Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas, Day Twelve

On the twelfth day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Twelve Appreciations ♫
Eleven Drinks and Rambling
(Way More Than) Ten Highlights
Nine Clips You Tubing
Eight Men A Milking
Seven Balls A-Bouncin' (ngs)
Six Rules Worth Knowing
Five Golden Rings
Four-gone Conclusions
Three Saluki Tallies
Two Recurring Features
And a Doofus Dancing (hee, hee)

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas, Volume II, has included a couple of posts that mirrored ones from last year’s G-mas. With 2009 on the heavy wane, I’ll add another – a new batch of the things I have appreciated and enjoyed over the past 365, as once again set to the backdrop of my favorite songs released this year.

[Last year I employed a cool, new website to enable you to hear the tunes with the click of a button. At least one of the bands I highlighted let it be known that doing so was a copyright violation, so to save G:TB’s legal counsel some trouble, I won’t do that again. Where available, I’ve linked the songs, but for most of them, if you want to hear them in toto, I’d go to, enter them into the search bar, and listen. (Related true story: Toto’s “Rosanna” was written about Rosanna Arquette. Check it out.)]

It was a superb year in music, at least according to this guy. Seemed to start slowly, but by year’s end, I had a lot of trouble paring the list of my ’09 favorites down to fit on one CD. As always, please continue to share your own recommendations for new music in the comments of Gheorghe.

On a personal note, it was not such a superb year in my life. Without delving into too much Dear Diary detail, a good woman and I parted ways last winter, and nothing’s quite been the same in my life, for better or for worse. As more than one of you can attest to, such life-changing events leave a scar. As the parents among the G:TB family can attest to, preserving the peace in little ones’ lives is a daily battle. Put those elements together, and the quest for the elusive grail that’s known as “happiness” can be of Arthurian proportions. Fortunately, I have a mantra that appears before me on regular visits: “life would be better if we all took ourselves a little less seriously.” And I do. As such, it’s been easier to appreciate the good things in 2009 than ever before.

And away we go…

Madness, “That Close”
Cracker, “Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey”
I love the Washington Redskins. I love the New York Mets. Both franchises seem to enjoy punishing me for such sentiments lately. Though the ‘Skins have been yanked off local TV (see the comments from the last post), I’ll find a way to give their ’09 campaign the Viking funeral it deserves. Bleakness abound in both of my favorite teams’ camps. But out of nowhere, the College of William & Mary in Virginia’s athletic programs have proven an unlikely salve to my ocular agony. First, the Tribe football team comes “that close” to moving to the I-AA championship, winning a lot of good ballgames along the way. Second, the men’s hoops program has risen from the asses and . . . well, I won’t count any chickens, but we’ve garnered more entertainment out of 11 games this season than in that many seasons during the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s the land of milk and honey when all was getting pretty sour in my world.

Similarly, just when I was lamenting the early-year dearth of top-shelf musical releases, out of absolutely nowhere came my two favorite albums of 2009. Cracker’s been one of my top bands for 15 years, and I’ve always dug what Madness did in the 80’s, but I have to say I didn’t see either of these coming. Start to finish great records, what little press both bands are getting for them has been high praise. Of note is that neither has an obvious single to point to as the best song, and the songs I selected, while my favorites, aren’t highlighted in any review I’ve read. Cracker is kick-ass guitar rock, Madness is hooky Brit-ska-pop. Just like you remember.

Gordon Gano & the Ryans, “Hired Gun”
We also got introduced to some new music by G:TB’s latest hired gun, the Z-man. Zoltron Zoltan, Esquire, joined the force this year and brought a deeper shade of soul to our airwaves. If nothing else, he helped us rewrite the Gheorghe record books for posts in one year. We also got some excellent commentary out of Dan, who stopped lurking and came out to play, Timmy Marls, the Wheelies, and a slew of other readers. To say we appreciate everyone playing along with our inanity is an understatement.

Grizzly Bear, “Two Weeks”
Two weeks is roughly what Rob and I ballparked for the shelf-life of first little blog concept, a baseball-themed endeavor called Misery Loves Company. After seven years, Rob is writing MLC’s obit today, as we ran our course and then some over there. It was a good run while it lasted, and more pertinently, our ability to actually see it through paved the way for Gheorghe: The Blog to get out of Rob’s head and into the ’sphere. RIP, MLC.

Elvis Perkins In Dearland, “Shampoo”
Here’s to technology bettering my listening pleasure. Yep, there are dozens of salutes to the decade’s electronic advances in your local ragsheets this week, but for me personally, it can be summed up succinctly by this song. I went to eMusic, where I have a monthly membership. The site recommended this artist based on my previous downloads. I snagged a few tunes based on reader reviews and ratings. I threw the iPod on shuffle, and out of 24,000, this one came up along the way. Played it again, and then again. One of my most listened tunes of the year, and no way does it reach me without Gates, Jobs, and their ilk working a lot harder than I do. Thanks.

The Avett Brothers, “Kick Drum Heart”
Wilco, “I'll Fight”
Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, “Nikorette”
Ryan Bingham, “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So”
U2, “No Line On The Horizon”
I mentioned this one last year, and I’m glad to reiterate it: live music makes me happy. Seeing Wilco always brings it, but seeing them with Rob and other friends at Wolf Trap and having them unearth my favorite tune of theirs on a drunken Wednesday night? Yeah. Seeing the unheralded Ryan Bingham in a tiny bar? Seeing the Avett Brothers in a small local opera house?? Seeing U2 for the first time, and having general admission field passes? Seeing Devo?? It was all great. Social Distortion, Band of Horses, Drive-By Truckers, Indecision, Cracker, and everyone we saw at JazzFest. I don’t think I have anything on the docket yet for 2010, but in due time . . .

Levon Helm, “Growin' Trade”
It's my thought that Levon is telling us what ever became of Virgil Caine with this track off his fantastic new record. The song tells the story of a farmer who’s had to adjust to these tough times by growing the Teej Tobacco. I heartily endorse Levon Helm’s new stuff, and I heartily enjoy the other stuff, and whatever you do to get you through these days and nights and put a smile on your face.

