Friday, December 30, 2011

The Twelve Days of Gheorghe-mas: Day Twelve

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

Twelve Appreciations

Eleven Months of Nonsense
Ten Holiday Beers
Nine Small-Town Nimrods
Eight Songs Dave Doesn't Loathe
Seven (More) Football Stories
Six Bits Worth Reviving
Five Awesome Gifts
Four Smokin' Rock Chicks
Three Blogging Concepts (Sports, Drinking, Elitism)
Two Footie Stories
And a Doofus on a Pony

Definition of APPRECIATION
\ə-ˌprē-shē-ˈā-shən, -ˌpri- also -ˌprē-sē-\

a : judgment, evaluation; especially : a favorable critical estimate
b : sensitive awareness; especially : recognition of aesthetic values
c : an expression of admiration, approval, or gratitude

: increase in value

It’s the fourth installment of Gheorghe-mas, and it’s the fourth time we close it out with a dozen appreciations for the year. This year we’re bringing back the association of these appreciations with my favorite music of the year. The truth is, I only failed to do so last year because I had listened to very little new music in 2010. Last year was a crappy, crappy year for a lot of folks in our gang, including me; I only learned this year that my personal barometer for the year is, in part, how much new music I hear, acquire, and enjoy. Who knew?

Drive-By Truckers, “Used to Be a Cop”
Trombone Shorty, “Do To Me”
Wilco, “One Sunday Morning (Song for Jane Smiley's Boyfriend)”

Let’s kick off my appreciations with an old stand-by, my ongoing love of seeing live music. There just isn’t much that beats it, and even with dollars on the wane this year, I managed to hit more than my fair share of great shows:

  • The Avett Brothers

  • Drive-By Truckers

  • Phish

  • Stone Temple Pilots

  • Trombone Shorty

  • Wilco

I can thoroughly recommend any of these artists in a live setting. With tickets already bought for a show I mention below, as well as the Old 97’s, Cowboy Junkies, and yes, Adam Ant in 2012, looks like we’re off to a fine start for the next year.

The Black Keys, “Lonely Boy”

Here’s how it used to work: I’d see old classmates like Zman every 3 or 4 Homecomings, maybe we’d talk music, and then we’d regale each other with stories about recent shows we’d seen. “Wow, wish I’d seen that show,” “Man, wish I’d known they were playing there,” and the like.

Here’s how the modern era of communication works: Zman posts the video to “Lonely Boy” pretty much as soon as the Keys were done filming it. Six weeks later, he sends me an e-mail with a link to the pre-sale for tickets to the Norfolk show in March. I get two General Admission tix online. A couple of days later, I send him an e-mail with info for a second pre-sale offering for the NYC tickets. The first show at MSG had sold out before he could land them, and he hadn’t seen this other opportunity. He subsequently scored a pair online.

God bless technology and its application to our collective rocking out to The Black Keys and many other acts. Without it, come March, Zman and I might be lonely boys indeed. Here's to Z, too.

Here's also to Squeaky, who continues to provide me discloads of music with neither prompting nor reciprocity. Thanks, as always, dude.

Feist, “How Come You Never Go There”
Death Cab for Cutie, “Stay Young, Go Dancing”

Rob referenced it ever so briefly in Day 11, but here’s another hat-tip to Shlara, if only for going out on a limb in a post that evoked a lot of other G:TBers’ stories and sentiments. We’re still pulling for you, Shlara, and we mean that in the dirtiest way possible. (Actually, I’m just glad you actually speak to me after my bad behaviors of our undergrad days.) Here’s also to Mark, who never bitched about a fairly debilitating injury – one that kept him from doing what made him happy – until it became extremely pertinent. Definitely feel for you, dude (ngs). And here’s to the G:TBers and FOG:TBs and everyone else with real-life struggles that, frankly, we can’t take less seriously. May our moronic little spitbowl here serve somewhat as a salve for what ails you.

