossa
Metallica Kill 'Em All
Metallica Master of Puppets
Michael Jackson Off the Wall
Michael Jackson Thriller
Mooney Suzuki Electric Sweat
Motley Crue Shout at the Devil
My Morning Jacket It Still Moves
Neil Young Decade
Neil Young Harvest
North Mississippi All Stars Shake Hands With Shorty
Old & In the Way Old & In the Way
Pearl Jam Ten
Phish Live 10/31/98 
Phish Rift
Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet
Rage Against the Machine Rage Against the Machine
Rage Against the Machine Renegades
Robert Randolph & The Family Band Live at the Wetlands
Robert Randolph & The Family Band Unclassified
Rolling Stones Let it Bleed
Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers
Rusted Root When I Woke
Sly & The Family Stone Greatest Hits
Soundgarden BadMotorfinger
Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble Greatest Hits
Strunz & Farah Live
Styx Grand Illusion
Talking Heads Stop Making Sense
The Band Music from Big Pink
The Band The Night They Drove Old Dixe Down
The Doors LA Woman
The Doors Morrison Hotel
The Doors The Doors
The Samples No Room
The Strokes Is This It?
The Word The Word
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers Greatest Hits
Van Morrison Moondance
Velvet Underground Peel Slowly and See (Box Set)
White Stripes De Stijl
White Stripes Elephant
White Stripes White Blood Cells
White Stripes White Stripes
Widespread Panic Ain't Life Grand
Widespread Panic Don't Tell the Band
Widespread Panic Everyday
Widespread Panic Space Wrangler

Friday, December 08, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Three

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

Three balls a-rainin'
Two more automotive wormhole websites
And a bald guy and some random hor-seys

This is hard for me to admit, but I may have been wrong.

Once. You doubted me once. Don't do it again.
At the beginning of the college basketball season, with 64% of its scoring and 55% of its rebounding gone to graduation and transfers, I told you that our Tribe wasn't going to be very good. I said, in fact, that a ten win season would represent one of Tony Shaver's great coaching jobs. I lamented the squad's lack of experience, and more importantly, of depth.

That same team I dismissed four weeks ago just went on the road, made up a double-digit second-half deficit, and beat a decent George Mason team, 77-70. What made that win all the more noteworthy was that it was played entirely according to Mason's tempo and style. The Tribe had been more accustomed of late to rolling into the triple digits, having topped the century mark three times in their previous four games.

At 6-2, with at least one more highly winnable game left before conference play begins at the end of the month, this team will almost certainly top ten wins. And while I still think there are reasons to doubt the Tribe's chances in the league, they'll certainly be competitive.

How in the hell did this happen?

For starters, let's talk about some ungodly shooting. At press time, W&M was second in the nation in three-point shooting percentage, making 47.3% of their triples. The Wrens' 12.3 made threes per game ranked third in the country. Shaver's boys are fourth nationally in true shooting percentage, a robust .646, and third in effective field goal percentage at .612. Hell, they're even fifth in free throw percentage, making 80.9% of their freebies.

The dagger that capped the win over Mason on Wednesday came from senior guard Connor Burchfield, who drove to his left before rising and firing a three-pointer from the top of the key. Your humble blogger was sitting courtside courtesy of FOG:TB Clifford, close enough to call out to Burchfield in a conversational tone and give him some verbal dap during a break in the action. He reciprocated with a gleeful thumbs up. We kinda bonded.

My pal Connor
Burchfield has always been a dangerous stationary shooter. He led the nation in three-point percentage as a sophomore, making 56.3% of his attempts. But his lack of defensive ability and overall game limited his minutes and his impact. He never averaged more than 5.4 points or 14.4 minutes a game in his first three seasons in green and gold. This year, thrust into a starting role out of necessity, he's continued to shoot the lights out, making 54.7% from deep (he's fifth in the nation in true shooting percentage, and seventh in three-point percentage) and scoring 13.1 points per game. He'll get exploited on defense by quick, athletic guards this season, but the fact that he's holding his own is a big part of W&M surprising (to me) start.

