Sunday, March 30, 2014

Beatles, Basketball, Belief

I'm generally fascinated by the impact  of belief, confidence, and even arrogance on all kinds of outcomes. Just last night, I found myself questioning how the fifth-best team in the Atlantic 10 could go toe to toe with the best team in the nation. That Dayton believed they could was a huge part of the answer.

Andrew Romano explores this idea in the context of the most successful band in history in this long, but compelling piece on The Beatles. In it, he posits the idea that, "Arrogance—a kind of foolish, adolescent self-belief; an ignorant, intuitive certainty that your way is the right way—is the root of all great art. Without it, talent and timing aren't enough."

John Lennon himself would agree. In a 1980 interview, he said, "“We were the best fucking group in the goddamn world … and believing that is what made us what we were.”

It's impossible to measure arrogance, or confidence, or onions. But it's clear to me that those things matter. William & Mary's going to break it's long NCAA Tournament drought because Tony Shaver has begun in the last few years to recruit a different kind of kid than the ones that usually wind up in Williamsburg. Marcus Thornton's an obvious example, but Omar Prewitt's skinny, pale exterior hides an athletic arrogance that'll pay dividends.

(I'm aware, incidentally, that it's a fairly arrogant thing to discuss W&M basketball in the same post as The Beatles. Work with me here.)

This post isn't, it should be noted, an endorsement of arrogance in the normal course of things. Confidence, sure, we're with you there. But a dick's a dick in the workaday world. And nobody likes a dick. On the court, though, or the field, or onstage? Go on with your self-belief. It'll take you far.

Somewhere, Bono and Tom Brady agree with me.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Fourth Time's a Charm?

For the fourth time in four years the University of Florida Men's Basketball team has reached the Elite Eight. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any school, much less a school widely regarded as a football school where sustained success on the basketball court was considered nearly impossible as recently as as 15 years ago. And while what Florida has already accomplished this year is to be praised, it will be seen as a failure by many if Billy Donovan and the Gators aren't able to reach the Final Four by beating Dayton later today.

Almost exactly four years ago, Florida stood in the same position as it is today. One game away from a trip to the Final Four. And while there are some remarkable similarities (we'll get to those in a minute) between four years ago and present day, these are two very, very different scenarios.

First the similarities: A mid-major midwestern opponent (Butler/Dayton). An SEC Player of the Year that was also a lightly recruited local player who bloomed late in his collegiate career (Chandler Parsons/Scottie Wilbekin). A leading front court contributor that transferred to Florida (Vernon Macklin/Dorian Finney-Smith). A McDonald's All-American freshman big man from Florida (Patric Young/Chris Walker) contributing off the bench. And finally, four years ago I wrote this.

That's where the similarities end for these teams. That Florida team was a 6 seed that few expected to make a run at the Final Four. This years's team is the tournament's number 1 overall seed, riding a 29 game winning streak. That Florida team featured a collection of players that frustrated and perplexed many Florida fans with their inconsistency and erratic play while this year's Gators play a brand of defensively oriented team basketball that Florida fans have grown to love and appreciate.  And finally, these team's core is comprised of four senior starters. Four seniors starters where everything begins and ends for this team. You'll hear plenty today about how Florida's four seniors are playing in their fourth Elite Eight, attempting to finally reach a Final Four. While this is true, it neglects to tell the remarkable journey they've traveled to get to this point.

Four years ago, none of these four seniors could've predicted how their career would turn out. For example, Patric Young was a freshman, a McDonalds All-American coming out of high school who many had pegged as an NBA 1st round draft choice by the end of his sophomore year. Inconsistency, an uneven work ethic and a lack of awareness of who he was as a basketball player all kept this from happening and even had many observers wondering if he'd even merit selection in the the NBA Draft at the conclusion of his career as recently as this past summer. He was, in a word, maddening. He was filled with so much potential. Most of which was unrealized. That is, until this year. Young committed himself to the team and to bettering himself as a basketball player.
The result was the best overall season of his career and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award. This commitment to improvement while staying within one's self is something these four senior all share and it's paid off in the ultimate dividend in sports, winning.

Four years ago, Casey Prather and Will Yeguette were largely unknown frontcourt recruits who had yet to show what, if any, future they'd have in Orange and Blue. Prather was a freakish athlete and while he showed flashes of brilliance, he was inconsistent and not good for much more than the occasional highlight dunk or block. Then this year came around and Prather finally accepted who he was, a great athlete with the ability to lock down wing scorers while punishing teams with a relentless will to use his athleticism by driving the lane to create opportunities for himself and others.

