Friday, October 20, 2017

America 1, Bad Luck 0

Earlier this week, walking distance from my home, this happened:

Bald Eagle Spotted Eating Black Cat on Downtown Norfolk Sidewalk

    A bald eagle randomly alit onto a sidewalk on Monticello Avenue in Norfolk and made a public feast of a black cat.

    Highlights from the Virginian-Pilot Article:
    • Dozens of people crowded around as the eagle ate the cat on the sidewalk. 
    • The eagle was more than two feet long from head to tail and stood around a foot and a half tall.
    • The eagle’s meal looked like a fully grown black cat. 
    • The eagle nearly picked it clean over the course of about 45 minutes.
    • Stranger still: the bird seemed unperturbed by the onlookers. “It was going to enjoy its meal as long as nobody was bothering it.”
    There's a reason our nation uses this bird as a symbol.  Bad-assed.

    There's a video of it in the Pilot article for the gross people among our readers.

    A few years back, this happened in my back yard.

    That's what we believed to be a Cooper's hawk devouring a squirrel on our deck.  As you can imagine, given my long friendship with the gheorghie sometimes known as "The Squirrel," that was very upsetting.  So I videoed it.

    This time, however, I am exulting in what I take to mean a symbol of the USA beating back bad luck.  By eating it.  AMERICA!!

    Unless this is supposed to be a harbinger of unpleasant results from this week's Monday Night Football game.  In which case . . . yeah, that's about right.

    Ghostface Killah Has His Own Cryptocurrency

    I don't understand what blockchains are but they're remarkably popular these days. So popular that Ghostface Killah is getting into the cryptocurrency game. I'm a pretty boring guy, especially when it comes to investing, so I'm skeptical.

    It's called Cream Capital, which is a take-off on the song C.R.E.A.M. The "C" in the instant situation stands for "cryptocurrency." Get it?

    via GIPHY

    This "white paper" explains the scam how it works. Except it doesn't. ATMS are involved somehow.

    "What the hell does GfK know about cryptocurrency and why should I invest with him" you might ask. Here's what CEO Brett Westbrook has to say on that topic:

    "Ghostface Killah is a long-time business partner of ours," he explains. "I personally connected with him during a Reddit AMA on /r/hiphopheads last year when he was seeking tech-inclined people to work with in future technology focused projects. Dennis is a very forward thinking person and has a keen interest in emerging technologies. It's hard to ignore blockchain tech today even when you're a busy, touring hip hop artist.

    "He doesn't have any technical background with cryptocurrencies. However, remember that Wu-Tang is for the children. He is very focused on what the youth and millennials are interested in. He is a very solid businessman and has surrounded himself with bright individuals with a hunger for bring new, groundbreaking technologies to market."

    Oh right, Wu-Tang is for the children!

    And Pretty Tone is the Chief Branding Officer--no problem, take my money.

    via GIPHY

    And if this enterprise collapses you know it will be easy to hail the Wallabee Champ into court. What could go wrong?

    Thursday, October 19, 2017

    Hey Gheorghies!

    Pub post count.

    Inside Baseball

    I mentioned a few days ago that my professional stress level has been elevated in recent weeks. Just this minute, I finalized a deal that's highly visible and important to my boss and my business, and that featured a self-imposed and insanely tight deadline. And in reality, it was a deal to agree to do a deal, so the work isn't done. But in order to get past this first milestone, the amount of bureaucratic clusterfuckery that I had to navigate with my team was crushing. To celebrate, one of my teammates - a woman who was integral to getting us this far - sent me this image:

    I'm now trying to decide whether to laugh or cry. I'm not deciding whether to drink heavily this evening. That decision was made long ago.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Q3 Statistical Analysis: A One-Man Band

    The G:TB interns ran some numbers that I will share as a motivational speech for our roster.

    2017 Blog Posts on Gheorghe: The Blog by Author


    Yes, I send this to pat myself on the back for contributing to GTB postcount for the first time in years.  Moreover, though, it's a call to action for some slumbering gheorghies. Rob is doing nearly all of the heavy lifting around here. 

