Monday, December 31, 2007

The 2007 Gheorghe List: Top 10 Movies

We're bored, we're broke, and we're back. Like every other Tom, Dick, and Harry, we're celebrating the impending new year with our look back at 2007's best. Without further ado, here are G:TB's Top 10 movies of 2007*, in no particular order:

(* - Important note: we did not actually see any movies that were released in 2007, owing to a combination of laziness, preference for dining and/or drinking out over the cinema, and the rising cost of babysitters. This list is compiled from television advertisements and online trailers.)

I Am Legend. We're suckers for end of times fables. Also, we'd like to be able to hit a golf ball off a building into Manhattan traffic.

No Country for Old Men.
This was a terrific book, so we assume that it was an equally compelling film. Anton Chigurh is a bad mother shutyourmouth.

We went to college with Patton Oswalt. Didn't know him, but have friends that did. Additionally, we're huge cartoon rat fans.

Smokin' Aces.
Lots of stuff blowing up and bullets flying everywhere as allegory for the uncertainty of modern living. A neoclassical gem. Has Piven in it, too.

Black Snake Moan. Sam Jackson ties a scantily clad Christina Ricci to a radiator? Sign me up. Um, rather, a deeply felt meditation on the interplay between class, sex and race in the American South. Sign me up.

Part videogame, part war porn, all shiny and pretty.

Knocked Up
Seth Rogen, Everyman Hero.

Ocean's Thirteen.
G:TB loves a good caper. And Clooney and Pitt together again? Mmwah.

The Jane Austen Book Club.
Just kidding.

I Think I Love My Wife.
Don't we all. Also, just kidding. Again.

The Kingdom.
Boom! Bang! Pow!

Next up, G:TB's slighly more serious and better researched look at the 2007's best music.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Mele Kalikimaka Gheorghe's way to say Merry Christmas, a very merry Christmas, to you. As the great Bing Crosby sang (in between backhanding his children), Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say on a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day. Rob, here's hoping after all these years you finally got that Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Math is Hard

G:TB is generally concerned with the critical topics of our time, like ensuring that TJ gets enough beauty sleep and merrily skewering people far more famous than us. But every once in a while we come across a nugget of real-world import that strikes our fancy. Ruminate on this:

You save more fuel switching from a 15 to 18 mpg car than switching from a 50 to 100 mpg car.

Don't believe it? Check out the math here. This is really reassuring. We don't have to go get that Prius now when our Durango shuffles off this mortal sparkplug. We can get by with another SUV that gets thismuch better mileage and still look Al Gore in the eye.

Friday, December 21, 2007

"Yeah They Come To Snuff The Rooster"

Yeah Here Come The Rooster...
You Know He Ain't Gonna Die...

Sure, I'm in Hawaii so I have nothing to bitch about, but let's just say I have an observation of annoyance. Does that work for you? Does that even make sense? This is the little asshat that wakes me up every morning at 7:25am. I hate him so very very much (even more than James Rome and Skippy Bayless)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Get Well Soon, Baybee

The snarkosphere is in full throat this morning over yesterday’s announcement that Dick Vitale will be sidelined until at least February with a vocal cord ailment. Notwithstanding the irony of his malady, G:TB’s a little bit saddened by the turn of events.

We’re not particularly enamored of Dickie V and his shtick; frankly, we’re Bill Raftery guys. Vitale long ago jumped the shark, morphing from passionate hoops aficionado to shameless coach-stroking caricature. While we love college basketball, we admit that watching Vitale’s telecasts is a bit of a struggle.

Like nearly everything in our popular culture that reaches (and exceeds) the saturation point, backlash is inevitable. See Spears, Britney among many, many others. It’s easy for those of us in the blogosphere to merrily blast away at the icons of our age, and we suppose it makes us all feel just a little bit superior in some small way. But when we see With Leather (one of our favorites, generally speaking) post a headline that reads “I Hope It’s Cancer” in reference to Vitale’s illness, well, y’know, there are some bridges too far.

