Monday, August 31, 2015

104 (Misspent) Days of Summer Vacation

My kids spent their summer vacations, for the most part, actively resisting doing anything much at all. If they had their druthers, they'd have spent the entire break staring at any one of a half-dozen screens cluttering our home. As a highly productive, consistently motivated bundle of ambition, I can't for the life of me figure out the source of this behavior.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I came home from work on Friday (a day that the kids spent home alone, as my wife returned to work as a teacher earlier in the week) to find that my 13 year-old had learned how to use GarageBand and begun recording an 'album'.

Her working title is 'Factual Fiction'. The first two tracks are an original called 'Fantasy Land' and a cover of CHVRCHES' 'Gun'. I think she's pretty good, but I'm not really an impartial observer. Lord knows her musical talent didn't come from me.

Apologies for the Dadbrag, but, you know, post count. Also, please feel free to send to any major label executives you know, because my retirement compound isn't gonna build itself.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Gheorghe Goes to the Fair

Our in-house expert on culinary excess has been scouring state fairs across America in search of the newest, biggest, greasiest, mostest gut busting extravagances. This week, he traveled to Syracuse to visit the New York State Fair, and check out The Defibrillator.

We know what you're thinking, and you're right: man, health food branding really has taken a turn towards irony.

The Indigestometer is a nice touch, but this pic needs more thumb
The Defibrillator is an angus beef burger served between two grilled cheese sandwiches. It includes cheese curds, deep fried bacon, deep fried pickles, and - because no burger is complete without (more) cheese - cheddar cheese. According to Syracuse University dietitian Jane Burrell Uzcategui,

"The Defibrillator (is) clearly a calorie powerhouse, topping the scale about 1,605 calories or three quarters of the recommended daily intake. Not only are the calories outrageous, the fat hits 74 grams (9 grams more than what is recommended per day) and the artery clogging, saturated fat, is a whopping 44 grams per day (double the recommended). ... Don't fool yourself -- you aren't burning that many calories walking around at the Fair. To use the calories consumed in this meal you would have to walk the Midway end-to-end 32 times."

To which we say, get to walking.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Entrance Song to a Lovemaking Session

I used to watch a lot of the MMA pay-per-views with friends a few years ago. We would compare entrance songs of different fighters and talk about what we would use in the unlikely (though slightly more likely after several drinks) event we become professional fighters. Of course, this was all done while acknowledging there was no topping old school Mike Tyson's entrance with Welcome to the Terrordome cranking in the background.

Anyhoo, I stumbled on the song below a few months back (thanks to our good friends on the Deep Tracks station at SiriusXM) and fell in love with it immediately. Earlier this week, as I navigated the subway to get to my train home, I tried to contextualize (in my own head, of course, where most of my conversations occur) why I loved this song. It took me a while, but I think I finally came up with the context in which this song was perfect.

What if men and women walked into bedrooms for lovemaking sessions like fighters walked into boxing rings for fights? What if there were 10,000 folks there to cheer you on? What if I was in a robe, walking slowly, while an entourage massaged my traps, carried gels, lubes, toys and sexual accoutrements, held my heavyweight champ lovemaking belt high in the air and whispered encouraging words into my ear to ensure the fires raged underneath my lustrous groin beard? What song would fit that scenario and get me fired up for a funkadelic romp under the sheets? Well, this song would.

So, um, yeah. That's what I have to say about this tune. Give it a whirl and try to forget the awfulness in the world for five minutes. 1970 side project by Jerry Garcia and keyboardist Howard Wales? Count me in.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

This Test Goes to Eleven

A short episode of The Test this week, on current events. Cunningham does fairly well, but current events are definitely not my forte-- probably because I don't watch TV or read the newspaper . . . I tend to get my breaking news from the comment thread on Gheorghe.  My performance is not particularly impressive. Perhaps you will fare better.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Clarence Explains It All . . . Again

Clarence is not a role model. He’s not even human. He’s a cartoon. Some of the things he does could cause a person to get hurt, expelled, arrested, possibly deported. To put it another way: Don't try this at home. 

So the locals were aghast with an incident at ODU over the weekend.  Thanks to the pervasive nature of social media, now the world is aghast.

Some frat guy knuckleheads spray-painted some remarks on bed sheets and dangled them from balconies, remarks that are characterized anywhere from mildly obnoxious to criminally offensive, depending upon your mindset.  Here is Deadspin's take on it, with pictures.

I have a question not just for Zman Esq and the handful of other attorneys in our GTB midst, but all of you higher-minded cohorts of mine.  Here are the words that were printed on the sheets:
“Rowdy and fun [highlighting the O, D, and U]"
"Hope your baby girl is ready for a good time”
“Freshman daughter drop off [with an arrow pointing to the house's front door]”
“Go ahead and drop off mom too...”
Universally accepted as stupid, immature, and largely inappropriate, without question.

But, either taken literally or even infusing some suggestion in there, are they, as accused by many, words that espouse rape or sexual assault? 

It seems to me that as we elevate community awareness and the severity of the punishment that fits rape in America, we must also elevate our caution when labeling or accusing our citizens of this crime.  It's a complex issue that affected my alma mater in a case whose public opinion verdict rang louder than the actual facts or result of the case.  And whether or not the UVA story was debunked last year (as predicted), the problem still exists and remains a justifiably incendiary topic.  It's one not likely to fade away any time soon, simply because men have sexually assaulted women for the 100,000 or more years we have been on the planet, and we have yet to come up with the appropriate tools to fix ourselves.

As ODU seeks to mete out the proper punishment for this behavior, it's important to keep the furor within the confines of the act committed.  The university has responded publicly, using the likely words "outraged," "sickened," and "will not be tolerated,"  But they also reference "sexual assault" and "violence against women." Maybe it's a logical leap, but as a former fraternity knucklehead, the divide our guys kept between lascivious/crude and assault/violence against women was a huge one.

Anyway, as usual, at Gheorghe we like our grammar on point and our law and order to be argued and measured appropriately -- even when the idiots committing the acts are offensive enough not to warrant much defense.  I get to hear and read about this event plenty for the next week or two around town.  Just lucky that way,

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Test Turns Ten

The tenth episode of The Test is rather special to me for several reasons:

1) I read Cunningham's mind;

2) I predict Stacey's demise;

3) Cunningham administers a fairly logical test;

4) I edited the entire thing on my ancient MacBook Pro while I was on vacation.

Number four is the thing that makes me the happiest. I took all the little bits and pieces of audio-- the intro and the outro, the heavenly music and the intermission riffs-- and I made them into WAV files and imported them into the cruddy version of Garage Band on my Mac. Then I created the Voice of God with some Garage Band effects. Then I recorded the Voice of God in our beach house, directly into my laptop (and, in the process, surely convinced the three other families in our beach househ that I was a lunatic). My own family already knows this.

But I got the job done and it sounds fine. As William Gibson said, we are living in the future, it's just not evenly distributed yet.

Hope you give it a listen and play along. Also, we are always looking for guests and/or new tests. I am going to try to figure out how to Skype people into an episode and capture a decent audio recording, which should open up some new possibilities and also feel very future-tech. I have never Skyped with anyone . . . you could be the first.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Gheorghe Explains the Election

(This is the second in an occasional series of posts that will continue until we forget to do the next one, or get bored, or see a shiny object that dis...oooh, squirrel!)

It's a measure of how low our societal expectations have sunk that the Deez Nuts phenomenon has enough oxygen to become more than just an ember, drifting at the far fringes of our national electoral bonfire. But as first Donald Trump and now Deez Nuts' rise show in stark terms, people just want to watch the motherfucker burn.

As most of you know by know, Deez Nuts is the brainchild of 15 year-old Iowa native Brady Olson, who registered Nuts as an Independent candidate for President of the United States of America. Pretty good prank for a high school sophomore to begin with, but as of this writing Deez Nuts is polling in the high single digits in Presidential polls in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Iowa.

Tom Jensen, the director of Public Policy Polling initially began including Deez Nuts in his surveys as a lark, but changed his mind when he saw the results, Says Jensen, "I would say Mr. Nuts is the most ludicrous and unqualified third-party candidate you could have, but he’s still polling at 7, 8, 9 percent. Right now the voters don’t like either of the people leading in the two main parties, and that creates an appetite for a third-party candidate."

Deez Nuts has a campaign website, and a platform best described as "decently aware high school libertarian". But where Mr. Nuts truly has struck a chord is in his motivation. As he tells Rolling Stone in answer to the questions, "Is [this] some kind of statement on our two party political system? and Why did you decide to run for President?", "Half trying to break the two-party system, half frustration with the front-runners", and "Because I really didn't want to see Clinton, Bush, or Trump in the White House, so I guess I'm just trying to put up a fight."

Burn motherfucker, burn.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp - Official Trailer - Netflix ...

Good, funny stuff here folks with an all-star cast of goof balls. Represented: SNL x's a few, Parks & Rec, Madmen x's a couple, Children's Hospital x's a couple, Bradley Cooper!, the funny geeky guy from Brooklyn 911, the Cera kid/young man, Paul Rudd!, Janeane Garafolo, and on and on and on. I've been meaning to check this out for a while now and finally did last night when the wife was out socializing. It's goofy funny. Got nothing on the DVR with no hopes of anything on the current telly shows?...this is for you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Clarence Is a Punk: Vol. 1-2-3-4

18 months ago, I launched segment number one of a five-part piece on punk rock.  At this rate, you guys will have to write and read numbers four and five at my funeral.  In that piece, I ran through 25 punk rock classics from the 1970's.  Intentionally, I left out three individual bands worthy of their own post/playlist.  Here's a take on one of them . . .

Hey -- Ho -- Let's Go

The Ramones

Writing an excess of words on the band, while very Clarence, does not suit the Ramones. This is a band that crammed 5 minutes' worth of playing into two-minute songs for two decades.  Here's what you need to know, Cliffs Ramone style.

Essential Facts
  • Jeff Hyman, John Cummings, Doug Colvin, Tom Erdelyi, later Marc Bell and some others
  • Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky Ramone, et al
  • Supposedly "Ramones" had a link to Paul McCartney checking into hotels as Paul Ramon.  Also possibly linked to producer Phil Ramone.  Probably neither so much as just a random choice of a universal surname for all band members.
  • Joey was on drums at first.  Tommy was the manager, then he took over behind the kit and Joey went out front.  Good call, dudes.
  • Have you see Joey Ramone up close?  And considering how shy he was, he was a less likely candidate for successful frontman than Stipe, Ian Curtis, and Andy Partridge put together.
  • The Ramones' eponymous debut was released in 1976.  It makes the G:TB list of best debut albums of all time.  
  • Johnny Ramone stole Joey's girlfriend and married her.  This was never really resolved.
  • Johnny Ramone was staunchly conservative in his political leanings.  Joey was diametrically opposed.  This mattered when it came to occasional lyrical content like in "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg."
  • Dee Dee was the only original who really did many drugs.  Way many.
  • Joey died in 2001 from lymphoma. Dee Dee finally OD'ed in 2002. Johnny succumbed to prostate cancer in 2004.  Tommy died last year from bile duct cancer.  Name another rock and roll band whose founding members are all deceased.  I know of two.  Because I googled it.
Essential Viewing: End of the Century - The Story of the Ramones.  One of my favorite rockumentaries ever.  Watch it.

Essential Listening: I bought Mania when it came out in 1988, then eventually went back to the first album and started working my way through from the beginning.  Not a bad way to do it, and it may be how everyone is doing it.  Mania was the only certified gold record The Ramones had, ludicrous as it seems to me.  Until last year -- when Ramones went gold, 38 years after its release.  Hundreds of years from now, watch for sales of Too Tough to Die to skyrocket.

In the meantime, here's Clarence's take on the music.  Come on, let's rock and roll with the Ramones.

What You Already Know
(or you damn well should)
1. "Blitzkrieg Bop," Ramones 1976
Hey Ho Let's Go

2. "I Wanna Be Sedated," Road to Ruin 1978
Hurry hurry hurry, before I go loco

3. "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," Rocket to Russia 1977
New York City really has it all

4. "Rock & Roll High School," End of the Century, 1980
I just wanna get some chicks

5. "Do You Remember Rock & Roll Radio?" End of the Century, 1980
'Cause lately it all sounds the same to me

What You May Well Know
1. "We're a Happy Family," Rocket to Russia 1977
Siting here in Queens / Eating refried beans

2. "The KKK Took My Baby Away," Pleasant Dreams, 1981
Ring me ring me ring me up the President / And find out where my baby went

3. "Pinhead," Leave Home, 1977
Gabba gabba hey

 4. "Rockaway Beach," Rocket to Russia 1977
The sun is out, and I want some

5. "Pet Sematary," Brain Drain, 1989
I don't want to live my life again

Brilliance in Under Two Minutes
1. "Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue," Ramones, 1976 - 1:36
All the kids want somethin' to do
[This might be the perfect rock song. It's like it sired "Wasted" by Black Flag.]

2. "Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment," Leave Home, 1977 - 1:43
Peace and love is here to stay

3. "Cretin Hop," Rocket to Russia 1977 - 1:59
There's no stoppin' the cretins from hoppin'

Top Ramones Covers
1. "California Sun," The Rivieras
2. "Surfin' Bird," The Trashmen
3. "Let's Dance," Chris Montez
4. "Needles and Pins," Jackie DeShannon
5. "Spiderman," TV Cartoon

3 Good Ramones Songs That Aren't Very Ramones-y
1. "Howling at the Moon (Sha-La-La), Too Tough to Die, 1985
I want to steal from the rich and give to the poor

2. "Danny Says," End of the Century, 1980
Listening to Sheena on the radio
Phil Spector... uh...

3. "She Talks to Rainbows," Adios Amigos! 1994
She talks to trees / She talks to bees / She don't talk to me
Bizarrely silly lyrics, but I really like this tune a lot.

Also: "Something to Believe In," Animal Boy, 1986
If people weren't such dicks and I never made mistakes / Then I could find forgiveness
I don't love the song, but a video worth watching, Ramones Aid, a USA for Africa parody with guest stars.

JDGRS (Just Damn Good Ramones Songs)
Teenage Lobotomy Psycho Therapy 53rd & 3rd Bop 'Til You Drop I Remember You Chinese Rock Too Tough to Die Garden of Serenity Beat On the Brat Glad to See You Go I Want You Around Havana Affair 
At the Boathouse in Norfolk

Clarence's All-Time Favorites
(In addition to several of the above)

1. "Judy Is a Punk," Ramones, 1976
Perhaps they'll die, oh yeah

2. "Commando," Leave Home, 1977
Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salamis
1:55 of pure punk rock, kicked off with vintage Dee Dee 1-2-3-4.

3.  "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," Rocket to Russia 1977
Someone had to pay the price
Dispelling misconceptions that all Ramones songs are frenetic punk with shallow content . . .

4.  "I Just Wanna Have Something to Do," Road to Ruin 1978
Hanging out on Second Avenue / Eating chicken vindaloo
. . . but some are, and they are excellent.

5. "We Want the Airwaves," Pleasant Dreams, 1981
Mr. Programmer / I got my hammer / and I'm gonna Smash my / Smash my / Radio

6. "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg (My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down)," Animal Boy 1986
As I watched it on TV somehow it really bothered me

7. "Somebody Put Something In My Drink," Animal Boy 1986
Tanqueray and tonic's my favorite drink / I don't like anything colored pink / That just stinks
Inspired the Random idiots song "Someone Slipped a Mickey in My 27th Beer."

8. "I Wanna Live," Halfway to Sanity, 1987
As I execute my killers / The morning is near
But here's all you really need.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Because it makes me anxious and a little bit agitated to see the same content at the top of G:TB for more than a few consecutive days, here's an inside joke for three:

And yes, I'm seeking professional help.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Oh Doctor, Please Help Me, I'm Damaged

FOG:TB Fat Guy in a Speedo is on a tear early this EPL season, nearly matching Swansea City for prolific output and positive results. Here's his take on football fandom.

At the risk of raising the ire of even the most casual G:TB reader’s ambivalence towards soccer (or kickball per the good folks at the Chicago Trib) yet emboldened by the recent start of the EPL, Rob’s new(ish) penchant for the game and my lack of employment I figured I had the time to add one more footie post before slouching back to my biannual post rate torpor. Plus college football hasn’t started.

Raiders Fans
Our nation excels in garden-variety fanaticism slightly behind ISIS, yet just above Raider Nation. In spite of our nation’s penchant for groupthink zest in terms of issues such as gun control, religion, and Caitlyn Jenner, the zealotry of your typical United States sports fan pales in comparison to the “civilized” citizens of countries like England, France and Albania. If Geno Smith played (mediocre) soccer in England, the media outrage over his glass jaw would be palpable. Cheeky headlines would abound for weeks on end. Regrettably, the NY Post won the banter war with the cumbersome ‘Jaw and Disorder’ while the Daily News’ ‘Luck of the Jaw’ is right out.

As usual, Chelsea FC are at the root of my and the rest of civilized sporting society’s disdain.(Editor's Note: If more Americans were aware of that cocksucker Diego Costa, more of us would hate him, and by extension have a reason to follow the EPL.) Farcical case in point, last Sunday Chelsea tied a decent Swansea side at home after their keeper saw red and was sent off. In stoppage time a Chelsea player was hurt on the pitch and the ref called the team’s medics out to tend to his injury. They took him off the field per regulations and Jose Mourinho, Chelsea’s talented head coach but far more formidable asshole, could be seen yelling at his own team’s medical staff to get the player back out there as they were already down a man. Five days later, the team doctor has since been demoted and this relatively minor incident has dominated UK sports headlines for days. barely mentioned it as this is not the kind of sports issue people in the States tend to pay much interest to.  Ed Hochuli aside, refs and team medicos are fodder for BB gun variety cannonry.  English top flight referees are well known figures and each team has at least one referee who is perceived to hate them and will call a game to ensure their failure.

As a side note, the team doctor is a young(ish) and relatively attractive female. Chelsea fans have regaled her with the chant "Celery/Celery/If she don't come, I'll tickle her bum/With a lump of celery” when she’s on the pitch, which is ironic in that your average Brit has never even seen celery as evidenced by its lumpen description. Regrettable misogyny aside, it’s time for us to step up our sporting fanatacism on this side of the pond. If we learn the names of those peripheral to the sport we will be gifted with that much more minutiae to occupy our time and even divert our attention from the emerging presidential shitshow.

Bye for now and see you on Boxing Day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Gheorghe Recommends

There's an important and growing segment of the G:TB family that identifies as hardcore sneakerheads. For them, our curation staff has put together a pair of must-see documentary exhibitions on the emergence of sneaker culture as a force in global fashion.

The Rise of Sneaker Culture is both a book and a traveling exhibition. It's billed as "the first exhibition to explore the complex social history and cultural significance of the footwear now worn by billions of people throughout the world." If you're in New York between now and October 4, you can check it out at the Brooklyn Museum. If you do, we'd appreciate it if you file a report.

As a companion piece, if not intentionally, a documentary was released last week in New York and Los Angeles about sneaker culture. Sneakerheadz, from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine (which seems a bit of an odd juxtaposition, tells the story of the globalization of the sneaker business, and the cultural implications of the transformation of kicks from athletic wear to collectible, highly-desired tokens of community for millions.

The Fast Company piece linked in the first paragraph above has a cool timeline of the growth of the sneaker industry, dating back to 1921, when Converse became the first company to pay an endorser to promote their brand. Chuck Taylor had no idea that his name would remain a totem for hipsters around the globe nearly 100 years later. Nor that I would own five pairs of his shoes.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

More Tests

Stacey, Cunningham and I are cranking out the podcasts . . . I'm not sure how we'll fare once the school year begins, but as of now we are going strong. Teachers in the summer. We have a new home, on Podbean, and we have a nifty logo (designed by Stacey) as well.

You'll hear some familiar voices in Episode 8, and I learned something about recording audio in a car: you can't put the recorder down on the center console because it will also record all the vibrations from the highway. One to grow on. I also learned that TJ needs to use profanity when discussing octaves.

Episode 9 features some minor improvements that only the most zealous fan will recognize; I tightened the intro and improved the music, and made the theme song a bit clearer. You also get to hear about my nightmare trip to Manhattan . . . if you'd rather read about it, head over to Sentence of Dave.

Play along, see how you do, and we are always looking for guests and/or tests.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bite Me, Randy Newman

One could draft a fairly extensive compilation of Randy-worthy soccer players from around the globe. The best player in the world, for example, stands but 5'7". Well, he's listed at that, anyway. The legendary Diego Maradona? He's 5'5". Closer to home, the underrated and recently-retired Steve Cherundolo topped out at 5'6". (And USWNT defender Megan Klingenberg is a mere 5'2".) Indeed, the most democratic of all the world's sports makes room for players of all shapes and sizes.

But we come to celebrate a pair of lilliputian talents who have risen (pun!) above in the last few weeks. Both play in leagues outside their home countries, and both shoulder outsized burdens for teams with longshot title aspirations, and both wear the number 10 jersey of the conductor of the offense.

It was huge news at the beginning of the year when Italian National Team member and Juventus star Sebastian Giovinco signed with Toronto FC of MLS. He's the first player of his caliber to make the jump from Europe to North America in the prime of his career. The 5'5" Giovinco (formica atomica, in Italian, and the Atomic Ant to his English-speaking fans) is only 28.

Giovinco hasn't disappointed. Through this weekend's play, his 16 goals are one behind Columbus Crew forward Kei Kamara for the league lead. His hat trick last week led Toronto to a 4-1 win over Orlando, and helped Toronto move to 4th in the Eastern Conference. His combination of skill, speed, balance, and power make him arguably MLS' best player. See for yourself:

In England, Liverpool is widely considered to be on the outside looking in at the Premier League's elite teams, with Steven Gerrard now in America, and no major signings other than Christian Benteke to show for the transfer period. Dynamic Brazilian little guy Philippe Coutinho's performance this season will go a long way towards defining the Reds' fortunes.

The 23 year-old is already playing his fourth season in the EPL, and has shown flashes of brilliance interspersed with periods of indifference (sorta like my professional career, now that I think about it). He's capable of unleashing remarkable strikes from long distance, as evidenced by his 86th-minute game winner in Liverpool's season opener at Stoke. Check it out:

No less a talent than Kaka has tabbed Coutinho as Gerrard's Merseyside heir. Chelsea defender John Terry picked Coutinho as his EPL Player of the Year before the season began. Big, big shoes to fill for a guy who stands 5'7". In the program.

Bite Me, Randy Newman.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Explaining Trump

A wise (if sometimes politically misguided) observer of the American political scene posted something last week about the (to many) befuddling rise of Donald Trump as a GOP Presidential candidate.

It's easy to write Trump off as a joke, the logical, comical conclusion to 50 years of a party sublimating its once-principled conservatism of ideas in the name of power-first purity tests. But to do that means we don't have to try to deal with the issues that underlie his rise. And this feels like a moment that calls for a deeper understanding. Why do nearly a quarter of Republican voters support someone that appears to non-believers as a cartoonish buffoon? Trump, unquestionably a lout, is a reaction to something. His ascent, even if it may be temporary, does have meaning, and there are lessons to be learned in the effort to comprehend it.

Drew Magary, who's gone from dick-and-poop-joke Deadspin artiste to a mainstream commentator (with an eye for dick and poop jokes) in what feels like the blink of an eye, wrote a piece for GQ this week on the Trump phenomenon. He went to Oskaloosa, Iowa to see a Trump rally in person. His reporting strikes a powerful chord:
"Well, Trump is here to fix all that losing. And here is where my brief jag of mildly effusive praise for Donald Trump must come to an end, because the grim undercurrent of his rise is SHAME. After all, if you believe we must make America great again, then you must also believe that America, at the present moment, sucks. And pretty much everyone at the Trump picnic believed that America sucks. When I asked a group of Trump supporters outside if they were proud of America, they all laughed with derision.  Of course they weren’t proud of America. Of course this nation is a shithole. One voter named Corey told me he hoped Trump would help America “get back to the way it was,” a refrain I heard from a lot of people, as if the country was a rock band that had changed its sound. Backing Trump means acknowledging that you live in a world of failure, and that your last best hope is the Music Man moseying into town."
As hard as this is to admit, because it implicates me directly, East Coast suburban knowledge professionals with college educations (a description that covers the vast majority of this blog's staff and readership) haven't ever walked a mile in the shoes of the denizens of depressed post-manufacturing towns like Oskaloosa, Iowa.

At its core, this is about change. Human beings don't do change very well. Change management is a thriving industry and subject of academic inquiry. We fear change so much, our institutions are willing to pay to learn how to manage it.  Any material change brings with it apprehension. I just bought a new car, and I've been driving like a grandmother for the last few days as I adjust to the bigger dimensions and longer stopping distance. But change that forces humans to reexamine their most foundational beliefs is terrifying. For dozens of reasons - technical, economic, cultural, demographic, etc - our country and our world are changing at a dizzying pace. There are millions of Americans for whom that change represents dislocation, loss of opportunity, and the rise of the other.

From a purely economic perspective, the unemployment rate for college graduates is half that of those who only completed high school. Trump's strong (insane?) anti-immigrant rhetoric resonates with a constituency that feels increasingly exposed in a global economy that values traditional labor very differently than it once did.

Culturally, think for a minute about what the last ten years have wrought. Gay marriage is legal, across the land. We have a black President, with a white mom, and Kenyan relatives. Nearly ten states have decriminalized marijuana. 63% of Americans are non-Hispanic whites, down from 75% in 2000 (and on the way to less than 50% by 2050). As many Americans watched a women's soccer game as did college football's playoffs, for fuck's sake. (2005 guy just said, 'Wait, there's a college football playoff? The future is awesome!)

The world is different, but the same. Things are more moderner than before. Bigger and yet smaller. It's computers. San Dimas High School Football Rules!

Wait, sorry. Got lost in a Wyld Stallyns riff there for a second. The world is a shitload different, and it's happened (and is happening) pell mell. I worry about the future, about whether I'll have enough money for retirement, for sending my kids to college. And I make a very good living. I can't begin to understand the pressures felt by a father of two kids who's marginally employed, and his skills are no longer in demand because the plant was closed and the jobs shipped to Mexico. I'm worried about budgeting for my trip to Walt Disney World. He's worried about whether or not his kid's gonna have Christmas, and in many cases, he's looking for someone to blame, because he's a human, and that's what we do.

And there but for the grace of God, go all of us.

My point, at the end of this rambling, is an echo of a Chris Rock bit about domestic violence (embroiled as our media is in the deconstruction of Trump's flippant misogyny, I recognize that this particular allegory might be construed as a bit, well, ill-timed). In the aftermath of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson, Rock said, "So you gotta look at OJ's situation. He's paying $25,000 a month in alimony, got another man driving around in his car and fucking his wife in a house he's still paying the mortgage on. Now I'm not saying he should have killed her... but I understand."

Which takes us back to the theory posited at the beginning of this post. The world is an infinitely complex place. None of us understands it fully. People who find themselves in the midst of disruptive change don't want to hear about complexity, or nuance. They want to be told in confident tones that there are simple answers. Hell, we all want that. There's a deep vein of uncertainty in this country, and Trump has tapped into it. He's not going to win the nomination, but whoever does (in both parties) would do well to think about how to serve those that feel the changes taking place in our society are leaving them behind.

I'm not saying Donald Trump is right, or anything less than an embarrassment.

But I understand.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Bhoys of (Late) Summer

G:TB's footie friend Fat Guy in a Speedo returns with one of his timely EPL posts, as the new season kicks off this weekend. Enjoy, but don't expect to hear much about Bournemouth and Watford. Elitist as a motherfucker, that Fat Guy.

EPL kicked off yesterday, thrilling hundreds of Americans who enjoy awaking early on a weekend to watch grown millionaires score an average of 1.2 goals every 90 minutes. I won’t bore you with the details but the same four teams are expected to occupy the top four spots on the league, the mid-table grinders will be in about the same place as usual and the three recently promoted teams are expected to be dropped at the end of season.  The predictability is perfectly suited to those who loathe change and are content to not shoo the fly off our arm like some hopped up ENFP.
Even the most dilatory INTP would have to provide a modicum of insight so let’s have at it. Chelsea has been touted to reclaim the title by the wunderkind at The Guardian and most everyone else. They are a bunch of tossers from top to bottom and play a singularly unwatchable style of football. If you want to confirm your average Americans unshakable derision of the beautiful game turn on a Chelsea match and they won’t be disappointed.  Sadly, they are the best team in the league.

Many pundits are picking Arsenal to finish second and firmly cement their status as first-place losers per the late Dale Earnhardt.  Arsenal play the most attractive football in the league and are regularly rewarded with second place and third place trophies for their efforts. Manchester United have been shite the past couple years and will likely be a trifle less shitey this season. Manchester City aren’t worth commenting on. Liverpool still seem to have worldwide support in spite of their above-average mediocrity over the past two decades and will continue to thrive after another average, silverless season. Fulham is right out.

