Friday, November 17, 2017

Please Help Me Make a Christmas Party Playlist for the Christmas Party I'm Regretfully Hosting

My neighborhood holds a progressive Christmas party every year across three houses. The host houses change every year and zwoman (in a moment of great drunken weakness) agreed to host the first leg this year. I am dead serious when I say all of you are invited. If I have to open my doors to a bunch of people I don't know and a handful of people I actively dislike, then you can come too. December 16th, be there or be square. I'll make sure there's enough booze for everyone to get plastered.

This party is a bit of a drag for several reasons, not the least of which is the music situation. The first two houses never have any music, and the third house plays Taylor Swift to make all the drunken fools dance. That's not on tap for this year in zhome. I will have a stunningly dominant playlist for my portion of the party and it will be so because all of you will help me.

I want to include cool takes on classics, like "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Jimmy Smith. Along those lines, a few jams from "A Christmas Gift to You from Phil Spector" will make the cut because everyone recognizes every song on the album and they're great ... and I roomed with Spector for two years so I owe him some spins. I want to include older groovy stuff like "North Pole Rock" by Cathy Sharpe or "Gee Whiz it's Christmas" by Carla Thomas. I am definitely including some punk rock numbers like "Father Christmas" by The Kinks and "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" by The Ramones. "Christmas in Hollis" is a given, as is "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter because that's what Run-D.M.C. sampled and it's a damn good song.

I absolutely 100% need to include subversive songs that will make my neighbors go "WTF" but I don't want to cross certain lines. I am not including "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa" by De La Soul because pedophilia is just too inappropriate for a holiday party (Roy Moore is not invited even if he reads this blog). I also am not including "White Palms" by Black Rebel Motorcycle Club even though it's one of my favorite songs and it talks about Jesus because it's too off the Christmas mark--it literally dares Jesus to come back. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" doesn't even deserve a link simply because it's too bad a song.

If you're feeling too lazy to contribute to my playlist, go to hell. I emailed Rex Doane for some subversive suggestions and he replied! A guy who has no idea who I am replied to my request for playlist help so you can too. Rex generally suggested I check out his playlist archive for gems like last year's Christmas Eve show. He also gave me two of his favorite low brow/no brow Christmas songs:

Please suggest some songs and come to my (god-awful) party to see if your picks made the playlist.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Cards for Hilarity

Barring some sort of unforeseen inheritance event or lottery fortune, I consider it highly unlikely that I'll ever have fuck you money. I'm okay with this. I'm making a concerted effort to cut back on my 'fuck you' output.

Hantoot, Temkin
If I did somehow fall into that kind of cash, though, I'd really like to believe that I'd use it like Max Temkin and Ben Hantoot are using theirs*.

Hantoot and Temkin are the co-creators of Cards Against Humanity, the very adult-focused 'party game for horrible people'. Each year, they spring for an oddball holiday marketing stunt. Three years ago, for example, they bought an island off the coast of Maine, named it 'Hawaii 2', and gave customers license to visit.

For the 2017 festive season, they've upped the ante, politically, if not financially.

The company has launched a website entitled 'Cards Against Humanity Saves America', which opens with the words, "It’s 2017, and the government is being run by a toilet. We have no choice: Cards Against Humanity is going to save America." And that's just the beginning.

The coup de grace is a bit of cheeky real estate maneuvering targeting the Developer-in-Chief. As the company explains, "Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing. So we’ve purchased a plot of vacant land on the border and retained a law firm specializing in eminent domain to make it as time-consuming and expensive as possible for the wall to get built."

They know they won't succeed in blocking the wall, but they choose the path of pain in the ass. I think we can all relate to and admire that instinct.

God Bless you, Messrs. Hantoot and Temkin. May your sick senses of humor and willingness to jam a stick in the Man's eye never wane.

* I knew Cards Against Humanity was popular, but I had no idea they were banking fuck you money. Good for those fucking whackdoodles.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Fuck You Cancer - Continued

Rob's recent "Fuck You, Cancer" post followed shortly thereafter by a Tweet from Shlara announcing her 7-year anniversary of being free of cancer not to mention Whit's recent push for additional volume from those of us who are, well, under-performing as it pertains to submitting posts, prompted me to contribute to our Q4 content output. (SOD material there, no?)

Over the last twelve months I've become involved with a young charity here in town, the Apryle Showers Foundation. Founded and led by a neighbor, friend, and all around world-class guy has made it an honor to do so. Though not terrible by any means, the website is in the process of being completely revamped so no judging please should you meander that way. And should you, you'll read Bill's story. A year or so into his marriage to Apryle, the second for both of them, and on the same day he was let go from his job, they learned about her death sentence. How they handled it is still awe inspiring to me and every single person that knows either or both.

Anyway, the purpose of the quick post is simply to raise some awareness for a good cause, though I do reserve the right to ask for a few dollars down the road. I'd ask Rob and Mark to share among your friends and family here in North Florida, and for all to remember this should God forbid, a friend or family member becomes someone who might benefit from its offering.

Last year we held our inaugural 10K race. With 476 runners and roughly $40,000 raised, we exceeded the expectations of all including those of us that put on the event. Saturday, April 8th, is the date of next year's run so put on the calendar if you are feeling frisky. In the meantime, Like us on the Facebook please.

That is all - carry on.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: Let's Get This Over With

Not walking through that door
William & Mary's men's basketball team won 77 games over the past four seasons, the most by any Tribe team over a similar span in 65 years. In the previous 10 seasons, W&M made the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) tournament final four times after never having reached the precipice of the NCAA Tournament before. W&M beat Maryland, Wake Forest, and N.C. State on the road in recent years. Two different Tribe players signed contracts with the Boston Celtics in the past two years.

We're gonna need those memories to keep us warm this season. The Golden Age, as it were, is over.

Omar Prewitt and Daniel Dixon graduated, taking with them 34.9 points per game. Jack Whitman transferred to Kansas, and then left, oddly. In any case, he was W&M's third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder last season. Greg Malinowksi transferred to Georgetown - he made 52 threes on 40.0% shooting and was probably the team's best perimeter defender. Those four represented 64.5% of the Tribe's scoring and 54.6% of the squad's rebounding in 2016-17, while accounting for 60.1% of the team's three pointers.

The cupboard, she is looking bare. With only 10 scholarship players, and only one returning starter, the Tribe is both inexperienced and lacking in depth.

David Cohn is that only returning starter, and while he's poised to become the all-time assist leader in program history, he's limited offensively. Sophomore Nathan Knight showed a ton of promise in his rookie season, and offers W&M the kind of skilled, athletic big man we haven't seen since Tim Rusthoven, but he's prone to foul trouble, and the Tribe has exactly zero post players with even a minute of collegiate experience behind him. Connor Burchfield is a great shooter, if someone can get him a shot. He and Paul Rowley are nice complementary players. The problem this year is that both of them will have to start.