At that same time Will Yeguete was even more of an unknown. Yegeute wasn't highly recruited. His best offer other than Florida was from Indiana. Not present day Indiana but immediately post Kelvin Sampson Indiana. A program that was forced to take two and three star recruits just to fill out their roster. Yeguete played his high school ball at a prep school in my area (Florida Air Academy) that has sent players to Kansas, Florida, Alabama, Texas and Miami among others.  When Florida was recruiting Yegeutte I went to watch him play. To say I was underwhelmed would be accurate. I didn't get it. He's 6'7" with average offensive skills and no chance of becoming a perimeter player. What was he ever going to be able contribute to the program at Florida?
That's what I came away thinking. There's a reason Billy Donovan is going to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame and I'm just some schlub writing this post in my bedroom (Not my parent's basement…it's Florida, we don't have basements). He saw what I, and most others, could not. That Will Yegeute is the quintessential "glue guy". He does all the little things and his impact on the game is far greater than anything that will ever show up on a stat sheet. By the time he was a sophomore, Yeguete was a major contributor and I'll go to my grave believing that Florida makes the 2012 Final Four had Yeguete been healthy during the NCAA Tournament that year (Florida blew a big late lead over Louisville in the Elite Eight. It's my belief that Yeguette would've made one or two plays to stem the tide of the Louisville comeback). Unfortunately, the theme of injury is one that would plague Yeguette for much of his career. He missed major chunks of time during his sophomore and junior years due to injury and even had knee surgery this past summer. Yeguette isn't the athlete he once was due to multiple knee procedures but he is finally healthy for the season's stretch run and he's still absolutely the heart and soul of the Florida Basketball program.

Four years ago, Scottie Wilbekin was a 17 year old backup point guard who should've still been a senior in high school. He enrolled at Florida as a 16 year old, fresh off his junior year of high school. The previous spring Florida's presumed backup point guard (Nimrod Tishman…no, really his name was Nimrod) left school during the offseason and Billy Donovan asked the already commmited Gainesville native to skip out on his senior year and come play for Florida. Wilbekin did and, frankly played very well for an impossibly young guy playing at the highest level of college basketball for a coach who is notoriously tough on his point guards.  Looking back, its remarkable what Wilbekin did that year.
However, what's more remarkable is the path he's taken since then. Not even the most optimistic of Gator fans could've predicted that the defense first, offensively challenged young point guard would become the SEC Player of the Year. Beyond that, few would've predicted that the seemingly straight laced kid who was coached by his father at the the local Christian school that his father founded would nearly be thrown off the team on two separate occasions only to fight his way back and become the undisputed leader of the nation's #1 team.

While Wilbekin's journey has received the most attention, the journey that each of Florida's seniors has taken to get to this point is remarkable in it's own right. These separate journeys all merged together at some point to form the core of a team that (regardless of the final result) will always be one of my all time favorite Gator teams, regardless of the sport. With that said, Florida needs to win today. The tale of this team, and these four seniors, doesn't end today. At least I hope it doesn't. Not in heartbreak and falling short. No, that's not the story they've been writing.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Fenomenal Filler

It's a Friday, there is basketball on tonight, and Spring might be arriving in the Nation's Capitol (maybe. kinda. sorta). What does all that mean? Absolutely nothing. But enjoy this peeps diorama of JaVale McGee's participation in the dunk contest many moons ago (man, people have too much free time):

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ms. Green Goes to Washington

[A guest post from the wife, AKA @BaconBaking. We hope you enjoy]

Yesterday Mr. Teej and I had the honor of playing chauffeur to my sister as she visited the White House to have a closed door meeting with Dr. Jill Biden to talk about her experience with the Affordable Care Act.

Backing up… As some of you know, my sister has lived with me since her junior year of high school. Over the last four years, sometimes she has been insured and sometimes she has not. In its most basic form, it’s important to have insurance for things like sports physicals and lady visits but especially when we both had bronchitis and I shared meds with her because she had no insurance. Or when she had four cavities because she was drinking too much pop. She does not drink pop anymore. My sister is athletic and literally played every single sport so learning on the fly that she did not have insurance in a given month during rugby season was especially troubling. Enrolling her on my plan was out because I never adopted her. Enrolling her on the high school and college plans did work, but only for “catastrophic events”. I’m not really sure how that is defined because salmonella, jammed fingers, prescriptions, and the aforementioned events listed above were apparently not catastrophic enough.

Finally this Fall a beacon of light emerged. The Affordable Care Act. Living in D.C. is crazy. It’s an understatement to say I don’t feel like I would have the opportunities in small town Washington state as I do here. I met a friend from grad school for lunch. As luck would have it, she was working to both educate folks about the Affordable Care Act and get more people signed up. By the end of the day, Shannon had applied for and was well on her way to having real, actual insurance that covers real, actual life events that happen to all of us.

I’m not going to say that it was seamless to sign her up. was working at the time. She was a late November/early December enrollee. Selecting the plan was really simple. They make it easy to compare the deductibles, and co-pays, and what is covered. The most difficult part of the process was making sure the company she chose did process her in time before her school insurance ran out. I worry a lot, but it was fine.

She’s had the insurance for three months now. It is literally half the cost of the school health care plan at her college, and is the same coverage I have at my cube job…so it covers regular doctor visits, and scripts, and anything else life throws her way.

My friend who I had lunch with said there might be a meeting at the White House to discuss people’s experiences getting signed up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act and asked if Shannon was interested. Shannon is an introvert. She does not like discussing her personal life, and prying information out of her requires more than a crowbar. She was not overwhelmed by this opportunity. She agreed, apprehensive to go. (She might kill us for including that photo of her in this post, but come on, that's a great pic)

Tuesday she found out the meeting she would be attending would have about 15 members of the LGBT community who had signed up for insurance and would be led by Dr. Jill Biden. She came home from college Tuesday night, nervous. We laid out her clothes. She asked if she could take shots before the meeting, which I said no to. The compromise was Thai lunch at Bangkok 54.

