Friday, November 30, 2012

Some Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

From the desk of Clarence...

A study arrived today from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute that indicates that aspirin helps prevent liver cancer.  So, when you're feeling hung over during the holiday season, pop some Bayer and double the benefit.  Do not, mind you, take a bunch of Tylenol when you are hung over.  Not kidding here, as acetaminophen and alcohol can shut down your liver and kill you.  So take aspirin, or just pour a Bloody Mary and quit your bitching.

Many people's livers take a bit of a beating during the holiday season.  For others, it's really all winter, what with the cold weather -- who doesn't love a winter warmer?  Nog and whiskey, hot toddies, or my favorite, the Irish coffee, all hit the spot during those months spent by the fire.  Here's a little more info for the home mixologists out there.

Irish Coffee
For the uninformed, there are many solid Irish coffee recipes, including The Dubliner's (coffee, lump of brown sugar, Jameson, fresh whipped cream), but you can find joy in a very basic recipe:
  • Jamo (Bushmills for the Protestants out there... I was raised Whiskey-palian but John Jameson brings out the altar boy in me... I mean... uh...)
  • coffee
  • Reddi-whip
  • Bailey's if you're a bit soft, which I often am
These are all things you should have on hand.  Especially the Reddi-whip, either in your kitchen fridge or your college-sizer under the bedside table.  True fact: after applying some Reddi-whip to my third slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving night at the future in-laws', I decided some whippets with a couple of family members were in order.  Never too old.

On a snow day (or a Tuesday if you work for the Federal government), try the "Irish triplets": Irish Coffee, pint of Guinness, and an Irish whiskey on the rocks.  Taking sips from each in turn is a delight to the palate, a unique sensation of hot/cold to your body, and an invitation to snap (but accurate) judgments from onlookers.  Don't be shy.  You only live once.

Hot Toddy
Like the Irish Coffee and just about every other cocktail with more than two ingredients (Teedge, stay with me), there are many deviations from the basic recipe based on personal taste and what's in your cupboard.  Also like the Mickey Joseph, you can make a good one very simply:
  • hot tea
  • whiskey
  • honey or lemon if you are a pinky-raiser, which I often am
Whiskey can mean bourbon, Irish, blended, whatever.  Scotch sounds odd, but I'm not a Scotch guy, so go for it if you are.  Rum or brandy will also suffice, but really, if you actually have brandy, you should use that to make Stingers (adding white creme de menthe) before courting your lady (it's like frickin' Scope) and then cap off the evening with the Toddy.    Ask Rob about the night of 17 rounds of Stingers at the Copper Top Lounge in Williamsburg the night before he left college for good to go work for the fraternity.  It's the only time I've seen him put a girl in a headlock.  (Yes, of course she was tiny.  She's now "the legs" for a magic show in Short Pump, VA.)

"What kind of tea?" you ask, just to make this unbelievably simple drink more complicated.  Who cares?  Chamomile, Earl Grey, China Black, even Green.  Okay, with green you might want to mix sake or something.  I don't know much about tea blends, I only know what I like during air travel.  Wait for it... I don't like the Pan Am coffee, but I sure do like the TWA tea.  A classic for the ages, only repeated because with both airlines out of business, that joke may go completely extinct by the time we turn 60.  It's my mission to keep it on life support.

Hot Buttered Rum
Nobody drinks this one, but it's pretty good.  You have to like rum, and, well, if you don't, your problems go well beyond this recipe.  Heat it up and add some butter -- you can cut the rum with some hot water if you have to drive or if you are namby to your life-partner's pamby.  Otherwise, it's fucking rum and butter.  Enjoy.  Add some spices for flavor -- the obvious ones like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar, not cumin and cayenne, morons. 
The key is probably the rum you choose.  Bacardi Light is a poor option, you need more flavor.  Gosling's from Bermuda is my all-timer, but frankly it goes away so fast from Dark and Stormys in a pint glass (so damn good) that I can never keep it handy.  Appleton is nice if you've come straight from Dunn's River Falls, but if you're like me, you pounded two bottles with your 18-year-old girlfriend at the fraternity formal and then she barfed at the table and then you said condescendingly, "Oh, my god, that's the most disgusting thing I've ever [gurgle gurgle]--" and then you barfed directly on the back of her head.  Of course.  True story... that Catholic whiskey induces confessional today, I swear.  Anyway, those Appleton bottles of mine are long gone, but anything spiced in the rum aisle will get you a tasty drink.

Anyone out there ever have the Bacardi Torched Cherry rum with Coke?  Someone brought it to our beach house last summer, and as soon as I was done mocking it, I had one and then drank half the bottle.  Like punched-up Cherry Coke, dangerously delicious on a par with the sweet tea vodka.  ER visits must abound from that stuff.  It's in the Girl Drink Drunk category, but good shit is good shit, whether you deserve a little umbrella in it or not.

Tom and Jerry
No, not the cartoon.  No, not the Wheelhouse/GTB heads of state.  This is like hot egg nog with booze, but instead of buying the nog, you have to make it.  Too much work for your casual alcoholic.  I'm thinking you could warm up some egg nog, but it might curdle.  I don't know.  Skip this one unless you're in some hoity-toity gin mill and some hotshot barkeep wants to hit on your best girl by displaying his skills in mixology.  Then drink the Tom and Jerry and go home and make sweet, sweet love to her as she thinks about him.  You both win.

Come on.  Way too much work.  Maybe you go to a colleague's holiday party and they have a crystal tub of it.  Otherwise, skip it.  Unless you're married to Martha Stewart.  In which case, both of you drink a shitload of it and have some kinky crepe-and ricotta-slathered sex-capade in the four-poster and use her house arrest ankle bracelet as some sort of cockring.  Enjoy.