Neko Case, “Red Tide”
M. Ward, “Never Had Nobody Like You”
Ladies, we still greatly appreciate your presence here. Official G:TB Sweetheart Shlara, KQ, Sammy, guys posing as their girlfriends/wives, and any other female who invades our Zeke Mowatt locker room here. (Especially you lurking ladies afraid to make your presence felt . . . and you know who you are.) Stick around, won’t you?

Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, “Cool Yourself”
I appreciate that not every person who went to William & Mary is a total wiener. Thriller dances, he-she HC queen, and dweeby photos notwithstanding.

Greasetruck, “The Bear
Ned Henry, “20”
I'm really impressed by the continued creativity of my friends. Dave churned out his aural madness once again – topping out with “The Bear,” one of my favorite songs by anyone all year. My high school friend Ned put out a song based on last year’s 20-year reunion; it mentioned my receding hairline and my drinking problem, and I still really dig it. And the Idiots’ latest anthem . . . which, as I reflect, has the same characteristics as baseball and myself in the way Mark insulted us, but one which amuses me nonetheless. I have a picture in my dining room that Rob painted this year. And I have a blog to read every day where friends of mine contribute their time and effort voluntarily without any sort of compensation beyond mutual enjoyment. Pretty cool.

Dave Matthews Band, “Funny the Way It Is”
The Lord works in mysterious ways, so they say. Along the road of this somewhat trying year, whenever I even came close to feeling sorry for myself, I got steady doses of what real life pain really is – not mine, but my friends’. If the big picture ever clouded, if I ever dared to bemoan the pecuniary problems, living conditions, or missing my little ones that my actions had caused, within a very short time I’d hear about people I care about going through much more grueling stuff. Like fathers coming home from the doc with grave news, or parents passing in the night, or children with real problems. The stuff of adult tears. Lost jobs with no prospects. Moving out of residences, not by choice. Real life leaving a mark. And while I won’t dismiss my struggles lightly, I know them to be transitory in nature, and I have been steadily reminded what very good friends are around every corner (or in the corner bar). So I don't get to be bummed out for very long, ever. Funny the way it is.

Animal Collective, “My Girls”
Last year I referenced my two daughters, if only to mention how I wouldn’t discuss them in this forum. I’ll go contrary this year – but keep it uncharacteristically brief. I appreciate my two little angels in a way I don’t disclose often enough. There is nothing in this world that comes close to motivating me like they do, and I expect that will be the case for all my days. Here’s hoping you all have someone or something to bring the joy like that, and if you don’t yet, get on about finding it. Okay . . . enough sappiness, and back to your regularly scheduled dipshittery (one of my favorite new G:TB expressions; thank you, Rob).

[I also really, really love pints of Guinness, Tortuga’s Lie, Jameson on the rocks, old episodes of “Cheers,” baseball, 70’s Bush, old clips of Dr. J, Dale’s in the can, Sandra Bullock in the can, rampant juvenilia, a noontime buzz, and good rock ‘n’ roll. Those things may be more appropriate to appreciate here.]

Heartless Bastards, “The Mountain”
7 Worlds Collide, “Too Blue”
I very much appreciate – in advance – the Gheorghe: The Blog Summit of 2010. It’s on. I’ll be your cruise director, and I’ll be in touch. Get fired up. And once again let me give kudos and thanks to the merry band of assclowns that makes up the G:TB roster. 394 posts is nothing to sneeze at, however you populate them; the amusingly asinine ramblings that comprise our last 365 days, though, will keep us coming back for more. Keep it up, lads . . . using whatever pills you need to do so.

The National, “So Far Around the Bend”
White Rabbits, “Percussion Gun”
Bloodkin, “A Place to Crash”
Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, “Sunstroke”
The xx, “Crystalised”
Tina Dico, “No Time to Sleep”
Pearl Jam, “Got Some”
These songs didn’t fit into my 12 appreciations, but they’re good. Enough said.

Favorite albums: Cracker (Sunrise in the Land of Milk & Honey), Madness (The Liberty of Norton Folgate), The Avett Brothers (I and Love and You – which was very good, but which I didn’t enjoy as much as Emotionalism, or as much as the mainstream critics praised it), Levon Helm (Electric Dirt), Neko Case (Middle Cyclone), Random Idiots (VH-1’s Behind the Music video), U2 (No Line on the Horizon), Nirvana (Live at Reading), the compilation Dark Was the Night.

Well, that finishes off 2009 for me. Here’s to a fantastic 2010 just a matter of hours away. Cheers, and to all a good night.

That Just Happened. Again.

Maybe there will be a time when it doesn't feel this way. Maybe we'll become just like students/alums/fans of 'normal' major college athletic programs who enjoy their big road wins as part of the regular course of events, rather than celebrate them as precious Faberge moments. Until that happens, though, you'll just have to indulge us.

William and Mary went to College Park last night and thoroughly beat the Maryland Terrapins, 83-77. This wasn't a fluke, and it wasn't a gimmick. The Tribe shot 47.2% from the field, made 25 of 31 free throws, valued the basketball (only 10 turnovers), and competed on the boards (the bigger, more athletic Terps outrebounded the Tribe, 37-35).

As it is so many times, attitude was as important as numbers. From the tip (point of confession: this sentence should read, 'From the 12-minute mark of the first half...', as a combination of Tysons Corner trafficlusterfuck and Shlara's directional skills got us to the Comcast Center a few minutes late.), W&M looked like they belonged. And once Maryland realized the Tribe wasn't going away, the Terps sagged. I've rarely seen a more textbook illustration of the value of team over individual. Tony Shaver's boys routinely and repeatedly made the extra pass, rotated correctly on defense, and patiently ran their offense until they got a good look. The Terps, meanwhile, continually tried to break down W&M's zone, throwing up off-balance runners and ill-advised jumpers. Maryland's press lacked intensity, allowing easy pass after easy pass after the ball was inbounded - it was only when the Terps ratcheted up their energy level far too late in the game that they succeeded in turning the Tribe over.

W&M led by 16 with 6 minutes left, at which point Maryland's fans left the building in droves and their players hung their heads in defeat. A late run triggered by better defense and a few missed free throws made things interesting, but only just. Allow me to emphasize this: the better team won last night. Sophomore Quinn McDowell tallied 28 points on 8-14 shooting (9-9 from the line), David Schneider overcame a bad shooting night by flying all over the floor on defense to make several critical hustle plays, Danny Sumner kept the Tribe in the game in the early going and finished with 17, and Marcus Kitts hammered home a pair of dunks to break Maryland's spirit late in the second half. Contributions came from all over the place against a Terps team that was hell-bent on making individual plays.