Teej and I picked her up at noon to go to lunch yesterday. (Yes, Teej eats Thai food.) She had what she wanted to say ready. She had a script that was $300 a month before insurance that is now only $10. Her monthly insurance costs have been cut in half. Her nerves were already getting to her and she could barely eat her drunken noodles. I made a point to play Katy Perry’s Roar “so you will always remember this moment and this song”. She was not amused.

Teej drove us into the city, taking Memorial Bridge, ensuring it was the most scenic route possible. Her hands were shaking in the front seat. We both told her we were proud of her. I literally walked her to the front gate of the White House and they took her name and in she went. I met a gentleman outside who had just waved goodbye to his husband. They had driven out from Detroit. His husband is 60 and has HIV and lost his health insurance and was insured again under the Affordable Care Act. His husband had been an outspoken advocate and attorney, so it was a natural fit from him to attend the meeting. I knew immediately my sister was in illustrious company.

When she came out of the meeting she was literally glowing and bursting with energy. She had gone in and everyone was mingling and talking about their careers as attorneys, and business people, and she was like “I’m in college”. They brought the group into the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing, where they all were supposed to run through their stories before the meeting, but Dr. Biden entered before they had a chance to even chat. Everyone jumped into their life stories centering around the need for health care insurance (a lot of different issues were shared, but to be respectful of all those that attended, not my place to tell their story). They had all driven or flown from everywhere around the country to attend this meeting. Shannon was by far the youngest person in the room, the only one in college, and she shared her story.

After the meeting, there were photo opps and Dr. Biden made a point of shaking my sister’s hand and hugging her and telling her good luck in college. My sister described her as gorgeous and so nice.

It was an amazing experience for Shannon, and one that The Teej and I were grateful we could be a part of. From nervous college kid at drop off to energized future advocate at pick up, I have to think this is an experience she will never forget (and I sense she will be an inspiration to others as well).

Thanks for letting me share.

[Teej’s one edit – I asked Shannon to sarcastically tell Jill Biden “congrats to your Delaware Blue Hens for ripping the heart  out of Tribe fans everywhere”. For some reason she chose not to go that route.]

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The 12 Days of Gheorghemas: Day 12

On the 12th Day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me . . .

Twelve Weeks Late On Appreciations
Eleven Months of Awesome
Nothing. Not a Single Thing.
Nine Gifts for Friends
Seven Books for Reading
Six cocktails
Five gooooals / things
Four legal mic drops
Three critters and an otter
Two names for naming
And a fat guy in a jer-sey

March the Twenty-Fifth

No one's hangin' stockin's up,
No one's bakin' pie,
No one's lookin' up to see
A new star in the sky.
No one's talkin' brotherhood,
No one's givin' gifts,
And no one loves a Christmas tree
On March the twenty-fifth.

--Shel Silverstein

I don't know if it'll make any change, but I figured it's time for me to start posting.

And, commence the letdown.

I suppose it can’t be as big a letdown as a Monday night in early March, so it’s as good a time as any to close out 2013 and move forward. Seems like we haven’t really gotten in gear here in 2014, and I take the blame for it. I could blame Dave for stealing my stuff on Day 8, or Dennis for posting nothing on Day 10, or the group for ensuring we were going to drift into ’14 even without my lag . . . but nope. This was my mental block.

The only bits I have of any value are a few music recommendations and some overdue thank-yous to yous guys, so here goes. My annual end-of-year “20 from 2013” CD (antiquated, not yet obsolete) is now feeling a tad stale, but there is still some good listening that a few of you may have yet to hear. Spotify list forthcoming.

Here goes:

Black Joe Lewis, “Come To My Party”
Cage The Elephant, “Come a Little Closer”

Most significant of my gratitude surrounds my wedding day over a year ago. Quite a few of you made the trek – through snow and ice (honestly, who gets married in January?) – to wish me well and drink like hell. Here’s to Three Sheets to the Wind, O’Sullivan’s bar, and all of you great friends who left me humbled and honored that day.

Arctic Monkeys, “I Want It All”
Neko Case, “Man”
Man Man, "Head On"

And to the best wedding gifts a man could ask for:

Squeaky/Zman. (Yes, it's signed.) Man.
Teej/Baconbaking (went quickly)
Dave and Buckles each (gift certificates also went quickly)

And the Marls… man man.

And others I have omitted. My sincere apologies.

Queens of the Stone Age, “I Sat By the Ocean”
Vance Joy, “Riptide”
Okkervil River, “Down Down The Deep River”

More good friend stuff . . . the 20th Annual Outer Banks Fishing Trip happened last August. I still can’t believe we have done something without fail for that long. We can’t even get through 12 days of Gheorghemas. It was spectacular, with most all of the mainstays going to great lengths to be there. Here’s to 20 more, God willing. Hell, here's to OBFT XXI, if that happens.

The Mowgli's, “San Francisco”
Non sequitur: My wife turns 40 this year, and for kicks, we’re headed to the Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park in August. Join us if you have the means. Which I don’t, but that’s not stopping me.

Trombone Shorty, “Shortyville”

Here’s to Rob. And this short post. This was my favorite tune of 2013. There are no words.

