Monday, February 29, 2016

Fashion is Stupid: PGA TOUR Edition

Rickie Fowler's fashion-forward golf getups have garnered the young star nearly as much attention as has his game. Generally speaking, I'm all for looks that edge golf towards athleticism and fun and away from Bushwoodian conformity. But Fowler and Puma have taken a step too far.

Check out this hot garbage:

Note first the high-tops, which, as one with chronically weak ankles, I can perhaps understand. Though walking 18 at Doral ain't exactly a run at Rucker Park. But the astronaut cuff with velcro strap take the whole thing from ambitious to 'rejected K-Pop video costume'. And the fact that these necessitate the gathered elastic pants hem? I can't even.

Apologies for the hijacking...but felt compelled to add this...

Wear what you'd like Rickster. Carry on everyone.

Apologies for the rehijacking of Danimal's hijacking, but if the standard-issue golf doofus thinks wearing those clown shoes is gonna help him land a Golf Annie of that caliber, I've got some Trump Steaks stock to sell him.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sports sports sports sports . . . sports sports sports sports . . .

In honor of Stephen Curry's stupendous final shot (and record breaking performance) last night, I humbly present this week's episode of The Test. It is dedicated to all things sporting.

Stacey designed the questions to torture Cunningham, who is not a sporting fanatic. I do quite well, although I get a bit choked up when I try to express my love and joy for all things athletic. Cunningham is stupendous-- her answers sound like they are coming from an alien who has been observing wild and crazy earth culture, and doesn't quite get it.

Give it a listen, keep score, see if you can beat me, and try not to cry when Stacey mimics The Locker Room speech (which is very different in tone than Draymond Green's locker room discussion last night).

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday Filler - Worlds Colliding Edition

This is one of my favorite cover songs of all-time, and not just because of my affinity for the original performer (Bruce) and the covering band (The Band). I'm attaching a live version and a cleaner studio version. Pick one you like.

Happy Friday, gents.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy

I've got a beef with Australia. Not all of Australia, exactly. Just a small portion of it. That portion dedicated to developing websites with basketball statistics.

Hoops stats aren't complicated, and database-driven web design isn't exactly particle physics. Plenty of American basketball folks have built incredibly user-friendly, information-rich portals to greater roundball insight. Ken Pomeroy comes to mind, as do the folks at Basketball State, among a very many others. Individual leagues and teams, too, do a nice job collating and displaying information. Of note, the CAA, GTB's league of choice, has a particularly nice stats package, as does the Tribe.

Down Under, though, some combination of copious sunshine and Coriolis Effect seems to have conspired to render easily-accessible statistical analysis more rare than the black kookaburra.

Case in point, the Sydney Kings. The last place team in the NBL certainly has a colorful website, but I'll be damned if I can easily find anything worth a damn on it. And I'll be dipped in Vegemite if I can find a simple table of Kings season statistics. There's a 'Stats and Ladders' link, but that takes one to the NBL's website, where it requires several more clicks to finally get to a comprehensive table.

Where the league can't even agree on how many decimal places to use. Jerome Randle of the Adelaide 36ers led the league with 23 points per game. Not 23.0, like a right-thinking American league would say. No, just plain old 23. Meanwhile, Corey Webster of the New Zealand Breakers averaged 20.48. He's obviously a more precise player.

I waded through this morass of Aussie numberjumble to track Marcus Thornton's progress during his rookie season as a professional. What I learned, for the most part, is that the greatest player in W&M history has some work to do. While he had some bright spots (I'd tell you more about them, but I can't fucking find game by game stats for individual players.), he finished the season as the 6-22 Kings' fifth-leading scorer, tallying 12.75 (precise!) points per game on 37.7% shooting (only 28% from deep). His assist totals were modest as well, which doesn't augur good things for a player learning to play the point.

In January, the Sydney Daily Telegraph published a generally critical story on Thornton, which featured Kings' coach Joe Connelly's criticism of his young guard and his need to improve his distribution and defense in order to have a chance at the next level. “I think he needs to work on doing other things beside scoring. If you look at the stat sheet, he played 22 minutes (against Illawarra) and had one rebound and (one) assist, and you’ve got to do more things than just try to put the ball in the hole. To his credit he was trying to be aggressive, he got to the hole and missed some easy shots, but the game is more than scoring."

The erstwhile Wren seemed to wear down as his first professional season wore on, his scoring dropping from the 15+ points/game he scored in his first ten games. In all, it appears that the game taught young Thornton some lessons the hard way in his first campaign.

But all we know about Thornton suggests that he's a willing and hard worker, and while year one might not have gone as planned, that's about exactly how his freshman year in Williamsburg went. And that situation turned out pretty well.

Maybe there's hope for the Aussie hoops web after all.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Odds, ends, ugly and beautiful abound in a compilation of things I've seen on the internet over the past few weeks and couldn't figure out how to turn into a coherent post.

