Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Gheorghe: The Blog Has A Posse

I got a free one week trial subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud and used it to do something I've wanted to try for a long time.

We have a logo. rob and his tireless colleagues at the North Pole are hastily silk-screening this image onto t-shirts as I type. It is, of course, a parody of Shepard Fairey's famous "Andre the Giant Has A Posse" sticker which was ubiquitous on New Jersey high school lockers, bathroom walls, skateboard decks, and Garden State Parkway toll booths in the early 1990s. In case you weren't fortunate enough to grow up in New Jersey in the 1990s ...

Feel free to tell me how much my logo sucks in the comments.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Test 51: Dave Does a Song Quiz?

This week on The Test, after weeks of fanfare, I finally unveil my thematic song quiz to the ladies. Things do not go as well as planned, but Rob and Whit will enjoy the culminating song and the overarching theme. Definitely a shout out to room 306.

Listen to the seven clips and see if you can puzzle out the answer. Stacey does. Cunningham not so much. As a bonus, I secretly reveal my plans for the show next season.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Future is Awesome

In the 69th minute of last night's friendly between the U.S. Men's National Team and Bolivia, 25 year-old Darlington Nagbe laid off a perfect pass in the penalty area. 17 year-old Christian Pulisic calmly received the pass and slotted the ball into the lower corner of the Bolivian net. The goal made Pulisic the youngest American to ever score in full international play.

Pulisic was already the youngest foreign player to score a goal in the Bundesliga, and the youngest player of any nationality to score two goals in Germany's top league, where he plays for Borussia Dortmund. Nagbe led the Portland Timbers to the MLS Cup final last season, and is the kind of creative, attacking midfielder that the U.S. has been missing for several campaigns.

In that Nagbe to Pulisic goal, we saw a sign of things to come. Jurgen Klinsmann's squad still has a ton of questions in the run-up to the 2018 World Cup, but with youth comes optimism. And for a team that's lacked that promise for much of this cycle, that's one to grow on.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Don't Sue Your Customers, Alternatively Titled "Jeffrey Loria is the Least Gheorghe Man Alive This Week"

Law school provides almost zero practical knowledge. I gleaned the most useful nugget, in terms of real-world utility, in my trademarks course: Don't sue your customers. If you sue your customers they won't like you, and if they don't like you they won't be your customers anymore, in which case you'll have no sales and you'll go out of business.

My favorite example of this rule in application is the drug store. Go into any big chain pharmacy and you'll see stuff like this:

On the left are Gillette Venus Tropical ladies' razors. On the right are CVS ladies' razors. Both razors are pink and feature tropical packaging. Gillette, of course, came up with this marketing angle first and CVS knocked it off. They did the same to Schick:

Why do Gillette and Schick tolerate this blatant trade dress infringement? Because CVS buys shitloads of their razors, and if they antagonize CVS then they won't sell as many shitloads of their razors. Here's another egregious example:

Things get pretty brazen in the OTC pharmaceutical space. Not only are the CVS generic products presented in almost identical packaging to the branded product, the CVS boxes say stuff like "Compare to the active ingredient in Prilosec OTC" or "Compare to the active ingredients in Vicks DayQuil."

Not even vaporizers are immune from these shenanigans. Check out this bootleg device:

Why does Procter & Gamble let this slide? Because just about everything P&G makes is purchased at pharmacies, and CVS is a really really big pharmacy chain. If P&G isn't down with CVS then someone else will put their heartburn pills and daytime cold dranks and cheap humidifiers on CVS's shelves.

Remarkably, Jeffrey Loria and the rest of the Miami Marlins ownership group don't seem to understand this basic business principle. I say this because, as rob noted previously, the Marlins sued season ticket holders who backed out of their ticket packages. Some backed out because, at least in part, the Marlins stopped giving them special amenities like private entrances and pole-position parking, amenities that were not included in the season ticket contract but that were promised during the verbal sales pitch.

