Thursday, June 30, 2016

Things You Hear on Trains

Your faithful reporter's got a lot of time to kill on his train trip from Manhattan to Washington, DC, and not a lot of burning ambition to tackle these TPS reports, so the Man's loss is your gain. Free-flowing freshly-pressed wine from these mindgrapes follows in the form of a story I couldn't help overhearing from the reasonably loud but generally likable chap who sat in the row in front of me from New York to Philly. I assume stuff like this happens to TR all the time during his commute into the maw of the financial beast, but the DC to NYC commute is still fresh and new to me.

None of these are our guy
The guy in question is a financier-type roughly my age. Given his garb and bearded countenance and a handful of context clues dropped into conversation, he parlayed his first 20 years on Wall Street into his own gig and gets to run other people's money in flip flops and cargo shorts. Like a socially adept Michael Burry. Apparently our hero randomly bumped into a former fraternity brother (Columbia, Class of mid-90-something - I think I heard a Marcellus Wiley namedrop in there somewhere, too) who was traveling for work with a colleague. The fraternity brother convinced flip flop financier to tell the story of his mid-90s interview with Salomon Brothers - the same fixed equities desk made famous by Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker.

Seems that our guy had been through nearly a dozen rounds of interviews when the HR Department called him back for one final discussion. He was told that if this last guy liked him, then he had the job. So he shows up at 7:30 am and sits down with a middle-aged exec. After an exchange of pleasantries, the Salomon guy tells the kid that everyone likes him, but the final call is his. He then asks what position our young candidate plays on the Columbia baseball team. "I'm a pitcher," he replies.

After which the Salomon gatekeeper, who's probably pulling down $20m a year or so in that go-go era (check my math, TR), but thinks nothing of fucking with a college kid, opens his desk drawer and pulls out a baseball-sized stress ball. He points across the trading desk to a water fountain on the other side of the room. "If you can hit the middle of the water fountain with that ball, the job is yours. If not, you can go fuck yourself."

It's early, our guy is nervous, and there's a whole floor of traders watching. And he's not entirely sure what's happening. But he does his best, winds up, and lets fly. The ball starts out on a true path, but as those flimsy things do, spins off target and rises high and away, just nicking the upper corner of the fountain.

"Go fuck yourself," says the bondsman.

And so our hero does, leaving the building never to hear from Salomon again.

Things worked out okay for him, judging from many of the other things he had to say, so it's now just a funny story. And a whole lot went to hell for Salomon Brothers not long after this incident, so we can only hope bad things happened to the interviewer, though it's just as likely that he landed on his feet and tortured other young masters of the universe. Hell, maybe TR works for him.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Nutella and the Power of Youthful Enthusiasm

Breakfast of champions
My 12 year-old daughter is a huge Nutella fan. She eats it on toast for breakfast every single day. (We make her eat fruit, too - we're mediocre parents, not terrible ones.) If it were up to her, she'd eat it for lunch and dinner, as well. Other than her iPhone, Nutella is probably her favorite thing in the world.

So you can imagine how excited she was when she learned that there's a restaurant in Chicago that exclusively features the hazelnut spread, and nothing else. It's all Nutella, all the time, at least in her telling. And because such a place exists, she requested - nay, insisted - that we visit this magical place.

As it turns out, she's not exactly wrong. The Windy City outpost of Mario Batali's Eataly Italian food emporium does, in fact, feature a Nutella Bar. So does the one in New York, as it turns out, but my kid found the Chicago location first.

Because I love my kid, and because I've never been to Chicago, her Nutella obsession has turned into a family summer road trip. Air trip, I guess. We booked an AirBnB reservation in Logan Square and we're winging our way to the Midwest in a few short weeks to gorge on Nutella.

I'm telling you all this because a) none of you can be bothered to put up a post and I'm on a train to New York with time to kill, and b) as mentioned above, I've never been to Chicago, so I'm wide open to your ideas about what to do with a family of four. I'm sure we'll do a few of the cliche tourist things (my wife wants to go up in the Sears Tower, for example), but I'd love to find a few other things to do, places to see, and restaurants to hit. You're a bunch of worldly lads and ladies, so I know I can count on you for advice.