Hot Apple Pie
Get your Tennessee cousin to make apple pie moonshine.  That's the hard part.  Microwave it.  Add whipped cream.  Get 911 drunk and pull bits of broken glass out of the sleeve of your Christmas sweater the next day while nursing your hangover.  I actually just made this "recipe" up right now, but damn, it sounds good.  That apple pie moonshine is fucking good shit ("pardon my Francais, but fucking shit!"), and those who've had it can corroborate.  Actually, I have a jar of straight moonshine in my laundry room from 18 months ago.  It can't actually "go bad," right?  I mean, it already did, right?  I need the recipe to make it apple pie flavored.  Only in the era of the World Wide Web could I go get it that fast.  Just got it.  Look out, mama, there's a whit boat coming up the river.

Well, there's a bunch of other hot drinks involving peppermint and cocoa and many other favorites.  There are also holiday drinks served cold, like something I had called a Christmas cookie which was delicious but made me start ogling and then pawing the hostess's sweater steaks, so beware.  I know, like (the other) Cooley sang, it don't make you do a thing, it just lets you.  But stick to the shit where you can taste the booze in it and let your gag reflex be your guide.  Look, two weekends ago a friend's wife sat on my lap as I was telling a story and began doing the satin pants cheek search for life on my planet as the husband said out loud that I owed him one.  A lesser man would have sprung to life and embarrassed everyone involved, and by lesser I mean younger and more virile.  As it was, I stood up with the story's punchline and my junk (often one and the same) intact.  Had I been throwing back something with more ingredients, you just never know.  And that, my friends, is one to grow on.  Grow one.

Okay, so back to the point of this brief chat: your liver.  Concerned Clarence the Clown Who Cares will now provide you a list of 14 foods that cleanse the liver, as lifted from the Global Healing Center. 
  1. Garlic
  2. Grapefruit
  3. Beets and Carrots
  4. Green Tea
  5. Leafy Green Vegetables
  6. Avocados
  7. Apples
  8. Olive Oil
  9. Whole Grains
  10. Cruciferous Vegetables
  11. Lemons and Limes
  12. Walnuts
  13. Cabbage
  14. Turmeric
I kept looking for "rare porterhouse" and "hollandaise," but alas, no dice.  So, based on this, you can feel good eating guacamole, slaw on your 'cue, and garlic in your scampi.  Also, drink green tea toddies, apple pie moonshine, and greyhounds.  (More of them.)  Oh, people, "cruciferous vegetables" are broccoli and cauliflower and the like.  'Cause that's what Jesus ate.  (An oft-overlooked parable was how Jesus cleared the cathedral of noxious fumes that humid day.)

You're welcome, and happy drinking! 

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Ghita excite:

Necessary Les Boulez clip:


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Man of Letters

My complete lack of sports gambling acumen is well documented (the most recent evidence: the $20 I put on the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl at 12-1). I am, however, much more successful in wagering on political outcomes, largely because I was a Nate Silver fan before being a Nate Silver fan was cool. (Hell, I knew him when he was Poblano.)

My savvy paid off for me this election season, as I came out on the right (or left, as the case may be) side of several alcohol-related wagers. One, in particular, paid off in memorable fashion. Just last week, I received check for $47 accompanied by a note typed on impressive letterhead, the text of which follows:

"Dear Rob,

I write this letter from my well-hidden and protected bunker in the swamplands of central Florida, equipped with laptop and laser printer among other things. Why are you receiving a letter with a check you ask? Well as we say here in the office, "Fast pay equals fast friends." And due to Virginia ABC laws, there is no means by which to get you liquor via delivery. Beer is doable as is wine. The thought of sending you the bottle of vino you and Danny Snyder love crossed my mind. That would be too convenient for you not to mention a lot more expensive for me. At least this way you have to make an effort to grab your prize.

Your prize.Well you have this check to do what you will with. You could go out and buy a new Saints T-shirt and I'd be none the wiser. If I'd had the ability though, I was going to send you a bottle of Rum. Wait What? Yeah, Rum. For starters, I'm going to guess that you haven't had the brand of rum I am encouraging you to buy. And B, you did say you'd be willing to try something different.

Ron Zacapa - 23 Year Old - made in Guatemala. A buddy of mine down here turned me and a few others on to this. He's a 60-year old surf rat who travels to Guatemala for some killer waves. It's 100% pure adrenalin. He's in a group of guys I swim with a couple of times a week. They've had this annual tradition where on or around April 15th we do "The Tax Day Swim." I've had the (dis)pleasure of partaking in this each of the last three years. Like all of our sessions, we are in the pool at 0530 for a little warm-up. The Tax Day Swim is always a minimum of 40 x 100's on 90 seconds. Every 90 seconds, another 100 yards begins. In runner-speak I'm not sure what this would be akin to. Maybe 20 x 400's at 85-90% efforts with no more than 15 seconds rest between each? Regardless, it's a real bitch.

Once the swim is complete we try and pull ourselves out of the pool. Jimmer, the surfer, then breaks out his gym bag, 6-7 clear plastic cups, cooler with ice, and a brand new bottle of Ron.We sit on the pool deck, which is outside and at roughly 6:45 a.m. the bottle is opened. By 7:45 it is just about empty. This is at a YMCA mind you, with lifeguards and other people milling about. The first year I did this I was scared sh*tless of both rituals and more so of the Rum part. Little did I know. We shoot the breeze, tell stories, and get half pissed.