Now I understand that a contract means what it says, that people put things in writing because they intend for both parties to live up to their promises, and that there have to be repercussions when people breach. So I get why the Marlins want to be made whole when a corporation bails on a luxury box. That said, what type of donkey-brained moron goes after individuals who buy two-seat packages? Especially when the team starts pulling back promised perks in order to save money. Not even Dan Snyder would be so stupid as to ... oh wait ... scratch that. Well, at least Snyder dropped the suit.

This is a remarkably short-sighted move by the Marlins. Fifty inch smart HD TVs cost less than $750 and they can be used to stream any live baseball game being played anywhere in the world. No one has to leave the comfort of their home to watch a game. There are also other things to do in Miami beyond watching baseball, like watching the Panthers/Dolphins/Heat, or actually playing sports in the year-round awesome weather, or boating/surfing/swimming/fishing in the ocean, or enjoying Miami's fantastic night life, or doing other things that you can do anywhere like read a book, go to the movies, Netflix and chill, etc. Why the hell should anyone give tens of thousands of dollars to some wealthy jackass who might very well sue you if you lose your job and don't have the disposable income to pay for baseball tickets?

So screw you Jeffrey Loria. You are the least Gheorghe man alive this week.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Small Victory

I'm a simple-minded man much of the time, none moreso than when I'm driving in and around my town. When I lived with Clarence, I used to take my car out of gear and try to coast the last quarter mile to our house, down a gradual hill that flattened out before our driveway. I invent games in traffic on the way to and from work, 'racing' my fellow commuters, even as we're generally moving 15-20 miles per hour.

I never let it get to 29. Amateur.
My white whale over the past few years, though, has been a speed gauge in my neighborhood, something I generally pass 3-4 times a day, positioned as it is in the entrance to my community I most frequently use. It's one of those solar powered speed limit signs, alerting drivers to their speed as they approach.

It's oddly positioned, only 100 yards or so from a four-way stop and only another 100 yards from another stop sign, making it highly unlikely that anyone other than the most egregious leadfoot would ever register a dangerously high speed. But in another sense (that being the sense of my easily-distracted mind), it's perfectly positioned.

Ever since our town installed the sign two years or so ago, I've attempted to make the perfect pass: keeping the sign reading exactly 25 mph throughout the duration of my measured run. It's harder than it seems. To record the perfect trip, one must enter the recorded area at precisely the right speed, maintain that speed for several seconds, and then slightly accelerate at the very end in order to maintain 25 mph as the angle of the measurement changes.

I've probably attempted to record the perfect run over 1,000 times. I've been close, too close, dozens of times, usually failing by just a fraction, dropping to 24, or speeding up to 26 at just the wrong moment.

But last Friday, when I wasn't really concentrating, heading home at the end of the workday, I accelerated smoothly out of the four-way, then entered the zone at exactly 25. I kept it steady, then nudged the pace perfectly, recording the perfect pass for the first time ever. I celebrated by doing two laps of the roundabout that follows the next stop sign.

And then, on Sunday, I nailed it again. I'm a goddamn wizard.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sturgill Simpson is not related to Jessica Simpson or Homer Simpson or OJ Simpson but you should check out his new album anyway

Sturgill Simpson released his third album, "A Sailor's Guide to Earth," last month and you should check it out if you haven't already done so. Simpson is typically considered a country artist, but some of the songs on this album don't fit into that category. If not for the twang and timbre of his voice they'd be flat-out indie R&B. For example, "Call to Arms" is on some straight Blues Brothers shit.

Check out the switch at 2:20 in "Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)":

And "Brace for Impact (Live a Little)" has a little Al Green in it:

Simpson's developing a habit of including startlingly unexpected and good covers in his albums. This time around he did "In Bloom."

I've seen a lullaby version of "In Bloom" before, but this is a lot better.

Simpson will be in Brooklyn, Boston, and DC on October 8, 9, and 11, respectively. Who's up for a show?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

"Presser, I hardly know 'er!" said Kanye West.

Gábor Presser is a Hungarian citizen residing in Budapest. Presser is a living legend in his homeland, and the song "Gyöngyhajú Lány" has been one of the most beloved and enduring songs in Hungary and across Easter Europe since Presser wrote it in 1969. I know this because Mr. Presser's lawyers said so in the complaint they filed against Kanye West in the Southern District of New York alleging copyright infringement.