The floor is yours, Gheorghies. Watch out for the Nutella mess.

Monday, June 27, 2016

You Say You Want a Revolution

Lest we forget, the E in ESPN stands for entertainment. No single entity is more responsible for the growth of the sports hot take industry than the Worldwide Leader. ESPN's not the only culprit, by a longshot, but as the preeminent sports broadcasting entity in this country, Bristol's thirty-year evolution from sports news and live contests to opinion and volume-based sports-focused entertainment led the way.

From the analysis-free, bombast and blather-heavy 'C'mon Man' testosterone festival of NFL Primetime to the overlapping yawps of Around the Horn to Colin Cowherd's dreadful egofest to the unmentionable dreck of First Take and everything in between, ESPN pioneered the sporting version of CNN's Crossfire - full of sound and fury, signifying nothing more than a ratings grab. Only nobody ever went full Jon Stewart on ESPN. (Someone might've, but I'm writing this from memory, and I can't remember anyone doing so. I also don't remember what I ate for lunch, which is increasingly a problem for me, or would be, if I remembered it.)

But something's happened over the past 18 months or so, and it's hard not to wonder if John Skipper and the rest of the suits at ESPN haven't seen the light. Cowherd and Bayless are gone, as is Cris Carter. (who serves as an exemplar for a whole host of former pros with lots of volume and a lot less insight - hey, Keyshawn, and how you doin', Curt Schilling, you deranged racist fuckburger!) Around the Horn still exists (I think), but it's balanced by the unique voice of His and Hers. And ESPN Radio is a revelation. Once a landscape free of anything other than white men with similarly warm takes, it's now both diverse and smart.

Once Mike and Mike clear the airwaves, ESPN Radio offers some of the most singular voices in sports (and entertainment).

Dan LeBatard skewers sacred cows on the regular, in his show, which discards just about every conventional sports talk trope. It's by turns sloppy and silly, but it also showcases LeBatard's incisive interviewing style and co-host Stugotz's brilliant doofus sidekick performance art. There may be no broadcaster in sports today more willing to press a guess for real answers to interview questions, or to risk grossly awkward moments in pursuit of truth, or at least good radio. And there's never been anyone like Stugotz, one of the great character actors of the time, sports radio category.

Former Scott Van Pelt sidekick Ryen Russillo is acerbic and blunt, but he's also extremely knowledgeable and he doesn't suffer fools. I'm not completely sold on Danny Kanell as his partner, but Russillo's unwillingness to play the usual radio host games makes their mid-afternoon show go.

We've already talked about Bomani Jones here, but his voice is both sonically distinctive and as thought-provoking as any talker on radio today, sports or otherwise. His afternoon drive show stands out as the most direct evidence of what I believe is a conscious choice by ESPN to prioritize content and context over bombast and noise.

And if you're still listening to the radio in the evening, you're not stuck with the dreadful crap that used to pass for entertainment. That stuff's been banished to the wee, wee hours of the morning. Now, at 7:00 pm EST, Jalen Rose and David Jacoby offer up a hip hop-infused and professional athlete-informed perspective. Rose's DGAF meter is reasonably high, and it mixes well with Jacoby's professionalism and youthful vibe.

Jorge Sedano and Izzy Gutierrez wrap up the radio day, both Hispanic and one gay, which is something that would be impossible to imagine even three or four years ago. The straight tends towards the hot takey too often for my taste, but the mix is still entertaining and the fact that the show exists at all is groundbreaking.

