Thursday, February 28, 2013

Clarence Thomas Speaks!

As long-time denizens of the National Capital region, many of us have become blase about what transpires in our Federal city. It's (extremely) easy to forget how unique our system of government is in the history of the world. The fact that I am about to both celebrate and call a Supreme Court Justice an asshole without repercussion is a right and a gift that would be unthinkable to a vast majority of the humans who have ever lived. (Mostly because they didn't have internet access, but that's not the point.) And while oft-petty arguments  - and current ever-lovin' clusterfuckery - may tend to obscure the lasting genius of our system of checks and balances, seeing that system in direct action is an eye-opening and in many ways awe-inspiring thing.

I was very fortunate yesterday to witness arguments at the Supreme Court in Peugh vs. United States and Maryland v. King. A senior colleague of mine is a long-time friend of the Clerk of the Supreme Court, and invited me and another coworker to the proceedings as a guest of the Clerk. We sat in the first row behind the bar (not that kind of bar, Clarence). Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler sat down right next to us, taking copious notes in the latter case. The junior of my colleagues is an Englishman, so it struck me as more than a bit interesting when he noted how impressed he was that our system of justice had been sustained for more than 300 years. Since they have that whole Magna Carta thing, and all. America, fuck yeah.

The first semi-surprise of the day was actually hearing Justice (Nah, mine's) Clarence Thomas speak. The legendarily taciturn Thomas is famous for not speaking during arguments before the Court. And true to form, he didn't ask any questions during the day's arguments, but he did offer the Court's majority opinion in Marx vs. General Revenue Corp., a scorcher of a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) dispute.

As impressive as the setting was (and for sheer Federal grandeur, it's hard to beat the scene when the nine Justices walk into the Court and take their seats in front of four massive Corinthian pillars), the thing that struck me the most about the proceedings was the degree of humor and banter on display. Justice Antonin Scalia is a regular Italian father, busting balls and dropping one-liners with regularity. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito exchanged good-natured jibes about the relative quality of their respective circuit courts. Justice Stephen Breyer played the role of the avuncular grandfather, trying and failing to convince a litigant that he was but a simple caveman Justice who didn't understand this complicated modern legal system.

Meanwhile, Justice Thomas flopped about in his enormous chair in a most impressive display of active listening. He alternately leaned deeply back and stared up at the ceiling, pursing his lips and wrinkling his brow, then shot forward propelled by the chair's springs to a fully upright position. His seated gymnastics were something to behold.

It will come as no surprise to our readers to learn that I'm generally inclined to disagree with Justice Scalia's politics. It may be quite a shock to know that I found him generally likable, in a curmudgeonly way. To be sure, he's an asshole. But he comes across as our kind of asshole - irascible and prone to sarcasm. As she opened of the State's argument in Maryland v. King, Chief Deputy Attorney General Katherine Winfree described some of positive benefits derived from the State's policy of collecting DNA samples for people arrested for certain violent and property crimes. Scalia let her talk for maybe 15 seconds before letting go with both barrels. From the transcript:

MS. WINFREE: Mr. Chief Justice, and may it please the Court: Since 2009, when Maryland began to collect DNA samples from arrestees charged with violent crimes and burglary, there had been 225 matches, 75 prosecutions and 42 convictions, including that of Respondent King.

JUSTICE SCALIA: Well, that's really good. I'll bet you if you conducted a lot of unreasonable searches and seizures, you'd get more convictions, too.

JUSTICE SCALIA: That proves absolutely nothing.

This was Ms. Winfree's first-ever argument before the Supreme Court. To her eternal credit, she took Scalia's shot and pressed on. I consider myself a reasonably effective extemporaneous speaker and a relatively accomplished bullshitter, and I'm quite certain I would've wet myself and then passed out. Which brings me to another lasting impression: the quality of the intellects on display, both on the bench and among the attorneys presenting their cases, was staggering. We witnessed highly sophisticated legal arguments crafted, deconstructed, reframed, and debated (the Justices spent at least part of the time arguing with one another via their questions to counsel) on the fly.

We watched the law happen.

At some point in the proceedings, Justice Alito noted that "this is the most important criminal procedure case this Court has had in decades". In essence, the Court must decide whether DNA data can be used much in the same way fingerprints are today, or whether taking a DNA sample from an arrested suspect constitutes unlawful search and seizure. Scalia clearly believes the latter. Justices Elena Kagan and Sotomayor seemed to be concerned with the implications of police overreach. Interestingly, Justice Alito asked a series of questions that indicated he may dissent from fellow conservatives, saying twice that DNA "is the 21st Century fingerprint". And Chief Justice John Roberts was oddly obsessed with DNA left on drinking glasses, though his questions made it clear that his position on the matter was somewhat undetermined. As for me, I know what I think, but I have no idea how that jibes with the Constitution - which, frankly, is why this experience was such a fascinating one for me.
I bought this hat for Zman and Mayhugh

Smarter observers than I expect the Court to uphold Maryland's DNA collection policy, which was supported by an amicus brief filed on behalf of all 50 states and a number of law enforcement organizations. Those same observers also think the Court's normal 5-4 conservative/liberal balance will be significantly upended in this case. The fact that Alito, Breyer, and Kennedy seemed to agree on many elements of the case perhaps presages the result. Still time to get to your local bookmaker if you like what you hear.