First, an entry in the categories of both beautiful and absurd, this tattoo that Twitter brought to my attention. It's both a ridiculous pun (Nelson Mandala!), and sublime artwork. Well played, hipster.

VCU's Peppas are renowned as one of the nation's best pep bands. We've shouted out to them here in the past, but when they covered our anthem, M.O.P.'s 'Ante Up', we had no choice but to highlight their work again.

Two stories from my home county caught my attention, and sparked very different reactions. Let's talk first about the one that made me throw up in my mouth.

The Washington Redskins announced this week the forthcoming opening of Hail Hog, a Redskins-themed restaurant and sports bar in One Loudoun, a rapidly growing retail/residential center about 15 minutes from my house. What could suck about an establishment run by an organization that's demonstrated a core expertise in extracting dollars from fans while offering a mediocre product? This sounds awesome!

Thankfully, I saw something just a few minutes after that news that served as a palate-refresher. My county has seen an explosion in the past two years of high-quality, diverse breweries and pubs. Some saint has put together a series of itineraries for people who'd like to visit them. The LoCo Ale Trail offers seven different options all across the county. I'd be happy to host any GTBers up for a run. Just don't ask to go to Hail Hog

Speaking of throwing up, has anyone taken a look at the new Columbus Crew away kit? The Crew sought to embed elements of their home city's flag in their on-field look. Of note, that flag has been featured on bad flags, a blog devoted to exposing...bad flags. Not a great start. And judging by the kit itself, not a great finish, either. It looks like a bag of skittles barfed.

In much better soccer uniform news, several other MLS clubs have unveiled new kits for 2016. You can see them all here. The Seattle Sounders' alternate togs are gorgeous. There's a better than even chance that'll I'll be drunk online at some point this spring and purchase one of those tops. I like the New York City FC away kit, too, as well as the New England Revolution home jerseys. Check 'em out, and let's vote.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Home Alone Six: Greasetruck Style

A fortuitous sequence of events left me home alone this afternoon. One child is at a bowling/Chinese food/sleepover birthday party, the other went wandering around town with some friends, and my wife is out with the ladies on a shopping/drinking spree. So I put some scotch in my coffee, played some guitar on the back porch, and then-- once I finished my scotch/coffee-- I poured myself the last of my Switchback beer into a chilled pint glass, and I decided to try recording some audio with my laptop.

I did this mainly to inspire Whitney, who has been dragging his feet on setting up some recording equipment for years now. I think he might be intimidated by the insane amount of digital audio equipment available. While I love my desktop recording DAW, my two input analog/digital converter, and my excellent condenser microphone, the moral of the story is that you don't need any of that to record audio these days. We live in the future, and the most minimal equipment will do the job (and do it well). I recorded this song with a forty dollar Blue Snowball microphone and a very old laptop with GarageBand. I did it in my kitchen (because I was home alone!) It took thirty minutes to record it, convert it to an mp3, and get it up on SoundCloud.

It is weird for me to record a song in one take, and to sing and play guitar at the same time. Someday, you might hear this with drums and synths and all kinds of weirdness, but it honestly sounds fine without all that. Serendipitously, the annoying black poodle that my dog hates walked by during this recording, so you can hear Sirius barking throughout the song.

This is a really sad song. Sorry. There will be more songs to come, and maybe even an entire dog album. Perhaps there will also be a Random Idiots reunion.


               Stupid Dog

I have a dog, he does not beg.
But when he pees, he sprays his leg.

He sleeps in the room where my boy used to be.
Stupid dog, he's good company.

I have a boy, overseas.
He lost both his legs, at the knees.

He's coming home, I don't know when.
Stupid dog, make him feel good again.

He's coming home, surely to stay.
Stupid dog, help him forget that day.

I had a wife, faithful and true.
She passed on when the cancer grew.

She looked so good in her high-heeled shoes.
Stupid dog listen to my blues.

The Test 37: Black (and White) History

This week on The Test, I administer a quiz in honor of Black History Month. The ladies perform well, and they are deemed "not racist." I include one question about white people, in order to be fair, and this question requires me to do several impersonations (of white people . . . I'm not insane). The ladies don't do so well on this section (but G:TB readers will have an easy time with it).

Also, be warned: Harper Lee fans might take offense at some of our commentary. Sorry Marls.

Give it a shot, keep score, and see if you are more racist, less racist, or exactly the same amount of racist as the gang.

Friday, February 19, 2016

zman Bouillabaise

I've been meaning to post a couple of things but haven't had the time to do a fulsome job so you're getting more zbouillabaise.

1. adidas stands for "all day I dream about Sketchers"

adidas received a preliminary injunction against Sketchers because Sketchers ripped off their Stan Smiths. I was really excited about this collision of sneakers and IP law, and I was going to write a lengthy post about trademarks and trade dress and what they are and how they work but all you need to know to decide this case is this:

I think the rule the judge applied was "you can't rip people off like that."

