Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter, from Clarence

Now this is some classic Clarence commenting:

Well done, sir.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Ghustice League, Assemble

I call to order this meeting of the Ghustice League, and offer to Mark and Zman a mission. Find Jay Shells and offer our assistance in his endeavors. From Fast Company:

Graphic designer and urban interventionist Jay Shells decided that New York City locations, memorialized in rap songs by the likes of Mos Def, Nas, or Jay-Z, should get the recognition they’re due. His guerrilla signage project has installed official-looking signs with rap lyrics at the exact locations referenced. "Cause I want to be on 106 and Park pushing a Benz," rapped Kanye West. Now, a sign says as much, posted at, you guessed it, the intersection of Park Avenue and 106th St. (the Harlem location where BET once had a studio).

We don't have to limit our efforts to rap, of course. I'm certain Clarence and I would enjoy figuring out where Oppenheimer Road is, and posting an Old 97s lyric, among numerous other songs and places. Everybody sign up for something in the comments. We'll make assignments soon.

Friday, March 29, 2013

I should've had a....

For no reason other than the fact that I'm sick of looking at that dude's dong in a yellow banana hammock, I decided to post a picture of new, healthy Rob after a morning run.

Have a happy Good Friday and try not to accidentally kill any messiahs today.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fashion is...furiously awful

This, folks, is your image of the day. If not week. Or month (March is almost over, after all). Behold the sartorial splendor that is Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five:

[Pic borrowed from some Yahoo! gallery]

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Freakin' Sweet

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I love basketball. I love watching it. I love reading about it. And I love playing it. I still play in (depending on the time of year) one or two Men's leagues (TJ has the Championship t-shirt to prove it) and I play pickup basketball with a group of guys two to three times a week. We have a great group. Skill levels vary, but for a bunch of guys ranging from mid-20s to late 30s, its a pretty solid game. We have a pool of about 30 guys who play and generally get somewhere between 11-15 to show up for our pickup runs. Within this larger group of 30 there are a number of good former athletes. Numerous former DII and DIII basketball players. A former SEC (backup) QB, a former Texas Tech Tight End (who, by the way, has some great Danny Amendola stories), and even a few former JUCO baseball players. It's a great group of guys and we do a pretty good job of walking the fine line between competitive and friendly. This game, which is played in a local church gymnasium, is regularly one of the more enjoyable things I do each week.

One of the upsides of this game is that sometimes one of these former athletes brings a friend who's in town to play who also happens to be a recognizable athlete or former athlete. A couple years ago Mohammed Massaquoi showed up and played with our group a few times, for example.

At this point, you might be wondering why I'm telling you all of this? Well, because we've received a new (semi) regular addition to our pickup basketball group. A guy who grew up around here and, apparently, has moved back in to the area. A name you might recognize. None other than Doug Flutie. And Doug Flutie has a totally badass Trans Am.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

America, The Beautiful Game

That Wheel of Fortune-inspired post title serves to jam together two thematically unrelated yet temporally linked events of interest to the G:TB community.

This morning, the Doofus Overlord and the Bride of Doofus Overlord walked from their place of employment to the Supreme Court to take in the sights and sounds. SCOTUS heard arguments this morning on the validity of California's Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage. Judging from their personal recollections and dispatches from others on the ground, it would be hard to find a gathering of two more polarized groups. From the Christian wingnut right to the Equality is Metal/Unicorn left (picture below), the breadth of human understanding was on full and vocal display.

Veteran SCOTUS observers seem to think that the Court may decide that the appellants
have no standing in the case, in which event the lower court's ruling overturning Proposition 8 will be upheld. This would have the effect of legalizing gay marriage in California, but permit the Court to stay mute on the broader Constitutional question. Punting, if you will. Chris Kluwe will not be amused, though Solicitor Ted Olson is on record as saying that such a result is a win for the pro-equality forces. This very clearly seems a case where the moral arc of the universe is bending towards justice.

Later, in today's other major America, Fuck Yeah news, the U.S. Men's National Team enters its traditional house of horrors to play Mexico in Mexico City's venerable Estadio Azteca. The U.S. has never, ever, not even once prevailed against El Tri in Azteca during World Cup qualifying, compiling a 0-13-1 record. In all, Mexico sports a 68-1-6 record in home qualifiers, losing only to Costa Rica in 2001.

To make matters worse, the U.S. catches an angry side this evening, after Mexico squandered a two-goal advantage in the final 14 minutes on Friday as Honduras escaped with a draw at home. After two matches, the Mexicans find themselves in the unfamiliar position of 4th in the CONCACAF table, while the U.S. sits in second on the strength of Friday's snowy 1-0 win over the Ticos.

Chicharito is a duck.
Further complicating things, the U.S. won't have Jermaine Jones or Tim Howard tonight, with both lost to injuries. Landon Donovan's still wandering on a peyote-fueled journey of discovery, as well, though Jozy Altidore's shown his best form as a national team member of late and Clint Dempsey remains a stalwart. The Jones injury may well be the biggest blow, as his yeoman midfield work was a key against Costa Rica. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has never lost to Mexico, either with the U.S. or with Germany, but the odds are long tonight.