That about does it. This feels like Ween’s cover of “Piano Man” in Toronto ’96 (awesome but slightly NSFW at the end, which you must wait for), but less hilarious. This is house-cleaning and music. Have at it.

Rounding out the 20…

Dr. Dog, “Broken Heart”
Delta Rae, “If I Loved You [feat. Lindsey Buckingham]”
The Avett Brothers, “Another Is Waiting” (I know, I know, Rootsy)
Bear's Den, “Agape”
Dan Croll, “From Nowhere”
Portugal. The Man, “Modern Jesus”
Caitlin Rose, “Waitin'”
Jason Isbell, “Relatively Easy”
Ages and Ages, “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)”

Oh... and...
(My wife’s selection, not mine)...
Ylvis, “The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)”

Thanks to all, and to all a Happy 2014!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oderus Not Among Us

Sad news from the metal world, as GWAR frontman Dave Brockie, aka Oderus Urungus, was found dead in his Richmond home last night.

I'm not a huge metal fan, but I know well of GWAR's reputation for humor, fun, and doing things the way they wanted to do them. Judging from the comments from Brockie's colleagues, the metal world has lost a one-of-a-kind voice.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sunday Tourney Portland Peep Filler

Adios, Syracuse. Buh bye, Villanova. After a day filled with early blowout shitbaggery, the tournament once again delivered as the sun went down, though I sure could have done without the Cuse lose. Today promises a little bit of the same, methinks, with possible early wins for Kansas and Wichita State and the real fun hitting the hard wood later in the day (Tennessee/Mercer, anyone?). Anyhoo, enjoy today's themed-filler...

Clarence, now you can throw back a Fireball shot or two. It's brunch. Don't listen to Dave.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Homemade Music and Small Humans

Technology.  Pretty cool in lots of ways we've documented in this space before.  And many more.

Family bands. Used to be .0001% chance of stardom, 50% chance of playing in your local church, 90% of an abusive parent ruining everything and sending the kids spiraling into therapy.

These days, it's much easier.  You've seen some or all of these, but they make me smile.  And yes, I've lost my edge.

Adorable.  Shown here before. Sue me.


...most amazing

...and something from your favorite GTBer's family

Make music, people.  It's easy.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lather, Rinse, Repeep

It never disappoints, does it? Sure, individual games let us down. We're looking at you, Colorado. Sometimes the results don't go our way. So close, St. Joe's. And once in a blue (hen) moon, we're left wondering what might have been. Nice defense, Delaware. (Classy move, too, by Monte Ross, complaining about facing Michigan State as a four seed.)

But the first two days, they never let us down. I just watched Saint Louis come back from 16 down to tie North Carolina State. Or, more accurately, I just watched North Carolina State author one of the more amazing choke jobs I can remember. My heart rate is elevated, and I don't give a flying fuck who wins this game.

Sports are cool.

Muppet Peeps, as well. Enjoy Day Two.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Two Great Fillers That Fill Great Together

The NCAA Tournament kicks off in earnest today (sorry, teams that played the last two nights in Dayton, including the Great Danes of Sm-Albany) ... so we figured we needed an open thread post, for both pithy comments and bracket predictions. And since two of GTB's most popular filler items over the years have been Muppets and Peeps, I figured, why not google those two terms and see what transpires...

The internet, well, it rarely disappoints. I present to you the first GTB Mupeepet filler post:

See you all in the comments.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

One Beeeellion Dollars

Much has been made of Berkshire Hathaway's underwriting of Quicken Loans' $1 Billion NCAA Tournament contest. In terms of advertising, it's been a little bit of genius. Frankly, the only downside from Quicken's perspective is probably the fact that Warren Buffet's received more publicity than anyone involved in the scheme. That the Oracle of Omaha got paid several million dollars to underwrite an insurance policy for something that's simply not going to happen while also reaping substantial goodwill and publicity is yet more proof of the man's gift for wealth creation.

Like most (if not all) of you, I've entered the bracket. And like my occasional attempts to play the lottery, I'm well aware that I won't win. As I've said before, the entertainment value inherent in thinking about what I'd do with lottery winnings makes the $5 investment well worth it. In the case of the Billion Dollar Bracket, it doesn't even cost anything. Why wouldn't I give it a (long, long, long) shot?

No, I'm not going to win. Neither are you. But I'm intrigued by a thought experiment that the Quicken/Yahoo bracket contest has provoked. I first saw it on Andy Glockner's Twitter feed (@andyglockner), but it's seen broad play since. As Glockner contemplated it:

As the mathematically inclined in our midst would tell us, a 60% chance at the $1B yields an expected value of $600 million. Rationally,  we know that $600m > $25m, which suggests that we should choose to roll the dice.

I'm here to tell you that 90% of Americans would take the bird in hand. I'm one of them. $25 million is life-changing, I'm-never-working-another-day-at-something-I-don't-love, set-my-family-up-for-generations money. (Even if it's actually only $13 million post-tax, you could put blow $3m on hookers and booze and still sock $10m away to earn $500k a year in interest with relative ease.) Different people obviously have different thresholds - I've got simple tastes, as you know.

