Sunday, May 30, 2010
The other day in the office, the very funny but slightly obsessive guy who always calls into radio stations and wins concert tickets every week and then sells them and uses the money to buy authentic Battlestar Galactica paraphernalia on eBay (you have a guy like this in your work place, right?) said he had a pair of Dane Cook tickets to sell. When I expressed interest because my wife and I both think Dane Cook is funny, I took some flak for liking Dane Cook-- apparently people who think they are hip don't like Dane Cook. They think he is "obvious" and "just in it for the attention" and "not very clever" and since I wasn't all that familiar with him, I had just heard some of his famous bits (car alarm, Kool-Aid guy, public restrooms, etc.) I did some research and listened to his new album (Isolated Incident) and his takes on race, suicide, masturbation, porn, and Obama all made me laugh, so maybe I am obvious, not very clever, and just in it for the attention as well.
Then I did some perfunctory Googling, and I'll tell you what: there are a LOT of people that hate Dane Cook. They think he's a "frat-boy douche-bag." They think he steals jokes. They think other comedians hate him. There's a lot of analysis on exactly why he sucks. But I like him. He's not George Carlin or Richard Pryor or Bill Cosby, but who is? He's energetic and funny and covers a wide variety of material and really works the crowd. He's a pro. And when it comes to A-list comics, I will admit it, I am easy. I am looking to laugh, and-- whether it's Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Patrice O'Neil, Jim Norton, Steven Wright, Jerry Seinfeld, Mitch Hedberg, Dave Chappelle or even Sinbad-- they will get me to laugh. You've got to be pretty bad to not get me to laugh, Paula Poundstone bad, or Gallagher bad (plus, I was taught never to waste food . . . that's not funny).
I suppose Dane Cook is analogous to the New York Yankees because of his fame and success, except that when a comedian is good, everybody wins, because everybody laughs. It's not a zero sum game, so why root against him? Why be a player-hater? I suppose cool to say he rips off Louis CK, and maybe he does, but Louis CK is kind of dry for me. He's funny, as I said, I'm easy, but he kind of sounds like how I would sound if I were a stand-up comedian, which I've thought about . . . because everyone has thought about being a stand-up comedian, right? Or at least everyone who has ever told a joke. But it's not so easy. I started writing some material for my stand-up tour, but I took a hard look at it, and I don't think it's very good. In fact, I think it is quite awful. So, before you go hating Dane Cook, try writing some of your own comedy. You might end up with a list like this . . . you might end up with the true purpose of this post.
You might end up with a Top Ten List of Failed Comedy Routines. I've occasionally tried these out on real people, and I have come to the conclusion that I will never be a stand-up comedian like Dane Cook. Or even like Jeff Foxworthy. Without further ado, here they are. Read at your own risk.
1) What is up with anal fissures? Your crack has a crack? How can a crack crack?
2) The first thing on my "to do list" is to complete my to do list.
3) You know those people who stick their fingers down their pants and rub around their testicles and then smell their hand? No? Really? Forget it then.
4) You've got dogs and you've got cats. Some people like dogs and some people like cats. The people who like dogs are dog-people. The people who like cats are cat-people. You know what I'm saying, pussy?
5) Once, when I was banging my wife, I started thinking about my grandfather . . . naked. And, oddly, my penis didn't deflate. Does that mean anything? I asked my therapist this question, and she said, "I don't think I can work with you any longer. Here's a prescription."
6) When you're at a party, and someone starts talking to you about the weather, it means they are really really stoned.
7) Are there any good bands with a color in their name? Maroon 5? Green Day? The Moody Blues? Deep Purple?
8) The other day, when I was looking for my keys-- you know how you're always losing your keys-- so I'm looking for my keys and I open the closet to see if they're in my jacket pocket, and I remember that I locked my four year old in that closet the night before because he wouldn't stop whining about his dinner . . . good thing I lost my keys, or I never would have let him out of there.
9) So after you sodomize someone in a park bathroom, what do you say to them? Before you tell them you have AIDS, I mean.
10) So what's up with the . . . (insert ethnicity here).
Saturday, May 29, 2010
And soccer. I just don't get it. It seems like everyone around the world is head-over-heels* in love with soccer. I’ve tried to watch but it’s just terrible. Nothing happens. I thought the problem was that I just don’t understand the finer points of the game, or that I haven’t seen an excellent display of soccer prowess. So I looked around on the ghooghles for some soccer clips and I found “The Goal of the Century.” Should be pretty amazing right? It has to be! It’s The Goal of the Century!! Wanna see it? Here it is:
I still don’t get soccer. Particularly if this is the best soccer-related occurrence in the last 100 years.
But with the World Cup nigh upon us I felt that I should try to adopt a team to root for. The US team was a logical choice until I looked at the roster. The closest thing to a zman on the team is "Jonathan Spector." It might be fun to root for Herculez Gomez because then I can yell "Herk-a-LEEZ! Herk-a-LEEZ!" like in the Nutty Professor. But they'll probably lose early so I need another team if I want to follow one deep into the tournament.
