Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Was the car a red 1961 250GT Spyder California?

NEW YORK, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A New York couple said they returned to their car at a long-term parking lot after a vacation to find it had 724 additional miles on the odometer. Mimi and Ulrich Gunthart said they parked their BMW at an Avistar lot near John F. Kennedy International Airport Aug. 11, returned Aug. 22 and discovered the added mileage, WNBC-TV, New York, reported Monday.

"Somebody had a nice vacation other than us," Mimi Gunthart said.

The Guntharts said there was also an unexplained ink stain on a seat and the CD player blasted music when they started the engine. Avistar Regional Manager David Menter said a review of inventory logs "found nothing out of the ordinary."

"We're definitely going to be examining the procedures to make sure that there's never any question in a customer's mind in the future," Menter said.

Here of course is a clip of the car in action during the Gunthart's vacation:

Monday, August 30, 2010

For 12 hours and 25 minutes yesterday, this was the only song in d-train's head



Actually, in all seriousness, what in god's name does go on in your head when you're doing something like this? d-train? Any of you other exercise go-getters?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Ironhead

Sometime this morning, FOG:TB D-Train entered the Ohio River wearing nothing but a Speedo, goggles, and some magic marker. Maybe some vaseline to protect against nipple-chafing.

Later this afternoon, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise, he'll stumble over the finish line of the 2010 Ford Ironman Louisville after swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles through horse country and running 26.2 miles. Godspeed, D-Train. Better you than us.

(As far as I know, that's not a picture of the D-Train.)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Old School Saturday

In case you're hosting a party tonight but can't figure out what music to play.

SC73 presents a mix from Just Dizle inspired by Planet Rock Paris by sedgwick&cedar

track list:
1.Just-Ice – Latoya
2.Joe Piscopo & Eddie Murphy – Honeymooners Rap
3.MC EZ – Get Retarted
4.The Super Kids – The Tragedy
5.Fearless Four – Rockin’ it
6.Skinny Boys – Jock Box
7.LL Cool J – You’ll Rock
8.Ultramagnetic MCs – Bait
9.Roxanne shante – I’m Fly Shante ft Steady B.
10.Fantasy Three – It’s Your Rock
11.B-Side – Change the beat
12.Spin Masters – Brothers
13.Kurtis Blow – AJ Scratch
14.Velore & Double-O – Your ugly
15.Run-D.M.C. – Rock The House
16.Hurby’s Machine Feat Antoinette – I Got An Attitude
17.Jazzy Jay – Cold Chillin In The Spot
18.Run DMC – Jam Master Jay
19.Schooly D – Saturday Night
20.T La Rock – It’s Yours
21.Disco Four – We’re At The Party
22.The Singing MC Breeze – DiscombobulatorBabulator (Captain Crunch)
23.Ultimate 3 Mc’s – What Are We Gonna Do About It?
24.Davy DMX – One For The Treble
25.Super Lover Cee & Casanova Rud – Super Cassanova
26.Spoonie Gee & The Treacherous 3 – Love Rap
27.Awesome Foursome – Monster beat
28.The Sugar Hill Gang – 8th Wonder

Friday, August 27, 2010

Don't Mesko with the Zoltan

I understand that G:TB has never had an official punter. Until today. "What punter is sufficiently Gheorghe to merit this honor" you ask? Zoltan Mesko, New England's 6-foot-5-inch 231 pound rookie punter.

I received a deluge of Mesko-related texts and emails after the Patriots drafted him, and again last night after he punted the poop out of the pigskin. After a little research, our Doofus Overlord and I decided that Mesko shall be the first punter to receive G:TB's official endorsement.

I first learned of Zoltan Mesko when the zsister texted me this photo taken outside the Big House of her with a Meskovite:



I'm always enthused to find more Zoltans. A little yootoob research yielded some gems. Watch for number 11 in this clip.



Very Gheorghe, or at least very Zoltan. Here's another display of Gheorgheness.



Maybe that's more Zoltan than Gheorghe. How about this?



Sounds pretty Gheorghe to me. Go get your #14 Pats jersey now before they sell out.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Marls Comes Through

He's not the best fictional radio producer in thw world for nothing...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm sick of all this real discourse

and I am the Doofus Overlord. So knock it off...and start talking about what a fat f**k Albert Haynesworth is and enjoy this typically teej clip:

This seems like appropriate filler...

...given yesterday's afternoon conversation in the post below.



Now we do the dance of joy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ranking Topps 1980's Baseball Card Sets: #7 - 1980

Gotta admit that I remember almost nothing about the 1980 baseball season. I remember owning an SI with Reggie Jackson on the cover, but that was about it. Not surprising, since I was only five years old at the time. However, several of the elder statesmen among the editorial staff were married by this time and threw in their thoughts on this year, which helped me decide that 7th place was fitting. All in all, the year wasn't terribly memorable for non-Phillies fans, save for tremendous years by Mike Schmidt and the .400 average-chasing George Brett.