(Note that we've maintained the G:TB tradition of taking blurry, grainy photos at W&M basketball games. That's Shlara on the left for those of you unfamiliar with our lady friend. KQ wouldn't let us photograph her - something about french fries.)

The 9-2 Tribe enters the meat of the conference schedule on a 9-game winning streak, traveling to Hofstra on Saturday (when they might...might be in the AP Top 25 - wrap your mind grapes around that, sports fans). Shlara, KQ, and my friend Dylan are on notice that we'll be required to keep traveling with the squad until they lose a game in our presence. As terrific as they've played in the non-con run-up, it won't mean much if they don't keep it up in what will be a very competitive CAA. They'll lose a few ugly ones when the three isn't falling, but I'm convinced now (finally) that the Tribe can play with anyone in the league.

I'd be more than willing to stop talking about the absurdity of big W&M wins, but maybe the Tribe can get a few more of them this season so I can ease out of the habit.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Eleventh Day of Gheorghe-mas: 11 drinks and rambling...

On the eleventh day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Eleven Drinks and Rambling
(Way More Than) Ten Highlights
Nine Clips You Tubing
Eight Men A Milking
Seven Balls A-Bouncin' (ngs)
Six Rules Worth Knowing
Five Golden Rings
Four-gone Conclusions
Three Saluki Tallies
Two Recurring Features
And a Doofus Dancing (hee, hee)

The approach of a New Year always leaves me in the mood to want to take stock of my life. To really sit down and take a look at the things I've said and done over the past year. Actually, that's not true. That's just an intro I made up for this post because I didn't have enough time to finish the post I had originally planned. Fear not, I'll get that post done at some point in the near future. However, I didn't want my busy schedule (read: alcoholism) to keep the rest of G:TB from being able to put a nice tidy bow on 2009 by finishing the 12 Days of Gheorghemas. So, with that in mind, I have decided to go ahead with a post that I was slowly working on over the holidays. It's the long awaited return of my multi-sport ramblings. These are, as always, in no particular order and are, likely, interesting to nobody but me.

- I may have mentioned this before, but I've rarely been as wrong about the NBA prospects of somebody as I was about Carl Landry. The guy's really, really good. We're talking possibly better than Paul Millsap here (which makes him the class of the suddenly effective and popular crop of scrappy, undersized PFs who currently litter the NBA landscape). Not sure how I missed so badly on him. I'm thinking its the combination of my bias against undersized power forwards and my bias against Big 10 basketball.

- While I'm talking about guys I missed on, I really really missed on Tyreke Evans. I first saw Evans play in high school and immediately hated him. He dribbled too much, he didn't involve his teammates and his jump shot was so ugly even Bill Cartwright had to look away. Even after a stellar finish to his freshman year at Memphis I remained unsold. Well, now he's putting up huge numbers for an overachieving Sacramento team and is killing it for my fantasy team to the tune of 25/5/5. Ridiculous. I was right about one thing though. He's not a PG, not even close. He's a less athletic Jerry Stackhouse with a better handle. Which,
ultimately, makes him more effective than Stack because he can create a shot for himself (or a teammate) at any time. If he can straighten out his jumpshot he could be a perennial All-Star.

- Oh, TJ wanted me to remind everyone that Joakim Noah is currently 3rd in the NBA in rebounding. TJ loves that guy.

- You who had a bold prediction that turned out great? The Wheelhome's own Jerry Flantastico. Earlier this year he tabbed Robert Meachem as a "super sleeper" in fantasy football. How right you were Jerry. If you had Meachem during the second half of this season, I'm betting he won you at least 2 games with his proclivity for multiple TD games.

- Not many people are talking about it because the Raptors are terrible (and in Canada) but Chris Bosh is having a monster season. At least Torontonians will have something to remember him by when he's averaging a double-double in Miami next season.

- I was watching those Raptors a few nights ago when I realized I had no idea who one of their players were. Now, this is extremely rare for me. I can not only pick out every player on the floor but (usually) tell you where they went to college/high school/etc. However, I couldn't figure this guy out at all. Then, he got fouled and went to the line. It was none other than Summer League legend Marco Bellinelli. Good God has that guy gotten swarthy over the last couple of years. I'd bet good money that guy has a scarf collection to rival the hat/shoe collection of any other NBA player (A roster full of guys like this is one of the many reasons the Raptors are awful).

- Fun fact: Okay, it's not really fun but it will probably blow your mind. Jerry Sloan has been coaching the Utah Jazz a year longer than the Orlando Magic franchise has been in existence. Jerry Sloan also thinks you're a no good slacker who needs a haircut, a good solid shave with a straight razor, and a second job.

- If you caught Rob's 'Year in Review' you know that he thinks I know an awful lot about professional basketball. That's good, because I think I do too. I am, after all the guy who (before the draft) told anyone who would listen that Michael Beasley was a SF in the NBA. You know, because he's 6'8" and all. Well, guess what? Yep, he's starting at SF and doing quite well these days. So, with that said, I'd like to take this time to give the Portland Trailblazers some advice:

Brandon Roy is your PG. Stop fighting it. He handles the ball exclusively in crunch time and is generally much more effective when operating with the ball in his hands. His handle, size, creativity and unselfish nature have conspired to make this the case since virtually his first day in the league (Even going back to Washington, he was often the PG especially late in games). So, stop trying to make him play with average PGs who should be coming off the bench (Steve Blake) or PGs who have to have the ball in their hands to be effective because of style of play and/or a limited offensive game (Andre Miller) and just make him your full time PG. Take Jerryd Bayless (who's been killing it since he started to garner major minutes in mid-December) and insert him at the 2. He can guard PGs and Roy can guard 2s. Now you have two young, athletic guards who can play together and you can build around them. You should've never signed Andre Miller in the first place so stop trying to justify it. He and Roy don't play well together and don't like playing with each other. This is not going to change. Accept it and move on.

- Did you know that Jonathan Bender (he of the McDonald's All-American game scoring record) was back in the NBA? I sure as hell didn't. Shit, I doubt anyone other than TR did. But there he was, suited up for the Knicks just a few days ago. This begs one question: Does Donnie Walsh have a room full of dead horses that he goes into periodically and hits with baseball bats?