Boston College transfer Matt Milon showed promise in the Tribe's pre-season tour to Jamaica, as did freshmen Luke Loewe and Jihar Williams.

W&M opened its season Friday on the road against a High Point team that was a middling Big South outfit last year. It wasn't pretty. The Wrens made just five of 22 three-pointers, had just four assists on 20 total made field goals (all four by Cohn - nobody else dropped a single dime), were outrebounded by 11, and committed 15 turnovers to the Panthers' nine. High Point built a 12-point halftime lead before burying the overmatched Tribe in the second half on the way to a 100-64 win.

We've begun a season where a number of CAA teams look to take big steps forward, and the green and gold have pretty clearly taken several in the opposite direction. In Tony We Trust, and all that, but if this team is to win even 10 games, it'll take one of his great coaching jobs.

It's not all bleak, if you're willing to expand your parameters. The Tribe's had a strong recruiting year, securing commitments from four highly-regarded prospects, at least by W&M standards. And speaking of W&M standards, three of them are named Thornton, Quinn, and Chase. Those are first names. Those guys can't get here soon enough.

If you came here seeking standard-issue Wrenball optimism, you'll need to give us a few weeks. Or, if we beat Hampton on Wednesday, a few days. Our love for the Wrens remains unconditional, but it might be a tough love this season.

Friday, November 10, 2017

WWzD/Automotive Alphabet Aerobics: A is for Alfa

I haven't done a WWzD post in a while, and I have an idea for a recurring gimmick/series that no one except rob will enjoy, and rob will only enjoy it because it increases our post count. Armed with the internet, the alphabet, and my impeccable taste in automobiles, I will march through marques and mark the models I moon over in three price brackets.

My automotive list of things to do includes owning an Italian car at least once. Almost all are completely out of my financial reach. Luckily, Alfa Romeo made some really cool cars that are now really affordable. I love the boat-tail Duetto, but those will set you back at least $30k. For less than half that price you can get a much newer Spider, like this tidy example in Armonk, NY for $12,500:

21,000 miles with the hard top included? Yes please! Chisel them down to around $10k and smile with the top down all spring summer and fall.

Maybe you don't like two seat rear-wheel-drive convertibles (because you're a fool). Or maybe you just don't want to spend that much. You're in luck--Alfa made a front-wheel-drive sedan called the 164 and I love it. I dated a girl whose father had a 164. I got farther with the girl than the car. Would you trust me with this?

That car is the Quadrifoglio version, which is Italian for "fast and fragile." Those can be a little more expensive than the lesser 164s, but no matter what you do get one with the V6 cuz dat Busso!:

For under $5000 you can get that beautiful car in green over biscuit with (a slightly detuned version of) that engine. I am always on the lookout for one of these within driving distance of zhome and came within a few hundred bucks of winning one on relatively recently.

Maybe you're a baller and money is no object. What then?

Alfa's been around for over 100 years and they've made a bunch of cool cars. Import laws now allow for the insanely weird Lego-on-steroids SZ to be brought into the US. This one is $105,000.

I really dig the SZ but would only get one if I had fuck you money and it was one of ten cars in my collection. It just screams "1990" too much to be my Sunday driver.

The Montreal is so "1970's Italian supercar" that it hurts. And many were made in orange, which is awesome, and the gauge cluster is crazy.

But this still isn't quite right. Like I said, I'm biased towards rear-wheel-drive two-seat convertibles, and I have a soft spot for real vintage stuff so the Giulietta Spider is just about perfect.

This one is a 1959, one owner (!?!?!?), numbers matching, original bill of sale ... GAH! And who doesn't want to sit behind this steering wheel for hours at a time?

For $135,000 you could build a significant addition on your house or you could drive around in this thing while your old lady rides shotgun pretending to be Sophia Loren. It's a tough choice for some but I'll take my busted kitchen and the Giulietta every time. zwoman, for the record, does not agree. Luckily I have neither an extra $135k nor the garage space for this perfect specimen of Milanese style and engineering.

As a side note, Ray Allen drives an 8C. I know this because FOG:TB JP once got his doors blown off by Ray Allen in his 8C in Waltham. You could do a lot worse.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Fashion is Dumb: Same Day Delivery Edition

WTF is this?

Too lazy to write a lot of words, but post count, right?

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Fuck You, Cancer

Today is November 7. I've been on vacation since November 1, which means that I've completely coincidentally not shaved even once this month.

That's convenient for reasons both personal and communal.

As to the latter, the Movember movement enters its 15th year of (hair)raising awareness of men's cancer health issues. Most readers know of Movember's call to hairy arms this time of year, asking men to grow facial topiary to raise money for research and awareness of men's cancer issues. My father died of cancer, as did his sister, and both of my grandfathers survived prostate cancer. I'll either live into my 90s, or die from cancer before I turn 70. It's not an academic matter to me and the community of men impacted every day by this fucking disease.

What's convenient, in this case, is the fact that I have an excuse to grow a mustache, now that I'm a week into November with the beginnings of one (as pictured, badly).

On a more immediate note, by the time you read this post, one of my closest professional friends will likely be right in the middle of a double mastectomy/reconstructive surgical procedure. Her name is Heather. She's 40, the mother of two young boys, and as competitive as the day is long. She'll learn tomorrow after her surgery whether she needs 12 weeks of chemotherapy to rid her of that fucking thing, or 28. I mentioned here (or on Twitter, hard to remember) that I'd recently participated in a flash mob. The occasion was the sales team she leads breaking into song and dance to show them how much they cared for her and supported her. They're #heatherstrong for her, because she's that for them all the time.

You don't know her, but you'd like her. And you know lots of people like her, some of them right her in Gheorgheland.

For Heather, and for Shlara, and for millions of others, I'm going to look stupid as hell this month. Fuck you if you think that's funny. And fuck cancer.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Somebody Has a Case of the Mondays

Another mass shooting, the Virginia gubernatorial race continues to tighten due to the traction gained by a really slimy, fear mongering campaign, and it now gets dark at about 4:30. I’m going to just leave this here:

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Saturday College Football Open Thread - Bettors Edition

Rob remains in Florida sunning his diminutive self at the "House of the Mouse" and if social media is to believed, Tejus is in Chicago helping lay the groundwork for the next real estate bubble.  Sad!  

