Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Test 42: Literary Stuff

This week on The TestStacey quizzes us about her literary heroes. You'll certainly learn some anecdotes to brandish while you sip cocktails with your effete, hyper-educated friends. If you don't have any effete hyper-educated friends, then listening to this podcast will be the first step to finding some.

As a bonus, I make some half-baked jokes to mask my lack of knowledge, and Cunningham decides that in order to inspire her literary muse, she'll either need to live inside a computer or journey to Mars.

The moral? You don't need to read the book to seem educated, you just need to know some literary stuff. Good luck!


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Two great tastes that go great together

I think we all know what is coming. A muppet mashup with Bert and Ernie in the roles of Nate Dogg and Warren G?

Sign me up, yo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

This Week in Clawball

When we last checked in on Marcus Thornton, the former W&M star was finishing up a bumpy first professional season in the Australian Basketball League.

Now back in the States, and playing for the Boston Celtics' D-League affiliate in Portland, Maine, the first thing that's noteworthy about Thornton is that he's shrunk. Listed at 6'4" throughout his college career, the dreadlocked guard goes 6'2", 177 pounds as a Maine Red Claw. I would've expected the braids to add at least an inch.

Thornton's also picked up his game back Stateside, if only a little. In 10 games in the D-League, he's averaging 12.7 points, 2 boards, and 2.6 assists, scoring in double figures in eight of the ten contests. After shooting less than 30% from deep Down Under, Thornton's improved his long-range marksmanship, making 38.8% of his triples and 45.5% overall from the field. His 1.86 assist/turnover ratio is an improvement, though his advanced defensive metrics show that he's still got work to do.

It's fair to say at this point that we're unlikely to see our guy double the number of Marcus Thorntons in the NBA this season, or even next, but slow and steady progress is better than the alternative.

Now if the Red Claws could only figure out how to sell decent gear.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

How I Learned to Love the Hustle

I don't generally do spontaneity well. It's not that I'm a planner, mind you, rather more of an inertialist. So when my wife and I decided to book an all-inclusive Spring Break trip to the Dominican Republic a week before the departure date, I scored it a comfort-zone-shattering win.

And when both of my daughters independently told us that they loved the trip (no small feat to get kids of a certain age to admit doing something with their parents doesn't completely suck), that sealed a lifetime memory for my team. Here's hoping the Zika clears their system before I have small-headed grandbabies.

Given a week to prepare to go someplace we'd never been, and travel in a way I'd never done, we learned a handful of lessons the hard way - or at least the most inefficient way. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things I wish I'd known about in advance:

Tipping customs at all-inclusive resorts

We stayed at the Sunscape Puerto Plata, a nice but not extravagant little joint on the Playa Dorada on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. I'm guessing it's fairly typical of all-inclusive places - couple of restaurants, bunch of bars (including one in the pool), friendly staff, drunken Canadians, etc. From the moment we got there, I felt awkward about expectations regarding gratuities.

I tried to give the guy that brought our bags to the room $5, but he dropped our luggage and walked away without looking at me. I gave bartenders a buck the first few times I ordered drinks, until I realized that nobody else was doing so. Left 500 (!) pesos (about $11) after dinners - no idea whether that's how it's done. Didn't tip the waitstaff at the buffet restaurant, 'cause it didn't seem like anyone else was.

I was having a better time than my expression might indicate
We went on a couple of excursions, and I gave our guides $10-15 each. Was that right? Fuck if I know. Housekeeping had to come to our room three different times to sort out issues (broke a beer bottle, clogged the toilets - unrelated issues), and I left them $20 when we checked out, but didn't give them anything when they showed up to help because I'd run out of cash and had to leave the resort to go to an ATM.

Didn't tip the Canadians, though. Pretty sure that was the right move.

Techniques for teaching 
children to flush a toilet


Neither of my kids knows how to flush their toilet at home, so why would that be different on vacation. I estimate that I plunge their toilet 3-4 times a week. Or did, before I decided that they're on their own about a month ago. Sure enough, they clogged the toilet in our room at the resort twice, requiring us to call housekeeping each time. On neither occasion did I have cash on hand (see above).

The Hustle is real

My life is overwhelmingly first world, both problems and day to day experiences. The last time I went somewhere remotely 'developing' was when Dave and I traveled to Cancun over Spring Break in college. We stayed in town, away from the resort area, so we got a (very) little taste of local life. We also got taken deep by the 'guide' employed by the company that organized the trip, who steered us to crappy restaurants, convinced us to take a ridiculous boat trip, and pocketed $15 from each of us by telling us we could pay him to take care of expediting our processing at the airport when we flew back home.

That dude hustled us, in the worst sense of the word. In the Dominican, though, while everyone is hustling you, and nearly all the time, it's so transparent, and they're so damn friendly, that it's (almost) enjoyable. We went horseback riding and ziplining out in the country, and our guides basically told us how and when they expected to be tipped. They also detoured our group to a little roadside artisan stand in the midst of some of the most abject poverty I've ever seen and made us get off our bus and browse the wares. I'm sure they were getting a cut, but it hardly mattered.

We went to a place called Ocean World, which had the potential to be a gawdawful tourist clusterfuck, and turned out to be a gem. We swam with dolphins and sea lions, snorkeled, and played with all manner of macaws, toucans, and lovebirds. And when the trainers transparently asked for a little sumpin' sumpin' with big smiles on their faces, we gladly offered it up.

My daughter isn't a ham, at all
The (almost) above would go away, but for the fact that we got snookered into sitting through the resort's vacation club presentation/hard sell. Total rookie mistake, frankly. I finally got us out of it by concocting a story about how lousy we are with money and planning to illustrate the fact that we'd never get any value from a membership. Self-deprecation for the win.

Finally, as we left the Dominican, we were met at the airport by an army of guys wearing 'Volunteer Porter' shirts. Despite my protestations, they grabbed our luggage and shepherded us through the check-in process, which was a bit chaotic (though not as much as it was at Reagan National Airport on our way out of the U.S.). And when I sheepishly told them that I'd literally given my last peso to the driver who'd taken us to the airport, they shrugged, smiled, and went on to the next family. I'm sure they waited until I couldn't hear before they called me a pendejo.