Mr. Presser is a member of the band Omega, a Hungarian rock group. "Gyöngyhajú Lány" is their biggest song, according to their Wikipedia page and Mr. Presser's complaint. Their Wikipedia page also says that the Scorpions covered the song and called it "White Dove" despite the fact that their Wikipedia page also says that "Gyöngyhajú Lány" means "Pearls in Her Hair," while Google Translate turns it into "Pearl-haired girl" which reminds me of an old movie.

But I digress. Here's the Omega version of the song.

Mr. West sampled this song for almost a minute and a half at the end of "New Slaves," which appears on the album "Yeezus." Here it is--skip to 2:53 if you just want to hear the sample at issue.

The real (and NSFW) video for the song is available on Vimeo, but the last minute and twenty-five seconds have, interestingly, been cut off. Even more interestingly, Kanye West sampled a 40-some-odd-year-old Hungarian rock ballad?!?

The complaint details how Mr. West approached Mr. Presser for the rights to the sample after "New Slaves" was released, and how they have tried to work something out but failed. The complaint also details how "New Slaves" received tons of positive critical reviews, including a quote from the New York Daily News stating that "New Slaves" "features the most cool, and obscure, sample on the disc, from early ’70s Hungarian prog-rock group Omega." The most cool! Grammar! I also recall a Grantland article by Rembert Browne in which he describes how he felt the first time he heard the switch to this sample on "New Slaves" and how he wishes he could experience that feeling again and regrets that he can't.

So this honestly appears to be a pretty significant sample.

Accordingly, this seems like a cut and dry case of infringement, especially given Mr. West's ex post request for a license, but if we know anything around here it's that the little guy always loses and Mr. Presser is the littlest guy in this fact pattern. Also in this fact pattern is co-defendant Sony, and you know what happens to old guys who get cranky when Sony busts their loops.

I expect Mr. West to take a page from Ghostface Killah's playbook.

Not necessarily that page. I expect him to sit back and let Sony do the heavy lifting. I also expect this case to settle because no one in their right mind wants to defend Kanye West's deposition.

I'll let you know how this pans out.

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Test 50: Closing Lines

This week on The Test, Cunningham teaches us how to finish strong. She administers a quiz on the closing lines of seven famous novels, and then she delivers a rousingly inspirational peroration in the waning moments of the podcast.

Stacey and I prefer to start like balls of fire and then fizzle out. This is how we teach novels, and this is how we perform on this episode.

In a few weeks, we'll have completed a year's worth of the show. Not sure if we'll finish the year strong, or fizzle out, but hopefully you'll come along for the ride.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Shit, Completely Lost

It's rained something like 22 of the past 24 days here. It's pouring today. I'm covered in mud from a 5k that I didn't realize was competed on a cross-country course. I've lost my freaking mind.

Enjoy Washington 80s hair band AlleyBrat covering 'Singing in the Rain'.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beautiful Little Trees

Open Culture bills itself as "the best free cultural and educational media on the web". As we are somewhat culturally deficient and long past our prime educatin' years, most of us don't generally spend a lot of time on the site.

Which is a shame, because Stanford professor Dan Colman and his team do a pretty incredible job of curating online classes, public domain books, music, and videos, and any number of other edifying materials. If you were so inclined, you could audit Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art from James Grant at Oxford, or American Immigrant Experience from Carl Mason at Cal. You could dig into MIT lecturer Richard Schmalensee's Energy Decisions, Markets and Policies (TR might want to consider this one) or Stephen Pinker, Larry Summers and Michio Kaku's Great Big Ideas. You get the point.

If online courses aren't your bag, you can peruse thousands of free eBooks, mostly classics from the likes of Hemingway, Kubrick, David Foster Wallace, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Kids can get their learn on, too, with hundreds of K-12 courseware. There's art from The Met, music from Bach (and the Grateful Dead), and thousands of free movies.

