Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Dahntay Jones' NBA Career May Be Over. All Hail Dahntay Jones.

A news item made the tiniest of ripples in the NBA this week. The Brooklyn Nets cut Dahntay Jones as they pared their roster down to 15 spots. The cut itself wasn't that big of a surprise. The Nets are going nowhere and decided to keep some young players with upside like Donald Sloan and the-man-who-desperately-needs-a-nickname Willie Reed at the end of their bench, instead of an aging Jones.

What is a big surprise is that Dahntay Jones was still in an NBA camp, two months shy of his 35th birthday. And that Dahntay Jones had career earnings of $18 million from a career that spanned eleven seasons over twelve years. On my all-time "How the hell did these guys stick in the NBA for so long and get themselves paid?" team, he would be competing for a starting backcourt spot with Steve Blake and Alvin Williams.

(Editor's note: Williams had career earnings of $42 million. Blake, who's still theoretically an active player, has career earnings of $35 million.)

(Editor's second note: You may counter that Jones was a first-round pick, but it was the 20th pick in the 2003 Bron Bron draft, and the selections around him included luminaries like Zarko Cabarkapa, Zoran Planinic, Vigo Carpathian and Ndudi Ebi, which I'm pretty sure is pronounced "Nudie boobie". One of those players may be made-up. A picture of Zoran Planinic, ostensibly auditioning for White Men Can't Jump 2 a couple years ago, is below.)

Jones started his college career at Rutgers, then wisely transferred to Duke to avoid the sinkhole that is the Rutgers basketball team. While he did start and get a lot of time at Duke, he was somewhat in the shadows, next to the program's big stars: Battier, Boozer, Dunleavy and Williams.

Jones did get drafted and did bounce around a fair bit since 2003. Most casual NBA fans will vaguely remember Jones' game as that of a defensive stopper with attitude, supporting some decent Grizzlies and Pacers teams. He averaged 20 minutes per game only twice in his career, and averaged 10 ppg only once, while playing feisty defense. But they'll definitely remember him as an asshole, because even when he didn't play toward the end of his career, he did stuff like this:

I love stuff like that. I love love love the less skilled guys being assholes to hang around, doing the dirty work their teammates and coaches want from them.

And I loved Bob Thornton. Not many of you will remember the real #23, who came off the bench for the Knicks, Sixers, Timberwolves and Jazz in the 1980's and early 90's. He was an undersized Caucasian power forward who competed with Eddie Lee Wilkins, Brian Quinnett, Sidney Green and Ken "the Animal" Bannister for minutes in the feeble Knicks frontcourt in the pre-Ewing days. His biggest attribute seemed to be the six fouls he could/would aggressively lay on the other team's frontcourt players. He had no business being in the NBA, but hung on for seven years. He's now an assistant with the Grizzlies. In his first year in the NBA, he averaged 19 minutes, 5 points, 4 rebounds and 3 fouls per game with the Knicks. And he was an asshole. A glorious, underskilled, antagonistic asshole who boxed out with vigor, set pics with elbows up and hacked at the other team's skilled players to teach them a lesson about coming into the lane against them. he was the kinda player that a chubby kid from New Jersey with a great attitude and a terrible vertical leap could relate to. You know, the kinda kid who managed to get himself ejected from little league baseball games twice.

(Editor's note: Thornton had career earnings of $1.1 million.)

(Editor's second note: We have no idea why this paragraph is in this post.)

So let's raise a glass to a not-quite great one who got as much as he could out of his skill set, in an era of overpaid NBA players flaming out after one big contract by the time they hit 30. Let's salute a guy who knew that being a tenacious asshole would give his career legs and maybe help his team win against tough squads, even if meant REALLY REALLY REALLY being an asshole (under the tacit acceptance of his coaching staff for sure).

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Two for Tuesday

Big day today. Apparently, it is National Black Cat Day, proving that people will make up a day for no reason whatsoever. The 2015-16 NBA season also tips off tonight, so I did my best internetting and found this gem of an image. Enjoy:

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Test: Twenty Episodes!

The twentieth episode of The Test is my favorite so far: it's a festive mix of epistemology, education, ignorance, judgement, temper tantrums, and cave-hating. I hope you enjoy it, and I'll bet you won't score as well as me (or make funnier comments). Good luck.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Best Sort of Homecoming

By the time you read this, I'll likely have awakened, groggy and cotton mouthed, possibly in the back seat of my car, and in any case almost certainly wearing the clothes I wore the night before. I'll be somewhere on Interstate 64, or maybe 95, headed to my current home from my once and future.

I'm certain to have heard and told stories that I've long ago memorized, remet and remembered people I'd long forgotten, and walked in a younger version of my own footsteps. I'll have mini-summited, drank beer out of plastic pitchers, laughed, laughed, and laughed.

I'll be there.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Dave Stoically Accepts His Greasy Fate

Hello Gheorghies! I'd like you guys to be the first to know that I've made an executive decision. I've decided that it's time for me to grow up. Time for me to get real. I need to cast away dreams and whimsy and accept the path that stretches before me.  I must "dance with the one who brought me." Not that anyone would bring me to a dance, because I'm not that strong a dancer. In fact . . . I can't dance (this is one of my great regrets, but-- alas-- it's too late to learn . . . which is the theme of this post).