Fitz and the Tantrums, MoneyGrabber
Peter Bjorn and John, “Second Chance”

2011, for me, can be categorized fairly succinctly:

  • Qtr 1: last three months of working for a tyrant

  • Qtrs 2 & 3: unemployed

  • Qtr 4: working at a job I love

The hell that was the 13 months of working for the -- without exaggeration -- worst human being I have ever met came to crashing close in March. I sent her a 3,500-word e-mail detailing the mismanagement, unprofessionalism, financial discrepancies, outright lies, and fraudulent activities she had demonstrated. Days later I was fired. Stay tuned, fans of the law.

For six months I was unemployed. You'd never know it from my lackluster G:TB output, but I was on the dole for half a year. Sucked pretty bad. Job opportunities rose and fell, but I managed to land a prominent position in a fantastic nonprofit. My role is to find jobs for people with disabilities, and it's more rewarding than any job I've held before it. I only hope to perform up to the levels they need, because the cause is worthy and these folks need work.

"Appreciating" this development is not a strong enough word. I am reveling in it. May you find a place of work that gives you satisfaction and appreciation, if not joy. Makes a world of difference.

Beth Hart & Joe Bonnamassa, “Well, Well”
Portugal.The Man, “Got It All

In addition to my appreciation for the career turn, I’ve had quite a few random windfalls lately. For some reason, I’ve been winning pools and drawings left and right. Nearly every time I threw my name into a hat, it came up Igor. Not that it’s always a huge payday; it’s usually quite the opposite. I won a crap golf shirt and a key chain. I won two tickets for a ride on the American Rover, a local schooner vessel. I won $15 in a raffle in which I entered $1.

Sometimes it’s pretty damn good, though. We won an iPad from Shaw Floors & HGTV for our entry in their Before & After contest. I won the super-exec parking spot for the next year here at work. I have been in a neighborhood poker group for 4 years, playing once a month and never won the big game in those years – then in a huge, well publicized game in November, I won it all and took home a sizeable chunk of change, taking out some of the best players I know in succession. Tons of luck there, as the final hand I was dealt was – no lie – 6 and 9, unsuited. (5-7-8 on the flop.)

I’ve always felt like I was a pretty lucky guy, and despite some recent nosedives in my life, I still do. (Granted, my fantasy football team sucked and my Powerball/Mega Millions results are never even close . . . but I’m still more fortunate than the next guy.)

Lissie, “Games People Play”
Mike Doughty, “Na Na Nothing”
Fountains of Wayne, “Someone's Gonna Break Your Heart”

Seems like every Day 12 I lament the lousy sports teams for whom I root and find a silver lining in them to appreciate. The latter part of this task is getting mighty tough.

  • New York Mets: 77-85, 4th place, ownership ineptitude, Madoff implications, one of the faces of the franchises defected to Miami, not getting better any time soon

  • Washington Redskins: at best they will meet my 6-10 prediction, ownership ineptitude, embarrassments galore, Rex Grossman, not getting better any time soon

  • William & Mary football: ranked #1 preseason, finished 5-6, meh

  • William & Mary men’s hoops: currently 1-11, ranked #336, extreme meh

  • Washington Bullets: 23-59 last year, 68 wins over last 3 years, not getting better any time soon

  • Norfolk Tides (AAA baseball): 56-87, last place, 24.5 GB, not getting better any time soon

The Virginia Destroyers of the UFL won the title!
Whoops, I never caught a down of it, though Marty Schottenheimer was winning games just 30 minutes away from my house. Meanwhile, my curiosity was piqued by the arrival of the Norfolk Sharx, an indoor soccer team in the MISL. I checked the paper two days ago, and here was the list of their results thus far:

Nov. 11 - Syracuse Silver Knights - L, 23-7
Nov. 19 - Milwaukee Wave - L, 21-7
Nov. 25 - Wichita Wings - L, 16-11
Nov. 26 - Missouri Comets - L, 19-9
Dec. 1 - Rochester Lancers - L, 16-2
Dec. 3 - Wichita Wings - L, 17-4
Dec. 10 - Missouri Comets - L, 15-4
Dec. 18 - Baltimore Blast - L, 19-8
Dec. 22 - Rochester Lancers - L, 26-10

Oof. I sure can pick ‘em.