If you're a legal scholar, or if you just want some jurisprudence, the recap of Tuesday's arguments is available at SCOTUSblog

It's easy to be jaded, and even easier to toss off half-baked partisan-flavored snark (though, in all seriousness, the House GOP makes Jim Zorn look like Vince Lombardi). Having the opportunity to actually watch the Supreme Court in action is impressive from a purely human perspective, and profoundly compelling as an act of government. Those Founding Fathers, man, they knew some shit. Shame they didn't have an opinion on large-magazine automatic weapons.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Too Much Time On My Hands (Not the Styx song)

Now that the Oscars have come and gone, it's time to saddle up and watch some movie trailers for what's coming next.  We've assembled some previews -- some you've seen, some you haven't.  Enjoy.

I don't want to frighten you folks early in the morning, but this trailer looks really, really scary.  Hollyfeld is a bad man.

Okay, stupid fun.  

And then there's this:

This one's for Geoff:

Really only good for the NSFW last line:

And the mother of them all:

Okay, so the Real Genius one started it all, and let's face it, this is a glorified comment link, but . . .


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Now for Something Completely Different

Neither our readership nor the rest of the G:TB staff appear to share my enthusiasm for all things automotive so I don't do any car posts. But if you enjoy craftsmanship and oddball engineering, this video is worth 5 minutes of your time.

Morgan is (I think) the only car manufacturer under English ownership. It's been around for about 100 years. From the 1950's to 2000, they never introduced a new model. Just kept making the same old car, albeit with new engines and transmissions. And they still make those old models too. This is obviously cool in a retro way, but what's really cool is the structural underpinnings, which are made of ash. As in wood. So these cars are essentially 200 horsepower Louisville Sluggers. Here's how they're made.

Monday, February 25, 2013

History Repeating, Alternatively Titled "Two Great Smut Heists"

One of the great things about joining a fraternity, other than the lifelong friendships and resultant oddly shaped patches of missing body hair, are the stories. Stories that are called to mind after seeing videos like this one about Mr. Earlie Johnson:

"My collection was the best in Michigan! A guy in Connecticut told me that."

A tragedy. A tear-jerker even. Which reminds me of another jerker of a story, one from the vault if you will.

I have written about Spring Break '96 in this space previously. Before setting sail for Booz Crooz Island from the Burg someone, to whom I shall refer as "Schneider," "borrowed" a videotape from someone to whom I shall refer as "Gschvinn." Two important facts about the videotape are that it was (1) a rental from Video Update, the video store on Bypass Road, and (2) titled "Anal Angels 3." Schneider never told Gschvinn that he borrowed it and Gschvinn thought it was lost to the Unit M black hole that soaked up CDs, socks, and myriad other artifacts of frat life.

Years later, Schneider and I were living "right outside" of New York City and assembling a modest (compared to the guy in Michigan, based on the opinion of the guy in Connecticut) collection of smut. Much of it was bad because the good stuff cost more (huzzah for the internet!). The worst of the bunch was a multi-volume video set of "Classic Swedish Erotica" that Schneider acquired through some bulk purchase--he may in fact have received cash to take this stuff off its previous owner's hands. The videos should have been great. Swedish women are notoriously beautiful and the adjective "classic" made the tapes sound like must-see-TV. But in reality "classic" just meant old and "Swedish" referred to the ethnicity of one of the cameramen, not the actresses (who were generally unattractive with massive disco mitts). Simply put, there was nothing classic, Swedish, or erotic about these movies. But we made do.

Our close proximity to the Big Apple made our crib a go-to destination for the Lammie jetset crowd. So, naturally, Gschvinn eventually came to visit. After a night of carousing I entered my living room and found Gschvinn prone on my hand-me-down floral yellow couch, covered in the patina of sweat, sebum, nicotine, and malt liquor that only men in their early-to-mid twenties can generate, nursing a hangover. He professed a need for the famous hangover cure-all: shit, shower, shave, shmoke, and a shpank. I told him that he could do all of those things, as I am a famously gracious host, but asked him to wait for me to leave before doing so.