Have I mentioned that the Dominican people are awesome?

All-inclusive is cool, and all, but you need to get out

If I do something like this again, I'm definitely making a point of going out into the local community without a guide or organized group. On both of our excursions, we drove through downtown Puerto Plata, a chaotic, alternately ramshackle and lovely beachside town. Our route took us through the Malecon, a 4km boulevard that runs along the beach. It's lousy with open air restaurants, bars, and little cafes.

I really wish we'd stopped there, 'cause I bet we'd have had a better and far more authentic meal than any of the ones we ate at our resort. Plus, we could've taken Moto Taxis, which are fucking bonkers.

I would recommend not being as much of a douche as this guy while aboard one, though:


Presidente is pretty tasty in a pinch

I was shocked and chagrined to learn that Dominicans don't import exotic IPAs to cater to their elitist Norteamericano tourist clientele. Nah, I wasn't. But it's true that they don't. I sucked it up, though, and found that Presidente, the local pilsner, is pretty damn good on a warm Caribbean day.

You gotta be ready with the camera, man

As we left our room to head out on our horseback riding/ziplining excursion, my little on complained of illness. We made it almost all the way to the lobby of the resort before she barfed into a lovely flowering bush. Since that particular excursion was her idea, and she's the stubbornest kid on the planet, she was determined to make the journey, regardless of how she felt.

She managed to make it all the way to the mountainside venue, and through the 20-minute horseback ride without further incident. And I managed to pull 'agua para la nina, por favor?' from deep in the recesses of my limited Spanish repository to get her some hydration.

She took a little break as we walked to the ziplining starting point, but started to turn a little green as we climbed a ladder to the first platform. She managed to make it through two of the seven stations without incident, but as she whizzed into the third, her stomach rebelled, and she barfed gloriously from a great height.

And me without a camera.

The US Customs entry process at Miami International Airport is a clusterfuck, and I'm an idiot

I understand that security's an important function of our Federal government, and that entering a sovereign nation is a serious thing. And, man, do I get that the good people of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have a tough and thankless job. But holy shit is it a mess to get back into America in Miami. Directions are confusing, lines snake everywhere, the process seems to change and morph on the whims of whichever official one encounters next, and all of this is exacerbated by the hundreds of other tired and confused travelers milling about the same general area.

It took us nearly an hour to wend our way through the various pathways to get beyond a customs inspector, at which point I realized that I am a Global Entry cardholder. Curious, I asked a CBP officer if I could have used my Global Entry status to take my whole family through that significantly expedited process. The answer, should it matter to any of you in the future, is yes.

What a fucking dope.

So in the course of an overwhelmingly positive time, I learned some stuff. Dominican time is different than American time - which is a good lesson about what's really important. Mentioning Pedro Martinez in the DR is a surefire way to get some dap and bond with the locals. Not being a dick to people when you're a visitor to their country is always in style. And probably most significantly, it's still possible for my family to act like we love one another despite sharing close quarters for nearly a week. All it took was a little Dominican sunshine. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Rappers Are In Danger

KRS-ONE's lyrics are timeless. "Sound of the Police," "Bo! Bo! Bo!," and "Who Protects Us From You?" are all 20+ years old but these anthems against police brutality are relevant today. "P Is Free," "Love's Gonna Get'cha," "Drug Dealer," and "Illegal Business" are also 20+ years old but still reflect the impact of illegal drugs on American life.

Also relevant is his 1995 single Rappaz R.N. Dainja in which he states "Some rappers like to come to the party, hopin' to leave with somebody, check, I come with skills and I leave with your motherfuckin' respect."



Simply put, MCs can't stay out of court.

The latest rapper to put down the mic and file a complaint is Andre Roxx, whose real name is Marques Andre Johnson. Andre Roxx (not to be confused with Greg Rocks) is a member of the Midwest Killa Beez. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but he asserts that this makes him an "affiliate" of the Wu-Tang Clan--apparently there's a West Coast Killa Beez and presumably other directional Killa Beez consortia.

This is relevant because there's a guy named Andre Johnson who goes by Christ Bearer (not to be confused with Paul Bearer), and he's a member of the West Coast Killa Beez. In a haze of drugs and depression, Christ Bearer decided to cut his penis off and commit suicide by jumping out a window. He was successful in all but one aspect of this endeavor: he survived the fall. A reattachment procedure failed, but he's past the depression and in a good place, positing "I'm alive, penis or no penis."

You can intuitively see why this story is newsworthy. Somewhere along the way though, the injured party's identity got garbled. "Wu-Tang affiliate and Killa Beez member Andre Johnson" was confused with "Wu-Tang affiliate and Killa Beez member Marques Andre Johnson" and the penile puncture was attributed to the wrong rapper. Various media outlets reported that Andre Roxx sliced his schlong when it was really Christ Bearer who diced his dong.

You can see how this might happen--I've addressed this exact situation before (in the comments). These types of details are important, at least to Andre Roxx. As an initial matter, Andre Roxx was in a Pennsylvania jail when Christ Bearer mutilated his manhood and jumped out the window at a party. While this provides factual cover for Roxx, his fellow inmates didn't appreciate this nuance and took it as an invitation to start "threatening, harassing and attacking him." He wound up in protective custody and isolation.

Once released he "made thousands of telephone calls, to every disc jockey and promoter he knew, as well as cold calls to clubs and promoters, but was unable to generate any interest." The take-home here is that if you're going to present yourself as a tough-as-nails MC from the streets of Shaolin, you have to have fully intact genitals. Indeed, Bar Stool Sports opined "How can you be a rapper without a dick? What's even the point? Would be like being a blogger with no hands."

Despite the fact that most if not all of the media outlets covering this story corrected the self-immolator's identity within a day or two, the Wu-Tang Clan went so far as to renounce Andre Roxx on their website, stating "This M*********** Ain't Got S*** to do with The WUTANG Brand" next to a photo of Andre Roxx (and not Christ Bearer). He thus lost his Killa Beez status, and with it the opportunity to make $2000-$4500 per performance, with bookings occurring 4-6 times a week.