I don’t particularly like Dick Vitale’s game-calling anymore. I don’t enjoy the larger-than-the-game personality cult nonsense. But I’ll tell you this: I envy the man’s passion. Would that we could all enjoy our jobs as much as he clearly does his. Maybe that enjoyment would temper the knee-jerk need to tear down those that seem to be beating us on the “hey, life is great” scale.


Addendum: MGL's got a neat and personal Dickie V. story over at CAA:LAMM that underscores the passion side of the ledger.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

Roger, Over

(Formerly entitled "What's Our Vector, Victor?")

So the Mitchell Report, dismissed many moons ago as an impotent, meaningless investigation, has the baseball world turned on its ear today. Good for it.

The fans among us who take baseball a little too seriously -- not as just another channel to flip to between "Deal or No Deal" and "Quilting with the Stars" but as summertime fabric more intrinsic than madras cotton or boardshorts polyblend -- have been bemoaning the steroids skew at various volume levels for quite some time. That MLB finally, at long last, implemented a policy with some teeth was a start. Somewhere in the collective gut of the sport's most avid sentimental stakeholders, however, there continued to be a gnawing feeling every time an extended press conference was held to honor a (seemingly) steroid-addled player who'd just broken an age-old record or reached some lofty milestone.

We all have to blame the Cerberean beast that is baseball's front office, the player's union, and the owners for paving the way for just another concern to become this widespread plague on the game. And only the purest and least grounded among us can honestly condemn any baseball player of the last twenty years for falling prey to the temptation of performance-enhancing drugs. That said, there was still something unsettling about watching athletes accept accolades with big smiles, then fire glowering "How dare you, sir?" retorts to even the faintest suggestion of their use of illegal supplements -- when we all sort of knew deep down that it was probably an enormous, disgusting lie. Now that we know better, it takes every bit of internal strength not to fall into high-horse condescension and hypocritical aspersion casting.

I'm not sure I have enough of that internal strength.

The greatest revelation in the Mitchell Report is inarguably paragraph after paragraph of damning testimony about William Roger Clemens. The Rocket and his reputation, if not his Hall of Fame chances, suffered a serious kick in the ass yesterday, and if you believe the text of the report, that's a spot where he's undoubtedly already sore from syringe stickings.

[As an aside, I should have prefaced this post with one point. Obviously there could be misinformation in the Mitchell Report, but rather than make me follow the ESPN suit of attaching disclaimers at every possible turn ("allegedly he allegedly injected alleged steroids into his alleged buttocks"), I'm going with my opinion that most of what was printed is fact. We at Gheorghe will not be afraid to issue public apologies where they are warranted at a later date -- that's how we do things here.]

So Clemens gets tagged with perhaps the most damaging of the investigation's findings. And if you've followed his career on and off the field even a little bit, you'd have to say that his reflexive rebuttal was utterly predictable. Stern denial, an attempt to cast shadows on the other guy, even using the word "slander" to depict what's happening to him, and a clear portrayal of himself as the victim. At this point, you almost can't blame him. Like Bonds, he's way too far down that road to offer a mea culpa. Only someone of sinewy strong moral character could rebound from this extended misstep, and I'm reasonably sure he's not that guy.

Do yourself a favor: go back and re-read Bill Simmons' worthy piece from 6 or 7 years ago entitled "Is Clemens the Antichrist?" I've busted SportGuy's chops a bit over the years, but this a biased but brilliant article (one that had to have ESPN thinking, "That's precisely why we brought him on board") that offers a whole lot of fan's insight into who Roger Clemens really is. From what I think I know about Roger Clemens -- after rooting against him in October 1986 to watching college buddy Rob urge him on in the '88 and '90 playoffs to following along closely in the Cape summers of '91 and '93 to watching him bean Mike Piazza and the ensuing bat-throwing jackassery to reading the SportsGuy's take on him to just being a baseball fan and following the career of one of its biggest stars -- I simply cannot imagine who outside of Clemens' family and close friends actually believes one word of his denial. If you do, I tend to think you're not paying attention.

