Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bite Me, Randy Newman

Jose Altuve is the starting second baseman for the Houston Astros. He's a two-time all-star, and he just won the American League batting title, hitting .341 and leading the league in hits, with an Astros franchise record 225. He also lead the AL in stolen bases with 56. Houston management initially wanted to bench Altuve for the Astros' season-finale to ensure he won the batting title, but he successfully argued his way into the lineup, then went 2-for-4 to seal his place in history.

Jose Altuve is also the shortest player in major league baseball, standing 5'5". BMRN alumnus Dustin Pedroia towers above him, even as they now share one of the blogosphere's most coveted accolades.

Altuve's stature is not only inspirational for diminutive kids of all ages, he's also become part of the lexicon. Astro broadcasters now use 'Altuve' as shorthand for measurement. As in, "that homer traveled 156 Altuves". Careful GTB readers already knew that, of course, as we've got the short dude beat fairly well covered.

Huge(ish) congratulations from our team to Jose's. We'll be expecting big things next year. In a manner of speaking.

Monday, September 29, 2014

To for the Money

Just when I thought the world was almost irreparably fucked up, it went...and totally redeemed itself.

In theaters on November 14. I assume several of us will be heading to the cinema together that evening. Hell, maybe that afternoon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

More Like One Out of a Million

A 10-6 Ryder Cup deficit seems daunting. Except that it's been overcome twice since 1999, including the very last time these two ancient rivals faced each other on the green fields of France (Medinah, technically, but this post is all about excuses to post various inspirational YouTubes).

No, we're not digging deep for original oratory. Our team of rich Republicans wouldn't likely go for it, anyway. We're trafficking in tried and true today. One shot at a time. One hole at a time. Count 'em all up, and hope we get to 14 1/2. Like it did in Brookline in 1999. (Enjoy, once again, David Duval's 'fist pump' stylings. It's possibly the whitest moment ever caught on camera.)

I assume Tom Watson played that Leonard putt several times in the team room last night. Though, I guess, based upon his decision-making thus far in Gleneagles, he might just as likely have played Gallipoli. Bet Keegan Bradley's watching this instead.

War's over, man. Dubuisson dropped the big one. Things look bleak for the red, white, and blue. They looked bleak in December 1776, too, friends. The captain of a different U.S. side didn't fold up his tents and give the Cup to Cornwallis. Instead, he attacked, crossing the Delaware and capturing an entire Hessian garrison. If that doesn't scare the shit out of Martin Kaymer, I don't know what to tell you. Sure, the odds are long, but in the words of a different comedic giant, "So you're telling' me there's a chance?"

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week 5- Time to Get Right

I've got a question for the assembled masses (few?). Should I start going by Kid 1&2 or Mr. 33%? One of those should work as that's been my output in this space every weekend of the College Football season thus far. You could call this regression to the mean but I'd argue that this is far worse. It's a combination of terrible prognostication and a little bit of bad luck. The theme, either way you spin it, is that I've been terrible this season. That's okay though. I'm just listening to this on a loop while I make these picks.

Baylor (-21) at Iowa State- Baylor is this year's version of Oregon for me. I'm going to take them to cover until the prove me wrong. They're an offensive machine. Art Briles has an offense that many, many QBs can put up absurd numbers in. When he has a QB as talented as Bryce Petty it's hardly even fair. Iowa State is a solid team and they play well at home. I expect the Cyclones to keep it close in the first half before the  Baylor offensive onslaught ultimately proves to be too much to withstand. Baylor.

Duke ( +7) at Miami- Duke is good. Really good. They've blown out every team they've faced so far this season and were they not Duke they'd be favored here. But they are Duke and the general public can't get wrap their mind around Duke being a formidable football program. For shit's sake, they were only favored by 13 over Kansas AT HOME earlier this season. KANSAS!! This is all about perception. The public still thinks of Miami as a power program (they haven't been since Larry Coker was running the program into the ground) and of Duke as a school near the point of giving up on football altogether. Miami's at home but they have little to no home field advantage. Take Duke to win outright.

Colorado State (+9.5) at Boston College- Boston College's win over USC earlier this season ranks as the biggest upset of the College Football year thus far. It's also skewed the perception of the Fighting Addazzios. BC can run the ball as well as anyone (Florida transfer QB Tyler Murphy is in the top 10 nationally in rushing) but they struggle mightily in the pass game. They barely even try to throw the ball much of the time. Last week, BC struggled through the first 3 quarters with a Maine team that has lost to Bryant (your guess is as good as mine) this season. Colorado State is a program on the rise under former Alabama Offensive Coordinator Jim McElwain and they boast a stable of talented tailbacks playing behind an experienced offensive line. If you like passing you probably won't enjoy this matchup. If you like money, take the Rams and the points.

Hopefully no one out there in GTB land is taking our picks and trying to convert them into money. If so, you’re in the hole. Danimal is sitting at .500 and Mark at 4-8. Gambling is all about patience. The longer you stick with it and the more you bet, it’s bound to turn around for you. So take this week’s picks and double down. Just don’t tell your wife.

Northwestern +11 at Penn State
If someone told you a month ago that Penn State has a legitimate chance of winning the Big Ten, you’d think they were a bit squirrely. ‘Tis true though. They have a pretty good shot at it. Granted, the Big 10 is the new ECAC. Sure they’ve got Michigan State left on the schedule, but no one else considering what Michigan and Ohio State have become. With an extremely tough running D (6th in the country) against a bad to very bad running offense (106th), I have to say I was bit perplexed with the line. But whatever. Look for PSU’s QB Christian Hackenberger to break all sorts of hand-off records today to win by more than 11, 38-14.

Colorado State +9.5 at Boston College
Don’t look now but TYLER MURPHY! And the Iggles from BC are 3-1. I say it’s all smoke and mirrors. And word has it that former Saban/Bama OC Jim McElwain, head ball coach of the Rams from Colorado State, has a good program in the makings. They’ve got enough weapons on the offense (they throw it a lot) to keep this close and quite possibly pull out a win. But who the fuck really knows? I don’t. Come on Rams. Let’s cover that spread.

Arkansas +9.5 vs Texas A&M (in Dallas)
The hogs lost to Auburn in their first game of the season – props to both AD’s (A-Dees Nuts) for that move by the way. Ballsy.  Winning the next 3 against no one special and putting up about 50-somethin a game. At 4-0, A&M hasn’t been tested and that includes the South Carolina contest. This is likely our game of the day on Saturday, or so I hope. The key for Arkansas will be ball control/time of possession. They have two beastly backs who average about 8 yards per carry and 100’ish per game. That’s right, 2! Their D which is quite good, will obviously need to stop them a few times too which hasn’t been easy for other squads. But they'll do it.
Soooo-eyyyyy!!!! HOGS!

Belated Birthday Clip for Clarence

Important Friday filler, received just moments ago:

The man won't let me access G:TB at work, so maybe one of you can put this up as filler and a belated b-day gift to Clarence:

Carry on.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Triumph the Insult Comic Dog Previews the Ryder Cup

As always, it is a great privilege and a distinct honor to have an opportunity to grace this corner of the blogosphere.   I can remember the days when this space was only populated with clip art and poop jokes, but look what it’s become?  Now it’s the internet’s preeminent one stop shop for crippling insecurity disguised as bravado, guys bloviating about their love of obscure bands that they’ll abandon at the first hint of popularity, and pedantic, unsolicited advice without a hint of self-awareness…and GIFs and poop jokes.  Congrats all around.