I like good bourbon and scotch as most of us cool, hip traveled guys do. I don't drink the Zacapa much but I could absolutely consume half a bottle per night. So hopefully I've persuaded you to allocate these dollars to a bottle of Ron Z 23-year. I've even included the cost to cover the tax due the Commonwealth. I have confirmed that your ABC Store on Fairfax St, less than two miles from your home has this fine bottle in stock. They wouldn't even let me pay for it over the phone. Again, the inconvenience is good for you. Anyway Rob, I felt you needed to know how Ronnie Z came into my life so that you could appreciate it a bit more, especially having just completed your marathon. Congratulations by the way. Enjoy your off-season and the Ron Zacapa. The best to you and the Russell family.


Now that, my friends, is how it's done. Cheers to you, Danimal, and here's to 2016.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rooting Interest

I recognize that the BCS is soon to be relegated to history's dustbin (not to be confused with Ned's Atomic Dustbin - betcha didn't think you'd hear that band's name today). And since Wheelhouse Jerry's maddeningly rational arguments have sunk in over time, even as I've resisted them, I further recognize that the right thing to do in a situation like the one we face is to root for the outcome with the best entertainment value.

But old habits die hard, and we've got one final chance to enjoy the squirming discomfort of the corpulent glad-handers in garish jackets that have run BCS bowls for so long. It's really no skin off your nose, because you probably weren't going to watch the Orange Bowl, anyway. So do it for me, won't you? I don't ask for much.

I need you to root for Kent State.

Coach Darrell Hazzell's Golden Flashes beat Ohio University on Friday to cap a perfect MAC regular season and advance to the conference championship game against Northern Illinois. Kent State knocked off Rutgers on the banks of the Raritan on their way to an 11-1 overall record. Their only loss was a nailbiter at SEC titan Kentucky, who used an aggressive full court press to win by 33 in the second week of the season. I think we can all agree to forget that ever happened.

Heading into the MAC championship game, Kent State is ranked 17th in the BCS standings. According to BCS maven Jerry Palm, the Golden Flashes have more than an outside shot at moving into the top 16 with a win against Northern Illinois. And if that happens, Kent State would earn an at-large BCS bid, assuming they finish higher than at least one champion from an conference with an automatic BCS qualification. Since no Big East team even registers on the BCS meter at the moment, that's a fairly safe assumption.

You have the power to remove those shit-eating grins. Truly.
In order for Kent State to move into the BCS top 16, they need to win the MAC title game and have UCLA lose to Stanford while Texas loses to Kansas State. So I need you to root for those things to happen, too.

If you really want to go for degree of difficulty, you could pull for Georgia Tech to beat Florida State in the ACC Championship to set up a Golden Flashes vs. Yellow Jackets Orange Bowl. All those colors running together would roughly approximate the hues in the vomit an ESPN executive just choked back after reading that last sentence.

I think you all know what's to be done.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bite Me Randy Newman

Our minions continue to send GTB:HQ evidence of the cultural supremacy of the smaller and more evolutionarily gifted in our society. From our correspondent in Orlando, guidance that unfortunate larges should take in most situations.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Editor Submission

While our diminutive founder searches for ways to work hemlock into every dish his in-laws eat, he found time to send me this link with his tiny little fingers. A clip entitled "The Science of Morning Wood" seems like something we might all enjoy:

And good luck with the poisoning, rob.

[clip via Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast]

Friday, November 23, 2012

This Week in Wrenball: One of These Is Not Like The Others

The problem with expectations is that they carry with them burdens. And the greater the expectation, the heavier the weight. Three games into a college basketball season might be a bit early for heaviness to build, but a once-in-a-generation start tends to bring with it certain magical thinking.

Our Wrens kicked off the 2012-13 campaign with a trio of reasonably impressive victories against three largely underwhelming foes. The fact of the wins was much less relevant than the quality of the Tribe's performance. In vanquishing Hampton, Liberty, and High Point to start 3-0 for the first time in 20 years, W&M won by an average of 17.3 points. The Tribe tallied 46 assists to 34 turnovers in the wins, shooting a cool 50% from the field. Each of the team's big three (Marcus Thornton, Tim Rusthoven, and Brandon Britt) led all scorers once, and each topped the 20-point mark in doing so. Newcomer Terry Tarpey went for 14 and 8 in the win over High Point, while Kyle Gaillard had a team-leading 8 boards in the opener at Hampton.

In all, there wasn't much wanting in W&M's opening week of action, which gave the futile superfans more than a little hope of a perfect 4-0 start as middling Miami (Ohio) came to Williamsburg for W&M's first nationally televised home game in, well, ever*. Instead, the Wrens offered up an effort that Daily Press scribe Dave Fairbank described as 'comprehensively lackluster'. Fairbank's drily cutting assessment accurately covers the Tribe's 9:18 assist to turnover ratio, 4-15 three-point shooting, and errant 9-17 free throw accuracy.

* - possibly not true, but our research staff is off for the holiday and it sounds plausible.

W&M watched a two-point halftime deficit balloon to nine in the first two minutes of the second half, and never got closer than four after that. Britt led with 17 points, while Thornton tallied 15 and Gaillard 12. Rusthoven only managed 5 points on 2-7 shooting, though he did manage to grab 9 rebounds.

The loss leaves the Tribe 3-1 headed into a meaty week of action, and serves to focus both our thinking and Tony Shaver's practice planning. Starting this evening at 7:00, the Tribe plays at Wake Forest, at Richmond (Wednesday) and at home against Old Dominion (12/1). Wake's been unimpressive, with wins over Radford (79-67) and Mercer (74-71) sandwiched around losses to Connecticut (by 6) and Iona (where the Deacons were run out of the gym, falling 94-68 in the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. Richmond's 4-1 start includes a 42-point win over a Liberty team the Tribe beat by 12 and a 10-point home win over a Hampton team W&M dropped by 18 on the road - bit of a mixed bag there. Finally, Old Dominion is as bad as any Big Blue Beast squad in recent memory, falling to 1-4 with a dismal home loss to VMI. But they're still ODU, and we're still W&M, which means at least something from a confidence perspective.