Roger, meet Barry. Barry, welcome Roger to the club. You two are peas in a pod from here on out.We're going to find out how much water the accusation of racism behind the public's hammering of Barry Bonds really holds. Roger Clemens deserves no less vilification than Barry; he's an unapologetic, self-serving prick by most accounts, and now he's a fellow cheater by at least one account. That's the thing about controversies like this: when you're an asshole for 20 years, it only takes one strand of purported evidence -- not even the kind that would hold up in any court of law -- for the masses to buy into it.

A lot of folks felt like Mark McGwire was one of the "good guys," the type of fellow that wouldn't betray the institution of baseball and its fans like that. That's why we went along with the preposterous notion that a bit of weight-lifting and some legal GNC supplements morphed him from that beanpole of 1987 into that gargantuan comic book beast of 1998. McGwire did Bonds & Clemens no favors. After his undoing before Congress, we felt burned and stupid, and a real cynicism crept into our heads. Plus, if SuperMac was doing it, instinctively we're sure that less savory characters in the game are doing the same thing, right? If a personality as enjoyable as McGwire was cast aside by Hall voters and general fans of the sport alike, what chance does a player who's largely disliked have?

As Simmons chronicles, Roger Clemens was slipping into an out-of-shape, vague facsimile of his former All-Star self in the early to mid-90's. DL stints were more frequent, his stats were ordinary, and there was reason for concern for the future. Then, after leaving the Sox, like Bonds -- and maybe even to a greater degree -- the Rocket had the parabola that soon became a wave with a serious late-career uptick. His numbers shot through the roof, the awards and acclaim came rushing back, and we're left with two concurrent thoughts:

1. It'd be hard to blame him but so much -- even the most selfless among us has an ego and a desire for increased financial comfort.
2. It seems to fit the pattern for performance-enhancing drug users. He probably did it.

If only there were an injectable form of "crunch time proficiency" or "shining in the clutch," it would've been even more drastic. As it was . . . not so much, Rajah. Oh, he still has his remarkable stats. Of course, another famous Clemens said that the three kinds of lies were "lies, damn lies, and statistics"; for this Clemens, I guess you can now put all three together to conclude his legacy.

It's almost a recipe for a tragic figure, except that as an unsympathetic one, Clemens doesn't qualify. Michael Eisner's best screenwriters could actually build a story around Mark McGwire: he's starting to fade from the stardom of that 49-HR rookie season, getting hurt more, going through a tough divorce, and the deadly combination of intense pressure and the utter availability of the easy way out appears . . . so he sells his soul, never to reclaim it until now, after the bombshell of the Mitchell Report, he comes out, tells all, and tearily begs forgiveness not from baseball's caretakers, they themselves culpable (if not sinister) forces, but by the legions of baseball's truest fans -- people who search, often in vain, for a humanity 'twixt the lines, both of the boxscore and the chalk. Fade to black, that's a wrap.

There's no such script for Clemens. We the writers can't possibly develop that character into one who resonates. As with Bonds, it's partly the fault of genes or upbringing -- he just isn't that likable a guy, which isn't his fault. The adulation of the fans and the millions upon millions of bucks don't help shrink swelled heads, either. But somewhere in everyone is the ability to give back, to offer gestures of gratitude and humility and think about the guy on the other side of things, and Roger Clemens seems incapable or unwilling to go to these lengths. Rajah, if you're wondering why you're getting the same bitter treatment that Barry Bonds got, don't. Just go on denying it and play out the lame string exactly as your harshest critics would have predicted.

All of this -- and it's gone on a bit, I apologize -- is to explain why this one-man jury has already, not 24 hours into post-Mitchell America, come back with a seemingly snap judgment of Guilty On All Charges for Roger Clemens. And done so almost gleefully. We talk about "karma" ad infinitum around here -- hell, we can't get through a VCU-W&M hoops game recap without invoking its use -- but this is a Family Size serving of its retribution. You're gonna starve the lion, you'd better keep the cage locked, and Brian McNamee just opened the cage while Roger wasn't looking. And I'll admit that I can't help feeling satisfied with the result, as inappropriate as it may be at this early juncture.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Better to Burn Out...the Demise of the G:TBCS

G:TB HQ has been inundated with calls and emails wondering what happened last weekend in the first round of the G:TBCS. We'd like to tell you - we really would. But just as we were set to go live with the first round results, we received a phone call from the 860. The voice on the other end of the line was muffled in an attempt to disguise the caller's identity, but we recorded the following exchange:

Caller: Is this G:TB?