We'd be thrilled with a draw on the pitch. And, now that I think about it, we'd be pretty happy if the Supreme Court gave us the judicial equivalent when they rule in a few months.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Would zman Drive, Alternatively Titled zman Is Diesel

You probably read my last WWzD post and said, "Cool car, but I need something that gets better than 14 MPG ... jackass." I get that. Accordingly, I direct your attention the BMW 335d. You're proabaly familiar with the 335i, which has a twin-turbocharged version of BMW's brilliant straight-6 engine. The 335d is also a twin-turbocharged straight-6, but it's a diesel. Hear me out.

Modern diesels are much cleaner than the old Benzes you remember from the 1980's, kicking up roostertails of exhaust plumes like Pigpen's wake. Diesels are (and always have been) more fuel efficent and torquier than gasoline powered engines. The geniuses (genii?) at BMW applied all their engineering wisdom and came up with a car that gets 36 MPG on the highway but puts out 265 HP and 425 pound-feet of torque. That's more torque than the A6 from my last post, the one with the Lamborghini engine. It's even more torque than BMW's flagship M3. As a result, the 335d absolutely demolishes other people on the highway. I know this because I am so smitten with the 335d that I test-drove one on Saturday.

Taking off from a dead stop a stoplight is a brisk affair in the 335d, but going from, say 50-to-70 MPH on the highway is nearly instantaneous. I stepped out of the right lane to pass someone, goosed the gas, and nearly broke my neck. This driving style will not save fuel but I can see how it would become addictive. And I'm not the only one who feels this way--Warren Brown of the Washington Post wrote, perhaps a bit hyperbolically, that "I believe the 335d is the best midsize sedan ever. That's 'best' as in better than any midsize sedan I've driven in 42 years of driving and driving nearly everything there is to be driven."

BMW sold the 335d in the US from 2009 to 2012. Predictably, no one wanted this mix of power and fuel economy because it came in an unusual package. As a result these cars generally went unloved by the type of folks who want to lease a BMW, so there aren't a ton of them out there on the CPO market. Diesel fans likely won't ever part with them so good luck finding one. None are available with a manual transmission. All are rear wheel drive. So snow tires are a must if you live in places where you're expected to get to work on time despite slushy weather.

Despite the fact that I'm looking for a car and the 335d was a blast to drive, I probably will not buy the one I drove this weekend, even though it was a perfect black-and-tan color combo, and even though the car's built-in computer showed that it averaged a remarkable 29.7 MPG over the past 2300 miles. The reason, you ask? Because it has iDrive, a maddeningly complicated computer interface system that necessetates a PhD in electrical engineering to change the radio station or to switch from the radio to the CD player or iPod jack. Totally killed the car for me. I'd rather get a non-iDrive model and buy a TomTom for $100 for navigation.

So I guess this post should really be "What Would zman Almost Drive."

And Your Impala Can Sing, Alternatively Titled One of These Days I'm Going to Cut Your Impala Into Little Pieces

I recently posited the point that Tame Impala sounds like the Beatles circa Revolver and Rubber Soul. Mark and rob did not hear the similarity so here is some musical comparison filler. In particular I think their lead singer sounds like John Lennon and upon reflection it looks like the better comparison is Revolver and the White Album (although Think for Yourself and Wait could probably be shoehorned in somehow).

1. Be Above It vs. And Your Bird Can Sing

2. Feels Like We Only Go Backwards vs. Sexy Sadie

3. Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control vs. Tomorrow Never Knows

4. Sun's Coming Up vs. For No One

6. Endors toi vs. Fool on the Hill

5. Elephant vs. Helter Skeleter

This one's a bit of a stretch as far as the Beatles go, it's definitely a Pink Floyd song.

And that seems like a great way to end, given our readership.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Basketball Open Thread

Figured we needed a new post for today's slate of games...and I found this picture yeah...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

That Guy's a Dick!

As one of the very few media outlets in the world to ever have the opportunity to interview the Higgs Boson, we've got a unique perspective on the heretofore elusive particle's personality. We came away from our first encounter impressed with his physical abilities, but found his manners a bit wanting. Bit of a jerk, really.

Given his importance to our understanding of, well, everything in the physical world, we were willing to cut him a little slack. Lots of famous people come off as assholes, after all.

But after what the Boson did to one of our own this week, we've changed our tune. That dude's a dick. A mean, spiteful, dick.

William & Mary physicist Marc Sher "has devoted his entire professional life to theoretical description of the Higgs". When scientists at CERN recently announced new findings about the Boson's behavior, they comported neatly with Sher's theoretical models.

In other words, the Large Hadron Collider proved that Marc Sher's life's work was brilliant. (Though it did not find a way to prove that the William & Mary Tribe will ever make the NCAA Tournament. Some things are beyond science's reach.)

Not cool, LHC. Not cool at all. Marc Sher didn't want to be proven right. Dude wanted more mountains to climb, more challenges to tackle, more theories to, um, theorize. “I always said that the nightmare scenario would be if they found the Higgs and nothing else,” said Sher. “That’s what they found—the Higgs and nothing else.”

No anomalies. No odd ephemera to keep particle physicists arguing over pints. Neat, tidy, perfect. Sure, Sher's got dark matter, and the occasional neutrino to keep him busy. Even supersymmetry, maybe. Or time travel.