We said in our season preview that the Tribe would go where Marcus Thornton took them, and the sophomore guard's early efforts have been impressive. Even with a 3-8, 11-point effort against Liberty in the mix, Thornton's averaging 17.8 ppg on 54.3% shooting from the field. His assist to turnover ratio has improved to 0.8 - still not great, but definitely heading the right direction. His increasingly selfless play (he's getting his 17.8 on an average of 11.5 shots/game) is a significant key for the Tribe - if he can get his while helping others get theirs (Britt's averaging 17.0 and Rusthoven 15.3 ppg), good things will keep happening for our guys.

At least one win in this tough swing is certainly possible, if not necessarily likely, and if the team that took the court in W&M's first three games shows up, they could beat any of their next three opponents. In any case, we'll have a much better sense of how to calibrate our expectations by next Saturday.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

We could do what lesser thinkers do on this day and spew forth a litany of things for which we're thankful. Since lesser thinkers are almost always harder workers, that option's never really on the table for us. Instead, we offer a clip-filled but no less hearty thanks for one of our favorite things: rock babes. We're very thankful for them.

The Joy Formidable's Ritzy Bryan is a pixie with a giant voice.

Cat Power is still Cat Power.

Aimee Mann hasn't lost her fastball. Nor has John Hodgman.

The Dum Dum Girls are a modern day Hole with better hygiene.

Dessa'a gift for Mark, and for the rest of us.

And for good measure, the reigning champion, Neko Case.

UNNECESSARY EDITOR'S NOTE: rob beat me to the the Thanksgiving Day post, which is fine, because mine was simply going to contain this epic television sitcom clip:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Poem for Wednesday

Occasionally, when I'm in a certain mood, I'll wander online in search of poetry that speaks to me. It was on a recent walkabout that I came upon a piece by an author I've read before, but who hasn't done anything meaningful in way too long. It's a bit rough, but it's raw and honest. Hope you enjoy.

Growing up on the mean streets of North Brunswick, New Jersey made Dave a hard man. 
He bore the scars of serious playground beat-downs when he went 
and bummed a ride in an IROC-Z and rode south to liberal arts college. 
He stood out a bit down there for his love of The Cult, Judas Priest, and the Eagles. 
He hated the very mention of mayonnaise on an Italian sub, 
and the southern genteel boys knew never to bring it up. 
Otherwise, Dave might lose it on them by drinking a bunch of Milwaukee's Best, turning red, 
and sleeping on the cold, cold porcelain of the third floor men's room commode. 
The cold reminded him of the cold world in New Jersey he'd left far behind for the greener pastures of Virginia, 
a pastoral new setting where he could invent a dweeby game called The Disc Game 
where participants guessed which song among six compact discs on the hi-fi would come up next, 
and correct guesses got your name proudly and dorkily displayed in permanent marker on the dorm room wall, 
a stark contrast to the years of hiding his geekiness on the rough hopscotch asphalt of Jersey. 

Similarly, there were streaking episodes in college -- 
and not just for the well hung members of the glorified Physics Club Dave ran with in Williamsburg; 
rather, he and his cohorts appeared to be a parade of Irish late bloomers in very cold weather 30 seconds after intercourse in a pool who'd just been presented with a photo of gay porn and gore. 
It was liberating, and Dave tasted sweet, sweet freedom. 
It tasted like Nino's Pizza, but without the serious beat-downs if you ordered veggies on it. 
Dave spent four years frolicking among the meadows of nerdy Colonial Virginia, 
slowly letting the memories of his closeted dorky childhood fade, biding his time 
until he could return to the Garden State a full-fledged adult no longer vulnerable to playground beat-downs, 
if only because he rarely frequented playgrounds (after the citation). 

Later, however, after kids, he began making his way back to some of those same old childhood haunts, 
those same mean streets jungle gyms where the beat-downs had occurred, 
and as he watched his own son display the same penchant for nerdiness that he'd experienced -- 
but be able to shout it from the swingset-tops without fear of serious beat-down, Dave was happy. 
The world was indeed a better place, as Jackie DeShannon predicted in Top 40 song so long ago. 
But deep down, Dave also felt a twinge of bitterness. 
Why should his progeny escape the beat-downs he lived in fear of, and would it make them weaker adults? 

Like Asia sang, only time will tell.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Like It

Seems some people know how to take a hint. After watching the Washington Redskins lose my business earlier this year over their treatment of Chris Cooley, the talented folks at Maryland's Flying Dog Brewery weren't about to let it happen to them.

Well done, Flying Doggers. You'll undoubtedly see your sales figures in the Leesburg, Virginia market increase dramatically.

(Hat tip to the Bog)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Good seats still available

The Wizards still haven't won a game. That's 0-8 to start this year...oh yeah, they began last season 0-8 as well. Splendid work, folks.

Anyway, Washington hosts the Indiana Pacers tonight at the Verizon Center. Tipoff is 7 p.m. Tickets still available, starting at...$0.44 a piece.

Geoff's bubby Roy Hibbert will be in the house for the Pacers, in case you needed a reason to go and watch a woeful, winless Wiz bunch on a mid-November Monday night.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Did Dave Defend His Title?

My friends Eric and Liz hosted their Third Annual Scary Story Contest on Friday night, and I know all of you are wondering: Did Dave defend his title? Was he able to top last year's brilliant story?

For a synopsis of the event itself, head over to Sentence of Dave.

But if you just want the answer to the question, then here it is: Fuck yeah!