I acknowledge that it's going to be rough, but I'm quitting cold turkey. And I'm not talking about chewing tobacco-- although I've been having a pretty good run at quitting that stuff . . . aside from a minor lapse last week at the pub, but there were extenuating circumstances: my old dipping buddy Pastor Rob showed up out of the blue-- he moved to Pennsylvania last year, but he made a surprise visit-- and he was packing Copenhagen. Because of the unusual situation, I gave myself a One-Night Dipsentation. Pun intended.

Anyway, enough silliness. From this day forward, I hereby swear to stop creating new fictitious band names for my music. I'm done. It's Greasetruck if I'm solo and Random Idiots if I'm with any of the other idiots who write for this blog. No more Slouching Beast or The Density or The Hanging Chads or The Looming Specters of Death or The End of Dave or Almighty Yojo or any of the ones I've forgotten to mention. Life is too short. No one cares about Tin Machine.  It's certainly fun to create new band names, but what does it accomplish? A rose by any other name . . .

Anyway, to celebrate this stoic acceptance of my fate, I'm releasing a song. A Greasetruck song. It sounds just the way I imagined, which is always a miracle when I'm recording music. I started by looping a scratchy bit of clunky staccato guitar and using that as the rhythm, and then I layered synths and odd fills over that, and everything ended up coming together nicely.

But wait! There's more! Since I'm on a roll here, not only am I going to stop creating new band names and accept Greasetruck as my destiny, but I'm also going to stop complaining about the name of this blog, though it drives me crazy. Here is my final take on that topic:

--Hey, my friend TR wrote a great post about how he was touring The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas and he looked out the window and-- holy shit-- he felt like he was in a time warp! You should read it.

--Interesting . . . where is it?

--On this blog we write . . . Gheorghe . . . Gheorghe the blog.  But it's Gheorghe with two "h"s.


--You know, like Gheorghe Muresan? The Romanian center who used to play for the Bullets?


--It's sort of a play on that political magazine George. Remember that?


--Forget it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

I'm Gonna Uke

The Pope came to my door.  He said, "Clarence, say, man, you got any papal ballots?'  I said, "No, not on me."  He said, "It'd be a lot cooler if you did.  What with me really enjoying exercising my civil liberties and casting my vote for the next ruler of the Catholic state."

The result:

Whoa.  What.  Holy crap.

Thank the frickin lord for the ukelele, or this guy would never get laid.

Bad. Ass.

And finally, okay, different instruments, but same thing.  My brain melts.

could watch
a million

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sweeps Month Cross-Promotion

We've had a mini-run of excellent content this week, which is timely, as this is the time of year advertisers assess their content partners' audience counts to determine where to allocate their marketing dollars for the upcoming period.

With that in mind, two birds, one stone today, as we highlight Sentence of Dave's ongoing fascination with taste, supertaste, and/or poseurs masquerading as beer lovers. Says Dave, "Once again, I've found a beer that tastes really good (Sixpoint Sensi Harvest) and once again, I neither have the discriminating palate nor the gustatory diction to describe it properly..."

Fear not, Dave, for as you note in your sentence, there do exist...supertasters:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Test 19: Dating Stacey

There's no post that could possibly follow TR's ersatz time travel experience, so I'll keep it brief: there's a new episode of The Test and it's light and entertaining and not very educational (although you do learn what would impress Stacey on a hypothetical first date . . . not that you'll ever date her because she's married to a very studly dude who constructs elevators for a living).

Give it a shot and see if you get hypothetically lucky.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sometimes Life is Neat (Dallas/JFK Version)

Howdy gents. I'm back in the Dirty Jerz after a week in Texas and a week in California (9 hotel rooms over 10 nights for you scoring at home). Sports talk radio in Texas was insufferable from Rangers and Astros fans who looked past the woeful performance of the Longhorns, Cowboys and Texans. I'm glad to be back in NJ to hear the Vinnies from Ronkokoma and Joses from Ozone Park  talk Jets and Giants football. And Mets baseball, unfortunately.

Anyway, I was in Dallas for work from Wednesday afternoon to Friday afternoon about ten days ago. The first day was spent in the massive cow town known as Fort Worth. And before you ask, yes, the town is freaking out about TCU. After a busy day of meetings there, I arrived in downtown Dallas on Thursday afternoon. I had a few drinks with a colleague, who offered to drive me to my hotel. Unfortunately, I was staying in a ginormous Hyatt downtown (as opposed to the hip "Crescent area") because good hotels were jammed up for the upcoming Red River Shootout. Earlier that day, I pulled a map up to get the lay of the land around the hotel. Usually, I do it in a "what kind of mischief can I get into tonight near the hotel?" kinda mindset, but I was just curious where the place was. When I did this, I barely registered that the hotel was very close to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, which is the building where a guy named Lee shot a guy named John a few years ago. A picture is below. The windows to the right on the top floor were where Lee did his evil deed.

So we'll fast-forward to 4:30 PM local time on Thursday. I'm riding shot-gun in my colleague's car, a few blocks from my hotel. Traffic is at a stand-still because James Franco is shooting a movie in the area. Spontaneously, fueled by two vodka tonics, I decide to get out of the car and lug my things to the Museum. I knew that it closed at 6 PM, but I thought I would sneak in an iota of culture instead of immediately finding a nearby bar to belly up to, as I'm prone to doing.

So I hop out of the car. In a navy suit. In 85 degree weather. Dragging a roller bag and a briefcase. And I start walking through some dusty street blocks. I make my way to the museum. They say it's $16 admission and I have a little over an hour until closing. I pay up, check my luggage at the baggage area, grab my audio headset and take the elevator up, mildly sweaty, slightly drunk, and ready to dive in to the event. Like many, I'm a part-time JFK conspiracy wonk.

