Sunday, January 31, 2016

Dembeles Full But Spurs Hungry

Tottenham Hotspur is both the best name in English football, and one of the more recently exasperating sides in the Premier League. Spurs have a habit of fielding talented sides and snatching misery from the jaws of success. This year, though, led by swashbuckling young Englishmen Harry Kane and Dele Alli, and boasting a talented roster playing attractive, attacking soccer, Spurs find themselves in fourth place in the Premiership, only five points behind league-leading Leicester City.

Belgian Midfielder Mousa
In an effort to break through, Spurs management have taken the unusual, but provocative step of cornering the market on Mous(s)a Dembeles.

Mousa Dembele is a 28 year-old Belgian* central midfielder who's made 102 starts for Spurs since 2012. Prior to that, he played for Fulham, making him an instant G:TB favorite. It was during his

time at Fulham that manager Martin Jol said, "Dembele is probably the best player on the ball I have ever seen." To be fair, that kind of judgment is likely what got Jol shitcanned after failing miserably to keep the Cottagers from being relegated two years ago.

(* How many of you knew that Belgium is currently the number one team in the FIFA World Rankings? It's thought that shots on goal are part of that calculation, and the Red Devils' 68 shots against the U.S. and Tim Howard in the 2014 World Cup contributing to their position.)

Not satisfied with one Mous(s)a Dembele, Tottenham management made a bold move this week, signing forward Moussa Dembele from...Fulham. This Dembele is a 19 year-old Frenchman who's tallied 11 goals for a middling (this is a very kind description) Fulham side that's barely above the Championship relegation zone.

French Striker Moussa
Spurs made the move to pick up the younger Dembele after letting winger Andros Townsend go on a transfer to Newcastle. But they've since announced that the Frenchman will stay at Fulham on loan for the remainder of the season, taking a bit of the steam out of this post, and causing no shortage of confusion amongst Spurs fans, who see their side needing one more attacker to take the pressure off of Kane.

Maybe they should reach out to Moussa Dembele, who competed in the 110-meter hurdles for Senegal in the 2012 Olympics. He's only 27 years old, and he's fast as hell. No idea if he can kick a soccer ball or not, but how can Spurs go wrong with three Moussi Dembele?

They can't, that's how.

To close this shitshow of punnery, please enjoy a little Bob Marley while I tell you that Spurs are going to finish in the top four and make it to Champions League play next year. I believe I've already told you that, but I'm too lazy to look it up.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Summer of Football

All three of these guys will play in the Copa America Centenario
I know it's a bit hard to imagine right now in the dead of winter, with feet of snow on the ground in much of Gheorghelandia, but summer is scheduled to begin in just a few short months. And this summer promises to be an incredible smorgasbord, if you're into soccer.

From early June to late August, three major international tournaments take place on three different continents, and feature most of the world's best players. As well as the U.S. Men's National Team. I kid because I love.

Though FIFA's year of (finally acknowledging widespread) corruption threatened it, the organizers of Copa America finally announced this month that the 100th anniversary of the tournament would take place on U.S. soil. The Centenario, as its known, combines CONMEBOL's (the South American soccer federation) ten teams with six from CONCACAF (North America's) in a CONclave of sort. (My bad. That's terrible. We really need an editor.)

The U.S.A. is one of four seeded teams, along with Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina. The draw takes place on February 3rd, and if you don't think we're praying for Haiti, Peru, and Venezuela, you might not be a close follower of the beautiful game. The tournament itself kicks off on June 3 in Santa Clara, and closes with the final in East Rutherford, NJ on June 26.

Next to the World Cup, the quadrennial European Championship might be the most important soccer tournament on the globe. This year, 24 sides compete in France for the championship of world soccer's most competitive confederation. From traditional powers like Germany, Italy, Spain, and France, to underdog strivers (and natural G:TB attractions) like Northern Ireland and Iceland (the latter of whom is surprisingly good and could well win its group), Euro 2016 promises nothing so much as stuff we don't expect. Hell, the Netherlands, just two years removed from making the World Cup semifinals, didn't even qualify. That went over well in Amsterdam.

Seriously, though, read this story about Iceland. It's a cool tale.

Megan Klingenberg, tiny badass
Spain has won the previous two Euros, but underdog Greece took the title in 2004, almost literally out of nowhere. And Denmark topped host Sweden to take the 1992 trophy.

Euro 2016 begins in June 10, with play continuing through the final in Paris on July 10. ESPN will carry the entire tournament here in the colonies.

We get a breather for a few weeks after that nearly 40-day sprint, and then the men's and women's Olympic soccer tournaments commence at various venues across Brazil. Thank God they built all those stadiums for the 2014 World Cup.

Neither U.S. team has qualified yet, with the women seeking one of CONCACAF's two berths in play from February 10 - 21, and the men playing a two-leg home and away match against a tough Colombia squad in March. It'd be a stunner if the defending World Cup champion women stumble on
the way to Rio, but the men are a far dicier proposition.