With those two top of the masthead contributers on the shelf for the next few days it is falling to the second string G:TB'ers to pick up some of the slack.  (A little help from Almighty Yojo would be appreciated if that guy could remember his password)

As none of you will remember, several years ago in this space we used the "Dwayne from What's Happening!" football pick strategy to predict the NFL playoffs.   I'm not sure how those picks turned out (and I'm too lazy to go back and check) but I thought that we might revisit making gambling decisions based on a totally illogical strategy.   Today's slate of top 25 match-ups in college football seems like the perfect place to start.

So, with out further ado, here is the first in a likely non-reoccouring feature called "Marls Picks College Football Games Based on Which Mascot Would Win In a Fight."

#7 Penn State vs. #14 Michigan State (PSU -10)

This is a battle between child molesting "Nittany Lions" vs. Spartans.  First of all, fuck Penn State.   No really, fuck them and their child molesting cover up bullshit.  Thankfully, based on mascot analysis, MSU should kick the everliving crap out of PSU.

It's these guys:

versus a Pennsylvania lion.  

Pick:   Take the Spartans and the points.

#21 Stanford vs. #25 Washington State (Stanford -1.5)

This game pits some trees against a bunch of cougars.  If they were playing cougars like the "cougars in the outfield" made famous by Shlara and KQ, this might be a different story.  But, alas Washington State is adamant that their mascot is a feline of some sort.  Unfortunately, all that type of cougar can do is pee on the tree.

Pick:    Take the nerds and lay the points

#4 Clemson vs. #20 NC State (Clemson -8.5)

At first blush, this match-up might seem to favor the men from South Carolina.  Surely a tiger would take down an overgrown dog, right? However, you have to remember that this is a wolf pack we are talking about here.

Here is a bunch of wolves taking down a bison:

Or attacking a guy with meat tied to his body:

Pick:    Take the wolf pack getting the points

#5 Oklahoma vs. #11 Oklahoma State (OK St. -1.5)

The annual "Bedlam" game matches up people in a wagon:

against a plastic headed cowboy with a gun.

Seems like a no brainer to me.  Folks who lived in sod houses against an honest to goodness cowboy.  My only issues is the fact that the OK State cowboy is always depicted as walking bowlegged as if he is really saddle sore or has severe groin area chafing.  That type of issue could cause a problem in the long run, but I'm betting on the cowboy having enough talc to get him through an win the day.

Pick:   Take the cowboys and lay the wood

#19 LSU vs. #2 Alabama (Bama -21.5)

Ok, so this game features tigers fighting a red tide of some sort.  I grew up on Long Island where the  shellfish industry is constantly being threatened by "red tide", which is just a really big, gross algae bloom.  It looks like this:

Would this bother a tiger at all?  How would a tiger take on an algae bloom?  I have no clue.  Maybe this is a good signal that 21.5 point a shitload of points to lay in a rivalry game.

Pick:  No bet

#13 Virginia Tech vs. #10 Miami (Miami -2.5)

This this game matches up turkeys against a storm of immense devastating power.  Does not really seem like a fair fight, even when you take into account the fact that the Hokies were once called the Fighting Gobblers.  Notwithstanding the fact that the Hokies might be a fighting foul/cock of some sort, I still think the 100+ mph winds of the hurricanes have the edge.

Pick:   Take the 'Canes

Friday, November 03, 2017

One TRILLION Dollars

Hi folks. Guess what? Turns out I'm homeless until next Wednesday. Sanding and staining of floors is resulting in my eviction. Every single item that was in the first floor of my home is stuffed into a pod on my driveway, in my basement or in any nook available upstairs. The family and I will be kicking it in a Hyatt with a kitchenette for five nights. It's all pretty awful.

Given the frantic last-minute work to make this happen, I am working from "home," which means parking in the local Starbucks and commenting to myself on moms in athleisure pants while halfheartedly tinkering in Excel files. Athleisure pants are a strong look for many women (but a sub-optimal look for many more).

As I type this, everybody's favorite mega-cap tech stock (Apple) is pushing new all-time highs, at about $172.60/share. Shares are up 2.9% today after another strong earnings report and strong demand for their newest overpriced phones. Today's rally means the company's market capitalization (share price * shares outstanding) is now $868 billion. To those of you who are not scoring at home, this is a big number. A ha-yuge number. Rarified air among U.S equities. I remember the end of the last century, when the tech bubble was at its heyday, that Microsoft's market cap reached $500 billion. This was a big deal to a nerd like me at the time. I didn't realize that MSFT at $60/shr was a moment, not a movement.  MSFT shares would fall all the way to $15/shr amid the financial crisis, and they wouldn't break through the $60/shr level again until late 2016.

So here's the rub - my savvy mathematic skills tell me that Apple will be worth $1 trillion if it has another 15% rally. That, my friends, is a shit ton of money. I have a meager investment in AAPL shares that supports my standing as a thousandaire, so I'm here with my pom poms, rooting on the rally.

There are other mega-caps out there for sure: Google ($716 B), Microsoft ($648 B), Amazon ($527 B) and Facebook ($520 B) are in the half-tril posse as well. But Apple is the big dog right now. At least until the Saudi Aramco IPO in 2018.

The boys are thirsty in Atlanta and there’s beer in Texarkana

Soooooooo, our fearless leader is off to the Epcot Food & Wine festival and has left the “inmates to run the asylum”.  I feel ok using that phrase for three reasons. One, I’m not a mega wealthy team owner talking about his black employees. Two, I’m actually using the correct phrase. Three, with the exception of Shlara, you are all filthy animals. But I digress...

Anyway, Whitney demanded Friday filler and I am here to help despite being hung over at a conference in Atlanta listening to Dr. Sanjay Gupta give the last day morning keynote address. (Note to Sanjay, never take the last day morning slot at an insurance conference.  People are just trying not to barf.)

Using all my contacts in the department of Homeland Security, the Future Farmers of America, and the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, I was able to secure a photo of Rob hanging with Sleeping Beauty at Disney. 

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

A Bills/Browns Review, Alternately Titled "A Tale of Two Shitties"

Some might say we've been mercifully spared, while others might say mercilessly denied, another of my Bills/Browns previews because the Bills and Browns finished third and fourth in their divisions, respectively, in 2016 (as opposed to their usual last-place finishes that produce this herpetic matchup). As a result I wrote this Bills/Browns review, to review some of the awful decisions they've made.

My friend Mark is a Dolphins fan and he has a theory about the NFL draft: take a quarterback every year, and if you don't have a good one take the best one you can get in the first round, even if you have to trade up. In his view, amassing piles of draft picks like the Patriots do is great only if you have a good quarterback like the Patriots do. This opinion reflects the harsh reality that it's almost impossible to win a Super Bowl with even an average quarterback. Thus having great depth in the defensive backfield and tremendous special teams specialists does you little good unless you have a real stud under center.