Small consolation, that. Would it really have been that hard for the Boson to bob and weave just a bit around the last turn? To bobble slightly in the LHC homestretch? Of course not. But like always, that asshole was just thinking about itself.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Me and George

The snarkosphere is in full squawk these past few weeks over a series of pictures released by a hacker allegedly depicting the paintings of George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States and punching bag of elites from both sides of the aisle. In what might pass for self-parody, Gawker calls them 'odd', 'awkward', and 'monstrous-looking'. Various other interweb commentators review Bush's works with tones more often associated with descriptions of the first, halting efforts of modestly talented middle school musicians - half sympathetic, half mocking with faint praise.

To those about to snark, we...say "fuck you".

I'm no fan of Bush the Younger, as you well know. But as one who's dabbled in the acrylic arts, I can say this with certainty: painting is hard as shit. I've completed somewhere around 40 paintings, and I'd be willing to let other human beings see a grand total of one of them. (I'd post a picture here, but I gave it to Clarence, figuring I'd knock off a couple more. I have yet to do so.)

I started painting a few years ago on a whim, and because my daughter showed some talent for art. I took a painting class at a local art studio, one I really enjoyed and not only because I was the only male in a group of 12. But I very quickly realized that I had little talent for representational painting - I could make colors work together, but my understanding of perspective, and shading, and light, and most of the other building blocks of good art is, as it turns out, highly limited. My kid has lapped me, frankly, though I have developed an abstract style I like to call 'slap some colorful shit on a canvas and smear it around'.

There are people in the world like our friend Doug, both gifted and extremely hard workers, who create incomprehensibly beautiful and compelling art from nothing. There are others who are both talented and lucky, with public acclaim and riches to follow. And then there are the countless rest of us, like me and President Bush, who paint because it makes us happy, even though we suck.

So I stand with W, in this perhaps singular case. Go on with your bad self, George. That picture of Barney isn't half bad. Can't wait for our joint show in Kennebunkport. Haters gonna hate, but if you're not gonna grab a brush, and mix some paints, and make an effort, you're just making noise. And none of us have time for noise.


I lied above. I have actually allowed real human beings to view THREE of my paintings. One hangs in my dining room, and the other in my office. It's pictured below. Please be kind.


I have photographed Rob's painting that resides in our kitchen.  Here it is, and I dig it.  -- Whitney

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The other side of the coin

We're in the middle of the greatest basketball week of the greatest basketball month of the year. There is no debating this. Sure, the quality of play may get better during the NCAA Tournament's second weekend but there's really nothing like the quantity, drama and excitement provided by the first four days of the NCAA Tournament. As sports fans, we love the games, the upsets and the buzzer beaters. Oh the buzzer beaters.

Well, I'm here to rain on the buzzer beating parade a bit. Buzzer beaters aren't always great. With the jubilation that comes from a buzzer beating shot also comes despair. The despair of a team on the edge of victory who suddenly, improbably has that victory snatched from them on what quite often is a lucky shot. I can speak to this...because I lost two games during my high school career on highly improbable buzzer beaters.

The first occurred during my senior year. We were playing one of the better teams in our conference on the road. I scored my career high and knocked down two free throws with 6 seconds left to put us up by two. We were right on the edge of securing a major victory in what had been a seemingly cursed season (our best player tore his ACL for the second time during the summer and our second best player died in a car accident). Yet, it was not to be. Our opponent (Cocoa High) had one last possession. And on that last possession a player who had been scoreless all game long received a pass at just beyond half court, took two dribbles and flung a 25 footer. Bang. His three pointer was good. The crowd went nuts and rushed the floor. My teammates and I walked off with another loss in a season that quite often went from bad to worse.

Somehow, that's not the most heartbreaking loss of my high school career. That would come one year earlier against our biggest rival (Greg's alma mater). These two school were separated by only a few miles so most of the kids knew each other. And this year, both teams were really good. In fact, both teams were ranked in the state during various times throughout the year (in Florida's two highest classifications at the time)and this game would determine the conference leader. The game was a tightly contested game played in our home gym. Both teams traded the lead back and forth. Until our starting point guard (I was more of a two guard as a junior) hit a three to put us up one with just over a second left. What followed is something that is still burned into my memory almost twenty years later. Our opponent inbounded the ball to their point guard (who I went to junior high with) who took one dribble and then jumped off of one foot from in between the free throw line and three point line as he launched a shot from 75-80 feet from his basket. You can guess what happened next. The ball was in the air forever. At least that's what it felt like. And when it came down, it hit nothing but the bottom of the net. If it wasn't a miracle, it's the closest I've ever seen. Since both schools were located so close to one another, there were plenty of opposing fans at our gym. They rushed the floor and mobbed their team. All I saw was a see of green (their main color) rushing the floor. I was on the court at the time of the shot and simply fell backwards as it went through the net. Fans rushed past me, one of my teammates came over to help me up. It was the worst I've ever felt on a basketball court. As a 17 year old, I thought it was the worst I'd ever feel. Our team struggled to ever recover. We lost the next two games and later lost one of our best players to an ACL tear. We were truly never the same after that heartbreaking loss. I'll never forget it.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I woke up the next morning to find out that the play had made it on to Good Morning America and was also named CNN's 'Play of the Day'. My aunt who lived in Japan called my Mom to say she had seen my high school on CNN. Of course, my Mom had to explain to her that my team wasn't the one who won the game. I tried to stay home from school the next day. I literally didn't want to talk to, or see anybody. Of course, time heals all wounds. Well, mostly. I still haven't forgotten seeing that prayer being answered. And I doubt I ever will.