Either way, it's three more weeks of soccer. And for that, at least several of us are grateful.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Great Moments in Entertainment

Because when I think of NBA All-Star Game performers, I think of this:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Everything Comes Full Circle

I like to talk politics and I like to talk to rob, and from time to time I'll shoot him a 10-words-or-less text with a link to a politically charged article and if he isn't busy burrowing out of a snow storm or rearranging his acorn collection he'll provide a thoughtful reply. That happened tonight and, while discussing this article that captures the political malaise we share with Noam Chomsky, I found a link to another article that piqued my fancy and after I clicked on it, everything came full circle. So much so that this happened:


Boom indeed.

In 2008 a group of knuckleheads argued that Barack Obama could not be president because he was born in Indonesia and thus is not a "natural-born citizen." This despite the fact that he was born in Hawaii and his mother was a US citizen. One of these knuckleheads was Donald Trump, who is now raising this issue against Ted Cruz. Remarkably, Trump has been consistent in this regard for a few years now.

I first heard of Ted Cruz when he became a Senator and first looked at his Wikipedia page when he filibustered for 21 hours (which made me conclude that he's insane, which rob countered). I laughed out loud when I saw that he was born in Canada--I don't recall that Cruz ever attacked Obama's citizenship, but how could the Tea Party stand behind their Canadian-born darling when his natural-born status suffers the exact same defect they alleged disqualified Obama? Doing so would require such a massive dearth of critical thinking and intellectual integrity that ... well ... erm ... it's the Tea Party.


Sorry, I couldn't decide which image I liked more. Anyway, I am not the first person to latch onto this, not by a longshot. Many more active folks have written myriad articles on the topic, but one guy went above and beyond by taking the remarkably proactive step of suing Ted Cruz in federal court, seeking a declaratory judgment that Cruz is Constitutionally unqualified to be president.

Said guy is Walter L. Wagner, and this isn't his first pro se DJ action. In 2008, he sued the Center for Nuclear Energy Research (known by the inaccurate anagram "CERN") seeking declaratory relief enjoining CERN from ... wait for it ... operating the Large Hadron Collider!! Boom!!!

via GIPHY


According to the complaint, Wagner and his boys "are experts in physics and other fields of science." The judge didn't care and dismissed the case, reasoning that she didn't have subject matter jurisdiction over the alleged dispute. You can feel the sarcasm dripping off of the page:

Plaintiffs allege that the collisions [in the LHC] are unsafe and could potentially result in the destruction of the Earth. Plaintiffs posit three separate theories regarding the outcome of the LHC particle experiments: (1) the creation of a runaway fusion reaction that would eventually convert all of Earth into a single, large ‘strangelet’; (2) the creation of a ‘micro black hole’ into which the Earth would fall; and (3) the creation of a runaway reaction due to the formation of a ‘magnetic monopole’. Under all of Plaintiffs’ theories, the LHC particle experiments could lead to the end of all mankind. Plaintiffs do acknowledge, however, that various competing scientific theories exist regarding the outcome of the subatomic collisions to be performed at the LHC.


I suspect rob shares Mr. Wagner's concerns and is apoplectic that they went unheeded.

Mr. Wagner's DJ complaint against Mr. Cruz is more objectively reasonable and it goes a little something like this. Article II of the Constitution says "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President ...." Everyone who was alive when the Constitution was adopted is now dead, so if you want to be president you have to be a "natural born Citizen." But what does that mean?

Mr. Wagner's complaint addresses this term, borrowing heavily from a law review article addressing Mr. Cruz's citizenship. Mr. Cruz is an originalist, which means that he believes the Constitution's words and meaning were fixed when it was signed and have not changed. To determine what these words mean, originalists go back to ancient texts and various tomes you had to read in AP History. Under an originalist reading, “natural born” means someone born within the sovereign territory or the children of public officials serving abroad because that's what it meant back in 1789.

Some old English statutes apparently extended English citizenship to children born abroad, but only if their fathers were English. Cruz's father is Cuban, and his mother's US citizenship doesn't help him under this theory. As an aside, do we really believe that the Republican base is down with the idea of a Cuban president?

via GIPHY


There was another US statute enacted in 1790, after ratification, which stated that “children of citizens of the United States” that are born abroad “shall be considered as natural born Citizens.” Mr. Wagner's law review article latches onto the "considered as" language, asking "what the hell does that mean--does 'considered as' mean the same thing as 'are'?" (I'm paraphrasing). In my view, this statute cuts against Mr. Cruz regardless of what "considered as" means. If these children already were natural born citizens prior to 1790, then there would be no need to enact the statute. Thus, in 1789, kids like Ted Cruz were dadgum fer'ners. And they can't be president.

Just as everything here comes back to the LHC, the Tea Party's birther arguments come back to bite their favorite candidate. This election cycle is, in my view, a mess. So I'm voting for Eric B.



Monday, January 25, 2016

Gheorghe Explains the Election: The Assholian Candidate

That Ted Cruz is an asshole is, at this point, accepted wisdom. Mother Jones today penned what is, to date, the most definitive study on the subject.

While close observers of the man might not be surprised by much in the MJ article, some will be struck by both the depth of hatred for the Texas Senator and the consistency over time of the opinions of others. Truly, this man has been a dick since high school, single-minded in his self-regard and self-promotion.

It would be impressive, would it not for the fact that he finds in this unique moment in our history a plausible (if, hopefully, still unlikely) path to the Presidency.

