Friday, June 29, 2012

2012 NBA Draft: The Gheorghe Pick

Last night, the NBA Draft took place. Lots of dudes were chosen. Go read about that stuff elsewhere. I only care about who was taken with the 30th pick for the sake of this post, AKA The Gheorghe Pick. The lucky winner? Just happens to be the guy with the best name in the draft: Festus Ezeli. The seven footer from Vanderbilt went to the Golden State Warriors with the final pick in Round 1.Good luck young man. May the spirit of Gheorghe guide you through the rigors of the NBA season.

Here's a complete rundown on all the ballers, and I use that term loosely, taken at slot No. 30 since 1980:
Why do I feel like we've posted this before? I think it's seeing Lampe's name...we definitely have mocked the Magic Lamp in this space before.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

In Search of a Title: GTB's 2012 NBA Draft Preview

Once again, the middle of the summer is approaching and the sports landscape is beginning to look painfully barren. Though not as barren as usual thanks to the end of Euro 2012 and the upcoming London Olympics. Nevertheless, there's no doubt that the sports viewing options outside of baseball are extremely limited by the time we reach late June. However, within the sad realization that SportsCenter will soon become nothing but baseball highlights is the glimmer of excitement generated (for me at least) when you realize that the NBA Draft is approaching.

I love the NBA Draft, it's where College Basketball meets the NBA (and in many unfortunate cases, where College Basketball meets the D-League or FIBA) and, as TJ has stated, it's also the best reality show on TV. You get just as much crying, deceit and heartbreak as any reality show, with the added bonus of the NBA Draft being far less scripted than the seemingly thousands of reality shows flooding your TVs during the summer.

(I looked for a picture of Steve Francis' famously infantile reaction to being drafted by Vancouver but it seems David Stern's minions have wiped it clean off the inter webs. Oh well.)

Editor's Note: I found the sad Franchise pic (via @Jose3030 - that man does tremendous work on the tweet machine)

As always, this "analysis" of potential draftees are just my opinions. Sometimes I will nail it (see: Faried, Kenneth), other times I will fail miserably (see: Westbrook, Russell).

Like 'Em (Excluding Anthony Davis: Because who doesn't think he's going to be good to great in the NBA?)

Bradley Beal: I like the guy who played at Florida. Shocking, I'm sure. With that said, there's a lot to like about Beal. He's got good size for the 2 and is a very good, if not elite athlete. He's shoots it well and should continue to improve, as his shooting fundamentals are superb. He's not just a shooter though. He led Florida in rebounding this year and rebounding (along with blocks) traditionally translates to the NBA. He's, by all accounts, a good natured, very intelligent kid with great leadership potential. In fact, when Florida's season finally came together was when Beal stopped deferring to upperclassmen Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton. All of that is great, but really separates Beal is total offensive package. If he continues to develop his 3 point stroke and ability to create off the dribble, Beal has multiple All-Star potential. (On a personal note: I'd love to see Beal team up with either Kyrie Irving (1st) or John Wall (2nd). Both of those backcourts have scary good long term potential).

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: Best motor in the draft. MKG just outworks everyone on the floor. And, according to reports, does the same off the court. He was, apparently, the leader of Kentucky's "breakfast club". A group of players who met on their own in the mornings to work on their game. With his athleticism and work ethic, his floor as a player is Gerald Wallace(not bad), but if he can straighten out his jumps shot (he's only 19) then that potential grows immensely. Would be neat to see him team up with former high school teammate Kyrie Irving in Cleveland (just think about those two playing high school ball together).

THIS JUST IN: Kyrie Irving is really, really good.

Dion Waiters: He already has an NBA ready skill. He can create shots off the dribble and get to the basket. Most question whether he's big enough to be a 2 guard. I think those concerns are overblown in today's NBA. Waiters is a guard. Period. Monta Ellis isn't as big as Waiters. Neither is Lou Williams. Dywane Wade can't be much bigger, if at all. Waiters isn't the type of explosive athlete Wade was but he has the potential to be a lesser version of him in terms of explosive scoring ability. He will provide some immediate offensive firepower off the bench at worst and should become an impact player as a starter or 6th man very quickly.