With all that said, buzzer beaters are still pretty awesome. So enjoy this list of the 27 best buzzer beaters of the college basketball season.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Vampires Strike Back

Vampire Weekend's new album Modern Vampires of the City (as opposed to Archaic Vampires of the Sticks I guess) comes out on May 6. Videos for the first two singles betray a hatred for Saabs and a fascination with midtown. Perhaps more importantly, VW's sound has evolved from what everyone else says sounds like Paul Simon's Graceland (and what I think sounds like early Police) into something much less distinctive. The lyrics are still sharp, so sharp that they actually included all of them in the video for "Step" lest we miss references to Angkor Wat, Croesus, Modest Mouse, and Run-DMC (i.e., Tougher Than Leather). I liked their first two albums enough to roll the dice on the third but I'm worried that they've given up on what made them interesting.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Music Monday Continues

Taking the Music Monday baton from Shlara, here's a cursory review of Saturday's mini-summit and music revue.  Late Saturday afternoon we assembled the following Gheorghies and FoGheorghies:

Stepbro Ian
Juan Carlos
That frat guy Matt guy
Zman's chum John Paul III

After a bland dinner, chugged pints, and a lousy performance by a dweeby band that questionably lip-synched cover songs (Cheap Trick / Maroon 5 / The Ramones / One Direction), we made our way to the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, NJ. 

Act I was the Old 97's, one of my personal favorites, and a band I most recently saw last month in Charlottesville.  They opened with "Barrier Reef" and ripped through a solid set; highlights included "W. TX Teardrops," "Every Night is Friday Night (Without You)", "Victoria Lee," and the ubiquitous "Timebomb."  I, of course, liked it all, and older stuff like "Salome," "Indefinitely,"and "504" was more enjoyable for me than for the unfamiliar in our midst.

Act II was the Drive-By Truckers.  They crushed it, and for a co-headliner set they played for quite a while.  All told, the combined show was four hours long. The DBT's played much of my favorite stuff, including "Women Without Whiskey," "Used to Be a Cop," my favorite "Where the Devil Don't Stay," and the always venue-shaking "Let There Be Rock."

Folks can weigh in as they choose.  I thought both sets were terrific, but I agree with Zman's sentiment that the demons that haunt the Truckers and make their sets more rousing have long since left Rhett and the 97's.  I've long hoped for some turmoil in Rhett Miller's daily life so as to re-evoke the angst of their first few albums.  As it is, they're too happy.  (I temper this by saying nothing too terrible.  The last time I hope for hard times to befall a musician, it was Springsteen, and then 9/11 happened.  The Rising was great, but come on.)

Surly Ian, of course, thought the whole concert left something the be desired.  Dave had some weird thoughts, as always.  But I loved it.

And the boozing afterwards.

Music Mondays with Shlara: Pretty in P!NK

Before we hear from the Jersey crew who attended the Old 97s/DBT show, I wanted to provide a recap of the show KQ and I saw on Thursday.

The Cougars in the Outfield (me, KQ, Duffy &  Roomie) caught P!NK at the Verizon Center. We had awesome seats (111 row G) and she puts on an UNBELIEVABLE show.

I usually attend rock & roll shows—just a band, speakers & maybe some multi-colored spotlights. So I was not prepared for this entertainment spectacle. She started the show by being slingshotted (is that a word?) (Editor's Note: it's no less a word than dipshittery - we'll go with it.) from 8 feet below the stage to 20 feet above the stage and proceeded to sing “Raise your Glass” while attached to this bungee cord and three ripped dudes who were hanging from a metal-sculpture would perform these cheerleader stunts with her, WHILE THEY WERE ALL SUSPENDED TWO STORIES IN THE SKY.

At least half of the show, she was doing some sort of legit acrobatic activity…ALL WHILE SINGING, for real. It was like a Cirque-rock show.

The dancers and band genuinely looked like they were having fun. She stopped several times to chat with people in the front row and sign some autographs. Even mentioned that she used to come to DC in high school to attend raves.

There were some interludes like one of those rock-musicals, where the cast/dancers act out stories to the music. For the most part, it was fine because she has super-talented people working with her. But there was this one interesting character, the “game show” host for the Truth About Love Show, who reminded me of one of our favorite Gheorghies. Let’s just say that when Whitney retires as Abe Lincoln, he has a future on P!NK’s tour.

She ended the show with “So What” while attached to these wires linked to the 4 corners of the catwalk in the building—you know the one on the ceiling? These wires were hooked onto this Judy Jetson-like skirt/belt and then she literally FLEW around the entire arena—all the way up to the 400 level, past EVERY section. Peter Pan-like. Never seen anything like it.

The video doesn’t do it justice:

Added bonus—it was the BEST people-watching crowd I’ve ever seen too. Old people, kids, gay couples, suburban moms on a night out, every shape and size you could imagine. And they were ALL dancing their hearts out before the show even started. P!NK brings people together…we need to send her to Gaza.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dr. ToeThumb or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Quesarito

Two weeks ago our own tiny dictator called me, and others in the G:TB family, out for not stepping up to the plate (pun intended), seeking out, and downing the mythical, off-menu Chipotle "quesarito". For the uninformed, a quesarito is a burrito that uses a quesadilla as a wrap.   After an initial demurrer, my "toe-thumb" and I decided that if we could take on the KFC Double Down or two grease truck sandwiches, we could rise to the quesarito challenge.