 From Mother Jones:

"Ted thought he was an expert on everything," says [a Bush 2000] campaign veteran, who asked not to be named. "He was a smart and talented guy, but completely taken with himself and his own ideas. He would offer up opinions on everything, even matters outside his portfolio. He was a policy guy, but he would push his ideas on campaign strategy. He would send memos on everything to everyone. He would come to meetings where he wasn't invited—and wasn't wanted." In fact, this Bush alum recalls, "the quickest way for a meeting to end would be for Ted to come in. People would want out of that meeting. People wouldn't go to a meeting if they knew he would be there. It was his inability to be part of the team. That's exactly what he was: a big asshole."

You could write that off as garden-variety, if somewhat obnoxious, political striving. We've all met that guy. Hell, the W&M Political Science department was overpopulated with him, and all of us have met him in any number of corporate settings. Cruz's assholery isn't bounded by your standard ambitious, upwardly climbing framework, though. It's deeper and more comprehensive.

In law school, as Mother Jones notes, "GQ reported that Cruz started a study group during his first year in Cambridge, but he announced that "he didn't want anybody from 'minor Ivies' like Penn or Brown." In an interview with the Boston Globe, another student recalled what happened when she agreed to carpool with Cruz: "We hadn't left Manhattan before he asked my IQ."

To be sure, Cruz was an asshole well before Harvard Law. As the Daily Beast points out in a 2013 profile that posits that he was both off-putting to many and well-liked in debate team circles, "In addition to [Cruz's freshman roommate Craig] Mazin and [freshman dormmate Erik] Leitch, several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like “abrasive,” "intense," “strident,” “crank,” and “arrogant." Four independently offered the word “creepy,” with some pointing to Cruz’s habit of donning a paisley bathrobe and walking to the opposite end of their dorm’s hallway where the female students lived.

“I would end up fielding the [girls’] complaints: 'Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallway?'" Mazin says.

While all of these stories combine to paint a picture of an unpleasant guy, it remains hard to put into words the overall Cruz Affect. It's equal parts smarm, intellectual arrogance, and dangerous ambition. To borrow a word from German (and God Bless you industrious Teutons for your habit of creating evocative words), Cruz personifies backpfeifengesicht, which translates to "face that should be slapped".

We've been lauded for our work in explaining the election thus far, but I have no explanation for Ted Cruz. (Molly Ball's piece in The Atlantic today is a pretty good primer, though.) He's a man who will say and do anything to become President, to appeal to the baser instincts of the electorate - if there's a more cynical construction than, "We will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out," in this most cynical of electoral cycles, I've yet to hear it.

No, I can't explain this one. I can only be afraid of it. Ted Cruz scares the shit out of me. Naked, Machiavellian ambition on a global scale should scare the shit out of all of us.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snow Day Jams

One of the unexpected side benefits of being forced to spend the better part of six hours (and counting) shoveling snow was getting to catch up on NPR Music's excellent All Songs Considered podcast.

Hosted by DC music veteran Bob Boilen (who's Tiny Desk Unit was the very first band to play at the old 9:30 Club) and Robin Hilton, All Songs is a reliably diverse (if alt-skewing) survey of new music. Their first effort of 2016 featured Glen Hansard covering David Bowie, new music from W&M's own Thao Nguyen and her band, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, Lucius, and Ray LaMontagne, among others.

The latter two feature new sounds, a bit harder than the music that made their names. Quality stuff, both. Check out the podcast here:


And if you just want a little taste, here's Thao & the Get Down Stay Down with 'Astonished Man':

I'll be back with more after my next shoveling session.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Test . . . Snow Day Edition!

There's nothing better than sitting by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day and listening to an action-packed episode of The Test. And this one is hot off the press, with real time references to the on-going blizzard from The Voice of God.

I've already done one round of shoveling, then I took a break to edit the podcast, and now I've got to get back out there-- six inches came down in the last two hours. I can't imagine there's going to be school on Monday. My younger son is out sledding in the blizzard, and I think I'm going to suit up and go check on him. It's wild out there. Good luck with the snow, stay safe, and happy listening.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snow Day Open Thread

Snow has been falling in parts of the G:TB viewing area since this morning. Since we haven't heard from Whitney, it's probably safe to assume that he's buried and/or drunk. Here in the greater DC area, the precipitation is expected to begin around noon, with some forecast models calling for as much as 45" in my area, and more than 24" in the District proper.

As a public service to the G:TB community, here's an open thread for chronicling your Revenant-like struggles with the impending doomstorm.

And a picture of an old friend.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

This Week in Wrenball: Hot Mess, The Good Kind

Last year, four teams tied for first place in the CAA with identical 12-6 conference records.

It was just a prelude, as it turns out.

Right now, six teams have 4-2 marks in conference play. Sixty percent of the league is tied for first. Notwithstanding the Ivy, where everybody's only played one game, no other league has more than two teams deadlocked at the top. It is, in the aggregate sense, a rock fight.

(Rock fights, to the uninitiated, are the CAA's stock in trade. Or at least they were before several of the league's programs began to develop highly efficient offensive games. The phrase was coined by the granddaddy of CAA bloggers, FOG:TB Michael Litos to describe offensively-challenged, hard-nosed, inelegant and slap-the-floor entertaining ball.