Terrence Jones: This is all about where Jones is currently being projected, which is in the late teens. I realize that Jones is enigmatic and sometimes inconsistent but he's highly skilled, 6'10" and he cares. I don't think he's the knucklehead he's been made out to be. If he was, would he have come back to school last year when he was a projected mid-1st round pick? Would he have put his ego aside to accommodate Kentucky's high profile freshman and win a National Title? Just a guess, but I say no. If you can get Jones in the teens, I think he's more than worth it.

Don't Like

Harrison Barnes: This is also largely about where he goes, as well as the undue hype heaped upon Barnes since high school. TJ and I have gone back and forth on Barnes many times. I just don't see it with him. He doesn't create well off the dribble. He's an average athlete who appears at times to lack the toughness to take advantage of his height (6'8") by posting up or taking it to the hoop consistently. Even worse, he disappeared for long stretches of games during his two years at Carolina. I'd take him late in the top 10, not in the top 5. At best, he's Sean Elliot. Which isn't bad, but he won't be one of the three best players on a championship team.

Perry Jones III: What a fall it's been for Jones. If he'd have been eligible to declare coming out of high school, there's a good chance he would've been the #1 overall pick. That's how impressive his physical gifts are. Unfortunately, Jones too often fails to live up to those gifts. He seems to possess too passive a mentality to take games over and is willing to drift on the perimeter on both offense and defense. Maybe Jones III figures it all out at the NBA. I'm just not willing to bet that. Not for a guy who has his kind of skill, height and athleticism who only averaged 14 pts/game in high school. Yes, you read that right. (Disclaimer: If he's sitting out there for a team like the 76ers at 15, you might as well swing for the fences.)

John Henson: He's a tremendous shot blocker and developed further offensively every year at UNC (it held that he started at 0). I just don't know where he plays in the NBA. He's too fragile to play power forward and isn't nearly skilled enough at this point to play small forward. His body doesn't look like it can add much more weight so you have to hope he develops a perimeter game and becomes a small forward. Sorry, I don't see it.

Fab Melo: He's a decent athlete with good defensive instincts but doesn't seem to be very active on the floor or keep himself in very good shape off it. The list of big guys who fit that description and flamed out of the NBA is too long to run down here. Somebody's going to take Melo in the first round. Have fun with that.

Draymond Green: Rob loves him. I don't. I just don't know where he plays (or who he guards) in the NBA. He's similar to another potential draftee, Royce White, in that he thrives with the ball in his hands. Except he's not as skilled or athletic as White. I also have my doubts about the kind of shape he keeps himself in. He was a great college player, I can't see him as anything more than an 8th/9th man in the NBA.

50/50 (These guys could go either way)

Royce White: I'm sure you've all heard about White's anxiety disorder and how it affects his ability to fly (if you haven't, read the Grantland article on White). Apparently, it's been somewhat overblown (the flying thing, not the anxiety disorder). Either way, if it wasn't for concerns over the anxiety disorder White would be a top 10 pick, even with his other "issues" from early in his collegiate career. He's that good. Aside from all the personal things about White, there is another concern, in my opinion. His success is going to be very dependent on who drafts him. White's game is unique. He's a bit of a point power forward. He needs the ball in his hands a little more than your average big man. Not in a selfish way. He's a great creator and ball handler. But because of his unique style, where he lands will go a long way to determining his immediate success in the NBA.

Andre Drummond: There are red flags galore. Whispers that he might not love the game, concerns about his motor, etc. Here's the thing though: He's 7 ft tall, he's a freak athlete and he's only 19. He also played on a supremely dysfunctional UConn team this year with bunch of guards who would've rather heaved contested 3s than actually, you know, feed the guy with a physical mismatch against anyone he played. I think Drummond worst case scenario is DeAndre Jordan and his best is All-Star. If he ends up somewhere in between? Well, then he's probably a top 5-10 guy from this draft when we look back 10 years from now. (One thing I forgot to mention: Drummond shot 29.5% on FTs as a freshman.)

Jeremy Lamb: Another UConn guy. Lamb came back to school this year to improve his draft stock. That didn't really happen. A bit surprising when you consider how dominant Lamb was last summer in the U-20 World Championships in Lithuania. I think Lamb suffered from some of the the issues as Drummond, namely guards who jacked tons of shots and made terrible decisions. I also think that Lamb's personality isn't suited to being "the guy". He's much more comfortable as a 2nd or 3rd option. If that's true and Lamb ends up on a team where he can focus on his role while he to gets better off the dribble, stronger and extends his range then he has the ability to be a top 5-6 NBA shooting guard.