Now, on to the business at hand: The 2014 Ryder Cup Matches, this year played at the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles resort, somewhere in Scotland halfway in between Glasgow and Edinburgh.  This is only the second time the Ryder Cup has been played in Scotland, and the first time since 1973.  So, we’re in Scotland, so this is a links course, right?  Wrong.  It’s a pretty well Americanized resort type course—no holes on the water, no pot bunkers (Sorry TJ), no massive greens with inexplicably short flagsticks.  It’s actually a Jack Nicklaus designed track, so as long as you like hitting a fade and guys with oddly high-pitched voices, you should be all set.  So why didn’t the Euros pick a links course so they could watch Phil Mickelson’s tits flop in the wind all week?  Because even their players hate links golf, and that’s probably because it’s generally a pretty miserable experience.
Now, to the teams.  Team America consists of the following diverse group of moneyed white males who reside in Orlando or Scottsdale (Ryder Cup records and World Ranking in parenthesis):
Team USA
Captain: Tom Watson – Eight time major winner, one of the greatest golfers of all time, who is almost equally as beloved in the UK as he is at home. He successfully captained the US to victory at the Belfry back in ’97, and he told Paul Azinger to go fuck off somewhere else when he called him up last month and offered unsolicited captaining advice.  What’s not to like?
Keegan Bradley (26; 3-1-0) – His only loss was last year’s singles match against Rory McIlroy. He’ll thumb wrestle Rickie Fowler each evening for the rights to sleep at the foot of Mickelson’s bed.
Rickie Fowler (10; 0-1-2) The hottest golfer in the world over the last six months not named Rory, Fowler’s first Ryder Cup experience involved a lot of bad golf and character building.
More of this Jim Furyk. Less of the other one.
Jim Furyk (4; 9-17-4) How the Christ is Jim Furyk the #4 ranked golfer in the world?  Do the world rankings only count rounds played Thursday thru Saturday?  Also, can we please sit Furyk during four balls this year?  He’s posted a career 1-8-1 record in that format over the years, with that one win occurring during the Clinton Administration against Jesper Parnevik and a Make-A-Wish kid, I believe.
Zach Johnson (16; 6-4-1) In addition to being an exceptionally uninteresting human, Johnson played out of his tits in the last Ryder Cup, going 3-1, only losing a squeaker in singles to Graeme McDowell.
Matt Kuchar (9; 3-2-2) Undefeated in team play, winless in singles.  Terrified of being alone.
Hunter Mahan (21; 3-2-3) Still recovering from swallowing his tongue during the 2010 Ryder Cup.
Phil Mickelson (11; 14-18-6) Phil is below .500 in all three formats, which is hard to figure out.   Maybe it’s because he hits it sideways too often, or maybe it’s because he had placed wagers on the other guys. Hard to say.
Webb Simpson (33; 2-2-0) Hasn’t really been relevant in a couple years.  Pretty sure he’s only on the team because Watson couldn’t find Brandt Snedecker’s cell phone number and Jason Dufner threw out his back banging his incredibly hot wife.  Might want to give her a follow on the ole Instagram, gents. 

Bubba Watson (7; 5-5-1) Expect Watson to be paired with Simpson this weekend—they were paired together twice in 2012 and won 5&4 both times.  Gives them a good opportunity to talk about growing up in the South, the pros and cons of being baptized in a river or which state has the best sweet tea/soul-crushing racism in the southeast.
Jordan Speith (13, first Ryder Cup) Speith put up some pretty incredible putting numbers this year.  There are more than 20 different putting stats measured by the tour, and he is in the top 5 in almost all of them.  He was first in percentage of holes with one putt, with 46%.  He played 1796 holes and one-putted 809 of them.  That’s not of this world.
Jimmy Walker (19, first Ryder Cup) – Was really hot this Spring, and then remembered he was Jimmy Walker. Let’s just pair him up with Furyk and send them out against McIlroy and GMac as sacrificial lambs.
Patrick Reed (27, first Ryder Cup) – He won three times on tour this year.  He’s chubby. His wife caddies for him. This exhausts all my knowledge of said person. Also, he  put up a couple rounds in the 80s over the last few tournaments, which was almost good enough to get second in the Ladies Member Guest, had  his schedule permitted him to participate in that lovely event.  
So not exactly murderer’s row.  But, an average ranking of 16.3 means we have the team with the superior ranking in this match up—and the team with the lower average World Ranking has won the last five Cups.  Additionally, the team with the number 1 ranked player in the world is 1-4 when the number one ranked players has been in the matches.
Team Europe
Captain: Paul McGinley

Rory McIlroy (1; 4-3-2) He’s good at the golf, and this time he even brought his alarm clock.  Still seems like he can be mentally fragile at times…but the results of late don’t really back that up.
Thomas Bjorn (30, 3-2-1) He’s old, and grumpy and folds faster than Superman on laundry day when the pressure is on.  
Sergio Garcia (3, 16-8-4) If you give two shits about golf and aren’t following Dan Jenkins on twitter, you’re doing it wrong.  Other than being crusty, cranky and insanely funny, he also shares my (everyone’s?) hatred of Sergio, and whenever he’s in contention, does this bit on twitter.  

Martin Kaymer (12; 3-2-1) It’s a little known fact that Martin Kaymer is secretly one of the funniest, animated and jovial guys in professional golf.  Just kidding! He’s actually a robot that Hitler commissioned from some Third Reich scientists shortly before his death. Team Europe has to plug him in next to Rory’s Nissan Leaf after each round.
Graeme McDowell (18; 5-5-2) How has Team Europe been winning all these Ryder Cups with the incredibly average win-loss records from their top players?  Oh, I know…its cause their shitty players play out of their tits in the Ryder Cup.
We're gonna lose to this guy, huh?