- I, like many males in my generation, grew up collecting baseball cards. For a while there, I was pretty into it too. Collecting rookie cards from guys like Rickey Henderson, Mike Schmidt, Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey and plenty of others. I also managed to acquire some very valuable cards featuring guys like Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Harmon Killebrew and others. I also happened to hear many men in my father's generation bemoan the fact that their mother's had given their cards away and how much money they'd have in those cards if they still had them. Naturally, I decided that this wouldn't be me and I would hold on to my cards as I grew older. I even stored them in a fireproof cabinet for a number of years. Well, wouldn't you know it...the bottom fell out of the sports card business a few years back and even the cards I own that are still worth money are nearly fucking impossible to sell.

Yet another in a long line of reasons why baseball fucking suck goat balls. Thanks a lot Doubleday. You syphilitic prick.

- That little rant reminded me of something I thought of earlier. Baseball is eerily similar to Whitney. Old, full of itself, prone to long, annoying stories about itself that nobody cares to hear, and completely fucking useless.

- Not to get all Bill Mahrer here but I have a new rule: Nobody is the Mariano Rivera of anything, except for Mariano Rivera. No football player, no basketball player, nothing. Unless you can show me somebody who ONLY plays the last 20-23% of a game and is brought in cold to close out said game, kindly shut the fuck up.

- One last thing: I hate hearing people bitch about their cable providers as much as anyone I know but I'd like to issue a heartfelt "Fuck you, eat my shit" to Brighthouse Networks for not renewing their contract with Fox. Yes, Fox. Not the MLB network or the NFL network or even MSNBC. No, Fox. The company who'll be broadcasting approximately 30 football games over the next two months. Am I supposed to just live in fucking bar from now on you assholes? DirecTV just got a new customer, you fucking soulless cum guzzlers.

GM Recalls 22,000 Corvettes...

...due to leaky roofs.

In a related note, the state of New Jersey is creaking to a halt. However, owners of Firebirds with T-tops are breathing a huge sigh of relief as they head to the gym to wail on their pecs.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas, Day Ten

On the tenth day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

(Way More Than) Ten Highlights

Nine Clips You Tubing
Eight Men A Milking
Seven Balls A-Bouncin' (ngs)
Six Rules Worth Knowing
Five Golden Rings
Four-gone Conclusions
Three Saluki Tallies
Two Recurring Features
And a Doofus Dancing (hee, hee)

For a great many of our fellow Americans, 2009 was a series of groin punches punctuated by the occasional wedgie. I think we’re in general agreement that the sooner we can flush this thoroughly dismal annum down the commode of time, the better. In spite of this general societal gloom, however, Team Gheorghe: The Blog managed to churn out some of the internet’s highest quantity (a record number of posts for this august group) filler, muppet films, and dipshittery. In our own small way, we more than did our part in helping a depressed people smile, if only in pity at our stunted maturity.

Of note, these were some of the stories Gheorghe: The Blog brought you in 2009.

We’ve been on a Wrenpage since 2007, cajoling, pleading, and whining in a futile (or so we thought) effort to convince William & Mary to adopt the Fighting Wren as its mascot. A great many words were spilled this year on behalf of our quixotic quest, and just weeks ago we found out that the Wren had survived to the final round of W&M’s mascot search. This is among the proudest moments of our 6+ years.

Remember, hate makes people stupid.

TR dropped science way back in February, revealing the Top 10 Barrys of all-time.

The first annual Cauc Hop caught the attention of the masses, then lost it. Unlike most of our efforts, this one actually concluded.

Whitney recounted our staff trip to JazzFest 2009. The glow has still not really worn off. Nor have the brain cells regenerated.

In April, a group of W&M students set the world record for largest performance of Thriller. Whitest, least coordinated, most grimace-inducing, as well. Whitney was there to report on it.

Shlara had a banner year, penning a handful of guest posts and brokering one of the most unexpected and ridiculously sublime events in GTB history. She didn’t have such great insight into the NCAA Basketball title game, however.

Dave grew a much better mustache than any of the rest of us.

TR wasn’t the most prolific posters, but when inspiration struck him in 2009, it usually struck him hard. His rant against the creeping threat of the apostrophe was one of the year’s most memorable efforts.

Consecutive posts in August highlighted the breadth of the G:TB oeuvre in letter-perfect fashion. In the first, we interviewed LeBron James and his high school friends. And in the second, Teejay went to the Indiana State Fair, ate over 11 pounds of fried food and lived to tell about it.

John Hughes died, and in his honor, Whitney cast each member of the editorial staff in a Hughes film.

Speaking of Whitney, he really, really hates Mike Love. Just don’t ask him to explain why in a concise fashion.

Dave expanded our horizons, expanded our parameters, expanded the rhymes of sucker MC amateurs. He also gave us what was unquestionably the internet's most bizarrely literary post of the year.

Tribe 26, UVA 14.

Whitney did nothing to dispel his reputation for annoying intellectual elitism.

New staff member (and half of the fabled Z-man and the Teej morning radio show) Zoltan wrote the most words on the Bills in the history of the franchise. Twice.

Mark proved once again that he knows more about college basketball, college football, and the NBA than the rest of the staff combined. (Also, pitbulls and white trash narcotics). He loves these sports, perhaps too much.

Z-man also turned in a phenomenal takedown of Andre Agassi in the wake of the release of the latter’s autobiography.

Dennis came out of the closet.

Rob interrupted our regularly scheduled dipshittery for what might have been the year’s only serious post. It doesn’t happen often.

Whitney found our yearbook photos.

Teejay had to get on an airplane to find us gifts.

Two words: Flying Squirrels!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

The Cliff's Notes version of our favorite Christmas movie. Enjoy, but not if your kids, parents, or colleagues are nearby.

Twenty Grades Inflating

Perhaps things have changed in Williamsburg, but I doubt it. Although my memories of college are scant (similar to the scenario in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I erased most of my sophomore year . . . instead of that foil helmet, I used the Mickey's bigmouth) but one thing I am certain of is this: I was better looking than 95% of the girls on campus. My friends were hot as well (we're talking Whitney with hair, and Rob Russell was six foot one back then). I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say that every girl I hooked up with in college was not only uglier than me , but they weighed more as well. I was svelte. I had hair on my head. I did not have hair on my back (but many of the women I fondled did). The situation was grim, but thank goodness, there wasn't much of a drug scene at William and Mary back then, or I would have turned to it. The lack of lovely ladies would have led to addiction and worse.