Predictably, social media commentators piled on. Upon the online release of his next single, people commented stuff like "This shit so hard make me wanna hack my dick off and jump off something tall" and "Look, it's the dickless wonder" and "bye bye Johnson" (a play on his last name).

Perhaps the most painful impact is on his social life, "as many people who might otherwise be social or romantic connections do not want to be seen in public with him." Everyone swipes left on Andre Roxx because they think he's cockless.

So he did the only thing he could do. He hired a bankruptcy lawyer and filed a complaint in Federal court in Delaware. Well, I suppose he could've hired a commercial litigator or, heaven forfend, an IP litigator to handle the potential soft IP causes of action. Instead he has two counts of libel and a false light invasion of privacy claim. Negligent infliction of emotional distress might've been a nice count to include and maybe something like a Lanham Act violation for improperly tarnishing Andre Roxx's brand, but who knows what the laws of Delaware look like. It's not like they're available online or anything.

Andre Roxx requested a jury and as usual I think being impaneled in this case would be a hoot. And the closing argument will be a snap. After Andre Roxx takes the stand and drops his pants to establish his unmarred member to the jury, his lawyer can simply state "His junk's in place so he wins the case." Or "His dork ain't cut so it's open and shut." Or "His pecker is viable so defendants are liable." The closing really writes itself.

I'll let you know how this all shakes out.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Instead of Saying All of Your Goodbyes

The internet is awash with obituaries, top 10 lists, tweets, hashtags, photoshopped photos and hosts of other social-media-centric things following Phife's death. I don't feel the need to add to this flotsam in the ether because I celebrate Phife's/ATCQ's music all the time. And instead of saying all of my goodbyes I'm going to continue to continue to do so.



I think society in general doesn't appreciate the great people doing great stuff all around us until they're gone. Not necessarily dead, but once they've stopped doing great stuff. For example, Stefan Edberg was the last true serve-and-volley player in tennis. After he retired I realized I would never get to watch his style ever again. Sure, Sampras and Rafter and Becker had serve-and-volley in their repertoire, but they didn't come to the net on every point. It felt like they took paradise and put up a parking lot, you know? So I promised myself that I would try to appreciate people and things more from then on.

Like Ghostface Killah. I blog about all his crazy weed-infused activities all the time because he's a great lyricist who does greatly crazy stuff.



I also try and find the time to appreciate Snoop Dogg. He has a new video series called "Planet Snoop" in which he narrates nature videos. You can find it on his MerryJane.com website. The first video debuted yesterday and it turns out that Snoop is a fan of G:TB. I say this because he spends his time appreciating rob. Seriously, here's Snoop rooting hard for rob in a fight with what I hope is a non-venomous snake. The language is a little coarse so keep the volume down at work.



So I encourage you to be more like Snoop and me--take the time to appreciate the things around you that make you happy while they're still around you. If all you do is write rhymes eat drink shit and bone without taking the time to admire, for example, the ill C-cups, then with all these trials and tribulations, yo, you'll been affected. So inhale the people around you like a breath of fresh air. You'll be better for it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Thin Lizzy Tuesday

These guys are fun. I first got to know Whiskey in the Jar through Metallica, whose cover can be found here.

Enjoy the two-fer-Tuesday Thin Lizzy presentation while you chow your quesalupa at your cubicle and ponder the seismic shifts we're seeing in the Western Conference.





Monday, March 21, 2016

The Perks of Being an Astronaut

Venturing into space has been a fertile theme for many musicians. You've got lots of Pink Floyd on this subject, most notably Dark Side of the Moon. Elton John did Rocket Man. And, of course, David Bowie recorded the best one: Space Oddity.

Until now.

Greasetruck proudly presents the greatest song ever recorded about space travel. This was inspired by the death of David Bowie and the last twenty minutes of Interstellar.

Spoiler: I only watched the the last twenty minutes of Interstellar, so I have no idea what the movie is about.
 



The Perks of Being an Astronaut

Let me see you with your red dress on, 
the one you wore when we were young and dumb.
Because you know I'm going away, 
when I get back it won't be the same.
They're pointing me at the stars,
six months I'll walk on Mars.

When I get home you know . . . you know how it goes . . .
The women, they will worship me, fall into my gravity.

So let's be real, I think you understand the deal:
when I touch down that rig, you won't be in my league.
But let's not think on that, just try to relax . . .

And let me see you with your red dress on, 
no worries  for what's to come.
And you can tell all the world,
you're such a lucky girl.
You got to crash with me, explore my galaxy
before my shit blows up, then there won't be enough
of me to go around, so last chance,
I'm still on the ground.

So come on baby, you got one last chance here, when I get home they're gonna throw me a parade and I'll be on TV and the papers are gonna want to know what kind of shirts I wear, and the women will be all over me and you saw Interstellar . . . you're gonna be all old and I'll still be young and hot like Matthew McConaughey, but if I get you pregnant tonight, then I can check out your daughter-- maybe hit that and it will be like old times . . . and you can put this in your memoir, you know.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Test 41: Zombies (and Zombeavers)

This week on The Test, Stacey and special guest Liz collaborate on a phenomenal and comprehensive zombie quiz. Cunningham ambitiously predicts an A+, but then realizes she is woefully unprepared. The two of us struggle (heroically) to come up with the correct answers. While we certainly don't earn high marks, we figure out a few. Apparently, we know a little more about zombies in film and TV than we think (but not much more).

As a bonus, Stacey gets scolded by The Voice of God for her hubris.

Spoiler: Zombeavers is not one of the answers.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

zPorn Redux: WWzD Meets Mog EV3

It's time for our annual Morgan post. Last March rob blogged Mogs, specifically the Aero 8. I pronounced my love for the Morgan 3-wheeler in the comments of that post. Turns out I'm not alone.



I've spend hours building my own 3-wheeler here. But it's wildly impractical. It has no roof, windows or windshield ferchristsake. So I'm looking for something more usable on a daily basis. My commute is so short that I've considered buying an electric car, but Teslae are hideously expensive and most other EV's look like a clown's shoe. Seriously:



I wouldn't drive one of those if you paid me so I certainly wouldn't pay to drive one. Remarkably, Morgan, the oldest of old-school car manufacturers, decided to get in the EV game. They turned the 3-wheeler into an EV, called it the EV3, and it's so awesomely zpornographic that Justice Stewart would immediately know how to classify this video if he could see it.