So I sloppily searched the FIFA World Cup site for zmen. It appears that there isn’t a single Zoltan to be found on anyone’s roster. Slovakia has a Zdenko and a Zabavnik. The Serbs really bring the zheat: Zeljko, Zdravko, Zoran, and Zigic all rock the kokarda. Ivory Coast has some dude named Didier Zokora which seems cool at first but I'll wind up making "Didier, I hardly know her" jokes and that gets old fast. Brazil has no zmen, probably because they're a bunch of fatherless bastards - about 69% of the team has no last name. One Brazilian is named "Grafite;" maybe he's into mechanical pencils? Cameroon has a Zoua and cool jerseys but I can't find their country on a map. Slovenia has a Zlatko AND a Zlatan, and I work with a cool guy from Slovenia so they have good watercooler potential. The Nordic teams have no zmen but they have tons of names with no consonants, as opposed to the central Europeans who would like to buy some vowels.
Accordingly, I'm rooting for the Slovenians. I understand that they may be even worse than the US team, which means my approach to finding a team that can go deep in the tournament is less than scientifically sound. But this also means I'll likely have an excuse to stop watching the World Cup without having to admit I don't understand why it's entertaining or even interesting.
I'll try to drum up more information on the Slovenian squadron from my inside source. Keep an eye out for some Slovenian/Ghostface crossover fillah.
*I also don’t understand the phrase “head-over-heels.” My head is always over my heels unless I’m executing a bicycle kick. Which will never happen.
Friday, May 28, 2010
First of all, there is exciting news for residents of New Jersey that live on the North East Corridor Train Line. Newark, New Jersey-- usually known for its riots and political corruption-- just recorded its first homicide free month in forty years. You can read the article here and I highly recommend browsing through the comments; one man claims that the only reason for the lack of shootings is that it "rained all month" and njbratty's multiple paragraph reminisce is priceless . . . here is a sample:
Now days I may be Ugly and fat ;C X-D but certainly at 15 till 30's i was Just Another Good Looking Chick :) (lol) I cant say in my entire Life that in Newark I got Miss respect in any way shape or form -- remember i was 15 years Old and walking just alone . * wink
It goes on and on. But the point is: Newark is a destination again. It's a big city with great food, some excellent museums, a performing arts center, easy access to an excellent soccer stadium, and-- if you're there in a rainy month-- fairly safe.
Perhaps the drop in crime and the upswing in image is due to Newark's well-spoken young mayor, Cory Booker. Booker, who played tight-end for Stanford, is known for his "feud" with Conan O'Brien and for his crime fighting stunts. To get an idea of what Newark politics was like before Booker, I highly recommend the documentary Street Fight, directed by Marshall Curry, which details Booker's 2002 campaign against the completely corrupt but totally charismatic machine politician Sharpe James.
We were headed to the stadium via Newark; it was supposedly a short walk or PATH ride from Newark Penn Station. The most stressful part of the trip was in the New Brunswick train station; we wanted to catch the 5:14 express (37 minutes) but there were long lines in front of the ticket machines and the woman ahead of us in the regular line was paying by CHECK. She even took the time to fill in her little ledger to ensure that her account was balanced. The wonders of double entry bookkeeping.
We had to jump on the train without tickets, so we suffered a five dollar penalty. We would have been on time, but we stopped for beer-- I'm not sure if this is the tradition elsewhere in the country, but in New Jersey, whenever you ride the train, you drink beer from a paper bag. Though we were late because of the beer and the check writing lady, having beer made us not mind the five dollar penalty and the check writing lady.
The train was an air-conditioned double-decker: clean and new, and the A/C was critical because it was 96 degrees outside. The only rough patch on the train was when Terry named all thirteen Major League Baseball parks he had visited. I concentrated on drinking my beer while he performed this feat-- note for next time, I should have bought a 40 instead of a 24 oz. can.
There are advantages and disadvantages to traveling with me. I like to read. This is a disadvantage when I ask, "Would anyone like a little history of the area?" and someone makes the mistake of saying,"Sure," and then I ramble on like an autistic version of Rick Steve for twenty minutes. But it's usually an advantage when you're heading somewhere new because I do my homework. In this case, I had printed out a couple of maps,and researched a number of cheap authentic restaurants in the vicinity of the train station. Unfortunately, in the rush to get beer, I left all that information on the counter. We were in Newark, and our information was here:
So we had to wing it. Ferry Street is right next to the station and it has some of the most famous Portuguese places and a festive atmosphere. We would have sat outside-- there are plenty of patios and outdoor tables, but it was 96 degrees. And there hadn't been a homicide in over a month, we didn't want to press it.
We went to Iberia Peninsula, which is one of the more well known places and sat at the bar. The restaurant is rather impressive inside: high ceilings, an endless bar, and a wooden old world feel. Sitting at the bar worked out well for us, though I'm not sure why. We had eight beers and two appetizers: shrimp in green sauce and some calamari, and after four or five of the wait staff perused our bill, they handed it to us. The total was 22.50, which seemed odd, because the two appetizers should have cost twenty dollars. I asked if it was correct and the bartender said, "Happy hour." Not only was our bill cheap, but the dude next to us-- who seemed to be some sort of backpacker type, maybe German (oddly, he didn't know the difference between a mussel and a clam, and thought scallops were oysters) gave us some of his mussels and clams out of the giant pot of seafood he ordered . . . he didn't realize the portion was going to be so huge. When I told my wife this, she said, "You took food from a stranger?" and when she phrased it like this, it did seem kind of stupid. I guess sometimes stories like these end with you being in a strange dirty hotel in a bathtub full of ice and your kidney is missing, but like I said, murder is down in Newark, so maybe organ theft is down as well.