Jared Sullinger: This is all because of his back. It's supposedly been red-flagged by the NBA. Meaning that NBA doctors think it will significantly hinder his NBA career and possibly even cut it short. Teams are understandably wary of Sullinger as a result. He was already undersized and just an average athlete. Now he's viewed as damaged goods. Sullinger now finds himself projected in the 20s. I understand staying away from Sullinger in the lottery, but he's too skilled and tough to pass up late in the first. I'd be excited if the Magic selected him at 19. Plenty of guys have been red flagged over the years and had very good NBA careers (Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, DeJuan Blair). I hope we can say the same about Sullinger in 10 years.

Damian Lillard: I really, really like Lillard. He's athletic, tough, shoots it well and isn't a me first point guard like his stats might suggest. He was forced to be shoot more often at Weber State because he was so much better than his teammates but I believe he'll be a good PG with the ability to score in the NBA. My concern with Lillard is that he's being projected to go between 6-8. That's awfully high for a PG out of the Big Sky Conference.

Sleepers (2nd Rounders to keep an eye on)

Scott Machado: I'm a sucker for PGs and Iona's Machado is amongst my favorite college PGs in recent memory. He led the NCAA in assists and is a better shooter than he gets credit for. He should carve out a nice career as a backup PG.

Jared Cunningham: I only saw him play a few times since he was at Oregon State but what I saw was impressive. He's an elite athlete with good size for the 2. And he's shown the ability to play some point as well. He needs to get stronger and refine his offensive game but there is plenty of potential and ability.

Kyle O'Quinn: You remember him from the NCAA Tournament. O'Quinn is 6'10" with good offensive skills. He works hard and impressed in workouts with NBA teams. That will get you a spot on someone's team.

Doron Lamb: The unsung hero for Kentucky this year (along with Darius Miller). Lamb is a lights out shooter with the ability to play some point as well. His shooting and demeanor should get him into the NBA. If he further diversifies his offensive arsenal and can play some PG, it will get him into the rotation in the NBA.

On paper this looks like one of the deepest drafts in years. In case you didn't notice, I'm pretty excited about it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Love Those Red Heads

This photo:

Makes me happy. It also makes me think of this:

Carry on.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A NBA Draft Tradition Unlike Any Other

The 2012 NBA Draft is now just over 48 hours away, so why not warm up for Thursday night's festivities with one of my favorite YouTube clips of all time: Stephen A. Smith being heckled mercilessly for his love of Cheez Doodles at the 2006 draft (I love that we already have a "CHEEEZ DOODLES"  label). It's things like this that make me ecstatic the internet exists.

Up next in our draft coverage, Mark may or may not drop some actual insights, and I may or may not dissect what the Wizards will do with the No. 3 pick. Knowing us, neither will happen.

Also, what's with all this night posting now? And the night putting with the Dean's daughter?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Shlara Congratulates Danny Ferry On His New Gig In Atlanta

As you know, we at G:TB love a good guestie, especially a good Shlara guestie. So, we figured why not kick off NBA Draft Week here at GTBHQ with a few (kind) words from the First Lady of G:TB on Danny Ferry's recent hiring as Atlanta Hawks GM (good luck with those contracts, chief). Without further bob mcadoo...
Danny left (got run out of) Cleveland when he couldn’t keep LBJ on the Cavs roster and headed back to Texas and the safe confines of the Spurs front office to wait for a new opportunity. I was hoping Ted would get rid of Ernie this summer and bring Danny in to fix the Wizards. Danny was basically groomed for the job since he was a toddler (Bob Ferry was Bullets GM from 1973-1990) - but Ted apparently has other ideas.

Some of you may know that Danny was my all-time favorite player back in college when he looked like this:
And I was one of the only people who cheered for him when he played in the pros - he wasn’t the most talented player on the court, but he worked hard, has good basketball sense, and is SUPER nice. So, he will always have a special place in my heart - which is why I’m happy to see him land the GM job with the Hawks today.

