Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Mark and Danimal Pickarama Returns

Those first few Saturdays in February are hard, sobering. Reality sets in. It starts in early January when the bowl games docket thins. The long-term forecast?  Really Dark. Depressing. You yearn for that FBS game cuz it’s gonna be a good one, yet you don’t want it to arrive because of the inevitable. It’s probably exactly like the walk to the chamber, but way different, ya know, with not as much finality or the death thing. You hear me though. You know what I’m sayin. With that one final whistle goes your hope and dreams, your Saturday mornings filled with giddiness and afternoons of burrrbins. What are those replaced with? Dread motherfuckers, that’s what. So unfair. EIGHT (8) MONTHS is the length of the college football off-season.  Technically it’s a hair under 8 months, but we are still talking about days that number well into the 200’s. Twoooooo……………hundreds.

Well it has finally returned and it will be welcomed indeed. And best of all, it brings with it locked at the elbows the weekly football picks by Bad News Hughes and yours, Danimal. We weren’t going to let you down. You had faith in us, right? Many of you likely thought otherwise with so many unanswered letters and autograph requests during our little respite. Apologies, but we are pretty busy guys. Lots of stuff going on up in here. Well, you can simmer your asses down now. Grab a seat and relax. Systems are a go.

The inaugural season of “Mark & Dan’s College Football Picks,” (catchy name) finished with a Mark dubwa. By week 5 and down 6 games it was going to be a grind, but very doable. The headwind couldn’t contain me forever though, could it? Ultimately, yes, it could, and it did. Some old fashioned grinding however got me within one game about halfway through the bowl schedule before the Hughester shut me down permanently. Effer.  Well, another season begins….now.   And p.s., if you’ve never read Wright Thompson’s piece on CFB, get after it.

Danimal’s Picks

Penn State +2 vs Central Florida (Dooblin, Ireland!)
Like my other picks, I don’t know much about these teams. Here is what I do know:
1) CFU is without 2 of its studs from last year, Storm Johnson and Blake Bortles. How do I know that? Because they play for my Jags now stupid! Not too late to jump on the Bortles bus! Come on over to Jaguar Town!
2) It’s in Ireland.
3) George O’LEARY coaches CFU. He’s Irish – his last name could be Pewterschmidt but you’d still know he’s Irish just by looking at him. The map of Ireland is drawn on his face for the love of Pete. At tis writing, it’s dinnertime over in the motherland and George, sources tell me, is knee deep into da corned beef and a bottle of Paddy’s. He’s pissed drunk and enjoyin da craic! As he should be for chrissakes! He’ll finish his session at half midnight and get up with a bit of da pressure and as a result make a poor decision or two and lose the match!
Penn State wins by tree!

These dudes are the f'ing worst.
UCLA -21 vs YOU! VEE! Meh.
12:00 PM EST
The Bruins travel east to take on a team from Charlottesville that spent all year getting made fun of after an abysmal showing in 2013. What’d they win, like, two games last year? They blew. Mike London – how’s that swamp ass treating you from the heat on your seat? UCLA can’t possibly travel east and play a game at a time they are normally kicking tan-legged blondes out of their bed and cover a 21 point spread can they? And UVa is supposed to be a much improved team this year with lots and lots of returning players. So what’s that mean? 6-6? 7-5? UCLA is a Top-10 team with not one but possibly 2 Heisman candidates on the squad, one on either side of the ball. You UVa boys better place a kerchief in those blazer pockets.
Bruins Ruin!

Rice +21 vs ND
3:30 pm
Ha ha ha!  Just kidding! New Rule: No betting on ND in 2014 under ANY circumstances.

FSU -17.5 vs Oklahoma State (Arlington, TX)
I made the mistake of betting against the ‘Noles last year a couple of times due to the many a points they were always giving. Not this year pal. Do I think they’re going to be as good this year? Yes, yes I do. Who doesn’t? I’m just going by what every pundit out there is saying, that they will be as good and maybe even better than last year.  Despite that, I REALLY believe they will falter at some point and hopefully against the cheating Irish. But they won’t falter this week toughy. No siree.  Though Gundy is even more so of  “a man!” …he’s got a little less spring in his step and more webs in the old noggin.


Since Danimal did all the heavy lifting and crafted a nice little intro to welcome he and I back this year I'll keep it simple and say that I too am overjoyed at the return of College Football. My Saturdays once again have meaning. Well, a meaning besides yard work and home improvement followed by thinking of an excuse to go have a few beers by myself at the bar late in the afternoon. Don't judge me. There's nothing but women/girls in my house. A man needs a break. Said man may have a bit of a drinking problem as well but we're not here to discuss that. We're here to pick winners.