Ian Poulter (38, 12-3-0) Ian Poulter has the best winning percentage in the history of the Ryder Cup.  Better than Ballesteros, and Montgomerie, better than Palmer and Nicklaus.  It does not make sense. His last six finishes this year were as follows: Tied for 23rd, Missed Cut, Tied for 58th, Missed Cut, Missed Cut, Missed Cut. But that notwithstanding, everyone knows that this weekend he’ll go 4-0-0 while wearing plaid capri pants and a camisole.  
Justin Rose (6; 6-3-0) People sleep on Justin Rose.  His singles match against Mickelson in 2012 was the real backbreaker in that collapse, and it’s hard to kill Phil for the loss.  He shot 66…Rose just shot 64, including birdies on the last two.
Henrik Stenson (5; 2-3-2) Do we really think Henrik Fucking Stenson is the 3rd best player in this field?  I’m pretty sure the players don’t.
Lee Westwood (44; 18-13-6) Hey, it’s Lee Westwood! When he’s not busy being a smug prick, we’re used to seeing him playing awesome golf on the Saturday of a major and then crapping all over himself.  He should sue Jim Furyk for stealing his bit.  I hope they get matched up for singles on Sunday and they can halve the match with 88s.
Jamie Donaldson (26, first Ryder Cup) I believe Jamie Donaldson plays third base for Oakland A’s, so he seems an odd captain’s pick…but I guess they do it different over across the pond.
Stephen Gallacher (34, first Ryder Cup) You might remember him as Sandy Cohen, the dad on The O.C.  He also plays golf…apparently.   Much like on the O.C., Sandy. I mean Stephen serves as a moral center, often guiding and supporting his teammates through their problems, bringing them both wisdom and a well-placed sense of humor.
Victor Dubuisson (23, first Ryder Cup) There’s a storied history of Frenchmen in the Ryder Cup…Thomas Levet, Jean Van de Velde… Frenchie Fuqua.  They all sucked it up and then sat quietly in the corner of the team room sipping port.
So team Europe, huh?  Lots of Major winners and guys with weird accents.  Average world golf ranking: 19.9
With the exception of Sergio and Rory, most of team Europe has been playing like dogshit over the last few weeks, and the bottom third of their roster is very weak—even weaker than Jimmy Walker and Patrick Reed.  The US is also undefeated in Ryder cup’s without Tiger Woods since 1997…so there’s that.   I think the U.S. takes the Cup back. So there’s some pretty earth-shattering analysis. If you want a deeper dive, go read Johnny Miller’s piece on it in golf Digest.  I haven’t read it, but I’m guessing it’s mainly about how none of these guys are as good as Johnny Miller was, and their swings are all wrong and they fold under pressure.
So, the matches begin at 2:30am Friday morning, which is an incredible ass-ache. I’m planning on taking the day off Friday and showing up on Jerry’s doorstep around 8 am, in time for the second set of Friday matches.  The Sunday singles matches mercifully start at 6:35am Sunday, and will be over before the NFL kicks off for the day.  
Until Friday morning, I’ll just be in my basement watching youtube clips of eagles soaring with Lee Greenwood playing in the background. Ok, let’s go get em.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Interesting Restaurant Concept

I'm in an all day training down here at el fábrica de galletas, so thought I'd leave you with this pic. This fine culinary establishment is located in Shirlington, mere minutes from my house. Heard the tossed salad is to die for.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Requiem for an Enemy

I come here not to bury Derek Jeter, but to praise him.

In these, the final weeks of the Yankee legend's career, it's fashionable to mock him for being a shadow of his former self (his .230/.270/.293 post all-star break slash lines are a particularly cruel reminder that time always wins, and those are boosted by four consecutive 2-hit games through yesterday). I confess that I've jumped on the bandwagon myself, with help from the skipper of the Tampa Bay Rays.

I can't speak for others, but my insignificant jab was aimed at the Cult of Derek Jeter rather than the man himself. For as much as I've long rolled my eyes at the former, the latter is indisputably the Red Sox opponent I most feared and respected over the course of his career.

Derek Jeter is inarguably an all-time great, even as the confluence of his good fortune to play in New York when he did, the quality of his teammates, and his uber-professional approach led to the creation of a narrative to which no player's actual achievements could truly measure up. But even so, his measurables, at least at the plate, really do argue for his inclusion on list of the legends. He's first all-time among shortstops in hits, second in runs, and in the top ten in OPS, OPS+, HR, RBI, 2B, and - despite the often-accurate criticisms of the Fire Joe Morgan crowd - WAR (which combines offense and defense). I know that counting stats have their flaws, but there's something to be said for sustaining a level of play long enough to compile as many as has Jeter. He's not the greatest shortstop ever, but he's in the discussion.

(As an aside, I really miss Fire Joe Morgan. That link is a really cool remembrance by the site's main writers.)

You really can't find a more fitting representation of the difference between Derek Jeter and the Cult of Derek Jeter than this really well done homage from Gatorade and the attendant fawning over the ad. 

The ad is terrific, for sure, as is Jeter. But when people, even respectable journalists like Rob Neyer, say shit like this:

Well, that's the kind of stuff that makes a fella want to start hating all over again. Here to praise, though. Here to praise.

One of the strengths of that ad is how well it depicts Yankee fans' feelings about Jeter. But Yankee fans are supposed to get verklempt in the presence of the Captain; they've been programmed to do so by his sustained reallygoodness and a willing media for 20 years now. The measure of Jeter's impact  might be more accurately captured by his standing with fans of his biggest rivals.

When Jeter came to bat against the Red Sox, even as I knew he wasn't as dangerous as, say, Gary Sheffield with his menacing bat waggle, or Robinson Cano or Alex Rodriguez, even then, I was always afraid. Here comes another hands-inside rifle to right to score a runner from second. And, dammit, there it came.

In 2004, when the Sox trailed the Yankees, 3-1, in the ALCS, their hopes were dashed when Jeter drilled an opposite-field double to clear the bases in the top of the 6th of Game 5. I'd begun writing their obituary, because that's how it was supposed to end, with Derek Fucking Jeter beating them.

And when that incredible, impossible, still-goosebump-inducing series came to an end, when the Sox thumped the Yankees, 10-3, in Game 7, it wasn't the images of the stricken, befuddled Yankee fans that let me know it was really, truly over (though they were the best, weren't they?). No, it was the anger and then the resignation on Jeter's face as he raged against the dying of the Curse.

So, as Jeter finishes more Willie Mays stumbling around the outfield than John Elway on top of the world, he still deserves the accolades he's receiving. I respect him as much as any player I've ever rooted against. He is, as much as it pains me, one of sport's great winners, even though his calm-eyed Captain Intangibles creation myth is just so much happy horseshit.

In the final analysis, I'm happy to see him go, because he can't beat my team any more.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Week 4 Picks!

Top of the morning to ya ladies! As everyone knows, Mark is with his Pop this weekend taking part in much more important things than spending time on weekly football picks. So, it might be just me going solo this weekend. Or...on behalf of the GTB brain trust, the invitation is extended to anyone interested in a guest appearance today. I'd give Mark until 11:00 should he decide to slip something in here if you are feeling frisky.

Please note - I swear on the holy bible I made my FSU/Clemson decision Wed or Thurs. If I must, I'll pick another game should the Executive Committee deem necessary.

Oklahoma -8 at WVU
7:30 p.m.

Who else is jumping on the Trickett Train this weekend? Clint, pronounced CLEE-int, is now beginning to get some print, much deserved. CT is amassing big boy yardage with a completion percentage to boot – 1200 & 75%! Hello!!!! And his 4 top receivers each average 10 yards or more per catch. Well, technically one is only at 9.8, but still. Morgantown is going to be OUT. OF. CONTROL this weekend. Oklahoma has their own weapons and a nice QB in Trevor Knight. He just seems to be a little inconsistent. When he’s on, he’s on. I see them eking out a win but needing to score last to do it. Orrrrr….they don’t convert that last possession and WVU wins! Could see a record breaking couch-burn up there in West by God. Either way, I can’t wait for this one.
West Virginia
Clemson +16.5 at Florida State
8:00 p.m.

Jameis Jameis Jameis. What the fuck? Does he only possess common sense when he’s on the football field? Apparently. On the football field, thus far anyway, he’s been pretty pedestrian as has been their defense. Citadel scored 12 points on them losing “only” by 25. They rushed for 250 yards, 322 in total. That’s not a bunch, but we’re talking about the CITADEL. They converted 11 out of 17 3rd down attempts! FSU probably, and somewhat understandably had a difficult time getting fired up for that game. But I say it is pathetic. This line was 22+ pre-poor decision by JW. After his suspension was announced, it dropped by almost a touchdown. Almost. I’m predicting FSU loses the turnover battle (rookie QB related) which will be the difference in covering this spread.