College Prowler reports otherwise. This is a site one of my students told me about: it gives colleges extensive report cards, and in many areas well beyond the academic. You can check out William and Mary's grades here. I am extremely wary of these, though-- perhaps the reviews are biased because the ratings come from students of the college . . . it's like the scene in When a Stranger Calls . . . the reviews are coming from inside Yates. So when they give the drug scene an "A," it makes me wonder. And when they rate the guys a "B" and the girls a "B+" it makes me downright angry. Just look at the image above; William is so much hotter than Mary (and it appears that this year's homecoming queen was a pretty homely representation of both genders). But, of course, things may have changed. I should have an open mind, and remain optimistic about the scene in the 'burg, except that the last grade is for weather. I am guessing that this has not changed (or if it has, it's for the worse) yet it earns a "B." This for a place that gets no sea breeze, is ALWAYS humid (unless it's raining) and doesn't get cold enough for any real snow accumulation. Poison ivy and mosquitoes thrive. If this is "B" weather, then what warrants "C"? Death Valley? My anus? When I was at William and Mary, a "C" was an honorable grade, but it seems this is true no longer. The grade inflation of the Ivy Leagues has reared its ugly head.

To further this report, I will embark on Gheorghe's first gonzo reporting mission. You won't hear from me for a while, as am I am dying my hair and going back to my old school for four more years. Like this guy . . .

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So This is Christmas

Because what says Christmas Eve better than a borderline insane and unquestionably brilliant Scotsman on a freestyle bike. This one had me and my kids unabashedly shouting 'whoa!' for half an hour last night.


Apologies for commandeering some of Rob's space here, but given Sports Machine George Michael's passing and the mention of his colleague Jim Vance in the previous post comments, here's a fun clip from those two...

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas: Day Nine

If ever there was a day to do a post with about a hundred YouTube clips, it's today. I have no earthly idea why I am even at work today, so I can at least take solace in wasting countless minutes watching the editorial staff submissions for G-Mas Day 9. Enough blabbering, prepare to hit play...

From the Tiny Dictator:

Whit went with some clips previously seen here at G:TB, but they are classics nonetheless:

From the Z-Man:

Mark made the mistake of kinda leaving it up to yeah, he gets this gem:

Dennis failed to make a submission, so I took a shot in the dark and decided to run with this:

I think it's only fair I get to add one:

And let's close these proceedings in the most dramatic way ever:

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas: On The 8th Day....

On the eighth day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Eight Men A Milking
Five Golden RingsFour-gone

The paralyzing effect of milk in our culture has gone unmeasured for way too long. So, we thought it would be time here at G:TB to continue not measuring it. People love it. People despise it. They need it in their coffee, they love it in their oatmeal, put it anywhere near their tea and they’ll chop your legs off. Take a quick trip to the local grocer on the eve of a winter blizzard to see what I mean. In 30 minutes you'll find emotions ranging from paranoia to complacency to revolution – and that’s just in the parking lot. If you’re lucky enough to make it
to the refrigerated section, you’re in for a real treat.

Our commitment to la leche league here is well documented...but, based on some coarse winter field studies, what becomes of these poor weened souls post-latch is at best comical and at worst horrifying. The desire for nature's nectar has become somewhat akin to a rabid dog tasting chicken blood for the first time. Thankfully, as with any good capitalist society, we've managed to temper that thirst with a range of products so mind numbing it's as if you've buried your head in a snow drift. It's an awful lot like this blog really; more specifically the men who write it. You may have had a sip before, but there comes such an insatiable craving, that the only satisfying solution is an offering of tastes so indecipherable that if you came here just thirsty enough you'll assume you've had something you liked when you left. If we were milk products, well that would be disgusting. But, if we'd have the following 8-man blog dairy section:

Rob aka "1%" - You may think it's a reference to his height percentile, but really it's the amount of brain capacity needed to beat you in a game of chess. Unless he's playing Swint, at which point you can call him 2%.

Whitney aka "Organic" - Always tries to keep it real, nobody really knows if he's full of shit, and rubs it in your face if you pick anything else (not the shit, that would also be disgusting; your ignorance I mean).

TJ aka "Heavy Whipping Cream" aka "HWC" aka "H-Dub" - From cupcake icing to a fine lobster bisque, accept no substitute.

Dennis aka "Skim" - Fits the build, plus it's the only one you should be drinking anyway.

Mark aka "Half and Half" - You thought he was going to be "chocolate milk" didn't you? Keeping G:TB's street cred 100 percent correct 50 percent of the time since 2008...

TR aka "Whole" - If you get any of TR, you get all of TR.

Dave aka "1/2 %" - Depending on what year it is and/or how developed your town is, this is the one for you. And yes, there is in fact a half percent milk. It's not a myth.

Zoltan aka "Lactaid" - Sometimes it's all you can tolerate, but you've got to have something right?...And if you've ever seen Zoltan's nipples lactating, well then you've seen everything.

And since it's the season of giving, you can call the Wheelhouse "Goat's Milk" - it sounds fancy, but really just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And it's the best nickname ever.

Happy Holidays!

Steps for Success: Navigating Your Company's Open Bar Holiday Party

If you are like me, you are well into your 30's and you still struggle containing yourself at any function with an open bar. Doesn't matter if it's a wedding reception, a charity event or a corporate party, I still salivate at open bars (especially if they feature liquor). I have had my hits and misses over the years, so I thought I'd share some feedback to help guide you through your night.

Editor's note: The irony of this post can't be understated, as the author has a tremendous history of being wildly inappropriate while drunk and has no business telling anybody else how to behave while shitfaced. Or sober, for that matter.

My new company canceled the official holiday party this year because there will be enough backlash already with a reduced bonus pool. Stupid recession. As such, some overeager young beavers in the office put together an employee-sponsored party. Many of the proletariats in the office will be there, but a smattering of other folks will attend as well. As a new employee and a lover of all things booze-related, I felt obligated to get a weeknight hall pass from the wife and make a strong showing. Much to the chagrin of Z-Man and the Teej, my steps for success have nothing to do with these steps, these steps, or, for that matter, these steps.

