Thursday, January 31, 2013

Series Finale Filler

Tonight, "30 Rock" will air for the last time. We asked noted Jack Donaghy aficionado Wheelhouse Geoff if he would like to write some prose about the show's finale, but unfortunately for all of us Geoff is a very busy and super-important guy and could not do so.

In lieu of that, here are a few finale-related links, starting with the best one - the Top 100 quotes from the show. A sample Tracy doozy:
I believe that the moon does not exist. I believe that vampires are the world’s greatest golfers but their curse is they never get a chance to prove it. I believe that there are 31 letters in the white alphabet. Wait… what was the question?

The show has had some phenomenal guest appearances - here's some person's list of the Top 30.

And finally, here is a list of all the old Wheelhouse posts that come up when you search "30 Rock". Some real gems in here. Including the photo I stole for this post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: Roadie

Our heroes head back out on the road today after a too-brief respite in the cozy confines of the TribeDome. The Wrens took out some long-simmering frustration on Towson on Saturday, avenging a double-overtime loss to the Tigers on the strength of an 11-2 game-ending run. The game marked the end of a four road games out of five stretch that weighed heavily on both the Tribe's record and its psyche.

Tonight, Tony Shaver and the boys travel to Newark (that's New-ARK, to those in the know), Delaware to take on the Fighting Blue Hens (9-11, 4-3 CAA). Delaware was highly touted in the preseason on the strength of their inside-out wonder twins, Jamelle Hagins and Devon Saddler. The bruising Hagins is second in the CAA in rebounding with 10.9 a game, though his 12.1 points per contest is a bit disappointing. Lead guard Saddler is the conference's leading scorer, dropping 19.2 a game. He and sophomore gunner Kyle Anderson are the Hens' only real outside threats - both make better than 31% of their long-range attempts.

As for the good guys, the season's turned into a tale of two teams in many ways. It's clear that this Tribe team is capable of playing at a high level for long stretches. It's equally obvious that W&M can completely forget how to play basketball for alarmingly long periods. Such blackouts cost the Tribe wins over Richmond, Purdue, Mason, and Towson, at the very least, contributing to a downward spiral that led to an 8-game losing streak.

The rest of this season will hinge on Shaver's ability to get his team to maximize the highs and minimize the bizarre lapses. They've gotta learn to win, to put it in highly technical terms.

They'll start with Tim Rusthoven, who's played some of his best ball over the past two weeks. The junior post, who unfortunately shaved his excellently scruffy beard, has averaged 19.5 points and 9.3 boards a game over the last four, recording double-doubles in three of those. He went for 25 and 11 in the double overtime loss to Northeastern before fouling out. Rusthoven leads the CAA in field goal percentage, and is one of only three players in the league's top 10 in both points and rebounds per game (along with Towson's Jerrelle Benimon and UNCW's Keith Rendleman).

For all the digital ink we've spilled on Marcus Thornton (and we remain convinced that he'll go down as the greatest player in W&M history), Rusthoven's been the Tribe's most consistent and reliable offensive threat. He's the thunder to Thornton's lightning, the Pooh Bear to Thornton's Rabbit., the...hell, you come up with something. This is hard on a deadline.

Tonight's tip is at 7:00. No television, which is probably a good thing. Delaware's good, but they had to play a tough Drexel team just two days ago. Here's hoping the Tribe catch them tired and unfocused. It'd be a bit of poetic justice.

Super Bowl Week Filler

As random as it gets, here's (possible) double murderer Ray Lewis, amped out of his mind on deer antler smoothies, in spin class with none other than our namesake Ghita.

What an odd photo. (via @PaytonWales)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Your 2030 Super Cup Champions

While we've seen the numbers in black and white, and the trend's been unavoidable, it's still hard for the older observers among us to believe that the 2030 American Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Super Cup got higher ratings than the NFL's Super Bowl LXIV. More than 115 million viewers watched as Denver Barbarians wing Oz Hightower scored a last-minute try to cap a thrilling comeback and beat Old Blue of New York, 20-18 in last week's Super Cup match.

As recently as the early 2010s, rugby was an afterthought in American sports, something played by collegians and small handfuls of old-timers chasing past glory and a great party. But the long-germinating seeds of the NFL's decline took root in early 2013 when a UCLA study found signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in living retired professional football players. On the heels of several high-profile suicides by retired NFL players like Junior Seau and in the midst of a number of lawsuits by former players, the UCLA study triggered a national debate about football and our tolerance for violence as entertainment. The Atlantic columnist Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote presciently at the time,
This is when you start thinking about football and an existential crisis. I don't know what the adults will do. But you tell a parent that their kid has a five percent chance of developing crippling brain damage through playing a sport, and you will see the end of Pop Warner and probably the end of high school football. Colleges would likely follow. (How common are college boxing teams these days?)

After that, I don't know how pro football can stand for long.
Baltimore safety Bernard Pollard put a player's face on Coates' argument before Super Bowl XLVII, predicting that the NFL would be out of existence within 30 years. He was unavailable for comment after the game as a result of the concussion he suffered during his team's 31-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

If the UCLA study was a significant public relations blow for the NFL, the 2015 legal ruling awarding $1.2 billion in damages to the families of players injured during their careers was an economic gutpunch. Shortly thereafter, the league outlawed high tackles, ironically borrowing a rule from rugby, but the NFL's popularity would never again reach its 2012 peak.

While the NFL struggled with the obvious tension between its celebration of violent hits and claims to emphasize player safety (in one particularly memorable juxtaposition, the league fined Pittsburgh Steeler James Harrison $75,000 for a 2010 hit on Cleveland's Mohamed Massaquoi - and then sold pictures of the hit on its website), rugby began to grow steadily. International and college sevens matches made for compelling television, and the 2016 Rio Olympics were a significant stage for the game - enough so that the ARFU was founded shortly after the Games, with eight teams in traditional rugby hotbeds like San Francisco, New York, and Boston.