2. A Porsche cartoon!

The Porsche 911 is a pretty goofy design. The engine is in the back with a significant amount of weight behind the rear wheels. This setup is great for straight-line acceleration and braking, but it's a nightmare if you want to make a turn. Just ask Rootsy!

Regardless, I will own a 911 before I die. But which one? And does it really matter? As you can see from the video below, the 911 hasn't really changed that much over the past 50+ years (aside from the shift to water-cooled engines in 1999 which made a lot of Porsche fans clutch their pearls, and I'm not a snob about cooling systems).

I'll take mine in Gulf Blue.

3. Macklemore made a song with DJ Premier and KRS-ONE?

Macklemore released a new song yesterday called Buckshot. I was more than a little surprised to see that it was produced by DJ Premier and features a verse by KRS-ONE. If you aren't familiar with Premier, KRS, or their collaborations, you should check out Return of the Boom Bap. You'll thank me. Just ask Rootsy!

Primo hasn't lost a step and the Blastmaster will always be the Blastmaster. I just never expected them to appear on a Macklemore record. Which isn't to say I have any problems with Macklemore, but I wouldn't think that KRS-ONE would offer up 64 bars of hot fiyah to a guy with songs like "White Privilege" and "White Privilege II." This makes me feel even better about paying $15 for KRS's last album on Bandcamp when he was only asking for $10--it's so hard out there he's taking money from Macklemore.

I gotta admit it's a pretty good song though. Once again, Big Daddy Kane is right.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

This Week in Wrenball: Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Just one short week ago, one short blogger came in this space to tell you about hope, and possibility, and lofty expectations.

That guy's a fucking idiot.

2015-16 Towson Tigers
Two games into the regular season's most comprehensive test, the Wrens find themselves with far more questions than answers. After a close home loss to Hofstra last Thursday, W&M got thoroughly embarrassed at Towson, allowing a dismal offensive squad (the Tigers rank in the bottom fifth nationally in most offense efficiency categories) to drop a cool 99. To put that in context, Towson scored 44 against Northeastern in the game immediately preceding their dismantling of the Tribe. Pat Skerry's team put up 37 against Charleston earlier in the season.

And the Tribe made them look like Loyola Marymount. (I'm aware that I'm dating myself with that reference. Sue me. I'm annoyed, and not in prime simile-generating mode.) More ominously, the Tribe also made them look like the Bad Boy Pistons. Towson was consistently and comprehensively the toughest team on the court.

Things don't get any easier this evening, as league leaders UNCW come to Williamsburg riding an 11-game winning streak. The Seahawks beat W&M, 97-94, in overtime in Wilmington earlier in the season in one of the conference season's best games.

Tribe, free falling(ish)
The W&M team that was 9-3 in league play two games ago seems a distant memory. The faint silver lining in this mini-slump is the obvious - it really doesn't mean anything in a one-bid league. Tony Shaver has a few weeks to get his team to play defense, to lift its intensity before the games actually do matter.

A loss tonight isn't the end of the world, but it would essentially be the end of any hopes of getting a top-two seed for the CAA Tournament. And it'd be a sobering measure of W&M's standing against the league's top teams - the Tribe is 0-5 against Hofstra, Towson, and UNCW and 9-0 against the rest of the league. Chances are they'll have to beat at least two of those teams to win the conference tournament.

That seems daunting.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Smart Phones + Students = Seriously?

I know I'm supposed to be taking myself less seriously, but lately, I've identified with some serious characters, people like Carrie Mathison in the first season of Homeland (and Detective Rust Cohle in the first season of True Detective and any other rather serious person who thinks they see reason and patterns where the rest of the world sees none). I've had this weird anxiety, like I was screaming at the top of my lungs and no one was paying attention. And this made me feel isolated and a little crazy. But then I some writing on the wall (or more precisely, the writing on the screens in my high school cafeteria) and this made me feel a lot better.

To explain: the high school where I work has adopted a BYOD policy . . . Bring Your Own Device. What this means is that kids are allowed to bring their iPhones to school, use them in the hallways (one earbud policy if they are listening to music, and they are NOT allowed snap pictures or take video) and utilize them in class if the teacher allows it.  I believe this policy is complete lunacy. Forbidding a kid to take pictures with a cell-phone is like forbidding a dog to wag its tail. And once you've taken that thing out in the hallway, and started texting and swiping and snapchatting and instagramming, it's hard to stop cold turkey, especially when the alternative is a lecture on the Krebs Cycle.

I don't have a smartphone, but this is mainly because I am cheap. And I hate looking at tiny screens, and I don't want to be distracted by the internet more than I already am. And, as a teacher, I think I'm inherently biased and have a predisposition to be annoyed by them, because I have monitor student's behavior with them. So my reasons for hating cell-phones are more visceral than anything. But I wanted to know if there was any actual research on the detrimental nature of smartphones, so I did some reading. Apparently, I'm not the only person who thinks kids shouldn't be in possession of a miniature game-device, social networking conduit, picture slideshow, camera, audio recorder, and a general boredom panacea when they are attending school.