In that year's World Series, the power of the Schmidtstache pushed Philly over the top. That team was pretty stacked, with Rose, Bowa, Carlton, Maddox, McGraw, etc., although it never developed into a dynasty in the mold of the A's, Reds and Yankees squads that dominated the 1970's.

To recap, here are the rankings released to date:

#10 - 1986
#9 - 1988
#8 - 1982
#7 - 1980

Pros

Rickey Rickey Rickey. The rookie card of the greatest base stealer of all-time is the year's crown jewel. I remember getting this card as a gift in 1986, when it was worth $20. I think its value ballooned to $200 at one point, only to come back down to $20. It appears to be hovering a bit south of $69 at the moment. Check here if you don't believe me. Another plus was that this set was only 726 cards. The expansion to 792 didn't happen until1982. So we didn't have All-Star cards. Like we need a Rick Honeycutt card AND a separate Rick Honeycutt all-star card. Sometimes less is more. Unless we're talking about cup sizes. Unfortunately, having less cards in a set meant deluding young saps like myself into thinking they could compile an entire set by buying packs. I always wanted to do this and never came close. I would end up with mangled cards in half-ass stacks all over my bedroom, and then give up.

A cool design feature of the cards was the waving pennants format that showed the position and team of a player, although the colors were often garishly juxtaposed with the team's uniform colors. Or with Pete Rose's hair.


Cons
Again, we have the three-player rookie cards. It's always funny when the three players turn out to be nobodies. Overall, 1980 featured a general dearth of quality rookies.

And we still had to deal with those stinking checklists. I hated checklists like the Hanson Brothers hated root beer. And despite the lack of All-Star cards (mostly a good thing), the cards put a boring black band across the top of the picture on the card to show the player was an All-Star. It looks like a tribute to somebody who died the year before. And no, I don't think the Munson family saw it as a heartfelt gesture by Topps.

We're now 40% of the way done with the list. Stay tuned for the top six years, which will be coming back at you after Labor Day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Cro-Tang Clan: 7 Chambers of Kids

As you likely already know, Antonio Cromartie has 7 kids, all under age 3, in 5 different states with 6 different mothers. A-Cro makes a good faith effort to recount all 7 chambers of the Cro-Tang Clan, although he can't seem to remember the name of the 4th chamber. If Don Draper really existed he'd make Cromartie the face of Trojan's next ad campaign.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ghostface Fillah returns

You can remove "Ghostface Fillah" from the list of non-recurring recurring post themes.

I previously said that "Stapleton Sex" is:

the raunchiest new song I've heard since "Get Low," but it's much more cerebral, along the lines of "Put It In Your Mouth" or "Gangster of Love." Two and a half minutes of coital smack talk including my personal favorite, "This ain't no R&B dick, this hood/My slow jam dick is on Thursdays." I can't wait to use that one.


In an effort to prove me right, or perhaps to further cement his status as the cleanup hitter in the Wu-Tang lineup, Pretty Toney made this video for "Stapleton Sex," which was brought to my attention on Wednesday. Accordingly it is neither R&B dick nor slow jam dick. It is hood. Do not watch it at work unless you would like to get fired.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Once You Grow Up, Beer is Your Trophy

Once you get married, you realize things will never be like when you were a kid.  When you were a kid, and you did something well, you got a trophy.  Or a medal or a sticker or a cupcake or a pat on the back or a "nice job there, little guy."

But once you get older, if you do something really great . . . something really totally amazing . . . like remove a giant stump from your backyard or install a ceiling fan without electrocuting yourself, there will be no one there waiting to hand you a medal or a cookie when you get done.  And it's best not to look for accolades from your wife, because chances are that she does WAY more laudatory stuff than you do . . . she probably buys all the gifts for everyone on BOTH sides of the family and does the bills and keeps track of the tax information and cleans things and puts away the laundry and makes the kids lunches and participates in the PTO and does  all kinds of other stuff that you don't t even know about because she doesn’t need constant encouragement and positive reinforcement to get stuff done.  At least that's the case in my house. 


As most of us know, the only way you can reward yourself once you are an adult, your only trophy after you swat a wasp-nest out of your porch umbrella and fight five giant wasps to the death, will be to grab a beer.  This is scary because it means the busier and more productive you are-- the more trophy-worthy tasks you accomplish-- the more likely you are to become a fat alcoholic.  It's certainly a paradox, and it seems that men succumb to it more than women.  


I will illustrate this theme with a Greasetruck song, but first, here are the top ten things I did in the last three years that were deserving of some sort of recognition . . . and don't be afraid to list your unsung accomplishments in the comments.