By 2022, the NFL had experienced six consecutive years of ratings declines, which hurt the league significantly as it negotiated new television deals with its broadcast partners. At the same time, the ARFU inked its first national television contract, with NBC Sports Network signing to broadcast a Match of the Week and the entire playoffs.

Though President Barack Obama talked about football's need to address its concussion issue as far back as 2013, the tragic on-field death of USC wide receiver Torey Butler in 2025 spurred a theretofore slow-moving Congress into action. Led by Massachusetts Senator Tom Brady, a bipartisan effort in both chambers resulted in significant new player safety and equipment rules for football at all levels. Decried by hard-liners as the Mark Kelsoization of the game, the legislation stopped short of banning the sport, but had a material impact on how it was played.

Two years later, the NFL awarded a new television contract to TNT and Apple after no major networks bid on the package. Meanwhile, ESPN joined NBC Sports Network as a broadcast partner for the ARFU, which increased to 16 teams. All of the rugby league's games were now televised nationally.

In  2028, Jonathan James, the top pick in NFL draft, spurned the league to sign with the ARFU Dallas Harlequins. The Cal grad starred at running back for the Bears' gridiron squad while doing double duty as a wing on their national champion rugby squad.

Just this year, in a move rumored for some time, the NFL contracted to 24 teams while the ARFU expanded to 20. Commissioner Tim Tebow (and quite a story his ascension was, to be sure) is rumored to be in talks with the upstart American Rugby League to develop a hybrid football/rugby game to compete with the ARFU.

And now, we see ARFU ratings exceed those of the NFL for the first time. We still like our violence, it seems, but we're increasingly unwilling to let it come at such cost. Like boxing before it, American football seems destined to decline slowly, but absolutely surely, until it becomes a quaintly barbaric anachronism.

It was fun while it lasted, though.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Ahoy Polloi: Today's The Big Day

The Yacht Rock wedding sail-ebration (see what I did there?) will take place later today. I am hopping in the car this morning with BaconBaking, Shlara and WheelhouseJerry to speed down I-95 and I-64 in time for what will be a fantastic time. But before I go, I've got a little poem I'd like to read in honor of this occasion:

Oh, there's also this good sign/omen for today - KQ and Mr. KQ sent along this receipt from last night's pre-wedding activities:


Friday, January 25, 2013

The Incomplete Works of Clarence, Vol. 1

[The New Orleans NBA franchise showed off their new name and logo yesterday, a topic that Clarence apparently wanted to tackle at one point before he fell into a bottle of Jack Daniels. Anyway, when news broke about the Pelicans, Clarence asked that his incomplete ramblings be posted on the now-dated topic. Ask and ye shall receive...]

Grantland recently posted a piece on the future New Orleans Pelicans and why the name change is a good thing.  (Naturally, they used the "Pelican Brief" easy reference in the title of the article but failed to make my suggestion of selling Pelican Briefs on the website.)  In the dozen or so paragraphs, not once, however, did the author mention the old New Orleans NBA team name, the Jazz.  Because doing so would have segued into a more interesting conversation.

You already know this: There are few major sports franchises with more ill-suited team names than the Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers.  The Jazz, of course defected from NOLA to Sat Lake City 1979 and somehow kept the team name, despite the fact that there was about as much jazz in Utah as there was in East Berlin.  Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Lakers moved west (after drafting West) and somehow kept the team name, despite the fact that they were moving from the Land of 10,000 Lakes to a place with eight lakes, and frankly, at least four of them are glorified ponds.

A more clever sort than I once suggested that these two teams switch names.  Jazz just seems more at home in Hollywood, and in Utah there's a lake so great it's in the city name.  But that's probably not going to happen.

Some folks point to the Cleveland Brown move to Baltimore as the watershed moment when teams would leave the name and logo behind when they switched cities. It seems pretty obvious that this is the right move to make, preserving the history of the franchise in its home city -- especially if there are many decades of past success and fan adoration.  The Colts move to Indy is a story worth dwelling on, but I won't.  Just see the 30 for 30 called "The Band That Wouldn't Die" and just know that Mayflower Van Lines has not had a presence in Baltimore since 1984 . . . and presumably never, ever will.

[So, I guess that ends the post. See y'all next time for Vol. 2]

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Caption This GIF

Courtesy of Wheelhouse Geoff comes the absolutely phenomenal GIF below. In the comments, let us know what you think our tiny dictator could be thinking at that very moment.

[h/t Gawker]

Is Hollywood Steve invited to the wedding?

In honor of this upcoming weekend's Yacht Rock wedding festivities, and because we desperately need to push down that last TR video) I am here to introduce the uninitiated to the pilot "episode" of Yacht Rock. Give it a watch, and whether you like it or not, more are coming before Saturday. And, if you say you don't like it, you will really hurt Greg's feelings. No one wants a sad Greg.

Clarence edit: Episodes 1 & 2 are really companion pieces...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Holy Shit! Run Away!

With the Large Hadron Collider set to be mothballed for the better part of the next two years, our Planetary Threat Detection Editor has turned his (or her - we can't reveal the identity of this person, lest any of various nefarious actors try to do him or her harm) attention to more pressing matters.

While the LHC seeks to rip the fabric of the universe apart beginning with the smallest of particles, the newest impending doommaker hurtles towards us on a far different scale. According to The Atlantic, it's The Largest Structure Ever Observed in the Universe.

Colloquially known as Huge-LQG (for large quasar group - seriously, apocalyptic science types, we're gonna need to get better at naming things. Maybe you ask us for help next time? Doofus Overlord, I think, would make for an awesome end of times moniker - perhaps for a sentient comet, or frozen fog cloud.), the 73-quasar array is 1.6 - 4 billion light years across. (The Milky Way, as a comparable, spans a distance of only 100,000 light years.

According to the scientists that found Huge-LQG, led by Roger G. Clowes at the University of Central Lancashire, its very existence throws into doubt one of Albert Einstein's theories. As explained by astronomer William Keel,
[Einstein's] cosmological principle is usually stated formally as 'Viewed on a sufficiently large scale, the properties of the Universe are the same for all observers.' This amounts to the strongly philosophical statement that the part of the Universe which we can see is a fair sample, and that the same physical laws apply throughout. In essence, this in a sense says that the Universe is knowable and is playing fair with scientists.