And speaking of the opposite of highly efficient offensive games, our friend Dan Crain at Dragons Speak penned yet another statistically astute, emotionally drained post about his Drexel team today. That poor guy. That dreadful team. Drexel, to be sure, isn't part of the logjam at the top.)

Unlike last year, when our Tribe would've walked away with the league regular-season title had they only been able to beat the worst teams in the conference, the Green and Gold have held their own against the CAA's dregs, beating Drexel and Charleston (twice) in addition to a convincing home win over defending league champion Northeastern. W&M's losses have come to fellow league-leaders Towson (at home) and UNCW.

That latter loss was a textbook case of a defeat that left no sting. On the road, in a tough building, without second-leading scorer Daniel Dixon (out with the flu), the Wrens went to overtime before falling in a 97-94 classic. We're not losing sleep over that one.

Not only is the CAA arguably the most competitive conference in the NCAA this year, the league is having one of its best seasons in history, top to (nearly) bottom. Boosted by a strong out of conference performance, the CAA is currently ranked 9th in RPI, the highest in league history at this point in a season). At 55, W&M boasts the league's highest RPI.

The competitive nature of the conference makes for compelling basketball nearly every league night, but it's a bit of shame in one sense. CAA teams are eating their own, all but assuring the league's once promising chance of multiple NCAA bids have dwindled away to nothing. Alas, poor #2bids4caa, we knew you well.

#1bid4wmtribe, though, is still in play. And like always, it'll come down to March. The Tribe doesn't need to win the league, but they do need to find a way to finish in the top six and avoid a first-round conference tournament matchup. That's a pretty strong likelihood, given what we've seen of this team. (In an amusing conference history coincidence, the first round of the CAA tournament is colloquially called Pillow Fight Friday, as it features the bottom four teams in the league.)

One of the ways they'll do that is by winning at home and beating bad teams wherever they play them. W&M gets a chance to take care of the first part of that equation tonight when Elon comes to the TribeDome. The Phoenix are in seventh place in the league, but only a game out of first at 3-3 in CAA play.

Saturday, the Tribe heads to Hempstead, NY to take on fellow co-leader Hofstra. That place is a house of horrors for W&M, which makes the Elon matchup all the more important. We'll take 5-3 after this weekend.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

History

Part history lesson, part art project, part argument-starter, and all cool, Complex Music just dropped a long piece detailing the Best Rapper Alive each year from 1979 to 2015.

The authors acknowledge the tribalism and subjectivity that makes this an impossible task, and are quick to note that this isn't a rap Hall of Fame. Instead, "(b)eing the BRA is sort of like being the MVP—even though rap doesn’t follow a rigid cultural calendar quite like major sports seasons—because it only requires looking at the current crop of active artists and picking a winner."

Given the fairly loose guidelines Complex uses to assess the BRA, there's room for quibbling. As they say, "...one thing we know for sure, it’s more about a general feeling among fans rather than any discernible facts. (What facts? It’s all just opinion anyway.)" And if it's a feeling, give me Killer Mike in 2015 instead of Drake. The authors do cover themselves by offering a handful of honorable mentions each year.

Nearly as good as the text is the accompanying artwork, stylized portraits of each year's winner. Kool Moe Dee's wraparound shades will bring you back to 1981. LL Cool J's Kangol the same to 1985. Q-Tip and his winter hat and polo shirt in 1991 sit between Ice Cube and Redman, stylistic differences obvious visually as much as they were sonically. It's worth a skim just for the art.

I'd love to hear the opinions of people who actually know what they're talking about on this topic. I expect response tracks from Mark and Z by the end of the week.




Monday, January 18, 2016

The Test 32: Stretchy Horses and Twisty Mustaches (Salvador Dali)

I would like to humbly suggest that an excellent way to celebrate MLK Day is to listen to The Test. This episode features three white people quizzing each other about Salvador Dali. What could be more appropriate?

Not only that, but eight minutes into the show, I call Stacey a "menace to audio" and Cunningham joins right in. It's not the struggle, but you've got still got to feel for her.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Filler, Also Vital to Life

Just changing the view up in here, friends. I'm really digging Ra Ra Riot's relatively new tune, 'Water'. It's got a little Beta Band vibe, with some modern alt-rock thrown in. Enjoy:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Test 31: Colors (It's Not Easy Being Green)

I keep it very literal on this week on The Test.  Special guest Gabby Green joins us, and so all of my questions revolve around colors. This is because her last name is a well-known hue, created by mixing yellow and blue. Stacey and Cunningham are not particularly impressed by this rather superficial connection, but the quiz proves to be tougher than they imagined. Nevertheless, the theorize and hypothesize valiantly, and Stacey even creates a test within the test.

Near the end of the episode, we give a shout out to our youngest fan. This nearly goes horribly awry, but God saves the day with a well-placed BEEP. Give it a shot, see how you do, and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Period, Exclamation Point

Jon Wurster, drummer for Superchunk, the Mountain Goats, and for the past several years Bob Mould, says that the latter's new album, Patch the Sky, "really feels like a period on a sentence". Wurster's referencing the three-album cycle that began with 2012's Silver Age, continued with Beauty and Ruin in 2014, and concludes with Patch the Sky.