  
1.   Fought, Defeated, and Killed the Squirrels in my Attic.
2.   Fought, Defeated, and Killed the Mice in my Shed. 
3.   Built Greasetruck Studio and surrounding Soundproof Bookshelves.
4.   Successfully Collaborated with Igor during the Production of "Dear Ozzy (Thanks for Nothing)."
5.   Did not Beat my Child when he Maliciously and Purposefully Flooded the Kitchen Ceiling.
6.   Almost Finished Infinite Jest.
7.   Uncomplainingly went to a Broadway Show
8.   Performed Admirably at Ian’s Fifth Birthday Despite Having a Massive Hangover.
9.   Took a Novocaine Shot in Roof of Mouth and Did Not Cry
10. Brought Down a Giant Precariously Hanging Tree Limb With Football Duct-Taped to a Rope.




War and Peace
 
I finally finished War and Peace. Nobody give me no trophy.
Yes, I finally finished War and Peace, but nobody give me no trophy.
Read Gravity’s Rainbow, The Recognitions, Bleak House, Tristram Shandy,
The Origin of Species, Brothers Karamazov.  Didn’t get no trophy.  Not even a ribbon.

Caught and disposed of the mice in the shed, listened to Wagner’s
Ring Cycle-- took me three days-- didn’t even get a t-shirt.  
Or a mug or a commemorative plate.

Little kid swim around in a pool, kick a ball in a goal:
they give him a big gold trophy.  And a nice t-shirt.  
Maybe some pizza too.

I stain the deck, run a snake down the toilet, teach my kids how to ride a bike,
install a ceiling fan but . . . you guessed it . . . no trophy . . .
not even a medal or a ribbon or some kind of little prize . . .
a spider ring or a little soldier with a parachute.

I thought that there would be a whole lot more cheering for me--
call my name, lift me up, bikini girls with D-cups.
You beat Call of Duty 3 on veteran level,
you completed a Saturday New York Times crossword,
nobody give you no trophy. Not even a phone call.  Couldn’t Will Shortz give you a phone call? 
  
You survive a mudslide, a tornado, a hurricane, an oil spill, a flood.
Nobody give you no trophy.  Or even a cool hat. 
Just some misappropriated funding. 

I did not beat my children when the purposefully flooded the bathroom
with malicious intent and it came through the kitchen ceiling.
Them kids didn’t give me no trophy.  Not even a “Thank You For Not Beating Me” note.

I tell my wife I did all the dishes and put them away, and she say:
“That’s fantastic honey . . . you want a trophy?”  
Well yes I do, as a matter of fact.
Not that it’s the thing that motivates me but still, it would be a nice gesture.
Something, anyway.  You get a woman some flowers, that’s her trophy.
Hey, did you bring those beers home for me?  You did?
Why thank you!  That's just what I wanted.




Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rosy Palmetto

When we last checked in on the good citizens of South Carolina, they were embroiled in your garden variety sexual innuendo-filled, racially inflamed gubernatorial primary. (Alleged) Sex kitten/closet (alleged) Muslim Nikki Haley won that primary, and is poised to become the state's next Governor in November. And thanks to Alvin Greene's unlikely and increasingly bizarre story, her narrative barely registers on the crazy scale.

Greene, a 32 year-old unemployed Army and Air Force veteran with no prior political experience, earned more than 100,000 votes in the Democratic Senatorial primary, defeating four-term state legislator Vic Rawl for the right to be demolished by Republican Jim DeMint. Armed with a campaign warchest of $114, no political operation to speak of, and no clear platform (he didn't give a single speech during the primary campaign), Greene nonetheless went all Chaminade to Rawl's UVA. This seasoned political observer puts no stock in House Majority Whip James Clyburn's (D-SC) claims that Greene was a GOP plant, mostly because I've spent a lot of time in South Carolina, and a goodly portion of those folks really aren't that bright, Mom and Dad notwithstanding. (Though I confess that the idea amuses me greatly, because it fits perfectly in my vision of South Carolina politics as Dukes of Hazzard story arc.)

In an interview last month with The Guardian, Greene put pressure on DeMint with his unique and entirely pragmatic economic plan, based upon mass marketing of action figures in his image. "Another thing we can do for jobs is make toys of me, especially for the holidays. Little dolls. Me. Like maybe little action dolls. Me in an army uniform, air force uniform, and me in my suit. They can make toys of me and my vehicle, especially for the holidays and Christmas for the kids. That's something that would create jobs. So you see I think out of the box like that. It's not something a typical person would bring up. That's something that could happen, that makes sense. It's not a joke." Hell, it's at least as plausible as Paul Ryan's economic plan.

Here's where I pause and turn to the camera, Zack Morris-style, to remind you that I'm not making any of this up. This gentleman is, in point of fact, the actual Democratic nominee for the United States Senate in South Carolina.

The story's taken a turn in recent days, as Greene attempted to live up to the high standards set by Congress. According to prosecutors in an indictment released on Friday, Greene allegedly showed pornographic images to a University of South Carolina student. Asked for comment, the candidate told reporters, "I'm on the not-guilty side of things. I have to be. I mean, I mean, I mean. I have no comment, I mean."