Roger Clowes is smarter than Einstein
So, if we're to believe this Keel fellow - and I've got reasons to believe he's a quack - the Universe is not actually knowable, and it's not, in fact, playing fair with scientists. It's the Lance Armstrong of cosmological entities. In essence, the existence of of Huge-LQG means that we don't know anything about anything. Up is down, conservative is liberal, Joe Flacco outplayed Tom Brady, the President mentioned Stonewall in his inauguration speech, all hell is breaking loose.

The Huge-LQG is 9 billion light years from Earth, so the images seen above represent activity from 9 billion years ago. Which means that we have no idea where this behemoth actually right now, which further means HOLY SHIT DON'T TURN AROUND!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Little Danson Man

Fashion is dumb. and scary.

For the next time you need to put your f'ing lotion in your purse, I give you...the Hannibal Lecter handbag.

Multiple Miggs in the kiosk over speaks for the quality of the product, stating he can smell the rich Corinthian leather even from where he is standing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: Misery Loves Company (Not That Misery Loves Company)

What once seemed so promising has rapidly unraveled, as a string of close losses spiraled into a pair of desultory efforts, leaving our William & Mary Tribe losers of six straight. The Tribe is coming off a 74-58 loss to Georgia State in a game they led by 13 late in the first half. Prior to that defeat, W&M fell at a Hofstra team that's without four key contributors who were arrested for a skein of burglaries. The Wrens sit at 7-9, 1-4 in the CAA in advance of this afternoon's home contest against similarly disappointing Drexel.

And that's all we really have to say about Tony Shaver's confounding collection. Today, in an effort to make ourselves feel better, we commiserate with other fanbases across the country that are sitting in their pajamas, drinking coffee and lamenting their teams' poor starts.

On December 22, Illinois State was 9-3, with wins over Dayton and Drexel. The Redbirds took Louisville to the wire in the Yum Center, falling by three. Considered sleepers in the tough Missouri Valley Conference, Illinois State entered conference play on a four-game winning streak. They haven't won since, falling to 0-6 in MVC play after a 74-62 loss at Wichita State on Wednesday.

Penn has a proud history as one of Philadelphia's Big 5. The Quakers have played in 25 NCAA Tournaments, and even reached a Final Four way in 1979. Penn alum Jerome Allen led the team to a second-place Ivy League finish last year in his second full season as head coach. But this year, after a failed drug test led to suspensions and controversy in the City of Brotherly Love, Penn stands at 3-13 after a narrow win over NJIT.

Even the bluest of bloods have struggled in 2012-13, giving those of us with different hues at least some succor. From my humble perspective, there's no NCAA program more entitled, more arrogant, and more hateable than North Carolina. While the Heels' 11-5 record is respectable, it counts as disappointing in Chapel Hill, especially when it includes losses to Virginia and Miami, and whispers of poor team chemistry. Anything that makes UNC supporters unhappy is okay by me.

Rick Barnes' Texas Longhorns beat UNC by 18, but they lost to Chaminade by 13 on the way to an 8-8 start. Myck Kabongo's charade of an NCAA suspension has been a huge distraction for Texas, and a big loss on the court. After a pair of overtime losses to start their Big 12 schedule, Texas just got buried by Iowa State. They play Kansas at home today. That won't end well.

As of this writing, Illinois is the 23rd-ranked team in the country. They won't be when the new rankings are announced. The Illini started the season ablaze, winning their first 12 games, and carding impressive victories over Butler and at Gonzaga. Since that heady peak, John Groce's team has gone 2-5, losing to Purdue by the same margin as did the Tribe, and getting hammered last week by Wisconsin and Northwestern. Illinois did thump #8 Ohio State during their skid, showing that they still have promise. The bloom's off the rose just a bit, however.

Closer to home, there may be no more disappointing and perplexing Division 1 squad this season than Old Dominion. In their farewell season in the CAA, the Monarchs are 2-15, 0-5 in conference play. They handed W&M its only league win, for Chrissakes. The perennial bully are suddenly getting sand kicked in their face by the likes of JMU and UNCW. Enjoy CUSA next year, ODU fans.

Lots of other teams are giving their fans the sadz, from Pittsburgh (2-3 after a 12-1 start), to UMES (0-13),  to Utah (winless in the Pac-12 after a dreadful 2011-12 season), to most of the SEC (which outside of Florida, Missouri, and maybe Ole Miss, is a fairly terrible league), to 0-15 Grambling State. So you see, Futile Superfans, it could be worse.

We could have had our hopes dashed in March instead of January.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Doofus Abroad: The Teej meets The Bacchus

As many of you know, from my travel-related ranting on twitter, I was in Italy the past week or so, with the wife and sister-in-law. We stayed in Florence, with day trips to Rome and Siena. It was an absolutely phenomenal time, and if you ever have the chance to visit Italy, I strongly urge you to do so.

As I did when I returned from my honeymoon in Ireland, I figured I'd throw in some pic filler from the trip, since I'm so photogenic and all. Today's entry comes from our walk through the Pizza Boboli Gardens, at the Pitti Palace (basically, the Medicis realllllly big house when they were grand dukes of Tuscany).

Here's two dudes with the same body type, except one is riding a turtle:

The Fountain of Bacchus, or fountain of the Dwarf Morgante, is located in the Boboli Gardens in Florence, in the north-west of the Pitti Palace on the wall where it passes the Vasari Corridor, a short distance from the garden of Palazzo Pitti. The sculpture is marble white and is 116 cm high.

And in other news...Manti Te'o, eh?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is Your Name Michael Diamond?

No, mine's Clarence.