Oregon -23 at Washington State
10:30 p.m.

I’m short on time and patience here. Must take Oregon. Back up the truck people!

Mark's got much better things to do that hang out with jackasses like us, and by all accounts he's had a pretty cool weekend already. Since he's a man of the people, he sent us his picks to sate our gambling jones.

Indiana @ Mizzou -13

(Note: I can't believe this line. It's like they want us to have free money. If I were a gambling man, I'd load up the kids' college funds and drop them on the Tigers. Which doesn't bode well for Mark's pick, now that I think about it. - Rob)

The Hoosiers (1-1) are coming off a loss to Bowling Green, while Mizzou has quietly opened their season with three straight wins, albeit against mediocre opponents. Nonetheless, a two touchdown line for any SEC team other than Vandy against a lower-rung Big 10 team is simply a gift.

Tulane @ Duke -17

There's a cool story in this week's Sports Illustrated about Rohan Marley, the former Miami linebacker and son of Bob. His son Nico is a 5'9", 200-lb sophomore linebacker for the Green Wave. Rohan runs a thriving coffee company in Jamaica, eponymously named Marley Coffee. Their motto: 'Stir It Up'. It's based in the Blue Mountains. Duke is the Blue Devils. So there's that.

Oregon - 23.5 @ Wazzu

Looks like both our prognosticators like the Ducks. Mike Leach's boys are gonna surprise someone, but neither Mark nor I think it'll be Oregon.

Bonus Gambling!

Since I have the mic, I give you your William & Mary Tribe -10 over the Lafayette Leopards. (Note: I think they're the Leopards. Too busy/lazy to look it up. If they're not, they should be.) Lock of the week, though - it's time for Jimmye's vaunted offense to show up. Or at least for the new look Tribe defense to continue to stand tall. Speaking of the latter, nice piece by FOGTB Dave Fairbank on W&M's junior corner DeAndre Houston-Carson in the Daily Press this week.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Athlete. Role Model.

Like many of us at G:TB, I was blessed with great parents. Both of my parents were highly involved in my life on academic, social and athletic levels. Both of my parents had a tremendous influence on the child I was and the man I would eventually become. As is often the case with parents, the things they loved became the things I loved. We shared them and by doing so shared our lives with each other.

One of the things I've always shared with my Dad for as long as I can remember is a love of sports. He grew up in St. Louis as a die hard Cardinal fan and, like me, played every sport available to him growing up. Eventually he'd go on to play four sports (Soccer, Baseball, Football, Track) at St. Louis University High School. While there he excelled in soccer. For a number of reasons St. Louis was one of the few cities in America where soccer was popular in the mid 20th century and St. Louis University reaped the benefits of this popularity, winning National Championships in 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1972 and 1973. Not surprisingly, St. Louis University High School had a standout program as well. My father's soccer skills early in his life led to a scholarship to SLU High and after that a scholarship to Rockhurst University in Kansas City, MO.

Rockhurst is a small Jesuit school in Kansas City, MO. My Dad was a part of their first ever recruiting class. The class that (they hoped) would help build their program. The coaching staff at Rockhurst wisely decided to build the program by stocking it with a number of players from the St. Louis area. The result was a lightning quick ride up the NAIA ranks and a Final Four berth during the program's first year of existence in 1964. Fifty years later, for their contributions to the University and it's soccer program, my Dad and his teammates are being inducted into the Rockhurst University Athletic Hall of Fame this weekend.

I'll be flying to Kansas City with my Dad today to be a part of the weekend's festivities which include a soccer game on Friday night and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday night. On top of that I'll get to see the campus of Rockhurst for the first time, meet my Dad's old teammates, drink some beers with he and his old teammates at the same bar they used to drink at in the 60s and listen to dozens of (presumably) greatly embellished stories. I'm sure I'll learn more about my Dad in two days than I did in my first twenty years.

I'm also sure I'll have never felt so lucky to have had him as my Dad for the past 36 years.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flight of the Conquests

The last 1.5 years for me have been plagued with injuries - back, calf, back, back, and now foot. The first 4 kept me from doing much of anything other than PT and swimming. The latter has me gimpy and feeling some discomfort. It started off as minor Plantar, but has evolved into something else where the top and bottom of my left foot hurt when walking, but when running after a mile or so the pain subsides until post-run. I've got a half IM in Augusta in 11 days and come hell or high water I am doing it after having been on the sidelines for too long. You are aware that the Newton brand of running shoes is one I have been a big endorser of and will continue to be. My last 4 pairs have either been the Gravity's or a close cousin. (Yes, Zoot's too but those are for races, and traveling)


Newton's are great if you have a pretty good foot strike, that is a mid or forefoot strike rather than the heel. Also, if you have a high arch and/or wide foot like me (you know what they say), the Newton is terrific because it has a spacious toe box. I love me some spacious boxes. And yes, they are expensive at $175, but they last forevah and especially if you have fair to good technique - I define "forevah" as a minimum of 700 miles. Our little pal Rob who weighs what, 80 lbs? could probably wear these until retirement.

So over the last few weeks my foot pain and discomfort has worsened to the point where I felt the need for a change if I wanted to finish out the plan and participate in this race. You may be thinking that an unwise decision to run through the injury and you may well be correct, but I doubt it. It's not to that point. Yet.

Anyway, in the circles we run in here, no pun intended, there are a good number of peeps that just run. And run. And run. Taking part in wacky ultramarathons like Badlands and other events requiring mad miles. Many of them have begun sporting the up and coming, buzzworthy, part clown-shoe, HOKA's. I tried some on a few months ago for grins and giggles, and more giggles. This was pre-foot aggravation and with loads of miles left on my Gravity's, so I was really just sniffin. Fast forward a few weeks with time in-between hearing about how these running freaks love them, plus the foot prob, I decided to try again with different intent. After trying on 3-4 different models while sampling on the treadmill in the store, there was no doubt what felt the best. But I couldn't get over the look. I said, "I can't wear these....look at 'em!" You really shouldn't buy running shoes based on aesthetics, especially if you're logging miles. So I said "fuck it," and walked out with the beasts shown below....


They look pretty heavy, and a bit ridiculous, yes. But they are only ridiculous. Coming in at under 12 oz they are surprisingly light. And the cushioning, the bounce - in the words of George Thorogood, "she was so nice....lord she was lovey-dovey." They have other models obviously, the Clifton (under 8 oz) being one of their most popular. If you pay attention you will begin seeing lots of these out on the road. And if you are not paying attention, you will see lots of these out on the road.

I bought them on a Friday with a 14-miler to do over that weekend. My original intent was to break it up with 7 miles in the HOKA's and in 7 in the Newton's. But I didn't need to. They were fine the entire slog. That does not mean everyone could expect as much, but it is telling for sure. My foot pain post-run and the day after was significantly reduced. My loyalty being won over, not entirely but enough to always own say one pair out of two or three in use, I bring them to you, the GTB Nation, comprised of roughly three people that might read this with any interest.

Happy Trails.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


The headlines out of Iceland this week are largely focused on the impending eruption of the island's Barbardunga volcano, so you'd be forgiven if you missed the far more exciting announcement made by a local government commission in Lagarfljot.