We could have taken the PATH to Harrison, but from Ferry Street it's an easy ten minute walk to the stadium-- just across the Passaic river-- and you can see the stadium the entire time. We didn't get shot once during the walk, although the waterfront is pretty grim here. The stadium is surrounded by abandoned lots and empty warehouses (although one is used for PATH parking) but supposedly the area is soon to be developed.
The stadium itself is a masterpiece. Terry said the design is based on smaller sized European stadiums (and he would know, he's been to a number of games in Europe, but thankfully, he didn't name all of them). It holds 25,000, and there's not a bad seat in the place. Wherever you are seated, standing, or waiting to get a beer (6 dollars for a regular, 9 dollars for a large) you have a fantastic view of the pitch. As I entered the bathroom, I heard a young man say to his child, "Never in his life did Daddy think they'd build this in Harrison."
Tickets were cheap-- 18 dollars for any seat in the stadium-- and it wasn't very crowded because it was an US Open Cup game, which is not part of regular season play. The Red Bulls have now advanced to the third round, and the generally second string crew that played looked excellent, creative and fast paced. They got out to an early lead and the Rapids never mounted much of an attack. If you care about soccer, you can read about the game and the US Open Cup here. If you care about grilled sausage, you'll be happy to know they sell chorizo sandwiches at the concessions inside the stadium.
I can't wait to take my kids to a game. I often take them to the museums in Newark (and we haven't been shot at, not even once!) and now I can add this to the list of convenient things to do there. We took the kids to a Somerset Patriots game the other night (minor league baseball) and though they were amused by the shenanigans and contests in between innings, they couldn't follow the ball when it came off the bat, so they really weren't watching a baseball game. With easy and convenient access to quality soccer, hopefully, they won't ever have to try to watch baseball again.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
-- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports hears that Stephen Strasburg will make his major league debut on June 8th against the Pirates.
Not mentioning the fact that Yahoo! (do they really need the "!" in their name? Dicks.) Sports is employing former NFL speedsters with questionable hands as beat writers/rumor mill operators, this bit of news raises eyebrows around these parts; but maybe not for the reasons the common reader might think. The projected debut of Mr. Strasburg (aka JC/DC) has been bantered about since the moment he was drafted, and this is about the 5th actual date I've heard in the past month. While 06/08 makes sense from both a contractual/financial and development/confidence perspective (most back slashes ever in a sentence not containing a hyperlink?), I think I speak for the entire G:TB staff when I say, "Stevie, let's push it back one more day."
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
And that's why we're now big fans of Kansas University sophomore pitcher Lee Ridenhour.
Brien and Jack are cousins, the sons of a pair of Friends of G:TB. The boys are 9 years old, and share a love for sports with their athletic fathers and mothers. They also both happen to have severe Hemophilia A, a hereditary bleeding disorder. Hemophiliacs have far lower levels of the blood proteins that promote clotting, resulting in longer and more frequent bleeding after injuries, and potentially dangerous complications from internal bruising.
Until recently, children diagnosed with hemophilia were extremely limited in their ability to compete in most sports. Even relatively minor injuries could present life-threatening complications. In the last several decades, however, the scientific community has made significant breakthroughs in the treatment of bleeding disorders, developing synthetic clotting factors that enable most hemophilia sufferers to rapidly treat their injuries with injections. These advances have enabled children like Brien and Jack to play sports - like baseball - that would have been off-limits to them even a few years ago.
Children like Lee Ridenhour, too. The Lenexa, KS native turned down a $150,000 signing bonus with the Minnesota Twins two years ago to accept a scholarship with Kansas. The 6'4", 205 lb righthander went 6-3 with a 4.65 ERA in 79 1/3 innings in 2009, his freshman season. His six wins were the most by a Kansas freshman since 1994. He also suffers from severe Hemophilia A. And in the eyes of two little boys from Virginia, he's a hero.
The boys' families read about Ridenhour in a national hemophilia publication and reached out to the Jayhawk athletic department through a college friend with connections to KU athletics. Coach Ritch Price coordinated a visit through the university's 'Caring for Kids' program. In early March, as Team G:TB was preoccupied with William & Mary's run to the CAA Tournament final, Brien and Jack flew to Kansas to meet Ridenhour.
"He was extremely down to earth and really forthcoming about his battles," said Brien's dad (and FoG:TB), Cliff Krug. "He was also grounded. For a kid that's a D1 baseball player on a nationally ranked program (Note: at the time, the Jayhawks were #23) and was drafted out of HS, you couldn't tell.
One of the best parts is as I talked with him in the OF (during BP), some of the guys on the team told stories of their 'surprise' about him having Hemophilia. One guy woke up one morning to Lee giving himself his medicine, but thought he was doing drugs (Note: Advate, a synthetic clotting agent, is given intravenously)."
Ridenhour was injured and preparing for surgery to repair torn ligaments in his ankle during the boys' trip, and got to spend a great deal of time with the youngsters, pitching batting practice and playing catch in the outfield. Brien took a wicked grounder off his knee while shagging balls during the Jayhawks' batting practice, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise when he got to spend quality time playing XBox games with the team in the clubhouse while receiving treatment.