Dave ensured that the giving season of Gheorghemas didn't close on December 31.  In the same vein, here's a little post-holidays gift in the Zman style with some Clarence aged cheese to it.  Some time ago, Zman laid a "bangin' old-school hiphop playlist" on us, and I listened eagerly.  And though it was good stuff, the one recurring thought that puzzled and disappointed me was this: Old school?  This is way later than my old school shit.

But I shut up, needing not reinforce the painfully obvious fact that Rob and I = Statler and Waldorf.

In December, Zman commented a link to a historical list of hip-hop through the years.  Now it's time for me to make the mixtape, wrap it up, and send it to you guys old style USPS.

Here's my older school playlist, and it may not be bangin', but there's some serious scratchin' and cross-fadin' and bass-kickin'.  Let me take you back to Norfolk, Virginia, when a very white boy attending private school would tune into the "Top 10 at 10" every night on WOWI 103 to hear the latest rap offerings.  Yep, the beats lacked the complexity of what was produced just a handful of years later.  The samples, when there are any at all, are straightforward and pedestrian by latter-day standards.  Certain songs are ridiculously sparse . . . a man and a beat box (sometimes a buman one) in some cases.  I now know what it must be like for Beatlemaniacs or people my dad's age who cling loyally to The Kingsmen as real rock and roll.  It's old, almost silly, but it's what I dig.

And this is all from a guy for whom Paul's Boutique will probably forever remain the pinnacle.  No matter, here's what I listened to (among other things) during my formative years.  Cutting this off arbitrarily at my high school graduation date.

Kick off your shoes . . .

1. UTFO, "Roxanne, Roxanne"
The most-played for a very long time.  The Kangol Kid, EMD, and Doctor Ice battle for a cold-hearted girl's affections.  Accept no substitutes, meaning the bullshit rip-off comebacks like "Roxanne's Revenge" and "The Real Roxanne." Mix Master Ice's scratching keeps it fresh.  Not sure why UTFO (a) was a one-hitter or (b) struck such a chord with me with this number, but it's a classic.
Lyric to listen for: EMD's -ary rhyming fiesta.  Enjoyable.

2. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, "The Message"
The original fly dressers, lots of leather plus nerdy clothes that somehow looked street. I don't know any rapper of merit who doesn't credit these cats for shaping the sound in some way.  Low on braggadocio, high on tales of urban plight.  Down by law. Check out "New York New York" for a similar . . . uh, message.  Skip over "Scorpio"; the dudes merely learned how to talk like a robot through a keyboard, and 10 seconds in, you've heard it all.
Lyric to listen for: Now you're unemployed, all non-void / Walking 'round like you're Pretty Boy Floyd -- kind of reminds me of Say Anything.

3. Whodini, "Friends"
For one album (Escape), Whodini was incredibly solid.  Before and after it, they were oddly worthless.  They didn't scratch up the record, and their songs were pretty old school sparse.
Lyric to listen for: Couldn't trust her with cheese let alone your keys.

4. Rock Master Scott and the Dynamic Three, "Request Line"
Love this one.  Such 1980's cheese, and one of the only hip-hop songs to feature a DJ -- meaning a radio disc jockey pretending to be on air.  Charlie Prince, MBG, and Slick Rick . . . nope, not that Slick Rick.  This was the original. And don't forget The Scott with something all scratched up for you.  And the phone ringing.  Love it.
Lyric to listen for: Late in the tune, The Dynamic Three all delivering a rap . . . at the same time, over each other so you can't decipher any lines.  Stupidly brilliant.

5. Kurtis Blow, "A.J. Scratch"
I'm a Kurtis Blow fan.  He was funky fresh from way back; "The Breaks" predated most all of hip-hop.  To me, Run-D.M.C. took the beats from across 100th street into my room (a place theretofore full of Zenyatta Mondatta and Diver Down), but there were a few acts that set the stage for Reverend Run and DMC to do that.  Mister Kurtis Blow was one, even as he tips his cap to those dudes here.
Lyric to listen for: That's right, y'all, his name is A.J.  (You know why.)

6. LL Cool J, "Rock the Bells"
The rocking rap exudes Rick Rubin and DefJam.  It's got some "Hold It Now, Hit It" and "Time to Get Ill" linkage and it presages My Adidas's backbeat, but it's vintage LL all the way.  I heard "I Need a Beat" on the radio first.  S'allright.  Then "I Can't Live Without My Radio."  Way better.  Then this.  Hell yes. Rock the bells.
Lyric to listen for: 'Cause it ain't the glory days with Bruce Springsteen / I'm not a virgin so I know I'll make Madonna scream / You hated Michael and Prince all the way, ever since / If their beats were made of meat, then they would have to be mince

7. Run-D.M.C., "King of Rock"
This one's for the Teedge.  There is no list of this kind without heavy doses of Run, D, and Jay, so here's a start.  Played on the Irish Times jukebox most every happy hour of the early 2000's, and every time it makes me happy. Larry "Bud" Melman appears in the video.
Lyric to listen for: It's not a Trick or Treat and it's not a April Fool / It's all brand new, never ever old school . . . whoops.

8. Fat Boys, "Can You Feel It"
The Fat Boys are funny.  Fat people are kind of funny to start with. (Class clown right here.)  Add some wild clothes and a guy who makes drum beat noises with his throat, and it's comical.  By the time the Fat Boys were making bad movies and music with Chubby Checker and (yep) The Beach Boys, they were a joke.  But this song was on their first album, when they were just fat guys rapping and making fun of their size.  There aren't jokes in this one.  It's my favorite of theirs.
Lyric to listen for: Anything the Human Beat Box says/does

9. Divine Sounds, "What People Do For Money"
Another one-off act, another streetwise cautionary tale.  Very derivative.  Eh, I dig it.
Lyric to listen for: The oft-cut last verse, the one about three-card molly (sic) with the bleeped out F-word.