Gschvinn greatfully obliged and asked me to direct him to our nearest porn depository. I told him that several tapes were stored, naturally, behind my vinyl box set of The Smithsonian's Collection of Classic Jazz. Jazzed to jazz, Gschvinn dove into the stack and, to his great dismay, pulled out a copy of "Anal Angels 3" emblazoned with a Video Update sticker. Purple with rage, Gschvinn regaled me with the story of how the thought the tape was lost and the great dishonor that fell upon him when Video Update repeatedly harranged him for it. Apparently a few female students worked there and learned that he not only rented the film but that he absconded with it, making him a particlarly dirty bastard in their eyes. He eventually had to pony up a vast sum of money to cover the loss lest his credit rating get ruined, adding further insult to injury.

Gschvinn hatched his plan of retribution: he would steal Schneider's most beloved video. He held up "Classic Swedish Erotica: Volume 7" and asked "Does Schneider like this one?" Happy to get this atrocity out of my house, I lied that this was a foundational video in Schneider's rotation, the ace of the staff, and thus Gschvinn absconded with it.

Predictably, Schneider didn't notice. There were at least 8 total volumes to "Classic Swedish Erotica" and each of them was chaff that was routinely passed over for better stuff. Life moved on without a hitch.

Several months later, Schneider was in DC with a lady friend in order, among other things, to attend a keg party at Gschvinn's. Primary of those "other things" was a little quality romantic time with the lady friend in question. Upon arriving at the party, Schneider gallantly filled his lady's Solo cup and began filling his own when Gschvinn's roommate, to whom I shall refer as "Teedge" and said "Hey, Schneider, here's your 'Classic Swedish Erotica: Volume 7.' Thanks for letting Gschvinn borrow it, but that's some nasty shit. It turned my stomach. How do you get off to that? Dirty mothafucker." Schneider was stunned. His lady was repulsed. The rest of the weekend did not go as planned.

Hopefully karma will come around and get the thief that stole Mr. Johnson's collection in a similar fashion.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Woop Woop

Sad news from two very different families this weekend, as Bob Sheeran and Paul McIlhenny both passed away on Saturday.

Sheeran was the longtime voice of William & Mary football, retiring just this fall after 28 seasons and 460 consecutive games on the Tribe radio network. I remember him for his distinctive exclamations when Tribe runners got loose - his "woop, woop" uniquely marked W&M games from any others. What I hadn't known before reading his obituary on the William & Mary athletics site, is that he was a third-generation W&M graduate, a former Sports Information Director at the school, and one of the founders of the W&M Quarterback Club.

Pour out something spicy for McIlhenny, the scion of the family that created and maintains the Tabasco dynasty. More than any single person, McIlhenny is responsible for allowing us to eat stuff with a kick. Without him and his family, the peppery sauces of South Louisiana may never have spread beyond their local area, and we'd be stuck with the bland food legacy of the Europeans that founded our country. (Note: I'm not a culinary historian, so this might be taking liberty with certain things, like, for example, facts. But I choose to believe my version of events.)

Both men were 68 years old at the time of their death. Give a little "woop, woop" tomorrow as you shake a little Tabasco on your eggs.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: Scientific Facts

According to The Skeptic's Dictionary, recency bias is the tendency to think that trends and patterns we observe in the recent past will continue in the future.

In unrelated news, we're feeling really good about the Tribe's chances against George Mason in Fairfax this afternoon. W&M's run off three wins in a row, shooting 54.2% in the process, and received contributions from up and down the roster. 

Brandon Britt's averaged 19.5 points and 3.3 assists, shooting 60.9 percent from deep over the past four games. Reigning CAA Player of the Week Marcus Thornton went for a career-high 32 points in the Tribe's 74-62 win over ODU. Kyle Gaillard led the team in rebounding in wins over UNCW and Georgia State. Julian Boatner, who's been quiet for much of the season as he tries to bounce back from injury, was perfect from the floor and the line in scoring 8 points against UNCW.  Matt Rum broke a campaign-long slump, making four of six triples and scoring a season-high 16 points as the Wrens throttled a talented Georgia State team on Wednesday.

In all, five Wrens tallied double digits in the win over Ron Hunter's Panthers. Two days earlier, that same Georgia State squad traveled to Fairfax and laid the wood to an enigmatic Mason squad, winning by a 78-60 score that wasn't nearly that close. GSU led by 27 with 10:02 left in the game before downshifting and coasting to one of the easiest wins you'll ever see by a Patriot Center visitor.

We're not much for science or anything, but the trends here are pretty self-evident. And in another positive development, numerous members of the G:TB family will be in the house this afternoon. Despite the fact that Mason handled the Tribe, 73-66, in Williamsburg earlier this season, the futile/faithful head to the suburbs (really, just to different parts of the suburbs than our usual haunts) with high hopes. 

After today, the Tribe wraps up the season with a road trip to Wilmington and the home finale against a JMU team that's fighting for the second seed in the conference tournament. The dream of mediocrity still isn't dead for W&M - if they run the table, they'll finish the CAA season with a .500 record. 