Well, here’s the thing. I got into the College of William & Mary once upon a time because of three things: (1) a obvious clerical error; (2) my high school’s headmaster pulling some strings; and (3) because of one essay. In the essay I attempted to depict myself in stark contrast to the parade of trophy-hoisting winners and all-around champions that surely filled the applicant pool. Somewhere in the piece, I proclaimed, “You see, I have learned how to lose.” I detailed the extended woes of the varsity football team on which I played which went 1-9 two years in a row. I highlighted the disappointment of failing to make the varsity baseball team after hitting .351 for JV the year prior. I wrote in excruciating detail about losing our homecoming football game in part because the best catch I ever made was a foot out of bounds. (I didn’t need to expound upon my academic losses much, as my transcript told the bloody tale.) Man, I am one pathetic loser.

The College of Chris Wren saw fit to accept me, knowing I was more than ready for the steady stream of disappointments at W&M. Ironically, my favorite sports teams were in their championship-winning heyday then, in stark contrast to my own. Now, as good luck befalls me in other aspects of my life (see above), the sports teams I follow have hit a stupefying slump the likes I haven’t seen since . . . well, maybe my senior year at W&M. (There are droughts, and then there are W&M scoring droughts. Ah, yes, the disappointment.)

Hey – last night the Norfolk Sharx topped the Rochester Lancers, 18-16! So you’re telling me there’s a chance . . . and I appreciate it.

The Jayhawks, “Tiny Arrows”

Here’s to unexpected pleasures. New things that you’d never expect to be good, old things you had written off long ago. Apple pie moonshine, unbelievably tasty. The Jayhawks regrouping and putting out an album. Oft-embattled and generally self-sabotaging Johnny G winning our fantasy football title. (Sorry, Rob.) Adam Ant on tour? Count me in.

Maybe this will breed optimism about things I’d naysay, things like, say, The Beach Boys regrouping and making an appearance at JazzFest in April. Based on this interview with Mike Fucking Love (seriously, read each answer . . . what a self-absorbed prick), nothing has changed with the champ-de-douche. But with Brian and Al and Bruce Johnston there, it could be pretty spectacular. Or maybe Mike Love could fall off the stage and injure himself badly.

JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Drive-By Truckers, “Everybody Needs Love” (awesome video from Letterman, watch the end)

Ray Lamontagne, “Crazy”

I dig me a good cover tune. I did when I typed this screed in 2004, and I continue to scour the music soundscape for creative and worthy renditions of old songs. The ones listed above are outstanding; the version of the Wilco song is killer, with Archie Bell, Sam & Dave, and Otis Day influences. Here’s a listen of solid efforts from 2011 I also enjoyed:

Rhett Miller, "California Stars"
Weezer, "Paranoid Android"
Dum Dum Girls, "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out"
Nick Cave & Neko Case, "She's Not There"
Kurt Vile, "Downbound Train"
David Garrett, "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
Rachael Yamagata, "I'm Going to Go Back there Someday"

Jessica Lea Mayfield, “Our Hearts Are Wrong”

You only get one chance to make a first impression. And the first impressions that I get are usually way, way wrong.

Dave was a greasy weird guy from NJ that I’d never hang with after freshman year. Well, actually he’s a guy I still drive hours to see, one of the smartest dudes I’ve met, and my absolute foil on this planet. (Still weird, though.)
TJ was a brash blowhard. Well, actually he’s a highly introspective and considerate guy behind the curtain. (Don't tell anyone.)
TR, Zman, and Marls were uppity young dweebs unworthy to follow in our fraternity’s stead. Well, actually, they’re all rock solid with more interesting things to say in a deferential way than most people I know. (In truth, I always thought TR was pretty cool.)
Jerry was an idiot. Well, actually, Jerry is a savant.
Mark was a curmudgeon. Well, actually, Mark can be insightful and agreeable. Moreso when the Gators play well.
Dennis was fairly out of touch with the G:TB constituency. Well, actually, go read his brilliant Day 10.
Rob was a geeky little guy that I’d never hang with after freshman year. Well, actually, he’s the best friend a fellow could ask for, a mountain of character in a tiny little frame, and a guy I look forward to hanging with and poking fun at many times a year for years to come.

The lesson, as always, is that I am an idiot.

