Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie: Memory Lane, Bubbachuck-style

The latest from Dave Fairbank takes those of us who grew up in Virginia and/or spent any time near the Peninsula on a journey back in time. Most of us were too dumb and/or lazy to realize that we could've driven 20 minutes to see one of the greatest athletes of all time do his thing.

I’m reminded of my advancing age regularly, in ways large and small. Failing hearing, inability to pull a name I know, celebrity I’ve never heard of, random ache, technology advance that leaves me flummoxed. (Editor’s Note: I don’t know whether it was me or Fairbank who wrote this opening sentence, because it’s as true for me as it is for him.) The most recent came this week in a newspaper column from longtime compadre and fellow keyboard jockey David Teel, writing about Allen Iverson and the prep all-star hoops game he hosted in Hampton Roads last night.

A paragraph midway through the piece began, “Iverson, 41, said he’s always amazed when younger people approach him in airports, restaurants and hotels.”

Allen Iverson, age 41? Can’t be right. Wasn’t it just the other day that I was chasing his spindly ass all over the Virginia Peninsula? Or watching him careen through Georgetown and the NBA? In 30 years as a newspaper hack in Newport News, Va., I was fortunate to see an absurd amount of homegrown talent. Alonzo Mourning, Pernell “Sweetpea” Whitaker, Michael Vick, LaShawn Merritt, Percy Harvin, Aaron Brooks, Ronald Curry, J.R. Reid, Joe Smith, Terry Kirby, Chris Slade, baseball’s Upton brothers. Dozens just below them in ability. But Iverson remains the damnedest athlete I’ve ever seen.

The first time I saw Iverson was in a summer league game run by local AAU hoops impresario Boo Williams. It was the summer between his freshman and sophomore years in high school. Local basketball types said I needed to check out this guard from Bethel High. One evening I ventured to Hampton and the outdoor courts where Boo used to stage league games. I settled onto the metal bleachers, one of several dozen people in attendance, and located Iverson.

Holy shit. The kid was a lightning bolt, a revelation. He was impossibly skinny – 5-10, 5-11, maybe 150 pounds. His team pressed on defense. Or maybe it was just him. He harassed the dribbler, then when the kid picked up his dribble and tried to pass cross court, Iverson darted back, rose up as if he were levitating and intercepted the pass. Scooted downcourt and laid it in. He got from Point A to Point B and covered ground more quickly than anybody I’d ever seen. A 15- , 16-year-old kid. Honestly, you couldn’t take your eyes off him. I’m sure I sat there with my mouth hanging open for the next 45 minutes.

The legend only grew from there. Bethel basketball game became events. People lined up to get inside. Folks were turned away and I’m certain that fire codes were obliterated by the crowds that did manage to get inside Bethel’s gym. They started holding games at the Hampton University gym, Holland Hall, which held a couple thousand people, because it was a bigger venue. They held games periodically at the Hampton Coliseum, an 8,000-seat barn, and thousands attended. Guaranteed draws: The Dead, Phish, and Allen Iverson.

Iverson was virtually unguardable in high school. He was quicker, faster and more fearless than anyone lined up against him. He got anywhere he wanted on the court. Even in AAU and summer ball, when teammates and opponents were better and often national-caliber, he was nearly always the best player on the floor. His running mate at Bethel was a kid named Tony Rutland, an excellent player himself who had a solid career at Wake Forest. A couple times a game, they would run a backdoor play where Rutland on the perimeter threw an alley-oop pass and Iverson dunked effortlessly. Bethel won a state championship in 1993 with Iverson, Rutland and a handful of role players.

This was months after Bethel won a state football championship, with Iverson at quarterback and defensive back. That’s the thing most folks don’t know or don’t remember. He was an amazing football player in high school. As difficult as it was to corral him on a basketball court, imagine him on a football field. He wasn’t a great passer, but he was practically impossible to tackle. He rarely absorbed a solid shot, he extended plays and he was a nightmare for opposing defenses. The late Joe Paterno, pre-Jerry Sandusky scandal, routinely attended coaches’ clinics in Virginia and had some success recruiting top-shelf prospects in the state. I asked him once, years later, about some of the best prospects he’d seen, and the first person he brought up was Iverson, who he said would have been a terrific college football player.

Iverson didn’t have a senior year in high school. He was convicted for his part in a bowling alley brawl in Hampton in 1993. He did time at a local work farm before former governor Doug Wilder commuted his sentence. It’s hard to convey how polarizing a figure he was at that time, in our little corner of the world. Some viewed him as a victim, others as a thug. Not much middle ground.

