Tuesday, July 26, 2016

More Morgan EV3

I previously posted about the Morgan EV3. It appears that the design has been refined a bit since then and it is still gorgeous.

That said, I really wish they kept the headlight as a single off-center affair because the front end looks a bit like a cartoon clam now. As part of the launch, Morgan teamed up with Selfridges and nine other British companies to create a limited edition called "UK1909." So you not only get the car, you get customized luggage from Globetrotter, driving goggles from Linda Farrow, a white scarf from Alexander McQueen, and a shearling helmet from Karl Donoghue, and other similarly preposterous accouterments.

Here's an interview with Jon Wells, Morgan's head of design, explaining the project. I must warn you that Mr. Wells's youth will only exacerbate any preexisting inferiority complex you might have.

You should check out the photos of the cool styling details here. The reverse-neutral-drive selection knob absolutely kills me, it looks like something from a mad scientist's laboratory. The switchgear is marvelously steampunk too.

Don't start writing a check--only nine copies of this version will be made and all will be sold in the UK, which makes sense given the theme. Hopefully I'll be able to get the goggles, helmet and scarf separately.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Poke, Man. Go.

It never fails.

I don't get to California very often. In my 46-plus years, I might've made a dozen trips there. And every single time, I'm struck by how very different it is from the East Coast of my familiar haunting. Visually, ethnically, culturally, politically, and on and on. One small yet telling case in point:

I'm in Long Beach this week for a conference (did you know it's the nation's 36th largest city, bigger than St. Louis?). Downtown Long Beach is a cool mix of locally owned restaurants, bars, waterfront, and hotels and convention facilities (also, homeless people, surf bums, and loons). Many of the cross streets have walk/don't walk signals. As is the custom amongst East Coasters, I approach those don't walk signals, look both ways, and if there's no traffic coming, cross at my own risk. On multiple occasions while here, I've walked past locals waiting patiently for the light to change. And on more than one occasion, people have politely offered their concerns to me about the risk I'm taking.

Thank you, sweet and patient Californians, for your concern. I'm sorry I'm an East Coast asshole.

I also thank you for your culinary adventuring, and in particular, for introducing me to a whole new way to stuff my face.

Immediately adjacent to my (probably racist) hotel there's a Poke Bar. That's not, recent frenzied online activity aside, some sort of meeting place for Pikachu hunters. Rather, it's the most perfect evolution of the Subway, Chipotle, Potbelly mass customization concept.

Just like those fast casual concepts, you choose your base, your protein, and your fixings, but in the case of Poke Bar, your protein is raw fish - tuna, salmon, octopus, scallops, and so on. And the fixings are seaweed salad, jalapeno, pineapple, cucumber, kale, green onions, cilantro et al. Poke is a traditional Hawaiian mix, and it's perfect for this concept. It's fucking delicious, and I'll choose to believe that it's really good for me, too.

I've never had any interest in opening a franchise, but I'm seriously considering making a call to the owners of Poke Bar, who have twenty or so California-based locations today, and begging them to let me open some on the East Coast. That'll happen eventually, and it will kill. Hit me up in the comments if you want in.

And if you find yourself out West, get your poke on.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Your Daily What The Fuck

I don't know if our readers can tell, but I'm in the midst of a bit of a Blue Period, blog-wise. We're in bleak morherfucking times, boys and girls, and as much as I'd like to believe all that arc of the moral universe stuff, the bending of late trends towards fascist, fact-free, and the worst angels of our natures.

As today's evidence, I offer this anecdote:

I'm in Long Beach, CA for a conference - the town is a weird mix of stoner hip, aggro surf punk (think Point Break), tourist families, and seaport longshoremen. Because I procrastinated, I'm staying in a mid-tier hotel (no complaining, but it ain't a Kimpton). As it turns out, so is one of my colleagues.

The colleague in question is the former mayor of Minneapolis, a woman as accomplished as she is smart, dynamic, and fun-loving. She also happens to be African-American.

Over drinks, she told a story about her checking into the hotel. Among other things, she was asked to provide a security deposit, because, you know, sometimes people steal pillows. She asked me if I was required to do the same. I'll let you guess whether or not I was.

Let me reiterate that we're talking about the former mayor of one of America's largest cities. A woman who's always impeccably dressed and mannered, and as friendly and personable as you'd imagine someone who would rise to that kind of position might be. The person that checked her in was the general manager of the hotel. I know because he couldn't have been more accommodating to me - went out if his way to help me when I checked in early, actually - so I knew exactly who he was when she described him.

We were a couple of pops in, so I got a little pissed when she told the story - full of righteous indignation. She wasn't angry, though. Probably because this was just the latest in a lifetime of slights, politely offered. All she said (after insisting that I promise not to say anything to the hotel staff) was, 'we have to be better than this'.

And right now, I don't have the first fucking clue how that happens.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lionel Richie was the highlight of my month off between jobs!? Yes, yes it was.

The long lapse between my prior job, which formally ended on June 23, and my new job, which formally starts on July 25, is drawing to a close. While there was no big family event to mark the downtime, due to summer camps, travel soccer tournaments and other family obligations, there were (and still will be) some fun family events. Among them will be an impromptu visit to Yankee Stadium tonight to let my Oriole-loving 8 y/o see his team. Thanks to SeatGeek for helping me score field-level seats for $47/each (including fees!), but not for forcing me to navigate a byzantine labyrinth of app downloads and on-line transferring to make the actual tickets available in my iPhone.

It has been a fun month, one where I have worked out with fit mums at the local gym at 9 AM, taken my kids to the local pool club during the day, and qualmlessly imbibed whenever the mood struck. Yet there hadn't been a big moment to mark the extended time with the boys. That is, until last night.