Amen to that. South Carolina, you never fail to thrill and amaze. Once again, I'm hunkering down and waiting for what's next. I don't think Mark Leyner could write anything more implausibly entertaining.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Alvin Greene Wins South Carolina Primary
http://www.thedailyshow.com/
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mrs. Jay Baller

Not sure what the current (or former) Mrs. Jay Baller looks like. But I'm guessing it's something like this.


If you're not familiar with the Jay Baller story, allow me to re-direct you here. Or here.

Carry on.

New Product Review: The iGod Touched

As the Official G:TB Technology Advisor, I’ve recently warned you about some gadgets you should NOT purchase. I’ve also given you some perspective on the relationship between technology and our mundane lives. But I haven’t recounted my recent transformation: I have become an Apple product user.


My metamorphosis began when I got sick of shoddy MP3 players and sprung for an iPod. Then I replaced our desk-top with an iMac. And finally, when the computer repair shop gave up on my beloved Toshiba Portege Tablet, I made the full conversion and bought a MacBook. Correction: a MacBook Pro. Because I am a Pro Apple User. And it feels GOOD. Since becoming an Apple convert, I have experienced peace and productivity during my computing time. I also confess that at times I now feel superior to other computer users, although I know this is a sin and I try to practice humility.

And so I decided to purchase and review the newest Apple product: the iGod Touched.

PACKAGING AND SET-UP

The iGod Touched ships in a sturdy Ark of the Covenant. Inside is a Styrofoam clam shell that is surprisingly easy to open. You can order your iGod Touched in most any color, but DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY at the product when you open the Ark. You will go blind. To prevent this, I bought the optional Techni-Color Dream Coat to cover mine.


ANOTHER WARNING: Do Not Eat the Glowing Apple on the brushed aluminum case! It will be tempting, because it looks delicious, but this apple is NOT edible! It contains the device’s security module and fingerprint ID, so if you eat this apple, you will have a hard time accessing your new iGod Touched.

There is a warning about the apple in bold on the first page of the manual, but who reads the manual? Ladies, you know I'm talking about you . . . you never read the manual. So I’m giving you a heads up-- DO NOT EAT THE APPLE! I know I’m being sexist here, ladies, but I care about you and your new product. Despite what you think about me. How do I know what you think about me? Read on.


SOME SPECS

Apple has upped the memory of the iGod Touched from 64 GB to infinite, so go ahead and put every movie, audio book, mp3, and video clip in existence on there. Rip your entire collection of Blue Oyster Cult CD’s, just in case. Download all of Francois Truffaut’s films . . . you just might watch them. Someday. Especially if you opt for the iGod Touched Pro, because then you can use your Time Machine to control Time.

The iGod Touched Pro also has an Omniscience feature. I’m not sure if this is all it is cracked up to be. It is an extremely powerful Application, but I got bogged down organizing my folders.

I tried the obvious categories: Things People Say About Me When I’m Not Around . . . Things People Will Say About Me When I’m Dead . . . What My Ex-Girlfriends Think About Me . . . but then, and I think this is a natural progression, I started getting into very specific and rather obtuse themes, such as Where Mudslides Will Occur in the Near Future . . . Where Hot Celebrities Will Be Hanging Out in New Jersey . . . What Happens in the Kitchen of Chinese Restaurants I Frequent . . . What Geographical Facts Will I Need to Know in Order to Seem Smart in Conversation . . . and, honestly, if you continue down this road, you’re not going to have much fun with your new product. I am recommending you purchase the model without this feature.

Because the iGod Touched exists in all points of time and space, Apple is releasing two models at once: the New and the Old. The New iGod Touched is far more forgiving of novice mistakes, but I prefer the Old model, which is more vengeful. I tried to access a non-existent memory address on my Old iGod Touched and it delivered seven pus filled suppurating welts unto my abdomen. That was the last time I made that mistake!

The screen resolution is magnificent: the G:TB physicists say it goes to the quantum level, but many people say this is overkill, as who is going to look at their personal computing device with an electron microscope? I say: Transformers never looked so good. Thumbs up for quantum resolution. In 3-D, of course. As I mentioned earlier, for an extra fifty dollars you can also control Time with the Time Machine feature.

PERFORMANCE

Although the iGod Touched is extremely fast for many simple applications, if you ask it something more difficult, such as “Can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it?” then it may freeze up. You can try to Force Quit, but Old models might zap you with forked lightning. And whatever you do, don’t open the case! Remember Raiders of the Lost Ark? No one wants to date someone with a melted face. Leave it to a professional, your local priest or rabbi will help you for a nominal donation.



Other questions to avoid: “How can one billion Hindus be wrong?” and “Is it ethical to form a special purpose off-shore entity to hide debt until after quarterly earnings in order maintain the bond price of a synthetic CDO that is based on tranched sup-prime mortgages of a supposedly “diversified” portfolio while your companies special interest representative lobbies for more transparency in the market?” There are some questions even the iGod Touched can’t answer.

