Friday, July 21, 2017

G:TB Writing Challenge/Friday Filler

On this day in 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, IL. In honor of Papa's birthday, we kick off the first-ever G:TB Writing Challenge. See the advice in the image below, and head to the comments to enter. Some restrictions apply, namely, if you're Dave, don't assume that the judges will have the same interpretation of 'sentence' as you do.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Get Up, Get Moving

We've talked about NPR's Tiny Desk concert series here before, though probably not enough. One of these days, I'll do a post about my favorite sessions. (Note: that probably won't happen, as it'd require effort.)

Today, though, a little get off your ass and move music to get the day started. Here's Rare Essence from earlier this week, all packed around Bob Boilen's desk and delivering D.C.-style go-go. Hard to watch this and not get body movin'.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie Meets Greasetruck (Eventually): The A-Fib Blues

Our man at the beach returns with another cautionary tale about growing old, getting medical tape stuck to groin-area hair, and surgical adventure. This time with a twist, as sedation met inspiration. Today's post is the first of a multi-parter, wherein Fairbank writes lyrics for a different Dave to set to music and record. Stay tuned.

I’ve been saddled with heart arrhythmia, specifically atrial fibrillation, for several years. It’s not constant, it doesn’t limit activity or exercise, and I rarely feel it. Still, if left untreated, it increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and other unpleasant outcomes. I’ve come to think of my heart as a family, where three or four responsible, hard-working siblings will eventually be brought down by the alcoholic brother with a couple of priors who can’t hold a job.

Which is how I found myself recently at the Norfolk Heart Hospital for Round 2 of Fun With Catheters and Electrically Charged Wires. Not to denigrate the good folks at the hospital, who are wizards that perform daily damn miracles, and in my experience, are uniformly engaging and of good cheer.

Atrial flutter and fibrillation can be treated with medicines or surgery. One isn’t superior to the others, and is often a personal choice. Meds treat the symptoms. The more invasive procedure, an ablation, is the only option that offers the chance of a permanent fix. An ablation consists of inserting a catheter into a vein in your groin area and sliding it north several inches through your hip. A small wire is snaked through the catheter, into your heart and deadens the area causing the faulty electrical impulses responsible for the arrhythmia.

Am I the only one that thinks A-Fib looks like Gonzo?
I had an ablation done 18 months prior, but that didn’t take. Further testing determined that the offending area this time was in a different heart chamber. The success rate for that particular procedure isn’t as high as the electro-cardiologist would like – 75 to 80 percent. But again, it provided the only chance at a fix, and beat the prospect of a lifetime of blood thinners and heart regulating meds. The procedure required catheters in each groin, a smaller one on the left side to check the previous ablation, and a larger one up the right side to address the current fib. The doc said afterward that early indications are that this one will take, though only time will tell whether I’m part of 3 in 4 or the less fortunate 1 in 4. After an overnight stay for observation, I was home the next day. I’m padding around for a few days, and peeling off the tape and dressings from around the groin incisions was a special moment.

Sometimes, discomfort and adversity inspire creativity. Or in my case, a frivolous diversion. With apologies to Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins, here’s a traditional style, slow blues number I wrote while laying in my hospital bed as the anesthesia wore off and I stared at my IVs and heart monitor.

                                                                A-Fib Blues
Gypsy woman told me
You won’t stammer or stutter
But you’re gonna have
An atrial flutter

Heart can’t tell
A saint from a sinner
But you’ll need a beta blocker
And a big ol’ blood thinner

Won’t do no good
To wail and shout
Just avoid sharp objects
And try not to bleed out

CHORUS
Talked to the cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues

They see this condition
All over the nation
Doc recommended
A cardiac ablation

Pretty little nurses
Gonna tend to your groin
And you don’t even have to
Give ‘em no coin

Needles and tubes stickin’ in
Guaranteed not to please ya
But you’ll catch a break
When you’re under anesthesia

They snip pulmonary vessels
And cauterize nerves
I said, please, please doctor
Don’t let your hand swerve

CHORUS
Talked to the cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s just a quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues

Recovery ain’t bad
Body’s a little off
But whatever you do
Don’t sneeze and don’t cough

Doc thinks it’s fixed
Don’t believe he’s a faker
Just hoping to avoid
Getting a pacemaker

CHORUS
Talked to the electro-cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues
Son, your heart’s not deliverin’
You got them atrial fibrillation bluuuues

Saturday, July 15, 2017

There's Only One Bradley Lowery

The athlete visits sick kid trope is nearly as old as modern sports. Babe Ruth legendarily hit a trio of homers in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series after visiting 11 year-old Johnny Sylvester in the hospital and promising a round tripper. So legendarily, in fact, that Sylvester has his own Wikipedia entry.