I was taking the kids home from the pool club so I could grill for another family that was coming over (I have been getting plenty of mid-week grilling in, which has been fun). As they do every time they're in the car with me, my boys request SiriusXM channel stations. My 8 y/o has somehow decided he likes Channel 14 - The Blend. This station is AWFUL. It plays Sheeran, Beiber, Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, One Direction and the like, interspersed with 80's pop hits from Madonna, Whitney Houston and Stevie Winwood (his bad hits). I want to tell my son I love him less when he requests the station, but I reluctantly don't. And now he's gotten the 6 y/o into the station as well, who generally likes anything the older one likes. So I get songs like the one below crammed into my ear hole often. Nobody puts TR in the corner.

I occasionally indulge my boys' requests, but I often tell them we won't play it b/c Dad doesn't like it. The compromise we tend to land on (mostly b/c of my wife) is Channel 18 - "Limited Edition", which you all know as the current home of Yacht Rock. I originally found the yacht rock movement amusing, but a tiny bit silly. But I have come around on it b/c the music is just so damn pleasant. It's easy breezy - you can play it loud or soft, and you can sing along to parts of many of the tunes. It evokes vague memories of my childhood, such as remembering listening to Christopher Cross' "Ride Like The Wind" in the back seat of my parents' cigarette smoke-filled Thunderbird. I did not realize until recently the song had a cameo from Michael McDonald. Of course it did.

(Random segue here: the ads for Yacht Rock that play on other stations are tre-fucking-mendous. The two I've heard are: "Music as soft and lustrous as Michael McDonald's beard" and "Music from back in the day when the only log-ins you needed was Kenny." Well done, sirs.)

But back to last night. After leaving the pool club, I again got a Blend request, but told them we would leave the car tuned to Yacht Rock. And as the car started, Lionel Richie's "All Night Long" came on. My kids immediately loved it. They asked me to turn it up and said it sounded like a Hawaiian song. I began cranking it with the windows down in my Volkswagen CC. The drive to our house is about 2 minutes, so I began meandering around my neighborhood at 6:15 PM with two happy boys in the back who were loving Lionel, jumbo jumbo, fiesta forever, the funky brass accompaniment, and the fact that we were gonna have a party all night long. Or at least until the song ended and we pulled our car back in the driveway. But it was a splendid 3:47 stretch amid a picture-perfect late summer afternoon - three dudes basking in the awesomeness of Lionel at the peak of his pop powers. And if you choose to play the video below, think of listening to it with the mindset of a young kid who's never heard it before. It's hard to dislike.

I'm sure I'll forget this happiness tonight at the ball game, as my kids enter into sugar-induced meltdowns, which hopefully won't result in one kid crying, another kid peeing all over his underwear, and a dad losing his iPhone. Actually, maybe I won't. Thanks, Lionel.

Monday, July 18, 2016

3-12 . . . popout (2b) plus injury

A handful of Gheorghies have partaken in the decades-old board game Strat-o-Matic baseball through the years.  We played the dice and cards board game as kids; we now play the online version against each other.  It's a bit of a cult thing, and it can be addictive.

The premise is that most players from most seasons of pro baseball are represented in card form as parsed out by seasons.  So everyone from Babe Ruth's 1927 season to Mookie Wilson's 1981 season are reflected not just in statistics, but in outcomes for dice rolls.  They are facing real pitchers from history, so look out when Mookie steps in against Koufax's 1963 card.  You pick a team from history or create a mish-mash team, make the lineups and rotations, and play it out.

It's a great game for kids.  And adults with kids.  Okay, and adults.

Yep.  It's pretty nerdy.  Any surprise that William and Mary alums like it?

I was introduced to Strat-o-Matic by my grandfather and uncles, and they routinely hammered my teams after I was given the game as a Christmas gift.  I had the 1979 season.  They could make the Orioles beat my Pirates every time and mocked me incessantly.  They're bullies.

In the summer after our sophomore year, Rob and I lived in Williamsburg and took some classes.  And worked as Pizza Hut delivery guys.  And drank 40's.  And played out individual seasons from the 1985 set, him with the Red Sox and me with the Mets.  No idea how our teams ended up doing, but I can tell you how we ended up doing with the ladies that summer.  And I just remember the catcalls from our fratres across the den as we occupied the dining room table with dice, cards, and homemade box scores all summer.  It didn't hold up to cool-guy scrutiny 26 years ago and still doesn't, but we had fun.

We even broke it out at an Outer Banks Fishing Trip one year.  '86 version, and a Buckner error cost the Sox the rematch.  Uncanny.  Jerry was a witness.

Now it's online.  For a small fee you can get into a league against either your dorky buddies or strangers, draft a team with a salary cap (hey, a novel idea) and have a go.  What can I say, it's amusing.

And now there's a documentary released this year about the game.  It's interesting to see which big league players new and old are also Strat-o-Matic players.  Anyway, it's a neat little game that has lasted for 50 years.  Not bad.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Trusty Paper Clip

CBS is planning to reprise one of the great series of the modern era of television this Fall. Richard Dean Anderson isn't walking through that door, but that's not stopping this MacGyver reboot.

I'm torn, if we're being honest. I loved the original Mac. In a time when we watched what the three networks told us to watch, and we liked it, MacGyver and its belief-suspending wink and nod adventure was among the best things on television. The new version can't possibly succeed, if only because nobody watches network television any more.

But if nothing else, this news gives us a chance to celebrate Mac and his paper clip. And for that, I'm grateful.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Simpler Times

This is my favorite single song ever. It's blends melancholy and hopefulness with just about the perfect pop hook. In a time where melancholy and sadness runs far out in front of hope, maybe I'm just clinging to something that makes me happy. Hope you find some happy today, people of Gheorghe. There's a little light out there.