Anyway, Iverson did the alternative school thing to graduate high school (a different post all its own), and wound up at Georgetown with John Thompson. His college debut was Nov. 27, 1994, versus defending national champ Arkansas in Memphis. He made only 5 of 18 shots and committed eight turnovers against the Razorbacks’ 40 Minutes of Hell defense. But coach Nolan Richardson was sold.

“I ain’t never seen anything like that in my life,” Richardson said that day. “I’ve been to three calf shows, nine horse ropings, … I even saw Elvis once. But I ain’t never seen anyone do what Iverson does. We doubled him, trapped him and he broke it. I’ve never seen anyone that quick with the basketball.”

Iverson became an All American and went on to be the No. 1 NBA draft choice in 1996. He was Rookie of the Year and 2001 MVP, when he dragged a mediocre Sixers team to the NBA finals. He was unapologetic and indomitable. There’s a famous Sports Illustrated cover of him – scowling, shirtless, tatted up, hair in cornrows, holding two flower bouquets, with the title “Love Story”, about how he and his notoriously demanding coach, Larry Brown, finally started to get along. Guessing that David Stern and the NBA office weren’t thrilled with the image, but that was Iverson.

He scored more than 24,000 points and averaged 26.7 points per game for his career, despite barely scraping 6-feet and weighing a buck-sixty-five. He is arguably, pound-for-pound, the greatest scoring guard in NBA history. He was rightly inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame last year, first ballot.

And now he’s 41 – he’ll be 42 in June – and inspiring a new generation of players, who hear tales from their dads and uncles and dig up his videos on YouTube. That’s the thing about Iverson. Words don’t do him justice. You had to see him. The quickness, the speed, the fierceness, the passion, the will. There was no one like him. There may not be another.

Still, Allen Iverson. Forty-one? Man, we’re gettin’ old.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Snoop Dogg and Me. And a Few Others.

Yeahhhhhh, soooo....met the "Snoop Dogg" as they call him. Snoop! Snoopy! The Snoopster! Snoopman! Yeah, he's my man. Just look at this picture...sums it up entirely.
Great pic heh mate? I'm the lone jackass looking at the wrong camera. In my defense, there were half a dozen pointing our way. How the other blokes knew where to look is beyond me. Pretty snazzy group of fellas though no? It screams, "LOOK AT ME IN MY KHAKIS! WITH SNOOP DOGG!" I'm only somewhat embarrassed with the pose and facial expression. Could be worse.

A few years ago we befriended a guy named Keenan at Augusta, a Diageo guy who puts on parties, promos, and commercials for the giant liquor and spirits company. We actually put him up two years in a row on a couch in our rental. One night he started in on this idea of renting out this joint in Augusta called "The Country Club," a big Country & Western bar and concert hall. He threw out a few names of entertainers he thought he could wrangle in. We weren't quite buying it to be fair. He wanted us, a group of 4 or 5, to front it and reap the rewards. Of course when these talks were had it was usually late in the evening and under the influence. Sounded good! We were all in! Then the week ended as did the concept. The following year we never saw Keenan at Augusta.

A week before heading there for this year's event one of the guys in the pic who I work with comes into the office and tells me Snoop is going to be in Augusta. At the Country Club. And Keenan is the guy behind it. Shut the fuck up! Googled it. Sure enough...he's coming. And it's a Tangueray (Diageo) affair. Oh, and we're hooked up with VIP credentials, whatever that means.

We go to dinner w/some clients on the Wednesday eve of the tourney, the same night Snoop is to get his groove on. To be totally honest, we almost bailed. We're old, middle-aged, lame white guys (see pic) I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. Plus, we weren't totally believing of the fact that we were going to be hooked up. And...we figured it would be hours and hours before the headliner came on stage. We were sleepy peepers! Seriously though, We had only been in GA two nights but had already been nicked up pretty good.

Fuck it. It's right down the street. Let's check it out and see what happens. We show up and get shown right in the door and brought up to a small section adjacent and above the stage with room for a couple dozen people or so. Keenan comes right out and sits us in the best spot against the railing overlooking the stage. Free booze, lots of it. Some pretty good people in the mix. Could be a jolly old evening.