10. Whodini, "Big Mouth"
This song came out the year prior to "You Talk Too Much," covering much the same ground.  Both are worth a spin.
Lyric to listen for: You could say what you want, just spell my name right / ‘Cause all I’m ever guilty of is rockin’ the house / But that’s not what the rumor was all about

11. Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew, "The Show"
This is a weird one.  Good scratching, some beat boxing, the debut of (the more famous) Slick Rick.  Some Inspector Gadget keyboards.  Some strange noises and random percussion.  Crowd noise.  And not a ton of actual rhyme-turning.  But it's what we listened to in 1985.
Lyric to listen for: Anything Slick Rick drops.  His British-ish accent, much like his eyepatch, is real even though it seems fake.  His story is intriguing.  His rhymes are mildly dope.

12. LL Cool J, "I'm Bad"
LL's debut was heralded and his follow-up was somewhat dissed, but I always dug this one.  It's perfect 80's stereotypical rap -- a dude with a mic boasting about all-world amazing he is with the ladies' love, beating up suckers, savoir-faire around town, and especially putting rhyme to beat.  "The baddest rapper in the history of rap itself." From a 19-year-old.  Eh, it was pretty damn good.
Lyric to listen for: Forget Oreos, eat Cool J cookies.  If this sounded bad-ass when I was in high school, it doesn't now, but LL managed to pull it off.

13. Beastie Boys, "Rhymin and Stealin"
Licensed to Ill was beloved by many a goofy, beer-drinking high schooler.  I was one, too.  The album is an all-the-way-through listen that probably sounds tame now, but it was nearly counterculture in the lame school scene at the time.  Jim Belushi and (RIP) Alex Karras weren't the only white guys that could rap.  "Fight For Your Right" had the video and everyone loves it, but there's a reason this song led off the record.
Lyric to listen for: Ali Baba and the forty thieves.  By the second and third time uttered, it's dull.  By the eighth time, shouted at full tilt, you want to leave your feet.

14. Newcleus, "Jam On It"
Clocking in at eight minutes, this was predictably one-hit, since it reeked of novelty: chipmunky pitch-shifted voices (no offense, Dave), Sugarhill-mimicking MCing, and wiki wiki wiki.  But it's a one-hit keeper.
Lyric to listen for: Go crazy / Go crazy / Don't let your body be lazy / I say don't stop your body rock / Til your eyesight starts to get hazy. For whatever reason, certain lyrics stick with you.  When people speak the phrase "go crazy" in everyday conversation, all too often I break into Chilly B. To almost zero recognition.

15. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, "White Lines (Don't Do It)"
Another bongo and bass-laden GMF/Furious 5/Melle Mel/whoever gem.  You have to wonder how many idiots did cocaine in the 1980's while listening to this tune. 
Lyric to listen for: Baby.  Mentioned more times than in "Baby Love." Get higher, baby.

16. Kurtis Blow, "Basketball"
Yep, this one is Kurtis Blow's cheesiest, goofiest, and most popular rap offering.  It's very 1984, and the only thing more dated than its style and mentioning Ralph Sampson is the video.  Wow.  I think I still have the 45.  (Kids, Google it.) I just listened to this song for the first time in many, many years.  Love it.
Lyric to listen for: All of them.  Dropping rhymes about Bernard King, the pick and roll, and saying "Face" to people.  Ah, yes, basketball. It's all there.

17. Fat Boys, "Stick 'Em"
I definitely had this one on 45.  It's sick.  There seems to be just a single note of instrumentation in this song, albeit repeated and scratched up a bit.  Every other bit of it is Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock-Ski, and tons and tons of the Human Beat Box.  Probably his finest hour.  This was the B-side to "Jailhouse Rap," another fine entree from the Boys.
Lyric to listen for: The first 30 seconds worth of HBB crushing it.  You guessed it, the Fat Boys are back.

18. Run-D.M.C., "Rock Box"
Unbelievably good.  I always feel like whether a song "holds up" is in the ear of the beholder, but to me, this number is still rolled tight as shit.  The other guitar-playing Eddie (Martinez) wails away for five minutes of rap turned rock, Run is sharp as a nail, and Darryl Mac is a wizard of a word.
Lyric to listen for: Calvin Klein's no friend of mine / Don't want nobody's name on my behind / Lee on my legs, sneakers on my feet / D by my side and Jay with the beat.  Isn't Lee somebody's name?  This has puzzled me for nearly 30 years.

19. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, "It Takes Two"
By 1988, hip-hop was pretty poppy.  Run-DMC gets the crossover credit/blame because of "Walk This Way," but from straight rap to R&B/dance pop went The Fresh Prince, Tone Loc, Young MC, and many more. (And somewhere in there funk-meister Cameo's hip-hoppy "Word Up" had a whole lot of honkies paying attention to the R&B charts for the first time since disco, if not Motown.)  Short-lived act MC Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock, however, hit the pop charts with some fairly old school sounding rap.
Lyric to listen for: I'm not internationally known / But I'm known to rock the microphone.

20. Kool Moe Dee, "How Ya Like Me Now"
I never really liked Moe Dee, I just included this to talk about the feud.  I think tiffs between musicians are awesome, mostly because they're really moronic.  Blur vs. Oasis, Metallica vs. Megadeth, Dandy Warhols vs. Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ryan Adams pretending to have one with the 97's, and, of course, Tupac vs. Biggie.  Kool Moe Dee versus LL Cool J.  It was pointless, but in an industry where people's bread and butter could be ragging on sucker MC's, you'd have to figure they'd point out who they meant now and again.  Kool Moe Dee always struck me as the Karl Malone of rappers.  Stiff, overly self-serious, and not a champion.
Lyric to listen for: Brothers are riding me / Like a pony / I'm no phony / I'm the only / real micaroni. Ugh.

21. LL Cool J, "Going Back to Cali"
I guess this was why the "feud" was mostly on Kool Moe Dee's mind.  LL was too busy taking 'em to spots they never before hung.  Hey Moe . . . hmmm, I don't think so.
Lyric to listen for: I asked her to the barn, so we could hit the hay / I wanna do this, Brutus, but I don't wanna pay.