The commission, convened in 2012, announced earlier this week that a video captured by local farmer Hjortur E. Kjerulf is authentic, thus largely confirming the existence of Lagarfljotsormurinn, a legendary Icelandic sea monster. In the video, seen below, a large serpentine object moves across the surface of the water, before leaping clear of the lake's surface to snag a cow from the shore and swallow it whole. That last part is alleged - some of the video is a bit grainy.

According to local legend, Lagarfljotsormurinn is generally described as 90 meters long, with numerous humps. The creature is alleged to have been seen both in the water and coiled up on land.

Finnish researcher Miisa McKeown was extremely skeptical of the commission's initial findings until the existence of a second video (seen below) offered what appears to be incontrovertible evidence of the sea monster's existence.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Action Bronson Brings Something for Everyone

The latest episode of Action Bronson's "Fuck That's Delicious" series has something for everyone. To wit, it has:

- At least 340 pounds of very stoned Action Bronson
- Unflattering impersonations of Guy Fieri
- A 1967 Pontiac Firebird convertible
- Homemade Albanian baklava made in the home of a real Albanian aunt
- A baklava and bacon milkshake made with the aforementioned homemade Albanian baklava and Benton's Tennessee bacon by a cute hipster milkshake proprietress
- Ritz Cracker cookies
- Fat kid jokes
- Subtle sexual "hit it" jokes
- Blatant fat-kid-eating-baklava-and-bacon-milkshake game on the aforementioned cute hipster milkshake proprietress
- Kew Gardens, original home of zfather and FOGTB JP
- Dick jokes
- A glass rubber ducky bong
- Tattoos
- An obscenely obese, insanely high guy getting a tattoo
- Discussion of bad dap
- Korean chicken and dumplings
- White Castle
- White Castle topped with Korean chicken and dumplings
- Poop jokes
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle jokes

If you can't find something you like in this episode then you're watching it wrong. I just hope Bronsaline lives long enough to complete the next episode from ... wait for it ... New Orleans. IGOR!!

Here's the latest NSFW episode.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Andrew W.K., Humility, and Prayer

I confess that I didn't expect to read Andrew W.K. on the subject of prayer this weekend. And what's more, I certainly wasn't anticipating one of the best secular meditations on the topic from the erstwhile (and contemporaneously) hard partier. Inspiration comes from the unlikeliest sources, it seems.

In response to a question from a prayer-skeptical reader of his weekly Village Voice advice column (described thusly: Every Wednesday, New York City's own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or — no surprise here — a party.), Andrew offered a thoughtful response grounded in accepting unknowns and embracing our own vulnerability.

There are so many powerful messages in the column, but W.K.'s notion of comfort with the impossibility of universal knowledge and foundational importance of acceptance of uncertainty really resonated with me. "To know that you don't know is the definition of a spiritual awakening", he writes.

It's not our intent to get all Jack Handey on the world today, and I, for one, am looking forward to tomorrow's Ghoogles post. But we could all do worse than thinking about Andrew W.K.'s words. Because they really are wisdom.
"Being humble is very hard for many people because it makes them feel unimportant and helpless. To embrace our own smallness is not to say we're dumb or that we don't matter, but to realize how amazing it is that we exist at all in the midst of so much more. To be fully alive, we must realize how much else there is besides ourselves. We must accept how much we don't know — and how much we still have to learn — about ourselves and the whole world. Kneeling down and fully comprehending the incomprehensible is the physical act of displaying our respect for everything that isn't "us.""

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I'm heading over to Orlando today to see a show at the best part of the extremely touristy Universal City Walk. Some good friends and I are going to see DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist at the House of Blues.  When I heard that both Shadow and Cut Chemist were playing within an hour of my home I was immediately in. Life was good. I'd take a Monday off. Have some drinks with friends and see two hip hop DJ prodigies wreck a multi-turntable set. Then things got better. Much, much better.

Music fans are in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience when turntablists supreme DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist celebrate the legacy of Hip-Hop vanguard and Universal Zulu Nation founder, Afrika Bambaataa on their Renegades of Rhythm tour this fall.

“This has never been done before, definitely not on this scale. They’re HIS records, with his blessings. This isn’t just ANY copy of ‘X’ breakbeat, it’s THE copy, THE copy that started everything. Not just any records, the MASTER OF RECORDS’ records.” – DJ Shadow.

Using only vinyl pulled from Bambaataa’s historic collection – over 40,000 strong and permanently archived at Cornell University – DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist aim to present Bambaataa’s legacy in all its genre-busting and socially-minded complexity. DJ Shadow states, “His collection includes not just Soul and Rap, but also Soca, Calypso, Dub, Salsa…it’s obvious that this music was important to him, and it’s reflected in his own music. For example, when the Soulsonic Force is singing an African chant, it actually comes from a Manu Dibango record. That’s when being a crate-digger comes in handy – you have to be able to pick up on the references and reiterate them.”

Sorting through the collection with this holistic aim in mind was daunting. “The first sort was to make sure we didn‘t leave anything important behind. We definitely over-pulled,” adds Cut Chemist. To help them narrow their selections, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist focused on the appearance of the records themselves, “It was pretty clear what he played a lot and what he didn’t. The sure-shots were covered with tape and the jackets were beautifully tattered; that made it easier after a while to pull records.”

“The program will be multifaceted,” DJ Shadow explains. “Bambaataa as artist, exploring the influence of his classics like ‘Planet Rock;’ Bambaataa as collector, and the genre-defining breaks he discovered; and Bambaataa as peacemaker and force for social change. He influenced an entire generation worldwide, so we feel a great obligation to get it right.”

Naturally, it was paramount to the two DJ’s that the tour have the full blessing and support of Afrika Bambaataa himself. “I call on all who love Hip-Hop to come out, see them, hear them,” says the Godfather. “My story is our history in DJing.”

The Renegades of Rhythm tour will use six turntables and a variety of real-time effects. “It adds another performance level, real-time sampling from the record that’s being played,” says Cut Chemist. Visuals for the tour will be supplied by acclaimed video director, multimedia producer and regular Shadow collaborator Ben Stokes. The tour with be produced by Jamal Chalabi and Backlash Management.

The tour may be rooted in a historic vinyl collection, but both DJs are quick to point out that people should not come to this expecting strictly an ‘old-school‘ set. As DJ Shadow sums it up. “DJ Shadow + Cut Chemist + Bambaataa’s records + his blessings: it’s going to be epic. That’s all you really need to know.” Or, as Afrika Bambaataa puts it, “DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist are going to blow your funky mind.”

I'm now not exactly sure what to expect. That's not true actually. I expect tonight to to be epic.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Week 3 CFB Pick 'Em: Mark vs. Danimal vs. Blogger Editing Window

For the first time ever, Danimal has a lead on Mark. Please don’t misinterpret that as being cocky as having the lead for the first time in 18 weeks or so of picks is nothing to brag about, awwight? Robert, you have been Jones’ing (can someone enlighten us on the origination of this word?) to know what we are up or down financially. Well, last week I didn’t place one bet down for dollahs, unfortunately. So I believe I’m still 1-2 on the year on money picks, or maybe 2-3. Regardless, I’m down. I’ll get you a qtly recap at the end of the month, just simmer down.