The records marked a return to the guitar-heavy punkpop that's characterized so much of Mould's career, from Husker Du on. And in a crossing of rock threads, Mould says we have Dave Grohl to thank for the three albums. In a revealing and detailed Stereogum profile, Mould remembers a 2011 concert appearance with Foo Fighters, "Dave, fuck, how much has he given me in the last five years. Dave doesn’t even know what he did, by helping put the light on me for a minute. Shine a light on the monster again."

The monster is alive and well. Patch the Sky is scheduled for release in late March. Here's the first single, 'Voices in My Head'. It's vintage Mould, tinged with darkness, guitar-driven melody, and the singer's gruff, self-conscious voice. Dig it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Requiem for a Mayor

Yesterday we lost one of the greats in entertainment.  

Yes, David Bowie passed away too, but I'm here to remember the work of character actor David Margulies.  You may remember him from his cinematic turns in 9 & 1/2 Weeks, Ace Ventura or even Ishtar. Alternatively, you may recall his television appearances on Kojak, Law & Order, or as Tony Soprano's lawyer.  However, David will always be best remembered as Mayor Lenny Clotch, the man who saved the lives of millions of registered voters from the wrath of Gozer the Gozerian.



Godspeed Lenny, may Cardinal Mike be waiting for you the pearly gates. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Eleven

On the eleventh day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Eleven Months of Magic
Ten (give or take) inches of girth
Nine internet moments of levity
Eight Tribey moments
Seven books for reading
6.9 Non Sequiturs
Six All-Star Nods
Five podcasts for listening
Four posts zman meant to write but never did
Three French Hens
Two in-state rivalries
And a dork with a split personality

The Gheorghian calendar and the Gregorian calendar have never been particularly synced, at least after the first few years of Gheorghemas. Our festive season ended in March in 2014, so I feel pretty good about where we are now.

If we're being honest, 2015 was a fairly mediocre year for postcount, the standard that matters most to us. We dropped 266 posts, the least since 2007, and 29 of them were Dave promoting his podcast. I'd like to believe we made up in quality what we lacked in quality, but I pride myself on integrity, and I cannot tell a lie. It did make compiling this end of year post much (not much, honestly, as it's still a bitch, and would it kill you fuckers that thank me for the effort?, but somewhat) easier, though, and for that I thank you all for your lack of industry.

I lied about the quality thing. We wrote some pretty cool stuff this year. And where we flagged a bit in quantity, I'm honestly grateful for the fact that this remains a community. A small, silly, stupid and generally insignificant community, but - and I mean this sincerely - a real, meaningful (to me, anyway) community. And I love that. It truly does make me happy.

God Bless, Gheorghies. Take a look at what you wrought in 2015.

January

Fittingly, we began the year with a Wrenball post.

We mourned Red Klotz, and started a recurring feature that never again recurred. At least it hasn't yet. Shame, because What Would Gheorghe Do? is pretty genius.

Son of a Gheorghe.

I kicked off the Year of What the Fuck. And you know what? I feel pretty good about how well I lived up to my promise to myself.

We had a little wintertime run on Canadian fashion. Somehow, though, we managed to whiff on the Canadian Tuxedo.

Gheorghemas came to an end on January 25. (In retrospect

Zman doesn't always post things. But when he does, it's generally lengthy (girthy), evidentiary, and enlightening. And ironically (or perhaps tellingly), his first post of 2015, like his first post of 2016, had references to male scrota.

February

Speaking of zman, he owned the early part of the month with consecutive posts about the Jack Urbont/GFK legal contretemps, a 1991 BMW 850i, and the Bills' hiring of Rex Ryan.

Whitney, or possibly Clarence, gave us our first 'Saved by the Bell' reference of the year.



Squeaky checked in from Hoth, disguised as Boston. Hoth, that is. Squeaky was disguised as a banana.

There was a lot of Wrenball this month. And given the season our guys had, that's justifiable.

Jack Urbont still ain't nuthing ta fuck wit.

We did a book review. With an actual author. If you haven't yet picked up Eric Angevine's Hinkle Fieldhouse: Indiana's Basketball Cathedral, well, why not?

Marcus. The GOAT.

Whitney wanted to write about Spoon. So he wrote about Spoon.

March

We celebrated a Seussian character, and KQ, too. The first one featured the little known children's book, Abortion Hears a Who.

Manilow. Eleven years later.

Someone other than Z wrote about cars. I love that Morgan, man. That Morgan man, too. He's a good kid.

The CAA hoops tournament was awesome. Right up until it wasn't.

The Tribe's failure paled in comparison to this natural disaster, as chronicled by Marls.

We quoted John Calipari? We quoted John Calipari. Unironically.

The month ended in a blizzard of filler. Peeps, music clips, Kurtis Blow, ephemera. Bygones.

April

It took us until April 13 to post anything that couldn't be called filler. Before that time, a smattering of hastily scribbled beer posts (good filler, but filler nonetheless), some more music, a bunch of hoops, and Sim Bhullar.

That first real post was a good one, though, featuring the Bank of Dave. Loathe as we are to post anything that reinforces our Dave's already overfed self-image, this was too on point to pass up.