It weighs about 1100 pounds, has a 150 mile range, carbon fiber and aluminum bodywork, and aside from the fact that it requires no petrol it's just as impractical as the V-twin version. But that tonneau though! According to Linda at Morgan Motors of New England, the EV3 will be available in the US sometime next year. She added "We are currently taking names for a wait list." Various sources state that the base price will be around $36,000. God help me if she follows up with an email dangling photos of one in BRG ...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Gheorghe, Ghenius, America

The revolution we predicted may not be televised, but it's underway. (Actually, it'll certainly be televised. It already is, thanks to FOGTB Beans Hightower.)

We've already seen Aussie rugby star Jarryd Hayne make the leap to the NFL, offering an object lesson in the uni-directional transferability of skillsets from one sport to the other. And we've seen speedsters like Carlin Isles and Perry Baker transition from football to rugby, at least the sevens version. The Seattle Seahawks made news two years ago as they publicly adopted rugby tackling techniques and fielded one of the NFL's most effective defensive units.

Now, one more step towards assimilation, as New England Patriots safety and erstwhile Ohio State rugger Nate Ebner is taking a summer break from the NFL to train with the USA Eagles in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

I find several things about this news interesting. First, Bill Belichick and his staff are obviously readers of this blog. More importantly, the Patriots clearly see benefit (or at least limited risk) in allowing one of their key players (New England recently re-signed Ebner) to participate in a non-football contact sport. The Patriots are widely known as one of the more creative NFL teams - this move may well open the eyes of other teams, and open doors to other potential cross-sport athletes. Also, while Ebner's clearly fast, he's not in the Isles/Baker mold. He came up in rugby as a 15s fly half - he's not a dilettante by any stretch. Finally, if Ebner makes the Olympic team (which is by no means guaranteed), this will be one more high-visibility story for rugby in 2016.



The ball, oblong as it may be, is rolling. Our genius is soon to be so obvious to the masses that we'll be unable to go for a beer in public without disguises. I'm planning to get tattoos all over my body and pretend to be Mark.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Gheorghe Expands Your Horizons

Because we scan the globe to bring you cultural traditions and broaden your experience of the world, we're pleased to inform you that today marks the first day of Chet. For our Sikh friends, Chet is the first month of the Nanakshahi calendar, which tracks the traditions of Sikhism.

Please join me, and all of Gheorghedom, in wishing a very happy New Year to our Sikh brothers and sisters.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Test 40: More Theme Songs

Young Cunningham loves her TV shows, and she loves her TV Theme Song Quizzes. She even adds a movie outro song for good measure. Stacey and I perform better than last time (but that's not saying much). See if you can beat us to the punch.

Bonus material: I make some stuff up, and-- in order to educate Cunningham-- Stacey sings the Cheers theme song. Cunningham reveals that she learned about the ancient situational barroom comedy Cheers on an episode of Friends. All this and more on this week's episode of The Test.

If you're feeling generous, give us a rating on iTunes . . .

Why couldn't it be Tesla?


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Science, for Any Occasion

The Tampa Bay Lightning currently trail the Boston Bruins by one point in the NHL's Eastern Conference. But they lead the known sporting world in the dropping of science.

Unbeknownst to me, and a majority of Americans, the Lightning ushered in a new era of in-arena excellence back in 2011 when they installed a Tesla Coil goal signal/all-purpose internal lightning machine. Witness (at the 0:55 mark, or so):



Nikola Tesla was an indifferent skater, but he could light the lamp, boys and girls. Kudos to the 'ning for the shoutout, and for us for figuring it out five years later.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wu Goo

Ghostface Killah's discography spans almost two decades and it's peppered with tracks about selling coke and crack, so it should come as no surprise that he's entering the legal marijuana game with some sort of vape-able oils. It's called Wu Goo, natch, and he made an infomercial/song to promote the stuff. It is, predictably, genius.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Because novelty holidays seem to be the new black...

Fresh on the heels of National Cereal Day, the calendar indicates today is yet another nonsense holiday: National Pancake Day. Never one to turn down a reason to celebrate, or a pancake for that matter, let's indulge the calendarists:





via GIPHY

Monday, March 07, 2016

In honor of National Cereal Day, we're running back a classic

Started by me sometime in May of 2007, Whitney took the nonsense I had in a draft and crafted this wonderful Cereal Mascot All-Star Roster. Won't you enjoy it again with me?

I think I promised this post to Rob a year ago, but with the sports world being a dead zone for the last few days, I finally got around to it (with some-- all the-- help from Whitney). After sifting through this, you all might agree I (Whit) should've kept it on the shelf for another year...

It's that time of year again. The dust has settled on another Major League Baseball All-Star Game, meaning the appropriate media outlets can swiftly turn their focus onto the next such endeavor. And year after year, that endeavor is this fan favorite. Get ready for . . .

G:TB's 2007 Cereal Mascot All-Star Roster

Lineup:

The Cookie Crook, Cookie Crisp, CF - Your light-hitting, speedy lead-off batter if there ever was one. The speed of Vince Coleman, but unfortunately the same degree of character as well. Much like we saw when Tyson lost Cus D'Amato, The Crook suffered greatly after the demise of Cookie Jarvis, but he's still a force to be reckoned with in centerfield. . . and anywhere near a bowl of cookies that somehow, beyond all comprehension, masquerades itself as cereal.

L.C. "Lucky" Leprechaun, Lucky Charms, RF - Not as legendary as the MLB version of "The Mick," Lucky's nonetheless a Cereal League force with the lumber and the amber, roaming right field and pub floors of Dorchester with equal frequency. (And it's rarely milk in that bowl.) He loves to play up the Irish thing with the fans, though insiders know his last name is actually Kowalczyk. From the Charms' 2007 Media Guide: "Turn-ons include green clovers and the hit-and run; turn-offs include the designated hitter and 'those f%#@ing brats who're always after me lucky charms'." Fast fact: Lucky's been ejected from three All-Star Games in his career.