    Gheorghe is currently on pace for exactly 200 posts, our lowest output since 2007... when it was just Teejay and robbie and me posting... and we also had another blog that took up more of our time.

    I'm not gonna Glengarry Glen Ross here, mainly because I portrayed Shelley "The Machine" Levene in my Beginning Acting class at the College of William and Mary (scored an A), and Jack Lemmon's/my tour-de-force performances are always shelved behind the single show-stealing ABC scene.

    But let's see what we can do with a little bit of time left in 2017. Look, this low number is not etched in stone. We have 2.5 months to stop jerking along. Why don't you use that time to give us your best shot? Put in the hours. Dazzle me.

    Rob already has the MVP award sewn up.  (Frankly, he did by Spring Break.)  But Comeback Player of the Year, Best Post of the Year, Best Quality Output, Best Filler Contributor, Best Use of Muppet Video, Best Gheorghemas, and other awards still hang in the balance.  Plus, knowing you will be measured against your peers on the GTB roster, you know you want to beat some of these guys. The Zman/TR, Mark/Marls, and Dan & Dave races to the finish are surely to entertain.

    Also, rob has generated 64% of GTB posts this year.  He is gunning to up that by 5% by year's end.

    Now get out there... and deliver.

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Gheorghasbord: Ides of October Edition

    Lots of ephemera floating around the old gray matter today, most of it a defense mechanism, my subconscious working hard to block out the steady drumbeat of the decline of the American empire. Some of the stuff in my head is even fun.

    Like, for example, the baseball playoffs. I'm obviously bummed that the Red Sox are gone, but I didn't really expect much of them from the beginning of the season. That a team with no power and middling starting pitching won a division title, Boston's first consecutive such finish in history, is both remarkable and unexpected. Anything else was gravy.

    I hated seeing the Nats go out the way they did, too. That team's rapidly piling up exactly the wrong kind of anguished history, and I know a lot of people that experienced the kind of hurt that I remember from days gone by, just because they chose the wrong sportsball team to support. Some day, Nats fans. Some day.

    But the four teams that remain are all great stories, and we've already had an embarrassment of riches, narratively speaking. The Yankees, who remain evil, are nonetheless a fun team to watch, with the thunder of their mashing bats and the lightning in their bullpen. They may not overcome a really deep Houston team, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified of their prospects for next year.

    Those Astros, after dispatching my Sox, have become my rooting interest for the remainder of the postseason, and not just because they're playing the Yankees. The primary reason is pretty easy to guess, if you're paying attention. This made me exclaim loudly, despite the fact there were 10 teenagers pregaming for the Tuscarora High School Homecoming dance in my house.

    The Cubs are, even after winning a championship, a likable, fun, and really good team, and the Dodgers, despite overtaking the Yankees in the better winning through exorbitant spending sweepstakes, are hard to hate. Probably because of Dave Roberts. Who did a thing back in 2004 for which I'll always love him.

    Speaking of that Homecoming dance, please allow me to get a little bit selfish, and a tiny bit maudlin. I dropped my daughter and her boyfriend off at the school, and as they walked away, he reached out his hand and took hers in it. And goddamn if tears didn't well up as I caught a tiny glimpse of the future, where she'll walk away from me for good.

    Three years ago, my wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with an incredible five days in Sonoma, CA. I remember both that area's natural beauty and its relaxed, beer and wine-heavy charm. I remember Santa Rosa, and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, full of Sparky's art, and life. As we drove to Sonoma from the San Francisco airport, I remember being struck by the dryness of the landscape, the fields of grasses browned by too little water for too many months. Even so, I'm stunned by the scale and scope of the destruction wrought by the fires in that part of the country, and numbed by the pace of disasters befalling our brothers and sisters across America.