And as of now, the world can watch all ten seasons of Bob Ross' epic The Joy of Painting series. Open Culture isn't hosting Ross' work, which originally aired on Northern Virginia's public television station, WNVC, but did let the world know that the collection is now available on YouTube.

A mere 90 seconds into this, the first-ever episode, Ross lets loose with "the almighty palette knife". The man loved his work. And we him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hey KD, Beware the Wrath of This 8 Year-Old

My boys, who are in second-grade and kindergarten, are becoming big sports fans, due to their own involvement in youth sports and their dad's incessant sports-watching. The NBA became a big hit this season, due to: 1) the front-yard hoop I painstakingly put together last spring, and 2) my son's interest in reading sports books. He has devoured some big picture books on the history of the NBA, which makes for fun questions like "Did you watch the Big O play?" and "Why did Dennis Rodman look like that?"

(Back to that hoop. It took me six hours, and every neighbor walked by and laughed at me for not paying somebody $100 to do it. But I figured it out all by myself and feigned competence in handyman things to my kids. And they are now mad bombers that shoot hoops every day. The same neighbors comment on how frequently they are out there. Great financial and time investment, in retrospect.)

My oldest has become a big Thunder fan, rightfully worshipping at the altar of KD and Westbrook. So much so that when we got him a youth Thunder uniform for his first Holy Communion (a Westbrook one, for reasons that become obvious below), he actually cried tears of happiness. My youngest...likes the Heat...because his first rec team was called the Heat...because that team had red t-shirts. That's all it takes for a six year-old. Both kids got caught up in the Kobe coverage that was on ESPN non-stop all year, but I forcibly steered them away, refusing to buy them anything with his name/number because "he was mean to his wife and to women." It worked.

So anyway, we are moving our boys into separate bedrooms this summer, and giving the oldest some input on decisions. His request to paint the walls orange, like the color in the Islanders and Thunder uniforms, was denied. But his request for a Thunder player Fathead was approved. My son asked for KD. I told him that would be okay, but we should wait a couple months to find out if KD was going to leave the team.

And that's when shit got real. My son's jaw dropped and he was visibly upset. I tried to explain free agency in general - KD grew up near Washington DC, his contract was ending, and some players like to play in Miami, where it's warm all year. He wasn't having any of it. He left the room in a pissy mood.

A few minutes later, I found this letter/rant/poster on our kitchen table. I have no idea if he planned to mail this, carry it into a game, or just use it to vent. But here it is. Look carefully at the "RIP 2007-2016" at the top. After I saw this, I picked up my iPad and saw "when did kd get drafted" as a recent search. He did his research. KD was picked in the 2007 draft.

So watch your back if you end up in Chocolate City or South Beach, KD.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Test 49: Where Do Bad Folks Go When They Die?

I feel like crap today: it's either allergies or I'm possessed by a malevolent spirit (and it's probably the latter).

For more spooky stuff, my reaction to the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and why Cunningham would rather relinquish control of her life, check out this week's episode of The Test.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Flow On

Since at least 2011 (and I think much longer than that), an anonymous Minnesotan has chronicled the state's biggest sporting event, celebrating his state's culture in a typically understated and sardonic manner. Now, thanks to the magic of the ESPN machine, flow is going big-time.

Tomorrow night, the Barry Melrose lends his voice, and more importantly, his hair, to the E:60 documentary, Minneflowta, a chronicle of hockey hair. But before Barry, there was Pulltabproductions, and now Game On! Minnesota, celebrating the best salads in the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournament.

Picture the Indiana State High School Basketball Tournament with all manner of mullets, mustaches, and pompadours, and you've got an inkling of the Land of 10,000 Lakes' annual celebration of their game. If you've got time, go to the first link above and check out the last several years' worth of all-tournament hockey hair teams. But if you've only got 8 minutes, dig on this:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

New Tune on Saturday

Light fare on this fine Saturday morning, with the sun finally shining in the Mid-Atlantic, if only for a few hours. A trio of our favorite bands have either dropped new records or have new ones on the way, so it's a chance for us to burnish our reputation as taste makers.