With all this discussion of the current radio lineup, we've completely buried the lede. ESPN, once the province of Chris Berman's blatting bloviation, has a new face. It's hard to argue that there's a bigger star in Bristol now than Van Pelt. The network built an entirely new programming format around Van Pelt's persona, and you couldn't architect a more direct departure from the past. In contrast to Berman's Boomer-first, look-at-me broadcasting, Van Pelt's smart, thoughtful, balanced, hip and humble approach comes off as a revolution. You know ESPN likes a guy when they let him take shots at other talent, even if that 'talent' isn't long for the new world. There is no sports broadcaster on the planet right now better than Van Pelt, and other than Dan Patrick, it ain't close.

With all of those changes, we haven't even talked about what might be the most important and meaningful change at the WWL. There are more women on ESPN's airwaves today than on any major sports broadcaster in history. Jemele Hill, Sarah Spain, Prim Siripipat, Jane McManus, and Kate Fagan all have voices on ESPN radio and TV, and while we're yet to see a woman sit in the first chair on a major show, it's only a matter of time - and for that, ESPN should be lauded.

Ours is a confusing time, with yesterday's media struggling to find purchase in a world where everyone's opinion is available all the time, and amplified in ways old-line institutions still haven't yet completely grasped. ESPN is far from perfect (with too many cases to cite on that point), but the fact that the most important sports (and entertainment!) broadcaster in the country has made what is clearly a conscious decision to feature diversity, intelligence (we're ignoring Jonathan Coachman at this point) and perspective over heat and volume is a big fucking deal.


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Stacey Can Name That Comic in One Note

Stacey professes to have an uncanny ability to recognize stand-up comics by their voice alone, and I put that claim to the test this week on The Test. She performs admirably.  Cunningam also decides that she has this uncanny ability, but you'll have to be the judge on she fares.

Enjoy the clips and see how fast you can name the comic and the theme. Stacey is tough to stump.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wishing You All a Happy Climax this Weekend

I like this song way more than I should. Any song that represents the halfway point of a straight line that connects solid '70's guitar rock and disco is A OK in my book.

Hope you all are having a bitchin' Saturday afternoon.

Time was drifting
This rocker got to roll
So I hit the road and made my getaway
Restless feeling, really got a hold
I started searching for a better way
But I kept on looking for a sign
In the middle of the night
But I couldn't see the light
No, I couldn't see the light
I kept on looking for a way
To take me through the night
I couldn't get it right
I couldn't get it right
LA fever made me feel alright
But I must admit it got the best of me
Getting down, so deep I could have drowned
Now, I can't get back the way I used to be
But I kept on looking for a sign
In the middle of the night
But I couldn't see the light
No, I couldn't see the light
I kept on looking for a way
To take me through the night
I couldn't get it right
I couldn't get it right
New York City took me with the tide
And I nearly died from hospitality
Left me stranded, took away my pride
Just another no account fatality
But I kept on looking for a sign
In the middle of the night
But I couldn't see the light
No, I couldn't see the light
I kept on looking for a way
To take me through the night
I couldn't get it right
I couldn't get it right

Thursday, June 23, 2016

2016 NBA Draft: GTB Open Thread

As much as I hate to bump down rob's post, well, the NBA Draft is on tonight, and GTB loyalists have done yeoman's work in recent years chronicling the night's proceedings in the comments. So, figured I should give us all that forum once again for THIS evening. Plus, POST COUNT.

But before we begin, let's put some respek on this blog's namesake:

The 30th pick in the 1993 Draft, the one, the only, Ghitza

Two sleeper picks in tonight's first round:



And a second round flyer:


Dork Rock and Art Rap

Young man grows up on the south side of Chicago, raised in that city's rap tradition, develops a keen social conscience and forges his own path as an artist. Familiar story, to some degree, following the example of Common and Kanye, among others.

This one, though, has a twist that spins it directly into G:TB's wheelhouse. (I miss The Wheelhouse, for what it's worth.) Open Mike Eagle's favorite band as a young man was They Might Be Giants. And it wasn't just an infatuation. As you can see in the clip below, Mike deeply embraced the dork-rock pioneers' message and music.