    In the midst of what's been one of the more stressful professional months of my life, at least as far as I can remember (which, let's be honest, isn't very far), FOGTB Dave Fairbank hit me with a fun Twitter DM question: "saw a tweet in your wheelhouse. guy asked for folks' 5 most important albums. not necessarily faves - though they may overlap - but 5 most important to musical growth, understanding, whatevs."

    To which I responded, after some heming and hawing and complaining about how hard that question is to answer: "okay, off the top of my head:

    queen, 'the game' was the first cassette i bought with my own money, and turned me on to the album format. which i never listen to anymore.

    the smiths, 'louder than bombs' introduced me to alternative rock as an impressionable 15 y/o

    son volt's 'trace' made me love alt-country and driving with the windows down

    the beastie boys 'paul's boutique' was the first rap record i loved, along with l.l. cool j's 'bigger and deffer'

    and a compilation of world music for kids by putamayo opened my mind to a whole different kind of rhythm and melody"

    I should've just sent him the link to this post.

    That same little girl who made me cry has a dark side, too. Or at least a dramatic side. For the past three years, she's been part of the cast of Shocktober, a haunted house staged at a creepy as all fuck old mansion that now serves as the centerpiece of a local community service campus. Shocktober is one of the major fundraisers for the campus, which hosts the local ARC (with which Whitney will be familiar), among a number of other organizations. And my beautiful kid looks like this tonight, scaring the pants off of kids of all ages (including just a few weeks ago, multiple members of the Washington American Football Club's defensive line).

    They grow up fast. And weird.

    Saturday, October 14, 2017

    Oh, We're Halfway There

    It's that time of year again already.  No, not Halloween (see yesterday's post for that), but time to announce this year's nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Time to review the list, see who's new to it, see who the holdovers from years past are, feel the outrage for the snubbees, and wax philosophical about the process and what "deserving" really means.

    Eh.  The Hall inductions started in 1986 with:
    • Chuck Berry
    • James Brown
    • Ray Charles
    • Sam Cooke
    • Fats Domino
    • The Everly Brothers
    • Buddy Holly
    • Jerry Lee Lewis
    • Little Richard
    • Elvis Presley
    Pretty formidable.  31 years later, as a crop of rockers or otherwise gets ushered in each year, it's a much more inclusive group, and most within reason get the nod.  This isn't the BBWAA keeping Cooperstown for the elite only, lording their authority over every nominee.  (Nolan Ryan received just 98.8% of the vote tally, because, you know.)  The Rock Hall is far more like the NFL Hall.  You were great for more than an instant, you're getting considered.

    As such, you have Morten Andersen and Yes.  Kevin Greene and Cheap Trick.  Joan Baez and Ray Guy.  Inductees who hung around long enough to be classics, folks a little out of the usual mold, and people that other people enjoyed at some time in their lives.  As it should be.  Exclusivity is passé .

    So... who's in this year's crop?  Who will get in?

    That's the way I see it. There's a groundswell of support for Bon Jovi and the Moody Blues (somehow), and they do want to fill the event next March.  The Cars are just way too good.  The Hall throws the underserved metal peeps a bone and keeps many more at bay.  Radiohead is a vote for cool and trendy, and they seem a shoo-in.  The inductors add in one random genre pick every year, so maybe Nina Simone.  The Meters could fill that spot, but Dr. John got in 6 years ago and they may space that out.

    Meanwhile, The Cure, Smiths, New Order, Pixies, Sonic Youth and others who inhabit hero-dom to alt-rock lovers of the 80's and beyond continue to starve.  Depeche Mode should have been in last year.  I don't know.  It's like reggae: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and then nothing ever.  Peter Tosh, Steel Pulse, the Maytals, etc.  If you have any reggae in a "rock" Hall, do it right.

    Rage Against the Machine is getting hyped for entry, but I don't know that they have the discography of most inductees or the clout of the Nirvana / GN'R types. Meanwhile, LL's exclusion continues to stump me, especially when Tupac got in last year.  Ladies Love Cool James must've pissed somebody off.