A quick word on the Jags. I saw a funny tweet last weekend describing their game against the Iggles…I’m paraphrasing here – “The game was exactly like their helmets. One half simply glorious and the other an abomination.” I liked that. It stuck with me. And he was spot on. Henne was Foles in the 1st half supported by a defense that had their best half in years. Annnnnnd then Henne became Henne. A prediction on this week against the Washington Professional Football Team – If Henne plays nearly as poorly as last week’s second half, we’ll see Bortles. I also predict a Jags win.

And a quick word on the Hokies/OSU game. I’m happy for the Hokies, I am. But calm the fuck down Blacksburg. TR pointed out last week that OSU won’t be ranked in 6 weeks. He was way too kind. I’m no procrastinator, but if I had to guess I’d say OSU would be “pretty decent” without their QB injury, at best. With it, they are a big red & silver turd. So Hokie town, don’t get too confident.

Sorry…onto the picks.

West Virginia +3 at Maryland
12:00 p.m.

I’d be a fool to say that WVU “has it figured out”, so I won’t. But they are undoubtedly a much-improved team from last year’s clown car. QB Clint Trickett (2 T’s) has 700+ yards passing in his first two starts of the season. You might recall that their first game was against Alabama where the Mountaineers held them close, and not for a couple of dropped passes and a questionable call or two, who knows? Trickster actually threw for MORE yards against the Tide in that loss than he did in last week’s 54-0 drubbing of Towson. My one concern is that Maryland skunked this team last year, badly. Regardless, I’m saying WVU gets all up in the Terps’ shell and cracks them open.

Georgia -6 at South Carolina
3:30 p.m.
Whooa Nelly! Joe-Ja. South Carralaana. CBS. Verne Lundquist. Yessir! Three weeks in and we still have a whole lot of shit in terms of ball games today. This could end up being one. It COULD. Will it? Who the hell knows? It’s a big rivalry game obviously with the ‘ole baw coach at 1-1 and as a few here have pointed out, they haven’t looked especially impressive. BTW, they are 123rd in the nation in total defense. Georgia on the other hand….interesting. Veddy interesting. Could this finally be their year? I’m bullish on the dawgs. They’ve gone too long with too much talent not to make a run at it. This year’s talent starts in the backfield. Gurley as everyone knows is a beast and will probably be in the Heisman conversation. But take him out, and you got Nick Chubb, aka Chubby/Chubbstein/Chubbarino. Who’s that? Oh, just some frosh who has carried the ball 4 times thus far…..for 70 yards. And while running over and through people. Big people. Big athletic fast people that play in the SEC. These two guys are going to cause probs for the Cawwwcks’ D, which will open up the passing game. This line started at -2.5. I think Georgia wins convincingly. (I’d probably put down a BIG side bet that Hughes takes the ‘Dawgs here too)

Purdue vs ND
Over/Under 57.5
7:30 p.m.
Purdue scored 17 points against Central Michigan (who scored 38 points against Purdue). That’s 55 points. I don’t see Purdue scoring more than 7 against ND. We could and SHOULD see another goose egg here, right? So, I gotta take the under. ND 48 – Purdue 3

Not an ideal start for me this year. I'm down overall and coming off consecutive 1-2 weeks. Last week saw me suffer at the hands of a few relatively bad beats in the Michigan State-Oregon game and BYU-Texas. I need to get my mojo back.  I cheated a little and read Dan's picks as he posted before me this week so I'll take this time to say while I'm not officially picking the South Carolina-Georgia game I'm taking South Carolina +7  (my book is giving the extra half). South Carolina's defense has been awful but it's largely a result of atrocious pass defense. I say the Gamecocks stack the box and dare the extremely average Hutson Mason and Georgia's banged up wideouts to beat them on a regular basis. Georgia probably still wins but it's a close one.  (So you should probably take Georgia)

Baylor (-33.5) at Buffalo- Baylor has become a top tier Big 12 program in recent years. However, tonight's game AT Buffalo is your reminder of how long ago (not long) it was that Baylor was absolute shite. Can you imagine Oklahoma or Texas having to agree to a home and home series with the University at Buffalo (what the fuck is up with the "at"?). Baylor stud QB Bryce Petty is back tonight playing with a couple of broken bones in his back (WHAT?!!?) but I doubt he plays more than the first half. It won't matter. Baylor will score easily and often. Sic 'Em Bears.

Purdue-Notre Dame (-27.5) at Lucas Oil Stadium - This is pretty simple. Purdue sucks. I mean Purdue really, really sucks. They've given up 34 and 38 points to Western and Central Michigan, respectively. Notre Dame, on the other hand has scored 48 and 31 points in their first two games. Will the Irish suffer a let down after pasting Michigan? Maybe. Will that letdown allow Purdue to play Notre Dame closely? No way. I hate Notre Dame but I love money so give me the Irish. One last note: Do you know who Purdue passed over to hire current Head Coach Darrell Hazell? Former Purdue LB Kevin Sumlin. Yeah, that smarts.

Kentucky at Florida (-17.5) - Despite a losing week, all was right in my world last Saturday night. A 65-0 shutout by your Alma Mater's football team will do that for you. Yes, I know it was Eastern Michigan. I also know 65 points was about a month's worth of scoring for Florida last year. Kentucky is a program on the upswing ever since Mark Stoops came to town but they're still Kentucky and they're walking into The Swamp for a night game. Florida still has much to prove to me (we'll find out quite a bit about them next week in Tuscaloosa...I'm scared. So scared) but I truly believe they're better offensively in terms of personnel and scheme than they've been in at least four years. As I've recently taught my daughter to say Come on Gators! Get up and go!

BaconBaking's Recipe Guestie Returns

Salsa Verde

I love cooking, but I really love cooking for family and friends. Since my sister is in college, I can't cook for her every day, but I do like to make food in bulk, freeze it and then send her off with it when she comes home. Last night she was home for the evening and I got the chance to pack her a box of foods as well as load her up on freezer foods: ham and bean soup, cabbage soup, baba ghanoush, tomato sauce, and her favorite, salsa verde.

I love making salsa but I think the best way to make it is to roast all the vegetables first. You can see I'm really not committed to any particular recipe. One batch below has hot peppers and banana peppers, while the other is heavier on the onions. Both have tomatillos and tomatoes. Really, I’m just using what I get in the CSA box this time of year. In the summer I will add in corn or peaches.

I roast all the veggies on the pan. Just washed and as is. No oil. About 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

The veggies should be dark in some spots, with the tomatoes and tomatillos ready to burst. I put everything in the food processor with a heavy handful of cilantro and juice from 1-2 limes. You should end up with something that looks like this:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11 x 13

TR's comment got me thinking, and that's always scary.  Seems like this group should at least have one dedicated post for the anniversary of the September 11 insidiousness.  When all that's left of friends are their memories, stir them up like you'd stir up some salsa verde. TR was right, the world moves on, either in defiance (a good thing) or because life is too busy to stagnate, even in somber reflection (a bad thing). Here's a little bit of reflection on an otherwise busy workday.

I was woken up by my pregnant wife that morning, who said a plane had crashed into the WTC. Like Mark, I thought little of it. I figured a small commuter plane had screwed up and collided with the building.