The research is out there, which makes it even more impressive how many kids possess one of these objects. I'm not sure if parents are clueless, or if they just eventually cave to the pressure.

Anyway, for all you parents on the fence, there is some solid research that schools that enact a hard ban on cell-phones see an increase in test scores. Scores rose over 6 percent for all students, but the biggest increase was in underachieving students. This makes sense, because these kids are often the most distracted, and so sending them to class with a smartphone is a recipe for attention deficit disaster.

Plus, like I said, the writing was on the wall. Or it least it was at our last faculty meeting. We were in groups, and each group leader had a Chromebook. We were supposed to be commenting on the new technology pilot, and these comments were being transferred to a scrolling message board which was projected to all the flat screen TV sets on the walls of the cafeteria. The thrust of the comments were NOT about the technology pilot, and instead the board became a scrolling rant about how hard it is to police cell-phone activity and how annoyed teachers are with students and cell-phones. The principal had to blow his whistle and remind us what the purpose of the activity was The irony of him blowing a primitive analog device in order to reign in out-of-control technology was not lost on me. I really started to think about the issue, and the result of that is that half-baked post. I'm certainly not done ruminating, but this is a start.

Most schools are doing the opposite of ruminating about this issue. They insist that "the genie is out of the bottle" and we have to move forward. They are plunging straight into the future, research be damned. My wife's district is trying to go completely digital. I think this is lunacy as well, and there's research to back this opinion. Listen to the recent Freakonomics podcast on the cognitive value of taking handwritten notes if you need some proof. My school is excited about embracing smartphone apps such as Kahoot and Socrative. My philosophy is the same as Neil Postman's. You'd better evaluate every piece of technology before you adopt it, because technology is not neutral. If it's not markedly better than a simpler, more elegant way, then why use it? If paper works, if raising your hand works, if showing a video clip and asking some questions works, then why replace it with something that makes kids stare at tiny screens, something more difficult to monitor that leaves the possibility of a million distractions? 

Anyway, I think people twenty years from now are going to look back at this period of obsessive and ubiquitous smartphone use with horror and nostalgia, the same way we look back at people smoking cigarettes on airplanes. It will seem surreal and utterly fantastic that we thought kids could and should stare at these little screens 24/7 and this would be a healthy and fruitful way to live.

In some ways, a smartphone is very much like a cigarette . . . it's habit forming and addictive, it delivers a little boost of dopamine, it's portable, using it costs quite a bit of money in the long run, and it enjoys varying degrees of social acceptability. I have enacted a hard cell-phone ban in my class, and I told the kids that if I see one, I'm treating it the same way I would a treat pack of cigarettes: I'm confiscating it. And if you're using one while I'm teaching, then I'm treating you like you just lit up in class: it's a big rude FU.

I think folks in the future are going to just laugh and laugh when they fondly remember how we sent our kids to school (in cars that required human drivers!) in possession of these incredibly distracting devices. I might be wrong, and we'll have to wait and see, but until then, I'm not allowing my children to have smartphones, and I'm not allowing my students use them. I can only do this on my watch, and it might only be one finger in the dike, and perhaps I'll cave when my kids become teenagers, but who knows, I might be right . . . and I'm absolutely certain Gheorghe: The Blog will still be around twenty years from now and I'll be able to link back to this post and say: "I told you so."

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

King Leo

Barcelona is, if not the best soccer team on the planet (Bayern Munich and PSG might have an argument), the most entertaining, by some measure. With a front line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar, they're the stuff of nightmares for opposing defenders and goalkeepers. On occasion, they're so good that they seem to have to invent new ways to entertain themselves and their fans.

Yesterday was just such an occasion. After a tough first half at the Camp Nou in Barcelona against Celta Vigo, Barca began to pull away in the second frame. They already led, 3-1, when they were awarded an 82nd minute penalty kick. Messi, one goal away from his 300th La Liga tally, lined up to take the penalty.

And then this happened:

The cheekiness of the play was remarkable, and made moreso by the reaction of Ray Hudson, the former Newcastle player (and DC United coach) turned impassioned broadcaster. Hudson mixes Shakespeare, Johann Cruyff, and Barcelona's majesty in a gloriously delirious word soup. We need more Ray Hudson in the world.

Here's why Cruyff got the shoutout:

Global reaction to Barca's play was mixed, as you might imagine. Smiling admiration on the one side and concern for a disrespected opponent on the other. I can see both arguments. I just choose to see it Ray Hudson's way.