Sugar Bear (a.k.a. Super Bear), Super Sugar Crisp (a.k.a. Golden Crisp), LF - The beefy slugger has long been accused of illegal supplements, and his oft-uttered motto "Can't get enough of that Super Sugar Crisp" may speak to his addiction to the stuff. Palling around with Starsky & Hutch's guy Huggy Bear and Fletch's buddy Gummy Bear doesn't help his image any. The power this All-Star brings to the table does impress, of course, but the Rock Raines-like name changes only serve to confuse and cast Sugar Bear in a shadier light. True Fact: "Sugar Bear has been voiced by Gerry Matthews since 1963." True Fact 2: "Last winter Gary Matthews Jr. was accused of ordering/using Human Growth Hormone." Coincidence?

Tony the Tiger, Frosted Flakes, 1B - The big-bat, fading glove Tony is a first-ballot Hall of Famer, make no mistake. Though his bellowing voice and rah-rah "gr-r-r-reat" attitude has earned him something of a reputation as a clubhouse blowhard over the years, he's still beloved by his legion of fans. He's a DH-in-training, but for now Tony's the cornerstone of the franchise and even the league. His club the Frosted Flakes (or as they're known in the UK, the Frosties) has fallen into mid-major status, but he'll be remembered long after they bury that red bandanna behind Kellogg's HQ.

Dig'em, Kellogg's Smacks (formerly Sugar Smacks, Honey Smacks, etc.), SS - What a great little guy. The heart and soul of any team he plays on, including the All-Star team. The Smacks' franchise (another, like the Anaheim/Los Angeles, California Angels ofAnaheim/Los Angeles, California, whose owners have felt the need to repeatedly change names with the times), was in turmoil for a very long time at this position. It's not unlike the New York Yankees of the 80's and 90's, who suffered through Opening Day shortstops Roy Smalley, Tim Foli, Bobby Meacham, Wayne Tolleson, Rafael Santana, Alvaro Espinoza, Randy Velarde, Spike Owen (Big Stein was so jealous of the '86 Series, he nabbed both batless shortstops), Mike Gallego, and Tony Fernandez to finally get to Derek Jeter. The Smacks club waded through the following dreck as mascots before Dig 'Em came on the scene in 1972: various clowns, including Cliffy the Clown; a seal named Smaxey dressed in a sailor suit; Quick Draw McGraw; The Smackin' Bandit, a half-mule, half-kangaroo who kissed everyone in sight; The Smackin' Brothers, two boys dressed in boxing shorts and boxing gloves; an American Indian Chief on a horse. Dig 'Em put them on the map with his power stroke, slick fielding, base-stealing, and enormous sneakers. He's the coolest of the mascots -- perhaps the anti-Tony -- and we dig 'im.

Cap'n Crunch, 3B - Ah, the old Cap'n. Came on the scene in 1963 and is still ranked the fans' #1 favorite. Horatio Magellan Crunch, Jr. (real name) has enjoyed a Ripken-like streak of consistency, not to be undone by his advanced age, that Crunchberry Beast sidetrack, or by kids scraping the roofs of their mouths with his unsogged cereal. If his bat has slowed, we can't tell. His is a storied career with many ups (World Series of Cereal rings, promoted to Admiral briefly) and a few downs (disappeared in 1985 & 1999; Crunch franchise held "Where's the Cap'n?" promo but actually couldn't find him -- he was in a closet on his ship). The Cap'n has a dedicated fan base, almost creepily so. But he's a cornerstone of this roster, to be sure. (Am I the only idiot who didn't realize the cereal is little treasure chests? I never got that.)

Toucan Sam, Fruit Loops, C - Sam's another All-Star stalwart, and he'll be manning the dish for the Cerealites this year in the Midbreakfast Classic. He can wing it, so baserunners will certainly be taking heed as they have all season. Meanwhile, his solid if unspectacular bat complements his veteran approach to the game, the "follow your nose" method. (Sam was also reputed to be in the Cocoa Puff crowd for such a slogan, but it was later dismissed as rumor.) Did You Know?: Toucan Sam originally had a much larger beak and a Carmen Miranda-esque fruit-hat. His subsequent beak-job and ditching of the hat were presumably to be so he could don the catcher's mask.

BuzzBee, Honey Nut Cheerios, 2B - A little younger than some of his peers on this All-Star roster, but he's become a star in his own right. Many "Cheerios Classic" fans were reluctant to adopt the little slap hitter and glove man, but Buzz somehow managed to bridge the gap between the sugared franchises with their animated mascots and the health cereals with beaming parents and grinning adolescents. Is he fun to party with? Hell, no. Does he belong on this team? You bet.


Pitchers:

Sonny, Cocoa Puffs, SP - It's easy to sit back and marvel about what a career Sonny might've had if it weren't for his troubles with sugary substance abuse, but just as with Steve Howe, all that powder derailed a promising future. Such a fireballer being drafted by the "Coca Puffs" was the kiss of death, but Sonny has persevered tirelessly, as evidenced by his All-Star selection. Beloved by the fans, everyone wants to give him that 50th "second chance." Here's hoping he can hold it together and not go cuckoo this time.

Trix Rabbit, Trix, SP - The classic junk cereal pitcher in the style of Gaylord Perry, Eddie Harris, and Boo-Berry. Much like Cocoa Puff Sonny, Joaquin Andujar, and the Quik Bunny, the silly rabbit has had trouble keeping his composure on the field over the years, but his deceptive style leaves many swinging at air. Another in a long line of rabid animals who steal sugared cereals from children, the Trix rabbit franchised himself with arguably the catchiest of catch phrases, one quipped by dorky execs and pirated by Deadheads.

Count Chocula, RP - Every ballclub has one these days, the reliever from a foreign land with a wicked slider and a few cultural quirks. They just don't happen to have one as effective as the Count. He also has the heart-touching story: he passed up an opportunity back home for a solid career of achieving supernatural powers by sinking his fangs into the jugulars of his fellow citizens, consuming their blood, and turning them into similarly undead and horrific creatures, giving it all up to play baseball in the Cereal Leagues. He still gets teased for his accent and lumped in with those stiffs Boo-Berry and Yummy Mummy, but he presses on, having turned into a more-than-reliable closer. He still gets mocked by his peers back home for "going the breakfast route" when he's supposed to shy away from sunrises. And he still gets threatened by the religious right for his habit of pointing at the ground and thanking Satan every time he strikes out a batter, but he's just happy to be doing what he loves night in and night out. And playing baseball.

Bench: 

Snap, Crackle, & Pop, Rice Krispies, IF/OF - These jacks of all trades, masters of none, weren't voted in, they were selected by the manager. The fans have never truly responded to this trio, but their peers seem to have even less respect. "The Hanson Brothers they ain't," quipped one All-Star who asked to remain anonymous. Another added, "Snap has no arm and Pop has no power -- they should be called the Misnomers." A third chimed in: "And Crackle . . . I mean, who the hell is Crackle, anyway?" They remind a few onlookers of the 2007 New York Yankees bench, and the word "light" seems to go hand in hand with any mention of them. But . . . the manager wanted them on the club. Crackle just left rehab (again), so they'll be reunited again at General Mills Park for the All-Star Game. Get fired up.Manager:

Wendell, Cinnamon Toast Crunch - 
The skipper of Cereal Cup champs CTC, Wendell's kindly old man exterior belies an irascible curmudgeon in the clubhouse. A few ground rules when interviewing Wendell: 1.) Don't ask him about his penchant for the quick hook. 2.) Don't say anything even hinting at Cinnamon Toast Crunch being an "expansion franchise." 3.) And by God, do not ask him about including Snap, Crackle & Pop on this roster. There's a reason the other bakers don't speak in the commercials. Wendell's an old school manager on a new school club. You saw how well that worked in Tampa with Lou, right?

So there you have your 2007 Cereal Mascot All-Star Roster. Enjoy the festivities, all the hoop-la, and be content in the knowledge that world today is a better place than it was 20 or 30 years ago, if only for the fact that the rash of thievish, insane animals, badly-dressed, freakish creatures, and/or B-grade horror movie
 clich├ęs burglarizing our kitchens and stealing our children's breakfasts seems to have passed. Pleasant dreams, and a very happy tomorrow morning.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Chronological Fun for the Whole Family

Once upon a time, I had an idea for a Trivial Pursuit style board game. Something fun for the whole family. But instead of questions, each card would have three thematically connected things on it, and you'd have to put them in chronological order. Awesome!

For example, you might draw a card with Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa,  Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, and Van Gogh's Starry Night. Kids would love this! Fun for the whole family! There could even be a sports edition, with exciting triplets such as: Mickey Klutts, Graig Nettles, and Clete Boyer.

Or maybe not.

It did make a pretty good test, however, and Terry, MJ, and Stacey tear it up. Give it a shot and see if you can hang with them.



Saturday, March 05, 2016

Money Can't Buy Me Love, or Happiness

According to Cash Money & Marvelous, the secret to longevity and happiness is fairly easy. If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, man, find an ugly woman and make her your wife.



I'm not sure about the sincerity of that sentiment, if I'm being honest. So I was happy to find a different source on the subject. Harvard professor Robert Waldinger is the director of the university's Study of Adult Development, a 75-year longitudinal study of a cohort of men from first Harvard and then working class Boston.

The study, one of the most ambitious and successful of its kind, tracked the lives of its subjects from early adulthood through their entire lives. The data are incredibly revealing about the things that are most important in longevity, health, and satisfaction with one's life. And at the very top of the list, the thing the researchers have found to be the single most relevant factor for happiness, is the quality of personal relationships. Put more simply, good friends and good family equate to happier, healthier, longer lives.

Or even more simply, being a Gheorghie is good for you, as long as you make enough mini-summits. God bless you, you magnificent bastards.



Marls and I are putting a down payment on longevity this weekend, heading to Baltimore for some quality Tribe time. The liver-pickling we'll do will probably balance out the benefits, to be sure.

Tune in here for dispatches from the CAA Tournament, or whining about how the Tribe lost in the first round.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Gheorghe Explains the Election: Trump's VP Pick

It's a foregone conclusion that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee come November. This is surprising at first blush, but not so much when you look at his closest competitors.



Also surprising at first blush was Chris Christie's decision to endorse Trump. Shortly before he dropped out of the race, Christie used the Marls voice to mockingly impersonate Trump.



Pundits have posited that Christie made this move with the hopes of getting the vice presidential nod. I don't see that happening.

Picking a vice president is difficult. For example, about 25 years ago a man named Bush was running for president as a Republican. At the time the GOP was perceived as being less than welcoming to minorities, so he apparently considered making Colin Powell his veep. Chris Rock explained why he didn't--someone would try to kill Bush so that Powell would be the first black president. So instead he went with Dan Quayle, probably because no one on earth would kill Bush to put Quayle in the big seat. Parenthetically, despite being a remarkably reasonable pick for president, Bush lost to someone named Clinton largely because an upstart billionaire lunatic with no elected experience decided to make a self-funded run for the presidency. It was a completely different world back then.

Although Christie isn't wildly popular, most rational people would prefer a President Christie over a President Trump. So if Christie got the veep nod, then politicians from both sides of the aisle would do anything they could to impeach The Donald. Trump knows this (he's running his campaign on some next-level reality TV competition three-steps-ahead shit) so his VP pick will be even less appealing than he is, but will still bring in some extra votes that Trump doesn't already have. Who might that be?

1. Sarah Palin

She already endorsed Trump and will help get some of the Cruz/Tea Party/maniac vote that Trump doesn't already have. She has that whole mavericky outsider thing going on and could theoretically help remediate Trump's image with women. No one would do anything to kill or depose Trump so that Palin could move up--that's a frying-pan-to-fire situation. Her downside is that she already destroyed a GOP nominee's campaign.


2. David Duke

No one will kill Trump to put Duke in charge. A Trump/Duke ticket would lock up 99.999% of the racist/xenophobe vote, practically guaranteeing that most if not all of Cruz's and Rubio's anti-immigrant base will vote Trump. A Trump/Duke ticket would also repulse all of the non-white vote, as well as all voters with humanity and conscience. Seems like a longshot but then again, nothing makes sense this election cycle.

3. Arnold Schwarzanegger

This isn't an outlandish choice. He ran two successful campaigns as a liberal-ish Republican in a blue state. He governed one of the largest economies in the world. He might be an even bigger celebrity than Trump and he has a devoted following of fans that will bring in votes. Having Schwarzanegger on the ticket might help rational conservatives reconcile the reasonableness of an otherwise unreasonable vote for Trump.

Arnold cannot be president because he was born in Austria so if Trump is out then Paul Ryan would be the Prez. This might seem to cut against Arnold (Geoff would try to snuff Trump in an instant in this scenario), but when you think more it makes total sense. If someone were going to try to assassinate the president, wouldn't you want The Terminator there to protect him? They made like three or four movies on this exact topic where he successfully repelled time-traveling liquid metal monsters to save Edward Furlong! He's perfectly fit to shield The Donald. Sure, some of the more ignorant racist voters would look at the last five letters of Schwarzanegger's name and refuse to vote for him, but how many ignorant racists who are unfamiliar with the Governator can there be?

4. Jim Dolan/Fred Wilpon/Dan Snyder/Donald Sterling

A repugnant inexperienced billionaire president could protect his job by backing himself up with an even more repugnant and inexperienced billionaire vice president. Dolan, Wilpon, Snyder and Sterling have solid track records of atrocious spending and terrible management/decision-making. No one wants them in charge of something as irrelevant as a sports franchise let alone the country. But any one of these four mopes would bring in a lot of votes, perhaps counter-intuitively. If you're a fan of any of their franchises, would you rather have them screwing up your team or screwing up the Trump administration (which will be screwed up no matter the veep selection)? These guys have legs. Snyder and Sterling might be Trump's first options given their enlightened views on race.


5. Stacey Dash

How many famously conservative black women are there? She would provide a modicum of cover on Trump's racist and sexist shortcomings, and she's remarkably photogenic. Damon Dash could be Secretary of Commerce.


6. Dan Quayle

It worked for G.H.W. Bush in 1988.

Any of the foregoing make more sense than a Vice President Christie in terms of getting more votes and for protecting Trump's back. I predict instead that Trump puts Christie up for Justice Scalia's seat and after confirmation he morphs into a law-and-order version of Justice Souter.

And none of it will matter when former Trump endorsee/billionaire Mitt Romney runs as a self-funded independent candidate.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Scream

It's been a fucking week, man. Everything that could've gone wrong has figured out a way to do so, for me and for some of my closest friends.

Drinking at my desk is frowned upon. So here's some cacophony from the great Midnight Oil that captures my mood, and need for a big cathartic yawp.



Oh, and happy birthday, KQ!


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Let Us Celebrate the Face-swapping of Dave and Stacey

Today, which is the second day of March, let us celebrate three things. Let us celebrate Dr. Seuss, as it is his birthday, let us celebrate Dave-- as it is also my birthday, and let us celebrate face-swapping apps.

Face-swapping apps are all the rage in our school right now, and most of the combinations are surreal and hideous.

Except for one.

And Zman, this ain't no humblebrag . . . this is full-on bragging. When you combine my face with my colleague (and podcasting partner) Stacey's hair and head, you get Brad Pitt.



The only person who doesn't buy this wholeheartedly is my wife, who apparently isn't onboard about celebrating all things Dave. I think she's just jealous, and doesn't want to admit that if I had long chestnut colored hair and a slightly longer skull, most of the available women on the planet would be vying for my undivided attention. She's probably also aware that my self-esteem is already high enough, and doesn't need further elevation.

Anyway, if you don't see it, that's your problem, and I don't want to hear about it on my birthday. What I would like you to do on this very special day of celebration is give The Test a listen, subscribe on iTunes and give us a good rating. Thanks!


And I'm growing my hair out. I think by OBFT XXV, I might look hot.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Throwback...Tuesday - "Boston Sports Guy" Edition


I have been debating retiring an 18 y/o email address of mine. I rarely use it, and most spam gets through because Yahoo! is poop. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and peruse some old mail folders I set up for this address. I found myself in a "Jokes" folder I created at some point, which has a total of 19 emails in there, deposited between 2000-2011. I guess I have high standards, except when making friends.

The oldest email in this folder caught my eye, as it reminded me of a different age. It was an email chain, and I was in the fourth wave of recipients. It was the old Boston Sports Guy's review of the AVN awards show from July 2000. Before he came to ESPN, I would only see his writing when folks would forward things like this to me. Thankfully, FOG:TB Sammy the Bull forwarded it on and I kept it.

There are some funny, dated references in the article (E! True Hollywood Story, Spice Channel, Janine). And I think the Sports Guy was only about 30 when he wrote this.

In honor of Mr. Simmons (and in honor of pornography), I am reposting his article below. Enjoy.



THE BOSTON SPORTS GUY COVERING THE ADULT FILM AWARDS - HOW GOOD!!!

A recap of the 2000 AVN Awards

Note to reader: This is our first installment of the new BSG feature  "Culture Pop." Basically I'll be writing every few weeks about things that  interest me from the pop culture scene -- The Real World, summer movies,  wrestling, concerts and so on -- and hopefully I won't get fired by my bosses for an occasional non-sports column. In my defense, I'm posting "Best Links" every day AND writing 3-4 sports columns a week, so I should have the luxury to write about weird things every once on a while.

Anyway...

Last week I was visiting a friend's house and he showed me a tape of this year's AVN Awards show from Las Vegas, which the Spice Channel airs every spring. Quite simply, it's the most captivating TV show of all-time -- a 25 out of 10 on the "Unintentional Comedy Scale." Bizarre movie titles. Glazed expressions. Drunken, disorderly conduct. Disarming sexual tension. People taking themselves far too seriously. It's like the MTV Movie Awards on acid. If the people running HBO were smart, they would buy the rights to this thing and air it next year and every year after.