Adele, Someone Like You

Foster the People, Pumped Up Kicks

Coldplay, Paradise

Okay, so Dave covered guilty pleasures in his loathsome Day 8, but I already had this jotted down as an appreciation. I have always had a few embarrassing likes in my cabinet. I'm an unabashed fan of Sandra Bullock. And Patrick Swayze. And Sandra Bernhard. And Teejay. I thought "WKRP" was actually a really good show. As was "Simon & Simon." I liked Bobby Valentine. And Hubie Brooks. And Brent Price and Robert Pack. And Alvin Walton.

Musically, there are too many to mention, beyond Adam & the Ants. The ones listed above are "guilty" mostly because my daughters like them, poppy and popular all the way. But they're pretty good. The Coldplay tune in particular offends my musical sensibilities, to use the rock snob vernacular. It's synthy, lyrically vapid, and cheesy in some attempt to be anthemic; it's like a U2 throwaway. But damn if it isn't pretty catchy.

In the past, there have also been a couple of guilty pleasures I started to like only after a particular incident. I fell asleep in a car in 1993 and Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," a song I did not care for, permeated my rem sleep from the car stereo; I had a dream about the death of his son (the basis of the song), and woke up kind of digging the song after all. Yeah, I'm a little weird, too.

And then there's "Stairway to Heaven." Overplayed throughout my radio-listening childhood, it was the embodiment of extravagant rock and roll of the 1970's. Ugh. Except when I was in a car following Flynn's one day, cruising down I-66 towards somewhere, he signaled to me on his meathook gnarled fingers 9-4-7. FM 94.7, the classic rock station. I flipped it over. "Stairway to Heaven." Flynn was more of a modern rock guy, a U2/R.E.M./Wilco guy, but there he was, jamming out in his Explorer to Page and Plant. By the time it got to Bonzo's entre, we had our arms elevated out our respective car windows, air drumming like dorks down the highway.

Sam Roberts Band, The Last Crusade

The Head and the Heart, Down In the Valley

Mayer Hawthorne, A Long Time

Flynn died some months later. I probably dredge up Flynn, Evan, and Lud stories all too often around these parts, but part of my job for all my years to come is to stoke the embers of their memories. I'll do the same for any of you who pass before me. Flynn left us five years ago this past Tuesday. Lud and Evan went 10 years ago this year. Here's to them and everyone else among our respective gangs who have gone along to the great beyond. You know who they are and what they have meant. Remember, like Lud said, "Children were a lot younger when my dad was a kid." (?)

Anyway, this appreciation isn't just for them, but for all the rest of you clowns as well. There's a saying I've heard, "Don't trust anyone who doesn't have old friends." Well, I feel pretty trustworthy on that criteria. Simon & Garfunkel's song "Old Friends" had a line:

Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a parkbench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy

Well, Paul Simon was 26 when he wrote it. He turned 70 this year. Here's hoping he has old friends (besides Art) to do things like get drunk in the Corner Tavern and hit the greasetrucks or go to the OBFT with him.

More sap from A Very Special Episode of Igor:

“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.”
― Tennessee Williams

“A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view.”
― Wilma Askinas

“Friends are God's way of apologizing for your family.”
― Wayne W. Dyer

More songs from 2011 you need to hear:

Dawes, "If I Wanted Someone"
Beirut, "Santa Fe"
Grouplove, "Colours"
Wilco, "I Might"
TV on the Radio, "Will Do"
Of Monsters and Men, "Little Talks"
The Decemberists, "Down By the Water"
The Civil Wars, "Poison and Wine"
Hoots and Hellmouth, "Apple Like a Wrecking Ball"
Kathleen Edwards, "Change the Sheets"
Rachael Yamagata, "Even If I Don't"
Cults, "Go Outside"
PJ Harvey, "The Words That Maketh Murder"
The Kooks, "Junk of the Heart (Happy)"
Feist, "The Bad in Each Other"
Bon Iver, "Calgary"
R.E.M., "We All Go Back to Where We Belong"

Random Idiots, “Dr. Seuss” (20th anniversary re-release)