The competition was stiff, but I won Best Story and took home the big money, and I even grabbed a few votes for Scariest Story, despite the fact that I don't have a scary bone in my body. 

Here is my Award Winning Scary Story for 2012. Enjoy.  Right after my story, is my eight year old son Alex's story . . . he wanted to enter and dictated this to me moments before we left the house. The babysitter probably thought we were insane. His story is rather similar to mine, which might say something about my depth and sophistication as a writer.

          DOXY 517        

Stanley Wetherbaum, divorcée and father of two, emerged from the door of his Craftsman-style ranch. He stood on the gabled front porch for a moment, breathing in the crisp fall air, and then hopped down his front steps. His face and clothes were covered with blood, and he held a small curved bone in his right hand.

Mary Chen made a similar exit from her green Cape Cod across the street. Her white blouse and brown slacks were spattered with gore. One pant leg was torn at the hip, Stanley noted, revealing a sturdy but not so unattractive slice of haunch.

Stanley waved his daughter’s rib bone at Mary. He shouted, “I killed Iris. Ripped out her jugular and ate her heart and liver.”

Mary shrugged her shoulders. “DOXY 517, I guess.”

They walked across their lawns and met in the road.

“I killed Timothy,” Mary said.

“You did? How did you catch him?” Timothy ran cross-country for the high school. He made varsity as a freshman.

“I didn’t have to. He was playing his DX. I always told him: ‘when you’re playing that thing, the whole house could be burning down.’ I hit him in the head with the pointy end of my iron. Then I ate his brains.” Mary suppressed a giggle.

Stanley looked up and down his street. It was empty. A quiet Sunday morning, for the most part. Sparrows chirping. An occasional siren or scream, but in the distance.

         Mary said, “Should we turn ourselves in?”

         “Haven’t you been watching the news? The police are a wreck. They were on the front line, with no information. It’s only some of the military that were able to get inoculated. Ironic, right?”

         “Bio-weapons . . .” Mary shook her head. “Nuclear wasn’t enough?”

         Stanley turned and looked at his house. The cedar shake siding needed a paint job.

         “I think Anna’s hiding in the attic,” he said.

         “Do you want to eat her?”

         “Not right now, but I ate her rabbit. I’m sure I’ll want to eat her later. Children and animals, that’s what they said.”

         “I tried to catch the cat, but I fell down the steps on the deck.” She laughed and pointed to the rip in her slacks. “Do you want to eat me?”

         Stanley thought for a moment. “No. I’m full, but even if I wasn’t, I still don’t think I’d want to eat you. I think I want to go inside and digest. Maybe lie down and take a nap. Listen for Anna.” Stanley scratched his blood spattered chin with Iris’s rib bone.  “Do you want to eat me? Do I look tempting?”

         “No,” Mary said. “Not right now, but I wouldn’t trust that.”

         “DOXY 517,” they sighed in unison.

         “It’s not our fault,” Stanley said. He took a look at that sliver of exposed leg. Smooth olive skin. He decided to take a chance. Normally, a stocky, small-breasted Asian widow wouldn’t be his type, but things were different now. He took a deep breath, and then went for it.

“Later,” he said, “after we digest, do you want to hunt down that chubby Greek kid from up the street . . . the Fondakakis kid? Do you want to hunt him down, kill him, eat his brains, and then have sex over his dead body?”

Mary thought for a moment, and then said, “Yes. Yes I would. I would like that.”

“We might as well enjoy it. Like drones weren’t enough. They always have to have something new. Even if they sort it all out, they’ll never be able to press charges.”

“You’re right, “Mary said. “We might as well enjoy it. I don’t feel like a ‘rabid zombie.’”

“Katie Couric didn’t know what she was talking about.”

“I’m sure she was able to get inoculated,” Mary said.

“I don’t feel anything like a zombie. If anything, I feel more alive. Hyper-alive. And I don’t feel a bit of guilt. You know what? In the sixties they had their free love, and in the seventies they had cocaine and disco, and-- what did they have in the eighties?”

“More drugs?” Mary was having a hard time following this.

“Right, more drugs and synthesizers and punk rock. And what did we get? What did our generation get? Nothing. A bad economy. This is our thing. This is our Woodstock.”

“We did get the short end of the stick.”

“If I find my daughter, I’m going to rip her eyes out and swallow them whole.”

“I don’t feel guilty either,” Mary mused.

“I used to feel guilty if I used a single plastic grocery bag. This is liberating. I was so sick of driving Iris and Anna to dance practice.”

“It’s nice when they get to high school,” Mary said. “They can take care of themselves. Go to their own activities.” Mary trailed off, thinking about all the children and all the activities they would no longer be participating in.

Stanley said, “You look exhausted. Go get some sleep and digest. We’ll meet in a few hours.”

                                                   *           *            *

Anna lay still in the attic. She had wedged herself between the joists so she could see through a slit in the vent. She could see her father and Mrs. Chen talking in the street. Not talking, really. Grunting and chittering. She couldn’t understand a word of it. They were covered in blood, and they both kept making jerky, sudden movements, like marionettes. That was one of the effects of the viral prions. Degradation of motor skills. The insulation made her legs itch, but that was the least of her worries. She was prey. Animals and children, that’s what they wanted. She didn’t think anything could have been worse than her parents’ divorce, but this was worse. This was all the parents. Total divorce. Was her mother doing the same thing, at this very moment? Mumbling gibberish and eating her step-brothers? Tears ran down her face and fell into the pink fiberglass. Iris was dead. Really dead. Anna had never felt so sad and alone.