22. Public Enemy, "Don't Believe the Hype"
Holy crap.  This was a horse of a different . . . uh . . I didn't say color.  PE came along and scared me out of my pleated khakis. Despite Flav's court jester rendition, Chuck D was spouting some serious street Gospel.  That was about the time this white boy realized that there was a bit of irony to my urban musical dabblings.  Soon after this, with N.W.A. taking it even further, I fairly well retreated to the cozy company of the three bad brothers you know so well.  But Public Enemy is still fantastic.
Lyric to listen for: Show these people what time it is, boyyyyy.  Flavor Flav at his least ridiculous, ridiculously.

23. Run-D.M.C., "Raising Hell"
Make no mistake, these dudes were/are my favorite of the era, and I could have played "Hard Times," "Jam-Master Jay," "It's Like That," "Can You Rock It Like This," "Peter Piper," or "Son of Byford" without missing a beat.  (Not to mention "Christmas in Hollis.")  But this selection is an unappreciated rocker of a hip-hop ass-kicker by the Kings from Queens, and it's one of their best.
Lyric to listen for: So what's your name? DMC, the king is me / Your Highness or His Majesty / Now you can debate, c-c-c-concentrate / But you can't imitate / DMC The Great.  It's true.  Even DMC can't imitate himself these days, since his voice is shot . . . listen and it's no wonder why.

24. Eric B. and Rakim, "I Know You Got Soul"
Okay, this one is totally bogus.  I never listened to them in the 80's.  I listened to and loved "Pump Up the Volume" by M|A|R|R|S, whose predominant lyric was lifted from "I Know You Got Soul."  So lame, but it was fun.  And years later, I got Paid in Full and really dig it now.  Ahead of its time for sure.  Wish I had been.
Lyric to listen for: So you sit by the radio, hand on the dial soon / As you hear it, pump up the volume. Of course.

25. The Sugar Hill Gang, "Rapper's Delight"
Oh, well. It's still fun.
Lyric to listen for: Hotel, motel Holiday Inn / If your girl starts acting up, then you take her friend.

Okay then.  There's your Older School jam, as remembered fondly by Clarence.  Have fun with it, homeboys and homegirls.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This makes me laugh

Every time I look at it.

I'm sure you know why this is funny. And if you don't know, now you know.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Czech Politics Update

Vladimir Franz is a Czech composer, painter, and professor at Prague's Academy of Performing Arts. He was also a candidate for his nation's presidency, one of the nine people on the ballot for the election that was contested this weekend. None of this is particularly remarkable, especially in a country formerly led by playwright and poet Vaclav Havel. Franz's appearance, on the other hand, is worth noting:

Franz, who ran for office on a platform focused on ending corruption in politics, has a fairly Gheorghian response to those taken aback by his unusual appearance.  "A tattoo is a sign of a free will and that does not harm the freedom of anyone else," he explains. I'm sure our good friends in the GOP hate him already.

After polling a strong third in the days before the election, Franz faded to fifth with 6.8% of the vote. A pair of pro-EU candidates, Milos Zeman and Karel Schwarzenberg, topped the field to advance to a runoff held in late January. While the post is largely ceremonial, the Czech President does play a role in foreign affairs and appoints central bank officials.

The community of Gheorghies is saddened by Franz's loss, mostly because we're confident that had we known of him earlier, we could have brought our significant influence in Eastern Europe to bear. At the very least, we could have lifted him to the runoff. We just sent a Doofus to Europe - imagine what he could have done to rally support for Professor Franz.

Our bad.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The 12 Days of Gheorghemas . . . Day 13!

On the 13th Day of Gheorghe-mas, Bill Graham gave to me . . . 13 Regrets.

So on the 13th day of 2013, I offer you an unprecedented 13th Day of Gheorghemas, brought to you by legendary rock entrepreneur Bill Graham . . . who died in an appropriately unlucky manner befitting the date . . . his helicopter crashed into an electric tower on the way to a Huey Lewis and the News concert. I have just finished reading the revealing and entertaining "oral history" of Graham's life, called Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out, which is told by over a hundred people -- famous people like Keith Richards and Pete Townshend and Jerry Garcia and Eric Clapton and Ken Kesey, and not so famous folks who worked with the man: headwaiters and secretaries and actors and writers and set-designers. And then there is the voice of Bill himself. Robert Greenfield fluidly blends this chorus into a narrative, and you soon realize that this is no stylistic conceit . . . Bill Graham is the kind of guy that requires over a hundred people to explain his character. By the time I reached the end of this five hundred and fifty page account, I felt like I knew the man . . . and I'm not afraid to say that I got a little tearful on the last page. His death may have been the death of rock'n'roll.

Despite my cynicism towards our materialistic culture, I still try to appreciate what I have in my life -- a beautiful wife, a job, a house, a family, friends, a dog, a new mountain bike and Greasetruck studios. If I ever forget to appreciate what I have, then Clarence turns up at the end of the year with this annual post and reminds me. But still, I have regrets.

Some people are adamant that they have no regrets in their life. I think those people are fairly dopey. If a person doesn't have any regrets, it means they've never made any difficult choices. Robert Frost summarizes it best: "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both." Unless you have access to a time machine, or you've cloned a doppelganger of yourself that can lead an alternate life for you . . . or you build a matrix-like environment on a supercomputer that replicates the entire universe and you watch how various scenarios play out for your digitized simulacrum . . . but I digress. You can't do it all, although Bill Graham came close. Reading his story has made me regret a few things about my life. Perhaps you share them.

1)  I regret not living in Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love

2) I regret never being hypnotized the way Robbie Robertson got hypnotized -- and I tried this once; in college, I opted to go see a hypnotist perform at the campus center instead of studying for a religion exam in a class that I was failing, but his schtick didn't work on me and I got a D- on the exam.

According to Bill Graham and Robertson, just before The Band's first big live gig at the Fillmore, Robertson came down with a horrible sickness -- he was running a high fever and couldn't get out of bed -- until this French hypnotist Pierre Cleaumont mesmerized him and got him on his feet. Graham gave Cleaumont a seat right on stage, and any time Robertson started to wane, he would look over at the hypnotist and the hypnotist would hold up a crystal and say "GROW" and Robertson would be able to perform a few more songs. I would really like to be hypnotized like this, but I think I'm too cynical.