G:TB: Yes. Who's this?

Caller: Nevermind who this is. Just consider me a voice of caution. It's not in your best interest to continue with your little playoff.

G:TB: Whatever.

Caller: It'd be a shame if something happened to your website. We know people. Just ask The Big Lead.

G:TB: Cowherd? Is that you, you douchebag?

We heard a few barely audible curses and then the line went dead. Within minutes, the phone rang again and the soft, sexy, and yet completely professional and exceedingly rational voice of Leanne Schreiber offered a rueful apology for anything that theoretically may or may nor have transpired in the preceding 10 minutes. Ms. Schreiber also pointed us to ESPN's College Football Playoff applet, which in addition to being really addictive and perhaps the best thing has ever done (after playing with it for a bit, imagine how much fun that would be on the field), also renders our little playoff absurdly redundant and Luddite.

In the end, the real culprit (in addition to the bullyboys at tWWL) is a complete lack of caring. We went from fully vimmed vigor regarding the stupid system to complete apathy in the space of 3 days. And, that, my friends, is the fault of the BCS. The only remaining game that matters in college football is still 26 days away. College hoops is on hiatus now, the NFL only plays one game on Saturday this weekend, and nobody cares about the NBA and NHL. The next 2 weeks are a sports dead zone. We'd still be talking about last week's games and making plans to spend all day Saturday stuffing our faces and getting grossly inebriated if there was a playoff. Instead, we're chasing Bobby Petrino's slime trail and digging through Les Miles' trash. A pox on all the NCAA's houses.


It's an utterly predictable turn of events, just like when my alma mater's football program went south just about the time I moved close by and re-dedicated myself to going to games and supporting them. Now that Gheorghe: The Blog has aggressively posited itself as a champion of Colonial Athletic Association basketball, the CAA has, for the moment, ceased to be anything worth following.

Here is the latest iteration of's "Mid-Major Top 10":
1. Xavier
2. Dayton
3. Butler
4. Saint Mary's
5. Rhode Island
6. BYU
7. Sam Houston State
8. Creighton
10. Kent State

The absence of any CAA programs is eye-catching, especially when you consider what George Mason was doing over Thanksgiving. Eye-catching but not unwarranted.

Rob proclaimed last week that the CAA would only be getting one team into the NCAA tournament. (It's far too early for such a definitive statement, but that's what our little buddy does. Early and definitive. Much more preferable to after the fact and vague.) I, however, maintain that there's still plenty of time for the conference to re-establish itself as a mid-major power. Okay, maybe not "plenty" of time, but there's time.

That said, it has to start now if we're going to be acutely interested in the last few contests of early March and inexplicably hanging on Clark Kellogg's every word around Selection Sunday. The next ten days or so feature a docket of regional match-ups between Colonial clubs and schools either above or below CAA level (Northeastern vs. BC; VCU vs. Longwood). The conference has fared decently thus far against programs of superior stature; its shortcomings, however, have been in the category of "bad losses." For every win over K-State, there have been two or three defeats to the likes of VMI, St. Francis, or Toledo. This week's going to feature many more games that the CAAers should win than should lose; how they squash these lesser squads will tell us whether the January 2 kick-off of full-on intra-conference play is just the commencement of an exhibition or really the making of a case for inclusion.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 10, 2007

That's an Unfortunate Choice of Words

From this morning, the following headline:

Scott Baio, Backstreet Boy get married

They've since changed it to read:

Scott Baio gets married, Backstreet Boy, too

But the damage was done, my friends, the damage was done.