Choosing to take the risk on on the big payday (even assuming a $1m consolation prize) yields a 40% chance of spending the rest of your life wondering what might have been. The psychological impact of that seems a heavy burden. But so does the regret that would follow if your team won the final game, which would mean you essentially made a $575m mistake.

I guess for me, at some point, enough is enough. Call it a $575m stress-reduction premium. And give me my money.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Do Better, Jelly Belly

Beer-flavored jelly beans would seem to a match made in heaven, or at least in a pretty cool place. Beer is great. Jelly beans are awesome. Together, magic.

The confectionery wizards at Jelly Belly thought so, too, with some prompting from their customers. Ambrose Lee, the company's head flavor scientist (Don't think too hard about that title. Too late? My bad.) told Fast Company, ""We go to over 500 events a year; at literally every one, someone asks us for a beer jelly bean. With the craft beer scene exploding, the timing finally seemed right."

And so Jelly Belly set out to create a beer-flavored bean, experimenting with beer styles, flavor compounds, and ingredients to develop a perfect match.

Their perfect match, as it turns out, is perfectly disappointing.

Presented with hundreds, if not thousands of styles of beer from which to choose (chocolatey stouts, grapefruity California IPAs, caramel-redolent porters, smoky, bacon-tinged rauchbiers, etc.), Jelly Belly completely whiffed.

Hefeweizen. They developed a hefeweizen-flavored jelly bean. A flavor so disgusting it needs an orange or a lemon to make it barely tolerable.

I think I'd rather eat one of Bertie Bott's earthworm-flavored beans.

They look beautiful, though.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day; Happy St. Paddy's Day, Not Happy St. Patty's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day All! 

Things to know today:
1) Patrick was born in the U.K. - not Ireland.
2) There weren't any snakes in Ireland.
3) Costello is not Italian. 

Carry on.


Friday, March 14, 2014

zman Bouillabaise

This is the first in what will likely be a series of one post about a few random things in bite-sized format. I've been meaning to write these up as individual posts but haven't been able to because:

1. I fucked up my writing hand, that's my check.

I wrote about my wrist injury previously and TR suggested I post some post-surgery photos. Here's the final layer of bandages covering my bloody gash. TR's reaction: "Ew, hairy arms."

And here's the gash itself without stitches. The puckering is especially choice. So I have a puckered gash.

Finally, here's the screw that went into my gash.

The Ghostface reference to my fucked up writing hand brings me to:

2. Ghostface doesn't pay his legal bills.

It's been a while since I updated you on Ghostface's copyright issues. It doesn't seem like much happened substantively, probably because Ghostdini doesn't pay his legal bills. His lawyer (he of the AOL email address) moved to withdraw from representing Pretty Tone because The Kid hasn't paid for any of the work done to date. The judge complied so the Wallabee Champ doesn't have representation at the moment, at least not that I know of. 10-4 good buddy Tone got his RFP's up!

Speaking of rap-related legal disputes ...

3. Judge Englemayer plays his trill card, dismisses Z-Trip from Beastie Boys v. Monster Energy.

Judge Englemayer must've read a bunch of old GTB comments because he quoted me ... quoting the Beastie Boys. And he did so while granting Z-Trip's motion for summary judgment in the complaint brought against him by Monster Energy. His Honor concluded that "[i]n musical terms, Z-Trip can now, therefore, rest at least 'as cool as a cucumber in a bowl of hot sauce,' because Monster's Third-Part Complaint against him has 'got the rhyme and reason but no cause.' Beastie Boys, So Watcha Want (Capitol Records 1992)."

On the subject of trill and law enforcement ...

4. True Detective ended like that?

All that metaphysical psychedelic mumbo-jumbo ended like that? For real dough?!? That's not at all what I expected.

But you know what I did expect ...

5. Tribe hoops breaks your heart again.

You shouldn't let it. Yes, I have a somewhat irrational disdain for all things W&M, but there's something cool about never making the NCAA tournament. First and foremost W&M is an academic school whose athletes are students first and foremost. No one in the history of sports has attended W&M in order to boost their likelihood of becoming a pro athlete. W&M's inability to win a conference championship highlights its academic focus. And as soon as they make the tournament once they're in the same company as Houston Baptist and Prairie View. If Charlie Brown ever kicked the football he'd just be a baldheaded kid who never changes his shirt. Marls jokes aside, no one wants to be that guy?

And while we're talking Tribe,

6. I finally saw the Tribe Called Quest documentary.

It's fantastic, a must-see if you love Tribe, Native Tongues, 90's NY hiphop,or if you ever suffered through the experience of living with me. If none of the foregoing apply to you, the first half of the movie will establish why I've been continuously pumping their music for over 20 years.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

GTB Recipe of the Month(ish)

The wounds of the week aren't entirely salved, but we're getting better. Since I'm running a marathon on Sunday and I can't drink heavily, I've been thinking a lot about food. Specifically, what food I'm going to demolish once I can eat without regard to glycogen storage, race nutrition, and fear of bonking. And in thinking about food, I naturally thought about a new recurring feature that may or may not recur.

Here, courtesy of @baconbaking, is the very first GTB Recipe of the Month:

Beer Bread

1 cheap beer--Miller, Coors, Budweiser--Light version totally ok.
3 cups self-rising flour--this if flour that already has baking powder and salt in it. You can use regular flour and add them in.
2 T sugar

You'll want to bring the beer to room temperature. Just leave it on the counter for an hour. You can take it straight from the fridge if you're in a hurry. It will rise higher if the beer is at room temp.