Brien and Jack threw out the first pitch of KU's game against Missouri and served as honorary bat boys before flying home (with the benefit of an airplane, though neither of them likely needed it). As for Ridenhour, he's seeking to bounce back from his injury and enter the Major League Baseball draft in 2011 as an eligible junior. Two little boys (and their fathers) will be following his exploits very closely.
As will a bunch of generally cynical bloggers who might cop to a soft spot for kids and their heroes.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
After explaining that Subway "has applied for the trademark FOOTLONG (TM) in association with sandwiches," the letter says:
You can read the letter in its entirety and more on this case here.
What you may not have heard is that I, Mr. Truck, have also received a "cease and desist letter" from Subway. The odd thing about this letter is that Subway is threatening legal action if people (especially young nubile women) do not immediately stop calling me Mr. Footlong. In no way did I encourage this nick-name, and if anyone is calling me this, it is completely without my knowledge or premeditation. It is simply how God made me. Here is an excerpt of the letter:
You are hereby put on notice to cease and desist from allowing sexually attractive women to use the term MR. FOOTLONG (TM) in association with your turgid genitalia, tally-wacker, prong, et al. You must immediately dispel all such rumors and references to MR. FOOTLONG (TM) in association with this matter.
I do not want to be involved in a costly lawsuit, and I have heard there are some products available on the Internet that will remedy this situation. Perhaps then the ladies will change my nickname to Mr. Cubit.
Sometime in April at the Musee des Arts et Metiers, the cable holding a model of Foucault's pendulum inexplicably (and suspiciously, in the eye of this observer) snapped. In the resulting crash, the 60-pound ball was permanently damaged. Among several consequences, much of Western Europe can no longer keep accurate time, and I was forced to try to figure out what this equation means:
If you think Dan Brown didn't have something to do with this (probably in league with the Large Hadron Collider), you haven't been reading enough conspiracy theories. Umberto Eco laughs in your (and Brown's) general direction.
Monday, May 24, 2010
I thought of the name Stan Mikita without immediately thinking of Wayne's World for the first time in a long time today. And that's about all I needed to get fired up for the Blackhawks in the NHL Finals. I'm not fired up for the finals, mind you, just for the fact that a historic franchise is in there. Old-time hockey! Just like Eddie Shore.
To self-bashing Red Sox fans, Sox-bashing Yanks fans, self-bashing Yanks fans and self-bashing Mets' fans: Shut yer pie holes up already. We have almost 120 games left. Can we at least wait until mid-June until we decided if the sky is falling on our favorite teams or our rivals? The Sox are 2.5 games out of the wild-card spot, the Yanks are currently in the wild-card spot, and the Mets are 3.5 games out of the wild-card spot. Jeez.
To David Stern: your two-day "travel" break between games 2 and 3 was an abomination, especially because I was lying in a quasi-coma on Thursday and Friday nights, begging for some hoops to entertain me and my glassy eyes. I hope both conference finals series end in 4 or 5 games so we have an extended delay until the finals and we can all wallow in the assinineness that is your playoff scheduling policy.
30 Rock brought the goods again all season. This season also brought what may have been the funniest scene in the show's history - Tracy Jordan crying in the ghetto stairwell, talking about his memories of the building he grew up in:
I watched a prostitute stab a clown!
Our basketball hoop was a ribcage.
A puppy committed suicide when he saw our bathroom!
A pack of wild dogs took over and successfully ran a Wendy's.
I once saw a baby give another baby a tattoo! They were both very drunk.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computers. It is good for this, this, and this. It is bad at this. The Internet can be used to compute stuff. It was invented by this guy.
There are obviously pros and cons.
Friday, May 21, 2010
I also have some information to present, but I don't have the skills to make it beautiful-- but that doesn't mean my information is any less important. The form I am going with is a little uglier, but it's certainly pragmatic . . . I call it a list.
The states are in their correct order (which is the order of how much I like them). Not every state made the list. If you're state isn't on the list, consider moving to a state that I like better.
1. New Jersey. Best diners, guidos, and pizza.
2. Colorado. Best skiing and hangovers.
3. New Mexico. Best Mexican food (while still being in America).
4. North Carolina. Best fishing. I would know.
5. Montana. Best at Looking like a Coors' Commercial (ironically).
6. Arizona. Best Gash.
7. Virginia. Best Pork BBQ.
8. Mississippi. Best River.
9. Louisiana. Best Crawdads.
10. Florida. Best Phallic Shape.
11. Alaska. Best Bugs.
12. Vermont. Best Syrup, Best Gravy Fries, and Best Marijuana (coincidence?)
13. Maine. Frattiest City Name (Bangor? I just met her!)
14. Massachusetts. Best Gay Scene (according to the Teej.)
15. Arkansas. Easiest Inbred Girls (according to the zman.)
16. Minnesota. Best State to pick-up by "tapping" in a rest room.
17. Nebraska. Best Bestiality. (According to Igor.)
18. Alabama. Best State to Name a Bad Band After.
19. West Virginia. Best Mining Catastrophes, and Best Butt of Redneck Jokes.
20. Georgia. Best Cinematic Setting for a Redneck Sodomy Scene.
21. Rhode Island. Best at Being Small (Rob's favorite State)
22. Delaware. Best at Being Flat. The topography, not the girls.
23. Kentucky. Best caves.
24. Nevada. Best Cannibalism Story.
25. Utah. Best Fanatical Religious Zealots.
26. California. Best Mudslide Footage.
27. Maryland. Best Crabs. Both kinds.
28. Washington. Best Place to Commit Suicide.
29. District of Columbia: Best Mayor: Marion Barry.
30. Wyoming. Best Gay Cowboys.
31. Hawaii. Best Theme Song from a TV Show with the State's Name in it.
32. Pennsylvania. Best Cheese-steaks.
33. New York. Best Frank Sinatra Song.
34. Connecticut. Best Snotty Private Schools.
35. Texas. Best Little Whorehouse.
36. Ohio. Best Little Hot Dogs.
Enough of this. The rest of the states don't even rate a mention. Like I said, if your state is not on the list, move!