UCLA (-21) @ Virginia- UCLA is this year's trendy pick to make the College Football's Final Four. For that reason alone I see them slipping up at least once and maybe twice this season. That will happen during their run in the PAC-12 though, certainly not in Charlottesville against Mike London's bunch (he's, somehow, still the coach their, right?). Virginia's best offensive player, Jake McGee, is now starting at TE for Florida (he should be a significant upgrade over either of the two converted DE's who started for Florida last year...) and Virginia hasnt exactly been bringing a load of 4 and 5 star skill position players over the past few years. UCLA can score in bunches. Brett Hundley might be the best NFL QB prospect in College Football and two-way wonderbeast Myles Jack is poised for a monster season after breaking out midway through his freshman season last year. Three TDs is a bunch of points to give up. Less so when you're giving it up to an ACC team that sucks out loud. UCLA.

Arkansas @ Auburn (-19.5)- Once again, I'm giving up a bunch of points. Once again, I don't GIVEAFUCK (Smokey Voice). Bret Bielema's first year in Fayetteville was a disaster and while he's starting to recruit well he can't make up for the lack of talent left to him by Bobby Petrino. Petrino is a hell of a coach but he's a dick with a bad reputation. Not a great recipe for competing with the rest of the SEC West in recruiting. Arkansas, quite simply, doesn't have the horses to run with Auburn. The Tigers are now in Year 2 of running Gus Malzahn's system and should be even more explosive than they were the second half of last year. Nick Marshall's weed arrest means he won't start the home opener but he'll play plenty. Writers who've been down on the Plains to see Auburn practice say they might be the most athletic team in the SEC. Auburn is going to score early and often. I'd advise you to bet the first half line for Auburn and this line. There's no rule against making too much money.  War Eagle.

Utah State (+5.5) at Tennessee- After the disastrous Derek Dooley Era (read some of the quotes on Dooley from former Vols), Tennessee showed some legitimate signs of life last year. Losing to Georgia at home by a FG and then knocking off South Carolina a couple weeks later. Butch Jones followed that up by bringing in a top 10 recruiting class to Knoxville. The Volunteers, much to my chagrin, are on the rise. There's one (actually two) big problem though. Tennessee is the only FBS school replacing every starter on it's Offensive AND Defensive lines this season. That's, um, bad. Meanwhile, Utah State gets the one man show known as Chuckie Keeton back after tearing and ACL last season. If you're not familiar with Mr. Keeton's work, take a few minutes.

I think there's a shot that Utah State wins outright in Knoxville tomorrow night and few things would make me happier. That doesn't matter for these purposes though. Vegas is giving us 5.5 points, so take them and root for the Fighting Chuckie Keetons.

Sweet Jeebus it's nice to have football back.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Day We've All Been Waiting For Might Never Happen

When I first started writing about Jack Urbont's lawsuit against Sony Music and Ghostface Killah, I said:
The best part of this case is yet to come: discovery. I salivate at the thought of getting to review Ghostface Killah's emails over the past 11+ years. And can you imagine what his deposition will be like? I envision a transcript peppered with "C'mon son," "Nah mean," and "Word is bond God."
Unfortunately, the "best part" may never happen. Mr. Urbont recently filed a motion for sanctions against Pretty Tone for completely blowing off all of his discovery obligations, including several emails attached as exhibits. It's a bit of a hoot (although they thankfully refer to Ghostface as "Coles").

The firm representing Mr. Urbont sent an associate named Andrew Coffman to take Ghost's deposition. Mr. Coffman has an impressive resume and he looks like a nice enough guy.

He does not, however, look like the type of guy who regularly spends 7 hours locked in a conference room with this guy:

Note that we have photographic evidence that GFK still uses a Blackberry; maybe he and Mr. Coffman have that in common. Anyway, Mr. Coffman flew up to NYC from Nashville and he showed up for the deposition. So did counsel for Sony. As did the court reporter and presumably the videographer. The only person who failed to make it? Ghostdini! They even recorded the world's shortest transcript to document his absence.

So they rescheduled the deposition about two-and-a-half months later. It was moved again to accommodate The Kid, only about five days but the back-and-forth between Mr. Coffman and the Wallabee Champ's manager Mike Caruso is fantastic. Mr. Caruso proudly rocks an AOL email handle and gives no fucks at all about grammar and spelling. He clearly doesn't understand what a deposition is or how it works because at one point he asked Mr. Coffman "and as far as the deposition can you take it from Dennis late today?" No, Mr. Coffman can't do it late today because (a) he's in Nashville, (b) the deposition is noticed for NYC, (c) he has to line up a court reporter and videographer, (d) he has to line up a conference room to hold the event, (e) he has to get all his exhibits there, and (f) he's entitled to 7 hours on the record, which doesn't include breaks, so if you start "late" you'll be there until midnight. And more importantly ... Dennis? Really? C'mon son.