Joy, formidable.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Gheorghe Explains the Election: Presidents' Day Edition

I don't follow sports much these days. I feel like I've seen the same story (or what is now called a "narrative") over and over. The huge rivalry, the huge underdog, the young lion reaching for some record, the old lion looking for one more title, the struggle for historical greatness, the pall of historical collapse. It just doesn't interest me much anymore. And the outcome of any event, no matter how "big," has no real impact on my life. Which is why I now watch politics as a form of sport.

So, on Saturday, instead of watching a bunch of young men half my age dunk basketballs in allegedly novel but actually derivative ways, I watched a bunch of middle-aged guys roughly 10% to 50% older than me debate political issues in actually novel but allegedly conservative (and thus allegedly derivative) ways. I concluded that politics and sports are essentially the same in that general truisms generally do not hold true.

For example, the NFL is allegedly an offensively driven game but teams with top defenses continue to play in and/or win the Super Bowl. Similarly, conventional wisdom says that small-market baseball teams can't do well, despite the fact that four of the last five World Series featured Kansas City or St. Louis (and mid-market Detroit was in the fifth). If we go back 10 years, small-market teams made the Series seven times (St. Louis thrice, KC twice, and Colorado and Tampa once each). So the things that sports pundits say often don't translate to on-field results. Simply put, things don't have to make sense in sports. That's why they play the games--to see who'll win.

Along the same lines, politics doesn't have to make sense. That's why they hold elections--to see who'll win.

For example, Mitt Romney was lambasted in the 2012 primaries (i.e., just four years ago) because he made a metric shitton of money at Bain Captial. Remember this photo?

Romney's success was viewed as a negative--he allegedly was such a ruthless businessman that he shouldn't be president. And remember when his wealth was crass?


By contrast, Trump voters choose him because he has a reputation for sharp business practices. A seemingly reasonable NH voter was shown on TV saying "You can't deny that Donald Trump is a successful businessman" as justification for his primary vote. Trump flaunts his four corporate bankruptcies as evidence of his business acumen, despite the fact that his creditors (i.e., people to whom he owed money such as vendors and employees) doubtlessly got screwed out of what he owed them. Remarkably, on Saturday Trump said he would close various loopholes of fraud and abuse in the welfare system. I guess it's ok for Trump to use a system to his advantage but others should not.

And according to my bankruptcy expert (zwoman), Trump abused the bankruptcy system by buying under-performing companies and immediately throwing them into chapter 11, thereby sticking his creditors and employees with the bulk of the companies' debts. Trump then got to reorganize the companies and have a fresh start.


Inconsistencies further abound with Trump. Two debates ago he said that Bill Clinton's infidelity was "fair game" against Hillary. Apparently she enabled Bill to take all those third-party beejays. Of course, Trump cheated on his first wife with Marla Maples, with whom he had a child out of wedlock but eventually married and then divorced, but not before mercilessly hitting on Princess Diana (with no luck). Trump, like Bill Clinton, is 69 years old. Trump's current wife is 45. Monica Lewinsky is 42. Make of that what you will.

Even weirder stuff happened on Saturday. While arguing about who has a more ruthless stance on deporting illegal Latin American immigrants, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both sons of Latin American immigrants who at one time may or may not have had ruthless stances on deportation, devolved into a separate argument over their respective Spanish language skills. At one point Cruz actually started yelling at Rubio in Spanish. I don't know what he said, but I doubt that performance helped him much with voters who want to deport Spanish speakers (i.e., much of Cruz's base). I suspect we'll see that replayed in some slimy attack ad in the near future.


Also weird: the debate started with every candidate stating that President Obama should not nominate someone to the Supreme Court after Justice Scalia's death and thus advocating for some abridgment of the President's power despite the fact that (1) they are all running for President and (2) Article II, Section 2 of the United States Constitution says that the President "shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ... judges of the Supreme Court ...." This was remarkably remarkable given that the candidates all praised Justice Scalia's originalism, textualism and conservatism. Jeb! even went so far as to say "Look, I'm an Article II guy but ..." thus acknowledging that this whole line of demagoguery runs counter to the text of the Constitution.

Yet also weird: previous presidential candidates like Howard Dean (the scream) and Joe Biden (multitudes) were deemed too unhinged and, well, unpresidential to be president. But on Saturday most of the candidates tried to put on the worst possible display of deportment they could manage. Even patrician Jeb! started getting gully. Kasich remained above the fray but he's still a goober.


Still weird: Trump committed apostasy by shredding a former President of his alleged party. I've never seen that before on either side. Sure, he was trying to use the transitive property to shit on Jeb! by shitting on W, but even mere transitive shits on party Presidents are verboten. This act of GOP treason allowed Jeb! to mount his high horse and ride it around the stage while highlighting his royal family in counterpoise to Trump's crassness. This further led to an alley-oop to Rubio, who managed to praise W without praising Jeb! while still shitting on Hillary, all in one sentence. It was great theater. Trump also called for W to be impeached despite the fact that W is no longer President and thus ineligible for impeachment. Later still, Jeb! admitted that W shouldn't have used eminent domain to build a stadium for the Texas Rangers. All in all a bad night for W.