I sat down at the television, instantly realized it was no small collision, and seconds later watched the second plane plow through the 80-something-ieth floor windows of the other tower. And I can remember that horrified feeling very palpably. Chills just typing it, the worst kind of chills.

Soon thereafter I got the call not to bother coming into my Federal government office. Glad to have missed that chaos due to sleeping in a little. But the next call was the worst, and I also remember that one all too vividly: our fratre Otis called me and said, "You know, Lud works in the World Trade Center." Sinking feeling Part II, more chills and a whole lot of anxiety. Reminds me of the first Superman movie when Miss Teschmacher overhears her boss Lex Luthor divulging his sinister, imminent plan to send missiles at the east and west coasts, including one headed to Hackensack, New Jersey at that moment:
But Lex, my mother lives in Hackensack.
[looks at his watch, shakes his head no]

Hollywood and DC Comics are one thing.  This was real life, or lack thereof.

Never really occurred to me at the time that Lud might not have made it out. He's Lud, the nicest guy I had ever met.  Bar none.  For real, not some posthumous superlative like we're prone to distributing. He was a shirt-off-his-back and maybe the top layer of skin if you needed it, too.  Of course he made it out.  He's Lud.

But subsequent phone calls forebode bad things. He worked on a floor with a big number. Damn his big shot job. He'd called his mom and said they told his office to stay put. Got that news right around the time the first tower imploded like a sand castle.  Oh, shit.  Then the second.  Way worse words than shit.

And then, as Rob described, the waiting.  And hoping against hope.  It's an agonizing type of passing for family and friends, because you don't have the cops or the soldiers or the firefighters come to your door with bad news.  You just don't have your loved one come to the door with good news.  Over and over, minute after minute, and day after day.

Eventually, our group of friends became resigned to the sad fact.  And then we found out our other fraternity brother Scoop Edwards, a year Lud's elder and a goofy guy with whom I attended a few Dead shows (brah), was gone, too.  And a third Pi Lam, Jim Conner, who was old enough (class of '85) that we hadn't met or hadn't remembered meeting.  As I recall, six William & Mary undergrad alums perished in the attacks, three of whom were in our fraternity within six years.  Are you kidding me?

And so a week and a half later we sent Lud off with a fitting day and night in Manhattan, serious and sad followed by drunken and stupid, all of it filled with Ludisms and fond memories.  It was also my 31st birthday. You assholes tried in vain to put my head in the john.  Lud protected me.  Seems like a million years ago.

The last time I saw Lud, eerily, was at Evan's funeral kegger two months prior.  He had come out from the city to Pennsyltucky with Hud (simple nicknamers, we) to pay his remembrances to another great one.  He gave my brother-in-law a ride to the hotel when no one would, because that's what he did, and then he drove home the next day and began a conversation with his wife about how he would want to be remembered in a funeral service (or lack thereof) like Evan's, which he assumed he would have to remind her over the years.  Evan's festival of remembrance was July 22.  Lud's would be September 22.  A bad run of luck by any measure for our group.  But that humdinger of a send-off for Ev was the last time I saw Lud.

The story didn't get rosier as time wore on.  Lud's widow, I suppose I can say here in relative obscurity, turned out to be pretty horrible, though her horribleness benefits greatly from the context of those who removed her husband from this world. It suffers from any comparison to the man we cherished, of course.  Lud's dad, who had mentored most of us W&M ruggers in the sport at one time or another and was a Welsh prince without the lineage, was eaten up by Alzheimer's and left us a few years back.  And Lud's little sister, one of my favorite friends from college and Dave's/Rob's/my freshman hallmate, got married to a limey bastard who gave her children as well as much more than a pintful of heartache.  No luck for the downtrodden.

That's all I have to say about that right now.  Getting a mite bit choked before a meeting and a work happy hour wasn't on my agenda, but 9/11 is mostly about unplanned alterations in a workday -- and a life.  God bless you merry gentlemen and women of G:TB on a Thursday extraordinary only in its place on the calendar, a date which dredges up sad and sorry memories for us.  Thank goodness.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Squeaky's Concert Guestie

I just spent three evenings over the weekend at an urban music festival. Screw that camping shit.I wanted to sleep in my own bed every night. Besides I have a wife and kid and there is no way I get to be away for a long weekend (only exception OBFT).

I had seen several of the bands on the bill before but there were some that I was looking forward to seeing like the Replacements, The Roots, War on Drugs, Lorde and The 1975. But out of all of those bands, the one that put on the best performance for my money was Twenty One Pilots.

Watching them bring a drum kit out into the crowd and performing while people held up said drum kit was really f*cking cool. Adding to the degree of difficultly was the fact they were playing with a sequenced track and had to account for the time it takes to crowdsurf to your drum kit. It was not their first rodeo but still impressive. It got me and couple of other folks I was there with thinking what other gigs threw you for a loop unexpectedly.

Here's my short list, in no particular order: (I'm sure more will pop into my mind as soon as I send this list)

  • Fishbone at the Boathouse - Dirty Kibby hanging upside down from the rafters playing his trumpet
  • Garage a Trois at Denver Filmore - Charlie Hunter plays ridiculous tambourine solo. yes tambourine solo
  • Twenty One Pilots at Boston Calling Festival - drum kit crowdsurfing
  • Bob Mould at The Paradise cafe. solo gig with an hour set of acoustic then hour set of electric for about 75 people
  • Califone at my house
  • Red Hot Chili peppers at Vandy on the Presidents lawn 1989 - they wore the socks and the drummer stuck a drum stick up his ass and threw it into the crowd.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Festicle: The Holiday That's Delectable?

While I'm not sure if this will restore Rob's faith in humanity, this little event might just be the thing to shake off the Ray Rice pneumonia and the Roger Goodell blues.  Spike Mendelsohn, DC restaurateur and Top Chef also ran, is hosting a testicle cook off open to anybody in the DC area with $25 and a desire to gorge themselves on gourmet gonads. 

In case the food is not enough to draw you in, the Festicle will also feature side attractions that are sure to interest many members (pun intended) of the G:TB family.  There will be "micro wrestling" for TR, which appears to be the new PC term for this.   Thre will be plenty of live music for Rob, Mr. Truck, Squeeks and Whitney, including a band called White Ford Bronco playing just for the Teej.  There is also a band called Tennis System for Zman.  However, given his recent undercarriage work, he may not be up for the Festicle just yet.  Finally, there will also be circus performers, which will undoubtedly appeal to Shlara and KQ given that they actually hang out with the clowns around here. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

God Once Again Displays His Sense of Humor

Matt Simon just celebrated the first anniversary of his Absurd Creature of the Week feature at Wired.com by crowning the Pink Fairy Armadillo (Chlamyphorus truncatus) the winner of the Absurd Creature of the Week Tournament of Absurdity. The little armadillo triumphed over zombie ant fungi in the championship round, in a triumph of cute over downright freaky.

Here's Simon's description of the zombie ants, some of which may hit close to home:

"Once a disciplined member of a rigidly structured society, the affected ant stumbles out of its colony like the town drunkard, guided by a pathogen that has pickled its brain with a cocktail of chemicals."

The entire roster of absurd organisms is worth a browse. From the beautiful (the flamboyant cuttlefish is spectacular) to the sublimely evolved (check out the satanic leaf-tailed gecko's camouflage style) to the absolutely fucking disgusting (the botfly's larvae burrow into human skin, grow to full size, and leave a gaping wound upon their emergence), the gallery spans the range of animal oddities.