Mark is further of the view that you know if a QB is a bust after two years. If so, move on. He's fine with rolling the dice on a high draft pick and moving on quickly if the player is a bust, so long as this risk is taken at the QB position. In his view, a complete bust is better than winding up with a guy like Ryan Tannehill because it's easy to move on from a bust. If you move on from Ryan Tannehill you could wind up with a total bust or even worse, Jay Cutler, so you're stuck with mediocrity for a number of years until the coach gets fired and a new regime comes in and cleans house.

The Browns highlight the flaws in Mark's theory. I'll explain. Here are the names of people who have thrown ten or more passes in a game for the Browns since 2012:

Cody Kessler
DeShone Kizer
Kevin Hogan
Robert Griffin
Josh McCown
Charlie Whitehurst
Austin Davis
Johnny Manziel
Brian Hoyer
Jason Campbell
Brandon Weeden
Thaddeus Lewis
Colt McCoy

Factory of sadness indeed. Here are the names of some QBs the Browns chose not to draft since 2012:

Deshaun Watson (they traded this pick to Houston, then took DeShone Kizer later)
Carson Wentz (they traded this pick to Philadelphia, then took Cody Kessler later)
Dak Prescott (they took Cody Kessler the round before)
Derek Carr (they took Johnny Manziel the round before)
Jimmy Garoppolo (again, they took Johnny Manziel the round before)
Russell Wilson (they took Brandon Weeden two rounds before)
Kirk Cousins (again, they took Bradon Weeden three rounds before)

To be fair, every team in the league passed on Prescott, Garoppolo, Wilson and Cousins ... and the Browns drafted Weeden, Manziel, Kessler and Kizer so they seem to be following Mark's theory. But the theory works best if the folks making the picks aren't completely asleep at the wheel. But even a blind squirrel can manage to bust a nut once every six drafts, right?

It is well established that I'm an idiot. However, when the Bills traded back from #10 in this year's draft I said "Did the Bills just do something that makes sense? Wow." and then "Although I would've been excited for them to get Deshaun Watson." He was tremendous in college and he's looked great so far this year. It didn't require piercing insight to recognize that Watson had yoodge upside--did you see the National Championship game?

Further, when the R**skins drafted Robert Griffin they also drafted Kirk Cousins. These picks worked out (compared to the situation in Cleveland at least). Would it have killed the Browns to take Weeden AND Cousins or Kessler AND Prescott? It's not like they're using their picks wisely and drafting well at other positions.

Seriously, the Browns suck at drafting all over the field. Here's the top 25 players the Browns drafted since 2012 ranked by career average value:

You know you're bad at drafting when the third-best player you've taken in the last six years is Trent Richardson. Who the hell is Mitchell Schwartz, other than the best Browns draftee of the past six years? I would've assumed he was a CPA, anesthesiologist, maybe a securities litigator. Turns out he's a Kansas City Chief! He went to KC last year and turned in his best career season to date in terms of AV. Typical Browns. Note that eight of these top 25 aren't in the the NFL anymore. That's not good.

All this is to say: the Browns realize that they don't have a QB, they realize that they need a QB, and they're actively drafting QB's, but they're either too dumb or too shook or too cheap or some combination thereof to draft a QB early in the first round. They need to talk to Mark. He hasn't said this, but I think his theory demonstrates the problem with advanced metrics that focus too much on "draft capital." Having all 32 picks in the seventh round might add up to a lot of "draft capital," but none of those players are likely to make your team better. At some point you have to take your balls out of your purse and spend a bunch of capital on a highly rated quaterback.

Buffalo's recent history highlights the potential merits of Mark's theory--you are never going to get a good QB unless you draft one (except for the Saints with Drew Brees, which must still piss off Charger fans). Here's a list of alleged humans that threw 10 or more passes for the Bills since 2012:

Tyrod Taylor
Cardale Jones
EJ Manuel
Kyle Orton
Jeff Tuel
Thaddeus Lewis (overlap!)
Ryan Fitzpatrick

Not exactly a beauty pageant. Unlike Cleveland, the Bills don't seem to feel any need to address this deficiency. Here's who they've drafted at QB since 2012:

Nathan Peterman
Cardale Jones
EJ Manuel

It's as if they're completely ignoring the position. Like the Browns they suck at drafting too:

Ten of their top 25 picks from the last six drafts are out of the league. Awful.

More remarkable, in my view, was their recent move to trade Marcell Dareus to Jacksonville for a sixth round pick. Much is made of the Bills' long-running failure to reach the postseason. What makes this particularly painful is that they haven't completely bottomed out (unlike the Browns) so they're typically good enough to get 6-7 wins and don't draft at the top of the board. Dareus, however, was the third pick of the 2011 draft and he played well for Buffalo. Getting only a sixth round pick for him is painful. You know what's really painful though? This:

Buffalo could've had any of these players on their team today other than Cam Newton or Von Miller. Instead they have a future sixth round pick. How's that for effective use of draft capital?! But I guess it isn't much more frustrating than this:

Buffalo could've stayed at 9, drafted Odell Beckham Jr. (or anyone else on this list except for Blake Bortles), and still had a first round pick in 2015. Instead they traded up for Sammy Watkins who they later traded for EJ Gaines and a 2nd round pick.

The one thing that remains constant is the Browns seem destined to win no more than four games, while the Bills are a near-lock to win six or seven. Which is particularly galling given that the Bills' personnel decisions make it appear that they're tanking. They can't even tank right!

I foresee the Browns having a top-three pick in April, while the Bills will have their own pick (figure somewhere around 14-16) and the Chiefs' (figure somewhere around 28-29). The Bills will trade both picks and Tyrod Taylor to the Browns for their pick, then draft a nose tackle. The Browns will draft QBs with both of the Bills' picks and both will suck. Whoever picks one or two spots after the Bills will get a Pro Bowl caliber QB. Neither team will hire Mark, but maybe they should.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Other Paul Newman Things I'd Rather Have Than Paul Newman's Paul Newman

Paul Newman's Rolex "Paul Newman" Daytona sold last week for $17,752,500, making it the most expensive watch ever. This was surprising in horological circles. The fact that this was Paul Newman's Paul Newman was cool, as was the full back story, but this is a lot for a watch that was unloved for decades, and it wasn't a limited edition from the Holy Trinity of Swiss watches. My father-in-law has one for God's sake! If you want to buy one, read this first.

Anyway, $17,752,500 is a lot of scratch. I can think of a lot of Paul Newman's other stuff that I'd rather have if I had that kind of money.

For example, Adam Carolla (not Toyota Corolla) bought Paul Newman's 1979 Porsche 935 for $4.4 million. I'd rather have Paul Newman's 935 and $13,352,500 than Paul Newman's Paul Newman.