Don't get drunk! Ah, ha ha ha. Just kidding. Had to throw that one out there to see if you all were awake. We know this ain't happening, so let's really start.

Manage your food intake. You want to have something in your stomach, but not be so bloated on greasy appetizers that a shot will make you vomit your tonsils up. Start planning at lunch - think of reasonable portions of food that are not too gross. I know it's tough, but try to eat like a normal human being, not a competitive eater who trains against himself every time he eats. And make sure to find the right early afternoon snack. A well-timed granola bar/cookie run around 4 PM may make or break your night.

Pre-drink before your open bar. You want that running start into the party because it looks bad to attack the open bar as people are getting there. Another method is to order drinks two at a time, but that's tricky. The best bet is to get a few scotches or pints under your stretched belt before hitting the party. It makes people think you're gregarious, when you're really just early to the drunk party.

Identify a pace horse. There will be somebody at the party who will make no attempt to hide the fact that he (or she, though usually a he) is there to get all sorts of hammered. As a person who shares the same goal but does not wish to broadcast said goal, it is your job to find this person immediately and make sure you are always slightly less drunk than that person. Doesn't matter if you're the second shittiest person at a party, as long as you appear less drunk than the shittiest person. And remember this - if you're drinking heavily and you can't find a pace horse, it may be you. And that's no good.

Do everything in your power to identify the pace horse to everybody else at the party (except the pace horse itself, dummy). Since you plan to be one of the drunker people at the party, you need to deflect attention from yourself at all costs. It doesn't matter if the pace horse is a good friend, your boss, your subordinate or the assblood from the 5th floor, make him known to all. This protects you a great deal after you spill your vodka tonic in your crotch, get cocktail sauce on your white shirt and absentmindedly rip a pungent fart while taking a whiz next to the department head. This is Corporate America, so the best defense is to throw somebody else under bus.

Never ever dance with Dutch men while throwing a gourd around. This one may be narrower in scope, but it happened to me one night a decade ago after eleventy vodka tonics and a poor decision by a girlfriend at the time to leave me alone for a few minutes. Next thing you know, you're pulled onto a dance floor by a secretary while holding the gourd on the table used as a centerpiece and you think it's funny to throw it to the group of guys from the Netherlands office who are at the party and wandered over to the dance posse, led by the rhythmic gyrations and trashy perfume of Staten Island secretaries. The Dutchmen think it's funny and start heaving it around amongst themselves. Soon, everybody in the group is playing hot potato with a vegetable while the bumpin' sounds of Lou Bega blast overhead and the women you work with flee the dance floor for fear that you'll peg them in the head. And then it's just you, a gourd and guys with funny accents. And a subsequent morning of head-scratching and regrets.

Know when to lead a break-away faction to a post-party bar. This is a key moment. When your feeble defense against shitfacedry is waning. gather your close-knit band of drinking buddies and branch out somewhere where you can be wasted in a safe environment. Irish pubs are always a safe bet.

Buy the first round at the break-away bar. Your merry band of fellow drunken morons will slowly lose their coherence, so let their last memory be one of you stuffing a drink in their hands. You can milk that round the rest of the night, especially as folks get even more hammered.

Water and Advil. Remember them before, during and after the night. Enough said on that.

Happy drinking.

Christmas Filler

Apparently, my workplace thought it wise to NOT give us today off, though the streets of DC are a clusterfuck of epic proportions. So I'm here, venti coffee and banana in hand, ready to not work. The Z-Man left this filler in the draft posts, because he still apparently can't figure out how to "schedule" a post to appear at a later date, and asked me to post it. Who am I to object - his name's first on the marque after all. I have asked our producer to have a long sit down with him after this morning's show though and teach him how this crazy "blogger" thing operates.


Battle rapping Christmas muppets. Lupe as Blitzen. KRS-One as Santa. Perfect G:TB seasonal filler. And for the record, St. Nick won.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Greatest Christmas Song of all Time

Just ask Argyle...

Now with more Snowmageddeon

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas: Day Seven, an Honor Du-ell

On the seventh day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Seven Balls A-Bouncin' (ngs)
Five Golden RingsFour-gone

Think back to a few weeks ago. Do you remember a tale about TJ drunkenly challenging my College Basketball knowledge? (Yes, continue...) Challenging me to an honor du-ell, if you will? (Yes, we heard you, and know what you're referring to. Can we move on please?)

You might. I do. (Good for you. Must be hard to do with a brain clogged with malted hops and bong resin) And we're all sure TJ doesn't and never did. (Hey pal, I'm here writing in italics, ain't I?) However, he agreed to go through with this convoluted game of Pick Em. And then some time passed. And some more. Then I bet you forgot about it. Or maybe you just thought TJ and I would never get to this. I bet you thought it would end with the two of us drunk off our asses at a bar with TJ feeding dollars to Rock Cartwright (and Chest Rockwell) at the video poker machine. Well, sir, you were wrong. We're going through with it. Winner gets to beat Rob over the head with the bottle of Jameson he never gave me. By the way, I'm sick as fuck and high as hell on cough syrup and Thera-Flu. And meth, of course. Don't ever forget the meth (Happy Gheorghe-mas he means).

PoY: While thinking about this category I realized that I didn't know shit about the ACC this year. Who was the favorite for this award? Greivis Vasquez? Have we even decided if he's good yet? I absolutely love Ed Davis but I don't think he's getting enough touches on a young but pretty damn deep UNC team. Alright then. Kyle Singler it is. I hate this pick but you and I both know it's happening.
I refuse to pick a Dukie, or a dude named Grievis. So I will take Ed Davis, a surefire lottery pick who gets better and better every game. And you love reading something like this about a kid who is so gifted: "Does not have a superstar attitude, he has a workman's approach to the game that is refreshing to see from such a talented player".

Champ: North Carolina. I've said this before but it's more true now than when I first said it...Roy Williams is the new Bobby Bowden. An average coach. A great CEO. And the best recruiting head coach in college basketball. People eat that folksy bullshit he serves up all day long. I, if you can't tell, cannot stand him.
I hate agreeing with Mark. Sadly, it's going to occur more than once in this post. Here's the first instance. UNC has the deepest and most talented frontcourt in the country: the aforementioned Ed Davis, Neon Deon Thompson, former Talk Soup host John Henson and slightly smaller Serge Szwikker clone Tyler Zeller. Duke, Clemson, GA Tech (watch frosh Derrick Favors) and Maryland are all tourney teams, but Carolina's the cream of the crop.