Of course, within five minutes I was furiously scribbling down notes on napkins for a potential column. I tried to remember as many highlights and comedic moments as possible... here were some:

Chloe won Best Actress and thanked her Mom, who was actually in attendance. I'm not making this up. Chloe's eyes roll back in her head while she has sex and I'm convinced she's completely insane. She also laughs like a truck driver. NBC needs to give her a sitcom ASAP; I would definitely watch it.

Mr. Marcus and Shayla LaVoe presented an award together and you could have cut the sexual tension with a knife. I'll take a flying guess here and say they took care of the problem after the show. Mr. Marcus is a black guy who wears his baseball cap backwards and looks like he should be in Shaq's posse. I think he was my favorite presenter on the whole show. You couldn't even make up a porn name better than Mr. Marcus.

Anari Vachs won "Best Female Performer" and had that glazed, cross-eyed, "I appeared in one too many movies last year and took one too many money shots" expression going. She seems relatively intelligent though. She actually used a few four-syllable words in her acceptance speech -- no, none of them were Latin -- and thanked her husband, who's probably in therapy as we speak.

(Note: Between the announcement of each winner and the winner's speech, Spice would interject a "spicy" clip from the winning performance. Very strange to see Anari thank her husband after we've just seen her getting flipped around like a flapjack by two guys.)

Veronica Hart won Director of the Year or something... she used to be an X-rated star in the late-70's, the glory years of porn. Veronica still looked pretty hot but she's like my Mom's age now. It's good to see someone remain in the business for 20-plus years. I wonder if she still keeps in touch with Seka.

Speaking of old-timers, Nina Hartley was in attendance and apparently celebrated her 75th birthday last week. She played the slut who was married to Little Bill in "Boogie Nights." Every time they showed her I kept expecting William H. Macy to be sitting next to her with a red wig and a pissed-off look on his face.


I should mention here that every time the cameras showed a female star in the audience, they would invariably pull up their dress or pull down their top. It's like they had no idea what else to do and they couldn't just sit there and feign interest in the awards. Very strange phenomenon. This is also Reason #1,978 why HBO should televise this thing every year.

I should also mention that many of the categories are a little... different. Let's just say that when you win the award for "Best Oral," it's not because you submitted a really good speech. My favorite category was "Best All-Sex Video" -- no dialogue, no plot, just sex, sex and nothing but SEX! Sounds like my prom night. The Oscars need to add this category next year.

A movie called "The Booty Bandit" and a director named Seymour Butts both captured awards, but for different things. It's hard to believe Seymour Butts wasn't involved in the production of "The Booty Bandit."

(Seymour won "Best Gonzo Video" -- I'm not sure what that means, but I don't think it's something you'd want your daughters involved with.)

Jenna Jameson has had so much plastic surgery that she was almost unrecognizable. They should just start making the "E! True Hollywood Story" about her right now so E! can have it cued and ready to go after someone finds her body in a few weeks.

The ubiquitous Ron Jeremy presented an award. He was referred to affectionately by someone as "The Hedgehog," probably because he weighs about three bills. And speaking of over-the-hill presenters, Marilyn Chambers presented an award and looked bloated and nasty. I can't believe she's still in the business. She looked like that fat single aunt in your family who your Mom always tries to set up with divorced guys.

It was good to see Jonathan Morgan finally get his due as a director. I have no idea why, but the crowd seemed pretty juiced. I think it was like Gibson making the crossover for "Braveheart." He seems like a fun guy.

The least popular star was someone named Alicia Klass, who won Best Starlet last year and almost got booed off the stage during the presentation of Best Starlet this year (she was rambling a bit; the drugs probably weren't helping). You know you're unpopular when porno stars are booing you.

Screw Magazine's Al Goldstein came out later and said, and I quote, "Seeing Alicia Klass on stage is OJ's best defense yet"

(That's another thing you have to love about the AVN Awards - tasteless jokes!)

80's porn queen Ginger Lynn presented an award; she apparently made a comeback and her face looks like someone punched it. She's also about 15 pounds overweight. I felt bad for her. She had that weird Ellen Barkin "contorted face" thing going. It must be great for your self-esteem to make a comeback in the porno industry.

Howard Stern won a "Lifetime Achievement" award and sent a mentally challenged midget named Beetlejuice to accept it on his behalf. I'm not making this up. Surprisingly, Beetlejuice was more coherent than Alicia Klass.

Lexington Steel won for best male performer. He thanked fellow actor Mr. Marcus for taking him under his wing and showing him the ropes. I think he meant that figuratively and literally. He also said that without Mr. Marcus' help, he would have been back in New York working on Wall Street. Apparently this would have been a bad thing.

(Note: They showed a clip of Lex having sex with Chloe and she looked like she was being tortured: "Ahhhhhhh! Arrrrrrrghhhhhh! Aggggggggggggh! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggg!" Lexington Steele is definitely not someone you'd want as The Person Who Dated Your Girlfriend Right Before You.)

The funniest movie titles that I can remember were "Sodomania 28," "Tampa Tushy Fest" and "My Baby Got Back." I can't believe there have been 28 episodes of Sodomania. That's almost impossible. I feel sick.

Julie Ann won an award for best girl-girl scene with Janine... she accepted the award but seemed bummed out that Janine wasn't there as well.
I
hope they can work it out. This is the second time they've won the award. Number three would be like Bird winning three straight MVP's in the mid-80's.

Some guy named James Bonn won for best actor and sounded like DeNiro in the Bravo Actors Studio during his acceptance speech. I think this guy REALLY thinks he's a good actor. Startling.

(This was the highlight of the show for me -- I love when people take themselves too seriously and I especially love when porno actors take themselves too seriously. Bonn was sincerely excited and made Dirk Diggler's speech at the 2nd AVN awards seem restrained by comparison. I kept waiting for him to discuss karate. At one point he praised director Chris Cramsky by saying, "If you can't act for Chris Cramsky, you can't act." I'm giggling just typing it.)

Julie Ashton hosted the show... she seems really nice. Seriously. I think I would hang out with her platonically. You know, get coffee and stuff.

The show ended with all the females in the audience being invited on stage to dance. Needless to say, there was some grinding and disrobing. This is reason #456,345 why HBO should telecast this thing next year -- grinding and disrobing with the final credits!

Next year I'm keeping a running diary. Or I'm going. One or the other.