Hopefully he can help build a real fan base there in Atlanta. Welcome back to the Eastern Conference Danny!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Gheorghe Goes to the Movies

Joy is a powerful thing, and one of our favorite themes. A great many of the posts found in this festival of filler can be boiled down to our search for things that make us happy. It's within this context that I offer my wholehearted recommendation for the new Emmett Malloy film, Big Easy Express.

The movie chronicles an eight-day, six-city tour from Oakland, CA to New Orleans, LA undertaken by folk-pop-country bands Mumford & Sons, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. The twist: the bands and their considerable road crews and entourages traveled the entire journey by rail on a vintage train.

Perhaps it was the uniqueness of the trip, or the bands' shared musical lineage. Maybe the romance of the circumstance or the near-universal dedication to musicianship. Or it could have been the rabid, passionate fans that showed up at each railstop concert venue. Whatever the manifold reasons, the camaraderie and almost awestruck glee of the participants dominated the film, as tangible and present as the massive thunderhead that serves as a visual backdrop to the Zeros' set in Marfa, Texas.

Big Easy Express Official Trailer from S2BN Films on Vimeo.

As you might imagine, music dominates the movie, with vivid and energetic live performances by each band and intimate trainboard jam sessions between and amongst the bands. Among my favorite moments is a scene where Zeros' violinist Nora Kirkpatrick sits in on a jam with Old Crow and learns the latter's song in a matter of moments, playing along as if she'd known it for years.

Concert video has been done to death, but the directors' use of multiple angles, speeds, and film styles bring something new to 'Express'. Old Crow do a killer version of 'Wagon Wheel', a song Bob Dylan started and they finished. The Mumfords' live version of their hit, 'The Cave' features the Stephen F. Austin High School Marching band in one of the movie's most affecting and moving scenes. And the finale, which features all three bands in an impossible spirited version of Woody Guthrie's 'This Train is Bound for Glory', is an all-timer. Hard not to leave the theater without a big ol' smile on your face.

I took my 10 year-old daughter to the show, which screened as part of the annual SilverDocs festival in Silver Spring, MD. To my slight surprise, she was by far the youngest person in the audience, which made me feel both like the coolest dad in the room, and the dumbest. But aside from the uncensored version of the Mumfords' 'Little Lion Man', everything about this movie is something I want my kids to see and feel - the joy of doing something you love with people you dig is what we should all get to experience.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Readers know of our unique relationship with LeBron James, so we won't belabor this point. We're thrilled that the Heat won the NBA title last night. While we feel for the Thunder, a great team and a great story, we're pretty damn sure they'll get theirs, and soon.

Mostly, though, we're happy for LeBron that he can now just play basketball without the attendant circus freaks in the media stirring up shit about his inability to play under pressure, his shortcomings, his non-Jordanness. (We're looking right at you, Skip Bayless, but you're not the only one.) LeBron's performance this postseason was transcendent, arguably the finest in history. This cannot be argued, and anyone that denies James' greatness now can be dismissed as either an idiot or a contrarian prick. (With apologies to Jerry.)

The Decision was stupid. The pep-rally boasting of "Not one, Not two..." obviously braggadocious and tone deaf. But they're both yesterday's news, spun continually current by a media machine that needs a villain to sell page views. And they were both a function of youth and bad advice from people paid to do better.

As the kids say, haters gonna hate. We won't be among that number. Congratulations to LeBron and the Heat (especially Erik Spoelstra - who was nearly as vilified as LeBron this year - Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Juwan Howard). And we can't wait for Thunder/Heat round two next June.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Indistinguishable from Magic

I'm fascinated by the potential of 3D printing, even as I find it incomprehensibly complex. Until today, I'd only considered the idea of printing non-edible gewgaws and the occasional body part. Thank goodness Marko Manriquez didn't let the strictures of common thinking stop him as he developed his Masters thesis.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Manriquez gives us: Burritobot.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vagina Dialogues

I really didn't think we'd be addressing this issue again, and certainly not so soon. Thank God, though, for the good men of Michigan (and, no, I didn't leave a gender out - the twig and berry set are mostly to blame today) who've gone above and beyond to protect our fragile flowers.