Your iGod Touched may prompt you to do some rather unorthodox actions. Once when the battery was running low, the Divine Help Messenger advised me to “sacrifice my eldest son in order to not lose all unsaved data.” You can imagine my consternation. For a moment, I doubted, but then I remembered all the transcendent and hassle free computing I had done with my other Apple products. Plus, I was half way through my Turbo Tax statement, so I had no choice.


As I was binding my son’s hands to the altar I had constructed in my front yard-- I am a proud Apple user-- my iGod Touched provided me with a wounded raccoon and instructed me to run over it with my mini-van and then burn it in my neighbor’s trash can. I didn’t lose any data, but I did learn that burning raccoon hair smells just like burning human hair. And after that demonstration of my faith, my iGod Touched performed extremely well for me.

ODDS AND ENDS

During the Olympics, it’s nice to be able to visit a plague or a drought on countries you dislike.

The scrolling takes some getting used to, but the papyrus has a nice analog feel to it. The operating system still has some bugs in it (locusts) but once Apple finishes their updated version, you’ll never know you didn’t have it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Now that I have an iGod Touched, I’m not sure how I lived without it. Before I owned this product, I was lost and incomplete. I had nothing to guide me. Literally. The onboard navigation system is fantastic. The voice sounds like James Earle Jones, and when I made a wrong turn and ended up under the Donald Goodkind Bridge, my iGod Touched simply parted the Raritan River so I could drive across and cut through the Loew’s parking lot. Try getting your TomTom to do that!



There are people that say they are just fine without an iGod Touched. They wonder why we can’t simply live in the Now, and make our lives on earth as heavenly as we can. They say we don’t need to have meta-physical knowledge about the future at our fingertips. They say we don’t need faith in something bigger, something better, something more powerful. To me, that sounds like hell on earth.I have faith that the smart people at Apple will produce something better, faster, smaller, and more hip than the last thing they produced. This is what gets me through each day.

In conclusion, the iGod Touched is worthy of worship, but I still recommend buying the extended warranty, which guarantees the iGod Touched until Armageddon or the Rapture, whichever comes first.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ranking Topps 1980's Baseball Card Sets: #8 - 1982

I'm not gonna lie. 1982 was a fantastic baseball season. There were lots of up and coming stars like Valenzuela, Raines and Henderson, several Hall of Famers at/near their peak (Brett, Schmidt, Ryan, Ozzie, Murray and Carew) and several Hall of Famers winding down their careers (Carlton, Bench, Yaz, Seaver). Just a lot of fun all the way around after a bitter 1981 season.

The Braves started the season with a 13-game win streak and were 40-4 through 44 games. I vividly remember this run because I spent 10 days in Florida in April, where I got turned onto the wonders of TBS on cable TV. God bless Ted Turner for letting me watch the Atlanta Braves from Delray Beach, FL. Other memories of that trip include watching a big screen TV for the first time (bad-ass), playing Intellivision for the first time on that big screen (very bad-ass) and playing Intellivision baseball on that big screen (very bad-ass until I got thrown out by a left-fielder at first base when I thought I hit a single; not bad-ass at all). And Rickey Henderson was as exciting as a baseball player got for a 7 year old like me. I remember watching sports programs that would cut away to A's games to show Rickey when he got on base, because you KNEW he was going to run. He ended up stealing 130 that year (and was caught 42 times). I don't see that being surpassed any time soon. I think the talking heads at ESPN would get an aneurysm with the Moneyball-esque debates about a player trying to steal 172 times in a year.

These memories are some of the best I have of baseball as a kid. But I have to say that they pale in comparison to the undying heterosexual affection I had for the 1982 Brewers. I have no idea what it was about this team, but I loved the hell out of them. And they came closer to the World Series than most people remember. They were up 3-1 in the sixth inning of Game 7 of the World Series against the Cardinals before blowing the lead. I remember the epic seasons that Yount, Gorman Thomas and Cecil Cooper had. I don't think I can ever forget the names - Vuckovich, Cecil, Gorman, Ogilvie. The team had 4 players with at least 29 HRs and 102 RBIs. Not too shabby in that era.So with this great build-up, let's recap the rankings to date and examine why 1982 didn't make it higher than #8 on our list.

#10 - 1986
#9 - 1988
#8 - 1982

Pros

We've talked about what a great regular- and post-season it was. And the cards themselves had some (but not many) redeeming features. Most importantly, the cards featured an onslaught of porntastic mustaches. Like this one:


And this one:

We also got a slew of good-but-not-great rookies this year. Guys you fondly remember watching for 10-15 years. Names such as Kent Hrbek, Chili Davis, Dave Stewart, Lee Smith, Brett Butler, Steve Sax and Jesse Barfield. We also had a Danny Ainge card (he had 665 MLB at-bats over three years with the Blue Jays). But the big gun in this year's rookie set was the Bonner/Ripken/Schneider rookie. Yes, you read that right. Which is a good reason to segue into the cons for this year.


Cons


Topps made a tactical error over a few years with its "Future Stars" series designed to put three rookies on the same card. And we see with the Ripken card how goofy it is in retrospect. Cal Ripken is flanked by Bob Bonner and Jeff Schneider. Who wants to see their mugs on a Ripken rookie? Not me, that's who. Topps addressed the issue by giving Ripken his own card in the 1982 Topps Traded Set, but it ain't the same.

And while we're nitpicking, let's ask ourselves why Topps chose such a cheesy logo for the cards that year. It looks like a pair of hockey sticks. And the colors often had nothing to do with the color of the team's uniform. Maybe I'm overly concerned with aesthetics when looking at the Bonner/Ripken/Schneider card, but having green, blue purple and light blue surrounding the black and orange uniforms of the Orioles rookies is a mess. We also take points away for including the dreaded checklist in the traded series. It is a weak way to pad the set to get to 132 cards.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sunday, Sunday

The internet is a wondrous and kind mistress. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Great Athletes Are Different, But Pretty Good is Alright.

If you've ever checked out kottke.org, you know it usually lives up to its promise of "fine hypertext products."  While browsing over there,  I stumbled on an essay by Tim Carmody particularly relevant to G:TB readers . . . it's called Athletes are Different from You and Me and since it's Saturday, you might have some time to read it.  It's not long and it might make you feel pretty good about yourself.  It made me feel pretty good.  Pretty, pretty good.


If you don't have time to read the essay, here is a synopsis:  we love and revere great athletes for their skill, perseverance, and competitiveness, but we don't actually like to think about what it takes to perform at this level.  What does it take?  It takes constant and mindless practice, it takes obsessive dedication, it takes drugs . . . legal and illegal, and it takes a mindset that is rather small and possibly sociopathic.  The essay is concise and specific, using Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and BMX biker Mat Hoffman as archetypal examples.  Also, I should probably warn you that there are quotations from David Foster Wallace, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It is an elegant and high quality hyper-text product with interesting links and a nice font.  It is pro-blogging that I aspire to.  Sort of.

Those of you that know me, know that I am a pretty good athlete.  I'm a pretty good soccer player.  I'm pretty good at ping-pong.  And darts.  I'm pretty fast, and I'm a pretty good place kicker.  I play a decent game of tennis.  I'm pretty good at golf.  I'm a pretty good skim-boarder, and I'm a pretty good snow-boarder.  I can hold my own at pool.  I was a pretty good running back.  I managed to run and kick a rugby ball just fine.  I was a decent wrestler.  I am most proud of this fact:  I'm pretty good at basketball.  People who only know me from college might think this is an insane statement, because I was a BAD basketball player entering college, and became an ABSURD basketball player in college (I played on an intra-mural team called the Nick's:  everyone on the team was 5'9" and under and we wore wife-beaters as our uniform . . . and since I was 5'9" and a half, I played center and led the team in scoring but fouled out of every game in the first half . . . things became more bizarre when we added Igor--who is 6'5"-- as our point guard) but after college I worked on my game (with the help of my brother Marc, a local park basketball legend) and by the time I was twenty five, people considered me a pretty good basketball player.  I am a fairly strong swimmer, I toss a decent bean-bag, and I can cast a fly rod with some accuracy. 

Before I read Carmody's essay, I had regretful thoughts about my athletic career. If I practiced putting more, I could have played golf at William and Mary . . .why did I quit soccer for two years to get beat up as a running back? . . . if I had gone to a dedicated place kicking camp, maybe I could have been the next Joe Danelo . . . or even Ali Haji Sheikh! Why didn't I focus?  Why didn't I specialize?  I could have been somebody!
 
But after I read the essay, I realized that pretty good is alright.  To be great, you need to be sort of insane.  You need to dedicate an inordinate amount of time and thought to a very thin sliver of life.  To be somebody in the world of high level athletics can't be all that much fun (besides the groupies-- the groupies are probably a whole lot of fun).

This has happened to me in other areas too.  I'm a pretty good writer, but-- as many of you know-- I'm never going to write a book.  I'm pretty good at the guitar, but I don't think I'm ever going on tour.  I'm a pretty good soccer coach, but I'm happy coaching eighth grade.  Varsity is too much work.  And this post could be better, but I'm probably not going to revise it.  If you want to read something really well done, read Carmody's essay.


Generally, when players are asked why they doped themselves, they say that that is the only way to compete.  Jose Canseco claims steroids made his career: with their help, he went from a runty 5'11" to a musclebound 6'4".  Without them, he would have been nothing.  Slate calls it a love story.  

It would be pleasant to hear a player say that he used steroids so he could spend less time in the weight room and more time with his kids . . . or so he could skip some training to go fishing or help his wife around the house; people might empathize with athletes if they put it that way . . . but I guess that's the logic of someone who just wants to be pretty good.  Pretty pretty good.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ranking Topps 1980's Baseball Card Sets: #9 - 1988

With much aplomb, we move to the second edition of our ten-part series ranking Topps baseball card sets from the 1980's. If you are unfamiliar with this groundbreaking series, allow me to direct you here for the first episode, which features an introduction to the series and a brief divergence into juvenilia. As I mentioned at the time, we intended this to be a weekly column. So, two weeks later, here is the second edition.