I'm not certain which is the most interesting element of the story: the fact that Scott Baio and an unnamed Backstreet Boy are noteworthy enough to rate front-"page" mention on, or the recognition that we've got a subversive smarty-pants writing headlines for the news behemoth.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Ebirt Dog

The College of William & Mary Tribe has removed the two feathers from its athletic logos in accordance with the ruling from the think tank known as the NCAA. The snipping of the two feathers is uncannily symbolic of the emasculation of the college and its sports insignia. Myles Brand took us to get "tutored," as a Gary Larson dog once mocked, and what's left of the Tribe logo is as docile and sleepy as a fixed pup. Enjoy the results at right.

William & Mary replaces logo to remove feathers

Associated Press
© December 7, 2007


The College of William and Mary has a new logo that sheds the two feathers that made the NCAA deem its previous athletic logo offensive because of its stereotypical reference to American Indians.

The logo revealed Thursday updates the college's familiar "W&M" monogram and uses the school's more traditional colors of green and gold instead of the more recent green and yellow. The logo, in four similar designs, will be used not just by the athletic department but on business cards, stationary and other items.

In 2004, the NCAA began reviewing American Indian-themed mascots, nicknames and logos used by more than 30 schools to see if they could be considered "hostile and abusive."

Last year, the NCAA ruled that William and Mary could keep its Tribe nickname but could not display its athletic logo with feathers at NCAA championship events or host NCAA tournament games where the logo would be shown.

After the school lost an appeal, it turned to a committee including faculty, staff, students and alumni to develop a new design.

"The passing months have given us no greater esteem for the NCAA's misguided decision to prohibit the feathers in our past logo," President Gene R. Nichol said in a statement. But he said he was pleased with the new design.

The committee found that in addition to the athletic logo, there were 12 different marks registered as symbols representing the college, said Sam Sadler, vice president for student affairs and committee chairman.

Its goal was to comply with the NCAA ruling and pick a design that could bring consistency to the symbols, Sadler said.

The committee reviewed roughly 600 designs but kept coming back to one already in use: a "W" and "M" separated by an ampersand.

The committee enlisted Phoenix Design Works, a New York company with experience in designing school logos, for help in updating that design. Committee member Connie Desaulniers, a 1975 W&M graduate and noted Williamsburg artist, drew the smaller ampersand that is incorporated in the new design.

Hiring Phoenix cost about $7,000, paid for by private funds, school spokesman Brian Whitson said. He said he did not have an estimate for what it will cost to incorporate the new design across campus."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gheorghe Quotes the Classics, Vol. 3

"Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves." - Rudyard Kipling

Teejay posts YouTubes when he can't think of anything else. Me, I find quotes to justify my laziness. We all know what Whitney does, but everyone seems to be afraid to mention it in public.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

And Now for Something Completely Futile and Stupid: The G:TBCS

Like the salmon predictably return to Capistrano, the hue and cry comes from all corners of the blogosphere, no less plaintive for its annual repetition. The powers that be have delivered unto us a “national championship” game featuring the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Louisiana State Tigers, fine teams both. And, as has been the case for the past eight years, the United States of America, the world’s foremost meritocracy, settles the collegiate championship of its most emblematic and favorite sport by... well, hell, you know how they do it. You’re not a moron. Unless you think the BCS is a good way to crown a champion, in which case you’re probably not qualified to operate that computer in front of you. In fact, get the hell out of here. Go read Drudge or play in traffic or something. We don’t want your idiocy rubbing off on us.
We will not be making an argument in favor of a college football playoff system. The argument is self-evident. We’ve made it ad nauseum in weeks, months, and years past. We’re tired of heralding evolution to a bunch of creationists who don’t return our calls.

No, we won’t be making the argument. Instead of beating them, we’ll join them by putting on our own mythical national championship, making travel arrangements, lining the fields, turning on the lights and playing the games ourselves. If a contrived combination of computers, coaches (see Dan Steinberg’s outrageous outing of the asinine element of this portion of the process here), and “experts” is good enough for the NCAA, then a contrived combination of beer-addled, sophomoric, work-avoiding bloggers is also good enough for you.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we give you the G:TBCS – a 16-team, single-elimination tournament beginning this Friday, December 7th and culminating with a New Year’s Eve humdinger in the Big Easy.