State Senator Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield) was barred from speaking on the floor of the Senate for a day after using the word 'vagina' in open debate. The word confuses and scares men of a certain type, especially when uttered by a woman, and most particularly when used as weapons in a political argument. I applaud my brothers in Lansing for their courageous stand, snatching (as it were) decency and decorum back from the brink.

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick offered a helpful legislative solution to assuage the Michiganders' delicate sensibilities, sketching out a new resolution requiring women to wait 72 hours after consulting a physician before saying 'vagina'. Lithwick (who has a vagina, after all, and as such is probably very conniving and dangerous), goes on to suggest the following provisions:

Also, provision d(9)(a) of the bill would amend the current law to ensure that if any listener who hears the word vagina spoken aloud—although it may be the medically correct term for a woman’s reproductive organs—feels any religious objections to such speech, that speech may be curtailed in the interest of preserving the listener’s religious freedom as detailed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Any other marginally relevant provisions of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution are herein rescinded as needed.
Finally, Michigan state health statutes shall be amended by provision 12(b)(6) which provides that prior to speaking the word vagina out loud, any female resident of Michigan shall undergo a mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasound procedure, during which she must watch such ultrasound while listening to a government-scripted speech about the grave dangers of speaking anatomically correct words, aloud, in an enlightened democracy.

And so we thank you, Senate Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas. Your stand for decency and moral rectitude will be remembered and emulated. By a whole new generation of pre-pubescent boys who think girls have cooties and anatomic terms are icky. Fight the good fight, sir, lest we be forced at vagina-point to say the word out loud ourselves.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Apropos of Nothing

On this Father's Day, enjoy this trailer from Line of Sight, a documentary about a worldwide series of bicycle messenger races known as alley cats. I assume each of the people involved had a Dad.

Also, Happy Father's Day.

LINE OF SIGHT - Official Trailer from Zenga Bros on Vimeo.

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Squirrel's Eye View of Target Field

The diminutive dictator apparently escaped the lawn yesterday, and found himself at the Minnesota Twins shiny new ballpark for a sporting contest. Using his tiny sciuridae claws, he was able to send me two photos of the visit, before his natural urge to bury nuts led to him being escorted out of the park after he tore up the warning track.

Photo 1: "That brick is the top of the dugout."

Photo 2: "Well played, Mauer."

Bonus Third Photo: Hey, we know that guy...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More Odd Combinations

Yesterday we brought you roosters and Ferraris.  Today we bring you a gambler and some hippies. 

Enjoy this snippet from Bonnaroo.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

There's a Fowl in my Ferrari?

Joe Flacco's brother, Waka Flocka Flame, has a new song out titled "Rooster In My Rari." It's about a guy in a Foghorn Legorn suit and a Ferrari F430. At least that's what I gather from the video.

Who says mainstream hiphop has stupid lyrics?

Monday, June 11, 2012

R.I.P. Marty Newsom

"You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give."

Those words, reputedly said by Winston Churchill, were framed in the house of Marty Newsom, the 42 year-old co-owner of APEX Gymnastics in my hometown who passed away from a heart attack last week. Judging from the remarkable turnout and heartfelt remembrances of young and old at today's memorial, Marty made quite a life.

I'd only begun to get to know him well in the last several months because of a mutual friendship; more than one of his colleagues remarked that he related to kids far better than adults, and as the parent of one of the girls he coached, I was on the wrong side of that equation. I'm truly sorry that I didn't know him better sooner, because his Gheorgheness was undeniable.

Godspeed, Marty, and to my friends here and elsewhere, may your impact on your world be as rich and manifold as was his.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Going Dutch

"Extraordinarily gifted but preeningly obnoxious."

"A self-destruct button waiting to happen."

"Hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone, blue-collar ragamuffins from an economically depressed homeland."

"Living exclusively off faded memories of past glory."

Despite the obvious parallels, these are not, in fact, excerpts from last year's G:TB performance reviews. (Except for the first one - that's clearly Igor.) Rather, this purple prose comes from ESPN's preview of Euro 2012, the continental tournament that begins today in Poland. (The quality of journalistic output and accepted snark is yet another reason to follow the beautiful game.)