Paul Newman's house is on the market for $5.5 million. I'd rather have Paul Newman's house and $12,252,500 than Paul Newman's Paul Newman.

Paul Newman's Organic Italian Salad Dressing is $2.99 at Target. I'd rather have Paul Newman's Organic Italian Salad Dressing and $17,752,497.01 than Paul Newman's Paul Newman.

After all, as cool as Paul Newman is I bet Steve McQueen could whoop his head.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Stay Strong

Gird your loins, People of Gheorghe. If our sources are to be trusted, today marks the beginning of what promises to be a protracted legal shitshow, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's first indictment related to his investigation of improprieties surrounding the 2016 election is handed down.

As Marls and I discussed over beers this weekend, we live in impossibly stupid times. The refusal of erstwhile America First 'conservative' Republicans to acknowledge the obvious deficiencies with their party standard bearer in service of rich-enriching fiscal policy is but one of the too-numerous examples. And the Democrats' inability to defeat that standard bearer doesn't exactly cover them in glory. Regardless, the normal rules of political physics and basic decorum certainly don't apply at the moment.

So we'll need some help as a people in getting through the next few months. God help us if it takes more than months.

Since we're nothing more than servants of the public, here's the definitive G:TB guide to sustaining sanity in a world that no longer makes very much sense.

Be Informed

We can't, as much as we might want, go the way of the ostrich and bury our heads in the sand and ignore reality. So our first bit of advice is to find a good source of impartial information. Me, I'm a big fan of the Lawfare blog from the Brookings Institution. Lawfare writes concisely and intelligently about legal issues related to the post-9/11 expansion of the national security state. Co-founder Ben Wittes is friends with Jim Comey, and has unique insights into the investigative process. I'm professionally acquainted with Wittes and find him deeply serious and wicked smart. His piece on how to interpret reporting about the investigation is a must-read.

I also find Tom Ricks' writing to be invaluable. The long-time chronicler of the American military has deep connections and a hard-won understanding of the Defense establishment and its place in our society. As I become increasingly uneasy with the trend towards unthinking worship of The Troops, Ricks' writing provides useful context about the military's historical and current position in our civilian-led body politic. There's a G:TB post in my head about the emptiness of  'Thank You for Your Service' in a world where support of the military is used as dangerous shorthand for love of country.

Take Jim Valvano's Advice

In his famous ESPY speech, delivered just months before his death, Valvano said, "If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special."

So let's work on that. Netflix has a shitload of great standup comedy available to assist you in fulfilling your laughter quota. The Test Podcast is up to 100 episodes, and I know all of you haven't kept pace. 99% Invisible is a thoughtful podcast about how the things around us came to be, or as they describe it - "the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world". Those'll help you think, at least a little. As for crying, feel free to watch video of William & Mary's offense against Maine this weekend. It's downright triggering. Your mileage may vary.

Drink Good Beer

My tastes run to the ridiculously high-octane at the moment, so I'm compelled to recommend Founders' Backwoods Bastard (a wee heavy ale which checks in at 11.2% ABV), Stone's Woot Stout collaboration (an absurd 13%), and Blue Mountain's (from Afton, VA) Dark Hollow Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout (a lightweight at 10%). A pint or two of these, and it's easy to forget the troubles of the outside world.

Move Your Body

The positive impact of exercise on mental health and stress levels isn't a secret, but we highly recommend it even in normal times. You've just gotta find something that works for you. Not all of us are wired to train for triathlons, but if that's your gig, get after it. Take a run, if that's better for you. Dave turned me on to a Crossfit routine via Sentence of Dave a few years ago, and it's a deceptively good way to get your heart rate up in a short period of time. Similarly, I found a workout on Men's Health that takes about thirty minutes, and makes a motherfucker sweat. Here it is:

Entertain Yourself

Kurt Cobain felt stupid and contagious, which is an apt description of modern America. Here we are now. Entertain us.

Watch the new Stranger Things season. Listen to the new St. Vincent record. Write more blog posts. Go to a rock show, with or without Whitney. Read some stuff (if you're into prescient techno-dystopian fiction, try Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, which I just read, even though it was first published in 1992). Peruse old G:TB posts, from when life was simpler. Go see the Black Panther movie (in February), but maybe don't read Ta-Nehisi Coates' new anthology for a while - we're trying to flee reality, not be reminded of it. Couchsurf your way around a packed sportsball calendar. Hell, lose yourself for weeks in Open Culture, which remains an amazing compendium of cool shit.

And if all else fails, I hear Canada is nice this time of history.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Joy is a Teenager

Thirteen years ago today, in the instantly inaptly-named Misery Loves Company, I wrote what will likely be the best paragraph I will ever pen:

Somewhere, Charlie Brown is smoking a cigarette, the Little Red-Haired Girl's head nestled against his shoulder as they lay in the afterglow of beautiful cartoon lovemaking. Lucy's sitting outside wondering how the hell he kicked that ball so far.

Me quoting myself using this very piece of prose is becoming something of a tradition this time of year. This is at least the fourth time I've done it. Perhaps it's because that memory is still seared so vividly in my mind.

So forgive my indulgence while we wait for a new fanbase to experience the pleasure of amorous animation. It was just so bolt from the blue blissful.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Random Inbox Fun

For no reason at all, received this email last evening at 10:04pm.

To: me
From: TR
Subject: Squirrel

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

If a Tiger Cub's mom poops on a Toto, is TR there to hear it?

My son joined the Cub Scouts this year--he's a Tiger Cub, which is some new-jack form of Cub Scout to get 6-year-olds involved. This weekend was the council jamboree so Cub Scout packs from all over the area descended upon Allamuchy State Park for a weekend of camping and camaraderie. We both had a great time. There were a lot of things I didn't enjoy about scouting, but this trip involved much of what I loved about scouting: fishing with worms we found between our campsite and the pond; launching apples 100 yards into that same pond using a home-made trebuchet; throwing rocks; sleeping in a warm sleeping bag outside in cold weather; making s'mores 'round a campfire of our construction while the older kids told stupid jokes and sang goofy songs; peeing in weather so cold that it the stream made steam. I also deeply enjoyed showing my son how to do camping-related stuff and we spent something like 36 hours together.

I didn't get to meet too many other fathers on the trip. Two of my son's friends went and they came with their mothers instead of their fathers, so the time we spent with other kids was typically spent with these ladies. They are super nice and good campers, but they're 100% moms with constant exhortations like "Don't run!" or "Don't touch each other" or "Stop tackling each other" or "Stop throwing rocks!" or "Don't pick up the salamanders!" or "Don't swing that stick!" And that was just what they said to me, they were much more restrictive on the kids.