(At this point we'll note that we were a day late in posting Fat Guy's preview, so read the next paragraph as if you didn't know that those bastard United didn't top Spurs, 1-0, on a Kyle Walker own goal. And for what it's worth, I've decided that Spurs are my side in the top league this season, as Fulham continues its Championship walkabout (thanks for the acknowledgement above, friend). Fitting start, that.)

Kickoff is tomorrow at 7:45EST with Manchester United playing Tottenham Hotspurs. This has all the makings of a cracking start to the season with loads of offensive potential coupled with defensive frailties on both ends. Looking forward to the goalless draw to start the season. That’s a wrap and Bob’s your uncle. 

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Saturday Travel Filler

Depending upon when you read this, The Teej and his bride are either on their way to, or already in Iceland. We know nothing about Iceland, other than the fact that it's incredibly thermodynamic (ironic, that) and that it gave us Aron Johannsson.

Oh, and Bjork:

We're eagerly awaiting the Teej/baconbaking travelogue. Until then, we'll just watch this video on repeat.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Message in a Dixie Cup String Phone

If you're like me, you've often sat on a beach, feet in the sand, and looked out on the ocean wondering what was on the other side of that vast expanse of water. And if you're like me, you've never bothered to make the relatively limited effort required to actually answer that question.

Thankfully, the Washington Post's Wonkblog staff has entertained similar musings, and has both the motivation, resources, and editorial freedom* to seek answers.

I'm pleased, now, to know that while I sit on the back porch of the Martha Wood cottage, pleasantly daydrunk, I'm looking across the Atlantic Ocean at a guy on the west coast of Spain. Cadiz, maybe. I assume he's tipsy on rioja, rather than Red Stripe.

* - We've got way too much editorial freedom, and we've got the resources, so I think we all know where the issue lies. Look at this global version of the map and we'll just ignore the elephant.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Son of a Bitch! Give Me a Drink.

Had I not been introduced to Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats properly, I might have been jaded against him. He and his band check the boxes on many hipster tropes that pop rock music is giving us these days - an old timey image, hipster beards, hipster hats and an Americana tilt to the tunes.

But it's the voice that gets you. It's the closest I've heard to vintage Johnny Cash, but with more than a dash of soul influence. And he's singing below about something most of us can relate to - drinking. I hope the gist of the song - capitulating on the DTs - is something that none of you deal with, but I hope at least one of you cranks this with a load on sometime soon.

I suck at writing about music. Just play this loudly. I sure will when I'm sweating on my train home tonight with a 24 oz. bottle of Lagunitas IPA in my hand.

Last of the "danimal in China" filler

Sent to us last evening:

"This is the pic that I couldn't get. Yes, it's a caricature of a person spitting out the window. They don't want you to do that. You can spit anywhere else mind you, just not out of a car while in town."

Monday, August 03, 2015

The Aliens Are Already Here

I've done a few (very) moderately adventurous things over the past couple of years, but Australian daredevil Robbie Maddison's exploits make even the most ardent human thrill seeker seem couch bound. Maddison, increasingly considered the heir to Evel Knievel's throne, has scaled the replica Arc de Triomphe at Paris in Las Vegas, flown across the Corinth Canal in Greece, and backflipped on the Tower Bridge in London, all on a motorbike.

Oh, and now, he's surfed Teahupoo. Also on a motorbike. It's as preposterous as it sounds.

Happy Monday, fellow office drones. May you get your adrenaline up by spinning as fast as you can in your desk chair.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

The Test Episode 6 . . . Salt Water Stuff

On the latest episode of The Test, I ask some questions related to the beach. The ladies perform admirably at times, but also disappoint me.

In an upcoming episode, there will be some audio from T.J. and Jerry, who I recorded on the way to OBFT XXII. Unfortunately, it sounds like we are travelling in a open railroad box car, not Jerry's coupe, so the audio quality is a little rough. I should be able to salvage some of it though, because Jerry said some smart shit and T.J. said some funny shit (how stereotypical).

Anyway, play along at home, enjoy it, and tell me how you scored.