We first told you about Scotland's Frightened Rabbit on a similarly lazy Saturday. Back then, we called them the musical heir to Big Country. We're still sold on that comparison, even as their new single, 'Get Out' is a bit more poppy. It's also pretty great. Their newest compilation, 'Painting of a Panic Attack' came out on April 8.

I can't believe it's been seven years since my first and only trip to Jazz Fest. One of my most vivid memories of that trip, amongst a hazy blur, was seeing the Avett Brothers perform on the Fais Do Do stage before 3-400 folks. I doubt many people have seen them in a smaller venue since. The Avetts' new record, 'True Sadness', comes out on June 24, and they sound as good as they ever have (even as they look a little cleaned up) on the first single, a ready-made singalong called 'Ain't No Man'.

It's been four years since the last Band of Horses record, and six since the last one that was any good, so fans are eagerly awaiting the June 10 release of 'Why Are You Okay?'. If the first single, 'Casual Party' is any indication, it'll be worth waiting for.

Enjoy yourself some tunes of your own this fine Saturday, and may the sun shine upon you for as long as it lasts.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Gheorghe Explains the Election: Bankshot

Are you fucking kidding me with this, global beverage giant who is not at all American and hasn't been for a long time?

When I first read that Anheuser-Busch InBev, producers of Budweiser, had decided to temporarily rebrand their domestic swill* 'America', I assumed I'd inadvertently stumbled across The Onion. Then I realized that I was reading an actual news story.

* I'm contractually required by the Union of American Beer Snobs to refer to Budweiser in this manner, though it's a generally inoffensive if bland mass market lager.

My very next thought was, "I bet this has something to do with Trump." And according to the presumptive** Republican Presidential nominee himself, it sure does.

** We're also required to call him the presumptive nominee until he actually receives the nomination this summer. This allows the GOP elite to pretend that they haven't let the Wildlings through their party's Wall and into the Seven Kingdoms.

For a blog about William & Mary basketball and dipshittery, I'm pretty proud of what we've written about this election thus far. Our takes on Trump's rise, and the inexplicable and scary rise in the death rate of middle class Americans stand up to at least modest scrutiny, even if they have a few naughty words. Trump has very clearly tapped into a vein of fervent nationalism wrapped in fear of an uncertain future and loathing of the others that seem to be increasingly in charge.

Into this bizarre mix steps Ricardo Marques, vice president of Budweiser. His explanation for the rebranding strains credulity. Says Marques, "We are embarking on what should be the most patriotic summer that this generation has ever seen, with Copa America Centenario being held on U.S. soil for the first time, Team USA competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games,"

I would buy this line of marketing bullshit, but for two things: 1) I spin lines of marketing bullshit for a living, and can see it coming from a mile away, and 2) Budweiser drinkers couldn't give two shits about a soccer tournament. Nice try, Belgy McBelgian.

No, this marketing campaign - which may well prove to be brilliant in terms of reversing the slide of America's once-dominant beer brand - is inspired by and catering to the rising nationalism stoked by Trump. And unless I miss my mark, America the brand will amplify Trump the candidate's message throughout the summer, peanut butter to his white chocolate. He'll hold cans up as props at rallies, telling us how A-B InBev recognized the path to America's greatness he promises. His supporters will buy it by the keg in symbolic support of the candidate and the country.

And the shitshow will roll on.

Winter is coming, friends, and I'm not sure anyone can stop it.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fashion is Dumb, Ripped

Ezekiel Elliott had a pretty good night on April 28. The former Ohio State running back was the fourth overall choice, going to the Dallas Cowboys, where he's likely to tear shit up behind one of the league's best offensive lines.

While Zeke's draft outcome was terrific, his haberdashery was, well, check this out:

On the one hand, if I had abs like that, I might never wear a shirt. On the other...dude.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Money Money Not Money

In my professional guise, I've been doing a lot of work lately on digital currency, so my radar is attuned to stories about the rise of non-physical payment systems. Imagine my excitement, then, when I came across an amazing confluence of technology, disco-pop, and Scandinavians.