I've been a TMBG fan from way back. When I was 18, I saw the band at the old 9:30 Club, in what was my first club show. (I was there with my then-21 year-old girlfriend. Did I mention that my girlfriend was 21? That was cool.) I've since seen TMBG at least ten times in all sorts of venues, and never been disappointed by one of their live shows.

And now I've got to find a way to see Open Mike Eagle, who's art-rap style is a liquid, lyrical, and hypnotic flow. Check out Ziggy Starfish (Anti-Anxiety Raps) from his 2015 A Special Episode EP. His newly-released record, Hella Personal Film Festival is getting some Spotify run in my house, too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

MR PEDRO and Imelda

No, not a new sitcom coming to NBC in the Fall. They are, however, my two new favorite commenters of 2016.

Enjoy these gems:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Fhather's Day

The Large Father wishes all the Gheorghie dads a most excellent day of your very own. I'm spending mine drinking craft beer, mountain biking, and watching copious amounts of sports. May yours be similarly enriching.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Afternoon Tunes (New and Old) for Your Mind Grapes

Four tunes have been getting a lot of love in TR's earbuds of late during his commute. I thought I would share before Rob took away my posting privileges for negligent behavior. And excessive body odor. The tunes are more poppy than you might expect, but when times are tough, as they've become for me for a couple reasons, some fun tunes are welcome. And they result in fewer headaches than drinking eleventeen scotches.

As an unabashed fan of Bill Simmons, nee The Sports Guy, nee The Boston Sports Guy, I pay attention to his posse of cultural critics who opine on all things sports, music and pop culture. This includes his podcasts, which serve as a coping mechanism for my mundane commute (along with these bad boys, of course).

As a result, I watch the After the Thrones show on HBO. I also dragged my wife into it. After her initial questions (Why are these guys so nerdy? They're gay, right? Is that Mallory girl the oddest looking person ever?, to which I replied: No idea, nope, yep), she became hooked b/c Greenwald and Ryan are astute and witty, if not telegenic.

I enjoy those two guy's gaming of throning on the telly, but I also (mostly) dig their music critiquing. So when the two came up with their "Memorial Day BBQ Playlist" on one podcast a few weeks back, I efforted up the tunes on my iPhone and gave them a listen. Turns out most are pretty good! The one that has wormholed its way into my brain to occupy space next to Thin Lizzy's Angel from the Coast these days is a catchy tune from an up-and-coming Philly rock band called Mercury Girls.

Here is All That Heaven Allows:

How do we follow that up? How 'bout with my favorite 18 y/o pop tune whose title is a cock ring reference! Sure, the tune is, like the strippers Zman makes it rain on,  "barely legal", but I'm slow to get into shit, so back off.

Here is a live version from Coachella in '15 (I think). And while the live version is disjointed, it packs in some extra whimsy. As I get older and face more, varied stresses in my life, I find brief forays into whimsy to be welcome. If you want the straight studio version, get it here.

Moving on (and even farther back in time), here's a deep cut (to me, at least) from Marvin Gaye. I found this one while wallowing in Apple Music one day. The ability to search for a tune you know/like, and then review playlists where that song was included, is a neat little feature to find related tunes you don't know. It allowed me to dig into some hip, hip stuff.

Here is Can I Get a Witness:

And we'll close this out with an instrumental from Umphrey's McGee. I'm not too attentive to the jam band scene these days, and am not too knowledgeable with these guys, but this is a fun tune that slots right in with much of the stuff we used to crank a lot at Unit M 20+ years ago. It doesn't break new ground, but sometimes that's just fine. So go to Unit L, borrow Dr. Crusher so you can take a pull from a 5' tube, and then crank this.

Here is Glory:

Happy Friday folks. Feel free to crank all of these at your cubicle, in your car, on the commode, or in your bedroom while you are sweet, sweet love. Or when you break into tears immediately after orgasm. Everybody does that, right?

Is zson really TRson?