About 90 minutes into cocktails and chatter, Keenan comes and gets us and brings us downstairs into this room.....(Keenan is the dude in green)
What happens after I turn the video off is the picture at the top, which was preceded by a brief handshake and "sup" with SD. Prior to the video, we hung out in the green room chatting w/Jay Harris of ESPN. He was with Snoop and Keenan during the day as SD hit the links with accompanying videographers and PR folks at a nearby golf course. Jay is a very nice guy who happens to from the Virginia Beach area. We talked for a good 15 minutes or so of VA, Winchester (duh!), and golf. Jay was the MC for the night prior to the main act hitting the stage.
So after our little photo opp we head back up to our table to continue the ingestion of copious amounts of booze. About fifteen minutes later his highness makes his way to the stage. At the 36 second mark, you'll see the back of a guy with a gray shirt and glasses - that's my new best buddy Jay. Not really but, we did have a moment.
You'll see here that he was DJ'ing. With exception to a couple of songs he performed on his own that is what he did most of the night. Here he is doing one of his own... 
The night not only didn't turn out to be a bust, it was an all around blast. We couldn't have had more fun. And one quick aside...the really white guy in the top pic to my right...that's Lloyd. Lloyd is a Brit who now resides in California. He's a client. It just so happens that his seat mate on his way to Georgia was Snoop's bodyguard, "Tiny". He's the guy in the beard standing behind SD in the 2nd video. They became pretty chatty and when Tiny saw Lloyd, he greeted him with a big handshake and hug. Once the show got started, he pulled Lloyd down on but behind the stage to have him take a pull off of a big old heater. Lloyd's not a smoker, but he obliged. Would be rude not to wouldn't it?
Lloyd and I bolted at about 2. My two other compatriots hung out thinking they may be going out late night with Snoop and Keenan. Though that didn't happen, they did chat it up a bit more and one of the gents exchanged numbers with Tiny. Tiny actually called him to make sure he had his number in correctly. So there you have it. An evening to remember fer sher. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Where Are the Waldos?

Happy 4/20, people.  It's an old story by now, but for the few uninitiated...

1971... Five friends at San Rafael High School in California ("The Waldos") coin the term "4:20" as a euphemism for smoking pot. April 20th becomes a popular day to spark one up, as does 4:20 pm. Note that the Boston song "Smokin'" clocks in at 4 minutes, 20 seconds, and if you multiply the title numbers in Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 And #35," you get 420. Dude!

Now more than ever, weed is in the social conscious, and the punny headlines everywhere reflect it:

Marijuana's big day is here: '420' celebrations ready to roll

Marijuana has truly gone mainstream, survey finds

The Etymology of 420 by Fred Gardner
My Stan Smiths are a shirt!

4/20 is Black Friday for marijuana merchants

The origins of 4/20, marijuana's high holiday

How to Have the Perfect 4/20

Cypress Hill - Insane In The Membrane

Weed-to-know facts on how to legally celebrate "4-20"

4/20 poll: Support to legalize marijuana at all-time high

DC activists to hand out joints near US Capitol

"Rock the vote, motherfuckers..."

The chances of Ween launching their spring tour on 4/20 being a coincidence? About 1 in 420.  

Enjoy the day.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

All My Friends are Squirrels/Take it Slow

I don't think many of us have spent much time at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's annual meetings, but that's our loss. Those party people just shook up the world.

Yale University's Stephen Chester partnered with Jonathan Bloch of the Florida Museum of Natural History and William Clemens of the University of California, Berkeley to prove something I've long believed to be true.

Squirrels, it turns out, are the perfect mammal. And in fact, are the progenitors of the human race. My people are the template from which all people were created. You, all of you, owe yourselves to me.

Chester, Bloch, and Clemens found full fossilized remains of Purgatorius, the world's oldest and most primitive primate, at Purgatory Hill in Montana. Our ancestor was "a tiny, agile animal that spent much of its time eating fruit and climbing trees." Sound familiar?

The 1.3 lb. mighty mite may have played a role in the extinction of dinosaurs, and ushered in the Age of the Mammal (which scientists believe will end when a golden-maned assmonkey starts a nuclear war with North Korea). According to, "Purgatorius lived during the Paleocene, shortly after the extinction of non-avian dinosaurs. Given the end of the Age of Dinosaurs, the new era began the mammal-dominated era, which we are still in."

Unwritten but obviously assumed in that quote is the notion that Purgatorius single-handedly kicked dino ass and set primates upon a path to, um, primacy.

You're welcome, monkeys.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Filler Recognize Filler

In the first season of The Wire (unquestionably the best television series ever aired), the producers introduce the character of Proposition Joe in the context of an East Baltimore vs. West Baltimore streetball game. Today, Sports Illustrated gives us a long-overdue oral history of that scene.