Continued shitting weirdness: Trump also shat at Lindsey Graham, probably because Graham endorsed Jeb!. This makes less than zero sense in front of a South Carolina crowd, and they booed him. As usual he said that these booers were all Jeb!'s donors. Which makes sense, right? If you back Jeb! and someone attacks him, you boo the attacker. In Trump's (and Trump voters') bizarre view of the world, these Jeb! and Graham fans are "special interests" while Trump's crew is not. But why aren't they? Their interests appear to be separate and apart from other voters', so why aren't they "special"? I'll never get this.

Beyond weird: Obama was dismissed by the GOP in 2008 as too inexperienced to be President. He was "just a community organizer" with only three years of experience in the Senate and almost eight years in the Illinois State Senate, and that supposedly wasn't enough experience to be Commander-in-Chief. This GOP election cycle features two candidates who have never held elected office, 44-year old and 45-year-old Senators with five and three years of Senate experience respectively, a former two-term governor who hasn't held any office in nine years, and John Kasich. Three of the six do not hold an advanced degree. Only Rubio and Cruz have a J.D. Confusingly, the more novice candidates are touting their lack of political experience as an asset, and Republican voters are picking up what they're putting down. I have no explanation.


I convinced zwoman to watch the debate with me--it was an excuse to drink some of the awesome beer TR gave me and make snarky comments so she relented. She's one of the smartest people I know, an exceptional lawyer, a fun drunk, and a lover of booze and pointed wit. She hasn't followed the Republican race at all because no matter its outcome she'll vote for the Democrat. I had to explain who some of the candidates were and she still can't wrap her head around how Ben Carson got in the running, let alone got any votes, and this lead to a discussion about how the ability to separate conjoined twins can possibly translate to leading the free world.


After the debate ended she looked at me and said "That was a lot more fun that I thought it would be" which is also what she said after our first romantic interlude many years ago. She then added "I can't believe one of those buffoons is going to get a shot at being president!" I replied "Yes. The only people on that stage who weren't lying were Bush, Carson, and maybe Kasich. Carson is a dope and Kasich is a dork." To which she said "That's my impression too. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I really hope Jeb[!] wins the nomination. Wait ... so we'll have another Clinton-Bush election?!? That's the best outcome?!? What just happened?!?!?"

Somewhere Mitt Romney is drinking a glass of warm milk and wondering where he screwed up. Election 2016 y'all!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Gheorghe Explains the Election: The Democrats

I'm not feeling the Bern, though my 14 year-old daughter is a pretty passionate Bernie-backer. (I take this as a sign that I'm an excellent parent.) And my overwhelming emotion about Hillary Clinton is 'meh'.

More to the point, my objection to the former First Lady's candidacy is that, should she win and serve two terms, when she leaves office in January 2025, two families will have controlled the Presidency for 28 of the preceding 36 years. That's not democracy; it's an oligarchy of the establishment.

I suspect that same elite fatigue is what's propelling Senator Sanders' campaign (and not for nothing, a darker form of the same energy animates Donald Trump's rise). It's a measure of the Democratic Party's lack of imagination and leadership depth that it failed to recognize Secretary Clinton's fundamental vulnerability here, even though the same weakness felled her during her last campaign for the Presidency.

One day after the death of Antonin Scalia sees Republicans openly declaring their intent to subvert the Constitution and more than a few Democrats gleefully celebrating the demise of a human being, it's easy to fear for the future of the Republic. Recency bias is a real thing, to be sure, and every current moment looms larger in our minds than any previous. But it feels like this particular moment cries out for a radical departure from recent norms, a reparation of the body politic.

As an example, Scalia himself, one of the most conservative justices to ever sit on the highest bench in the land, was confirmed by a Democratically-controlled Senate in 1986 by a 97-0 margin. That seems quaint in the context of our current era.

Jimmy Carter was (and is) a good man who got a bad rap.
Unfortunately, no current Presidential candidate save Trump really offers any real break with the recent past. Sanders certainly promises it, but political reality suggests that none of his ambitious, liberal agenda would survive first contact with a House of Representatives controlled by Republicans, even if Democrats might be able to regain control of the Senate. He risks being nothing so much as a Jewish Jimmy Carter, with Brooklyn's accent replacing a Georgian twang, and bagels standing in for peanuts on political cartoonists' palettes.

If I sound despondent, good friends, it's because I'm pretty close to being just that. In the end, regardless of the nominee, I'll vote for the Democrat, because control of the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. But I won't expect much from her and her crony-driven machine.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day, Gheorghies, Glad I could bring some cheer to this day.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Test 36: TV Themes and Beatboxing

This week on The Test, the gang reunites. We got together yesterday afternoon, after a long week of teaching, and crammed ourselves into my son Ian's bedroom, along with two microphones, and a laptop. We recorded three episodes in a row. The sound in there is sweet-- lots of corners and soft objects to break up the reverb, and the addition of a second microphone really improved what you can hear (it's one of my old condenser mics, connected with a Blue Icicle . . . we're living in the future).