TR likes to joke that he's really my son's father, and I'm starting to question whether that's a joke because over a five day span last week zson did the following:

1. At his nursery school graduation (which I did not attend due to work commitments and my general view that this wasn't a big deal, which apparently was not shared by many other dads who took off from work to be there and probably think I'm a heel), while everyone else was singing songs and reciting poems in unison, zson and his friend Danny yelled the closest things to expletives that 5-year-olds know. Stuff like "Underpants!" and "Butts!" and "Poop!" and "Penis!" zwoman was mortified.

2. After his nursery school graduation, zson and Danny and some other kids went to a nearby pizzeria with their respective moms. Danny dared zson to pick his nose and eat it. zson obliged. zwoman was mortified. This has become one of his signature gross-out moves.

3. He pulled the dry erase penis coloring stunt. I almost fainted.

4. He announced that when he grows up he wants to be a rock star or a baker.

5. I asked him why he was walking funny and he said "I'm stretching my balls out, they are sticking to my legs." He was going commando because that's his thing lately.

6. Later that day I was in the kitchen and he yelled from the living room "Daddy I pooped but don't worry my pants are clean." I asked how that's possible and he replied "The poop is on the floor." Apparently he was trying to make himself fart and instead he shat. His commando status allowed the (inordinately large) shit in question to fall nearly unfettered out of his shorts and onto my floor. He remained unfazed throughout. zwoman was mortified.

7. We went fishing and about 15 minutes in he announced that he had to poop. The closest storefront was a vintage car store that I've always wanted to check out so we hustle over there. I haven't showered yet that day so I'm oily and stinky and we both smell like sunblock and unwashed armpits. We walk in, zson bent over with intestinal distress, and the young guy who works there greets us and asks if he can help us. I point to the to-die-for-beautiful tangerine 1972 Porsche 911 RS lightweight (which is worth something like $1.4 million) and say "I'd love to buy the RS but I can't. My colleague here could really use a bathroom though."
He points us right to the impeccably clean loo. Immediately upon mounting the bowl, zson rips a monstrously loud fart, a deep basso booming blast of a thing that I'm sure was clearly heard in the showroom. He then announces (in his outside voice) that he doesn't have to poop after all, and it was all just a fart. So we get cleaned up and come out to the showroom and the young guy is laughing at us and he knew that I knew cars from my whole line about the RS and we talked about all the beautiful stuff they have in the showroom, including an old 356, some newer Ferraris, a Ford GT (which another sales guy started up and goosed the throttle so a potential buyer could listen to its angry engine note), and several other less audacious 911s. At some point I turn back to the RS and see the bottom half of zson sticking out of the passenger side window, his upper half firmly planted inside it, squirming around and torquing on 44-year-old irreplaceable car parts. Mercifully he was wearing shorts with no zipper or buttons, otherwise he would've scratched the door all to hell, but I still almost had a heart attack and pulled him out of the car. None of the worm guts on his shirt wound up inside the car, as far as I could tell. The young guy was not fazed and continued to talk about cars they're getting in, cars they used to have, etc. and when I turn around again zson is wiping his greasy paws on the 2007 GT3 RS (which is worth a mere $200k or so), trying to pry the driver's side open and getting kidprints all over the thing. As I pulled him off the car he announced "This is my favorite car here" and the young guy said "Me too! This is the best driver's car we've ever had, in my opinion. You have great taste in cars!" We were even invited to come back anytime we want. Despite ripping hellacious farts, sullying over a million dollars worth of cars, and generally acting like a jackass, zson charmed the daylights out of some total stranger while giving me palpitations.

zson has TR written all over him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gheorghe Endorses

I've long held that a third-party candidate with a legitimate platform of social tolerance and fiscal competence would have a chance at winning national office in this country. I've held that, in full knowledge that the political machines of our major parties make such a thing impossible. But I'm an aggressively optimistic and/or naive motherfucker. And, as Muhammad Ali told us, "impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it."

But, nah, it's impossible.

That won't stop us, though. Quixotic quests and contrarian dipshittery are our stock in trade.