#9 - 1988

1988 was a simple time. Body Glove was cool, NBA shorts were short, Bob Ross and Remote Control ruled the airwaves and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince made us get jiggy before we knew what getting jiggy really meant. In the world of baseball cards, the momentum from 1987 was immense. The bubble was fully in effect and prices were inflated. So the highly anticipated 1988 Topps set was fairly disappointing. Visually, there wasn't a whole lot going on with the cards. We had bland font on top and a name banner on the bottom right. I would've preferred something spectacularly tacky that fit with the ethos of the period.

Pros
Here are the things we like about the 1988 set. First, it featured a 7 card "Record Breaker" series. The players featured were Vince Coleman, Don Mattingly, Benny (nee Benito) Santiago, Mark McGwire, Phil Neikro, Eddie Murray and Nolan Ryan. Not too bad a list here. Second, it acknowledged Dennis Boyd only as Dennis Boyd. No Oil Can. I found that slightly comical. Third, it featured Jay Baller (picture below). I have no idea if this is an actual player, or if some plumber's son in Ashtabula doctored a photo of his coked-out Dad from back in the day. All I know is that I don't want to do research and possibly become disappointed by the truth. I just want to think that this guy, and/or his chest pelt, was the inspiration for Kenny Powers. Seriously, did anybody ever hear of this guy? And could his name be any greater? No. No it could not.

While we're on the topic of 80's hair and mustaches, look at this hirsute disaster...

...and look at Dave Palmer's form. We now know who Tim Robbins mimicked when coming up with Nuke LaLoosh's pitching motion.


Cons
One big con was the Olympic team set from this year. Not a lot of the featured players became stars in the majors. Notable 1988 Olympians included Tino Martinez, Jim Abbott, Robin Ventura, Charles Nagy and Ed Sprague. Mehh. Another problem with the set is that the rookies from this year were pretty weak, and featured a lot of steroid-era figures. Here's a list of likely dirty rookies from 1988: Ken Caminitti, Brady Anderson, Matt Williams, Ellis Burks and Roberto Alomar. Other rookies included Tom Glavine and Al Leiter. A third hit on the set was the inclusion of manager cards. Getting those in a pack was about as lame as it got. For every Tommy Lasorda or Sparky Anderson, you'd get a John Wathan or a Jim Fregosi. But in all fairness, I will admit there was a stellar crop of managers in 1988: Lasorda, Sparky, Lou Pinella, Dick Williams, Davey Johnson, Tom Kelly, Pete Rose, Larry Bowa, Bobby Valentine, Jim Leyland, Whitey Herzog and Gene Mauch. Not bad. But getting a manager in a pack of baseball cards still sucked, almost as much as when you got a checklist card. A final complaint is that Topps was still sticking to its theory that putting multiple names and faces on one card was a good thing. Topps included a "Team Leaders" card for each team. So you can remind yourself that Spike Owen was one of the best hitters on the 1987 Red Sox. A lot of the pairings still hold up - Ripken Jr./Murray, Brett/Saberhagen and Bonds/Bonilla, but we don't need to celebrate Vance Law''s1987 season, when he hit .273 with 12 HRs. Leave Hubie Brooks on that Expos card by himself.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Soccer Filler with Potential that I Do Not Tap

This video was provided G:TB's correspondent in the sky, Nags Head local meteorologist "Windy Buttocks."  It is SFW.  I find it fascinating on several levels.  First, of course, is the level of accuracy this guy has with his shots. I wish I knew how many tries it took him to complete each stunt.

The second thing I like is the effect the background music has on the tone.  If you watch him while listening to Plain White T''s "Hey There Delilah," then the video takes on a meditative quality.  But if you watch the second version, his exploits have a much different feel.  Though I think "Hey There Delilah" is a lame song, and I prefer the music of the second band, I prefer the lameness for this video. 






But my favorite thing about the video is his style . . . I love his confident walk away after each shot.  This ALMOST inspired me to make my own video reply to this.  After my kids and I watched this, we immediately went outside and set up some shots.  I tried to kick the ball into a wagon as my son pulled it across the front yard, but instead slammed the ball off the air-conditioner repair guy's van that was parked in my drive-way.  My wife found this hysterically funny.  I did not point out to her that I had once (at this person's insane request) kicked a motorcycle helmet off a dude's head with a particularly precise and powerful shot.

So for a day or two I was inspired to make my own parody of this video, a film wherein I set up and take amazing shots around my town, and I always confidently walk away before I see the result . . . and the result is always bad.  Broken windows, a lady with her hair in curlers waving a rolling pin at me, concussed children, dented cars, wounded dogs.  I would never hit my target . . . but always hit something else.  It's a fantastic idea but I don't have the time or patience to execute it.  In some ways, it might be harder to film than the original.  And I don't even have a video camera.  So I'm giving the idea to the internet and maybe someone else will do it the justice it deserves.  Thanks in advance, internet!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I don't want to alarm anyone...

or in the case of this blog's audience, bore anyone...but have you seen who is currently baseball's hottest team? Hint: their hometown loves Old Bay, STDs and Dru Hill.