From the local Jersey Shore freebie paper: A local woman talked with Jack Nicholson at around 6PM on the Boardwalk at Manasquan, NJ on June 30, 2009. While fans stood at a distance and snapped pictures, Stephanie joined him while he stood alone at his picnic table eating ice cream. She asked him, "So Jack, what brings you to Manasquan?". He replied, "Whimsy". He asked her if she knew what that meant. She said "I don't think so". He said, "You must have graduated from Manasquan High School." (his alma mater)
The woman asked him if she could have a picture with him. He said, "I would love that". She asked if she could put her arm around him. He replied, "I would love that even more. I would put my arm around you, but I am eating ice cream." Another fan then asked if he could have a picture with him and he said "Zero chance, No chance". After finishing his ice cream, he then left in his waiting limousine.
In unrelated news, Vampire Weekend's second album came out a couple months ago. I was down on it for a while, but I've really come around on it. I love that they know they're preppy white kids and they celebrate that life while mocking it at the same time. The videos I've watched (for Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa and Giving Up the Gun) back up that notion. They seem like a bunch of guys who don't take themselves all that seriously. Not enough folks in the music scene these days that embody whimsy so successfully. And that's really something that embodies the mission statement of this blog.
So we salute you, Jack. And you too, Vampire Weekend.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
While you are reading this and scoffing down your morning McMuffin, I am having nasal polyps removed and a deviated septum repaired. The polyps are "little blueberries in your sinus cavity," according to my scientific-speaking ENT doctor. While they're not of the full blooming type seen in the photo above, they are still pretty damn gross.
So enjoy your latte and your cherry danish. I have been fasting since midnight, and am likely angrily killing time in a Manhattan hospital waiting room, waiting for my nose to get raped. One positive is that I have never been put under and am very excited about the anesthesia. I have fantasies of fighting off unconsciousness, forcing them to load me up with the sweet gas. Another positive is that I have 30 Vicodins. I've never been a big pill-popper, but I only know Percocet. We'll see how it goes with the good stuff.
Pray for me and my schnozz tomorrow. And pray for this man's hairy schnozz as well. And his doctor's stubby thumb.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
During this time, one of the leaders was DJ Magic Mike, who at one time ruled Orlando. So, with the Magic badly in need of a home win to even their series against the Celtics, I thought it only appropriate to send some karma their way with this classic from my youth. Did I have this on tape? Yes. Did I rock the ever living shit out of this song in elementary school and junior high? You're damn right. Did I badly want to participate in whatever it is the young lasses in this video are doing on stage during this time? You bet your sweet northern ass I did. So, in the interest of good karma as well as easier commenting for tonight's game, I present you with Drop the Bass by Orlando's own DJ Magic Mike. Watch the video. It's a nice trip on the way back machine and you be treated to some fine lyrics as well.
"Since you can jam to this with ease. Go pick a fly girl that you want to skeez, like the one with the nipple showing through that lace. Work your body while you drop that bass"...that's poetry motherfucker.
Here at G:TB we assume you will be betting on some aspect of the tournament, especially considering one of our staff members was recently betting on hockey-- which is akin to betting on which way a marble will bounce if you drop it off the Sears Tower-- and so here is some insight to help in your World Cup handicapping.
Now, like a good lad, I tried me best to do some research for this post, but I didn't have much luck. All I wanted to know was this: for any particular sport, how often does the favorite win? There's not much information on the intra-web on this topic. Maybe, the favorite wins 65% of the time in the NFL, 75% of the time in college basketball, and 58% of the time in major league baseball. These are the numbers I found, but they weren't particularly well documented. If anyone has information about this, please enlighten me in the comments.
I could find nothing about how often the favorite wins in soccer, but I'm guessing it might be on the low side. Soccer is a low scoring game, and so there's less chances for superiority to win out over mediocrity . . . and there's a greater chance for a statistical anomaly. I have a better chance to beat Tiger Woods if I play him in a one hole match rather than if I play him in a hundred hole match. And in soccer, sometimes you only get one or two clear shots on goal. This is probably why the favorite wins more often in basketball than baseball. Also, soccer relies less on actual physical dominance-- you can't just run a smaller team over, or jump higher than them, and or push the goalie out of the way . . . you still need a little luck to get it into the back of the net.
Soccer also has more variability because of the penalty kick. The penalty kick has a payout problem-- it can be awarded for something rather trivial, any contact foul in the box, but it usually results in a goal, which is worth a tremendous amount in a soccer match. This needs to be remedied, but until it is, one bad call can propel an underdog to victory.