    Don't count on the feelgood posthumous vote for J. Geils.  Cornell/Soundgarden got no love.  Lemmy/Motörhead got no love.  They don't care.

    And a rock and roll hall of fame without Mark Knopfler in some form or fashion, at this point, is just stupid.  Same with Willie Nelson.

    That's all for now from your resident rock snob.  Go vote for the fan's choice here, if only to combat the Moody Blues campaign. Here's a Spotify playlist with 3 selected songs from each nominee...

    Friday, October 13, 2017

    Today's Your Lucky Day

    Happy Friday the 13th, gheorghies!

    Okay, so not everyone is excited about this ominous date.  Some folks dread the bad luck and misfortune oddly associated with this day.  A few even hide at home, fearing the worst if they venture out.  Pretty ridiculous, but let's take a look at Friday the 13th.

    What's the deal?  Well, it's certainly tied to the overall fear of the number 13, or triskaidekaphobia.  Dave has attributed the phobia to there being 13 witches in a coven. The devout Christians at GTB look to the Last Supper and Judas as the most reviled #13 since Alex Rodriguez. Historians refer to Hammurabic code. There were 13 steps to the gallows (12 up, and one down). 13 proper studio albums for the Beatles before they split. Whatever the true origin, it's a creepy number that building architects acknowledge and fans of the space program swear by.

    Then there's Friday the 13th. Again, tales of origin diverge. One such hypothesis, owing to "Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar" is particularly . . . well, uninteresting, compared to the sordid saga that enters all of our minds when we think of Friday the 13th.
    A young camper (seemingly) drowns whilst caretakers cavort.  Revenge, misplaced as it may be, is merciless.  And endless, as it turns out. 
    The original Friday the 13th begat a sequel, then became a trilogy, then spawned such a litter that the series is now a dodecalogy.  That's 12 films over 37 years.  Yikes.

    And even if you've never seen one frame of any of the 12, you know his name.

    Barroom Trivia Question:  Who's the killer in the film Friday the 13th?

    If you said Jason, you owe me a shot. (In the original, it's Jason's mom. Acceptable answers include Mrs. Voorhees or "his mammy.")

    Bonus Trivia Question: Name the link between Kevin Bacon, Johnny Depp, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

    Each appeared in the first installment of the major horror franchises of the 80's (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween, respectively).

    Anyway, our friend in the hockey goalie mask with the machete or chainsaw, Jason, is now the most lasting image of the day Friday the 13th.  Destruction, terror, and mayhem. Any camp counselors, Jason will slay 'em.  These moviemakers have done nothing to ease the dread of this calendric occasion.

    Here's the thing, though.  It doesn't need to be a bad luck day. Why begin any 24-hour period with even a passing notion that ill fortune is headed our way?  13's no big deal.  Wilt the Stilt wore #13, and he . . . did well.  Dan Marino and Steve Nash won a ton of regular-season games. Dave Concepcion. Lee Mazzilli (in 1986 for the best team in baseball).

    Mill-ard Fill-more!
    (to be shout-sung like R.E.M.)

    Baker's dozens! Who doesn't like that extra doughnut (or cupcake)?

    13 Songs!  Very fine album (EP amalgam) from Fugazi, good for listening to while you're waiting in the waiting room.

    Glenn Danzig wrote the song "Thirteen" for Johnny Cash.  It supposedly only took him 20 minutes to pen, and it's full of misfortune and pain, so that tells you something about Danzig.  Good tune, though.  "Thirteen Sad Farewells" by Stu Larsen is also a fine listen.

    Depressing and sad aren't the order of this Friday the 13th, however, so I'll close with this gem, maybe the best 13-based song of all time.  Cue the Big Star:

    Rock and roll is here to stay.

    Let today be a day of good luck. Stop wishin' on bad luck and knockin' on wood, good people.   Make your own fortune, and wish well to your fellow gheorghies.

    Thursday, October 12, 2017