In 1976, Bjorn Ulvaeus co-wrote 'Money Money Money' with ABBA bandmate Benny Andersson. Now, four decades later, Ulvaeus is one of the leaders of the movement in Sweden to eliminate the use of physical cash. Today, many Swedish banks don't deal in cash, and the nation is among the world's leaders in digital commercial and person to person financial transactions. At the official ABBA museum in Stockholm, which does not accept cash, a sign at the entrance reads,

"I challenge anyone to come up with reasons to keep cash that outweigh the enormous benefits of getting rid of it. Imagine the worldwide suffering because of crime, from drug dealing to bicycle theft. Crime that requires cash. The Swedish krona is a small currency, used only in Sweden. This is the ideal place to start the biggest crime-preventing scheme ever. We could and should be the first cashless society in the world."

As implied in the message above, Ulvaeus is pushing a cashless economy as a means to eliminate significant types of criminal activity. Ironically, a former head of the Swedish police force and Interpol director thinks Ulvaeus' ideas are dangerously elitist.

Bjorn Eriksson (Bjorn on Bjorn crime!) is one of the founders of  Kontantupporet (which means 'Cash Uprising', and is not at all some sort of Jim Henson character), a reaction to the increasingly digital Swedish economy. Eriksson's movement sees the trend away from cash as being primarily beneficial to large banks at the ultimate expense of consumers. In his telling, digital transactions enable large institutions to reduce transparency and dictate consumer behavior in ways made difficult in cash-based societies.

Ridiculed as the leader of a vanguard of geriatrics (and conflicted by the fact that he leads an industry association of private security firms that stand to lose a great deal in a society with no cash assets that must be physically protected), Eriksson nonetheless positions himself as protecting individuals from a corporatization of the monetary supply.

There's an interesting libertarian/dystopian argument against the elimination of cash from our transactional lives, but it seems a foregone conclusion that physical cash is a dying medium. As the Wired article notes, even panhandlers in Sweden have figured out how to accept digital currency. And to this fiscally-inept interested viewer, the fewer moving parts to the system, the better.

But as ABBA says, it's a rich man's world, so perhaps we best be aware of the motivations underlying technologies that purport to make it easier for us to spend our cash, or its equivalents.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Happy Mother's Day! Listen to The Test With Your Mom

This week's episode of The Test is rather apropos for today-- it's about how some things are based on other things, and there is no denying the fact (though many of you would like to) that we are all based (partly) on the DNA of our mothers . . . aside from our clone overlords, whom I welcome with open arms.

Cunningham nearly cries, Stacey does medium, and I determine that I am far better looking than Tina Fey (not everyone agrees). Check it out and tell your mom to listen too.


Saturday, May 07, 2016

The Best Thing Gheorghe Read This Week

Charlie Pierce is arguably the greatest living American writer, journalism division. He's almost certainly the most underrated. In addition to his stellar work at Esquire, where he ceaselessly skewers our increasingly absurd political process, he pops up from time to time at places like Sports Illustrated. This week was one of those times.

Pierce's remembrance of Pearl Washington, who died of a brain tumor on April 20, is among the most well-crafted gems of sportswriting I can remember. In it, we see a writer fully possessed of an understanding of moments, of Pearl's unique style, of the way sports moves us.

This paragraph, the piece's closing argument, is one of the finest evocations of the power of sports to bring joy I've read and lamentation for how we don't celebrate it today as we once did. It's Gheorghian in its essence, even if we could never write it as well Pierce. Read it and applaud:

"We’ve come in our time to demystify joy. We parse it, and sell it, and we manufacture it if we can’t find it any other way. It does not rise unbidden, the way it once did. It does not build, slowly and steadily.  It is presented, whole and rounded, for our consumption. But once there was a time when its origins were a mystery, its sources vague and unclear. And, when it arrived, it lingered. I heard about what Pearl Washington could do long before I saw it myself. He had made me happy in the abstract long before I saw him drop the shot against B.C. or put every Georgetown player into the MixMaster as the Garden steamed around him. I did not have to be sold on him. His legend had sold itself. That was the way it was once, when word-of-mouth was gospel. That was the source of the happiness I always will feel that I had the gift of watching the basketball in the hands of Pearl Washington, dead of brain cancer on Wednesday, at the age of 52."