Her dad started back for the house. She wasn’t going to think of him as her dad any longer, she decided. Even if he did remember how to get through the access panel and into the attic, he still wouldn’t be able to shimmy through the crawl space the way she could. He would either fall through the ceiling or get stuck. And the way he was spazzing around, there was no way he could climb up and in. She was safe, for the time being. But what could she do? Where could she go? All the kids were left alone now. Hunted. Until they were old enough to catch the virus, until their hormones tapered off . . . the man on the news said around drinking age. Twenty-one or twenty two. Maybe in ten years they would have a cure. How could she survive until then? How long did food in a can last?

She heard her father enter the house, knock around and moan a bit, and then it was silent, except for the TV. She could hear the voice of the newscaster, but not make out what he was actually saying. Her neck was tired from craning. She desperately wanted to get out of the house, but she knew she had to wait until dark. She closed her eyes and rested her head on her arm. She imagined an island, full of children, with fruit on the trees and fish in the water. A safe place.

                                                *               *                 *

         Several hours later, Stanley awoke from his nap. The TV was too loud, but he couldn’t find the remote. A bald man in an army uniform was recommending that all “infected” people stay in their homes and wait. “Just stay put and wait it out. Help is on the way,” the general said, and then looked to his left, off-camera.

         Stanley got up and wandered outside. The street was empty. It was late afternoon. He had slept for a long time. He thought about that piece of Mary’s leg, those ripped slacks, and decided that he would knock on her door. See if she was up for it. Hopefully, she wasn’t taking the guy on TV seriously.

         He knocked several times, but got no answer. He looked in the window, but all he could see were Timothy’s feet, protruding from the kitchen. The rest of his body was obscured. He didn’t want to just walk in, that would be presumptuous, so he went around the side, to the fence gate. He knocked on it, and then noticed that it was unlocked. He thought he heard something from her backyard. He pushed the fence gate open and went back.


         Mary was on all fours, her bloody face buried in the Fondakakis kid’s belly. Her pants were down, and the Fondakakis kid’s father was behind her, pumping away like a wild animal. In broad daylight, rutting like beasts.

         Mary heard her name over the grunting. She raised her head out of the boy’s viscera, wiped off her mouth and looked at Stanley. She could see how hurt he was.

“DOXY 517?” she said in a small voice.

“DOXY 517,” Stanley sadly agreed.

         Charlie Fondakakis stopped thrusting and also looked at Stanley. His shirt was unbuttoned to the navel. He was fat, hairy, and bloody. Stanley was appalled. He looked away. He wasn’t even jealous. He was disappointed . . . disappointed in her choice, but what could he do? She could have waited. This wasn’t civilized. He turned, shoulders hunched, and shuffled off. He felt sad and alone. He wanted to find his daughter and smash her head in. He wanted to bite a dog or a raccoon or a possum. He knew it was stupid, and he knew he would end up fat -- fat like Charlie Fondakakis -- but he was angry and lonely, and he wanted to feed.

         Charlie and Mary got back to it. Stanley listlessly walked through the gate, head down, gazing at his blood-covered sneakers. He didn’t see his daughter slip out of the house, into the coming dusk. Anna saw him, though . . . took one last look at what was once her father, listened one last time to his subhuman grunts and growls, and then she ran into the night, in search of bigger kids . . . kids who would know what to do. Maybe they had guns or sharp knives, or a place to hide out. Maybe someone knew how to drive. She resigned herself to the fact that the adults were gone, and she was on her own in a grim and ugly world.

Now here is my son Alex's story. Note the parallels, despite the fact that he did not know a thing about my story. Also, note his liberal use of ellipses . . . he considers ellipses to be an absolute must for a scary story, and told his younger brother: "Every scary story ends with DOT DOT DOT!"

                                                      Dead People

Once there was a hobo. People threw stuff at him because he smelled.  One time somebody threw a rock at his head and he fell over and went down a hill and into a stream and floated into the sewer. In there, somehow, he turned into a zombie, and then he went back to where he usually lived.

            At first, people were scared of him. Then, people started throwing stuff at him again. One of them got too close and . . .

            Then he met another zombie. His name was Dead-Eye. He could see everything in the whole world. They were planning to eat the king of the world. This was the year 2380. When he called a meeting of the United States of America, they came and ganged up on him, and ate him. Then the zombies ate everyone in the meeting. Soon they ate everybody in the world. Then they took a rocket-ship and floated to Mars, to see if there were any aliens to eat.

            But there was one person left on earth. The ship was headed back. Is that one person you . . . ?

Friday, November 16, 2012

No longer the Hostess with the Mostess

Sad news, friends. Word comes today that Hostess is going out of business. I'm weeping into a chocolate cupcake as I type this:
Hostess, the makers of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Wonder Bread, is going out of business after striking workers failed to heed a Thursday deadline to return to work, the company said.
The Hostess shutdown will lead to over 18,000 laid off workers, and the closure of 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers, approximately 5,500 delivery routes and 570 bakery outlet stores in the U.S. The clock is ticking, though - consumers only have a few more days to load up on already baked products. "OUT OF MY WAY, THOSE ARE MY SUZY Q'S!!!"

Oh yeah, this kid's an orphan now, too. Jerks.

Let's try to remember the corporate behemoth in better times:

Oh yeah, I pretended to be an expert on South Florida men's hoops yesterday. Read it if you'd like.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alliteration Wednesdays: Woeful Winless Washington Wizards

They lost again last night, those Wizards of F(un) Street. A 92-76 defeat at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats, a team that just last year compiled the worst winning percentage in league history. The loss drops this year's version of Les Boulez to 0-6, meaning Randy Wittman's club is steamrolling towards the franchise-worst mark of 0-8 to begin last season (yes, with the suited man above in charge).