One fake mustache, one real mustache, one guy filled with sandwiches.
The quesarito has received a bunch of interest lately, much of it prompted by the "Fast Company" article linked by Rob.  The article, while focusing on the quesarito, is actually a larger discussion of "secret menu" items at various fast food restaurants.  According to various sources, including this Ranker list, Chipotle has six secret menu items.  Most of the items, like the single taco and fresh cilantro don't seem all that secret.  The only ones that really stand out as secret are the quesadilla and the quesarito, mainly because they are tough to make using the standard Chipotle line equipment.      

Since the quesarito requires additional time to make, most sources recommend going outside of normal dining hours.  Last Tuesday, a 2:30 PM trek to the nearest Chipotle in midtown Manhattan was aborted because there was still a long line.  Undaunted, after enlisting the support of my co-worker Teresa, we headed off to a Thursday 3PM date with destiny.  When we arrived, Chipotle was almost empty and the line was staffed by only two people.  The only thing now was to order the beast.

When discussing this mission with Mrs. Marls, she inquired whether there was some Larry Craig-esque toe tapping signal, which, instead of leading to illicit airport sex, would grant access to the cheesy delights of the Chipotle secret menu.  Alas, there is not toe tapping or "wide stance"required.  All that is needed is finding a bored group of Chipotle workers, a little patience, and a willingness to look like an unbridled glutton.   Luckily, we had all three.

The person who took our order had no idea what a quesarito was but offered to make us a quesadilla.   While this was not what we wanted, it was the opening we needed.  Clearly this guy had a willingness to go into the clandestine world of off-menu mexican fast food.  From there it only took a little explaining to coax a quesarito out of him.   In fact, after he finished wrapping it up, he advised that he was going to make himself one for lunch.

At this point, the only thing left was to sit back and enjoy.

Note the toe-thumb and oozing cheesy goodness
It is so choice.  If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

When We Were Heroes

Lots of electrons will die nobly over the next several weeks chronicling this year's edition of America's best sporting event. We'll root - hard - for teams representing schools we've never visited, or even thought much about. And we'll waste at least a handful of hours during times we should be productively engaged. But none of us will do anything that approaches the level of dedication displayed 17 years ago this week in one of the greatest - and least heralded - sports-related achievements of our time.

On the evening of March 8, 1996, Clarence and I arrived at the Annandale, VA residence of our friend Buck, carrying multiple cases of cheap domestic lagers and perhaps a bag or two of snacks (at this point we should let you know that our memories of this legendary weekend have been a bit dulled by the passage of time and brain cells - some of what follows may be embellished for lack of actual recall). We headed immediately to the basement to watch the Big East semifinals - or maybe the ACC quarters, and likely both.

Big Bite was ordered, beers were consumed, hoops upon hoops were enjoyed, and we passed out on the comfort of several of the ample couches arrayed across the basement.

Saturday morning came, almost certainly on the late side, and Clarence and I packed up our things and headed upstairs. We never made it. The reasons are lost to history, but we feel certain that they have something to do with a) another Big Bite call, b) the beer run that Danimal and our friend Ron made, and/or c) the fact that we slept so long that the next round of games were beginning.

And so on that Saturday, we watched the ACC semis, the Big 8 semis, and the Big East Final between Ray Allen and Connecticut and Allen Iverson's Georgetown team. It ended like this:

(Jim Calhoun's reaction at the very end is priceless: "We won! We won! We Won! Oh, Fuck, John Thompson looks angry. Sadface.")

At some point that day we invented a drinking game (the group had swelled to at least 5 at this point) that involved each of us drafting two players and making someone else in the room drink when our player did something excellent and drinking ourselves when our player fucked something up. Replays counted, and were pernicious.

Sunday morning coming down would have been good advice, but we likely wouldn't have followed it. We were, as the saying goes, pot committed. In 1996, we didn't have cell phones, and while I assume Clarence and I called our girlfriends (both of us, at the time, were dating the women that would become our (first) wives), I can't be certain of that. It really wouldn't have mattered, as we'd crossed a line late on Saturday. We smelled the finish line, even as it was obscured by the combined funk of the clothes we'd worn, gas we'd emanated, food we'd half-finished, and showers we hadn't taken for three days.

And so again we called Big Bite, and once more we sent others out for beer, and we hunkered down. We watched Tim Duncan score 27 points and grab 22 boards to lead Wake Forest to a 75-74 win in the ACC Championship. (Of note, either Duke nor UNC made the ACC semis that season.) Then we saw a really talented Mississippi State squad, led by Erick Dampier, topple eventual national champion Kentucky in the SEC final.

Finally, after nearly 48 hours of basketball, beer, and Big Bite, we witnessed Iowa State win the final Big 8 basketball tournament, 56-55, when Kansas' Jacque Vaughn missed a running hook at the buzzer. We hung around for another hour or so to watch as CBS unveiled the NCAA Tournament brackets, because of course we did.