The elevator opens and I start going through the place. It's very cool, giving context to that era of America, the Cold War, the political climate and the mood itself in Dallas that week (a sharply divided town struggling how much to support a lefty President visiting).

I saw a couple women crying as they looked at the Zapruder photos and listened to the audio broadcasts of JFK being shot. Eventually, I made my way to the legendary corner of the sixth floor. Behind glass, they left the location where Oswald fired from intact. It's eerie to look at, and a bunch of us in attendance quietly stared at it for a while.

I then decided to look out the window and immediately almost lost my shit. I saw a motorcade of 1960's convertibles, as well as men and women dressed in period-era garb and cameras everywhere. I just then realized that the James Franco movie was a JFK movie, and they were about to film the scene of JFK getting shot. And I was gonna watch it from the window next to the window Oswald shot from. About 20-30 of us crowded to the window. The actress playing Jackie was dressed exactly correctly - in pink. There below was the motorcade, ready to make the fateful left turn toward the highway.

A security person in the Museum was fervently reminding folks there was no photography allowed, and people were in varying stages of "fuck that" mode. I wasn't able to shoot much from up there, but I got a couple in as they started filming. The least bad of the bunch is below. The window I'm looking out is the one directly next to where Oswald did his sniping. You can see the black convertible (the security detail immediately behind JFK and Jackie) below.

As the filming ensued, the motorcade made the turn, and we could clearly see everything (there were some obstructing trees, but they were much smaller in 1963). All of a sudden, the sound of gunshots rang out. People screamed and dove to the ground. Policemen drew guns. The motorcade accelerated out of view. And a few dozen folks started pointing up at the sixth floor of the museum. Where I was standing. Here's what those extras looked like when they were chillaxing between takes.

It was one of the most surreal things I have experienced. I was five feet from where Oswald shot JFK, watching a movie recreate that exact scene. Of the tens of thousands of folks who visited the museum and looked out of those windows, how many saw that scene play out? And saw it play out with Daniel Desario as JFK, to boot?

I exited the museum after a few more minutes and started wandering around the building to see what was going on. I was still slightly drunk and towing luggage, but was less sweaty, for at least a couple minutes. That's how I got a lot of these rad shots! Turns out the director did a bunch of takes in the late afternoon, which may be due to the story's sci fi take on the events (find the plot summary to understand more). Here's a video I lazily shot:

I happily went to my hotel after a few minutes and didn't mind when I walked the wrong way and had to traverse a steep grassy embankment in a suit while dragging a roller to get to the hotel lobby. I ended my night by doing two hours of work and eventually bellying up to a bar to watch the Texans and Trojans choke. I felt rewarded by my spontaneous and uncharacteristic decision to chug some culture, instead of chugging some scotch (of course, I was chugging vodka while doing this).

After the fact, I found out it's actually a mini-series they're shooting, based on the Stephen King book 11/22/63: A Novel. Peruse it at your leisure if you want to dig into a story about assassination and time travel and the like.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

G:TB Special Correspondent: Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie

When we left @fairbankobx last, he was hearing the world in entirely new ways. Alas, there are more body parts than just ears that we have to pay attention to as we grow older.

The doctor entered the exam room carrying a computer printout and a quizzical look.

“You’re my surprise of the day,” he said.

Not what you want to hear.

My new primary care doc scheduled a physical, so he could have a baseline from which to take care of me. Family history, blood work and an electrocardiogram, to listen to my heart. Results from the blood work aren’t available for a couple days. EKG results are available within minutes. Hence, the doctor’s puzzled take.

It’s called an atrial flutter with a variable AV block. It means my heart is beating arrhythmically, a little like a Thelonious Monk piano riff or Lindsey Graham dance party.

The flutter itself isn’t necessarily a problem, but it increases the risk of heart attack and stroke. Because the heart’s electrical impulses are a mite off, clots may occur within the heart. Should one break loose, it can travel and cause all sorts of non-Shaka Smart havoc.

My doc showed me the EKG printout and went through the list of symptoms. Ever had heart issues? Palpitations? Chest pains? Dizziness? Shortness of breath? Ever fainted? Nope. Are you sure? Yup. Really? Yup.

I’m 57, but I try to keep myself in moderately decent shape. I run a little, work out at the Y. I have the attendant aches and pains and twinges, but nothing out of the ordinary or chronic. I sure as hell didn’t associate them with heart issues. Maybe I should have, since both Mom and Dad had heart problems. Mom had two mild heart attacks several years apart in her 60s, Dad had bypass surgery after a catheterization revealed a significant blockage in a coronary artery.

Anyway, my doc phoned the cardio specialists down the road and passed along the EKG results. They wanted to see me immediately. Terrific. I didn’t know if it was because I was a ticking cardio time bomb, or because I was some sort of research test case – a guy who oughta look and feel a whole lot worse than he does.

When I arrived, I saw the cardio specialist’s assistant, a chatty, amiable fellow who asked all the same questions as my primary care doc. He told me about the increased risk of stroke with atrial flutter and prescribed a blood thinner to reduce the risk. He went over the risks of taking blood thinners – namely, bleeding out.

Word is that Arnold had fun. Lots of fun.
“Don’t get into a car accident or a knife fight,” he advised. Check. Bicycles and slap fights only.
Anyway, he put me on Xarelto, a once-daily pill about the size of a bacon bit, but with a whole hog pricetag – about $400 per month. Fortunately, he gave me a few weeks’ worth of free samples. I’ve taken the stuff for a week and haven’t had nearly as much fun as Arnie, Kevin Nealon and Brian Vickers on the drug’s TV commercials.

He also scheduled me to see the cardio specialist 11 days out. I asked him if, amid all the potentially dire consequences of my arrhythmic heart, should I be encouraged that neither he nor my primary care doc took one look at the EKG results, immediately strapped me to a gurney, shoved a bunch of tubes inside me, and called a priest? That my situation was so perilous that I wasn’t seeing the specialist for 11 days? In so many words, he said, yeah. However, that’s not to say that something couldn’t manifest itself on the ride home. Great. Thanks for the pep talk.

Eleven days later, I saw the heart guru. He said that most people will experience some sort of atrial flutter or fibrillation, if they live long enough. Some folks contract it at age 40, some at 80. Sometimes it corrects itself, other times not. He didn’t know what caused mine, only that it occurred within the past two years, between my last EKG at my former doc’s and now. I attribute it to our recent move to the Outer Banks, where my heart thinks it’s on permanent vacation and has gotten lazy and undisciplined.

The heart guru scheduled a transesophogeal cardiogram at the end of the month. They’ll snake a tube with sensors attached down my throat so that they may get a clearer picture of my heart. They’re looking for clots and for abnormalities within the chambers. If they find no clots, they’ll attempt to electrically shock the heart back into regular rhythm. That procedure works about 50 percent of the time, the doc said. He said that there is virtually no risk in shocking the heart the way they do it, odd as that sounds. No paddles and orderlies calling “Clear!” That’s TV and movie emergency stuff. This is much tamer. I plan to inquire about bundling the shock with my power bill for a discount. 

If they find a clot, they won’t attempt a shock, for fear of dislodging it. If a clot is dislodged, all bets are off.

If they find a clot, or if the shock procedure doesn’t work, the next possible step is something called
cardiac ablation. Catheter ablation involves inserting a tube into an artery through the leg or neck and toward the heart. The doc uses heat, cold or radio energy to treat the area triggering the irregular beat. If it comes to that, I’m requesting WWOZ in New Orleans, or maybe B.B. King’s Bluesville on Sirius XM.

That has to cure arrhythmia, right? Or at least prompt everyone to boogie.

Laissez les bon temps roulez.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Jerry Week Continues: Mets Edition

Tonight the New York National League baseball club takes on the Los Angeles trolley dodgers for the right to the face the Cubbies for a spot in the World Series. The Mets and Jacob DeGrom will be dealing with the likely runner up for the NL Cy Young award so they have an uphill battle. Hopefully some Met related Jerrys will bring them some luck.

We start with this guy who heads the small pod of celebrity Met fans, which apparently also includes Harper Lee. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it you erudite, literary snob Red Sox fans) :

What's the deal with our crappy defense?
Based on that photo alone, Jerry Seinfeld, or little yerry Seinfeld for that matter, may have been a better manager than this guy: 

Jerry Manuel never quite seemed to get the intricacies of the double switch, but maybe he can merge his Jerryness with Seinfeld to form a Voltron like super Jerry and vanquish the Dodgers.

Jerry S stops by spring training to talk with Jerry M after a visit to CVS
However, the manager can only do so much.  In the end, it all comes down to pitching and Met fans hope that DeGrom pitches like this guy who pitched a complete game to lock down the 1969 World Series: 
Clarence loves himself some Koos
Instead of like this guy who was a lousy Met but is a Toms River, NJ native, VCU grad, and is the current Mariners GM:

Hey, I went 7-2 with the 96' Mets.  That deserves Cy Young consideration.

If DeGrom (who Mrs. Marls says looks like Hollywood Steve Huey of Yacht Rock fame) does, it gives the Metsies a good chance to win and that would make the Jerry in Caicos jerry happy.

Follow up:

As Whit correctly points out in the comments, we should not forget Jerry Grote who caught game five of the 69' series in what might be the greatest Jerry moment in the history of sports. 

Joey Batflip and the Batshits

The Washington Post's Barry Svrluga got the call last night, drawing the assignment to write the game story for Game 5 of the Rangers/Blue Jays ALDS series.

And like Jose Bautista did in the game itself, Svrluga ripped it deep into the seats.

"When human history is recounted, there will be the bat flip Bautista delivered Wednesday, and there will be all other bat flips, bowing in its presence. Filled with rage. Dashed with showmanship. Dripping with significance. The ball went out to left, a three-run shot that turned a tie game into what became a 6-3 Toronto victory that decided the series. Bautista’s bat remained in his left hand until he tossed it high. Rogers Centre about lost its roof."

Great sports deserves great sportswriting. If we at this humble blog might never be great sportswriters, at least we get to appreciate it when we see it.

Enjoy the blast and flip, in all their splendor:

The most surprising element of the entire episode, to me (notwithstanding Elvis Andrus forgetting how to play baseball for an inning), has been the relatively muted reaction this morning from the Keepers of the Game. Joey Bats' flip was epic. I was certain it would bring with it a rainstorm of old school invective from the same quarter that thinks Chase Utley's slide into Ruben Tejada was The Right Way to Play the Game.

But for the most part, even that group has just sorta nodded their heads and chalked Bautista's flip up to a heat of the moment celebration of something incredible.

And on that day, baseball's heart grew two sizes. And its fun quotient, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

All Jerry, All the Time

Sweet, Jerry!

Be smart, Jerry!

Way to go, Jerry!

Looking good, Jerry!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Strange But True

I've now seen it all.

And it was good.  Many cheers to our friend.

The Test 18: Birds and Snakes and Plants and Things

I wish I had included some birds and snakes in this episode of The Test, so that I could have responsibly titled the episode "Birds and Snakes and Plants and Things," but that would be false advertising. It's just "Plants and Things." 

Whitney will love Stacey's jokes at the start (I hated them) and there's a number of other groundbreaking occurrences in this episode: an even tighter intro montage, no need for The Voice of God to rescue us from our ignorance, a special guest, and possibly . . . just possibly . . . if you're not very careful, you might learn something. Take a shot and see if you can do better than the ladies (who perform rather well, considering the topic).

Saturday, October 10, 2015

It's a Very Jerry Wedding Day

There were some who said this day would never come.  There was almost no one who said it would.

Game on.  Here's to Jerry.

Foreshadowing for tonight

 Wel'p, see you later!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Ce n'est pas un rendezvous

This Saturday, while TR was griping about how the rain and wind ruined his golf outing, I drove 100 miles in a rainstorm to attended an "Audi driving experience" event at Monticello Motor Club. I'm not sure how I was deemed worthy of an invitation, but I assume it had something to do with being a subscriber to Car and Driver for almost 30 years, owning a plurality of Audis, and the data obtained from various tracking cookies.

I was the probably the youngest attendee, but for two trophy wives in their early thirties who dutifully attended with their wizened husbands. There were about 40 people total, all white, all but three male, almost all in their late 40s to mid 50s. It was like a partners meeting at a law firm, except everyone wore jeans.

The first leg of the event was a drive on public roads in an A3 and an A6. This was reasonably enjoyable, in no small part thanks to the 50-something guy I rode with, Dave. He had just bought his daughter an A3, and he used to run a BMW dealership. Now he drives a vintage 911, auto crosses a souped up Mini, and has a Cayenne S as his daily wheels. Apparently he gets invited to lots of these things.

The second leg was an auto cross course. First we drove an A3, 228i, and a CLA 250. The 228i was surprisingly unathletic. The CLA was zippy but uncomfortable and the shifter was ridiculously fussy. The A3 was the best of the group. Then we drove an A6, 535i, and an E350. We ran out of time before I could drive the Bimmer, but the A6 beat the pants off of the Merc.

Dave gave me a few auto cross pointers at the start and he laid down some great times. But it turns out that I'm fast as hell (which all the ladies already know).

Parenthetically, I'd never been to one of these types of things before but I nailed the outfit perfectly. Everyone wore a short sleeve shirt under a zip up fleece under a waterproof soft shell, neither of which were made by North Face, and a cotton twill cap that did not have the logo of a sport team. One guy in his mid forties rocked a 918 Spyder hat, implying that he did one of these for Porsche's 918 launch. Dooshey, but I was envious. I had the best kicks though, natch.

The third and final leg was what made me drive 100 miles in the rain. We drove an Audi RS5 on the big track at the race club. The RS5 is an A5 on steroids, and I'm talking Victor Conte's finest A-Rod stuff, not just the cream or the clear. The highlight is a 4.2 liter naturally aspirated V-8 engine making 450 horsepower. If you don't know much about cars, that's a lot of horsepower, more than double the output of an A5. Here's the video of my run. I ran out of talent at 3:34 but managed to keep it on the track. Unfortunately, Dave was no Claude Lelouch so the cinematography pales in comparison to Claude's.

Then we drove an R8, Audi's halo product. It's a legit supercar. It has the same engine as an RS5, but it's a lighter car with the engine located behind the passengers and in front of the rear axle. This mid-engine layout puts all the weight in the middle of the car and results in superb handling. Base price starts at $115,900 and it climbs precipitously when you add options (like the $9100 automatic transmission, for example). The one we drove was probably optioned out to about $150,000. To say it's a preposterous car is an understatement. As you can see, it repeatedly made me say "Jesus Christ" and other expletives of that nature.

I had tremendous fun and accomplished numerous first: my first drive in a 400+ horsepower car, my first drive in a supercar, my first drive on a track. All in the rain! It took great restraint to obey speed limits on the way home, and now I'm frustratingly trying to justify getting a used RS5 while remaining a fiscally responsible parent. I keep telling myself that zson will probably get a magna-tile scholarship (he's a wizard with those things) so I don't need to save money for his college tuition. zdaughter isn't good at anything yet so saving for her tuition is the reason why I can't join a track.

If you ever have the chance to go to one of these track days you should do it, regardless of the manufacturer or your lack of interest in fast cars. You'll have a blast, although you might end up resenting your kids.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Gheorghe Handicaps the MLB Playoffs

The 2015 Major League Baseball postseason begins today in New York with the American League Wild Card Playoff between the Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels Houston Astros. Our staff has crunched the numbers, and determined who we think will win the World Series.

Of course we haven't done that. There have been no numbers crunched, and we don't have the first clue about who will actually make it through the baseball postseason's random outcome generator. What we do know for a certainty, though, is which teams you should root for, and which you should hate with passion.

In order from most odious to the pluckiest everyman/underdog story, then:

The New York Yankees celebrated their return to the postseason for the first time since 2012 with a full-on champagne and beer shower party. How True Yankee of them. This team is led by Alex Rodriguez, something Bomber fans seem to have conveniently forgotten as the team trudged down the stretch hoping that the season would end before the wheels fell completely from their wobbling conveyance. The only redeeming thing about a deep Yankee playoff run would be the fact that it would expose the extent to which Derek Jeter's stinking carcass impacted their results for the past three years.

I guess I don't really dislike the St. Louis Cardinals, but I sure am tired of seeing them this time of year. Throw us a frickin' bone here.

If not for their sunny hometown and its generally laid-back vibe (and the fact that people on the East Coast give fewer than two shits about anything that happens out West), the Los Angeles Dodgers would garner every bit of disdain as the Yankees and the other profligate spenders in baseball's upside-down economy. The Dodgers, in fact, make the Yankees seem penurious, outspending every team in baseball, with a payroll more than $50m higher than the second-place New Yorkers' $219m. Like Tara Reid on a plastic surgery bender, L.A.'s spending reached preposterous levels, more than doubling that of all but seven other MLB franchises. An early exit to the fiscally clownish Mets would be deliciously ironic.

Nobody outside of Dallas knows much of anything about the Texas Rangers, and they care even less. It's not that we dislike them, it's that we don't care.

If the Toronto Blue Jays were the Oakland A's, they'd be really confused. They'd also get a lot more love from the baseball press. The Jays are going to win the World Series. They're so far ahead of everyone else in baseball in terms of run differential, that the second place team can't even see them. They combine a ripsnorting lineup, a lockdown number one starter, and a tidy bullpen. They have the American League's best ERA post-ASB by a wide margin, and the league's highest OPS and runs scored over the same span. But they're not American. Hard to like foreigners.

It's not hard to like these New York Mets - they're young, they just toppled a particularly arrogant Washington Nationals squad, their superstar is the very model of modern classy ballplayer (until his closet aspargus porn videos finally surface), and they're not the Yankees. But they're still from New York, which counts against them fairly substantially in the underdog category. And their ownership defines both clueless rich and financially incompetent, a daily double that would've doomed lesser teams to Phillie-like ignominy.

The Kansas City Royals would be much higher on this list, but for the fact that they made it to the World Series just last year, and the bloom is off the plucky, out-of-nowhere small market kids.

It's a shame that the Pittsburgh Pirates play in the same division as the Cardinals. And yet another reason to hate St. Louis. The Buccos have the second-best record in all of baseball and still have to suffer the vicissitudes of the play-in game (against the team with the third-best mark in the bigs). After consecutive losses in that most random of all games, Pittsburghers will be forgiven their apprehension, safe in the knowledge that everyone will be pulling for them...oh, man.

The Houston Astros are this year's Royals - they arrived a year or so before we expected to see them playing meaningful autumn baseball. They're young (see Carlos Correa, who might not even shave yet), goofy (Dallas Keuchel's beard, for the win), and tiny (Jose Altuve is my spirit animal). They've got the best uniforms in the playoffs, and if it wasn't for the fact that they come from Houston would be overwhelming favorites for the top spot on this list.

You might argue that the Chicago Cubs are the safe choice here, that rooting for the Northsiders to finally break their World Series schneid is cliche. You'd be right. But this Cubs team is also hella entertaining to watch, with Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Starlin Castro raking and Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester leading the pitching staff. Joe Maddon's the most fun manager in baseball, and might be the most likable skipper in all of professional sports. Set aside for a moment the certainty that a deep Cubs run would mean endless loops of Will Ferrell as Harry Caray, and ask yourself who you'd root for if your team wasn't playing in the postseason.

If you've got a soul, the answer is the Cubbies.

Monday, October 05, 2015

And Now For Something Completely...What the Fuck?

We had a rare family movie outing this weekend, piling into the truckster to head to a local cinema to catch a screening of Everest. It's a fine film, based on the events chronicled by Jon Krakauer in 'Into Thin Air'. It's beautifully shot, moving and suspenseful, even though I knew the outcome. (Spoiler alert: they don't all make it.)

But this post isn't about a movie. 

The theater we visited was a modern multiplex, with draft beer and decent food on offer, and in-film waiter service. I can't go back to the old days, frankly, where you got your popcorn greasy and your soda large, and you liked it. 

In addition to the gustatory amenities, the theater took some risks with the pre-show entertainment. No trite trivia or celebrity puffery here. We were treated to a loop of 30s-era government films about mountaineering, black and white art films on various alpine settings, and visually beautiful if somewhat jarring adventure skiing bloopers.

And then there was this:

After a minute or so of progressively more amused incredulity, I realized that I knew this song. It's a cover. And the original is equally ridiculous in its own way:

Have a blessed week, boys and girls. And remember, life is life.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Test 17: Financial Literacy (and Idiocy)

Things return to normal on The Test this week with a quick and painless quiz on financial awareness. No Cunningham, but Stacey's buddy Scott takes her place and performs admirably.

I recorded and added some trippy background music to the section where we got off track; we came up with a shockingly accurate and rather disgusting model of human consciousness . . . but if you don't like the metaphor, at least you can dig the beat. Good luck, keep score, and see if you can do better than Scott and I.


What The Kids Are Watching

According to my nearly 14 year-old daughter, this is everything.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Happy Birthday, Big Man

October 3, 1951 was a special day for baseball. David Mark Winfield was born in Minnesota. Some mediocre major leaguer named Bobby Thompson also did something that day, but I forget what it was. Probably wasn't a big deal.

Happy 64th, big man. I still think you are being screwed over by the Yankees, who refuse to acknowledge you in Monument Park despite your 1,172 games played as a Yankee.