Sophomore transfer Matt Milon's also knocking down better than half of his threes, at 54.0%. He's the team's most effective offensive player, 17th in the nation with a 139.5 offensive rating. He's sixth nationally in effective shooting percentage, and seventh in true shooting. With 15.0 points per game, he's second on the team in scoring.

David Cohn's recording 7.1 assists per game while scoring 10.9 points on 47.6% three-point shooting. Sophomore wing Justin Pierce is also making 47.6% of his threes, tallying 14.4 points, and pulling down 9.5 rebounds per game. All told, six players in the regular rotation are making more than 50% of their shots, which is preposterous, and probably unsustainable.

Tony Shaver told the Daily Press's Dave Johnson, “This is the best shooting team I’ve coached here. We’ll be a fun team to watch.” He knows a lot more about basketball than I do, it turns out.

We're all the way down here in this post, and I haven't even mentioned the Tribe's best player. One of the reasons all those shooters get decent looks is the danger represented by Nathan Knight in the post. The 6'9" Syracuse native went for 27 and 7 against Mason, making 10 of 15 from the floor and seven of eight from the line. He's averaging 20.3 points and 8.3 rebounds a game, good for 18th in the nation in Player Efficiency Rating.

After seeing him in person for the first time, he's even more impressive. He's a very smart player, with a great feel for the pick and roll, which he and Cohn ran several times to get layups. He uses his body effectively, sealing defenders to create easy baskets, and finishing well at the rim. For a big man, he's got a great touch, knocking down 80% of his free throws. It is no exaggeration to say that he's got a chance to be the best big man in my time as a Tribe fan, with much respect for the great Tim Rusthoven - Beasthoven never averaged close to 20/8, nor did he have Knight's skill.

There's a dark cloud to all this silvery-lined offensive excellence. Teams that live by the jumper tend to die by it on nights when it doesn't fall. But the bigger issue to me will be W&M's depth. Nine guys got time against Mason, but two of them got fewer than five minutes of run. When Knight picked up his third foul in the first half, the Wrens found themselves with five guards on the court, effectively. 6'7" reed-thin Paul Rowley guarded the post. They got away with it last night, largely because Knight managed not to pick up his fourth foul, but that's a narrow margin for error for our guys.

The Tribe goes to Columbus, OH to play Ohio State tomorrow, then takes a breather against D-III Milligan before heading to Fort Worth to take on 20th-ranked TCU in their final non-conference matchup. They're going to lose both road games, so they'll likely take a 7-4 record into CAA play.

If you'd have given me that after W&M's 100-64 loss to High Point to open the season, I'd have signed for it and never asked twice. I might've even called that a Gheorghemas miracle.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Two

On the second day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Two more automotive wormhole websites

And a bald guy and some random hor-seys

My earlier link to rousted a surprising amount of interest around here. In fact, I'm not sure what's more surprising: the interest it sparked here, or the fact that I went to college with so many southern guys and almost none of them have any interest in cars.

I think BAT's appeal in this space stems from the unique cars advertised on the site. Sure, there are plenty of 911's and M3's, but when was the last time you saw a Lancia Delta Integrale, a Mercedes-Benz GD240 Wolf, or an Allard K3? Probably never, but all three of those cars are up for auction even as you read this.

So for Gheorghemas I'm giving you two more websites with which to waste your time looking at cars you've never seen, forgotten existed, or that you may or may not be able to afford.

First up is Duncan Imports. Gary Duncan's shop is the largest purveyor of right-hand-drive Japanese domestic market ("JDM") cars in the US and Canada, and they also sell more conventional classics. They're located in Christiansburg, VA, which, according to their website, is right by Rootsy!

Our facility is centrally located within one mile of Interstate 81 and is just 30 minutes from the Roanoke Regional Airport. There are two convenient hotels nearby for your visit and a Cracker Barrel restaurant or Due South BBQ for some great country dining! We hope to see you soon at our Japanese domestic car dealership in Christiansburg, VA!

Perhaps you're wondering what makes a JDM dealer so interesting? Have you ever heard of the Toyota Sera? It looks like this:

"Meh" you might say, "it's just a little hatchback." Indeed. But this is how you open the doors:

This particular Sera is rated by Duncan as a 4.5 out of 5 with 66,000 kilometers (about 41,000 miles) on the odometer. He wants $11,900 for it. This is just the tip of the iceberg. I won't ruin it for you, but I can't encourage you strongly enough to at least look at the Nissans. There is one absolute bucket car in there for me along with a few other Nissans that seem like fun. Duncan also has a huge personal collection of JDM cars and trucks that he lists along with the cars for sale. He has some pretty amazing cars.