Preheat oven to 375.
Melt 1 to 1/2 stick of butter. Depending on your heart.
Grease 9x5 bread pan with some of the butter.
Mix beer, flour, and sugar in bowl.
Dump in pan.
Top the dough with the remaining butter. It will look crazy like your dough is swimming in butter. Trust me here.
Sprinkle with salt.
Bake for 50 - 60 minutes.

Try not to eat entire loaf of bread in one sitting. Beer bread is really tasty the next day toasted topped with jelly, jam, honey or peanut butter.

This is not the place for craft beer. You can use craft, but it will taste completely different. You can mix it up and add a porter and chocolate chips or a blue moon and add in orange zest or even a pumpkin beer and sprinkle with cinnamon, but I'm a purist and like the original the best. Its super impressive to make the bread for folks and it's so simple you can make it for mid-week dinner.

We eagerly await your foodporn pics from your own efforts to make this. Let us know how it goes, and send any GTB ROM submissions to

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Hey Tribe Fans: You Will Always Be a Loser (And That's Okay)

As many of you around these parts know, Tribe hoops has been an afterthought for me. The program has been consistently mediocre for the twenty-plus years I've been paying attention to it. While I enjoy the Tribe fandom exuded here, it's never been anything more than amusing. I enjoy my friends' ridiculous (some call it futile) hobby because it's not harmful and it makes them happy.

With that said, I found myself more emotionally invested in last night's game than I would've expected.  I couldn't start watching until 10: 15 PM because I had to attend a coaching seminar to be an assistant coach for my six year-old's little league team.  So I was able to chug through in a little over an hour. As the second half progressed, I felt despair as we fell behind by twelve, then pride as we retook the lead.  I was already envisioning the social equity I would have at the water cooler on Tuesday, talking up the program as the media spotlight fell on us for one shining least another 10-11 days.

But then the bottom fell out, and we once again became acquainted with the bitter taste of failure.  I share comments by our friend Sammy that we lost this game as much as Delaware won it.  But dissecting the loss much further doesn't do any of us any good.  It's important to remember that maybe the Tribe will always be a loser.  And that's okay. Because it defines who we are in a vague way.

I was in the car a lot today, driving an hour each way to Connecticut for meetings. I've been listening to a lot of Titus Andronicus these days, in my typical way of slowly getting into bands 3-5 years after most other people do.  There is an earnest, honest vibe to these guys, and their hardcore Jersey heritage make the music that much more anthemic to me.  My favorite TA tune came on today, and I listened to it. Loudly. More than once. And it strangely resonated to me as a Tribe fan, as I hope it will with you all.

This song (like many others) is best played LOUDLY while drunk. But perhaps many of you will enjoy it on your PC's speakers today while owning the Tribe's failure and acknowledging that the legacy of failure may be embedded in your DNA. And that you may be a better person for it.

Enjoy this anthem about holding your head up despite having thrown everything away. Lyrics are below, and video is below that. The story behind the video is an interesting one (read it here) that got some hipster media buzz a few years ago. The last two minutes of the tune are the best part. Bonus points for anybody (besides Zman) who connects the dots on the song and one of our labels.

Titus Andronicus: No Future Part III: Escape From No Future

Everything makes me nervous and nothing feels good for no reason
Waking up its really worth it the same dark dread every morning
Senior year, here in Mahwah a new world just around the corner
Leave me behind let me stagnate in a fortress of solitude
Smoking's been okay so far but I need something that works faster
So all I want for Christmas is no feelings no feelings now and never again
There is a face playing all round and red that stretches across my mouth
All for protection nobody gets in and nobody gets out
I used to look myself in the mirror at the end of everyday
But I took the one thing that made me beautiful and threw it away
I was a river I was a tall tree I was a volcano
And now I'm asleep on top of a mountain amidst the burning snow
As I surrendered what made me human and what I thought was true
And now there's a robot that lives in my brain he tells me what to do
I can't do nothing without his permission that wasn't part of the plan
So now at Rock Ridge Pharmacy I will be waiting for my man
But there is another down in the dungeon who never gave up the fight
And he'll be forever screaming sometimes I hear him say on a quiet night
He says
You will always be a loser now
You will always be a loser
You will always be a loser and that's okay


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

#1bid4wmtribe Perspective

Marcus Thornton elevated with the ball in his hands and a chance to send William & Mary to the NCAA Tournament.

If you give any one of us that scenario before the season starts, we take it without hesitation. In fact, we'd take it with giddy enthusiasm.

He rose from the right wing, taking a shot he makes with regularity, a shot he'd basically just drilled two minutes prior, not an easy shot, but one less difficult than the one he made to beat Drexel.

He said if felt good coming out of his hand. His coach said it looked good in the air.

It was thismuch too long, bounding off the back rim and away.

Sports, man, they'll gut you.

In the pain and disbelief of that last moment, it was easy to forget that this team fought back from a 12-point second-half deficit against the league's clear regular-season champion. That they earned a champions victory over Towson in one of the greatest semifinals in league history. That they came back from the brink in the quarterfinal against Charleston.