Only then did Clarence and I head up the stairs, through the kitchen, and out into the cool evening to breathe fresh air for the first time in days. We didn't say much on the ride home, but we didn't have to. We both knew what we'd done, and though we don't talk about it much anymore, every time the calendar turns to March, and talk turns to bubbles bursting and Championship Week, we both catch ourselves smiling just a little, and fighting an odd craving for chicken wings and pizza. We were heroes, my friends, if only for a brief moment.

We shower a lot more now, though.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Filler filler

This is what happens when no one else will help...

Dave, is this meta?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

I cordially invite you to Teej's American Kitchen & Bar...

Two weeks ago at work, we held our annual Chili Cook-Off. I was once again asked to emcee, and this time, I really decided to have some fun with it...

Welcome to Flavor Town, gang:

I fully expect to be the host of "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" by early 2015.

What Would Jesus, or at Least zman, Drive

My recent car post yielded an unprecedented outpouring of requests for more car posts. Exactly one person asked me for another car post and that is the biggest request for a follow-up post in my short tenure on the G:TB masthead.

But what to write?

I like cars and, as a result, am often asked for car-buying advice. My response is often that if you want a sedan there's no reason not to get a Honda Accord or a Toyota Camry; if you want a minivan there's no reason not to get a Honday Odyssey or a Toyota Sienna; and if you want an SUV there's no reason not to get a Honda Pilot or (if you want to go big) a Toyota Sequoia. All of these cars are reliable and sensibly priced in their respective segments, and the Accord can even be fun to drive.

However, no one is excited about getting any of these cars. They are transportational appliances designed to shuttle you, your family, and varying amounts of your possessions to work, school, and soccer games with minimal fanfare and inconvenience. If you don't like cars then you'll be fine.

For my money, I'd look elsewhere. Accords and Camrys can list over $30,000 once you option them up. The Pilot, Odyssey, and Sienna all start at about $30,000 and can get over $40,000 with exuberant optioning. And a well-dressed Sequoia can cost an eye-watering $64,000+! At these prices we can find something more interesting.

Like an Audi S6. Two certified pre-owned examples are for sale in Massachusetts for under $38,000. This is a cool car for a number of reasons but the primary allure, in my opinion, lies under the hood.

Volkswagen owns Audi and Lamborghini, and parts are shared between the brands in an effort to achieve economies of scale. So Adam Smith would be just as excited as I am about the V10 (i.e., 10 cylinder) engine taken from the Lamborghini Gallardo and shoehorned into an Audi A6, thereby creating the S6. The engine is actually slightly larger in the S6, rewarding the driver with 429 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque.

This means it is powerful, so much so that if you stomp on the gas it will slightly alter the Earth's rotation. Thus it is fast, but it's still a big comfortable luxury car that looks just like a regular A6, allowing you to glide along the highway in relative anonymity. Unless you do this:

Audi still makes the S6 but they dropped the V10 in favor of a twin-turbo V8 last year, so if you want the Lambo engine (and you do) look for one made between 2006 and 2012.

I can hear the accountants out there wondering about various practical things. Yes, it requires premium fuel. Yes, it swills gas like Clarence swills Dale's. Yes, you should get it serviced by a dealer. All this increases operating costs.

I can also hear the cogniscenti asserting that the new A6 has a supercharged V6 that is almost as powerful, probably just as fast, and comes with a full warranty (as opposed to the CPO remainder warranty). This is true, but it starts at about $50,000. Whether the warranty is worth an extra $12k is up to you.

My point is this: for less than a decked-out Honda Pilot you can get a 5-passenger Lamborghini. Every on-ramp will be a joy to attack. Every tailgating donkey will eat your dust when you have room to blast off. Every pimply fast and furious teen in a slammed Civic will be trounced from stoplight to stoplight. Even people who know nothing about cars will say "Oh, an Audi" so you'll increase your standing with valets and possibly your neighbors. And you get to listen to this whenever you want:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Time to elect the Pope

So, get those ballots ready, folks. Vote early, vote often, just remember to vote as much as possible. The end of a papal election is signified by smoke, of course, and be it white or black, I think we all win. Once a session (to randomly choose a word) of balloting is complete, the conclave might find themselves hungry (or so I've heard). So, in that instance, I suggest you throw back a few (dozen) of these conclave-themed peeps for fill up the belly.

That is all for now. There are ballots to be cast, and smoke to be released. Vote Sarducci!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Trail Building, Salmon Habitat Restoration, Pop and Lock

The YouTube caption for the video below is the stuff of your garden-variety worklife camaraderie (give or take your occasional 'fast-paced, multicultural eco-fantasy novel for readers ten and up'):

California Conservation Corps members Antwon McCoy and Leonard Patton aren't just hard workers. They are also very good dancers who have taught their big nature nerd/mountain man boss (John Griffith) more than a few dance moves. When they aren't busting moves, all three do a lot of trail building, salmon habitat restoration, and tree planting in the CCC. John Griffith is also the author of a fast-paced, multicultural eco-fantasy novel for readers ten and up titled "Totem Magic: Going MAD." (

The video itself, well, take a look. It'll make you smile.

(h/t Andrew Sullivan. Go subscribe.)

[Late Teej Edit: rob did not know this, but hours before he wrote this I received an email from Wheelhouse Geoff with this very same video. Because the mountain man boss looks an awful lot like our pal Mike S. of Southern VA. For those that know Mr. S, it makes this video even more enjoyable, if that is possible.]