I met two dads and both were extremely nice but not at all fratty, which is fine in this setting. No one brought any booze, at least that I noticed. I was surprised by the dad rocking fours, skinny sweats and a big beard--I thought about asking if he was holding but this didn't seem like the right venue, at least not for our first conversation. Luckily no one was a total drag.

That said, there were some oddball parents from other packs. Like the dad with the greasy mullet who couldn't close his mouth and stared gape-mouthed while kids zipped down the zip line. Or the obese braless mom with massive pendulous breast swinging freely beneath her Pack 66 shirt, over the back of which flowed her multicolored tresses of hair all the way down to her back, which greatly contrasted her abrupt bangs--all this was so distracting I barely noticed her tooth which could not be contained within her lips. Or all the dads rocking Pack 69 tshirts without an ounce of irony or frattitude. Or all the grown men in "Dress A" Boy Scout uniform shirts.

TR warned me about this. TR, one of my oldest and closest friends, whose boys are a little bit older than mine and thus can always forecast what I'm about to face as I enter a new stage in parenting. He went through something similar and his boys quickly lost interest in scouting.

While walking to the fishing pond, as my son was collecting worms, I saw that I missed two calls from TR. I was concerned that he had an emergency and needed my help--we text somewhat frequently but almost never talk on the phone--so I called him back. Sure enough, TR, one of my oldest and closest friends, whose boys are a little bit older than mine and who kindly and thoughtfully gives us all manner of hand-me-downs, was looking for a pair of cleats he had bequeathed to us too soon. His youngest was in need of these spikes and TR was looking to get them back. I told him that I was away but to come over in a few minutes, I would call zwoman and get him squared away.

All the necessary arrangements were made in a few minutes, zwoman hung the shoes on our front door so that TR could grab them quickly (he was running late to a soccer try-out), and I was back on my way to the fishing hole.

TR, one of my oldest and closest friends, whose boys are a little bit older than mine and thus more entrenched in the machine that is our local travel sports program, was stressed out and late. Unfortunately, I directed zwoman to the wrong set of spikes (zson's were in the closet to which I sent her, TR wanted the ones I put away in the basement as they are too big for zson this season). So when TR, one of my oldest and closest friends, who was up against a time deadline and didn't want to disappoint his youngest son, got to my front door, he was disappointed.

Because TR is one of my oldest and closest friends, we have a bit of an open door policy: ring the bell and come on in. Which he did.

Meanwhile, zwoman, the woman I truly love, was doing the thing I miss most while camping: using my Toto toilet. So when TR started calling "Hello? Hello?!" in what appeared to be our empty house, zwoman, the woman I truly love, freaked out. She knew it was TR; she knew she put the wrong cleats in the bag; she knew that she had to go talk to him; and she knew that he would know what he had interrupted as soon as she stood up (the toilet flushes automatically). Luckily she hadn't gotten down to brass tacks yet so she was able to pull herself together quickly and head downstairs. But she knew that he knew what she was up to. I'm not sure exactly how the conversation went, but TR left without the sneakers he was looking for. I don't think anyone made eye contact.

As a result of my inaccurate direction to the shoes in question, the woman I truly love and one of my oldest and closest friends shared a painfully awkward moment; my wife suffered poopus interruptus; my friend became even more stressed out; and my friend's son had to go to soccer tryouts in running shoes. I blame it on the Cub Scouts.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Pain, Art, Comedy

As the saying goes, comedy is just tragedy plus time. In what passes as some tangled form of irony, Patton Oswalt entitled his 2014 standup special Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time. The comic famously lost his wife, Michelle McNamara, in early 2016, and tested the old saw last winter, performing a limited tour that included a pained, rueful, wrenching, and ultimately still sharply funny remembrance of his wife and the events surrounding her death.

Netflix just released a special filmed in Chicago during that tour, and it's not just brilliant comedic work. Oswalt's ability to turn the worst moments of his life into relatable comic material elevates standup to art, the ridiculous to damn near sublime. Several of the G:TB editorial staff members saw the D.C. leg of this tour, and I recall being struck by the emotional swings. I didn't remember how well crafted the set was, probably because of the half-dozen beers I had before we got to the venue.

So even though I'd seen the material, viewing it again this weekend was nearly as simultaneously gutting and gut-busting as the live version. Oswalt's in the conversation about the best comics working today. And this effort is on a short list of the best standup can be. Give it a watch, but be sure to have a tissue or two handy.

Friday, October 20, 2017

America 1, Bad Luck 0

Earlier this week, walking distance from my home, this happened:

Bald Eagle Spotted Eating Black Cat on Downtown Norfolk Sidewalk

    A bald eagle randomly alit onto a sidewalk on Monticello Avenue in Norfolk and made a public feast of a black cat.

    Highlights from the Virginian-Pilot Article:
    • Dozens of people crowded around as the eagle ate the cat on the sidewalk. 
    • The eagle was more than two feet long from head to tail and stood around a foot and a half tall.
    • The eagle’s meal looked like a fully grown black cat. 
    • The eagle nearly picked it clean over the course of about 45 minutes.
    • Stranger still: the bird seemed unperturbed by the onlookers. “It was going to enjoy its meal as long as nobody was bothering it.”
    There's a reason our nation uses this bird as a symbol.  Bad-assed.

    There's a video of it in the Pilot article for the gross people among our readers.

    A few years back, this happened in my back yard.

    That's what we believed to be a Cooper's hawk devouring a squirrel on our deck.  As you can imagine, given my long friendship with the gheorghie sometimes known as "The Squirrel," that was very upsetting.  So I videoed it.

    This time, however, I am exulting in what I take to mean a symbol of the USA beating back bad luck.  By eating it.  AMERICA!!

    Unless this is supposed to be a harbinger of unpleasant results from this week's Monday Night Football game.  In which case . . . yeah, that's about right.

    Ghostface Killah Has His Own Cryptocurrency

    I don't understand what blockchains are but they're remarkably popular these days. So popular that Ghostface Killah is getting into the cryptocurrency game. I'm a pretty boring guy, especially when it comes to investing, so I'm skeptical.

    It's called Cream Capital, which is a take-off on the song C.R.E.A.M. The "C" in the instant situation stands for "cryptocurrency." Get it?

    via GIPHY

    This "white paper" explains the scam how it works. Except it doesn't. ATMS are involved somehow.

    "What the hell does GfK know about cryptocurrency and why should I invest with him" you might ask. Here's what CEO Brett Westbrook has to say on that topic:

    "Ghostface Killah is a long-time business partner of ours," he explains. "I personally connected with him during a Reddit AMA on /r/hiphopheads last year when he was seeking tech-inclined people to work with in future technology focused projects. Dennis is a very forward thinking person and has a keen interest in emerging technologies. It's hard to ignore blockchain tech today even when you're a busy, touring hip hop artist.