The pearlfish swims up a sea cucumber's ass and eats its gonads. So, yeah.
How James Carville didn't make the list, though, is perhaps the topic of another post.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Here's Where the Story Begins

We've got a bit of a tradition of ironic juxtapositions to kick off NFL weekends in these parts. (If you don't mind stretching the definition of 'tradition' to mean that one time we posted a Morrissey song with a Sunday reference.) And who are we to mess with tradition on this, the first Sunday of a bright, shiny new NFL season?

Back in the early 90s, The Sundays were a staple of college radio and MTV's 120 Minutes. Lead singer Harriet Wheeler combined ethereal vocals and a lilting British accent with the kind of alternative rock girl vulnerable beauty that slayed the 20 year-old me, and makes 44 year-old me remember her wistfully.

Their only real U.S. hit, 'Here's Where the Story Ends' is posted below. It ain't gonna fire up a locker room, but it'll take some of us back to a time and place, and isn't a bad way to spend a lazy weekend morning.

(If you've got a few days to kill, check out that 120 Minutes link - it's a near-definitive archive of one of the more important shows in the history of alternative rock.)

The Sundays also did a pretty terrific cover of the Stones' 'Wild Horses', featured in the 1996 Mark Wahlberg vehicle, Fear. Harriet's just a little mesmerizing in this video.

And finally, foooootttttttbaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwlllllllllll!!!

Saturday, September 06, 2014

The Season Starts Now

Why does the season start this week, you ask? Because I sat around for three hours last week waiting for my alma mater to begin their football season, only to watch the opening kickoff quickly be followed by what seemed like the night's 35th lightning delay. This, eventually, led to the game's cancellation. So, that's my excuse for my 1-2 week. Now, back to some shit you (mildly) care about.

Danimal and I are back for another week of ill advised financial decisions. These picks aren't neccesarily ill advised, the wagers placed later in the day often are though. Whether it's trying to get back money you've lost or just trying to maximize a hot streak, wagers made in the moment are usually...who am I kidding, always a bad idea, results be damned. Will that stop me (or Danimal) from throwing down a few extras today? Highly doubtful. I hope you don't read this column expecting good advice.

It wasn't a great start for your boy last week. Officially I'm 1-2 though I did manage to come out a bit ahead overall due to some solid work on Thursday night and a few other plays (USC, Oklahoma State) during the day. Things could've turned out quite well had I not suffered at the hands of a last minute TD in the Ohio State-Navy game. Hope that helped out your heartburn, Urbs.

East Carolina (+17) at South Carolina- The line had dropped to +15 since I put my money in this morning so I'm not the only one who threw some money on the Pirates. Besides my affection for the state of North Carolina's official safety school (it was an hour away from my first college and we partied there quite a bit), the South Carolina defense looked like utter shit last Thursday. While some of that can be attributed to Texas A&M's stellar passing attack and the apparent fact that Kevin Sumlin is a god damn wizard, I believe just as much of that is due to the massive losses South Carolina suffered on defense. Beyond the loss of the NFL's overall #1 pick, the Gamecocks also lost two other starters on the defensive line to graduation. On top of that, South Carolina trotted out three first time starters (two true freshman among them) in the defensive backfield. Defensive Coordinator Lorenzo Ward is making changes and replacing three defensive starters this week. Maybe this solves all of South Carolina's defensive issues. Or maybe East Carolina QB Shane Carden (4,139 yards and 33 TDs passing in 2013) will chuck the ball all over the field. ECU won't win but they won't get blown out either.

Kansas State (-12) at Iowa State- Iowa State lost last week's season opener by 20 to an FCS school last week. Granted, that FCS school was the juggernaut known as North Dakota State and someone in the Iowa State athletic department should be fired for agreeing to play the Bison but a loss like that doesn't bode well for the Cyclones as they prepare to take on Kansas State this week. In the last game summary, I referred to Kevin Sumlin as a wizard. Well, if Sumlin's a wizard then Bill Snyder is a Super Wizard or a Grand Wiz...wait that's not what I meant. Anywho, Snyder is amazing. He built a powerful football program out of nothing and did it in the middle of nowhere. Then when his successor (RON PRINCE MOTHERFUCKER!) failed and the Kansas State program was falling apart, Snyder decided to come out of retirement and almost immediately turn the Wildcats back in to a program of national relevance. On top of all that, Snyder gave the world Darren Sproles. For that alone he should be knighted. Do they have knights in Kansas? Oh, who gives a fuck. None of us are ever going to Kansas anyway. SNYDERCATS.

BYU at Texas (O/U 46- Under) - Last year BYU ran for over 500 yards on Texas. The next day Texas DC Manny Diaz was fired. This didn't fix Texas' defensive issues and eventually the rest of the Texas staff was fired including long time Head Coach Mack Brown. Charlie Strong is the man in charge in Austin now and I, for one, have no doubt that he'll turn things around. This turn around is going to take some time though and now is now that time. Complicating matter this week is the news that Texas will be without starting QB David Ash and both starting Offensive Tackles when the Cougars come to town. This game wasn't shaping up as a high scoring affair before these injuries. Now, I wouldn't be shocked if neither team broke 20 points. Take the under.

Take it away, Danimal.

Missouri -3.5 at ToledoOne of those goofy lines you look at and think, huh? “Huh” cuz you have Missouri traveling to Toledo and also cuz it’s almost a pick’em. This is one of those lines that you should simply trust and probably go with the homer dawg. Which I. Am going. To do. Missouri has the coach in Pinkel (who coached at Toledo for a decade) and Mauk the QB who in looking at the stats, did a whole lot of nothing against South Dakota State. Yeah, I guess they have a football team. Having been to Toledo a couple of times in the last year and with several of their students who are technically coworkers, I’ve become a bit of a follower of the Rockets. This line opened up at -5.5 fyi. I’m going to go ahead and take Toledo to win in the Glass Bowl where they have a history of taking down seemingly more worthy opponents.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 Blast OFF!!!!!!

Old Dominion +17 at NC State- NC State has been horrific the last year or two. Before last week they lost 8 in a row before coming back down 10 in the 4th against Georgia Southern. It looks as if they’ve got a QB in Jacoby Brissett who is large and in charge and if not mistaken a Gator transfer, but other than that the cupboard is Googling is not in my interest at the moment as I have a Big Brother episode to watch. Val & I love us some Big Brother.  I think ODU travels to Raleigh with an eye on a big win here while the Wolfpack goes in as the shoddy team they are. Throw in a little bit of Clarence mojo and it’s pretty much a lay-up. Or is it Whitney? Whatever Russ.

Team from Virginia

Virginia Tech +12 at Ohio StateSorry Buckles….can’t do the same for you. I wish this game wasn’t on at 8:00 because I’d like to watch it. I expect this to be a very close one with the Hokie’s D giving OSU’s frosh QB JT Barrett some problems. It’s a game Tech can win because no one expects them to. Plus, new A.D. and old pal of the Danimal has brought some pixie dust to Blacksburg that everyone is shoving up their asses. They feel good about themselves. They look good. They’re happy, positive. Another in depth analysis from yours truly.

Tech Tech VPI Hokie Hokie Hokie High!