At this point, our political analysis bona fides are well established. We won't belabor it. But seriously, people are waiting anxiously for our endorsement. It'll move markets.

Let's dispense with the obvious right away. There's no chance in this world or the next that this blog would ever support the most dangerously inept and unqualified major party candidate in the history of our republic. The Republican Party, such as it is at this point, has committed malpractice bordering on treason. We're solidly #NeverTrump.

Which leaves us no choice, I guess. A reluctant Clinton endorsement, then.'s...that's Gary Johnson's music.

Only twice, in 1980 and 2012, has the Libertarian Party garnered more than 1% of the popular vote in a Presidential election. Despite that daunting math, the party has developed an infrastructure that enables it to get on the ballot in all 50 states, and is a credibly organized political movement. This year, in what is by any measure, the most unusual national political climate in our lifetimes, the party's gone one better in nominating two well-known, generally well-regarded professional politicians as its standard-bearers.

"I'm high, probably." "Cool, I'm mostly drunk!"
As Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson gained some measure of notoriety from his support for marijuana legalization. Bill Weld, the former Governor of Massachusetts, was elected as a Republican in Massachusetts, only slightly less unusual than a gold-shitting unicorn. The Johnson/Weld Libertarian ticket is unarguably better qualified to run the country than the GOP slate, and capable of going toe to resume toe with the Democrats.

More importantly, from the perspective of our editorial endorsement committee, Johnson/Weld espouse many of the very same ideas we hold in the first paragraph of this piece as attractive to broad swaths of the American populace. As Johnson told Stephen Colbert last week, he supports, “A woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, legalizing marijuana. Come on—let people make choices in their own lives that only people should be making.”

If that's the party platform, we don't really need to hear anything more. There are certainly elements of libertarianism that strike us as unrealistic, and lacking grounding in acknowledgement of real-world governing requirements. But there's no perfect in this election, and Johnson and Weld temper that historical criticism with actual governing experience. Even as we might be temperamentally inclined to support Mrs. Clinton from a policy perspective, we have a nearly-visceral disdain for the notion of 24 years in 32 of Clinton/Bush oligarchy.

And so for us*, after much debate, the choice is clear: Johnson/Weld '16, and a bong in every pot.

(Note that throughout this post, 'us' should be construed as the specific and unwavering opinion of every member of Team G:TB, all of our family members, and most sentient humans. We asked a lot of people about this issue.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Test 53: Last Words

This week on The Test, Cunningham knocks it out of the park with a quiz on famous last words from literature.

But wait . . . there's more! Stacey explains why she couldn't name her dog Walter White, Cunningham is right again, Dave explains the difference between white power and white powers, and Stacey's eyes get mad at her brain. By the end, you'll know your ass from your Waymunding.

Check it out, keep score, and enjoy the superior sound quality of season two.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

G:TB Hat Trick

Gordie Howe passed away earlier this week. Mr. Hockey played professional hockey until he was 52, making him the oldest man to play in regularly in any major U.S. sport. He's arguably the most complete player in the history of sports, with a combination of skill and toughness that might be unmatched.

They say that a Gordie Howe Hat Trick was a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game. People in the know suggest that such a thing really wasn't all that frequent, but only because nobody wanted to fight Gordie Howe since he was so damn tough.

The notion of that kind of trifecta got me thinking, though. We're multi-faceted here at G:TB. Like an onion (or an ogre), we've got layers. I put it to you, good people of Gheorghedom: what is a G:TB hat trick?

Is it a Wrenball post, Muppet filler, and zjurisprudence?

Or perhaps a Test podcast post, a Bills/Browns preview, and a moderately-informed political rant?

Maybe you go for chick rock, soccer, and Gheorghemas?

We've got a catchphrase, but we need a pithy descriptor. Who's Gordie Howe enough to give us one?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Better Know Your Obscure Semi-Professional Soccer Clubs

The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is among the world's oldest national soccer competitions. Though slightly less well known than other domestic tournaments like the FA Cup and the Copa Del Rey, America's tournament nonetheless dates back to 1914, and pits amateur, semi-pro and lower-level professional sides against the best of the MLS.