Anyway, they eventually agreed to hold the deposition on June 24. On the night of June 23, Mr. Coffman, Mr. Caruso, and Ironman himself had a conference call where Toney Starks explained that he was in LA and would not be able to make his deposition the next morning. He essentially asked for a do over.

Since then, the parties haven't been able to schedule the deposition. And GFK still hasn't produced a single document.

Mr. Urbont is accordingly ripshit. He wants a default judgment and he wants to be comped for all the money he outlaid for these depositions that never happened. And he might get it given that the judge already threatened to sanction Cocaine Biceps if he didn't comply with his discovery obligations.

The biggest loser in all of this? Obviously, Mr. Coffman. Even if he had no idea who Ghostface Killah was before this case, a few minutes spent working the googles would make it plainly apparent that this deposition was the opportunity of a young barrister's lifetime. A few well-placed questions with Ghostfacian answers could land him on the homepages of Law360, WorldstarHipHop, Grantland, hell maybe even Gheorghe: The Blog! Unfortunately, it looks like it will never happen.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Something to Hear and See

The wizards of Gheorghe: The Blog have spent too much time cluttering Inboxes with e-mails and not enough time commenting, so here's what we've been talking about -- just so you know it wasn't important and it's not about you.

You can guess who is Les Coole.  Tune in not only to listen but to watch.  And feel free to make suggestions in the comments -- we have a playlist but it's not set in stone!


Pastor Rob and the Church of Pigskin

I snuck out to Loudoun County this morning to catch Pastor Rob's morning services.  The man/squirrel gives a hell of a sermon....

Our long national nightmare is over my friends.  It's morning in America.  It's the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  Tonight at 6 PM the Johnny Football-less Aggies of Texas A&M take on the slackjawed ol' ballcoach led South Carolina Gamecocks.  "Who is going to win?" you ask.  Got me.  All I know is that we have honest to God real football back.  So put on your "Gig 'em Aggies" t-shirt or your mid-90's "COCKS" hat and let the good times wash over you.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This would be funny if it wasn't an accurate representation of a significant portion of my life

Sometimes technology yields remarkably amazing and useful things like a vacuum-powered fish cannon or one-handed zippers or Large Hadron Colliders. Conference calls are not one of these things. They are, in fact, the bane of my existence. That's why this video makes me laugh and cry in 30 second alternating intervals.

Monday, August 25, 2014

My Kingdom for a Man-Sized Fish Cannon

Alternate headline: Why Should Fruit and Salmon Have All the Fun?

For far too long, only fruit knew the joy of being placed into a flexible pneumatic tube and sucked gently, though rapidly over vast distances before landing comfortably. Today, thanks to the engineers at Whooshh, salmon and other fish are getting in on the action.

In many places in the world, human demand for electricity and predictable water supply have led to the creation of dams that have the unfortunate side effect of interfering with the migratory spawning habits of various species of fish. Though salmon, for example, can leap over barriers as high as 12 feet tall, that's often not enough.

Enter Whooshh, and their vacuum tube. Wildlife stewards, fisheries managers, and those lucky civilians with a need to shoot fish as far as 200 meters now have the mean. Fish are loaded into the safe, soft tube at one end, then propelled at 22 mph to their destination. Screaming their fishy heads off, rollercoaster-style, the entire way, I assume. (Like the little girl, not her dad.)

Here at G:TB, we're constantly seeking innovation, to repurpose the mundane in search of the sublime. Just last week, for example, we identified a way for humans to grow new appendages. (Has the engineering team completed that prototype yet? Who's in charge of the engineering team? Someone send a memo to someone.) 

And in that spirit of relentlessly seeking to improve the human experience, we've contacted Whooshh to explore the feasibility of the next, most obvious step in the evolution of vacuum-powered matter transport: the man-sized version. We're working on a name for it, but I've already volunteered by be a test subject. We'll start with simple tasks, like shooting people into a lake, but if our hunch is right, you'll be commuting this way within the decade. 

You know what Bart Scott has to say about that.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Squeaky Filler Submission

"This is amazing. Early Halloween for squirrel."

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pour one out for my vas deferens

By the time you read this, a middle-aged Norwegian man will have his arm elbow-deep in my mighty nutsack, rummaging around in search of a garden-hose sized tube called the vas deferens so that he can isolate it, pull it out of my testicular pouch, and snap it in half with a bolt cutter. This procedure will sever the link between my testes and my dickhole, thereby preventing my omnipotent zsperm from running unfettered into unwitting ova. I will allow said Norwegian to perform this act of seeming barbarism so that I will not have any more zchildren, because, well, click on this link to my last penis post and you'll understand.