Monday, March 11, 2013

Music Mondays with Shlara

I love Friday Night Lights (the TV show), and I especially love Coach and Tami Taylor, so I needed to include a photo of them in all of their adorableness.

You know that song "Devil Town" that played at the end of one of the first few episodes of FNL?

Well, it was written by this guy Daniel Johnston--a local Austin music legend. His album cover art was made famous on a t-shirt worn my Kurt Cobain ("Hi, How are You?")

Check out the baby-faced Dave Grohl in this photo!!

Johnston's version of "Devil Town" is haunting:

I know you're wondering how I got here...
So, there was an awesome song at the end of GIRLS last night--and twitter told me it was my favorite Irish duo, Swell Season and Daniel Johnston, performing at SXSW a few years ago. Listen to this one--it's good:

I know you've heard me talk about Glen & Marketa...the movie Once.
This is their famous song, Falling Slowly:

And, this is classic Glen doing Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" at Cochella a few years ago.
All of this sound is him, by himself.
I love Glen.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bygones, Sorrow Drowning

As another Tribe season goes the way of Bomont (no dancing - c'mon, stay with me here), we turn our attention to things with a greater likelihood of payoff. And with more universal appeal.

Attention beer fans: the annual Craft Brewers Conference descends upon Washington, DC at the end of March. Breweries from around the nation (and the world, as far as I know) come to town to show their wares and tantalize with their tipples (it's early - at least I tried, unlike our friend at Sentence of Dave).

There's an embarrassment of brewing riches headed this way, but one event in particular stands out for the G:TB family. On Friday, March 29, at Scion Restaurant, the good people of Oskar Blues Brewery host 'Dale's Dirty Dozen'. Dale himself will be in the house, offering tastes of 11 draft brews and oSKAr the G’Rauch Smoked IPA, a collaboration with Ska Brewing Company.

The event happens to coincide with the Sweet Sixteen matchups in the Midwest and South Regionals, allowing us to combine two of our passions. Great beer, March hoops? I don't see a downside.

Who knows - maybe I'll drink enough to forget the idea of comparing the 2013-14 Tribe with Ren McCormack.

Friday, March 08, 2013

This Week in Wrenball: Holding Out for An Asshole

Tomorrow begins one of the most unusual CAA Tournaments in conference history. As a result of defections and academic struggles, four of the league's 11 teams didn't make the trip to Richmond (ODU, Georgia State, Towson, and UNCW), leaving a somewhat-less-than-magnificent-seven to vie for the NCAA Tournament autobid.

Sage observers in the Community of Gheorghe have long held that abbreviated tournament offers our Tribe their best chance in years to break the Curse of Bill Chambers and advance to dance, if only based on the odds. And while W&M's 7-11 CAA record (13-16 overall) doesn't necessarily presage a championship run, some of the underlying fundamentals indicate that it's at least a possibility.

The Wrens enter the tournament winners of 4 of their last 6 games, and boast the CAA's best shooting percentage (.467), second-best three-point shooting percentage (.374), and have made more three-pointers than any team in the tournament. W&M also has a positive rebounding margin for the first time in years, and leads the CAA in assists/game - they've shared the ball extremely well over the season's last third. Combined, these stats tell the story of a team that's capable of getting hot for three nights and shooting their way to Dayton.

But, and it's a capital BUT, for that to happen, the Tribe must find a way to mask their single biggest flaw. Invariably, and almost predictably (seriously, go look on Twitter - I totally predicted the last time this happened), this W&M team has inexplicable stretches of somnambulant play. They go from crisp, attacking basketball to head-scratchingly passive effort. Since February 11 alone, the Tribe blew a 10-point second-half lead to lose at home to Northeastern, let a 25-point lead dwindle to three before beating UNCW at home, let George Mason go on a 19-1 run to erase a 13-point deficit and win in Fairfax, allowed a 15-0 run to end the first half at UNCW before regrouping to win, and gacked a 16-point halftime edge to drop the season finale at home against JMU. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest that this team should be headed to Richmond on a seven-game winning streak. Because they should.

After they blew the JMU game, Tony Shaver hit on the season's key, saying "We’ve got to have somebody take charge — somebody slap the floor, slap each other." In other words, this Tribe team needs some redass. They've got a bunch of great kids - players who we should all be proud to have represent our alma mater - but they don't have any assholes.

Holding out for an asshole doesn't make for a great lyric, but unless one shows up against JMU in Richmond tomorrow at 8:30 pm, it may well be 'wait til' next year' time again in Williamsburg.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Senior Salute

It's Senior Week all over the college hoops nation, as graduating players are feted by their schools in their final home games. It will come as no surprise that we greatly enjoy the ceremony and the emotion of the moments.

We were particularly moved last night when G:TB fave Elena Delle Donne played the last home contest of her spectacular career at Delaware. The 6'5" do-everything forward scored 24 points in 17 minutes as the Blue Hens pummeled Georgia State, but it was the pregame that stole the show.

In addition to her parents, Delle Donne was accompanied by her sister older Lizzie, whose cerebral palsy and autism have left her blind and deaf. Delle Donne's difficulty being separated from Lizzie and the rest of her close-knit family was one of the major reasons she transferred from Connecticut to Delaware at the beginning of her college career. (See the 1:10 mark of this video, that I can't figure out how to embed, for footage of the Delle Donne family's on-court moment.)