Desultory starts to a season are a bit of a Wizards tradition. In addition to the 2011-12 asshattery that saw 0-8 become 1-12 on the way to 20-46, the 2008-09 club began the year 0-5/1-10, and the 2007-08 team also kicked off a season 0-5. This team likes to build a foundation for a season...on quicksand. If Ernie Grunfeld were to hire a new contractor to build a Verizon Center parking lot extension, it would probably be the same folks who helped Jefferson Starship whip together an entire city on simply rock and roll.

Not to pile on the Wiz, but for lack of a better term, here are some Bullets bullets that encapsulate the 2012-13 season so far:
  • Washington is dead last in the league at scoring (86.0 ppg). 29th place (88.0 ppg) is held by Orlando, who traded away superstar Dwight Howard for a bag of pizzeria Combos and a Betamax player.
  • The Wiz are dead last in the league in field goal percentage, making just 39.5% of their shots. The are tied for last in three point percentage, at 27.9% (thanks, Sacramento, for joining Washington in the bricklayers union).
  • If we can stay on that last stat for a moment, Washington took 31 threes against the Bobcats on Tuesday night...making just five of them. Now, if you were a team that stunk at making three balls, you might think to take less in a game, right? Not these guys - they're third in the league hoisting from behind the three point line, attempting almost 26 threes a game. Gotta admire the sticktuitiveness (I'm looking at you, Trevor Ariza).
Washington takes the floor against Dallas tonight, still desperate for Win #1 this season. The Mavs have won four straight contests with the Wiz. Can Fred Gwynne's squad get it done tonight, or does 0-7 await?

Oh yeah, if you were wondering what injured point guard John wall thinks of all this, I believe this GIF from the gang at Truth About It sums it up perfectly (click the image for full effect):

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Yap That Mashup

I hadn't checked my Soundcloud account in a long time and when I did I found some interesting stuff in my dropbox, including a bunch of hiphop/punk mashups. These are from Max Tannone, they guy who brought us Mos Dub. Regular readers and Teedge should be excited by the M.O.P./Operation Ivy joint ...

Monday, November 12, 2012

rob's in London!

I am still trapped in Orlando for a miserable work conference, but I noticed from a tweet this morning that our diminutive founder has completed his travel across the pond. He sent me this pic just after landing...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The rudeboy train is coming now

Anyone who spent significant amounts of time in my tobacco-and-vanillaroma scented Nissan Sentra in the mid-to-late-90's listened to DJ Wade's reggae oldies mixtape, which is now available with several other of his mixtapes (and you can get them as podcasts through iTunes). There's something about the pop and hiss of these songs as recorded to vinyl then transferred to tape that makes you feel like you're listening to an old battery powered AM radio at an outdoor bar housed in a three-walled corrugated metal shed somewhere in the Caribbean even if you're sitting in NJ surrounded by snow. You should download them now and listen to them while drinking a Red Stripe later.

The Lions are a band on one of my favorite labels, Stones Throw, specializing in what they call "dusty reggae" which is remarkably reminiscent of DJ Wade's old mixtapes. If you enjoy old school reggae then cop their album on February 26, 2013.


This post is particularly remarkable (some might say miraculous) because I drafted it the day before Dave's sentence regarding King Tubby, so here's a bonus miracle video.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Futile Superfans, Mount Up

A year has passed since I wrote my note (about the 2011-12 William & Mary Tribe hoops outlook). I should have known this (that they'd finish 6-26, 4-14 in the CAA) right from the start. Only hope (that this year might be significantly better) can keep me together. Love can mend your life or love can break your heart.


The Wrens open the 2012-13 season tonight at home against Hampton, hoping to get off to a better out of conference start than last year, when injuries and inexperience turned preseason positivity into a liftoff fizzle right out of the Wide World of Sports intro. W&M opened the year 1-8, capped by three consecutive 30-point losses. Even if we weren't in the irrational exuberance business, it'd be hard to see a scenario where this years version of the Green and Gold isn't more competitive in the early going.

Competitive, in this case, doesn't necessarily mean winning, as SOS means something entirely different than what Sting was singing about. While W&M opens with very manageable games against Hampton, Liberty, High Point, and Miami (Ohio), much of the rest of the pre-conference slate wears big boy pants. Between November 23 and January 2, the Tribe plays at Wake Forest, at Richmond, at Purdue, and at Vanderbilt. Throw in a homer against Old Dominion in the CAA's annual December appetizer, and the good guys' early lift looks daunting. We'll know we have something if the Tribe can stay close in those contests, and perhaps sneak out of one of them with a win - anything better than 6-6 heading into the meat of the conference schedule will be noteworthy.

2012-13 promises to be one of the more unique CAA seasons in memory. VCU left the conference to join the Atlantic 10, taking with it arguably the league's best team and inarguably the CAA's best facial hair. Old Dominion and Georgia State made clear their intention to follow suit next year, so the conference banned the always-tough Monarchs and the rising Panthers from postseason play. UNCW and Towson got on the wrong side of Dean Wormer's double secret probation, and found themselves also prohibited from competing for the league's autobid to the NCAA Tournament.

As a result of those machinations, the CAA finds itself with only seven schools eligible to participate in the 2013 conference basketball tournament. From a personal perspective, this is disappointing - it means my annual tradition of taking the first day of tournament off from work to play hooky in Richmond takes a year off. But from the Wrens' viewpoint, it means a worst-case scenario needing two wins to get to the tournament final and a one in seven chance at a miracle.