These are my thoughts on the difficulty of handicapping soccer, but I'm not certain how logical they are (and I will admit that they called me "The Poor Man's Galileo" in college). But the lack of information has led me to do a little "out of the box thinking." Or perhaps you might call it "about the box" thinking. Or even "thinking about box."
And I have a theory.
Now, the World Cup is huge. To win, is to be venerated. This isn't the Super Bowl, which comes every year. Honestly, without the aid of the internet, I can't remember who won the last five Super Bowls. They blend together. And it's not the Olympics, which is special because it doesn't happen every year, but is also ridiculous, because they let people have medals for curling and team handball. Not that I don't like team handball, but when you've just won the Decathlon and the rube next to you has the same medal for chucking a volleyball around, it's kind of demeaning.
The World Cup only comes once every four years and if you win, then you are the undisputed king of the world. And you reign for four years. And you don't have to share. It's not like when you are awarded the medal for being the fastest man in the world-- the hundred meter champion-- and there's some fat dude next you wearing his gold medal because he was the quimby in the bob sled. It's not like that at all. You are it.
So the X factor . . . the thing that will alter your betting strategy is this: girls. When you return to your home country with that World Cup victory, you are going to get some major box. Without any effort. The women will be throwing themselves at you. You will have your choice of the entire female population of your nation. Thus, the country with the hottest women will offer the most motivation for its players.
Let's test the theory. Brazil has won the most World Cups. Five. Brazil is known for really hot women, really hot women in thongs parading around on the beach. Just thinking about this is making me dizzy. Brazil actually needed to invent the Brazilian wax. Here is an example of what these Brazilian players have to gain:
Italy is second in World Cup victories with four. And they are also known for their beautiful women . . . and they are known for their beautiful men. Perhaps the added incentive of being able to parade around and be the envy of the men and women of Italy has fueled their success in the Cup.
I can't quite figure out how Germany has won three World Cups. From what I've heard, their women are big, strong, hairy, and good at the clean and jerk. But maybe, just maybe, that's what German men like. And if that's true, then the German female stock offers unbelievable motivation-- because there's nowhere else in the world where you can find a hefty Bavarian beer maid, except Germany. Those Czech girls are too tall and skinny and the Russian girls have funny teeth. And honestly, when I started Googling German beer maids, most of them were pretty damn cute, and all of them were busty and fertile looking. Maybe I've got a little German in me.
So now let's take a look at a few of the teams in this years World Cup and make some determinations.
I've been to Holland a few times, and I will say this: the women are beautiful there. Tall, often blond, with the coveted "peaches and cream" complexion. It rains a lot there, which is depressing, but great for the ladies' skin. And these beautiful women ride around on bicycles, and ring the little bell to get the stoned tourists out of the way. Definitely some of the finest women I've ever seen-- so this should offer the Dutch team incredible motivation to win the Cup.
EXCEPT, and this is a big except, you don't need to win anything to get laid in Holland. All you need is fifty Euros. Legalized prostitution is a major problem for the Brilliant Orange. It's late in the game and Durval of Brazil is getting tired, but he remembers those long legged brown skinned beauties that will be waiting for him if he wins it all, while his Dutch counterpart Rafael van der Vaart thinks about the lovely women of Holland, but then remembers that if he loses, there is no problem: he can visit a unionized and healthy sex worker, or if he's not so inclined, he can get legally high.
I've never really heard much about Danish girls, and I'm thinking they are rather large, considering that they probably eats lots of Danish, BUT, and I'm no expert in geography (I had to look on a map) Denmark is relatively close to Iceland, and Iceland is renowned for its hot women. And no other country participating in the World Cup is anywhere near that region of the world, and the girls from Iceland can't escape because the entire country has gone broke, so watch out for the Danes! Here are some Icelandic girls to aid you in your World Cup handicapping.
Helen of Troy is actually from Sparta, so Greece was once known for producing unparalleled beauty, but I'm not so sure about recently. The Greek girl I knew from high school had one eye-brow like that scary baby that always gives Maggie the evil eye on The Simpsons. And I don't know how true this is, but someone once asked me, "How do you separate the men from the boys in Greece?"
Answer: With a crowbar.
The United States
Soccer just isn't as big here as it is in the rest of the World. So you don't have to WIN the World Cup to score in the US. You actually don't even have to play soccer. All you have to do is pretend you play soccer, and pretend that your team won the World Cup. American girls are pretty easy, and they rarely know anything about soccer, so this may be the reason the US has never won a Cup. No incentive. I've seen this trick work first hand with hockey as well.
Slovenia, Serbia, Slovakia
Like Romania, all these countries with similar sounding final phonemes have the same "problem." Loads of hookers. Maybe they're not as clean as the ones from Holland, but they are cheap and easy. You might not even need to pay them.
Science joke: how do you make a hormone?
Answer: Don't pay her.
So this is a problem for these players. They might be so tired from sexual intercourse that they won't be able to play well, or they might not be able to focus, because-- win or lose-- they are going to be getting some. In fact, they are going to be getting plenty, in positions and permutations that we can't even imagine. They are also probably going to get plenty of venereal diseases, and it's difficult to play soccer when your crotch itches, because your legs need to move fluidly and without friction. There can't be any resistance down there if you're going to pull off a half volley or a nutmeg.