While the quality of the recording is an improvement, and the quality of Cunningham's TV Theme quiz is superb, the quality of Stacey and Dave's brain power is lacking. Stacey waxes philosophically about her malfunctioning mind, and she sounds almost poetic about it: "I can't even remember my memories." I just get angry and indignant and blame having to work a five day week and then claim to have Alzheimer's.

We get our act together and come on strong by the end, however, and finish with an astounding display of verbal prestidigitation. Including some beatboxing.

Check it out, keep score, give us a good rating on iTunes and/or stitcher, and don't be stingy with the points (I'm certainly not).

Also, I bring up an incident which Whitney will recall better, with his elephantine memory. There was a fraternity brother of ours (the O-dog?) who would allow you to diminish the amount of paddling your pledge-ass received, if you could guess a TV theme song. He would only play a few notes of it, on his record player. When I tried my luck, he played the theme from Bonanza or something equally unidentifiable, and I failed to guess it. Then he missed my ass with the paddle and hit me in the hamstring. Ouch. So I could also blame my poor showing on the PTSD that TV theme songs trigger when I hear them in a competitive setting.

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Internet is Neat - Old School Hip Hop Edition

I was channel-surfing in my automobile the other day and went to the Backspin station, a no-brainer preset on Sirius. I was grooving out to the classic "White Lines (Don't Do It)" by Grandmaster Flash in the sad way that a 40-something Dad running errands in the 'burb grooves out. I remember thinking how awesome that bass line of that tune was, and I wanted to find the origin of that sample...after I picked up the dry cleaning, bought wiper fluid and got some Boar's Had Honey Maple Turkey from the deli for the kids' lunches.

Thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, I was able to dig up this information in about 20 seconds. Many of you may know this information already, but I did not. Turns out the sample is from an early 80's new wave band called Liquid Liquid (which I'm sure Whitney knows and loves and could write a 5-page essay on from the top of his head, because he knows and loves every non-Mike Love band around). 

Turns out Grandmaster Flash did no do a whole lot, other than rap on top of that bass line about the dangers of booger sugar, while adding in a bit of scratching. The original is below. That bass line is is incendiary. Incendiary.

Gheorghe Explains the Election with a Caption This!

Two recurring features colliding! Caption this while explaining the election!!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

This Week in Wrenball: Time to Find Out

In 1997-98, the William & Mary Tribe men's basketball team - almost out of nowhere - went 20-6 in the regular season, 13-3 in conference play. Hopes were raised in a place where hope was as rare as a rational Tea Party voter.

And as those hopes crested in Richmond at the CAA Tournament, an injury-hobbled Tribe team, with star players Jim Moran and Randy Bracy ailing, lost to seventh-seeded American University and their hot-shooting guard, Nathan Smith. Or, Nathan Fucking Smith, as he's known in W&M lore*.

* possibly only to me

Eighteen years later, a W&M team in somewhat different circumstances, having made consecutive CAA Tournament finals and four in the last eight years, finds itself among the elite teams in the league. Tony Shaver's boys are 17-6, 9-3 in the league, and winners of four straight. W&M is currently ranked 37th in the RPI, and have a non-conference resume that matches up with any mid-major and a lot of power conference teams. People are talking about this squad, and not just us. John Feinstein wrote perhaps the longest non-GTB piece I've ever seen about the Wrens.

Tonight, the Green and Gold begin perhaps their toughest stretch of the season.

Hofstra, boosted by likely CAA Player of the Year Juan'ya Green and double-double machine Rokas Gustys, travels to Williamsburg tonight in a battle for second place. The Flying DutchPride hammered the Tribe by nearly 30 points in Hempstead late last month on the strength of an otherworldly offensive performance in the game's second half. Hofstra trails W&M by one game in the league after blowing a big lead and losing at JMU in overtime.

Two days from now, W&M travels to Towson, hoping to avenge their only home loss of the season. Like Hofstra, the Tigers are only a game behind the Tribe in the CAA standings.

And a week from tonight, league leaders UNCW come to the Tribedome hoping to sweep W&M. The first matchup between these two was a classic, the Seahawks topping the Wrens, 97-94, in overtime.

Omar Prewitt was just named CAA co-Player of the Week after a pair of 20+ point games. The Tribe is balanced, with six players averaging at least 8.0 points per game, and a seventh, sophomore Connor Burchfield, averaging 6.0 and leading the nation in three-point shooting percentage (.614). Sophomore point guard David Cohn is averaging 7.0 assists/game over the last seven games, with an assist/turnover ratio of 4.1:1 over that span. Over the team's four-game winning streak, the Tribe has averaged 1.24 points/possession while shooting 50.6% from the floor. (The NCAA leaders in offensive efficiency, Saint Mary's, average 1.19 ppp on the season. W&M is 37th at 1.09.) There is reason to believe this team is better than last year's.