3) I regret needing so much goddamned sleep . . . Bill Graham doesn't sleep for five hundred pages of the book . . . that's how he gets so much done.

4) I regret not being a tall and soulful African American sexual dynamo, like Otis Redding. Not much I can do about this one.

5) I regret never destroying my guitar and amplifier in front of an audience. I'm just too cheap for this stunt. Most bands played two sets a night at the Fillmore, but not The Who.

6) I regret that I heard songs by Jefferson Starship before I heard songs by Jefferson Airplane. Nuclear Furniture . . . yuk.

7) I regret that I've never run an illegal, underground craps game. Billy Graham started out this way, in the big hotels in the Catskills. But this kind of stuff happens late at night, so #3 preclude me from this.

8) I regret that I can't Latin dance. Bill Graham's dancing opened lots of doors for him, sexual and otherwise. I may actually try to remedy this . . . I told my wife that I'm willing to take dance lessons and she was very excited, but I'm afraid that this road diverged far too long ago.

9) I regret that I'm not old enough to pretend that I went to Woodstock. I am definitely glad that I did not actually go to Woodstock, because -- by all accounts -- that experience sucked. Bad sound, bad acid, bad food, and no bathrooms. The opinion of all the folks that actually went to Woodstock is this: "If anyone says they had a good time at Woodstock, then they weren't there." Way more fun to get stoned on controlled medicinal grade marijuana and watch the documentary.

10) I regret that I didn't follow The Dead for a few years  (the funny thing is, I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who now say the exact opposite).

11) I regret not being clever enough to post this on January 3rd, which was 1/3/13 . . . but I don't think like that.

12) I regret that Random Idiots never got big enough to play stadiums -- and even though the promoters would beg us to do so, we would refuse, and stick to more intimate spaces like Monroe 3rd.

13) I regret that I didn't get to do a cameo in Apocalypse Now. Or even Porklips Now. And I also regret, then when I die, there won't be an eight hour memorial concert for me in Golden Gate Park, with Jackson Browne, Joey Satriani, Carlos Santana, Robin Williams, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, The Grateful Dead, John Fogerty, Joan Baez and Kris Kristofferson all performing in my honor.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: Desperate Measures

Matt Rum needs to wear a garter belt.

The Tribe's lone senior contributor, Rum's a glue guy, this year's Kendrix Brown. He leads the team in assists, while maintaining a stellar 1.8:1 assist to turnover ratio. His 4.9 rebounds per outing is good for third-best on the team, behind a pair of frontcourt players. He's second on the squad in steals, and leads W&M with an 84.2% success rate at the free throw line.

That last stat makes this one all the more perplexing, for you see, Rum can't hit water when he falls out of a boat from the field. (Tortured that one a bit, admittedly, but since we don't have editors, I get to run with it. Eat your heart out, Dave Fairbank.) He's made only 23 of his 77 attempts from the floor this season, good for 29.9% accuracy. After making over 37% of his three-point shots in 2011-12, Rum's only connecting on 28.6% this year. And those numbers are actually up over the past 5 games, in which he's knocked down 41.6% from the field and 45% of his threes. He's gone from putrid to merely bad. Though if the trend is to be believed, perhaps this correspondent is a bit slow on the draw. Or Rum's already sporting a pretty little teddy under his uniform.

The real Matt Rum is neither putrid nor merely bad as a shooter, as his junior campaign evidenced. And if the real Matt Rum joins the Tribe offense for the remainder of the season, a starting rotation with a wealth of offensive options becomes downright deadly.

So in the best tradition of Ebby Calvin LaLoosh, we've ordered Rum a green and gold lingerie set in advance of this afternoon's tilt at Hofstra. If he looks both a little bit embarrassed and really effective from deep, you'll know why.

As for his teammates, they head to Long Island on a four-game losing streak, red-assed from a particularly galling double-overtime loss at Towson, where they blew a 7-point lead in the last 1:18 of regulation. Hofstra's 4-11 and in the midst of one of the more miserable seasons in school history, on and off the court. The DutchPride are 1-1 in CAA, but are the kind of team that this W&M squad should handle easily.

Should. Could. Had better.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A Bettor's Guide to the NFL Divisional Playoffs

As the former producer and booking agent for the Z-Man and The Teej morning show, I thought it would be great if I could use my long list of celebrity contacts to get a special guest in here to give us their picks for this weekend’s NFL games.  Given the outcome of the bets listed in the comments section, God knows we need some help.  After flipping through the ol’ rolodex and reaching out to several hundred “stars” who did not call me back, I contacted Haywood Nelson. 

I can hear you already….”I can’t believe that Marls was able to get TV star and 70’s personality Haywood Nelson to be a guest picker on G:TB.   Rob interviewing LeBron James was cool and all, but Marls got the guy who played Dwayne (Hey, Hey, Hey) on “What’s Happening!!” and “What’s Happening Now!”.  

Unfortunately, Haywood didn't call me back either.  I suspect he might be busy working on the pilot for "What's Happening Again!!!".  However, all is not lost because not only did "What's Happening" have one of the great television intros of all time, it also gave us an almost foolproof formula for betting on NFL games - both of which can be seen in the attached clip.  

For those of you too lazy to watch the clip, the setup is that Dwayne, using his personal system (detailed at the 11:30 mark) has picked 5 NFL winners in a row against the spread.  This results in Rerun convincing his cranky, Ike Turner wannabe brother in law to bet his Hawaii vacation money ($500) on Tampa Bay as a three touchdown underdog to Oakland.  Only after the bets are placed does Dwayne reveal that his system consists of the following:

1. The Score:  Dwayne predicts the score by taking the attendance of each team's last home game and dividing it by the distance between the two stadiums and then subtracting the starting quarterback's number.  

2.  The Winner:  The winner of the game is determined who has the "fanciest" helmet.  In the event of equally fancy helmets, a coin is flipped.    