Big East
PoY: Greg Monroe. Perfect fit for Georgetown's offense. I don't think he'll be anything other than an average pro, but his size and agility in that offense are pretty formidable at the college level.
I really want to pick Iowa St transfer Wesley Johnson, who is tearing it up for the Cuse, but I'll try not to be a homer and instead go with Hellboy look-alike Luke Harangody. The guy averaged 23 and 12 last year and I fully expect him to best those numbers this year (he currently is at 25 and 10). The one thing that might hurt 'Gody is ND's not very good...they're NIT-bound, but I still think he puts up numbers so huge the coaches will have no choice but to name him POY.

Champ: Syracuse. Dick Vitale tells me that Wesley Johnson is a star. This team also does seem to genuinely like each other. Not that I'm saying that Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris were locker room cancers. No, no. Not at all.
Why is Mark kissing up to me? You don't have to pick my team Mark, it's OK, I'll still kinda like you. Besides, it's the wrong pick. Villanova, led by 12th year senior Scottie Reynolds, will be winning the Big East. It will be a very tight race - Cuse, UConn and West Virginia are all superbly talented, but ultimately Jay Wright's club gets it done (cue Shlara swooning in the

Big 10
PoY: Kalin Lucas. He's the best PG in the country. Also, I know TJ's picking Hummel.
I am indeed. Watch him play. You too will fall in love (sgs) with Mr. Hummel. And as much as I would like to go all Skip Bayless on Mark, Lucas is the best PG in the country (the most underrated PG in the country? Devan Downey of South Carolina).

Champ: Purdue. One of the deeper teams in the country. Sneaky athletic. I like them. A LOT.
To quote soon-to-be Redskins Coach Jon Gruden, Tom Izzo and Sparty "just flat out get it done". Year after year. This year will be no different. I do have concerns about their spotty post play (Delvon Roe, I'm looking directly at you), but I figure Izzo will somehow make it work yet again. Plus, I enjoy disagreeing with Tattoo Boy.

Big 12
PoY: Sherron Collins. Kansas is going to win the conference and he's the senior leader. Career Achievement Award. Enjoy playing basketball in Europe.
I'll take his honky teammate Cole Aldrich. I still can't tell what kind of pro Aldrich will be (Paris Basket Racing for Cole?), but I think he has a dominant All-American campaign this year for the Jayhawks.

Champ: Kansas. Kansas. Kansas. Texas is pretty damn good but Kansas is fucking loaded.
Let me put my limited edition Bayless Contrarian Shades on...available at Big Lots everywhere...and pick Texas. Kansas and Texas are both obviously fucking loaded, but I don't like Bill Self much, and thus will take the bunch of uber athletes Rick Barnes has stockpiled in Austin.

Conference USA
PoY: Jerome Jordan. He'll probably go in the top 15 of next year's draft. He'll probably have a career reminiscent of Patrick O'Bryant.
What's Conference USA? I thought they folded when Calipari left for Kentucky. Oh, the games must go on you say? Well then, in that case, I'll take Jordan's Tulsa teammate Ben Uzoh because, well, because he has the cooler name.

Champ: Memphis. Still the best team in this shitty conference. They're going to be a good for a long time too. Josh Pastner's the best recruiter in the country and will soon be one of the best coaches.
Tulsa. Inside-out combo of Jordan and Uzoh can carry them to the conference title as Pastner figures everything out in Memphis, before the Tigers once again grab hold of the conference next year.

PoY: John Wall. Ridic. Ulous. Best of crop of good young guards in the SEC, which includes Kenny Boynton, Scotty Hopson and Terico White, and pretty clearly the #1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
John Wall. All you need to do is see him play for five minutes. There's really not much more to say then if he's on TV, stop what you're doing and watch him. I always am hesitant to buy into these super-hyped guys, but he is the real f'ing deal.

Champ: Kentucky. I'd love to say Florida or even Ole Miss in this space (I would never be happy to say Tennessee in said space) but it's just not happening. Kentucky will lose a few headscratchers this year but their collective talent is just greater than the rest of the conference.
Agreeing with Mark is growing tiresome, but as he notes above, there really is no other option to pick as SEC champ. The highly paid Wildcats live up to their salaries. And Coach Cal makes it to yet another Final Four only to have it wiped from the record books cause he made partner at Dewey Cheatem and Howe.

PoY: Klay Thompson. He's Mychal Thompson's kid and he can shoot the shit out of it. He led the US U-19 team in scoring on the way to a gold medal over the summer and is lighting it up in the early season. On a semi-related note, I'll always remember how shocked I was when I first heard Mychal Thompson had once been the #1 pick in the NBA Draft. That guy? Really? The goofy one who comes off the bench for the Lakers and misses tons of layups? Okay. If you say so. I was probably 10 and I doubt I knew what the term "bust" meant. By I officially knew what one looked like.
I hear the Pac-10 blows this year (or as Tony Dungy calls it, the Pac-12). The one thing I do know about the Pac-10? Cal has one of the best backcourts in the country, though I'm pretty sure 99% of you have never heard of Jerome Randle or Patrick Christopher and their gunner pal Theo Robertson. Well, I think come March you will all know about Randle...and he's my choice for POY. And Mark, here is a real bust.

Champ: Washington. The Huskies have three really capable guards, led by Isaiah Thomas (you can spell that name however you wish, by the way) and another all PAC-10 player in Quincy Pondexter. Both Cal and Washington have Sweet 16/Elite level talent.
Definitely not UCLA. Ben Howland's boys have been getting bitch-slapped by the Big West this year. As you might imagine from my POY talk above, I think the Cal Golden Bears win the Pac-10 for the first time in...well, I don't know actually. This is why we need an intern. Or a Johnny Five-type robot to do this research and also make us breakfast.


Sun Belt
PoY: AJ Slaughter. Last year Mendez-Valdez was the guy everyone remembered (and why not? Mendez-Valdez is just fun to say. MENDEZ-VALDEZ!) but Slaughter was the best player. A quick, creative lead guard.