You can see where this is all going, can't you.

Three wins, and W&M is the odds-on favorite to win the regular season title. Three losses would suck, and burst the #1bid4wmtribe at-large bubble, but wouldn't really have a material impact on the Tribe's CAA tourney chances - W&M's probably already done enough to avoid having to compete in the tournament's play-in round. Neither of those outcomes is terribly likely, given the vicissitudes of this conference season.

At the end of the above-mentioned Feinstein piece, which chronicles the pain many of us have felt personally over the past several years, Shaver allows himself to dream just a little bit. Asked what he might do if W&M finally gets over the hump, he said, “I’m pretty sure I’ll hug my sons and [wife] Ann first. Long hugs. I know there will be tears.”

Dammit. The way this year is shaping up, there will be tears, alright. Just hard to tell which kind.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

My email has stepped into the wayback frat machine

Yesterday, these two messages were atop my phone's email...very kind of Dr. Sam Beckett to check in every now and again.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Snowy, Rainy Stock Market Blues

It's cold and snowy here in NYC. The stock market is a hot mess. Oil prices are a hot mess. My company did some layoffs two weeks ago and may not be done. And my office is literally raining b/c some construction bozos doing work on the floor above me in my building ruptured a water pipe.

I need something to make me feel better. This may do the trick:

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Super Ball Open Thread

According to legend, the Super Bowl was named by Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, who was inspired by his kids' infatuation with the Superball, which was first marketed in 1965. That's as good a backstory as anything, I guess.

Feel free to weigh in about today's sporting contest, or about your experiences with Superballs, in the comments below.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Test: Not as Hip as Black Violins . . . but Almost

This week on The Test, Stacey delivers another one of her super-hip song quizzes. She confounds special guest MJ and me for a while, but we eventually come up with the answer. See if you can beat us to the punch. You're going to need to identify the artist and/or title of each clip, and then string those clues together to figure out the overarching theme. Good luck.

Also, as a bonus, listen to Stacey's warm welcome at the end of the show to next week's special guest.

Friday, February 05, 2016


I spent the week in San Antonio at my company's annual sales meeting. We call it ASM, because we're clever. I got to my house at 12:45 am this morning after flying through Chicago to get to Dulles from Texas. Could be worse, I guess, as the weather was good and my flights were on time - never a given this time of year. Just don't ask me to make any important decisions today.

My company is generally very good at production values across the board, and ASM is no exception. Our kickoff session was held in the very cool Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and featured Soledad O'Brien telling several very provocative stories about race, class and gender to a mostly white, mostly relatively affluent audience. Check your privilege is an interesting theme for a sales conference, to be sure.

But I'm here today to hip you to the act that played before and after Ms. O'Brien. Black Violin may well be sui generis, in that I'm not aware of any other acts that feature two violins, a drummer, and a DJ.

For a moment in time, we were a hip, hip bunch of salesmen and marketers. Except for the fact that nobody really listened to the band, except for me and a handful of others. Missed opportunity for my colleagues, but I get to pretend that I'm superior. Which is nice.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Dear Gheorgies

Dear Gheorghies,

I'm looking for a little advice.  This Saturday at 1:30PM or so, I am dropping my dad off at the Palm Beach, FL airport.  I will then drive his car to Virginia.  Shit better have SiriusXM.
Thanks, Google, for reminding me how short the plane flight is

Really, the only deadline I have is to be somewhere local by kickoff of the big game Sunday evening.  That means I have about 29 hours to make a 13-hour drive.  Hmmm.

So, GTBers . . . what's my plan?  I'd ring up Mark or Danimal, but (a) that's presumptuous that they would be home and want to hang with me, and more importantly (b) I need to get further up the road than Florida.

Any suggestions are welcomed for a stopover.  Best towns?  Bars?  Libraries?

Shotgun's also open to any takers.  I know, don't all jump at once.

Anyway . . . that's where I'll be this weekend.  Somewhere on this map.



Monday, February 01, 2016

The Test 34: Elitist Stuff

This week on The Test, I quiz the ladies on some highbrow shit . . . and they perform admirably. If you listen closely, you'll notice that Stacey not only invents a jazz musician, but also cracks a number of hysterical jokes that Cunningham and I completely ignore.

I have some trouble "taking stuff from my head," but the Voice of God comes to the rescue. Cunningham corrects me on-- of all things-- a sporting quotation, and I come up with an extemporaneous bonus question and then refuse to let the ladies answer it because I want to answer it myself. It's astounding that they put up with me.

Take a shot, keep score, and see if you know as much "elitist stuff" as we do.

Jerry, this one is right in your wheelhouse.