The doctor was intimidated by my manly girth at the consultation visit. Based on his reaction I understand that my vas deferens is some heavy-duty stuff. I suspect it's like a fuel line--braided stainless steel, something like this:

Hence the bolt cutter.

In light of my recent snafus with my health insurance carrier, I made sure to stay in-network. And I also made sure to consult with G:TB's foremost vasectomy expert, Danimal. His advice was invaluable. He made it clear that you shouldn't just pick the vasectomist with the fanciest degrees or the highest ratings, you gotta find a guy with flair. For example, Danimal pointed me to Dr. James Baldock. If you're going to let someone crack your ballsack open, shouldn't he have a name like Jimmy Balldoc?

This led me to Dr. Eric Seaman. Unfortunately, as you can see from his bio, Dr. Seaman specializes in vasectomy reversals, but he doesn't seem to cut the cord too much. I guess he's more interested in letting the Seaman out and not keeping them cooped up inside.

I then found the troika of Dr. Zoltan, Dr. Colon, and Dr. Yanke in Brooklyn. Despite being a zperson, Zoltan specializes in the bladder and the prostate. I assume that Colon only works with lower intestines so I crossed him off the list. Yanke seemed like a good fit, given that you're supposed to "produce a sample" after the procedure so that the doctor can put it under the microscope ... and given this:

But he's a kidney stone guy. And Brooklyn is just too far to travel to have someone pry your scrotum open.

Ultimately I found a guy less than five miles away with degrees from Bowdoin and Columbia who "enjoys relaxing with family, cooking spicy food, collecting vintage jazz, soul and salsa records and building hi-fi equipment with vacuum tubes." Anyone who builds hi-fi equipment knows his way around the business end of a soldering iron, so he should be amply prepared to cauterize my deferens shut, sequestering zsperm in znads for eternity.

By the time you've made it this far through the post I'm hopefully at home, resting peacefully on a bag of frozen peas, the tattered remains of my vas deferens flopping aimlessly inside the velvety sac of my family jewels, the world saved from enduring any further zchildren.

Post count!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Impromptu Lizard Week

We're nothing if not responsive to the will of our readers, and since so many of them have reached out to us asking for more lizard-focused content in the wake of Danimal's scientific expose earlier this week, we're happy to oblige.'s Science Graphic of the Week (we know, we know - how could we have not grabbed this concept and run with it first?) features a study recently released by researchers from Arizona State University in the online journal PLOS ONE that examines the complex genetics involved in the regeneration of an anole's tail. As you well know, since if you're reading this you're undoubtedly a lizardphile (at least one of you going so far as to tattoo a lizard on his shoulder), anoles routinely shed their tails when threatened, in a process known as autotomy.

The Arizona State study, entitled "Transcriptomic Analysis of Tail Regeneration in the Lizard Anolis carolinensis Reveals Activation of Conserved Vertebrate Developmental and Repair Mechanisms" (it's a scorcher), identifies 326 unique genes involved in the regeneration process. In and of itself, that's pretty cool. But 302 of those 326 genes have homologs, or genes that are similar to those found in mammalian DNA. 

The conclusion is so obvious as to not require any further comment.

But in case you missed it, kids at Arizona State are pretty close to being able to regenerate missing body parts, or develop unique new ones. Hazing's going to take on an entirely different aspect.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Feel free to caption. This was in taken by yours truly, at my home. Nature.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Our Favorite Recurring Feature

Since we all kinda miss the Teej, gallivanting as he is across the great capitals of Europe, here's something from his catalogue to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Hat tip to Clarence for the find.

Friday, August 15, 2014

All My Foreign Friends Are Coming Over Tonight

On this, the eve of the 2014-15 Barclays Premier League season, we welcome once again our roving footie correspondent, Fat Guy in a Speedo, who offers a preview as comprehensive as any of our usual crap.

Although Hank Williams Jr. and Anne Coulter might not attend, and aforementioned party would have to be in the morning, soccerball season is back. "Wait a minute," you might be thinking, the World Cup is over and MLS is in mid-season, what is this guestie on about? Well gentle reader, I am not talking about the Columbus Crew, Montreal Impact or Miami Fusion although these team names make the Wizards sound like an inspired name choice. I am talking EPL, England's greatest national output after . . . after a minute of reflection I got nothing, seriously. Monty Python and Borat maybe. England's football league is light years ahead of any other national league in terms of speed, physicality, pasty chavs and awful weather conditions. Kickoff is this weekend and I'll give a rundown of the only 4 or 5 teams that have a title shot and/or any name recognition over here, if at all.