We’ll make the selection process simple, so as not to confuse certain people from Indianapolis. The BCS Top 16 qualify, because it’s a whole lot easier and more defensible to keep the Brigham Youngs, Central Floridas, and Directional Michigans of the world out of the tournament than it is to select LSU over Oklahoma over Georgia over USC for a one-game shot at a title. (What, the Cougars are bitter? Cry me a river. Go beat Tulsa and UCLA and give us a call.) Seeding has been slightly modified to keep conference foes from squaring off in the first round, but generally kept intact. We didn’t want to hurt Mike Slive’s feelings.

Opening round games will be contested at the higher seed’s home stadium. The final seven games will be played at the sites of major bowls (Cotton, Gator, Citrus, Fiesta, Orange, Rose, and Sugar). If your bowl is named for a company, you don’t get to play. ESPN won’t televise the games because they’re scared of the NCAA, so we’ve got Kevin Smith producing the telecasts for us on our own podcast network (G:TP).

Without further ado, the committee is pleased to reveal the following matchups for the inaugural G:TBCS tournament:

Round 1 – December 7, 2007

Cotton Bowl Region
#16 Tennessee @ #1 Ohio State, 7:00 EST
Right off the bat, a chance for the Big 10 champions to justify their lofty perch against the SEC’s 4th-best team.

#9 West Virginia @ #8 Kansas, 10:00 EST
Can the upstart Jayhawks shake off their Border War bed-wetting? Has Rich Rodriguez stopped crying?

Round 1 – December 8, 2007

Gator Bowl Region
#14 Boston College @ #5 Georgia, 12:00 EST
Much-touted Bulldogs take on overachieving Eagles between the hedges.

#12 Florida @ #4 Oklahoma, 8:00 EST
On paper, the best game of the first round – a whole shit-ton of ath-a-leets flying around the field. We can’t wait to watch this one.

Fiesta Bowl Region
#13 Illinois @ #3 Virginia Tech, 6:00 EST
Hokies looking for another shot at LSU. Nobody’s really sure why. Meanwhile, America readies for the possibility of one of the greatest back-stories imaginable.

#11 Arizona State @ #6 Missouri, 2:00 EST
Two vastly overrated squads square off for a trip to the final of the tournament’s weakest region. Lest you cite this as an argument against the tourney format, I commend to you the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament first round.

Citrus Bowl Region
#15 Clemson @ #2 LSU, 4:00 EST
Tiger against Tiger, Death Valley against Death Valley, one really good team against Clemson.

#10 Hawaii @ #7 Southern California, 10:00 EST
Cinderella Warriors channeling Harbaugh against heavily favored (and controversially seeded) Trojans.

Quarterfinals – December 14, 2007
Cotton Bowl Region: 16/1 Winner vs. 9/8 Winner @ Dallas, TX 12:00 EST

Quarterfinals – December 15, 2007
Gator Bowl Region: 14/5 Winner vs. 12/4 Winner @ Jacksonville, FL 8:00 EST
Fiesta Bowl Region: 11/6 Winner vs. 13/3 Winner @ Glendale, AZ 4:30 EST
Citrus Bowl Region: 10/7 Winner vs. 15/2 Winner @ Orlando, FL 8:30 EST

Semifinals – December 22, 2007
Cotton Bowl Winner vs. Gator Bowl Winner @ Miami, FL 5:00 EST
Fiesta Bowl Winner vs. Citrus Winner @ Pasadena, CA 8:30 EST

Championship Game – December 31, 2007
Cotton/Gator Winner vs. Fiesta/Citrus Winner @ New Orleans, LA 8:30 EST

Stay tuned for pregame festivities, filmed live on Friday morning from G:TBCS headquarters -- that's G:TBCSHQ to you -- in Leesfolkington, VA. (Have I mentioned that our sponsor is AT&T?) We may not have Erin Andrews, but Teejay looks pretty spiffy in a housecoat.

Finally, a championship of the people, by the people, for the people. Enjoy, people.