The other dream, the one we talk about all the goddamn time at cocktail parties, tailgates, real estate seminars, corporate training events, bars, weddings, and the occasional bar mitzvah - that one's still alive, too. And frankly, it's a lot more plausible than a 9-9 conference record.

No sleep 'til Dayton, bitches.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary

Thirty three years later, to the day, and I still get goosebumps (and a little bit choked up) when I see the U.S. chip the puck past the blue line and hear Al Michaels say, "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!".

As Michaels says towards the end of this clip, no words are necessary. Nor are they adequate to describe the greatest sports story of our lifetime.

Enjoy, and Happy Miracle Day.

The Rise of the Ghostface Fillah

Ghostface Killah is busy. "Supreme Clientele 2: Blue & Cream" will apparently drop in the near future ("hopefully this summer"), as will, perhaps more importantly, his collaboration with MF DOOM.

In addition to those projects, GFK will release another solo album on April 16 titled "12 Reasons to Die," produced by Adrian Younge and executive(ly?) produced by the RZA. According to Pretty Tone, "It's a whole fuckin' movie ... but it's a album from beginnin' to end ... an' shit." If you have 23 minutes to kill, here's a recent interview with the God himself on this and many other topics, including moon crickets.

"Tom and Jerry, they was just a cat n mouse team that was ridiculous."

And if you don't have 23 minutes to kill then just check the first single.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

You know my name is Simon, and I like to post fill-er...

Since some of you are not as addicted to the internet (specifically twitter and tumblr) as much as I am, thought I would drop this gem that made its way around the internets yesterday in G:TB this morning.

Artist Dave Roppoccio decided to re-imagine NFL logos as if they were all British - jolly good effort, Dave. A few of my favorites:

As Work Jerry just pointed out to me, nice touch making sure every logo has a monocle.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Watch your back, rob

It seems rob is in Minneapolis, based on his bitching about the cold in said city in the comments of the post below. Well, rob, based on a quick internet search, the cold may not be all you have to worry about in Minneapolis:

I fully expect rob to arm himself appropriately in case of attack:

Monday, February 18, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: In Shaver We Trust

When we last got together in this space to celebrate futile superfandom and geek out on Tribe hoops, we told you that W&M's four-games-in-eight-days stretch would tell us a lot about whether Tony Shaver had a handle on his enigmatic squad. With one more game to go in that critical span (tonight, at home against Georgia State), it's hard to argue that he doesn't. As he said in Saturday's post-game presser, "Today I saw no doubt in my team's eyes. None."

Though the Wrens opened their run to March with a home loss to CAA front-runner Northeastern, the Tribe gave the Huskies all they wanted for the second time in 2013. W&M led by 7 with 6:14 to play, and Northeastern had to close on a 12-2 run to pull out the victory. Shaver's team followed the tough loss to the league leaders with arguably their best 29 minutes of the season against UNCW, running out to a 25-point second-half lead against the Seahawks. We'll ignore for the time being the 32-10 run that Wilmington ripped off over the next 10 minutes and focus on the positive - W&M pulled out a 92-86 victory, shooting 60.9% from the field in the process.

Eventually, this Tribe team will realize that the standard NCAA basketball game is played over 40 minutes. It's possible they grasped that fairly critical point on Saturday, never trailing against ODU in a 12-point win in Norfolk. Though they let the Monarchs get within 2 points at the U8 timeout, W&M gradually but inexorably pulled away behind Marcus Thornton's career-high 32 points and 7 three-pointers. The win gave the Tribe their first season sweep of ODU since most of the G:TB staff was still matriculating in Williamsburg (including your humble reporter, who was in grad school in 1998 - the last time it happened). Thornton went for 25 in the UNCW win - if he's not named the CAA Player of the Week today, we're sending Jerry to the league offices to argue our case.

More importantly, the win also marked the 114th in Tony Shaver's tenure as W&M head coach, making him the winningest coach in the school's 320-year history. Though Shaver's sub-.400 winning percentage isn't necessarily something to write home about, he's authored several of the program's greatest moments. The 2008 and 2010 runs to the CAA Tournament final, the 2010 wins over Wake Forest and Maryland, 19 wins and a near-miss against UNC in that year's NIT (and yes, we ruefully recognize what it says about the program that an NIT first-round near-miss counts as a highlight) all stand with W&M's best hoops memories.

You're Going to Disney World!
Beyond those results, though, the entertaining way in which Shaver's teams play, and the fact that Tribe fans have legitimate hope every time out mark him as a godsend to a fanbase that's wandered so long in the desert. We lost to Duke, 100-38, my freshman year. That team had no hope whatsoever. At least now we've got a puncher's chance against anyone.

It feels good to feel bad about losing to Purdue on the road. That's Tony Shaver's gift to W&M fans. We'll be pissed if the Tribe doesn't make the NCAA Tourney this year.