Chelsea  - Owned by free-spending, Putin-light oligarch, they will have gelled under second year wundercoach Jose Mourinho who has won many titles with many teams from many countries.  Despite his enormous success, he quits/moves/gets fired every other year because he is an insufferable twat who plays boring, "ugly" football, i.e., meaning defensive, low-scoring matches. He should win the league this year with Chelsea as they will have had a full season to be accustomed to this lack of style. Chelsea fans everywhere celebrate this as they too, are a brio-less lot of lumpenproletariat. 

Arsenal  - Like Chelsea, they are a London-based team, this is all they have in common. Arsenal play free-flowing, open football under long-standing French coach Arsene Wenger. Wenger has enjoyed tremendous success at Arsenal, unfortunately, all of this success is a 90s, early 2000s memory. Wenger has eschewed the vast sums spent on the modern footballer over the past decade and is proof that you get what you pay for.  His only silver over the past 9 seasons is an FA Cup trophy last May.  Buoyed by this windfall of glory, Wenger has uncharacteristically spent $50M on Chilean Alexis Sanchez amongst others.  It will be interesting to see if this group of bridesmaids can finally take it to the next level. Unfortunately for fans of the Gunners, the answer will be 'no.'

Liverpool - Like Arsenal, they are still chasing past glory, unlike Arsenal they have spent 100s of millions of pounds to achieve this over the past decade to no avail.  Liverpool had an amazing run last season and failed to heed the ABCs of life, they couldn't close it.  You can pinpoint the second it all ended, top of the table and 3 games left, Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard lost possession in midfield and conceded the goal that changed their fate. (Editor's Note: Last year was my daughter's first as a Liverpool fan. Gerrard is her favorite, natch. And this really bummed her out.
Additionally,  chompy Luis Suarez has been sold to Barcelona, for all his innumerable faults, he was the greatest player in the world last season. Despite his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea defender Ivanovic in 2013, he scored 30 goals last season. At that pace he would've been on the amazing tally of 40 if he wasn't an absolute sociopath on the pitch. Without him, Liverpool and his fans can be prepared for another disappointing season.

Manchester City - What's left to be said about the 'noisy neighbors' of Manchester United? Still owned by Arab billionaires who knew nothing about soccer prior to purchase, still spending 100s of millions of pounds a year on the world's greatest players, still clamoring for approval despite winning the league last year, their lot will be the same this year.  They might win it, they should win it, but no one except the Gallagher brothers will care if they do. 

Manchester United - (Editor's Note: Seriously, fuck Manchester United.) Despite having their worst season in 30 years and finishing seventh under David Moyes, the hand-picked hapless successor to Sir Alex Ferguson, England's greatest coach ever. Branded the Chosen One at the season's beginning, his player's gave him the new nickname "Fuck Off Moyes" by season's close.  Although this nickname tells us everything we need to know about the nuanced thinking of professional athletes, this season looks to be quite different. 
Louis Van Gaal's nickname is the Iron Tulip and after leading the Netherlands national team to third place this World Cup, United fans are hoping to see similar results this coming season. United have won all 7 pre-season friendlies under Van Gaal, fans are so enthused that this will continue that it will be great fun for all non-United fans to watch them stumble to mediocrity when the season commences. Van Gaal has never coached in the EPL and it is a different entity from what he's used to. The fact that United will have no European football (Champions or Europa League) during the season as they didn't qualify should help them get back on track. They will win the League. (Editor's note: No, no they will not.)

Fulham - Second to last place last season saw them drop down to the Champions League for the upcoming season. Rob will have a hard time finding them on the telly this year. Predictions, Fulham take second and are back in the Premier League next season and Rob gets 3 viruses watching them on dodgy Russian feeds. (Editor's note: Fulham lost their first Championship Match, so things are already going swimmingly.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rugger? I Wouldn't Want to Be Hit by Her.

Courtesy of man of the world Mr. KQ, we commend to your attention Meya Bizer, a 21 year-old Penn State student who happens to be the world's hardest-hitting female rugby player. Bizer, a fullback on the USA Women's Eagles, is nicknamed The Human Sledgehammer. Check out the video below to see why:

ESPNW opines that, "Bizer might just be the hardest-hitting athlete, male or female, in sports." While we're probably not ready to go there, if for no other reason than the fact that, at 5'8, 158 lbs, she gives up seven inches and nearly 70 pounds to, say, Kam Chancellor, she's still a singularly impressive athlete. Penn State and USA Women's Rugby strength coach Ian Jones tells a story of Bizer's work in the weight room: "At Penn State, some of our male athletes from rugby or lacrosse or football will be training across the room and they'll see the weight she's moving and they're like, 'Holy s---, I can't even do that.' Her force development is unique for a female athlete, and it transfers onto the field."