Next up is, which is sort of like an international Craigslist of cars (without any anonymous sex or creepy stuff). People from all over the world list their cars here and the selection is deep--they have 55 McLarens listed for god's sake. The interface is clunky but you can easily find what you're looking for if you have something particular in mind and the scrolling and clicking that go with the clunky browsing make it easy to turn up stuff you've never seen before.

For example, I have a soft spot for French cars and I'm pretty familiar with Citroens ... or so I thought. Did you know that Citroen made a rotary engine? Neither did I. It was called the Birotor and one is for sale in Budapest:

According to the ad:

A two rotor GS was launched in 1973. Dubbed the Citroën GS Birotor, it featured a much more powerful 107 PS (79 kW) Wankel birotor produced by the joint NSU-Citroën Comotor project.
The Birotor version achieved poor sales and was quickly pulled from the market, after 847 units were sold.

The sales were so disappointing that Citroën attempted to buy back and scrap each Birotor, as it did not want to support the model with spare parts. A few of these remarkable vehicles have nonetheless survived in the hands of collectors, many without titles for some time as Citroën did not want to recognize the cars.

As we know it currently, there are for of them to find in Europe.

One of them is for sale after full restoration. GB (UK) registration!

Perhaps your palate isn't as refined as mine and you don't like five-door Wankel-engined French cars from the 1970's no matter how rare. Fine. How about this:

That's a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of the most desirable cars in the world of high-end car collecting. Thirty-nine were made between 1962 annd 1964. They sell for over $50 million. And they have one on Car and Classic. I assume none of you ball that hard but if you're tempted I suggest you do some diligence before you pull the trigger.

For more than 5,000 times than the GTO less you could get a GT--the former clearly inspired the styling of the latter and the Opel has to be cheaper to insure and maintain.

Because I'm a hell of a guy I'll give you one more Gheorghemas gift, a zstocking stuffer if you will (as opposed to a TR stuffer, did you know that TR stuffs?). is a dealership located in the Netherlands and they ship directly to various places in the US including Linden, NJ (!). So poke around their inventory, find something you like, and I'll meet you in Linden to pick it up. What more could you ask for? Merry Gheorghemas!

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day One

It's back, mofos.

It's that most wonderful time of the year yet again, folks: the faux holiday known as Gheorghemas*. And, as in years past, Day One is late and Teej-centric, because, well, it's me.

On the first day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me
A bald guy and some random hor-seys

*Is it really the 9th year we've done this? I'm not gonna do the math, and the intern went to work for Axios, so we're just gonna go with 9th year of this bigly holiday.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Redemption Song

In 1996, Washington Bullets owner Abe Pollin grew weary of the gun violence that killed, among others, his friend Yitzhak Rabin, and decided that his basketball team needed a new name. Among the five finalists offered to the public for consideration, only the Sea Dogs had any charm. And that charm was mostly due to the fact that the moniker was so...weird. Or at least out of place in a town known more for Blue Dogs than seafaring.

As we well know, Sea Dogs lost out to the singularly uninspiring Wizards. In their 19 seasons since the name change, the Wiz have won a total of four playoff series, playing to an aggregate regular season winning percentage of .424. It's obvious to most observers that the Washington Sea Dogs would've been a far more successful franchise.

Now, two decades late, Pollin's successor Ted Leonsis has finally taken the first steps towards rectifying this egregious error. Next year, Washington will field a G-League franchise for the first time, to play in a new arena in Southeast.

That team will be called the Capital City Go-Go.

I love this all the way down. It's local and unique, paying homage to something indisputably and exclusively Washington. The name evokes energy and stamina and groove, all good things from a hoops perspective.

If you're looking for Gheorghemas presents for your favorite blogger, he wears a medium t-shirt/hoodie. And if Ted Leonsis were to think even bigger, the Capital City Go-Go would make for one hell of a cool NBA team name.