Thanks, Coach.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Worst Person In the World

Last Wednesday, our own tiny dictator reached out to the twitterverse to inquire about the following:
  1. is there a worse person in the world than the guy who farts on a crowded train?

This was no doubt related to his own gastrointestinal reaction to several days of dining on work conference food, Big Gay Ice Cream, & multiple Dogfish 90 Minute Imperial IPA's on the train from New York to Washington DC. 

At the time, I was tempted to give Rob some solace by advising him to "let em' rip" because the guy who farts on a plane is much worse than the railway cheese cutter.  At least on Amtrak if you are overwhelmed by your co-passenger's flatulence you can get up and move to another car, maybe even settle into one of those comfy molded plastic seats in the cafe car - which is almost like being in a Parisian cafe, but without the smoking, haughty service, and any ambiance at all.

Anyway, after reading today's NY Daily News, I realize that I was mistaken.   Apparently, scientists are now advocating breaking wind at altitude.  Research published in the New Zealand Medical Journal states that while flying, 

"(Holding back) holds significant drawbacks for the individual, such as discomfort and even pain, bloating, dyspepsia (indigestion), pyrosis (heartburn) just to name but a few resulting abdominal symptoms."
To me, these sound like the normal symptoms of holding in farts, but who am I to argue with science?

Interestingly, the study also claims that women's farts smell worse than men's.  This finding is vehemently denied by my wife.  However, that may be due to the particular odoriferous emanations of the Marls' household.  

Finally, for those of you unaware of the pleasures of the D90MIIPA, I have included a video review, which also might be a first ballot inductee into the Stoned YouTubeing HOF. (To be fair, they may just be shitfaced)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

rob fails yet again to title a post

While William & Mary's basketball programs (men's and women's) haven't met with much success in the modern era (though Thursday marked the 60th anniversary of Tribesman Bill Chambers' NCAA-record 51 rebounds against Virginia), the Tribe's Olympic sports have traditional been CAA and even national powers. W&M's men's cross country team has captured the last 12 conference championships, while the women harriers have won 7 of 9.

Freshman Emily Stites looks to be the latest in a long line of stellar W&M runners. Two weeks ago on a muddy course outside of St. Louis, Stites dominated the field to capture the USA Track & Field junior women's national championship. Stites finished more than 21 seconds faster than the runner-up to become the first W&M freshman to win a national championship of any kind.

Team G:TB finds this very cool.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Chubby Checker Lays Wood on HP, Skins Palm

Ernest Evans, better known as Chubby Checker, is famous for his song "The Twist." If I were Mitt Romney I would bet $10,000 that everyone who ever reads this post knows "The Twist." It is impossible to avoid. It is played at weddings, bar mitzvahs, sweet 16s, office parties, and just about any other festive venue requiring safely inoffensive and universally dancable music. Here's a video to refresh your recollection:

"The Twist" is so pervasive that it's even featured on modern TV shows.

Note that they really aren't in PJ Clarke's. Also note that if I knew how to make GIFs I would make a GIF of 0:12-0:13 and thereby attract jillions of readers to G:TB. Alas, this is the best I can do.

"The Twist" is a remarkable song in other aspects. It reached #1 on the Billboard Magazine "Hot 100" singles chart in 1960 and stayed there for 18 weeks. It then reached #1 again in 1962! No other song in the history of songs has reclaimed the #1 spot on the Billboard Magazine "Hot 100" singles chart after falling off the charts. For at least this reason, Billboard named it the #1 all-time song.

Mr. Evans soon realized that "The Twist" was a license to print money, so he rattled off a bunch of identical sounding songs like "Let's Twist Again," "Slow Twist," "Twistin' USA," "Twist Around the Clock," and "Don't Knock the Twist." And, in an effort to protect his license to print money, Mr. Evans registered his stage name, Chubby Checker, as a trademark. Over the years, Mr. Evans expanded the use of his Chubby Checker mark beyond music to include jerky, hot dogs, steaks, lamb chops, pork chops, veal chops, hamburgers, chicken, popped or processed popcorn, candy, chocolate, and spring water. It's safe to say that Chubby Checker checks cheddar like a food inspector. I like this version better though.

I know all this and more because Mr. Evans recently sued Hewlett-Packard and Palm in the Southern District of Florida because they sell an app called "Chubby Checker" for use on Palm smartphones. This is surprising because it means (1) people still use Palm smartphones?! and (2) Chubby Checker knows someone who still uses a Palm smartphone?!

Also surprising: the Chubby Checker app allows the user to determine the size of a man's penis based on his shoe size. I don't see why you need an app for this, a simple wallet-sized conversion table should suffice, but it's product development foresight like this that got Palm where it is today so who am I to judge.

Mr. Evans is represented by Willie "The Giant Killer" Gary. He is a big-time lawyer. I know this because his website features a photo of him standing next to two late 1990s-era Bentleys. Seriously! Here's the photo!