That's right folks, since the Baltimore Orioles hired Buck Showalter last week they are an astounding 6-1. "TJ, how is a 6-1 record astounding", you might ask. Well, when the team is 32-73 prior to that 7 game run under old management, looking like a team that can't wait for the season to end...this kinda turn around is nothing short of miraculous.

Now yes, I am the same guy who got mad at MASN last week for a Showalter graphic after just three games, yelling "sample size" to an empty living room...and I'm still right. This 6-1 start could all be a sham, and the Orioles could end the year 6-44. But I don't think so. And most importantly, it gets to the point (finally) of this post...not only do I no longer think the Orioles are the worst team in baseball, I think Buck is about to pull off the impossible and prevent the O's from losing 100 games.

First of all, the teams I think Baltimore will replace in the overall standings:
Seattle (currently 43-70): Complete C-F in the Pacific Northwest. I almost wish Milton Bradley were still alive so he could ruin Darren Brown's short stint on the Titanic.
Pittsburgh (39-72): It's not even nice to make fun of these guys. It's just fucking sad the product they have put on the field for the last 20 years. And the odd thing is, this year's team has some talented guys...they just can't avoid the suck smog that envelopes PNC Park.

And now, drumroll please, here is how Buck Showalter can salvage some Inner Harbor pride and lose only 99 games:
Baltimore is currently 38-74. They have 50 games left.
BUCK, YOU MUST SIMPLY* GO .500 TO CLOSE OUT THE YEAR. 25-25. DO IT.
That would leave the 2010 Baltimore Orioles 63-99. And that would be simply amazing.



*Don't go look at the AL East-dominated schedule that remains for the O's. It kinda kills the optimism.

Stop watching "Quick Change" on repeat

Your venti morning filler with a shot of idiocy:
Woman in clown suit accused of robbing bank
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Police in northeastern Pennsylvania have arrested a woman they say robbed a bank in a clown costume. Bethlehem police said the woman was captured about five minutes after the bank robbery late Friday morning. Her name has not been released. Police said the suspect told bank employees she had a bomb, and fled with an unknown amount of cash. Arriving officers say they chased her to a nearby park and nabbed her changing out of the clown suit in her car. A bomb squad robot checked out items found in the car, including the clown suit and a multicolored wig. No explosives were found. No one in the bank was injured.

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Inception of my Resurgent Bitterness

After slogging through a long week at work with a long slog of work ahead of us for the weekend, the zwoman and I went to dinner and a movie on Friday night. She wanted to see "Inception," and it was playing in an IMAX theater at a convenient time, so I ponied up the $38 for two tickets. I don't recall ever being so bitter over spending $38.


The alleged IMAX theater in Kip's Bay isn't a real IMAX. It's just a big movie screen. Remember when we were kids and all theaters had only one screen and it was really big? Like the old theater on DoG Street? Imagine that with a sharper picture and a louder sound system. That isn't IMAX. Turns out the "real IMAX" theater is in Lincoln Center.

The dearth of IMAXdom was an initial perturbance, but I settled into my seat and got over it quickly. Until the movie started.

"Inception" takes ideas from "The Matrix," "The Cell," and "Total Recall" and combines them to form the most ill-conceived sci-fi movie since "Jumpers."


I can deal with sci-fi movies if they're well done. My only requirement is that the movie set out some underlying rules for the forthcoming supernatural shitshow, and that it stick to those rules. "Inception," like "Jumpers," has no rules.

I watched "Jumpers" for free at home on demand. Afterwards I wanted those 88 minutes of my life back and I was insulted by the movie's stupidity. "Inception" sprawls out for 148 minutes, almost two and a half hours of inconsistent plot and tiresome clenched-jaw intensity by every male actor on the screen. It's even more insulting that "Jumpers" and I'm still livid that I'm out $38.

The plot is: Leonardo DiCaprio and his buddies have this machine that allows you to experience shared dreams with other people while they are plugged into the machine. They use this machine to steal information from people through their dreams. One of his jobs gets botched and he has to fix it so that he can return to the United States to be reunited with his kids because right now he's suspected of murdering his wife so he has to live abroad, but if he fixes the botched job he can clear the murder charges.

It's as terrible as it sounds. There appear to be almost no rules to how the dream machine works, and the few rules set out early on are broken throughout the movie. It's nonsense. I realize that sci-fi is almost definitionally nonsensical, but this thing is beyond the nonsense pale.

The only way they could have salvaged this mess would be if in the end, when DiCaprio faces an elderly and lyophilized Ken Watanabe, he gets the secret information he was supposed to get from Watanabe at the beginning of the movie. A dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream. That's right. The only way to make this story remotely acceptable would be if six dreams were involved.

Instead we get predictable puke. I give it one bitter pill out of ten.