Friday, October 02, 2015

College Game Day Ya'll!

(Editor's Note: We're asserting executive privilege and moving Danimal's post up a day because another staff member already scheduled a post to run tomorrow. While we recognize that this may cause some temporal dislocation (nothing on the Bill & Ted level, but still), we also believe that you can handle a preview one day before a game rather than on game day itself. Also, damn, Danimal - that's a lot of words.)

I’d like to begin by thanking the Publishers of GTB for not requesting weekly college football  picks this year. I’d like to think it’s because they wanted to be sensitive to the time it required, but in reality it probably had more to do with the quality of the insight that accompanied the match-ups, which lacked on my side of the ledger. Moving forward, I think there could be a nice happy medium where we perhaps pick a game to go head-to-head on, or simply each pick one game every week or two. Or we can just keep things the way are with no commitments whatsoever. Yeah, let's do that instead.  

I couldn’t let an ND/Clemson College Game Day go by without a preview from this admittedly biased and hopeful bettor. Oh yippee....Danimal providing us a Notre Dame preview! My favorite team! I hear you and will make every effort to provide a little more color for your Saturday leisure, pronounced LEZH-er in the UK. Unfortunately, I will be traveling and in a Detroit Airport hotel bar of all places en route to the metropolis of Toledo, Ohio (home of.....Deshone Kizer) for a Sunday morning….yes, Sunday morning meeting. I should be arriving to Rock City just in time for kick-off so I do have that going for me. I hope to have as much fun as these lads.

So whaddowegot here folks? A couple of top ranked teams for our viewing pleasure. A quick digression here – I vote for a system in which the Top 20 are not voted on until 6 games into the season. Will that ever happen? No, it won’t. Are either of these teams going to end up in Top 10 or better yet, a playoff team? Nope. ND will finish with 2 and maybe 3 losses keeping them around that 10-15 mark assuming their losses are competitive and to the USC’s/Stanford’s/or Clemson’s of the world. They have sustained far too many injuries (6 starters out for the year) to get through the gauntlet. It's only likely that more will follow whether it be for a game or two or seven. Too much to carry there.

For Clemson – this weekend will tell us a lot, but even with a loss to the Irish the remainder of their schedule isn’t exactly loaded with landmines other than Florida State in November. With the Georgia Tech and South Carolina fails, I think you’ll agree. In any event, Clemson will likely step on their Tiger penis and lose one other to an unworthy opponent altogether blowing up any meaningful opportunities in the post season. Just cuz. That's what they do. And because we have time, let us give them the benefit of the doubt. Let's imagine they navigate on through with a win this Saturday and against the Seminoles later in the year. My money would be on whoever they play in a playoff. Dabo doesn't have the nay nays to get it done. Just one guy's opinion.

Sorry...that was my ADD kicking in. Back to the game. The last time Notre Dame traveled to upstate South Carolina, one Joe Montana was the quarterback. Perhaps you've heard of him. As an aside, whenever Joe Montana enters my frontal lobe I think back to my days as a young boy when my dad, a very old school guy, would take me to his buddy's bar down the road on an occasional Saturday so that he and his cronies could watch the Irish. Let me clarify that statement. They could have watched at home. They went to socialize and drink and get away from their battle axes (wives). The place was called "Flanagan's" and was owned by one of my dad's best friends, Tommy Flanagan. Go figure. Tom and his wife had 5 kids and we had 5 kids and we were all pretty much the same ages and were great friends. And so were the Conley's (5 kids) and the O'Connell's (8 kids) and the Clancy's (4 kids) and the Ryan's (3?! kids - heathens!) and the other Costello's not related (5 kids). There was one Italian family we let in - the Rinaldo's but that's only because Pete owned the beer distributor in town and his wife was/is a distant cousin to my mom. And it should be noted that Pete and Ryan despise Notre Dame. Can't stand 'em. Both 'Cuse fans (Ryan an alum). In case you were wondering.

Anyway, the offspring of the aforementioned tribes grew up together and went to St. Pat's together and were altar boys together (and no, Father McInerney wasn't into young boys - he was a solid dude) and smoked cigarettes together , and shared our first alcohol together and played CYO basketball together until I moved away in the 7th grade. We still keep in touch a few of us. So us kids would play in and outside of the restaurant. We'd play hide and seek in between quarters or at halftime while the fellas got "cocked" (no judging please - this is a judge-free zone) until my dad had his own bar built in our basement which at the time was light years ahead of anything you'd see in someone's house with a keg of PBR supplied by Pete of course, always on tap, big boy barstools, ligger, mixers, sink, proper lights, you name it. He could have sold tickets, and should have because none of his boys or our relatives would drive by our house without stopping by to "have one." But that's for another post. Hell, half of this is probably for another post but whatever. Let him go he's on a roll.

So back to Joe. After a big Irish win and a half keg of PBR or Utica Club on one particular Saturday in the 70's, the fellas thought they'd attempt to get someone on the phone in the ND locker room.  Attempt they did and succeed they did. My old man claimed to be someone he was not, a reporter or something. I don't honestly remember. And damned if he they didn't get Joe on the phone. Twice. The second time was actually Montana. The first time was Theisman, pronounced THEES-man at the time, a few years prior. And both times the kids, Joe & Joe, because they were just kids at the time, gave them the time of day and a little more. And the retelling of the story is pretty ho-hum, as if it were ya know, an every day kind of thing. "Certainly! Yes.We did. We called a guy in the athletic department after the game and asked to speak to Joe Montana and they put him on. Just like that." (and there was a call to the Vatican too in an effort to get the Pope on the phone....not successful with that one) Here's Joe. As a kid.