Clearly he knows how to brief the heck out of a brief. Note that I didn't rename the photo, he saved it with the "williegarycar" title on his website. He has a video too. It uses "Eye of the Tiger" and "Getting Stronger." I hope he got permission to use those copyrighted works before he integrated them into his own work which he now displays to the world via the internet ...

I can understand why Mr. Evans would be bummed out by this app and the potential tarnishment it might bring to, say, his jerky or his hot dogs. I do not understand why he seeks damages of $500,000,000. Half. A. Billion. For the pecker app. That only 84 people have downloaded for $0.99 each. I'll let someone else figure out the math on that damages claim.

But I'm sure the math is sound! What seems unsound is potentially tarnishing your own mark by making a media circus out of something only 84 people know about. I mean, I eat Chubby Checker lamb chops like it's my job, but now that Chubby Checker made me aware of the Chubby Checker app I'm taking my business elsewhere. Maybe if someone politely asked HP to yank (pun!) the app from the internet, the world would never have known about checking chubbies. Aside from those 84 purchasers, of course. But what do I know.

So whether you're the Big Bopper or Little Richard, your chubby will have to be checked manually until this case is resolved. Please plan accordingly.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

No Contest

NBA All-STAR Weekend is nearly upon us. Which means that All-Star Saturday Night is nearly upon us. Once upon a time, All-Star Saturday Night was an even bigger event than the All-Star Game. It was, at once, a brilliant way to market the NBA and it's stars, a fantastic television event and, in many cases, a place to be seen for both NBA stars and other celebrities. That was a long, long time ago.

In fact, most of us stopped caring about the All-Star Saturday around the time we started drinking (illegally). The biggest reason for this (besides the drinking) is that the signature event of All-Star Saturday night became an event nobody cared about. I'm speaking of the dunk contest, of course. Save for the one year that Vince Carter blew everyone's collective mind, the dunk contest hasn't been worth tuning in to in years. That is, until this year.

Now, don't start thinking that the entire dunk contest is going to be entertaining. No, no, no. We're long past that point. While there are certainly some intriguing participants in this year's contest, (Terrence Ross, Jeremy Evans, and Gerald Green come to mind), there's only one reason to watch this year's dunk contest: James White.

College Basketball fans may remember James White from his time at Cincinnati, or even his one year at Florida. But most basketball fans have no idea who James White is. That will change on Saturday evening. Why? Because James White can do things like this:

Watch the whole video. James White is possibly not from this planet.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fashion is Dumb: "Rappers' Delightful Accessories" Edition

Via a site called Smosh comes this list of the most absurd rapper chains. Check out the full list, but personally, these were my two favorites (and my least favorite of course was anything to do with that supreme douchenozzle Chris Brown):

1A. It's Gr-r-r-r-r-reat!

1B. Is that...yes, yes it is...Brain from "Pinky and the Brain"

*Today's edition of FiD brought to you by FOG:TB and indie music snob Squeaky.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

My Polyphonic Spree Jacket

Not sure how else to describe Jim James' performance recently on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  Many of you may know Mr. James from his day job as lead singer of My Morning Jacket.

Song starts slow and ends strong, to quite strong.  Patience, young Skywalker. 

Unicorn Filler

This is what happens when rob and Marls meet up in the big city...

Chocolate-dipped soft serve cone, eh tiny?

The Marls follow-up email: "Make sure you credit Big Gay Ice Cream**, which is the venue."

**Well I'll be damned, we have actually mentioned Big Gay Ice Cream in this space before

Monday, February 11, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: It Starts Here

If it please the Court, we stipulate the following:
  1. The Fightin' Wrens have perplexed friend and foe this season, showing substantial promise and confounding ineptitude, often within the same game. 
  2. W&M's 3-8 conference record is good for a 9th-place tie with Hofstra (6th place among the 7 teams eligible for the CAA Tournament), and places the Tribe a full 2.5 games behind 5th-place-among-eligibles Drexel with five games to play. This isn't very good.
  3. Given both 1. and 2. above, we agree that W&M will finish either 6th or 7th among eligible teams;
This is not a bad thing. Here's why:

The format of the abbreviated 2013 CAA Tournament means that the 6/7 seeds play the 3/2 seeds in the first round, avoiding the top-seeded Northeastern Huskies, who are clearly the class of the conference, until the finals. At the moment, the 2/3 line is being contested by Delaware, James Madison, and George Mason, all of whom are flawed teams that a hot Tribe squad is entirely capable of beating. (Ignore for the moment that fact that we're 0-3 against that trio this season. It's misleading in that it doesn't fit my narrative.)

Tribe coach Tony Shaver has demonstrated repeatedly his ability to get a team ready for the CAA Tournament, and this is one is his most talented, if not his deepest. Shaver's got four weeks and seven games to figure out why this squad has periodic lapses in concentration and solve its most pressing problem. If he does, the Tribe's chances are as good as anyone's in Richmond.