The Collider that shall remain nameless returned, dressed as Lemmy.

The new Wizards logo elicited some...reactions. And made Dave type concupiscence.

A short post about an immensely awesome musical item. As in Hasselhoffian.

What appeared to be the last of 13 Jack Urbont posts went up. Pour some out for the 'bont. Bonus: back to back posts with Tyrion Lannister photos.

Just a tiny glimpse into the world of a professional podcaster/middle manager.

The Griffin is coming for your wallet. Unless you're Mark. Or Danimal. Or the KQs.

Mayhugh's preview pretty much nailed Mayweather/Pacquiao.

May

Danimal opened the month by being savaged by a shark. Eww.

Without looking, I'm going to say we had more footie posts than posts about American football. weighed in with a post about the Champions League semifinals, featuring Franck Ribery's handsome mug.
We're next level hipsters. Nice work, everyone. Here, TR

We talked about the Hamburglar again, which gave Mark one more chance to tell us that his uncle invented that character.

Better Know Your Minor League Mascot returned, tournament-style. And America proved that it knows right from wrong, tapping the Richmond Flying Squirrels as the winner.

A William & Mary basketball player participated in the NBA Draft Combine. For reals.

G:TB said goodbye to Stephen Gerrard and David Letterman.

I said What the Fuck? And then I mostly did it.

And since goodbyes come in three, we enlisted FOG:TB Michael Litos to help us pen an appreciation of Dave Fairbank's career at the Daily Press.

June

I went to Awesome Con. Next year, in costume.

fatguyinaspeedo might've been our most prolific guest poster this year, contributing to our soccer-heavy lean. Here, he previewed the Women's World Cup.

Mark, zman, and Whitney stopped, collaborated and posted about sophomore efforts by rap collectives. I think we all learned something.

Phineas and Ferb finally got to the end of summer.

Japanese toilets. Everyone should have one.

I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

Danimal gave us excellent drinking advice.

Mark doesn't know much about fonts, but he can analyze an NBA Draft like a motherfucker.

Dave, Stacey, Cunningham and The Test entered our consciousness for the first time on June 30. Approximately one out of every three posts for the rest of the year were about this topic.

July

The Teej finally went Full Posehn.

Lower-alcohol beer turns out to make a drinker less intoxicated than higher-alcohol beer, on a per-ounce basis.

Marcus Thornton was drafted by the Boston Celtics. Of the NBA. Here was our first post with a picture of #27. As a bonus, it also includes Abby Wambach kissing her wife.

The Duality of Man. And Cars.

Generally speaking, our guesties are better (or at least more important) than our usual crap. Case in point, baconbaking's piece about her friend's NGO, doing great work in alleviating poverty in Guatemala.

Dave is a terrible hipster douchebag.

They voted for Pedro. We celebrated by plagiarizing ourselves.

The Indiana Pacers are trendsetters. Can't wait to see the Columbus Blue Jackets wear Charlestown Chiefs gear.

zman introduced us to teledildonics. It's what you think it is.

My favorite musical moment of the year was the 1,000 Italians that covered Foo Fighters' 'Learn to Fly'. Just brilliant.



August

Robbie Maddison surfed Teahupoo. On a motorbike.

TR might disagree with me on the year's musical moment. He weighed in on Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats here.

We were pretty geeked for the opening weekend of the Premier League season. More soccer!

Like most other serious observers of the political scene, we took our shot at explaining the rise of Donald Trump. Honestly, I feel like our take stands up pretty well.

Sneakerhead documentary.

Fitting, in this year of Caitlyn Jenner, at some point in 2015, Clarence became Whitney. But not before he gave us this exposition of the Ramones. 1-2-3-4!

In another political post, we chronicled the rise of Deez Nuts.

Clarence explained it all, ODU fraternity misogynist version. (And two Clarence posts in one week? The hell was happening in August?)

My kid made music. I bragged on her. It's my fucking blog, and I'll do whatever the hell I want. Okay, it's our blog. But I'll still do whatever the hell I want.

September

Whitney went to the inaugural Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Finally got around to writing about it.

In one of the nominees for Post of the Year, zman demolished the NFL's Deflategate case, with extreme prejudice. (I don't know what other posts are nominated. The idea just came to me at this point in the process. I'll try to remember this next year.)

I expressed my growing and essentially complete ambivalence about that same NFL. In what appears to be a theme of this post, I watched significantly more Premier League this year than I did professional American football. Didn't really miss it, to be honest. When Trump gets elected, I'm going to be one of the first ones in the reeducation camps, aren't I?

2CELLOS are really freaking incredible.

More politics. I liked this one, too. Pretty full of myself, if I'm being honest.

The aforementioned Dave Fairbank returned to writing as a GTB guest blogger. He's totally slumming here, but his Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie might be the best thing we've published this year.

October

Danimal regaled the shit out of us with tales of his father's drinking buddies, Joe Montana, and the Fighting Irish.

zman channeled Niki Lauda. It was supremely cool.

Long lost FOG:TB Wheelhouse Jerry got married. Major upset.

Marls gave us more Jerry.

Fairbank got out of the gate fast. Coined the term 'Lindsay Graham Dance Party' in this one.

TR found the grassy knoll.