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

What Does the Fox Say?

It's only fitting in the days after perhaps the most remarkable story in English football (and maybe world sports) history that our footie guy weighs in. Fat Guy in a Speedo, who is most certainly not Jamie Vardy, as far as we know, predicted that Chelsea would be the class of the EPL this season. Luckily for him, he's in excellent company, as exactly zero pundits thought Leicester City would win the league. And lucky for us, he's here to tell us about that Leicester City squadron.

One of the many new, lumbersexual, manbunning LCFC fans celebrating
At 5000 to 1 odds at the beginning of the season, the English Premier League’s Leicester City Foxes have managed to pull off the greatest sporting triumph since my 5th grade Presidential Fitness award. One year ago in mid-April last season, the Foxes were relegation-bound. They then won 7 of their last 9 matches and finished in 14th (out of 20), a feat the Guardian then called “not only arguably the greatest escape from relegation but even more unimaginable, the greatest sporting triumph in modern history.” So they’ve actually done it twice.

In one year’s time this group from the boondocks of the Midlands with a first team that was assembled for about $25M (Manchester City bought Belgian Kevin de Bruyne last summer for $85M) won the league Monday night after the second place Spurs blew a 2-0 league to tie Chelsea 2-2. It kind of sucks that they won without playing a game but no one is complaining. It’s really hard to find a reason to dislike a team of underdogs, seemingly egoless, with a manager, Claudio Ranieri, who is (perhaps more incredibly) an Italian who is highly regarded, laid back and eminently likable. He wasn’t even in Leicester for the victory as he had booked a trip to see his 96-year old mamma back in the Motherland. That’s Italian.

On top of that, this team was highly entertaining to watch. They played fast, counterattacking football that rendered teams asunder, and scored at will.  Two weeks ago their top goal scorer Jamie Vardy was red-carded for two yellows and earned a further one-match ban for calling the referee “a fucking cunt”. Pundits opined about the detrimental effect this would have on the team’s morale and title run until they beat Swansea 4-0 and tied Manchester United away without him, effectively clinching the title without their talisman.

Former LCFC manager Nigel Pearson had kind words for Crystal
Palace's James McArthur last season
There’s loads more that can and will be said, just not here. In all probability this heart-warming story of success, perseverance and teamwork in an era of Manzielian sports=riches=douchebaggery will have been circulated ad nauseum and Kelly and Michael will be interviewing Flying Fox Riyhad Mahrez on their shitshow next week and next year we will be hoping that Leicester gets relegated back into obscurity and one of their players might very well perish after upgrading the Citroen to a Lambo and t-boning a hedgerow after eating ketamine with George Michael and there’s already a movie in the works about journeyman Vardy’s rise from the obscurity in some dank factory to whatever you call this but I digress. It’s not often that a Leicester hears the words “job well done!”

What’s next for Leicester? Who knows, who cares. They’ve already punched well above their weight and provided enough entertainment for years of “remember when Leicester City won it” reflectionism. It’s a good bet that even if next season’s team isn’t co-opted by the big four for big ducats (Vardy signed a new deal and it’s hard to think a few of the better players won’t leave when double/triple salaries are offered) they won’t be able to replicate the intangibles that drove them to attain the unimaginable. What is cool is that we will get to watch them play in the Champions League next season. Leicester will be playing the likes of Barcelona, Bayern, Real Madrid and Lokomotiva Zagreb.  And they might keep on winning. But probably not. So long and thanks for all the fish, lads.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

It Is a Far, Far Better Butt-kicking I Give

Cunningam quizzes us on famous opening lines of novels this week on The Test.  Bonuses include Stacey's ukulele aspirations and a very special guest.

I also reminisce about a related sitcom episode which many Gheorghies will remember. And I slip two clips of this episode into the show. Perhaps this is an abuse of my power as audio editor . . . but why be audio editor unless you're going to abuse the power?