The Women's Eagles fell to New Zealand, 34-3, in Women's Rugby World Cup play on Friday, and failed to advance out of group play. But at only 21, we're sure to see - and feel - more of Bizer over the coming years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

Farewell to an incandescent fucking genius. It's not your fault.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Gheorghe Longform Guestie

Special guest longform post from Shlara...

Local Hoopster Nolan Smith is Working Hard to Get Back into the NBA

Nolan Smith has been playing on NBA courts since he could walk.

His father, the late Derek Smith, was a journeyman guard in the league, playing nine seasons with five different teams after a successful college career at the University of Louisville, which included a NCAA Championship in 1980.

Derek was known in basketball circles for his tenacity, grit and relentless drive. He would acknowledge that other players may have more raw talent, but no one was going to outwork him.

"Hard work is definitely who he was," said Nolan about his father. "No matter what it was, tennis, track, basketball, school, he always preached working hard."

For the first eight years of his life, Nolan was Derek's shadow. He quietly and intently studied and internalized his father's every word and move. Nolan idolized Derek, and wanted to be exactly like him: competitive, but with an unwavering positive attitude and an out-sized joy for life, his family and the game of basketball. Eighteen years later, he still does.

Derek passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from an undetected heart defect in 1996. At the time, Derek was starting his third year as an assistant coach for the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) and brought Nolan to countless practices and games, just so they could spend time together. That was part of Derek's deal to accept the job--Nolan had to be welcome to tag along for everything.

"He always just told me watch--watch what [the pro players] do, how they carry themselves, how they handle their business," said Nolan. "I watched them, but I also watched him. Every day."

Nolan lost his hero and North Star. Derek's NBA friends stepped in to help fill the void--Juwan Howard and Johnny Dawkins assumed "big brother" status. Coach Jim Lynam took Nolan under his wing. Their mentoring and support were invaluable, but it was the lessons, love and wisdom from his father that formed Nolan's foundation as an athlete and person.

Talent was clearly inherited. People often say to Nolan "you look so much like your father," or "you move like your pop."

"I love that people see him in me," said Nolan.

But it is in his commitment to hard work and his joie d'vivre that he most resembles his father. These are the comparisons he cherishes. And this is what will carry him through the toughest stretch of his short professional career as he works he way back into the NBA.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Dropping Actual Science

Matt Daniels is a data scientist at Undercurrent, a New York-based strategy and management consulting firm. (As an aside, if your kids ask you what they should be when they grow up, you should tell them to be data scientists. Those fuckers are gonna own the world.) Matt Daniels also loves hip hop. He combined his gift for data analysis with his passion for music to create 'The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop' project.

Version 2.0 of Daniels' work was just released in June, and compares the lyrical range of 85 different artists (since the analysis requires at least 35,000 words in an artists' recorded body of work, it doesn't include newer acts, or those with limited recordings). As Daniels explains, "
I used a research methodology called token analysis to determine each artist’s vocabulary. Each word is counted once, so pimpspimppimping, and pimpin are four unique words. To avoid issues with apostrophes (e.g., pimpin’ vs. pimpin), they’re removed from the dataset. It still isn’t perfect. Hip hop is full of slang that is hard to transcribe (e.g., shorty vs. shawty), compound words (e.g., king shit), featured vocalists, and repetitive choruses."

The analysis is published on the project website, but you can purchase it in poster form from Pop Chart Lab. Aesop Rock is the runaway lyrical champion of the world, his vocabulary so impressive that Daniels had to change the x-axis to accommodate him. Of note, as Daniels says, "Wu-Tang Clan at #6 is fucking impressive given that ten members, with vastly different styles, are equally contributing lyrics."

On the other end of the scale, DMX sits in dead last, joined by a number of hip hop's biggest names, including Kanye, Lil Wayne, Snoop, and 2Pac. Goes to show, I guess, that lyrical virtuosity may not be the most important factor in moving records. Which is something Sean Carter not only figured out, but let us know on The Black Album cut, "Moment of Clarity":

I dumbed down my audience to double my dollars
They criticized me for it, yet they all yell 'holla'
If skills sold, truth be told, I'd probably be
Lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 mil - I ain't been rhyming like Common since

So Jay-Z is already down with data science. What did I tell you about owning the world?