Champ: Western Kentucky. This is one of the top 5 mid-major programs in the country and nobody really talks much about them. Probably because the league they play in sucks.

West Coast Conference
PoY: Matt Bouldin. I actually think Steven Gray is the better, more impactful player on Gonzaga but Bouldin's a senior and this is his award.

Champ: Gonzaga. Same pick every year. Portland is pretty good this year though and St. Mary's hasn't dropped off that much due to the import of another good Australian PG.

PoY: Edwin Ubiles. I mean, this gyy goes to Siena, and he might have a chance to get drafted. Plus, Billl Raftery loves his game, and that's good enough for me.

Champ: Siena. I mean, come on, this is me we're talking about. How could I pick anyone else? SI's college hoops preview issue even had them 20th in the country (which, in hindsight, was stoopid).

Missouri Valley
PoY: Osiris Eldridge of Illinois State. Besides being damn good, that's a kick ass name if you ask me.

Champ: Northern Iowa. They return all five starters from last year's tournament team. Works for me. And really, I can't be the only one wondering when this f'ing post is going to end.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas: Six Rules Worth Knowing

On the sixth day of Gheorghe-mas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Six Rules Worth Knowing
Five Golden Rings
Four-gone Conclusions

Three Saluki Tallies
Two Recurring Features
And a Doofus Dancing (hee, hee)

Coach Bobby Finstock had some simple rules for life (go to the 2:30 mark if you are impatient):

Damon had his five-point plan:

Building on these cultural icons, we present to you six rules addressing the random, sometimes illicit parts of your life. These are crucial. They may save your hide one day.

Rule 1: Marinate your meat (ngs).
This is not a cooking blog. And it's not a dating blog. It's a blog about living your life with a smile. And to all my meat-eaters out there (ngs), don't put virgin meat in your oven, on your frying pan or on your grill. Marinating makes you look sophisticated to both your lady friends and your meathead dude friends. And it makes meat taste better (ngs). Leave it to marinate a long time. Over 24 hours is better. Trust me. I'm kinda fat, so I know these things. Bamm!

Rule 2: Never ever ever pay any attention to the best looking girl at a second-rate strip joint.
This rule is different from going to a "good one" at a bad time (ie, 2 PM on a Tuesday, when your boss and your wife think you are at a conference in town). I'm focusing on the truly mediocre strip clubs. We all know when we are in one - it is a bad city, a bad neighborhood, or just a clearly sub-par place that a drunken crew lands on - but we all need to recognize when we are there and act accordingly.

In general, women know their sexual pecking order. This is magnified in a strip bar. Unless it is a top-notch joint, where a couple dozen women are interchangeably stripperiffic, there is a clear Alpha Stripper vibe among the (top-)heavy hitters, if only because the lower echelon ladies at sub-par strip bars fall into the "way gross-to-she looks like a streetwalker" categories. When you vie for the attention of the queen stripper bee, you acknowledge her place and take away any power you have. She'll demand a drink and/or bilk you for an exorbitant lap dance. Nobody needs that. Always shoot for the middle-of-the-road lady in the place. Assess your environment and act accordingly, gents. The hungry ones will show you a better time. Everybody wins.

Rule 3: Always sneak down to better seats at sporting events.
Confession here - I am jaded live sports attendee because I live in the exorbitantly priced tri-state area surrounding New York. I loathe the owners of most of the local sports team (especially you Jimmy Dolan, you bloated waste of space). And I am hesitant to transfer any more cash into their pocket than I need to. So I make up for this by opportunistically upgrading myself at sporting events. I avoid doing this when I think there is a decent chance of being caught, because I hate looking like a schmuck, but I am all over it when it looks reasonably easy. It has been an amazingly simple process at sparsely populated Knick games at Madison Square Garden in the last five years. And what's more fun at a bad basketball game than getting close enough to the court so that when you heckle people like Ira Newbie and Greg Ostertag, you know they hear you and get bummed out?

Rule 4: Always have a 15-second dance routine for wedding receptions in your back-pocket.
Wedding dancing is usually dumb. The participants are either lame, sober old people marching like zombies to "What a Wonderful World" or sweaty, disheveled obnoxious people pumping their arms off-key to Buster Poindexter. And then there are the infamous dance circles, a group dance occurrence that pops up at proms and weddings. Everybody stands around and claps and waits for somebody to hop in the middle and be funny. Our rule focuses on this moment. For a single guy at a wedding, having a pre-canned routine can be a make-or-break moment at a wedding reception. It offers an opportunity to show some personality and pelvic coordination to the game little ladies who have congregated to the dance floor. A good sequence makes everybody hoot and holler, genuinely energizes the party and gives a lady an opportunity to approach you. Frankie D., an old friend of many writers on this blog, may have been the Caucasian master of this situation. He had the Rerun dance down pat. It's that simple. Everybody loved it every time. When you have a simple routine, people will laugh. And you'll be more apt to pull it off when you're half in the bag. The bar is low for doing this. Dust off your moonwalk, your worm (forwards or backwards), your pop rock or your Russian squat lunge dance. It doesn't matter. Sacrifice two hours while you're home alone watching sports. It will be time better spent than all those hours you talk to yourself about starting to do crunches on a regular basis.

Rule 5: Never pay for porn.
No matter your fetish, you can find it for free on the internet. Just make sure your firewall is up to snuff. At least that's what I heard on last Tuesday's episode of Z-Man and The Teej, located at 106.9 on your FM dial. These guys would know.

Rule 6: Never ever ever ever drink well-booze if you're older than 21.
When I was 22 and poor, I discovered gin and tonics. It's a delicious drink. It gets you drunk. It seems more sophisticated than eating beers when you're in the company of ladies, and it tastes great if the bartender knows how to pour it. But if you don't specifically state the booze you want, you risk getting the well junk. And you don't want bad gin in your system. Ever. Same goes for bad vodka or whiskey. Many of us cut our booze-drinking teeth in the 'Burg, where a mighty big bottle of Odesse Vodka could be procured at a low price. Although it seemed like a good deal and worked sufficiently when we were pouring it down ice-blocks into the mouths of 19 year-old sorority girls, it was a bad move. The brutal hang-over is just not worth it. Especially with gin, where upscale labels like Hendrick's or Bombay have distinct and scintillating flavors that a sophisticated pallate can enjoy.

Happy holidays. And happy living.