Needless to say, after Dwayne's system is revealed, hilarity ensues....sad, depressing 1970's economic recession hilarity.    You can watch the second half of the episode to get in on all the fun, but the Cliffs Notes version is that Oakland slaughters Tampa and Rerun gets a job working at the bookie's pizza parlor to help pay back his brother in law.  Hilarious, right?

However, what is lost in the shuffle is that using his system Dwayne was still 5-1, a record that most folks around these parts would kill for.  Therefore, using google maps, NFL attendance info, and a little subjective helmet evaluation I have broken down this weeks playoff games.  You can thank me later.   Without further ado, the picks...

Based on this handy dandy chart, we already know what the score is going to be.  This distances between stadium were determined using the shortest driving directions.  

Baltimore at Denver (-10) 

Dwayne has this one ending up with a final score of 38-28.  Looks like the blowout predicted by the line until you realize that the smug little raven with feather detail is much more fancy than the overly stylized horse.   Too bad the Broncos dropped their old school helmets with big D and the bronco reared up and getting frisky.  Now that was fancy.  That means the Ravens move on and Ray Lewis gets to play another day.  

PICK:  Take the Ravens & the points.  

Green Bay at San Francisco (-2.5)

The Saturday night game pits teams with two of the most unfancy helmets in the league.  I almost used Dwayne's coin flip method for this one until I realized that the Green Bay helmet looks like it was designed by a third grader with two Mr. Sketch "smelly markers" (lemon & apple) and a short attention span.  San Fran's helmet wins the fancy battle and the game, 24-20.

PICK:  Take the 49'ers and lay the points.  

Seattle at Atlanta (-2.5) 

If the oracle of Watts is to be believed, the score of this game will be 24-22.  Of course, Dwayne admits to Raj and Rerun that he has only hit the exact score once.  However, considering that the New York Times went 0-520 in 2000 and 2001 trying to predict final scores, I would say that 1 for 6 is pretty darn good.   Since this looks to be a two point  game, it does not really matter which helmet is more fancy.  

PICK: Take the Seahawks and the points.  

Houston @ New England (-9.5)

This is arguably the matchup of the two fanciest helmets left in the the playoffs.  The remaining "fancy lads" if you will.  Both feature a prominent star and red, white and blue stylized version of what they are trying to depict.  Tough call.  In the end, I went with Texans, mainly because I think Dwayne would be upset that the Pats abandoned one of the fanciest helmets of all time when they ditched Pat the Patriot.  Texans win 31-25.

PICK: Take the Texans and the points.  

Next week I'll be back with Brandon Walsh and Nat from the Peach Pit to break down the conference championship games.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Run Ricky Run!

Ricky Williams is a famously enigmatic running back. He is one of 27 people to rush for more than 10,000 yards at the pro level. His 2002 campaign was fantastic: he led the league in rushing with 1853 yards (14th most in a single season) and in carries with 383 (14th most in one season), had 2216 yards from scrimmage (20th most in a single season), scored 17 touchdowns, and was first-team All Pro.

Things went downhill from there, perhaps because he carried the ball 392 times the next year (7th most ever in a season). That's 775 attempts in two years. I think that's the most carries ever in consecutive seasons. The closest players I can find are Larry Johnson (752 in 2005-2006), James Wilder (772 in 1984-1985), and Eric Dickerson (769 attempts in 1983-1984). Johnson and Wilder broke down the next year. Dickerson survived and even thrived but he might not be human. Throw in 97 receptions over that span and you will appreciate how many lumps Ricky took his first two years in Miami. It's no surprise that he had to self-medicate.

Ricky may have to spark mad izm again soon, as he's about to take more lumps in federal court (bonus KRS video!). Tattoo artist Stephen Allen of Crybabies Tattoo in Shreveport, LA sued Ricky Williams and Electronic Arts, Inc. in the Western District of Lousisiana for copyright infringement. According to the complaint, Mr. Allen gave Ricky Wiliams a tattoo in 2003 for $200. In 2010, Mr. Allen learned that Ricky Williams, tattoos and all, appeared on the cover of two video games made by EA Sports:

So, naturally, Mr. Allen sued Ricky Williams and EA. According to Mr. Allen's complaint, he "is the owner of all right, title and interest to the original artwork form [sic] which the tattoo on Mr. Williams' arm was created" and "[t]he artwork from which the tattoo on Mr. Wialliams' right and left arms was created is original with [Mr. Allen] and is copyrightable subject matter." He asserts that neither Ricky nor EA received his permission to reproduce, distribute, adapt, or publicly display his "Copyrighted Work."

I have a hard time seeing the tattoos in the images above but maybe they're clearer when you look at the game. And one of them seems to match one of Ricky Williams' arm tattoos:

But I'm not sure I'm buying all this. It seems to me that once you stick a tattoo on someone it is implicit that they have the right to publicly display it. And they also have the right to adapt it if, for example, they want to get a cover-up. Finally, it seems unfair that a famous person can't cash in on their fame by getting an endorsement deal without coughing up cash to their tattoo artist. But I know nothing about tattoo copyrights so maybe this is a typical cause of action. Imagine how much Lil Wayne has to pay his inkers whenever someone runs his photo in print!?! No one enjoys my lenghty pontifications so I won't spill any more ink (puns!) regarding what I think about this case.

The highlight of the complaint is Exhibit 1, a "Consent to Tattoo or Piercing Procedure & Release of Claims" from Crybabies Tattoo signed by Ricky Williams. I enjoyed this because when Ricky Williams signs his name his finishing flourish is the number 34. Check it:

Good think he never played for the Bears! Otherwise he would have to adapt (ha!) his signature to incorporate a second number. If he separated the numbers with a dash or a slash he would have the beginnings of a math problem, and he is not a mathematician. As the foregoing image shows, he can't even remember his date of birth or print his name.

I can't wait to see what happens when Mark appears on the cover of Grand Theft Auto. Perhaps we'll find out that he signs his name with a 69.