Friday, August 08, 2014

(Euro) Coach

By any account its been a historic summer for the NBA. One of the league's most pathetic franchises was sold for a record $2 billion after it's widely despised owner was deemed incompetent (after further exposing himself as a racist asshole). A new commissioner continued to display a vision and compassion that the former commissioner seemed to lack late in his tenure. The league's model franchise hired the NBA's first female assistant coach. The league's biggest star in a generation, Lebron James, willingly relocated from one of the league's most desirable free agent destinations to Cleveland (I dont think you can truly appreciate how monumental this is unless you've spent some quality time in Cleveland...not that anyone should). Not only that, but now that same star is convincing other high quality players to choose Cleveland as their free agent destination. Finally, James will be coached by the first European Head Coach with no NBA experience as a player or assistant coach. That coach? David Blatt.

While Blatt's hire may by the Cleveland Cavaliers may not be the historic moment that Becky Hammon's new job represents, it does represent a significant sea change in the way NBA front offices look at hiring a head coach. While the recent hires of first time coaches Mark Jackson and Steve Kerr were significant, each of them had significant experience as NBA players. Blatt, on the other hand, had never played or coached in the NBA. Blatt is American and played college basketball at Princeton but since then he's made his career and his reputation as a basketball mind in Europe.

During his time in Europe, Blatt served as an assistant coach for storied European franchises Maccabi Tel Aviv and CSKA Moscow before eventually becoming a head coach in Israel, Turkey and Russia. Perhaps most notably, Blatt became the Head Coach of the Russian National Team, who he led to an unlikely European Championship over the host and favorite, Spain.

Most recently, Blatt won the Euroleague Title for Maccabi Tel Aviv, leading a collection of decent European players and good to average former College Basketball players (Tyrese Rice and Alex Tyus might ring a bell) to a victory over a Real Madrid team featuring five former or current NBA players (all of whom were 1st round picks). While Maccabi Tel Aviv is regarded as one of the most well run and successful franchises in European Basketball, they neither possess the pedigree nor financial wherewithal to attract the caliber of players that clubs in the Spanish, Greek and Russian league can, and do.

When Blatt became the head coach of the Cavaliers a couple of short months ago, it was newsworthy and significant. Since then, the below average team he took over has added the game's most transcendent star and possibly (wink wink) another top 10 player. Blatt was always going to need some time to adjust his coaching style to the NBA. Now, he'll be doing it with the biggest possible spotlight on him. He'll be learning on the fly and doing it under the weight of great expectations and with the basketball world watching.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Shit's About to Get (Sorta) Real

From the blog of the Marijuana Policy Project:

The D.C. Board of Elections has officially certified Ballot Initiative 71 for November’s general election. If passed by a majority of D.C. voters, Initiative 71 will repeal all criminal and civil penalties for the personal possession and limited, private cultivation of marijuana. Passage of this initiative will be yet another step towards sensible marijuana policies in our nation’s capital, so make sure your voter registration is current if you are a D.C. resident so you can vote “yes” on November 4. - See more here.

The measure, if enacted, won't open the door to marijuana sales, but it will legalize possession of up two ounces and at-home cultivation of as many as six plants, as well as paraphernalia. Current law bars D.C. from adopting laws related to the sale of marijuana via ballot measure, though the D.C. Council is thought to be working on separate legislation that would allow for the regulation and taxation of pot in the District.

Political analysts believe that the measure is almost certain to pass (and by 'political analysts', I mean, 'I') in the significantly left-leaning Nation's Capital. However, if history is any guide, Congress may step in to override the will of the voters. In 1998, after DC residents passed a law legalizing medicinal marijuana, Republicans used the appropriations process to attach riders prohibiting the District government from enacting the law. Congress succeeded in blocking implementation for 10 years. D.C. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton has serious flow on this topic, "“We will not let history repeat itself. Republicans tried to prevent D.C. from voting on an initiative in 1998 to legalize medical marijuana, and after voters approved it, blocked its implementation with an appropriations rider for more than 10 years. We are not surprised that Republicans are threatening to again use the power of the federal government to block the will of the voters of a local jurisdiction. Many Republicans abandon their professed support of local control of local affairs when they have an opportunity to bully the residents of the District, who cannot hold them accountable at the ballot box. We have already begun working with our allies to protect the will of D.C. voters.”

The early returns on legalization in Colorado and Washington have generally demonstrated the banality of legal toking, and in at least a few statistical examples, the opposite results of those predicted by fearmongers like Rep. John Mica (R-Fla), who said, "We are going to have a lot more people stoned on the highway and there will be consequences."

Andrew Sullivan, a long-time advocate of legalization, said today, "One longstanding theory is that more pot use will mean less alcohol use. You can’t infer than from this data, but it sure looks encouraging. Can you imagine what prohibition will look like in retrospect if it emerges that legalizing weed saves lots of lives?"