    "He doesn't have any technical background with cryptocurrencies. However, remember that Wu-Tang is for the children. He is very focused on what the youth and millennials are interested in. He is a very solid businessman and has surrounded himself with bright individuals with a hunger for bring new, groundbreaking technologies to market."

    Oh right, Wu-Tang is for the children!

    And Pretty Tone is the Chief Branding Officer--no problem, take my money.

    via GIPHY

    And if this enterprise collapses you know it will be easy to hail the Wallabee Champ into court. What could go wrong?

    Thursday, October 19, 2017

    Hey Gheorghies!

    Pub post count.

    Inside Baseball

    I mentioned a few days ago that my professional stress level has been elevated in recent weeks. Just this minute, I finalized a deal that's highly visible and important to my boss and my business, and that featured a self-imposed and insanely tight deadline. And in reality, it was a deal to agree to do a deal, so the work isn't done. But in order to get past this first milestone, the amount of bureaucratic clusterfuckery that I had to navigate with my team was crushing. To celebrate, one of my teammates - a woman who was integral to getting us this far - sent me this image:

    I'm now trying to decide whether to laugh or cry. I'm not deciding whether to drink heavily this evening. That decision was made long ago.

    Tuesday, October 17, 2017

    Q3 Statistical Analysis: A One-Man Band

    The G:TB interns ran some numbers that I will share as a motivational speech for our roster.

    2017 Blog Posts on Gheorghe: The Blog by Author


    Yes, I send this to pat myself on the back for contributing to GTB postcount for the first time in years.  Moreover, though, it's a call to action for some slumbering gheorghies. Rob is doing nearly all of the heavy lifting around here. 

    Gheorghe is currently on pace for exactly 200 posts, our lowest output since 2007... when it was just Teejay and robbie and me posting... and we also had another blog that took up more of our time.

    I'm not gonna Glengarry Glen Ross here, mainly because I portrayed Shelley "The Machine" Levene in my Beginning Acting class at the College of William and Mary (scored an A), and Jack Lemmon's/my tour-de-force performances are always shelved behind the single show-stealing ABC scene.

    But let's see what we can do with a little bit of time left in 2017. Look, this low number is not etched in stone. We have 2.5 months to stop jerking along. Why don't you use that time to give us your best shot? Put in the hours. Dazzle me.

    Rob already has the MVP award sewn up.  (Frankly, he did by Spring Break.)  But Comeback Player of the Year, Best Post of the Year, Best Quality Output, Best Filler Contributor, Best Use of Muppet Video, Best Gheorghemas, and other awards still hang in the balance.  Plus, knowing you will be measured against your peers on the GTB roster, you know you want to beat some of these guys. The Zman/TR, Mark/Marls, and Dan & Dave races to the finish are surely to entertain.

    Also, rob has generated 64% of GTB posts this year.  He is gunning to up that by 5% by year's end.

    Now get out there... and deliver.

    Monday, October 16, 2017

    Gheorghasbord: Ides of October Edition

    Lots of ephemera floating around the old gray matter today, most of it a defense mechanism, my subconscious working hard to block out the steady drumbeat of the decline of the American empire. Some of the stuff in my head is even fun.

    Like, for example, the baseball playoffs. I'm obviously bummed that the Red Sox are gone, but I didn't really expect much of them from the beginning of the season. That a team with no power and middling starting pitching won a division title, Boston's first consecutive such finish in history, is both remarkable and unexpected. Anything else was gravy.

    I hated seeing the Nats go out the way they did, too. That team's rapidly piling up exactly the wrong kind of anguished history, and I know a lot of people that experienced the kind of hurt that I remember from days gone by, just because they chose the wrong sportsball team to support. Some day, Nats fans. Some day.

    But the four teams that remain are all great stories, and we've already had an embarrassment of riches, narratively speaking. The Yankees, who remain evil, are nonetheless a fun team to watch, with the thunder of their mashing bats and the lightning in their bullpen. They may not overcome a really deep Houston team, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't terrified of their prospects for next year.

    Those Astros, after dispatching my Sox, have become my rooting interest for the remainder of the postseason, and not just because they're playing the Yankees. The primary reason is pretty easy to guess, if you're paying attention. This made me exclaim loudly, despite the fact there were 10 teenagers pregaming for the Tuscarora High School Homecoming dance in my house.

    The Cubs are, even after winning a championship, a likable, fun, and really good team, and the Dodgers, despite overtaking the Yankees in the better winning through exorbitant spending sweepstakes, are hard to hate. Probably because of Dave Roberts. Who did a thing back in 2004 for which I'll always love him.

    Speaking of that Homecoming dance, please allow me to get a little bit selfish, and a tiny bit maudlin. I dropped my daughter and her boyfriend off at the school, and as they walked away, he reached out his hand and took hers in it. And goddamn if tears didn't well up as I caught a tiny glimpse of the future, where she'll walk away from me for good.

    Three years ago, my wife and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary with an incredible five days in Sonoma, CA. I remember both that area's natural beauty and its relaxed, beer and wine-heavy charm. I remember Santa Rosa, and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, full of Sparky's art, and life. As we drove to Sonoma from the San Francisco airport, I remember being struck by the dryness of the landscape, the fields of grasses browned by too little water for too many months. Even so, I'm stunned by the scale and scope of the destruction wrought by the fires in that part of the country, and numbed by the pace of disasters befalling our brothers and sisters across America.

    In the midst of what's been one of the more stressful professional months of my life, at least as far as I can remember (which, let's be honest, isn't very far), FOGTB Dave Fairbank hit me with a fun Twitter DM question: "saw a tweet in your wheelhouse. guy asked for folks' 5 most important albums. not necessarily faves - though they may overlap - but 5 most important to musical growth, understanding, whatevs."

    To which I responded, after some heming and hawing and complaining about how hard that question is to answer: "okay, off the top of my head:

    queen, 'the game' was the first cassette i bought with my own money, and turned me on to the album format. which i never listen to anymore.

    the smiths, 'louder than bombs' introduced me to alternative rock as an impressionable 15 y/o

    son volt's 'trace' made me love alt-country and driving with the windows down

    the beastie boys 'paul's boutique' was the first rap record i loved, along with l.l. cool j's 'bigger and deffer'

    and a compilation of world music for kids by putamayo opened my mind to a whole different kind of rhythm and melody"

    I should've just sent him the link to this post.