We also learned yesterday of yet one more reason to root for Delle Donne. She's one of us. According to former teammate Vanessa Kabongo, "She's not a quiet kid; she is silly. She's definitely a silly person off the floor; I can say that." (If Greg's looking to settle down, I think we can arrange a meeting.)

Big ups to Elena Delle Donne and the rest of college basketball's senior class. As we prepare to get overly geeked for March, thanks for giving us so much to love over the past four years.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013


I bring you news today of something so fearsome, so terrifying in its size, scale, and symbolic power that its already defeated three of our best men.

When we asked the Destroyer of the Double Down to defend us from this menace, he took one look and begged off, claiming to be concerned for the welfare of bystanders.

The Doofus Overlord, we should've known, demurred based on the multi-ingredient makeup of the colossal nemesis.

And our cast-iron gulleted Iranian friend didn't even respond, cowed as he was by the might of this mammoth.

Therefore, friends of Gheorghe, we seek a champion. Who amongst you will be brave enough to attempt to vanquish the quesarito, Chipotle's super-secret off-menu beast? The 1,500-calorie monstrosity consists of a standard-issue Chipotle burrito wrapped in an improvised quesadilla. I've seen pictures; the thing is bigger than my head.

I know of a man from a Southern city. The elders speak of him in revered tones. They claim he once ate a Fat Cat* and a Fat Bitch** in a single sitting (though he's too modest to admit it - he ordered them for 'we', rather than 'me'). More than ever, our nation needs this man. This is his call to arms.

Or at least to napkins.

* The Fat Cat: Double Cheeseburger, Fries, Lettuce, Tomato, Mayo, Ketchup on a sub roll
** The Fat Bitch: Cheesesteak, Chicken Fingers, Mozzarella Sticks, French Fries, Lettuce Tomato, Mayo, Ketchup on a sub roll

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Mad Woman Takes Herself Seriously, Acts Like Weiner, Sues Mad Men

Gita Hall May is not familiar with Ghita or the G:TB mission statement. Proof? She sued Lions Gate Entertainment because the opening credits to "Mad Men" feature an picture of her from a Revlon ad used in the 1950s. The image appears at about the 23 second mark.

Here's the complaint. After noting that Mad Men has made "billions" (emphasis in original) Ms. Hall alleges that the opening credits "were and are integral to the success of Mad Men ...." At that point I stopped reading.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Peanuts Clan Ain't Nothing To F**k With

Snoopy style...

An artist named Mark Drew has made my day by creating pieces that incorporate Charles Schulz' seminal comic strip Peanuts with lyrics from the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, N.W.A and Public Enemy, among others.

Now this is the kind of art I can support.

And if you want beef, then bring the ruckus...
Peanuts Clan ain't nuttin ta fuck with
Straight from the motherfucking slums that's busted...
Peanuts Clan ain't nuttin ta fuck wit

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Escape From the Pee-Ridden Ferry

Hello Mates. The tri-geeks will mark one off of the bucket list today. If you watch this video, you'll notice that this clip is from June of '11. Yes, this race typically takes place in the "heat" of the NorCal summertime, but not this year. America's Cup will be held in the city by the bay, marking us as red-headed stepchildren. But not a problem. The water will be a crisp 50-51 degrees rather than a balmy 54-55 and thus will probably don the full jammers vs. me little speedo! Will be hopping on the fairy...err, uh....I mean FERRY, at 0630 local time and jumpin in with the shaaks at 0730. It may come as a surprise to hear that it is common practice to relieve yourself in your wetsuit prior to a race. 'tis true though. But usually you're already in the water waiting for the gun to go off. Not so on the boat. So, rumor has it that the moments leading up to the start you might be walking atop a film of urine and not to be too surprised. Cool heh?

Despite having to walk in piss, this is one of the most popular triathlons in the world People come from far & wide to partake. A few races around the globe act as qualifiers. Many get in via lottery, as did I and a good buddy of mine from home. It's an odd-distance for those of you familiar with tri-sport. The swim is 1.5 miles with some helping current. This distance is longer than a half ironman swim of 1.2. The bike is 18, shorter than an olympic distance 25 - but it'll be hilly and very technical....lots of sharp turns. And the run is an 8-miler with a 400-sandstep climb at the 5-mile mark. So, there will be a great number of times throughout the day I ask - What the feck? The wives are here to root us on and wipe the snot off our noses as exit the waters of the San Francisco Bay, making the pain slightly more bearable. Oh, and there's the after party followed by a couple of days wine bonging. 

Friday, March 01, 2013

Big Super Happy Fun Fun Reader Submission

We follow up rob's excellent longform piece with some traditional frivolous Friday filler, this time courtesy of a Mayhugh link submission. (Anyone else picturing Mayhugh jamming the link in the bowl? Just me?) Anyhoo, it seems the Brawny Barrister has realized what a goldmine Buzzfeed can be, and sent along this list of "25 Bootleg Products That Are Better Than The Real Thing". The list is awl-inducing, but personally, this one is my favorite:

The internet is such a glorious space I also found this Knight Rider-related YouTube clip, just for Greg: