Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dave, Stacey, and Young Cunningham Make a Podcast: The Test!

I am annoying. Luckily, this is a prerequisite for my job: I am paid to annoy sleepy teenagers . . . to pester them with questions, irk them with activities, and coerce them into reading, writing, and thinking. I've been doing this for a while, so I've gotten adept at it. But I've always recognized the subversive questions lurking beneath the surface of every high school class: Do we really need to learn this shit? Is it really worth the time? The frustration? Calculus? Seriously? Organic chemistry? Sex education? When am I going to actually use any of this crap?

We attempted to address these epistemological questions with something my friend Kevin invented: the Life Quiz. This is a set of ten questions that don't count towards your grade, but instead determine how you are doing at seeming to be educated. Art, science, current events, and common knowledge. Major events in history and psychology and economics. Significant sports stuff. No trivia. Just information you should actually know. Or probably should know. Who knows? I encourage the students to pick a partner of similar intellect and bet some push-ups. Then I pose some questions: what is the boiling point of water? How long ago did the dinosaurs live? What is the population of New Jersey?

You don't have to nail the answer . . . it's like horse-shoes and hand-grenades. Close enough counts. Within ten percent.

Sometimes the questions are broad: name a jazz musician and their instrument. Sometimes they are specific: what does it mean to "bury the hatchet." And sometimes they seem really obvious: what are the seven continents?

You end up with some surprising answers, and some surprising logic as well. And plenty of discussion about epistemology. What should we have rattling around in our brain? What do you need to know? Do you need to know anything?

The brain is a counter-intuitive instrument. It's not like a computer-- your memory doesn't fill up. In fact, the more things you know, the better your brain works. The more connections you have, the more connections you make, and the more you understand. So despite the ubiquity of Google, I think there is some value in knowing stuff. The question is: what?

A few of us were so enamored with this theme, that we decided to make a podcast about it. The concept of the show is simple-- it's ostensibly a quiz show, but it's the anti-Jeopardy-- one of us asks seven questions, and the other participants try to answer them. Or argue about them. Or declare them stupid. Stacey, Cunningham and I are the hosts, but we plan on having lots of guests. On the plus side, our voices are easily discernible and we cover three decades: Young Cunningham is in her twenties, Stacey is in her thirties, and I am forty-five. Not only do we ask questions and discuss validity, but we also crack a lot of jokes. On the minus side, I am annoying. I try not to be judgmental, with varying degrees of success.

We're calling the show The Test and we've recorded two episodes. We haven't had any guests yet, but they are coming soon. If you want to be on, just ask . . . I think we can even Skype you in. While we're certainly not pros at this yet, we've got original background music, an audio montage, and a theme song.

Good luck and have fun . . . you can play along at home, but no studying . . .

Monday, June 29, 2015


According to legend, English newspapers, assuming that the score coming over the teletype was a misprint, reported a 10-1 victory for England. It was a measure of the magnitude of the upset that most people didn't really bat an eye at that lopsided result.

Sixty-five years ago today, the United States of America defeated England, 1-0, in the group stage at the 1950 World Cup. England were 3-1 favorites to win the cup, widely regarded as the world's best team. The U.S. team was made up entirely of amateurs: painters, teachers, mail carriers, and 500-1 longshots to take the title.

For the first 20 minutes of the match, the powerful English peppered U.S. keeper Frank Borghi, hitting the crossbar twice, forcing Borghi to make two saves, and recording six total shots on goal. While the U.S. settled down, England continued to pressure the American back line, nearly scoring on three consecutive breakaways.

But in the 37th minute, Walter Bahr launched a shot from 25 yards out, and Joe Gaetjens grazed the ball with a diving header attempt, changing its trajectory just enough to direct the ball past England keeper Bert Williams and into the net. The U.S. had an improbable 1-0 lead that they carried into the break.

Borghi kept up his stellar play in the second half. England thought they'd scored on a header from a free kick, but the referee ruled that the ball never crossed the line. Despite pressure throughout the second half, the Americans never yielded.

It's regarded by many soccer experts as the greatest upset in the history of the game at the national team level. Neither side advanced beyond the group stage, and the U.S. wouldn't even play in the World Cup again until 1990.

Walter Bahr went on to a long career as one of the legendary coaches in the American game. His sons Chris and Matt both played for the national team, and kicked in the NFL. Joe Gaetjens' story was more tragic, as he was killed in his native Haiti by Papa Doc Duvalier's Tonton Macoutes. Author Geoffrey Douglas' book about the match, The Game of Their Lives, tells the story of the 1950 U.S. team in depth.

Sixty five years later, this match still resonates in England. In the runup to the 2010 World Cup and the U.S.' group stage matchup with England, Jozy Altidore's Haitian heritage was a noteworthy part of match previews. And the fact that the Americans managed a draw in that match denied England 'revenge'.

Frustratin' Brits since 1776.

Saturday, June 27, 2015


When the long history of the United States is written, yesterday will stand as one of the more remarkable days in a journey filled with them. A day filled with joy, with pain, and redemption. We're far, far from perfect, but we continue to follow the moral arc towards justice, peace, and grace.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wingspan & Upside & Length. Oh my.

Once again, its time for my favorite night of the year. NBA Draft night. A night filled with potential stars, possible busts and Jay Bilas' wingspan drinking game. This years draft is, at the top, one of the strongest in years. I believe that all three presumed top picks, Karl Anthony-Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D'Angelo Russell have All-NBA potential so I'll only briefly discuss them.

He comes in peace. He's aware of your drinking games.

Karl Anthony-Towns- All NBA potential both offensively and defensively. Could be the leagues second beau big man, behind Anthony Davis, within 4-5 years.

Jahlil Okafor- If you're one of those people selling on Okafor, ill buy all your stock shares. Is he a defensively dominant big man? No. What he is though is the most skilled post player to enter the NBA since Tim Duncan. And he's only 19. I also think he's much tougher than he's being given credit for. He played on a badly sprained ankle for the last 6 weeks of the season and only managed to lead Duke to a National Championship. 

D'Angelo Russell- His offensive skill and versatility is unmatched in this years draft. He's going to be a 20+ ppg scorer in the NBA but what truly sets him apart is his vision and passing. He's going to be a dominant pick and roll guard in very short order.

Now, onto some other guys.


Justise Winslow: The first time I saw him play I told my Dad that he was the most athletic wing at Duke since Grant Hill. I stand by that. He's a ferocious competitor, tenacious defender and aggressive rebounder. I think his offensive skill is underrated and will continue to develop. He'd be mentioned among the rest of the drafts elite prospects if he had measured out at 6'6"-6'7" as expected. Instead he measured at a little over 6'4". While that does give me pause it doesn't shake my belief in him. He plays much bigger than he measures (he often played the 4 at Duke) and he works his tail off on both ends of the floor. In an NBA which values positional versatility more than ever, give me Justise Winslow.

Trey Lyles: You could make the case that going to Kentucky last year was the worst thing that could've happened to Lyles' draft stock. He didn't play badly. He just often played out of position at small forward. He was stuck behind this draft's best player in Towns and behind its best defensive player in Willie Cauley-Stein. Lyles is still a highly skilled 4 with the potential to become a stretch 4 along the lines of Ryan Anderson (a higher ceiling though) or Draymond Green. If he hadn't picked Kentucky, Lyles would've averaged nearly 20 ppg and he'd be a top 10 pick.

Devin Booker- Critics will say all he does is shoot the ball (they said thst about Klay Thompson when he entered the draft too). That's true to a degree but he shoots it really, really well. He's got great size for the 2, he's a high character guy, plays with great poise and he's he youngest player in the draft. In a league that's very average at the 2, Booker has a chance to be top 5 at his position in 4-5 years.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Extremely limited offensively (read: can shoot) but a terrific athlete and the best perimeter defender in the draft. I believe he ends up somewhere between Tony Allen and Ron Artest though significantly less crazy.

The hope is that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be much less crazy version of this guy.

No Thanks

Sam Dekker:  He has great size and athleticism for the 3. However, I don't think he's creative enough off the dribble or a consistent enough 3 point shooter to be a major contributor on the perimeter.

Myles Turner: His rep is that of a skilled, athletic big man. Except he doesn't shoot it that well (or at least didn't during his one season at Texas) and isn't an elite athlete. You even see reports that his gait when running is possibly problematic in terms of his health going forward. Hard pass.

Kevon Looney: whoever drafts Looney is drafting based solely on potential. He's a great athlete who could possibly develop into a dynamic rebounder with perimeter skills. However, that's all way down the road. He was often a non-factor for long stretches at UCLA. Even as raw developmentally as he is, I'd like to see more in terms of energy and fire at this stage of his career.

Kelly Oubre: another player with all the measurables. He's got great size for a wing, is a tremendous athlete and possesses a shooting stroke that shows great long term potential. He's limited off the dribble though and often played soft on defense which landed him in Bill Self's doghouse and on the Kansas bench with regularity.

Fuck if I know

Kristaps Porzingis: One of he or Mario Hezonja will hit and one will bust. That's my gut feeling. If I had to bet I'd bet on The Zinger. He comes from a basketball family. He played and played well in the Spanish ACB league which is widely regarded as the second best league in the world but I've only watched highlights of him so.. 

Mario Hezonja: Hezonja's highlight tape is the most impressive of any prospect this year. He's got great size for a wing (6'8"). He's among the best 2-3 shooters in the draft and he's a great athlete. Possibly the best athlete in the draft. He also hails from Dubrovnik, Croatia which you may or may not know is where all the scenes in King's Landing on GOT are filmed. So what's not to like? Well, he might be nuts. He's said to be borderline arrogant, he's prone to taking awful shots (but makes enough of him that he continues to take them) and Chad Ford listed his closest player comp as JR Smith. So...there's that. He'll be great or he'll be the most entertaining Euro disaster of all time. There's no in between.

Cameron Payne: Payne has gone from a little known prospect signed to Murray St. to a possible late lottery pick in the span of three years. He's got good size (6'3") and shoots it exceptionally well. However, it's his passing ability that scouts really love. I *think* Payne will end up as a top 10 NBA point guard but he played at Murray State so I've only seen him play twice.

Frank Kaminsky: I like Kaminsky but its starting to feel like he's going to be drafted to high with regard to his ceiling as a player. What is that ceiling? Channing Frye? Andrea Bargnani? I think both of those are reasonable but I think he could end up being a much lesser player depending on how much more he does or doesn't develop as well as how he perceives his own ability Recently, there have been reports that Kaminsky's been slimming down (he was already pretty damn slim) because he think he's going to be like Dirk. Frank...I've watched Dirk Nowitzki. I've marveled at Dirk Nowitzki. You sir are no Dirk Nowitzki.

Tyus Jones: As far as heady less athletic point guards go, I'll take Jones over TJ's buddy Tyler Ennis. With that said, I'm unsure of how successful Jones will be in the NBA. He lacks great size or athleticism and is a streaky shooter. He has, however, shown himself to be unafraid of stepping up in late situations and he's been successful when doing so. If any guard with his physical limitations can make it, I believe it's Tyus Jones.

Late 1st/Early 2nd Sleepers

Joseph Young: He can score in bunches and in a variety of ways. I don't like him as a starting PG but I love him as your PG and scorer off the bench. Think Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Thomas.

Rakeem Christmas: He's old (24) in terms of NBA prospects but has improved his skill level a ton in the past two years. Should be a valuable rotation big man off the bench for many years.


As we all know, Rob's favorite athlete this side of Dustin Pedroia, Marcus Thornton, is eligible for tonight's draft. Most think he'll go undrafted but many of these same pundits also believe that Thornton may eventually play in the NBA. One major reason for this is that Thornton was born at the right time. If Marcus had been ten years younger, a combo guard of his type would've been roundly dismissed by NBA GMs and scouts. The league has changed though and combo guard is no longer a taboo phrase. There is value in being able to play both guard spots without mastering either. Marcus Thornton is just this type of player. I don't have the soft spot for Marcus most of you have but I'll be rooting for him nonetheless.

See you in the comments...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Little Things

On the 24th of April my clavicle broked and subsequently underwent this procedure. That was the bad news. The good news is that since that time I’ve been able to indulge much, much more than customary during these summer months when the usual has had me training for xyz event. Up through last week, call it 7 weeks since the mishap, I won’t lie to you…you mean too much to me…the weekly consumption skyrocketed. Yes, my essentially forced idleness has played a large role in the increase, but also playing a part are my new favorite little things.

The last visit for me to The Grove Hotel was in June of 2012. Cliché but…”so choice”. Work brought me there only to strike out. At joints such as these a strikeout is less painful. I and my fellow GTB’rs have a nose for the hotel bar. After my din din, that is exactly where I ended up sampling the different cocktails constructed by the enthusiastic bartenders. It was there that I had the best Old Fashioned ever. No joke. Next time you’re there go ahead and order one. But what put it over the top wasn’t the type of whiskey chosen (Woodford) or the orange twist set afire ever so briefly to extract a bit of the oil to enrich the concoction, and it wasn’t even the homemade bitters. No, ‘twas none of those things old chap! Can you guess what it was? It was the glass. The second I picked up that glass I knew that I’d never drink out of another glass again once three full years went by. Many times have I imagined that glassware since. Many time have I said, “I’m gonna find out where the hell they get those glasses and order some myself.” Until one month ago, it was all talk. Until one month ago. Sitting on my couch one Saturday mid-morning a few weeks into my period of slothdom, the image appeared and the brain took over. You need to order these glasses Dan. Call the hotel, get one of those limey’s on the phone and find out who makes ‘em. Do it and do it right now or it will be another 2 years before you have the inclination. So it was done and they were ordered a few minutes later on Amazon.

The picture doesn’t help much does it? Kind of a letdown no? Sorry. This my friends is the Luigi Bormioli Veronese Double Old Fashioned Glass – 11.5 oz. Not pictured is the 8.75 oz. Whisky Rocks glass. It looks exactly the same. Just smaller. We were way overdue on glassware. I’ve had the same stuff since the late ‘90’s – heavy, big, unwieldy, and tired. It was time to start anew. Having these in the cupboard now cause me to think about them nightly on my commute home, sitting there in the dark, empty and upside down, lonely and scared and screaming to be turned around and filled with something, something smoky or of barrel-aged, brown or clear, they don’t care. They just want to be held, used, adored. Who doesn’t? At $40.00 per half dozen they were much less expensive than what I was expecting. And that’s a good thing! Why are they special? They may not be special to you at all. In fact, if you order 1 (I think you can do that), you should have low expectations. I had none when I picked up my first in that bar outside of London. From the picture you can see for yourself that the glass is oval, kind of. The bottom is oval – let’s say the bottom 1/3rd. The top is round. It’s the damndest thing I tell ya. The ovality (new word coined here) at the bottom makes for a level of comfort not experienced before in the handling of a mere cocktail glass. It just fits right into your palm. Sure, the standard cocktail glass lift & sip isn’t so strenuous and uncomfortable that you say to yourself, “Man, I sure wish this was a different shape,” that is until you’ve taken a pull out of the Veronese.

A couple weeks prior to trying to create a pothole in a St. Petersburg road with my right shoulder, unsuccessfully, a riding buddy who also favors drinking was trying to explain to me a pre-made mixer that he pairs with his bourbon. What’s it called I asked? Bittermilk he responded. Bitter what? Bittermilk bitch, he said. It's a small little shop up in Charleston that has created a handful of different pre-made mixers each with its own distinct flavah. Oh. Ok. Bittermilk. What a great name for a mixer. He said we’d get together in the coming weeks to sip on it. Well it never happened, but a few days after my surgery a package was delivered to the house containing two of Bittermilk’s products - #3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour and #1 Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned. It was from my pal. Thanks pal. (As an aside, just last night this same fella came looking for money for a cause - the event is a 200-mile Bourbon Trail Run for the cause "Casa For Children". Anyone feelin frisky?)
The box was opened with curiosity, and the bottles more so. I immediately went to the website to check out the recipes. Chosen was the Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned which is simply 4 parts Rye or Bourbon and 1 part Bittermilk #1. Easy peezy and very good. Don’t feel like sippin straight whiskey but also not in the mood to go through the requirements of making a great Old Fashioned from scratch that let's face it, will probably suck? This is your ticket. I go both routes – sometimes Rye, sometimes Bourbon. Also exceptional is the Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour: 1 part Rye or Bourbon and 1 part Bittermilk #3. (For the whiskey drinkers, I suggest a ratio closer to 2:1; for the beer & wine folk stick with the 1:1)

No. 3: We've revived this old classic by smoking honey over bourbon barrel staves. Bitter orange peel and lemon make for a slightly tart and smoky cocktail. Honey adds a nice frothy head when shaken vigorously. Mixes best with bourbon but swap it out for tequila to make a slightly smoky Honey Margarita. Shake equal parts Bittermilk No.3 + Whiskey with heavy amounts of ice. Ingredients: Organic Lemon Juice, Water, Bourbon Barrel Smoked Organic Honey, Organic Cane Sugar, Orange Oleo Saccharum (Organic Orange Peel, Organic Cane Sugar)

Now that sounds pretty appeeling does it not? 

In the 2 months since being introduced, we've (mostly me) have gone through 4 different bottles and then some. Heavily weighted have been the bourbon & rye drinks including the aforementioned and the Old Fashioned Rouge - 4:1 Rye to #4 New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge. A couple of tequila based have proven to whet the whistle as well - 1:1 Tequila to #3 is the "La Cabra". Translation: Umm...Wild Goat? Another is the "Handsome Devil" - 3:2 Tequila to #5. Five btw is the Charred Grapefruit Tonic with Bulls Bay Sea Salt. How's that sound? Pretty damn refreshing if you ask me. This week I aim to sample the rum based stuff. See website for more details and be the cool guy or gal at your next soiree to break out the Bittermilk. 

To cap it off, or to round it out I should say…Ice balls.  Balls. Of ice. In this case slightly larger than a golf ball. 

No explanation necessary. Fairly sure that a couple of you have adopted this practice already. Mix the ingredients of your next delight into an ice-filled mixer (regular refrigerator made ice - don't waste ice balls on the shaker), shake it and do so hard, and strain into your new Bormiolo Veronese atop a big ball of ice. Or get crazy and go with two balls. Just think of Danimal when you do. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Terminal Velocity, Achieved

My wife thinks it's a mid-life crisis. I don't really see it that way, but if it means she'll give me permission to do stuff I want to do, then I'll let her believe it.

As most of the Gheorghies know, I jumped out of an airplane yesterday with FOGTB Kevin Reynolds, veteran of more than 4,000 jumps of his own. It's a bit of a copout to say that words can't describe the experience, but it's also mostly true. It was a cocktail of adrenaline, nausea, fear, euphoria and release. And it was completely, utterly, entirely a blast.

I've uploaded raw footage from Reynolds' GoPro to my Google Drive for your viewing pleasure/mocking fun. I'll do the same with the professionally produced HD video, as well, but I don't have that with me. (Note that I can't share anything in Google Drive publicly, so I've only shared with the email addresses I have for FOGTB. If you can't view it, shoot me a note.)

Before you watch, a couple of observations:

  • It's really damn hard to look cool wearing the egg-shaped leather beanie/helmet required of all tandem jumpers.
  • I didn't feel terribly nervous at any point, but you sure wouldn't know that by the look on my face in the first few moments of this video. My face looks frozen.
  • Zman and Mark may catch a few glimpses of my Rod Lavers, one of which came untied mid-jump.
  • Careful observers will also enjoy the t-shirt I chose for the adventure.
  • The video is about 8 minutes long. Feel free to skip through the middle section, unless you'd like to hear the conversation I have with Reynolds.
The whole thing, from boarding the plane to landing, lasted maybe 20 minutes. Much of it, as you might imagine, is a blur. I remember saying 'holy shit!' a lot. 

Which is completely inadequate to the moment.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New to Me

Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece Meets the Big O is one of my favorite books for kids. You might love The Giving Tree, or Where the Sidewalk Ends, or any one of the prolific Silverstein's other works, too. But until yesterday, I had no idea about the breadth of Silverstein's talents.

On my way to work, I heard an interview on the Bob Edwards Show (as an aside, Edwards is a treasure, and it remains a shame that SiriusXM has decided not to record new episodes) with Bobby Bare and Bobby Bare Jr. from 2010. The Bares, notable musicians in their own right, had just produced a CD of songs written by family friend Silverstein and covered by artists like Lucinda Williams, My Morning Jacket, Kris Kristofferson, Andrew Bird, and John Prine.

As I started listening to the interview, I thought, 'hey, that's cute - they turned some Shel Silverstein poems into songs'. Goes to show you what I know.

Shel Silverstein wrote 'A Boy Named Sue'. Shel Silverstein. The children's book author. Wrote one of the enduring classics in country music history.

He also wrote 'The Cover of the Rolling Stone', made memorable by Doctor Hook & The Medicine Show.

'Twistable, Turnable Man', the name of the Silverstein tribute record, features a cover of the Doctor Hook hit by the inimitable Black Francis and his Pixies bandmate Joey Santiago. It's terrific:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Nash Town

Told recently were you all that I had a post but failed to save and am thus unable to retrieve it anywhere. And I've tried. It told of my recent trip to NashVegas involving loads of travel problems (who cares?), many hours at airport bars (you care), meeting people who know my people from college days at said airport bars, and a night of honky tonkin' that had me making friends with one of the bands who had me sing a few verses at Tootsies, the most famous of the honky tonks, where if I had shown up a mere 15 minutes earlier rather than patronizing Layla's, which is right next door (they share a wall!) I would have seen Dave Grohl and a Zac Brown guitarist perform 2 songs before disappearing into the night. No idea who the band was that I watched at Tootsie's for no less than a couple of hours, but they were good. It was all covers - everything from Ratt to Waylon Jennings and all in-between. It was stellar. They played on the first floor. The stage is right next to the front door where I stationed myself early on with every intent to get the hell out of there. But they just kept playing good stuff. I tipped 'em a few times, became pals, sang a verse here and there, and before long was being referred to as this guy.....

...Chuck Goodman, by the band front man. I laughed. No one else knew who the hell he was talking about. I must have looked really tired. Other highlights were my meals at Biscuit Love, a rec by our good friend Mark, and Whiskey Kitchen. How could I not eat a joint called Whiskey Kitchen? Exactly. Our waitress who was a doll was (is currently) the backup singer for Tom Kiefer of Cinderella fame. Yeah, he still tours. She gave us the ins and outs of going on the road as a backup singer. Quite interesting. For about 4 minutes.

So that my friends is a very abridged version of my Nashville trip that delved into Park City, Utah too. Give me too Utah!, two firsts for the kid, but hopefully not the lasts.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rinse, Repeat

Much more to come on my family's excellent Montreal adventure, which sadly concluded yesterday with a ten-hour drive back to a place where all the street signs are in English and people look at you funny when you say 'merci'. Just a tease, then, for you today.

We worked with a sports travel company called Fandeavor (about whom I don't have enough positive things to say) to book our trip. Originally, we had a small room at the Springhill Suites in Old Montreal, and we were pretty excited about it.

About two weeks before the trip, Fandeavor emailed to let me know they had extra rooms in their reserved block at the Ritz Carlton, and wanted to know if we'd like to stay there for the same rate. And, oh, because there were no available rooms at the Ritz with two beds, would we be okay with a suite with an adjoining Queen?

We would, indeed.

As you might imagine, the Ritz was so choice. Heated bathroom floors, touchscreen-controlled lighting, infinity pool on the roof, immaculate hospitality, and lots and lots of beautiful people (my family notwithstanding, though my wife and kids are pretty cute).

But all of that paled in comparison to my life-changing introduction to the TOTO multifunctional toilet/bidet. We were, most definitively, not in Kansas anymore. I'll spare you to gory (or, actually, squeaky-clean) details, but suffice it to say that going back to my rinse-free routine will require an adjustment period.

This magic invention retails for $1,800, a pittance compared to its bum-spoiling value. If you've never had the pleasure, do your ass a favor, and find an establishment that's installed one. You'll thank me.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Last Day of Summer

This deserves a much fuller treatment, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to write a bunch of words for an audience that rises and sleeps in a world made better by Dan Povenmire and Jeff Marsh.

The greatest children's television show of my parenting era signs off tonight. It's the 104th day of summer in Danville, home of Phineas and Ferb. (Also, Baljeet, Buford, Isabella, Candace, Perry the Playtpus, Heinz Doofenshmirtz, Norm the Robot, and assorted others.)

My kids don't watch much P&F these days, their attention shifting to Instagram, Netflix, Dan and Phil (what an insane shitshow those two vloggers are), and other pastimes. But they, like their father, loved the show for a period of time.

From the perspective of the youth set, Phineas and Ferb (stepbrothers with a penchant for invention, subversion, and witty bon mots) are an object lesson in creativity, self-reliance, inclusion, problem-solving and teamwork. With some young love, a little whimsy, a lot of music, and a dash of libertarianism.

And for parents, the show offered a relentlessly positive message for kids wrapped in an entertaining, adult-winking, rock-soundtracked, cheer and pro-learning package. Boredom, even in the summer, was never an option for our heroes. Nothing to do? Invent a time machine. Travel through space. Build a robot. Start an army. And avoid getting busted by your teenage sister.

This post fails completely to do Phineas and Ferb justice. Just watch tonight. And again and again.

In the words of Buford, 'Yippee Kai-ay, you pharmacist freaks.'

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sophomor(ic) Effort(s)

Grantland recently ran an article listing various editors' favorite second albums from hiphop acts. I don't have a problem with any of the selections, mainly because Steve Hyden had the good sense to include The Low End Theory--any such list without this album would be suspect. I do, however, think they missed a number of obvious choices, and so does Mark. So here are our thoughts on this completely unimportant matter.


Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

A seminal album in hiphop. I've never heard anyone say it's overrated. If you like music and have broad musical tastes, you probably already own this CD.

Jungle Brothers, Done by the Forces of Nature

One of my all-time personal favorites. I've never heard anyone say it's overrated, mainly because most people have never listened to it. You should. It's fantastic. The Jungle Brothers were sort of a proto-De La Soul/Tribe group, founding members of the Native Tongues posse.

Boogie Down Productions, By All Means Necessary

BDP invented gangsta rap with their first album Criminal Minded. They then pivoted to the then-burgeoning "conscious rap" genre with By All Means Necessary. KRS-ONE's verses are almost 20 years old yet they're still culturally relevant. This is also Scott LaRock's last album; he was killed before it was completed.

Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele

GFK's second solo album, although he appeared on multiple albums with the entire Wu-Tang Clan and as a guest on other WTC members' solo albums. I can't say enough good things about Supreme Clientele, and I've said plenty about it here already.


Outkast, ATLiens

You could make the case that Outkast are the greatest group in hip hop history. In fact, I would make that case if this were a different post. After the success of their debut, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik", Outkast reemerged three years later a much different duo from when we saw them last. Somewhat older, much wiser and no long content to simply opine on the drugs, guns, women and violence they encountered in their Southwest Atlanta neighborhood. The sound of Oukast would continually evolve in the coming years but ATLiens was the our first clue as to where they were headed. The video from the first single, "Elevators" left no choice but to take notice of the beginning of this evolution.

Redman, Dare iz a Darkside

New Jersey's Reggie Noble followed up his gold debut album, "Whut? Thee Album" with this effort. Though once again largely produced by mentor Erick Sermon, this album was more driven by Redman's unique personality and gave listeners a deeper look into his strange, smoked out mind. Certain songs like "Cosmic Slop" and "Can't Wait" are highlights, but the whole album holds up well to this day and reminds listeners of what a lyrical force Redman was before he began making movies and hanging out with Method Man.


Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique

I got back to college headed into sophomore year (Coincidentally.) I moved into the fraternity house suite. I went upstairs to find Dave and Rob's room, already messy. One of the very first things out of Dave's mouth in that conversation was, "Hey, the Beastie Boys have a new album. I have the CD." I had loved LTI in high school, but like everybody else, I wondered what came next.

We put it on and listened to it, and again and again. The three bad brothers you know so well (this time Dave, Rob, and myself) got a bunch of Mickey's Big Mouths, cut ourselves opening them, and listened to Paul's Boutique on repeat. We read and learned the lyrics. We picked favorite tracks (mine: "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun"). We heard Dave get philosophical about the omnipresence of dairy foods and wax on the record. These songs weren't quite like anything we had heard, and I had taken in a lot of rap from ages 13-18. Unlike many, many other albums, it never got old. Ever.

Dave's high school hoodlum buddies came down to Williamsburg, and we drank cheap swill and bugged out to Paul's Boutique. We introduced other fratres to it; some passed on it, others like Fitz caught the bug. It dominated our music soundscape for quite a while.  A few years later someone in the house had a copy of Spin magazine (crap). It had a list of top 10 Underrated Albums. Paul's Boutique was on it, as was Sandinista! -- I thought to myself, huh, those two were most of my listening sophomore year.  We never realized Paul's Boutique was underrated and a commercial disappointment because we lived in a total and utter vacuum in college.  To us, it was the greatest, and everybody knew it.  25 years later, everyone does.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Mazda really wants me to buy a Miata again.

I'm sure this will inspire chuckles but my 1993 was the second-favorite car I've owned. Like driving a go-kart with air conditioning. Unfortunately, I don't see any new cars in my near future, and in the event I do get another car it will probably be a minivan. But this commercial is ... persuasive.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

If it ain't broke...

rob claims to be super busy this week, so I offered to jump in and post...something. As a one-trick filler pony, here's what I have for you this morning:

Monday, June 08, 2015

Mail It In, Big Fella!

It's a disaster of week here in the GTB editorial offices. Don't expect much. 

In the wake of last night's epic, ugly, crazy, intense Cavaliers win, here's a flashback to another time LeBron found himself in the center of a media firestorm. I don't think there's ever been a superstar who gets the same treatment as James. As I said on Twitter last night, if LeBron was officiated in the same way as Michael Jordan was, James would go to the line 25 times a game, and score 45 each night. He's simply an original, and I think he's the best ever.

From June 9, 2011:

"A disaster of mammoth proportions."




These and dozens (if not thousands) of other words died in vain over the past two days, sent forth to battle from the tongues and pens of the warriors of the great chattering sportshype machine in response to LeBron James' subpar and oddly passive effort in the 4th quarter of Tuesday's NBA Finals Game 4. General Stephen A. Smith implied (hell, he asserted) on this morning's Mike and Mike Show that LeBron was facing personal issues that were impacting his performance. (In a stunning display of both cowardice and look-at-me yellow journalism, Smith also claimed to know all about the issues, but declined to elaborate.)

Let us stipulate that James, the most physically gifted player in the NBA indeed played badly and un-starlike in the quarter in question. Let us further stipulate that his self-aggrandizing "Decision" was badly conceived and terribly executed. But we come here today not to bury LeBron James, but to wonder what the fuck we as a sports society want from him?

While we all say championships are what matter and build shrines to winners, we have an oddly skewed perspective on LeBron. Instead of celebrating a player who has routinely sublimated his (fairly massive) ego in pursuit of a championship, we flay LeBron any chance we get. The man took less money to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. He was clearly the star of the Eastern Conference Finals with his two-way play against Derrick Rose and the Bulls. And now, four games later, he's a bum because Wade's outshone him against the Mavericks? Bullshit.

Sally Jenkins rode to the rescue in today's Washington Post, channeling no less a sage than Phil Jackson, the man who convinced both Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant that they needed to share the ball at least a little in order to win. Says Jenkins,
“The fact is, selflessness is the soul of teamwork,” Jackson said a few years ago to EnlightenNext magazine. “We have a practical rule in our game: When you stop the basketball — when it resides in your presence and you hold it for longer than two counts — you’ve destroyed our rhythm. When the ball is in your hands, you become the focal point. And when you become the focus, our system breaks down. It’s that simple.”

“It doesn’t matter how good individual players are — they can’t compete with a team that is awake and aware and trusts each other. People don’t understand that. Most of the time, everybody’s so concerned about not being disrespected. But you have to check that attitude at the door — that defensiveness, that protection of your own image and reputation. Everybody needs help in this game.”
It's not enough to win now, we need style points. We need our superstars to win the right way, to dominate, to see their enemies driven before them, to hear the lamentations of their women. And to do it selfishly, individually, alpha male-style. That seems a perversion of everything we teach our kids and claim to want from our colleagues.

For obvious reasons, I have a soft spot for LeBron
. I'm rooting for him to have a big game tonight and lead the Heat to a win. And then I want him to walk over to the nearest big-mouth media member and stab him to death with a pencil, exclaiming for all our blood-lusting benefit, ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Stephen A. would still call him a pussy.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Meow the Gheorghe

"Thank god the money is going to charity because meow the jewels is going to be the single silliest fuckin record ever recorded."

So said El-P on Twitter in January when he announced that Run the Jewels had raised over $45,000 via Kickstarter to remix their blockbuster Run the Jewels 2 record using only cat sounds behind the vocal tracks.

As mentioned recently here by zman, El-P and Killer Mike seem to be moving closer to the release date for Meow the Jewels. Fans have now donated more than $65,000 to the project, which will benefit charities supporting families who have lost loved ones to police violence, as well as animal welfare organizations.

GTB are big RTJ fans to begin with, but as you might imagine, this move hits us right in the places that make us the happiest. Sorta between the cheese place and the Muppet video place. Here's a snippet of Creown, as released via Instagram by El-P. Honestly, I really kind of like it.

A video posted by thereallyrealelp (@thereallyrealelp) on

Friday, June 05, 2015

The Scourge of New Jersey

If Dave is to be believed, Jerseyites need beware. There's a dangerous, fiendish, and very, very persistent new menace on the loose.

Fortunately, Dave is rarely to be believed.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

NBA Finals Preview

To answer a question Mark posed in the comments thread from yesterday's post, it's been a long, long time since I was as excited by an NBA Finals as I am about this one. You might have to go back as far as the 1987 matchup between the Celtics and the Lakers to find one that compares, and my excitement for that one had much more to do with my rooting interests - back then, I was a hardcore Celtics fan.

This time, three of my favorite NBA players match up for the title, and in Golden State, we're given the chance to watch the most exciting team in decades. One the one hand, Draymond Green and Steph Curry. On the other, FOGTB LeBron James.

We're not going to spend a lot of pixels on a detailed breakdown of the series - that's the province of other, far smarter and more motivated keyboarders. We do think the Warriors will win, and we think it'll be reasonably easy - let's say five games. No, we won't give you analysis. But we'll give you something nobody else will:

Cookie Monster and Busta Rhymes asking for seven games.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

fatguyinaspeedo Previews the Women's World Cup

Our footie correspondent fatguyinaspeedo weighed in earlier this week with a post about the 2015 Women's World Cup, which kicks off this week. Little did he, or we, know how powerful his words would prove to be. We didn't even have a chance to get this post in to the queue before Sepp Blatter was forced by the power and cutting venom of these words to step down from his post as the 'President of everybody'. Well done, fatguy.

Presently it should come as no surprise to even the most disinterested soccer observer that Sepp Blatter is living proof that crime does indeed pay, sometimes quite handsomely, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that he is sexist (and homophobic) to boot.  He is Switerland’s own nod to the totalitarian triple threat.

Notwithstanding this, the Women’s World Cup kicks off on June 6 and gives even Dave a reason to (once again) care about Canada. Oddly enough, in a country as apathetic to footie as the USA the USWNT are the dominant force in world soccer and are (barely) ranked 2nd to Germany going into the WWC. We were #1 from 2008-2014 and averaged #2 from 2003-2008 and won World Cups in 1991 and 1999 and Olympic Gold in ’96, 2004, ’08 and ’12. Not bad for a side that came into existence in 1985. Actually, pretty fucking incredible and I’d welcome any comparisons to worldwide sports dominance in such a short timeframe as I’m drawing the usual reference blank.

We came in second in the 2011 World Cup to Japan, a bittersweet loss in that a hugely unflavored Japanese side overcame all odds and triumphed mere months after the earthquake/tsunami devastated their nation. Bittersweet for viewers at least, the USWNT were sorely disappointed and will be back to crush in normal fashion next week. (Editor's Note: I don't think this is very likely. The USWNT looked like canned ass during the run up to the WWC, and Alex Morgan's health is extremely iffy. Head coach Jill Ellis' (W&M '88) decision to exclude Crystal Dunn from the squad looks increasingly questionable, as Dunn is on a tear in NWSL play and the U.S. midfield struggles to develop chemistry.) 

What the womens team has in common with the last men’s world cup team is that they are in the “group of death” along with Australia, Sweden and Nigeria. What they don’t have in common with the men is that they will undoubtedly advance in the second round and not many people will notice. As a side note it’s time the “group of death” moniker is retired and replaced with something suitably banal like “groupmageddon” or “groupocalypse”™.

Before this gets too long-winded and I get too far away from Blatter, a couple of notes worth mentioning:

Abby Wambach leads all humans in that she has scored 182 international goals (241 caps).  Iranian Ali Daei leads all men with 109 goals (149 caps)

Alex Morgan won’t be playing as many minutes with a bum knee. This means Sydney Leroux will be taking her place.

Megan Rapinoe is coming off a knee injury and might not be able to do this:

Abby Wambach broke her nose a couple of weeks ago and isn’t getting it fixed until after the World Cup so she doesn’t miss any training. Check out this video and watch her head get stapled at the :50 second mark so she could keep playing.

Hope Solo will do something stupid.

In case you’re still with me (I Hope) some bonus Blatter:

In 2013 Blatter hugged Sarah Huffman, Wambach’s wife and called her Marta, confusing her for the Brazilian five-time player of the year. He had no clue who one of the all-time best women’s soccer player was and runs FIFA. At least they look alike:


Sarah Huffman

In the interest of consistency, Alex Morgan noted that Blatter didn’t who she was in 2012 at a dinner for the top three female soccer players of the year.

Unfortunately, the women will be playing on artificial turf. Blatter cited actual grass as cost-prohibitive for FIFA but when a company agreed to provide grass for no cost to FIFA, he demurred.

A lawsuit by the best women soccer players was dropped early this year for the same reasons Stormtroopers dropped their lawsuit against the Darth Vader in the book.

As of 2013 FIFA had three(!) women executives  appointed to its 100+ year old board. Lauding this triumph in a meeting Blatter urged them “"We now have three ladies on the board," said Blatter at FIFA's congress in Mauritius. "Say something, ladies. You are always speaking at home, say something now." Viva egalite!

In 2004 he suggested the women’s game would be more popular if they, “have tighter shorts. Female players are pretty … to create a more female aesthetic, why not do it in fashion?”

Too many more Blatter blunders (Blattunders™) to list here.

Consider making the trek to our norteno neighbors next month. Witness history in the making, salute our outgoing generallisimo, and don’t forget the poutine!

Monday, June 01, 2015

What I Did For Work This Weekend

I mentioned in the comments earlier that I attended Awesome Con in Washington, DC on Saturday. I went with my podcasting colleagues to record our latest episode, focused on technology's impact on entertainment culture. We interviewed several convention-goers, as well as Ming Chen and Bryan Johnson from Kevin Smith's SMODcast network.

It's hard to capture the insane, goofy, good-natured fun of Awesome Con. It was a subculture's joyful yawping celebration of itself. It had speed-dating, took seriously the equality of women, and featured hundreds, if not thousands of people costumed in all manner of fantasy gear - I saw Wolverines, Doctors Who, Lara Crofts (boy, did I), Warios, Wookies, elves, and Spocks, to name a very, very few.

I could've stayed there six hours and not seen half of the incredible sights, but here are a handful of pictures of people being their own damn selves.

This was taken at the magical weapons check-in station, a mandatory stop for convention-goers. Really.

This costume wasn't even in the top 100 most incredible getups I saw.
Sulu was there.

Love wins out.
I went to high school with the guy on the right.
He's on the Prince William County (VA) Board of Supervisors,
and as sweet-spirited a guy as you'll ever want to meet.