Monday, May 02, 2016

Some Gheorghe Thoughts on the NFL Draft

On the evening of Thursday April 28, 2016, a video of Laremy Tunsil smoking a bong appeared on the internet. The NFL draft began a few minutes later. Predictably, a great deal of hew and cry ensued--Tunsil was a dominant player at the University of Mississippi and was projected to be a top 5 pick but he "fell" (I use quotation marks because this guy would posit that his fall was much worse and more painful) all the way to #13 due to the video. Various talking heads stated that Tunsil lacked judgment, that he needed to get his act together, the he needed to get straightened out, that this would be a wake-up call for him, and myriad other cliches insinuating that Tunsil is a criminal ... despite the fact that smoking marijuana is legal in all of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, the District of Columbia, and the cities of Portland and South Portland in Maine and Keego Harbor, Michigan, and that possession has been decriminalized in 14 other states including Mississippi! In fact, first-time possession offenders (of 30 grams or less) in Mississippi are merely fined $100 to $250, roughly the same penalty as parking in a handicapped spot on the Ole Miss campus. Clearly the people of Mississippi and their legislators don't think this is a big deal.

In apparent accord, about 48 hours later the leader of the free world said this:

Everybody laughed. Probably because many other elected officials admit to smoking dope in the past, including Presidents Clinton and Bush 43; Vice-President and former Senator Al Gore; current Senators and Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz; former Senator/Democratic Party Presidential nominee and current Secretary of State John Kerry; former Senators Rick Santorum and John Edwards; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; current Governor Andrew Cuomo; and former Governors Jeb! "sorry mom" Bush, George Pataki, Sarah Palin, Howard Dean, Jesse Ventura, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar.


And, of course, George and Martha Washington.

So Tunsil's in some elite company. Literally millions of people voted for these guys despite the fact that they burn. Why the hell should anyone care if a fat college kid in Mississippi--again, where smoking dope is decriminalized--gets high from time to time? You mean to tell me that marijuana use and the potential resulting lack of mental acuity is more important when critiquing offensive linemen than potential Commanders-in-Chief of the world's most powerful military force? Stoners are qualified to have access to nuclear launch codes but not to play offensive tackle for one of the twelve worst teams in the NFL? Get the fuck outta here.


A few hours before President Obama started joking about toking, the New England Patriots drafted Malcolm Mitchell, a wide receiver from the University of Georgia. Mitchell made a name for himself off the field as well. ESPN.com posted a heartwarming story about him last year. Mitchell came to UGA "reading at about a junior-high level." When asked how he expected to survive academically at the flagship of Georgia's public education system, Mitchell said "It's not that hard [to get through]." Mitchell blew his knee out in the 2013 season opener, and with all the sudden free time on his hands he decided to learn to read at the adult level. He read some children's books and grew into more age-appropriate literature--his proudest accomplishment is reading all the Hunger Games books in two days. His love of reading was further nurtured and developed after he blundered his way into a book club comprising middle-aged women. Seriously.

Mitchell went on to write his own children's book, available at readwithmalcolm.com. Predictably, NCAA rules prevent Mitchell from promoting his book on any UGA-related website.

Am I the only person who finds this story troublesome? First, how did Mitchell manage to get into college? Second, how was he getting through UGA before he decided to learn to read at an adult level? Third, why wasn't anyone at UGA working with him to improve his reading skills? Fourth, would he have ever improved his reading if he never hurt his knee (i.e., if he had no free time to practice reading)? Fifth, would he have graduated if he continued to read at a middle-school level? Sixth, why did he have to join a club of elderly women to find people to discuss literature with--couldn't he have found this resource in an English class or with other students or maybe even his teammates and coaches? Seventh, why isn't there an NCAA investigation into all of the foregoing issues?

So Tunsil is a bad guy for engaging in a non-criminal recreational activity while in college (which the leader of the free world laughingly reminisces about doing in college), and the University of Georgia's complete failure to educate a student results in a feel-good story? I just don't get it.