After a spirited third round of action at the end of May,the original 91 entries have been whittled to the final 32. Fourth round matches take place next Tuesday and Wednesday, with the 17 MLS clubs joining the 15 third-round winners in the single-elimination bracket.

One of next week's matchups pairs MLS clubs, with Portland Timbers taking on the San Jose Earthquakes. But like all open domestic tournaments, the real fun comes from the matchups between lower-tier squads and the big boys of the top league. New York City FC, for example, takes on the NASL's New York Cosmos on Wednesday. Columbus Crew battles the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the latter another blast from soccer's first burst of American popularity. MLS-leading Colorado Rapids faces a Rocky Mountain derby clash against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks from the third-tier United Soccer League (USL).

While we're obviously pulling for all underdogs, all the time, we've got our eye on a pair of true longshots that have fought their way from the earliest stages of the competition. Tuesday night, mighty LA Galaxy, with Steven Gerrard, Robbie Keane, and Giovanni Dos Santos, host La Maquina FC, an amateur squad from the fifth-tier United Premier Soccer League.

Founded in 2011 and named in honor of the legendary Mexican side Cruz Azul, La Maquina had never before qualified for a U.S. Open Cup. They play their home games at Westminster High School in Los Angeles. And at the moment, they're not allowed to play in the UPSL after having been suspended for six games following a brawl in a match against San Nicholas FC in 2015. They're basically the Bad News Bears. Who, in a few short days, instead of playing in the Astrodome, actually play the Astros.

The other fourth round match relevant to our interests features the Seattle Sounders hosting Kitsap Pumas FC. While the Pumas, unlike La Maquina, are a professional side, they toil in the fourth division of American soccer, the USL Premier Development League. They knocked off the USL's Sacramento Republic, 3-1, to advance to face Sigi Schmid's Seattle powerhouse, which features U.S. Men's National Team members Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris.

In a tournament where the occasional miracle does actually happen (just ask the 1999 US Open Cup Champion Rochester Rhinos), though it's been several years since a non-MLS side even made the semifinals (the Richmond Kickers in 2011), a La Maquina or Kitsap Pumas victory over an MLS team in the midst of Copa America and league play wouldn't be the strangest thing in history. But it'd be pretty damn close.

(In the course of 'researching' this post, I discovered some noteworthy facts. Most important of these, ghoogling 'open cup' results in some interesting results from Frederick's of Hollywood. My apologies to my IT administrator, and you're welcome.)

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Earworm Filler

I'm working on like three different posts right now. They're scorchers, friends. Scorchers. 

Unfortunately, since I have the attention span of a fruit fly, I'm not making much progress. All is not lost, though, as I have some ear candy for you.

Kristin Kontrol is the lead singer of Dum Dum Girls, previously hyped here on Teen Bheat. Her new single, "X-Communicate" sounds like Siouxsie Sioux and the Pet Shop Boys made a baby. Which might not have been pleasant for the latter. Since they're gay, and all. But it's pleasant for us children of the 80s.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

The Test . . . Season Two!

Believe it or not, Stacey, Cunningham and I have been recording The Test for a year now . . . we did a trial episode in Stacey's classroom last June (which never aired because of poor sound quality) and have produced an episode a week since then. We are very proud of us. You should be very proud of us too.

Season Two features some new recording equipment-- I sold my other stuff on eBay and bought one of these:

Instead of recording through USB microphones and adapters into my old MacBook Pro, I'm following the advice of the internet and recording into a fairly cheap digital recorder. This is ostensibly easier because the piece of gear is designed purely for sound recording, but I must warn you, if you don't press the record button, it doesn't work (which happened the other night . . . luckily the two episodes we DID record were the good ones, and the one that we didn't record wasn't all that wonderful).