Sometimes, probably most times, the athletes in question provide a momentary bright ray for a stricken child before they return to their lives. More rarely, kids and their heroes develop real relationships, a testament to a shared humanity that transcends age and class and circumstance. Recall, for instance, Michigan State basketball player Adreian Payne and his friendship with little Lacey Holsworth, who lost her life to cancer in 2014 at the age of 8.

In the case of English soccer player Jermain Defoe, there's only one Bradley Lowery.

Defoe is the 7th-leading scorer in English Premier League history, tallying 158 goals in 16 seasons in England's top tier, with another 20 in 57 appearances for the English national team. At 34, he's nearing the finish line of his decorated career, but he still managed to bang in 15 goals for Sunderland last season. His efforts weren't enough to keep the Black Cats from relegation, so he moved on after three seasons in Tyne and Wear, signing with Bournemouth for the 2017-18 season.

Lowery was five years old when he met Defoe earlier this year. The youngster, a huge Sunderland fan, had been battling neuroblastoma, a cancer of the brain, since 2013, and been invited to be a mascot for his favorite club. Defoe and Lowery struck up an instant and fast friendship.

"As soon as he saw me, he ran over to me and jumped on my lap," said Defoe, recalling his first meeting with Lowery in February. "I think probably from that moment, it was sort of overwhelming, because I was like 'oh wow.' And that sort of love he gave me from day one was just like, that instant moment, was sort of like when we bonded. It was just a great feeling."

The two famously appeared together at Sunderland matches, in addition to English national team ties. In March, Lowery accompanied Defoe as the latter walked onto the pitch for an England/Lithuania World Cup qualifier.

Said Defoe, "All the lads know the bond between me and Bradley and how important it is for him to be happy and enjoy every moment ... I mean, these moments will live with me for the rest of my life. I will never forget all the times he's walked out with me."

Defoe scored in that match, a 2-0 England victory.

Last week, at the age of six, Bradley Lowery succumbed to the cancer that racked his little body.

In the days before Lowery's passing, Defoe spent time with the boy and his family. He was asked about his relationship at his introductory press conference in Bournemouth:



Defoe joined a number of Premier League players and officials at Lowery's funeral in Sunderland. His emotions matched those of the thousands of people who lined the route from the church, thousands who didn't know Bradley Lowery personally, but who were touched by his story, his pure joy in the real friendship of a man from an entirely different background who played a game for a team he loved.


There's only one Bradley Lowery. But there's only one Jermain Defoe, too.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pretty in Pink

Who wore pink better:

The increasingly creepy Sammy Sosa...
(no, the color on this picture has not been altered)



or Ringwald?



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I made a good tweet

My tweet is a high-quality tweet and I applaud its transparency.

SHARK

I'm on one of my semi-regular jaunts to the Twin Cities. As usual, I landed at MSP. made my way to the rental car lot, and turned on 89.3 KCMP, The Current, one of the great public radio stations in America.

This song came on as soon as I pulled out of the airport:



Fuck, but it checks all kinds of boxes. Haunting vocals from a dead cute Australian girl singer. Love, loss, longing. And, oddly, random scenes with international-standard basketballs.

From the blog that brought you Mumford and Sons before you knew who they were, keep your ears open for Amy Shark.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The G Stands for Gangsta

FOGTB Dave Fairbank has a lot of time on his hands, apparently, what with the beachside living and all. He sent me the following DM via Twitter a few days ago:

"I'm late to this, but you must find John Oliver's show from last Sunday (big chunk is on Sinclair Broadcast Group), but the kicker is at the end. A fabricated movie about the life of Warren Harding - takes too long to explain, just trust me on this - that includes one of your faves."

The show in question is Episode 107 of Last Week Tonight, Oliver's increasingly must-watch HBO commentary. And the Sinclair stuff is indeed worth watching, if you can carve 19 minutes from your busy schedules of kid-wrangling, imbibing, commuting, and fallout shelter digging. (I've included it at the end of this post for your rage-viewing pleasure.)

But the Fairbank-described kicker is in the eight-minute piece below, which really defies easy explanation. Let me just say that I've never been turned on by a scene featuring a wax president before.



Here's the piece on Sinclair Broadcasting. It'll piss you right off.