Regardless of how good this year's team may be (patience - we're getting there), a miracle (or at least fortune's kind graces) may be the only way it goes deep in Richmond. Drexel is the punditocracy's nearly unanimous choice to win the league's regular season title and a fashionable early-season mid-major darling of the national media. Ken Pomeroy gives Bruiser Flint's boys an 83.6% chance of winning the league. The Dragons boast a deep, physical, talented squad, led by All-CAA guard Frantz Massenat, the league's preseason player of the year, and sophomore Damion Lee, the returning CAA Rookie of the Year. Drexel finished 29-7 last season and lost to VCU in the CAA tournament final.

Delaware's Devon Saddler and Jamelle Hagins both join Massenat and Lee on the preseason All-CAA team, giving the Hens a formidable outside/inside tandem. Though this observer expects them to struggle more than usual, George Mason is still George Mason. Northeastern's Jonathan Lee leads a Husky team that got better as the year went on in 2011-12. JMU's arguably the most experienced team in the league, with five fifth-year seniors, and the knowledge that it'd be nearly impossible to be as unlucky this season as they were last. Hofstra's a wild card, with several talented transfers that could make them dangerous. The question is whether they'll pose that danger on the court or in the local community.

And while ODU, Georgia State, UNCW, and Towson won't compete for a title, all four teams will play a regular season conference schedule. ODU has a lot of question marks after losing Kent Bazemore to the NBA, but they'll still battle on the defensive end and they'll rebound effectively. Georgia State looks to build on Ron Hunter's 20-win 2011-12, and they'll do so after adding his son R.J., a very highly recruited wing, to an already talented team. Towson will be significantly better than last year's one-win team after adding both freshman and transfers that will contribute immediately. UNCW is decidedly worse on paper after losing several players via transfer, but senior stud Keith Rendleman returns to wreak double-doubles on conference foes.

Most experts look at the state of the conference and slot the Wrens squarely in the league's lower tier. Based on last year's results, it's hard to argue that expectation with much conviction, but if W&M is to threaten the league's preseason favorites, Marcus Thornton will be the biggest reason. The 6'4" Thornton was selected second-team All-CAA on the strength of his scintillating - if sometimes erratic - rookie campaign. He averaged 11.1 ppg, saving his best games for the toughest opponents, dropping 50 on VCU in two matchups, and scoring 23 at George Mason. Thornton's athleticism and confidence in his abilities are undeniable, as is his importance to the Tribe. The single most important factor in W&M's success in 2012-13 will be how much Thornton improves from his freshman to sophomore seasons.

If the preseason buzz is to be believed, W&M has reason for real optimism. Our sources tell us that Thornton has been both an extremely efficient scorer and a highly effective distributor of the ball in early scrimmages. He's teaming effectively with junior frontcourt mate Brandon Britt, who seeks to bounce back from a 2011-12 clouded by personal loss and inconsistent play. If Thornton and Britt - both of whom thrive with the ball in their hands - find a way to work together effectively, their speed and versatility will challenge opposing guards.

Cult hero Tim Rusthoven returns fully healthy from the beginning of the season, a vast improvement on last year. Beasthoven's early-season health struggles last year were a significant contributor to the Tribe's slow start. Despite never fully getting into game shape, the junior still led W&M in rebounding 14 times and and averaged 10.3 points and 6.6 boards a game.

Senior guard Matt Rum has been lauded by Tribe observers as the team's most consistent player in preseason action. He's compared favorably by insiders with the recently-graduated Kendrix Brown - a player who did the dirty work that allowed others to thrive, rebounding, defending, and grinding. Rum came to Williamsburg as a shooter - it's a testament to his team focus that he's remade himself in Brown's image. As the only senior expected to get significant minutes, Rum's leadership will be critical.

For my money, while Thornton's the obvious key to W&M's success, the return of junior forward Kyle Gaillard to full health is nearly as important. When we last saw Gaillard, he was the most athletic player on the court (for either team) in the Tribe's heartbreaking 2011 NIT loss at North Carolina. Gaillard tallied 25 against the Heels, with five dunks - several of which were in traffic against the massive Carolina interior defense. His 2011-12 season ended before it began, as he was lost to injury in the summer. At 6'8", he adds much needed size and all-court skill, shooting 47.5% from the floor in 2010-11 (34.8% from three) in 2010-11.

Freshman Terry Tarpey is a hyper-athletic 6'5" guard who'll get lots of run as a defender while he learns to play offense at the D-I level. Junior Julian Boatner is working his way back from a knee injury, but will need to regain his long-range touch to give the Tribe another deep option. Fred Heldring and his 6'9, 245 lb. frame will pair with 6'9" freshman Sean Sheldon to help Rusthoven battle the Jamelle Hagins' and Keith Rendlemans of the league.

But for better or worse, the Tribe's fortunes will rise or fall with Marcus Thornton. The prolific tweeter (@MarcusWM3) has spent the entire offseason exhorting himself, his friends, and his teammates to 'Do Better'. Observers say he's worked extremely hard to get stronger and handle the ball more effectively. It's not a stretch to say he has a chance to be the best W&M player ever.

In this, the first season of the CAA's agreement with NBCSports, we'll have a wealth of opportunities to see if he and the Tribe can, indeed, do better. W&M's home contest against Miami (Ohio) is nationally televised (NBCSports), as are games against Wake Forest (ESPN3) and Purdue (ESPN3). Eight other games will be broadcast on regional cable. The CAA as a whole will have terrific exposure in this, the first post-VCU season. The league's broadcast schedule is available here.

W&M's hopes of ending the much-discussed NCAA Tournament drought may be meager (The aforementioned Ken Pomeroy says we've got a 0.1% chance of winning the league's regular season title.), but they exist, futile and irrational though they may be. A great number of things must break really well, most of them in March, for the Wrens to dance. I'm not here today to tell you it's going to happen. I merely offer this message in a (blog-shaped) bottle: we've got a puncher's chance, friends.