It was easy to forget Omar Prewitt driving for a layup that all of a sudden became a one-handed throwdown that sparked the second-half comeback. Easy to forget Tim Rusthoven's 8-for-10, 16-point performance, and Daniel Dixon's stellar defensive effort. Easy to forget the brilliant Thornton's efficient 22-point effort, and Terry Tarpey's gritty work on the boards.

Perspective, in the moment, was hard to come by.

Much will be made of the Tribe's 3-for-11 performance from the free throw line, and much probably should be made of that number. And W&M's inability to stop Delaware's mammoth Carl Baptiste inside was probably the single most important factor in the game. But the Tribe shot 52.5% from the field (to the Blue Hens' 43.5%), and they outrebounded Delaware, 36-34. The Hens' explosive guard trio of Davon Usher, Devon Saddler, and Jarvis Threat combined for 42 points, but they missed 21 of 36 shots, and the defense of Brandon Britt, Dixon, Thornton, and Tarpey held the three well below their overall scoring average.

It says something to me that we're so disappointed, and that the team seemed to feel the same way. None of us were just happy to be there like we were in 2008 and 2010. We thought we should win. The Tribe went toe to toe with the league's two best teams over the past two nights, and they found themselves equal to the task.

Or perhaps, a quarter of an inch less than equal.

There's another place in which a little perspective might be in order. We've placed so much emphasis on the bid, that we've forgotten how far this program has come. As we walked out of the Baltimore Arena last night, Delaware celebrating on the court, we passed John Leone, a member of the Tribe teams that went 9-45 my first two years in Williamsburg. I made eye contact, and shook my head. He looked stricken, just gutted by the moment.

But W&M has made three finals in seven years after a recent history devoid even of hope. We're brutally disappointed today, but there will be a tomorrow. As Tony Shaver said last night, "The thing I get angry about is people trying to define whether or not you made the NCAA Tournament as whether you had a good year. If our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament, we can move into a conference that has the same academic restrictions we have. We choose to play at a higher level. I think that's admirable to be honest. We're not going to let the NCAA Tournament define our team." (We're grateful to Defiantly Dutch for finding us that quote.)

In 2003, the New York Yankees came from behind to beat the Boston Red Sox in Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on an Aaron Boone walkoff homerun. That's the worst I ever felt after a sporting event. Second worst, I guess. But one year later, that pain was long forgotten.

Shaver closed his press conference with something I hope I'll being to feel better about soon, saying, "We had a great year, and the future is very bright."

It's a simple game.

So why does it hurt so much?

Monday, March 10, 2014

#1bid4wmtribe, Day 3: Movin' Right Along

For the third time in seven years, our Wrens stand one step away from W&M's first-ever NCAA Tourney bid. And once again, the step is a big one.

The Tribe takes on CAA regular season champion Delaware in tonight's conference final. The Hens are explosive, athletic, and very talented. Tony Shaver called them the best offensive team he's seen in his tenure at William and Mary. They've got a pair of first-team All-CAA guards in Devon Saddler and Davon Usher, and three other players who average more than 10 points per game. Delaware beat the Tribe in both of the teams' meetings this season, including an emphatic 89-72 decision in Williamsburg at the end of January.

To paraphrase Shaver's comments regarding Towson, Delaware is a very good team. But so are we. I look forward to the opportunity.

Today, the Tribe did what we said they needed to do. They made shots. W&M connected on 55.1% of its shots, 50% from the three-point line. After allowing Towson to creep out to a 6-point lead towards the end of the first half, first Julian Boatner and then Marcus Thornton hit three-pointers. W&M was on the precipice, and those two jumpers were a big part of the reason the Tribe went into the break dead even with the Tigers. And they never trailed in a seriously entertaining second half. Thornton was superb, as was Brandon Britt, but Kyle Gaillard and Terry Tarpey were terrific in defending two-time CAA Player of the Year Jerelle Benimon, and after getting smoked on the boards in the first half, the Tribe held their own in the second.

We've said the same thing all tournament about the most important factor for W&M, and no less of an expert than Shaver  agrees. In the postgame presser (video above), he offered his take on the key to tonight's matchup. "We have to make shots", said the Tribe head man. Delaware is so good offensively, that Shaver doesn't expect his team to slow the Hens down. Instead, they'll have to outscore the top seed.

But Shaver likes his team. After the win, he was visibly moved by the Tribe's performance, and spoke about their toughness and effort. He also said this, in response to a question about W&M's NCAA Tournament drought, "(Never going to the tournament) isn't this team's burden. They haven't been playing for 200 years". We're going to be nervous as all hell tonight, but something tells me that the kids in green and gold won't be.

It's a simple game. God willing and the shots are falling, we'll be movin' right along tomorrow night to a destination we've never visited.


Sunday, March 09, 2014

#1bid4wmtribe, Day 2

Quick and dirty preview of this afternoon's CAA semifinal between our guys and Towson. The Tigers swept the Tribe during the regular season, blowing open a close game late to win, 85-70, in Williamsburg and hitting a buzzer-beater to drop W&M, 70-68, in the season finale last weekend in Baltimore. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Towson is bigger, stronger, and a bit more athletic, while the Tribe has more offensive talent and depth.