Sixteen European sides qualified for the quadrennial event that many observers argue is a tougher test of soccer than the World Cup. When you consider the top-to-bottom quality of the field, the notion may not be as far-fetched as it seems. Outside of co-host Ukraine (weak!), every entrant has at least a puncher's chance to make a deep run. Greece won the whole thing as a 100-1 shot in 2004, giving hope to every Mick, Slava, and Per in Europe.

Defending World Cup and Euro 2008 champ Spain are the oddsmakers' favorites to lug the Henri Delauney trophy back to Madrid (where they'll melt it down to save the country's economy from ruin), followed by Germany and the Netherlands. The latter two find themselves in the same brutal opening round group, along with Portugal and Denmark.

We've a longstanding soft spot for the Dutch, despite their bizarrely artless effort in the 2010 World Cup final. Our footie fetishists like the Oranje to find their way to the Final Four (or koŇĄcowy czteryk in the host nation's tongue). They'll be joined by a surprising Portugal squad, Spain, and France. The Dutch will top Les Bleus in one semi, while Spain knock out the Czechs in the other to set up a World Cup final rematch.

This time, we're treated to an example of what the game can be when it's played at its highest level, and Arjen Robben totally redeems himself with a late-game PK to give Holland the title.

And then we'll only have three weeks until the Olympics start.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Rockin' the Suburbs

In the last months of Waylon Jennings' life, the legendary outlaw recorded a cover of the Old 97's 'The Other Shoe', a country-tinged tale of a spurned lover's revenge. The 97's stood in as his backing band, and when Jennings struggled with the phrase 'an elixir' in the song's second verse, frontman Rhett Miller was called upon to help. "Think of two beautiful women naked together," a nervous Miller told Jennings. "And remember 'Annie Licks Her'".

Miller told that story Monday night at Jammin' Java in very suburban Vienna, VA on the first date of a tour in support of 'The Dreamer', his third solo record. He was moments from delivering the punch line when he blushed, realizing that he'd misjudged the crowd just slightly. "Oh, God. I just realized there are kids in the audience," he laughed, before finishing the story and delivering an acoustic version of the song. It was the only misstep of a rollicking evening.

I went to the show with my wife not really knowing what to expect. Jammin' Java's a neat little venue, but the emphasis there is on little, and suburban DC on a Monday night ain't exactly Jazz Fest. I should've known that my favorite musician wouldn't disappoint. Miller and his band, The Serial Lady Killers, were using the small club as essentially a dress rehearsal for their national tour. "We've got a lotta songs tonight, so we're just gonna get right to it," Miller said by way of introduction.

25 tunes and over two hours later, Miller and the band ripped through a lively version of 'Our Love' to close the show with as much energy as they opened it, and the Moms and Dads in the audience did their damnedest to forget they didn't have to go to work the next morning. Maybe it was the proximity to the stage. Or perhaps the novelty of seeing one of my favorites in such a local joint. Could've been the Dale's Pale Ales that went down like water, too, I guess. Whatever the reasons, this show went immediately into my top 3 of all time.

The band mixed several songs from Miller's new record with a healthy dose of his earlier solo work and a heaping helping of Old 97's cuts, including standouts like 'King of All of the World', 'Murder (or a Heart Attack', 'Nineteen', 'Four Leaf Clover', and 'Barrier Reef'. At the midpoint of the set, the band took a break while Miller played a handful of acoustic tunes by himself, including the aforementioned 'The Other Shoe'. His down-tempo acoustic version of the band's riff-heavy 'Timebomb' reimagined the song in a way I hadn't ever considered.

As Miller stopped to introduce the band at one point, he exclaimed, "I'm a really lucky man. I've got two great bands." The Serial Lady Killers certainly lived up to the billing, with guitarist Tommy Borscheid, bassist Greg Besher, and drummer Angela Webster, sounding anything like a band running through several songs for the first time.

In addition to the Old97's discography, Miller's early solo work was well represented, with 'I Need to Know Where I Stand', 'The El', 'Singular Girl', an electrified version of 'Question' - interesting counterpoint to the acoustic 'Timebomb', 'My Valentine', and 'Four Eyed Girl' standing out.

I don't recall much about the new tunes, except to say that they sounded tight. 'Picture This' was a noteworthy exception. It might be the most optimistic - even happy - love song Miller's ever written. That's not saying much, given his catalogue of wrenching heartbreak and self-loathing, but it's a beautiful little tune, made moreso by the presence of Heather Robb of opening act The Spring Standards, who performed the song with Miller.

Tuesday morning coming down didn't feel all that great, but the ringing in my ears and cobwebs in my head were more than worth it. Live music, man. It's good for what ails you.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Casey Martin Graduates

If lost, then certainly underplayed in a very busy sporting week, the news that erstwhile thorn in the PGA's side Casey Martin qualified for the U.S. Open counts as huge news in these parts. Martin, now the golf coach at the University of Oregon, famously won a 2001 lawsuit that enabled him to use a cart in Tour events because of a degenerative and crippling disease that limits the blood flow in his lower right leg. He hasn't played competitive golf since 2006, but he won medalist honors in a 37-player field at Emerald Valley Country Club in Cresfield, OR, topping one of his Oregon players, Daniel Miernicki, and Nick Sherwood by a stroke.

In a neat bit of symmetry, the 2012 Open will be played at the Olympic Club outside San Francisco, where Martin finished 23rd in his only other major championship appearance in 1998. Obviously, we don't have high expectations for Martin a week from Sunday, but I don't think you'll have to guess who we'll be pulling for.

Monday, June 04, 2012

No pictures, no links, no nothing. Deal with it. (Update: picture)

Last weekend Rob sent me an email asking if I’d write something up for the Thunder-Spurs Western Conference Finals. As G:TB’s resident NBA nerd, I happily agreed. The problem was I forgot that the Western Conference Finals began on Sunday night and that I had already made plans to hang out on the beach and by the pool drinking on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. You know by now that this Western Conference preview never happened. Yet, since I had planned a week off for myself last week while changing jobs I figured I’d get around to it early in the week. Well, Memorial Day came and went without so much as a word typed and, before I knew it I was packing up the care on Friday morning for my family’s (parents, sisters, nieces, nephews, etc.) annual summer get together. Not surprisingly, I didn’t type a single word this weekend either. I did, however, get in plenty of time laying around on the beach and drinking in Ormond Beach, FL. (Quick aside: No matter how many times I travel to the Daytona/Ormond area, I never, ever get used to the sight of cars driving on the beach). So, why didn’t I get around to writing anything up in between my two booze and beach filled weekends? Well, the short answer is: I’m terribly lazy and I was on vacation. The slightly longer answer is: I got sucked in to a new book (‘Play Their Hearts Out’) which I highly recommend to any college basketball fans or parents of kids who will play sports at the youth level. I blew through it in less than a week. And again, I’m really lazy. Also, I spent waaay too much time watching documentaries on Netflix (‘Knuckles’, ‘Bloods & Crips: Made in America’ to name a couple) and honing my skills running the spread option on NCAA Football 2012. Which is a very convoluted way of saying (again), I’m really lazy.

Anyway, we’re 4 games into the Western Conference Finals and it’s tied up at 2-2. I had originally picked the Spurs in 6 based on what I perceived to be significant advantages in coaching and experience. Now, I really believe this series will go the full 7. It seems I underestimated the Thunder’s distinct homecourt advantage, which is nearly collegiate in it’s raucousness (is that a word?) and enthusiasm. I also may have underestimated Scott Brooks. His decision to place Thabo Sefolosha on Tony Parker has changed the dynamics of the series and significantly hindered San Antonio’s pick & roll game. Now, it’s on Gregg Poppovich to counter Brooks and see if he can swing things back in the Spurs’ direction.

Now, since my child is beginning to bitch, a couple of quick points:

Serge Ibaka is even better than we (or I) thought: We all know Ibaka is a game changer defensively and a freak athletically. I don’t think any of us expected him to be an offensive force late in the playoffs like he was on Saturday night. If Ibaka can do that consistently, the ceiling for this Thunder team (which already exceedingly high) becomes preposterously high. Also: Ibaka’s on the Spanish National team. This is a scary, scary thought for big man starved Team USA this summer in London. As if the Gasol brothers weren’t enough of a force, now we have to contend with Ibaka too? Shit.