-- So Paul’s Boutique was released in 1989. When we moved into the frat house that fall, Dave brought it with him and excitedly told me about it the very first time I saw him. He, Rob and I then listened to it 200 times.
-- Just like us, all-timer Miles Davis was quoted as saying he never tired of listening to the album.
-- Dr. Seuss passed away on Tuesday, September 24, 1991. The same day a lot of good music came out.
-- The next day, Dave came in my room with an idea for a new song. It would be about how Dr. Seuss used his pseudonym’s faux-doctorate to score chicks. He was on his way to class and gave me two couplets that he insisted be the foundation for the song:

Dr. Seuss ain’t no MD / but he was always into someone’s pan-ties
Dr. Seuss ain’t no gynecologist / but all the ladies know his fist

-- That was enough, and I inked the rest of it while he was in the class I was skipping.
-- Early that Saturday evening after a good amount of drinking, Dave, Hightower, and I piled into the fraternity men’s room (for outstanding acoustics) with two other cats and recorded “Dr. Seuss” on cassette. The vocal and guitar styling were lifted directly from the Beastie Boys, unabashedly so. The rest is musical history.
-- And Miles Davis died that same day – September 28, 1991.

The confluence is so eerie, as if it were meant to be. Three legendary musical acts inextricably linked by one fateful week and the Lorax.

Anyway, I appreciate Dave being such a random idiot.

Dr. Seuss by Random Idiots

Here's to 2011, which was a fair bit better than 2010. Here's to 2012; may we all see the end of it, and may I pretty much spew the same shit out in Day 12 again next year. In the meantime, happy listening, and Happy New Year.



rob said...

i appreciate this post. gheorghey new year, my friends.

Dave said...

i appreciate anyone who associates "random idiots" with miles davis, even if he's a member of the band . . . thanks igor!

to another year of g:tb!

zman said...

I channel my inner Blaine gabbert when I say whoa there motherfucker. I'm still an uppity dweeb.

rob said...

12 days of gheorghemas playlist now available on spotify.

T.J. said...

Well done, sir.

Well done.

Danimal said...

top notch top notch!

Dave said...

awesome use of spotify. how could a bunch of old people be so technologically sophisticated?

mayhugh said...

This Meineke Car Care Bowl is heating up. Northwestern should have played Coulter the whole game.

Shlara said...

I'm totally digging these music-infused posts. And thanks to Rob and Igor for the shout-out. I really appreciate you guys giving me the forum to speak my mind.

Happy New Year boys!

Danimal said...

So do we see Dick Clark tonight? I'm hoping not....very uncomfortable. And for the record he is in my 2012 death pool.

Danimal said...

I'm going to assume that no one is watching Wheel of Fortune right now.

mayhugh said...

I'm watching UVA being a lot more competent than I expected.

I think they will prop Dick Clark up for a few minutes for old time's sake.

Abe Vigoda's in my death pool this year if he's still alive. And Jake the Snake Roberts.

Danimal said...

ditto...unpleasantly surprising. need the tigers here.

mayhugh said...

I just got outvoted for the lone tv in the apartment - they changed it to real housewives of new jersey. Bummed times 1000.

Danimal said...

48.5 hours...she apparently won it...looking for the deets.

Mark said...

Mayhugh - Come to Florida for New Year's next year. We have multiple TVs in my living room and they'll never be on any of the Housewives shows. Sports only. And we hold an annual beer pong tournament (on hiatus this year due to 8 month pregnant wife). As for this year, you are indeed bumming.

mayhugh said...

Mark - I may just take you up on that. We had vegetable lasagna for dinner, I did not see a score update after the middle of the second quarter, and my girlfriend may be vomiting in the next 20 minutes. She's getting clothespins in her hair tonight.

mayhugh said...

I don't know about you guys but I was pretty creeped out by the Dick Clark Puppet.

Igor said...

Yeah. I want to root for him, but I am getting to the point where it's cruel, not loyal, to prop him up year after year. A generation will only know this sad end.

Igor said...

By the way, it's 2012. When's the world supposed to end?

And I am crushed. '12 is starting well.

"I love you guys."

-- Norman Dale

Danimal said...

I had aspirations of being in bed early and sober last night. That did not happen.

T.J. said...

So. Hungover.

Igor said...

Having a Morning Lei (champagne & pineapple juice) right now. It's delicious.

T.J. said...

That sounds very good.

I currently would like to puke.

rob said...


rob said...

there were jello shots

Abigail Bukai said...

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