Brandon Britt was excited.
Tough matchup for W&M, as we've discussed before, but if they make shots (alert: this is not news), they've got a chance.

I was really impressed the Tribe's resolve last night. After Tony Shaver called for The Greatest Time Out in Coaching History 51 seconds into the second half, the Wrens boatraced Charleston, 42-17. They were inexorable, shooting (there it is again) 56% from the floor and actually outrebounding the Cougars after the break. Omar Prewitt only made one shot, but it was huge, as he banked in a three-pointer late in the shot clock to give W&M a 61-57 and stop a 4-0 Charleston mini-run. Terry Tarpey was huge on the glass, finishing with 8 boards. Brandon Britt and Marcus Thornton each scored 16 points to pace the winners, as part of a total team effort.

Prewitt's fellow frosh, Daniel Dixon, played 21 critical minutes, making a pair of tough triples and providing significant defensive energy as the Tribe held Charleston to 25.8% shooting (and 0-10 from deep) in the second half. Dixon's athleticism on both ends may well play a big role. He played a total of 21 minutes in W&M's two losses to Towson. I bet we see more of him today.

Simple game, friends. Make some shots.


Also, Muppets, as 'Movin' Right Along' seems a good theme for a basketball team in a tournament:

Saturday, March 08, 2014

#1bid4wmtribe roadie

The tiny dictator is picking me up around 2 for our trek to Baltimore and the CAA Tournament. Tribe game tips at 8:30. Remember, kids, your hashtag of the day (next three days, god and griffin willing), is #1bid4wmtribe

Bonus footage of what the car ride will likely resemble:


Friday, March 07, 2014

This Week in Wrenball: Marbles, All of Them

"It's a simple game. You pass the ball. You shoot the ball. You rebound the ball. Sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose. Sometimes, it rains. And even then, you still play, because you're in a gym."

Tomorrow, third-seeded William & Mary (18-11, 10-6 in the CAA) takes on sixth-seeded College of Charleston (14-17, 6-10) in the first round of the 2014 CAA Basketball Tournament. If you're looking for a prediction, you've probably come to the wrong spot. In the first place, we're not really known for the "accuracy" of our "prognostication". And more importantly, this game is a complete crapshoot, dependent almost entirely on one thing:

How well will William & Mary shoot the ball?

The Tribe enters the game boasting the CAA's best offense by most statistical measures. Though Delaware scores more points per game, the Hens' up-tempo offense generates far more opportunities. W&M paces the league in points-per-possession, field goal percentage, three-point field-goal percentage, effective field-goal percentage, true shooting percentage, assists, and number of made three-pointers per game. (All stats from the terrific Basketball State, a place where one could get lost for a few hours, were one so inclined, and undisciplined enough.)

On the other side of the ball, W&M doesn't rebound (last in the CAA in Reb%) nor defend (worst defensive points-per-possession in the league) particularly well.

Meanwhile, Charleston is the CAA's best defensive team, and second in the league in Reb%. The Cougars are also reasonably awful on offense, near the bottom of the conference in most measures. The two teams are funhouse mirror images.

In the first meeting between the two teams this season, W&M rode a sizzling second-half shooting performance to a 74-63 home win. The Tribe shot 55.1% from the floor, and 53.8% from long-distance to overcome a nine-point halftime deficit.

The second game was more slaughterhouse than funhouse. The Tribe shot 37.3% from the floor (2-16 from deep), got outrebounded, 36-18, and let the Cougars (who, as we know, are for shit on offense) hit on 64.2% of their shots (80%(!) in the second half, when C of C scored 51 points). Charleston won, 87-54, in what turned out to be the most lopsided result in CAA play this season.

And so I submit to you once again, this game comes down to W&M's ability to put the biscuit in the basket. I have no way to know how to predict that variable.

Canyon's Small for a D-1 Player
I know that Marcus Thornton's ankle injury is healed, which is a relief for Tribe fans who've watched the superstar guard with some anxiety over final six games of the season. Immediately after this blog lauded him, Thornton played five of his worst games of the season. (The Curse of G:TB!) But I also know that Charleston's Canyon Barry (son of that Barry, and what's more, his mother, Lynn Norenberg Barry, is the only female W&M basketball player to have her number retired) is at full strength, and he dropped 27 on Delaware in the season finale after scoring 17 against the Tribe. (He also shoots his free throws the same way as his father did, which is pretty cool - though he only makes 73.7% of them.)

Both teams are reasonably balanced - Charleston has seven players that average between 6.9 and 12.2 points per game, while four Wrens post double-figure points.

Charleston's a little bit loose with the ball, turning it over 25% more often than their opponents, but W&M's not the kind of team that creates a lot of pressure. At the same time, the Tribe won't likely beat themselves with mistakes - they average a reasonably low 10.4 turnovers/game.

So it comes down to this. If the Tribe makes a high percentage of their shots, they'll win. We've mentioned that, right?

We won't spend any time on the elephant over there in the corner wearing the NCAA Tournament banner. W&M's the third seed, winners of 18 games, with as much offensive talent as any team in the CAA. In a league where fully half of all regular-season games were decided by seven points or fewer, there isn't a team in the bunch that couldn't get hot enough to win three in a row. (Hofstra and UNCW ain't winning four in a row, but still.)

It's a simple game.