Ghana and Cameroon
You might be a narrow minded racist and think that everyone in Africa has AIDS, but that's not the case. The incidence of AIDS in Africa is quite variable from country to country. After some statistical analysis, I will say this: the Ghanaian team is nearly three times more motivated than the Cameroonian team, because the incidence of AIDS in Cameroon is three times higher than in Ghana. One person out of twenty has AIDS in Cameroon. So if Cameroon wins the Cup, and the entire twenty three man roster gets laid-- which is a given-- then it is likely that at least one of those players will come into contact with a woman who has HIV. Scary.
Haven't heard much about the women, but the team will certainly receive the adulation and favors of Kim Jong Il. And he's pretty sexy.
Don't know much about these women either, but I do remember the lyrics to the song. "Paraguayan women stay away from me . . . Paraguayan woman, mama, let me be."
But don't let my subjective ramblings influence you. Do your own research! There are plenty of countries I haven't touched on . . . France, Japan, Spain, etc. . . . and this gives you an excuse to Google them all, and check out their ladies. If anyone accuses you of being a pervert, tell them you are doing serious World Cup handicapping, and if anyone questions your source, tell them it is Gheorghe:The Blog.
Or just say, "Uruguay."
Monday, May 17, 2010
I've had a little thing for Zooey Deschanel since I first heard her playful, breathy take as the lead voice of She & Him. Here's 'In the Sun' from their new record. If you can take your eyes off of her, you're a better man than I. And M. Ward's guitar is nearly as good as Zooey.
Old favorite Neko Case is back in fine voice on The New Pornographers' latest. I don't like it quite as much as the band's last two records, but if you like a well-crafted pop hook, A.C. Newman's your man. (If you like Jheri Curl and oddly well-publicized celibacy, A.C. Green's your man.) There's no Neko in the video below, but there are lots of ninjas.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
This application lets you place a representation of the spill anywhere on the planet. TR, if you use this in a report, please feel free to credit me. Or send a candygram.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Be sure to follow up with a non-Gheorghe health care professional before drawing any conclusions.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Do not fret, because G:TB's World Cup Preview will set you straight. It's not comprehensive and it's not objective, but it is certainly definitive and it is certainly American made. And there is enough insightful analysis to pique your interest and prepare you for the opening round.
If you need a reminder of exactly how huge the World Cup is, I highly recommend Franklin Foer's book How Soccer Explains the World: An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. Outside of America, soccer is more than a sport. It is an expression of culture and religion, and a reflection of politics, economy and national character. Unlike American professional sports, soccer is not an escape. It is not a high-scoring carnival, like basketball and football, or a whimsical national past time like baseball . . . no, soccer is life: frustrating, low scoring, unfair, and full of failure. And sometimes soccer explains the world, and sometimes, the world explains soccer.
Group A: South Africa; Mexico; Uruguay; France
The team to beat in Group A. Their pace of their play is slow (some might even call them lazy) but watch for their daring breaks across the mid-line and into enemy territory. Will the backbreaking labor of mid-fielders Johnny Magallon and Andres Guardado be enough to establish the Mexicans on the opposition's turf? They must obtain a legitimate foothold there . . . off-sides, obstruction, and other illegal activities will devastate their plan of attack. If they can pull this off, a wealth of opportunities will abound. But Uruguay, France, and South Africa may erect an impenetrable wall of defense. If the Mexicans are driven back onto their own side of the pitch, then opportunity will be scant.
The home team advantage isn't going to help much here, because South Africa doesn't play as a team. They need to learn to cooperate and not battle themselves. Things will work out better for them if the likes of Matthew Booth can learn to assist players like Katlego Mphela.
France eliminated Ireland from the World Cup in an especially rude manner, when Thierry Henry set up his game winning goal with a blatant hand ball. It is a play that was simply deemed uncouth, and Henry's reaction was equally elitist and ill-mannered. France will get what they deserve.
Group B Argentina; Nigeria; South Korea; Greece
The team to watch in this group. They have struggled since their 2004 Euro Championship, but they have a taste for victory, and they will go for broke in order to win. They may stretch themselves too thin offensively, far beyond their potential, and then there will be disaster, unless incredible defensive play can bail them out.
Group C England; United States; Algeria; Slovenia
England's success hinges on super-striker Wayne Rooney, who recently injured his groin, but he seems to be taking the injury with a stiff-upper lip and a stoic attitude. Look for the Brits to carry-on in this manner, with expansive wins over the smaller nations. They won't have trouble until the face the upstarts: the United States of America.
It is inevitable, and it will come: the US is destined to battle Britain. Our melting pot of players-- ranging from Tim Howard to Landon Donovan to Jose Torres to Brian Ching to Oguchi Onyewu-- will give the English squad fits. Though the Americans play might be more primitive, their quick striking guerrilla style and camouflaged runs should prove to too radical for the hard-nosed British.
Group D: Germany; Australia; Serbia; Ghana
Precise and methodical passing will advance Germany deep into the tournament, where they will humorlessly decimate squads such as France, England, and the Netherlands. Their passionate and motivational coach, Joachim Low, has inspired fervent unity between players such as Hans-Jörg Butt, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, Arne Friedrich, and Andreas Beck. They are a loyal and zealous group, but late in the tournament, once they have progressed far and done great damage, look for the US to step in and deal those Hun bastards . . . excuse me, the Germans . . . a loss in the final round.
Radomic Antic, the Serbian coach, is another formidable figure. It is doubtful, however, that the Serbian squad can remain unified enough to give the Germans a problem. They might clean up Ghana or Australia, but then fragmentation among the ranks will do them in.