Tonight marks the first of a four-games-in-eight days stretch that'll tell us a lot about whether Shaver's grokked his team's curious character. Three of those four are in Williamsburg, where W&M is 6-3 this season, and all save one are against mediocre opponents.

That one is this evening, as the aforementioned Northeastern Huskies travel from snowbound Boston. NU is 16-8, 11-1 in the CAA, and has shown a propensity for making plays when it matters most. Sort of the bizarro Tribe in that regard. W&M took the Huskies to double overtime in Boston in late January before falling, 95-91.

At this point, we are what our record says we are. But it says here that we don't necessarily need to stay that way. Lotta ball left. (Yeah, we're bringing that hoary chestnut back. Nothing else seems to have worked this season.)

Saturday, February 09, 2013

So that's what he looks like...

What a treat on this Saturday morning. G:TB's own danimal apparently saw himself on the television  took time to pause the moving pictures, and take this photo of himself:

You handsome devil.

On another note, Squeaky, hope those snow tunnels are going well.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Sometimes one's life is a song

My life has been like this a lot recently:

And sometimes it has been like this:

But some times, some moments that seem more and more fleeting in my rush between work and struggles of parenthood, it is like this:

And I guess that's okay. Have a great Friday. Even you, Winter Storm Nemo.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Smooth with the Roughness

I have added little value here of late so I efforted up another mixtape of old-ish (nod to Clarence) school hiphop split up between rough and smooth jawns. I could have just linked to Enter the Wu-Tang for the rough and People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm for the smooth, but I mixed it up for your enjoyment. So enjoy.

Track 1 - if I'm going to make it rough ...
Track 2
Track 3
Track 4
Track 5 - right up to your face and dis you
Track 6 - I think this is the origin of all grimy hiphop beats

Track 7 (and a smooth remix)
Track 8
Track 9 - rob's new favorite group
Track 10
Track 11
Track 12
Track 13

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Straight Fax Homie

Today is National Signing Day. Which means thousands of grown men have taken the day off work so they can monitor which 17 and 18 year old high school football players will fax (yes, they still use fax machines for this in 2013) a signed letter of intent to their favorite college. Thousands more grown men will spend most of their day at work monitoring these same activities via their computer. Many of these are successful, intelligent men. If this all sounds completely ridiculous to you, that's because it is. On the other hand, it's also understandable.

College Football has (over the last decade) become America's second most popular sport behind professional football (Translation: Americans like football. A lot.) and College Football is a sport where a team's success is largely determined by a University's ability to recruit, sign and develop the most talented high school football players in America. Millions (and increasingly billions) of dollars are at stake each National Signing Day. Many people do not like the attention paid to National Signing Day (or the seedy, slimy path that leads us to NSD) and I understand their reservations. Unfortunately for them, the popularity of college football recruiting isn't going anywhere. At least not for the foreseeable future. What was once something only die hard College Football fans followed has become an industry unto itself. With two nationally televised All-American games, four national recruiting websites that employ hundreds of people each and an untold number of magazines devoted exclusively to recruiting.

While recruiting is certainly an inexact science (Colin Kaepernick and his whopping total of one Division I scholarship offer come to mind), it's not as wild a guessing game as some would have you believe. Are there plenty of players who end up never coming close to fulfilling their potential each year? Absolutely. Just as there are many kids who far exceed their recruiting rankings and surpass many of their much more highly touted classmates on their school's depth charts.

Why's this? Because analysts are trying to project the next 3-5 years of an 18 year olds life. I couldn't have predicted my own collegiate career with any accuracy when I was 18 (For the record, I attended 3 different colleges in my first three years). Moreover, NFL teams with better background information, more game tape and sophisticated scouting departments regularly screw up their drafts. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that College Football recruiting is filled with "misses". Quite the opposite. With all that said, the recruiting rankings can be (and usually are) a great guide for which programs are moving in the right (or wrong) direction. Ole Miss is a great example this year. Somehow, Ole Miss is ranked in the top 15 recruiting classes in the nation this year, with a legitimate shot to land the nation's #1 overall player, #1 Offensive Lineman and #1 Wide Receiver. And Hugh Freeze would like you to shut the hell up about it, thank you very much.