Anyway, Stacey starts off season two with a meta-bang, and administers a test on tests. I perform quite well (though, ironically, I know the least about the thing I should know the most about) and-- season two plot twist-- so does Cunningham. There's also some new intermission music. Give it a shot, see how you do, and welcome to season two!

Saturday, June 04, 2016


Thursday, June 02, 2016

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

Remember that time, so long past at this point, when we held out such high hopes for new FIFA President Gianni Infantino.


Turns out our hero is about to get suspended for four months pending review of allegations that he attempted to erase the recordings of a FIFA Council meeting held on May 23. Just a few weeks ago, Domenico Scala, chair of FIFA's Audit and Compliance Committee resigned after a dispute with Infantino. Now it's alleged that that dispute centered on Infantino's incessant demand that his salary be raised.
"So it turns out I'm kind of a scumbag. My bad."
We were more innocent then, those six weeks ago. Now we know better. Once a filthy fucking cesspool, always a filthy fucking cesspool.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

A Gheorghe Divided

Other than the fact that most games will end long after I've fallen asleep, either by choice or biological destiny, I'm incredibly excited for the NBA Finals. In truth, this might be the most I've anticipated a final series since the '87 matchup between the Celtics and Lakers, way back when I actively cared about professional hoops on a full-time basis.

I've got a bit of a problem, though (in addition to the aforementioned somnolence issues). I want both teams to win.

Recent media-driven mini-backlash aside, it's impossible to dislike the Warriors. They're what we say we want in our champions: innovative, exciting, skilled, free-flowing, and even somewhat humble (by the standards of modern professional athletes). Though they made the game look impossible easy for long stretches this season, they surmounted significant adversity during the playoffs, summoning reserves of grit and resilience to match their skill and intelligence in overcoming a very game Thunder squad. They showed guts last postseason, too, fighting back from series deficits twice on their way to the title.

Steph Curry is a unicorn, quite possibly too good to be true. Klay Thompson's capable of shooting the ball even better than Curry for long stretches - it's not an exaggeration to say that the Warriors are sitting home right now if not for Thompson's play in Game 6 against the Thunder. Draymond Green is a crazy person, and he needs to stop kicking people, but I'm still in the tank for him. Steve Kerr's mastered the very difficult act of making a high degree of arrogance about his team's capabilities seem downright folksy. How do not admire Shaun Livingston for the way he's battled back from a grotesque injury? Andre Iguodala suppressed his ego to be a role player, and he might be the best in the league at that particular role. Name an unlikable player on this roster. Unless you hate Brazilians or North Carolina alums, that's an impossible task.

As for the Cavaliers, it's easy to understand the sporting public's mixed emotions. Everyone wants to take shots at the king, and despite Prince Steph's meteoric rise, there's still only one King. LeBron has his momentary missteps, unquestionably, but there is no denying the fact the he remains the most unique basketball weapon of all time. And our fondness for him is both well-documented and unlikely to change because he says things on occasion that may seem either manufactured or arrogant. The dude's been literally worshipped by the American sports-media complex since he was 16. You'd be a little weird, too.

I'm not just rooting for the Cavs because of LeBron, though. I love a good narrative, and the prodigal son returning to Cleveland to deliver a championship to the longest of long-suffering fanbases is as good a story as we get in sports, non-Leicester City category. LeBron paying off his debt to his hometown by vanquishing the best team in NBA history? That's some epic shit, right there. They'll write books and stuff.

And while I do like the Warriors' bit players somewhat more than I do their counterparts in navy and wine, it's impossible not to admire Kyrie Irving's fearless basket attacks, or Kevin Love's understanding of spacing and willingness to play the Chris Bosh role. Delly's both irritating and amusing, and J.R. Smith is alternately thrilling and be-musing. I always liked Tyronn Lue as a player, even back to his Nebraska days, and he's stepped into a tough spot and never seemed over his head.

But I've written all those words, and I still don't have an answer. I want LeBron to bring a title to Cleveland, and I want the Warriors to validate this jaw-dropping season. I guess I'll have to arm-wrestle myself.