Well, yeah. It'll look like a lot of other things that an increasingly irrelevant generation of mostly white men in power clung to in order to protect a status quo that maybe didn't need protecting. We'll still see raging at the dying of the light, without question, but I'd wager that we'll see legalization at the Federal level within 10 years.

Sooner, if Congress gets its hands on some legal D.C. weed.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


By now San Antonio's hiring of WNBA legend Becky Hammon as an assistant coach is no longer breaking news. Somewhere, the backlash has perhaps even begun, with an ill-informed radio yapper arguing that the Spurs hired the 16-year pro as some sort of publicity stunt. 

Gregg Popovich, as the rest of us know, doesn't do publicity stunts. In fact, he might be the apotheosis of anti-stunt. Everything Pop does is calculated to maximize his team's chances to win championships. Which is why, even though the Spurs' PR staff probably wrote it, I believe he means this statement from the team's release on Hammon's hiring: "Having observed her working with our team this past season, I'm confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs."

When she was little, Hammon asked her father if he thought she could play in the NBA. He told her that she might be able to play in college if she worked hard enough. Now, even as she admits that a woman playing in the league is a longshot, she makes the case for a distaff coach, something her Dad never contemplated. “I think anything’s possible as far as women coaching men. It’s really silly. People ask me all the time, will there ever be a woman player in the NBA? To be honest, no. There are differences. The guys are too big, too strong and that’s just the way it is. But when it comes to things of the mind — game-planning, coming up with schemes — there’s no reason a woman couldn’t be in the mix or shouldn’t be in the mix."

I realize that I'm playing to type here, nodding approvingly at the inexorable crumbling of yet another artificially erected societal barrier. In this particular case, though, it's less a knee-jerk liberal reaction than a father's happy one. I'm not so naive as to think that my daughters will inherit a world free of bias, but every Becky Hammon means there's one more opportunity open to my girls and their generation. 

And I agree with Andy Glockner's Twitter take on the Hammon hire, and those of a pair of European coaches, David Blatt as the Cavaliers head coach and Ettore Messina, who will be Hammon's colleague on the Spurs staff. The NBA is a global business worth billions of dollars. Very few other global enterprises succeed without diversity of thought and innovation in leadership. This is in many ways a very natural evolution.

All of this assumes, it must be said, that Hammon can actually coach. She spent the better part of last season with the Spurs, essentially interning as she rehabbed from a knee injury, and earned the respect of Popovich, his staff, and his team. The door's been opened, but walking through it is a different challenge entirely. If Hammon's not effective, she won't last long. And that's the way it should be. 

Here's hoping Becky Hammon never looks back.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Post Count: How the hell have I never seen this video?

I have developed an unhealthy addiction to the Flaming Hot Cheetos over the past 6-9 months. I urge you to try these tasty treats if you get the chance. In my Trade Association Communications class, I chose the Snack Food Association to monitor for the semester. I like snacks. I was very surprised when a classmate sent me this video yesterday, because it's one of the greatest things ever, and I am amazed no other member of my Chester Cheetah listserve had posted the clip below before. Those were some sentences about things. Enjoy.


Last Refuge of a Scoundrel*

* Scoundrel defined in this case as "one who's completely run out of ideas".

Caption This:

Sunday, August 03, 2014

You Betcha

1. This is awesome, conceptually.

2. It'd be even better with fewer jorts and more people who had done something - anything - athletic within the previous ten years.

3. I cannot believe that drunken idiot fratguys didn't come up with this years ago.

4. It'll be ruined by hipsters within three years.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Facial Hair Friday

As I'm sure you're all aware, Rob is constantly bitching about a need for more content. As I'm also sure most of you are aware, I am bald. I have been bald for a very, very long time. I began losing my hair at 20 and said "Fuck it" and started shaving my head shortly after my 21st birthday. As a result of the lack of hair on my head I began experimenting with various forms of facial hair early in my 20s. Though I struggled to grow on my head, my face was never a problem. A few years later I met my (now) wife and soon discovered that she was the only girl I'd ever dated who liked a man with a beard. From that point on, I've frequently had a beard. At times I grow this beard out. Usually I'll grow it out for a couple of months but this year, well, things got out of hand. I decided I'd grow it until St. Patrick's Day. Then, the Gator Basketball team was on a historic winning streak and I didn't want to jinx them by shaving. And then…I just didn't feel like shaving. Until late last week. Below is the picture I sent my wife before I took a razor to my beard and significantly trimmed it down. Try not to be jealous.

And since I'm here showing off, here's a picture of me from my time in Minor League Baseball when I filled in for the guy who normally played our mascot on Easter. Not as our mascot (a Manatee) but as the Easter Bunny.

Enjor your weekend.