Dave finally (finally!) settled on a musical identity. Two, really. But still, it's better than it was.

The Teej routinely delivers amazing imagery, here and on Twitter. He's so good at it that I fear we take it for granted. I mean, check this out. Don't worry about clicking the link. I've replicated it below in all its glory.


November

I ranted about America. Word salad.

If that mass Foo Fighters cover wasn't the musical moment of the year, it was Justin Timberlake and Chris Singleton at the CMAs. That shit was outrageous.

God help us, but we like this William & Mary hoops team. Even more now than we did on the season's eve.

The Teej made a shitty world a little bit better.

In the last of our 2015 posts about the upcoming Presidential election, I feel like we finally nailed our thesis. Look for us on CNN soon. This post also featured the Comment of the Year, from yours truly: "if jon hamm were sleeping with tina fey, it'd be hamm on wry".

You guys really slowed down this month, if we're being honest. I wrote 11 of the last 15 posts of the year, and two of the ones I didn't write were just Dave promoting his podcast. Performance evaluation season may not go as well for some of you as you might be expecting.

December

I'm not going post by post in December, frankly. You've all read it. It's good. I will say that I'll put this year's Gheorgemas up against any. Nice work, lads. May the road rise to meet you over the rest of  2016, and may we all just get the fuck past this election with our sanity mainly intact.

You're the best, Gheorghies.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

GTB Special Correspondent: Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie

In the last installment of what's rapidly becoming the best recurring bit in G:TB history, Dave Fairbank coined the phrase 'Lindsay Graham Dance Party', and told of the atrial flutter his physicians sought to correct. Turns out the first efforts didn't take, so if at first you don't succeed...I guess you get your groin shaved. I'll let @fairbankobx explain.

Let me begin with praise for medical talent and progress, and by saying that nothing prepares you for the day quite like an early morning groin shave. 
Not the top of Dave Fairbank's penis

People gripe about access and cost and availability of health care, with plenty of justification. But if you’re fortunate enough to make it into the pipeline, it can be nothing short of incredible.

I was wheeled into an operating room at Norfolk Heart Hospital at 9 a.m. for a cardiac ablation, a procedure designed to return my heart to its normal rhythm. Seventy-five minutes later, they were done. By 11 a.m., I was awake in a recovery room. Three hours later, I walked a lap around the floor of the cardiac wing. I probably could have done so earlier. They discharged me before 3 o’clock, and I was home by dark.

Doctors inserted catheters into veins on each side of my groin and snaked them two feet into my heart. They identified the bad electrical circuitry and deadened it. They removed the catheters, leaving only two tiny puncture openings. All without killing me or my heart doing the Mother Popcorn or even the briefest interruption of service.

I moved gingerly in the hours afterward, but basically had no pain. Pulling off the tape and gauze around my groin the next day was the most painful part of the entire ordeal.

In today’s cardiac medicine, this is considered a fairly routine procedure, with an absurdly high rate of success. My doc told me: If you’re going to have a heart condition, this is the one to have.

Fucking amazing.

The last time I posted, I had just gone through a less invasive procedure to correct an atrial flutter. It was a variation of what I believe is known in rendition circles as the Iraqi Jump Start. The electrical shock worked initially, but it didn’t hold. A follow-up visit revealed that the flutter had returned.
I had a consultation with an electro-cardio specialist, an engaging 40-something chap whose name was misspelled on the office outer door, but in 10 years said that he never insisted that they correct it.

From the printout of my EKG, he said that he was 95 percent certain where the arrhythmia originated – in the passageway wall between my left atrium and left ventricle, the upper and lower heart chambers. He was at least that certain that he could correct it, and that the fix would be permanent.

Which is how I came to be at the Norfolk Heart Hospital at dawn on a recent morning. When I was escorted into a room to prep for surgery, a nurse instructed me to strip naked, put on one of those hospital gowns that provide full moon shots from behind, and lie on the bed. A second nurse came in, and the two inserted an IV in each arm for the anesthesiologist.

There are terrible tattoos, and then there's this
The second nurse sat down alongside the bed. She pulled out a small razor and said it was time to shave me. She wadded up the gown around the package, exposing my upper leg, and began to shave.

Me: This is why you got into nursing, isn’t it? Saving lives, shaving groins.

Nurse: I love shaving. You see my name is Lorrie. That’s short for Lorena.

Laughter all around.

Me: Yeah, but she didn’t shave, she chopped. I hope you’re better than that.
Nurse: Oh, I am, honey.

Thus began an exchange among the three of us about Lorena Bobbitt, her motives and whether she did any jail time for her butchery on hubby John.

Properly shaved, they wheeled me into an operating room. The anesthesiologist quickly ran through what he was going to do and asked if I understood. I said sure, but it was all kind of an anxious blur at that point. I said to him: Anesthesiologists throw the best parties, don’t they? He said, of course, but not for the reasons you might think.

I scooted from the gurney onto the operating table and apologized in advance for any flatulence or other discharges during the procedure.

Anesthesiologist: What, did you eat beans yesterday? That wasn’t very considerate.

Me: No, not at all. Had a normal meal last night. But I’m a 57-year-old guy and there’s no telling what I might expel when I’m unconscious. Just letting you know.

Shortly thereafter, boom, I was out. I awoke a couple hours later, a little groggy, but intact. My throat was the most uncomfortable part. They intubated me in the O.R., in order to snake a camera down my throat and check my heart for clots or other abnormalities before the procedure. My throat was pretty raw for a day and I sounded like the Men’s Wearhouse guy, George Zimmer (“You’re going to like the way your heart beats, I guarantee it.”).

I had to lay still for the next couple of hours, while nurses monitored vital signs and made sure my groin didn’t bleed. The doc told my wife shortly afterward that the procedure had gone even more smoothly than he anticipated and came to the recovery room and told me the same thing, just before he was scheduled to perform another ablation. During my original consultation, he said that he’d done almost 1,000 of them.


A few days later, I’m pretty much back to normal. I am grateful and blessed beyond words. An itchy groin reminds me that amid the conflict and nastiness and general dumbassery to which we are routinely exposed, there are smart, talented people who perform the extraordinary on a daily basis. 

May we all have such itchy groin moments.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Sentence of Gheorghe

Slate Magazine describes Elizabeth McKenzie's The Portable Veblen as a "bold new novel about a woman's relationship with a squirrel"...naturally, I was intrigued; as it turns out, the book is also:
  • an allegory about the corrupting influence of money, 
  • an examination of the things that bring people together and tear them apart,
  • a John Grisham-style legal thriller, only about government contracting (scorcher!), and
  • an homage to Thorstein Veblen, the 20th Century sociologist who coined the phrase 'conspicuous consumption'
all of which combine in a heady cocktail of whimsy (the protagonist talks frequently to a squirrel, and drives it around town in a particularly psychedelic set piece), intrigue, romance, and neuroses -- the latter a product of familial upbringings that rival the most bizarre and/or disturbing in literary memory...I won't ruin the ending (mostly because I haven't actually read the book), but suffice to say that it's a bit nuts - 9 acorns out of 10.

(A tip of the furry cap to baconbaking for bringing this delightful story to our attention.)

Friday, January 08, 2016

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Ten

On the tenth day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Ten (give or take) inches of girth

Nine internet moments of levity
Eight Tribey moments
Seven books for reading
6.9 Non Sequiturs
Six All-Star Nods
Five podcasts for listening
Four posts zman meant to write but never did
Three French Hens
Two in-state rivalries
And a dork with a split personality


Like many American marriages, the union of James Sicilia and Tia Loya ended in divorce in 1997. The two split the assets of their corporation, Superhawk Novelty Company. While divvying up their assets, Tia got one copy of each of the molds used to make their products and the advertising images used to sell them. When I hear "novelty company" I think of firms like Johnson Smith, premiere purveyors of whoopie cushions and x-ray glasses. Superhawk, however, peddled sex toys.

After the divorce, Tia started her own company (TSX Toys, whose website proudly touts "TSX Toys created the first realistic horse dildo in the US and the first whale penis toy in the world!") as did James (CA-WA Corp.). Both sell sex toys, natch. And if you've read any of my posts before, you can see where this is going. Tia eventually sued James for making knock-off versions of her sex toys ... I should say of her copyrighted sex toys.

In a nutshell (pun?), Tia asserted that James (and another company, 665 Inc., at James' request) reverse-engineered molds from her toys, after obliterating the copyright information from the toys. She also asserted trade dress infringement and a few other grievances. Here's the most preposterous, unexpected, inappropriate infringement chart I've ever seen, taken directly from the parties' joint statement of the case:


Two girth posts in a row? Yes!

How do these sex toys rise to the level of protected intellectual property? The real nub (pun!) of the issue is summarized thusly in the complaint:

20. The known products at issue in the action concern TSX’s penis extensions and penis girth expander products. TSX’s penis extensions are hollow sheaths that fit over the penis to add both girth and length. They vary in texture, from being smooth to ribbed and contoured. TSX’s penis girth expanders make the penis thicker, instead of longer, adding to the circumference of the penis, and are open at the end.

21. In particular, TSX penis extensions and girth expander products have a unique “scrotum strap,” which is a band that wraps around the scrotum. The “scrotum strap” also has TSX’s signature “square-like” tab at the base. TSX hired a well-known sculptor, Christopher Pardell, to design and create the original dildo mold with TSX’s unique “scrotum strap” and signature square tab. The signature square tab contains TSX’s copyright management information. Significant time and resources were expended by Plaintiff to develop and create this mold. This one-of-a-kind mold was
copyrighted by TSX over 14 years ago as a three-dimensional sculpture, Title: “Standing Tall,” Copyright Registration No. VA 1-062-363, Registration Date: October 6, 2000 (See Exhibit A). Plaintiff is the exclusive owner of this federal copyright registration.

Aha! It's all about the scrotum strap and its signature square tab! Unfamiliar? Here's an image.


And here's some information on the aforementioned sculptor Christopher Pardell. Neat!

The trial started earlier this week. The judge dismissed the trade dress and confusion of origin causes of action, and dismissed the entire case against 665. But the copyright issue soldiers on for the jury to consider and for the parties to brief. Which should be a hoot.

Anyway, if you've ever wondered why cases move so slowly and what's clogging the federal judicial system, now you know. Girth.