    That same little girl who made me cry has a dark side, too. Or at least a dramatic side. For the past three years, she's been part of the cast of Shocktober, a haunted house staged at a creepy as all fuck old mansion that now serves as the centerpiece of a local community service campus. Shocktober is one of the major fundraisers for the campus, which hosts the local ARC (with which Whitney will be familiar), among a number of other organizations. And my beautiful kid looks like this tonight, scaring the pants off of kids of all ages (including just a few weeks ago, multiple members of the Washington American Football Club's defensive line).

    They grow up fast. And weird.

    Saturday, October 14, 2017

    Oh, We're Halfway There

    It's that time of year again already.  No, not Halloween (see yesterday's post for that), but time to announce this year's nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Time to review the list, see who's new to it, see who the holdovers from years past are, feel the outrage for the snubbees, and wax philosophical about the process and what "deserving" really means.

    Eh.  The Hall inductions started in 1986 with:
    • Chuck Berry
    • James Brown
    • Ray Charles
    • Sam Cooke
    • Fats Domino
    • The Everly Brothers
    • Buddy Holly
    • Jerry Lee Lewis
    • Little Richard
    • Elvis Presley
    Pretty formidable.  31 years later, as a crop of rockers or otherwise gets ushered in each year, it's a much more inclusive group, and most within reason get the nod.  This isn't the BBWAA keeping Cooperstown for the elite only, lording their authority over every nominee.  (Nolan Ryan received just 98.8% of the vote tally, because, you know.)  The Rock Hall is far more like the NFL Hall.  You were great for more than an instant, you're getting considered.

    As such, you have Morten Andersen and Yes.  Kevin Greene and Cheap Trick.  Joan Baez and Ray Guy.  Inductees who hung around long enough to be classics, folks a little out of the usual mold, and people that other people enjoyed at some time in their lives.  As it should be.  Exclusivity is passé .

    So... who's in this year's crop?  Who will get in?

    That's the way I see it. There's a groundswell of support for Bon Jovi and the Moody Blues (somehow), and they do want to fill the event next March.  The Cars are just way too good.  The Hall throws the underserved metal peeps a bone and keeps many more at bay.  Radiohead is a vote for cool and trendy, and they seem a shoo-in.  The inductors add in one random genre pick every year, so maybe Nina Simone.  The Meters could fill that spot, but Dr. John got in 6 years ago and they may space that out.

    Meanwhile, The Cure, Smiths, New Order, Pixies, Sonic Youth and others who inhabit hero-dom to alt-rock lovers of the 80's and beyond continue to starve.  Depeche Mode should have been in last year.  I don't know.  It's like reggae: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and then nothing ever.  Peter Tosh, Steel Pulse, the Maytals, etc.  If you have any reggae in a "rock" Hall, do it right.

    Rage Against the Machine is getting hyped for entry, but I don't know that they have the discography of most inductees or the clout of the Nirvana / GN'R types. Meanwhile, LL's exclusion continues to stump me, especially when Tupac got in last year.  Ladies Love Cool James must've pissed somebody off.

    Don't count on the feelgood posthumous vote for J. Geils.  Cornell/Soundgarden got no love.  Lemmy/Motörhead got no love.  They don't care.

    And a rock and roll hall of fame without Mark Knopfler in some form or fashion, at this point, is just stupid.  Same with Willie Nelson.

    That's all for now from your resident rock snob.  Go vote for the fan's choice here, if only to combat the Moody Blues campaign. Here's a Spotify playlist with 3 selected songs from each nominee...

    Friday, October 13, 2017

    Today's Your Lucky Day

    Happy Friday the 13th, gheorghies!

    Okay, so not everyone is excited about this ominous date.  Some folks dread the bad luck and misfortune oddly associated with this day.  A few even hide at home, fearing the worst if they venture out.  Pretty ridiculous, but let's take a look at Friday the 13th.

    What's the deal?  Well, it's certainly tied to the overall fear of the number 13, or triskaidekaphobia.  Dave has attributed the phobia to there being 13 witches in a coven. The devout Christians at GTB look to the Last Supper and Judas as the most reviled #13 since Alex Rodriguez. Historians refer to Hammurabic code. There were 13 steps to the gallows (12 up, and one down). 13 proper studio albums for the Beatles before they split. Whatever the true origin, it's a creepy number that building architects acknowledge and fans of the space program swear by.

    Then there's Friday the 13th. Again, tales of origin diverge. One such hypothesis, owing to "Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar" is particularly . . . well, uninteresting, compared to the sordid saga that enters all of our minds when we think of Friday the 13th.
    A young camper (seemingly) drowns whilst caretakers cavort.  Revenge, misplaced as it may be, is merciless.  And endless, as it turns out. 
    The original Friday the 13th begat a sequel, then became a trilogy, then spawned such a litter that the series is now a dodecalogy.  That's 12 films over 37 years.  Yikes.

    And even if you've never seen one frame of any of the 12, you know his name.

    Barroom Trivia Question:  Who's the killer in the film Friday the 13th?

    If you said Jason, you owe me a shot. (In the original, it's Jason's mom. Acceptable answers include Mrs. Voorhees or "his mammy.")

    Bonus Trivia Question: Name the link between Kevin Bacon, Johnny Depp, and Jamie Lee Curtis.

    Each appeared in the first installment of the major horror franchises of the 80's (Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween, respectively).

    Anyway, our friend in the hockey goalie mask with the machete or chainsaw, Jason, is now the most lasting image of the day Friday the 13th.  Destruction, terror, and mayhem. Any camp counselors, Jason will slay 'em.  These moviemakers have done nothing to ease the dread of this calendric occasion.

    Here's the thing, though.  It doesn't need to be a bad luck day. Why begin any 24-hour period with even a passing notion that ill fortune is headed our way?  13's no big deal.  Wilt the Stilt wore #13, and he . . . did well.  Dan Marino and Steve Nash won a ton of regular-season games. Dave Concepcion. Lee Mazzilli (in 1986 for the best team in baseball).

    Mill-ard Fill-more!
    (to be shout-sung like R.E.M.)

    Baker's dozens! Who doesn't like that extra doughnut (or cupcake)?

    13 Songs!  Very fine album (EP amalgam) from Fugazi, good for listening to while you're waiting in the waiting room.

    Glenn Danzig wrote the song "Thirteen" for Johnny Cash.  It supposedly only took him 20 minutes to pen, and it's full of misfortune and pain, so that tells you something about Danzig.  Good tune, though.  "Thirteen Sad Farewells" by Stu Larsen is also a fine listen.

    Depressing and sad aren't the order of this Friday the 13th, however, so I'll close with this gem, maybe the best 13-based song of all time.  Cue the Big Star:

    Rock and roll is here to stay.

    Let today be a day of good luck. Stop wishin' on bad luck and knockin' on wood, good people.   Make your own fortune, and wish well to your fellow gheorghies.