Russell Westbrook might dress like a total asshole, but he’s starting to get it: Westbrook will always be an offensive minded point guard (and he should be, it’s part of what makes him so dangerous) but he’s also starting to figure out how to pick his spots and how to lay back when he sees Kevin Durant and James Harden are feeling it. Who was the dope who predicted that Russell Westbrook would be a slightly better version of Keyon Dooling when he was drafted out of UCLA? Oh yeah, that was me. Not just lazy, but stupid too.

I should hate Manu Ginobilli, but I don’t: My hate for Italians is well documented. And yes, I know that Ginobilli is from Argentina but he’s just a transplanted (through multiple generations) Italian. Most Argentinians are, or their transplanted Germans. There’s a reason the rest of South America hates Argentina. Listen, don’t blame me. I’m just the messenger. Beyond the hate for Italy, I absolutely loathe flopping, particularly on offensive fouls away from the basket. And Ginobilli and Derek Fisher are the two players I blame most for popularizing this trend in the NBA. Yet, unlike Fisher, Manu is inventive off the dribble, fearless in the clutch and just damn fun to watch on offense. So, grudgingly, Manu Ginobilli is okay with me.

Okay. That’s it. I hope Rob’s somewhat happy. Probably not, but at least we won’t have to see that tiny little ugly ass feet of his again tonight.

Update: Did you know that James Harden has a white cousin? Well, he does. Handsome fellow too.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Cross-Platform Marketing: Footy Filler

If you're Facebook friends with me, you've already seen this. Suck it up.

As I have for the past 5 years or so, I coached my daughter's soccer team this season. The Cheetahs are a great group of kids, but they're somewhat size-challenged, and were a whole lot of unlucky in the Spring 2012 campaign. We entered our last game of the season 0-6, losers of four one-goal games.

I'm nothing if not a skilled motivator, so I offered the girls this challenge: if they won, they'd get to paint my toenails any color(s) of their choice. And on a gorgeous Spring morning, despite falling behind 1-0 in the game's opening seconds, the Cheetahs pounced. Each of the five girls in attendance scored, with one kid tallying the first two goals of her soccer career. The Cheetahs topped the Eagles by a 7-3 count.

I'm a man of my word:


Friday, June 01, 2012

Holding on for a Hero

MSNBC's Chris Hayes touched off a predictable furor on the interwebs and Twitter last weekend when he struggled to express his discomfort with the words we use to describe our soldiers in combat. As part of a longer segment on Memorial Day, Hayes said,
I think it's interesting because I think it is very difficult to talk about the war dead and the fallen without invoking valor, without invoking the words "heroes." Why do I feel so [uncomfortable] about the word "hero"? I feel comfortable -- uncomfortable -- about the word because it seems to me that it is so rhetorically proximate to justifications for more war. Um, and, I don't want to obviously desecrate or disrespect memory of anyone that's fallen, and obviously there are individual circumstances in which there is genuine, tremendous heroism: hail of gunfire, rescuing fellow soldiers and things like that. But it seems to me that we marshal this word in a way that is problematic. But maybe I'm wrong about that.
Hayes is one of the smartest, nuanced, and thoughtful commentators on the airwaves, which likely means his on-air career will be a short one in this awful era. His Memorial Day message was somewhat inartful, given that it seemed he was working out his own feelings on the fly, and the timing poor, but I didn't find the commentary particularly offensive. Still, he was compelled by the furor to apologize - in a manner both measured and appropriate.

There are any number of heroic acts committed by the impossibly brave, scared, stubborn, and proud men and women who fight our wars (like this dude - total badass). But blanket labels of 'hero' do disservice to true heroism. Almost to a man and woman, American soldiers are dedicated, patriotic, and professional. Their service should be celebrated. But 'hero' is lazy shorthand co-opted by too many on both sides of political arguments to avoid real, hard conversations.

My Dad is buried in a field of honor, surrounded by hundreds of thousands of other men and women who did their jobs every day. He was a hero to me and my sister, but he'd be pissed if you called him that. He just did his part, and like thousands of dedicated american military personnel, he never saw combat first-hand.

In the heated rhetoric of our age, Chris Hayes is some kind of week-kneed America-hating proto-liberal. It says more than enough about our current society that we can't deal with the substance of his statement rationally. Hayes' show this weekend will also deal with the military/civilian divide - I hope people will watch and actually listen with open minds. But I'm not counting on it.