And Joe.

I imagine Joe here talking to his photographer telling him about the time after a big game a few nut jobs somehow got him on the phone INSIDE THE LOCKER ROOM AFTER A GAME! It's possible right? The facial expression is telling me so. Kinda cool.

Once of consciousness. Picked a hell of a week to quit takin Ritalin.
So Joe Montana and his 5th ranked squad heads to Clemson, ranked 15th. The Irish pulled it out with a 21-17 win and later went on to win the whole kit & caboodle. Boom. I was Joe Montana. What'd you expect? But check this out....this is crazy insane insane: 36 players in that game went on to play in the NFL. Whaaa???!!!

What is to be expected this year? Well, ND does not fare well against Top 10 teams on the road, going 1-6 in the last 7 with most of those losses by a margin of a touchdown or less. But Clemson isn’t in the Top 10, but #12 or #11 depending on whose poll you admire the most. In reading about the Tigers, a consistent them is their defense. It's good, especially if you only look at the #’s. Through 3 games they have been downright stingy at 260 yards allowed per. Points per game you ask? 12.3. Pretty solid stuff right there. In 2014 they were the leaders in many-a-category including Total Defense so there is no denying they have a very strong group on that side of the ball. 

Buuuut for grins & giggles, let us take a look at  not just what they've done but who to, shall we? Dabo and his A.D. have made the decision to stay in the kiddy pool for their early season meetings. (note to self, be sure to clear out search history - "kiddy pool images" could raise an eyebrow)

Opponent #1: Wofford. Clemson beat ‘em badly 49-10. Then they stepped up to App State and put a stick in their eye - 41-10. And then they played their first D1 team, Louisville, and beat them by a field goal. Hey, whatever blows up your skirt, but if Clemson finally closes a season the way they’ve been expected to in the recent past then that decision might very well and I hope that it does, bite them in the arse. If you’re curious, Louisville is 0-3 with losses to Auburn by 7 and Houston by 3. I will give them this - the numbers are pretty good despite the lack of competition. And I know. I know. ND's competition to date hasn't turned out to be what was once thought. But that's not their fault - they had very good intentions. I think that Texas game was put on the schedule 4 or 5 years if not more. Who woulda thunk? 

Conversely, Kelly’s offense too stands out, averaging 530 yards per game. Their top 2 rushers clop (umm....does anyone here know what a clopper is? I sincerely hope not. I ran upon this on one of those comedic Twitter handles. Who knew? And note to self: see earlier note to self) off more than 8 yards per carry. They would be CJ Prosise(ly) and Josh Adams. CJ is the nation’s 4th leading rusher with 150 yards per game, 600 total. And did you know this is his first year ever as a running back? Well, maybe not ever. He probably ran the ball in Pop Warner but last year for ND he was a receiver. And the year before. And the year before that. Thankfully he was brought into the role last Spring, well in advance of the season ending injury to Tarean Folston in the first game of the year.

In the passing game, there is Will Fuller who provides a nice segue into Saturday’s key match-up, per ESPN anyway: Will vs cornerback Mackensie Alexander. Will, as most of you know is nice. He’s….real naace. He's the guy that put the stake in the heart of UVa a few weeks back. Hee hee. That was truly joyful. Since the beginning of the 2014 season, he leads the nation in receiving. This year he has 22 snatches with 454 yards (20 yards/catch), and 6 TD’s.  He’s “only” listed as a 4.5, 40 guy but if you’ve watched him you’d agree that he’s got another gear that allows him to blow by his defenders. And when he doesn’t or can’t create separation, he’s got great hands. But, like the yardage allowed and earned per game by these two squads, something will have to give cuz Alexander is considered among the best in the SEC and hence, 'Murica. One of the most highly sought after corners in ’13, he redshirted before starting every game last year while giving his opponents the biznass. He is a true lockdown guy in every sense of the word. Look for him to be a starter on Sundays in the not too distant future. Probably a 1st rounder. He's so good someone made this sign because he's so good.

The skills of Sir Mackensie are going to create opportunities for 2 other chaps – Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle. I think. And hope. Look for one of these two to get more of Deshone’s attention on Saturday. The prediction is that one of them have a big game, along with Prosise.

Other important match-ups:
Kelly vs Swinney. Kelly, six ways from Sunday.

Jaylon Smith Junior LB for ND vs the world which includes Chuck Norris. Jaylon Smith. He's just a badass. A definite first rounder. God I hope he stays in school but won't blame him if he goes.

Kiser vs Watson – Watson, unfortunately. Kiser can’t make the throws Malik does. You’ll see. Watson doesn’t make too many mistakes plus he has more experience. Did I mention he threw 2 INT’s against 14 TD's in 2014 as a Frosh?

Kicking Game: Clemson. ND’s new guy, true Freshman Justin Yoon has already missed 2 extra points and 2 field goals, one a chip shot. I don’t know what the hail that is all about but it’s got me a little jumpy. Props though on his post successful kick routine. I'm hoping you see a ton of those. that. it.

Cheer Squad of Clemson vs that of Notre Dame - I'm going to go with the latter.

So who wins? This is going to be a tight game that comes down to the last series. If the Irish finish the game on the positive side of the turnover battle AND perfect with the kicks, I’ll say they win.

Tigers by 2 and in a good one.