Group E: Netherlands; Denmark; Japan; Cameroon
Total football. Brilliant orange. Brilliant football. Total orange. It's best to watch the Dutch team in a dark cozy place in the heart of Amsterdam. On a big TV. The players leave wavy orange trails behind them on the screen. You can just sit and watch and laugh and eat and watch the patterns they make on the screen. Interlocking patterns. Dutch patterns. There is meaning in their patterns and sometimes I know what the meaning is, but then I always forget.
Take note of the Japanese Ronaldo, Takayuki Morimoto. He is young and incredibly dedicated. He will careen headlong straight at the goal with no thought other than to score, even if it means great personal loss. But if he fails, he is rumored to take things very, very hard.
Group F: Italy; Paraguay; New Zealand; Slovakia
With stars like Fabio Cannavaro and Andrea Pirlo, the defending champs seem to be the team to beat, but sometimes you need to research internationally to get the full story. Pak Ui-chun, the North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs, has remarked that the Italian players are a "follicular disgrace" and the Pyongyang media calls them "emotionally feminine and overly defensive."
Group G Brazil; North Korea; Ivory Coast; Portugal
Will Coach Dunga get Robinho, Durval, Juan, and Lucio to flow in synchronized rhythm? Or will it all be Kaka?
Pyongyang media reports that this team is "the best the world has seen and will ever see and that they will prevail without follicular shame." But Vice premier Kwak Bom Gi, an ardent supporter of the national team, worries that the lack of "secret escape tunnels" from the South African stadiums might rattle some of the North Korean players.
Group H: Spain; Switzerland; Honduras; Chile
With loads of Premier League talent, Spain is obviously a threat to win it all, but they are not the fastest starters and sometimes by the middle of the match they can appear almost sleepy, as if they need a mid-game nap. But late in the game, there is no nation more vibrant and exciting.
No real identifiable style here. I predict that they tie every game.
That's it for now, but be on the lookout for more definitive World Cup analysis in the future. And if anyone questions the completely biased opinions you've received here at G:TB, you know what to tell them . . .
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
Bill Murray's hair never fails to crack me up whenever I see this clip. Though, to be fair, his hair can't hold a candle to the hair of the lead singer of Electric Light Orchestra. And since I'm being fair, here's another song to get stuck in your head on this fine Friday morn.
Finally, since Gheorghe: The Blog is now a part of the Twitter movement, I thought I'd let you all know that I jumped on the bandwagon too. Not that you care. However, you should care enough to follow Rick Muscles on Twitter. The highest of comedy and jackassery all rolled into one. Vaya con dios, folks.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
The crunchy folks at Mother Jones give us the inside poop on the results of a recently completed $15m EPA study that evaluated the impacts of bovine emissions on climate change. And more importantly for our purposes, ranked the states by their relative levels of cow-based flatulence.
The top 10: 1. California 2. Wisconsin 3. New York 4. Pennsylvania 5. Minnesota 6. Idaho 7. Texas 8. Michigan 9. Ohio 10. Washington. I'm as shocked as you are to see Pennsylvania in the top 5.
G:TB silent reader Juan Carlos and I headed uptown to catch SJDK at the (surprisingly small) Apollo on Saturday. As Ice Cube would put it, they tore that mothafucka up. I was completely unprepared for their energy and musicianship. Here's a brief sample of Saturday's show:
This wasn't a fluke. Here's some of what they did the night before:
Sharon Jones claimed to be four-foot-eleven, making her the little guy here today. The Dap-Kings towered behind her, 15 musicians strong. Not a typo. She had a 15-piece band including Neal Sugarman of the Sugarman 3 on tenor sax and hypeman/guitarist Binky Griptite, yes, that Binky Griptite, as in Binky Griptite's Ghetto Funk Power Hour. She also had a four-piece string section, a bongo/congo player, and a timpanist. On top of that she had three backup singers. So 19 people groovin on stage. Jones said she's 54 years old but she sang and danced her ass off for two hours straight.
According to a recent NYT interview, Jones attributes her on-stage energy to her pre-show ritual:
Q. What do you do to prepare to go onstage? You consistently have such amazing energy.
SHARON JONES Right before the stage I’m into a little Jameson.
NEAL SUGARMAN [making the sign for a joint] And a little something to smoke.
JONES Don’t write that! Not much. I can’t do that too much. I don’t want to go out there, like, are my eyes all red?
You're probably nodding your head in approval. Jones was a prison guard at Rikers Island before her music career took off. Then she was a backup singer for Lee Fields. Now she's appearing in theaters near you. So mark your calendars:
Richmond May 6
Norfolk May 9
Boston May 27 (looking at you Dooger)
Elmer NJ June 5
SJDK are on now my list of acts to see every time they're in town. If you check them out they'll probably end up on yours as well.
Tangentially, I bummed a cigarette off a Swedish tourist after the show and I told him that I saw "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" and I asked if Sweden's really that messed up and he said "No" but I'm not sure I believe him, he's probably biased.
Even more tangentially, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is very much on my list of acts to ignore. I saw them last month in Boston and they were either too banged up from their previous night in Toronto, bitter about the 6:30 start time, over-produced and not that talented, or some combination of the foregoing. Save your money and stick with their studio stuff.