Of course, the best example of recruiting rankings being a good guide for program success is current back to back BCS Champion, Alabama. Despite having a roster loaded to the gills with 4 and 5 star recruits, Nick Saban and his staff continually pull in recruiting classes in the top 2 or 3 in the country. No small feat considering that every other school is using the Tide's depth of talent to recruit against them. However, yet again, this year the Tide have pulled in either the #1 or #2 class in the country heading into today. How does Saban manage to convince kids to come to Tuscaloosa despite a roster filled with high school All-Americans? There are plenty of reasons: The program's continued success, the amount of Alabama players being drafted into the NFL, the deep pockets of Alabama's boosters (allegedly) and numerous others. Another key reason is that Saban has a proven track record of playing talented freshman when they're better than the upperclassmen at their position (Examples: Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, DJ Fluker, Amari Cooper and on and on). The best players want a chance to play, prove themselves and move onto to the NFL. Saban has proven to high school recruits that they can do just that under his watch Oh, and it also doesn't hurt that Alabama spends a shit ton of money on recruiting. Being able to bring a recruit into a place like this isn't bad either.

Now, if you look at the recruiting rankings I linked to above, you'll notice that many schools have commits from over 20+ kids. Which begs the question: If most of these guys are already committed then why is National Signing Day a big deal? Because these are 18 year old kids being wooed like NFL stars and, well, kids change their minds. Lots. Lots and lots. Just last year, a 5 star recruit named Dante Fowler, Jr. who had been committed to FSU for over a year decided on the night before National Signing Day that Florida was a better place for him. He surprised everyone and faxed his letter of intent to Gainesville the next morning. Fowler ended up being a major contributor as a freshman at Florida and will assuredly start as a true sophomore. And this sort of thing isn't an isolated case. It happens every year, all over the country and will happen multiple times tomorrow.

Did I take off work? No. Most of Florida's class is taken care of (barring any last second defections). Will I spend more time checking things on Twitter than I do working today? Most likely.

Also, one thing to keep in mind when you hear people bemoaning the circus created by the announcements of these kids today. Sometimes, a kid does something really original to announce his commitment.

And sometimes that same kid will get arrested for felony possession of a firearm and be thrown off the team in less than a year. Keep today in perspective, folks. (Also, don't tweet at recruits...dummy)

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Awesomeness Contest

The Man is keeping TR down at work, but he had just enough time to send this email to the GTB editorial staff this morning:

Let's have our readership vote on which is more awesome. I can't post from work. This:

OR This:

You don't want to disappoint TR, so please, vote.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Fashion is Dumb: "Cotton Ball" Edition

I know, you all want to still check out my hotness from college, but this fashion faux pas is simply too ridiculous not to post immediately. For the woman who wants to look like a giant cotton ball, I present this monstrosity:

But wait...this gets better (worse?). Here's the back of this "outfit".

You're welcome.

[Via this tumblr]

Super Bowl Monday Hungover Filler

Was going through a bunch of old shit this weekend, and came across some pictures from the olden days. Look at this dumbass:

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Super Bowl Preview

By preview, in this case, we mean "things you can look at before the game". I assume most of you have either read everything you care to about this evening's gladatorial contest, or have scrupulously ignored nearly everything emanating from New Orleans in futile hopes of not hearing Ray Lewis' name or the story of that time in 6th grade when Jim Harbaugh did that really fiery thing and John Harbaugh had to be really calm.

I chose the latter path, but I did catch this outstanding Mike Wise piece on former New Orleans Saint Steve Gleason, who suffers from ALS. You may recall that Gleason blocked the punt that spurred the Saints to victory in the first game played in the Superdome after Katrina. You may not have heard his story, which is both heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time - or as he calls it, "terribly beautiful.

You may also recall this cool musical performance from the same evening that Gleason welcomed a city back. I'm not usually much for mixing music with my football (except for marching bands on college gamedays), but Green Day, U2, the Rebirth Brass Band, and Trombone Shorty killed this, both in song choice and execution:

Since many of you will likely indulge in an adult beverage or too many tonight, this news from the Brain Sciences Division at Imperial College London is a bit late, but has significant long-term implications. Scientist Brian Nutt has identified a chemical compound that offers the user all of the positive side effects of alcohol with none of the toxicity. No more hangovers, boys and girls! Whomever is responsible for such things had better be fitting Brian Nutt with a Sir to put in front of his name.

It's February 3rd, and I know I'm not alone in having once again slept on making Valentine's Day plans. (True story: the first celebration of Saint Valentine I spent with my then-girlfriend, current wife, consisted of dinner at 7-11 - spicy ham & cheese wrap for me - and a rec league hoops game. Pretty, pretty smooth, my friends.) Not to worry. One of the nation's legendary culinary establishments has your back:

In case you and your little lady are wondering, that's somewhere in Brookfield, IL. Enjoy!

Finally, and apropos of absolutely nothing, the White House may have hit on an ingenious strategy to get the NRA to support universal firearms background checks. Pictures of black guys shooting stuff:

I'm sure he'll be watching the game - that's a good enough Super Bowl tie-in for me. Be safe out there, boys and girls.

Friday, February 01, 2013

178 Seconds of Awesomeness

I'm not referring to what my wife likes to call drunken sex with me.  I'm referring to everything about this clip.  Even the use of a flute in a Latin funk song. 

Happy weekend y'all. 

Come Over