There's some amazing nuance to the story, and it's evocative of the role that Baltimore itself played in the series. If you've got a few minutes, there are worse ways to fill your time, if you can get past's kludgey and slow-loading site.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


Kendrick Lamar is among the most buzzed-about of today's hip hop artists. His performance with Imagine Dragons at the 2014 Grammys gained him mainstream notice (in this case, mainstream as defined by forty-something suburban dads), and his incendiary rendition of 'The Blacker the Berry' and 'Alright' at the 2016 Grammys was among the best things that ceremony has ever seen.

He dropped a new album this week entitled DAMN, and while I'm certain the old rap heads here have heard it, I can't recommend it enough for one and all. That it's really excellent is only part of the story. Rumors abound that he's about to release a second record right on top of this one.

Damn, indeed.

Check out HUMBLE, my favorite track on the new record here:

Friday, April 14, 2017

Doing Nothing, Winning

As you all know, we announced our intention to take over where The Washington Post fell down, claiming the mantle as the voice of the Peeple, and saving the annual Peeps Diorama Contest. And as you also know, and knew all along, we completely failed to follow through on that idea. We ideate, but we don't execute - it's a slogan that's launched a thousand fake ships.

Little did we know, we actually did execute on this particular inspiration. In a manner of speaking.

We noted in the post linked above that the Washington City Paper intended to also pick up the Post's slack. Since they're a somewhat professional organization with an actual staff, they were better equipped to do so.

Here's where it gets a little bit Twilight Zone.

The first winner of the City Paper's revived Peeps Diorama entitled The Peeple vs. O.J. Simpson.

As Joey from Blossom would say, "whoa!" There's an omen here. As soon as we get a minute to work on it, we'll figure out what it is.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Farewell to J. Geils, the Leader of one of Rock and Roll's Greatest Bar Bands

I'm not here to incite debates about the E Street Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble or the J. Geils Band as America's greatest bar band. Just saying that The J. Geils Band was a great one. Many remember them for the Freeze Frame-era success they so richly deserved, but that was the band's 12th studio album. They were a kick-ass bar band for much of the 70's.

In honor of the passing of John Warren Geils Jr, enjoy one of his band's classic tunes and think about how much fun it would've been to hear it in a gin joint 40 years ago with a glass of brown liquor in your hand.

Escapism Just When We Need It

I had a busy start to my workday on Friday so it wasn't until around 11 am that I was able to check the news. I was dumbstruck to learn that the United States launched a missile strike on Syria. This was the culmination of my worst fears. A game show host who has never answered to a boss, let alone a shareholder, and who has relished the power to hire and fire people on a whim was given the power to take lives at will. And he exercised that power 76 days after receiving it. I hope he doesn't grow to love this newfound ability or turn it into a prime-time reality show.

Speaking of television, I couldn't be more grateful for the upcoming slate of new programming to distract me from reality. If you're looking for something new to add to your rotation, I suggest you check out Fargo.

Season 1 was excellent, featuring Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Odenkirk, and Martin Freeman in a revised version of the Coen brothers movie of the same name. Season 2 was even better--it's a prequel to Season 1, picking up on a story a minor character mentions in passing a few times. The direction and cinematography are superb, so good that it made me wish I smoked pot. Throwing Kirsten Dunst, Nick Offerman, and Ted Danson into the mix certainly helps too. And Bruce Campbell's cameo kills.

Season 3 starts on April 19 so you still have time to binge the first two seasons. And you probably don't even need to--it's an anthology series so each season can be viewed alone even though the stories overlap.

Ewan McGregor playing two different characters, one of whom drives a 1974 Corvette, in a gritty caper story? I'm in.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Know Your Minor League Mascot: Worlds Colliding

It's been about three-and-a-half years (!) since our last edition of Know Your Minor League Mascot. The official mascot of the Richmond AA team is the Flying Squirrels, and it also serves as the unofficial mascot of Gheorghe: The Blog due to the squirrel enthusiast on staff. We may, however, have a new unofficial minor league mascot here: the Hartford Yard Goats.

We've been remiss in lauding the Yard Goats here previously. Last year was their first year with this mascot--they were the New Brittain Rock Cats previously. They have two (two!) goat mascots: a green goat named Chompers and a blue goat named Chew Chew. Everyone at G:TB loves goats and I could really use two goats of my own these days.

I learned of the Yard Goats on Sunday morning when the clowns on WFAN were discussing their four game stand in Richmond ... against the Flying Squirrels! Worlds colliding. I'm not sure who to root for, but the Squirrels took two of the first three games.

Yard Goat merch is strong to quite strong. This hat has a lot of character.

This tshirt imploring you to "Don't be a hero, be a goat" has a lot going for it as well.

Nothing, however, packs more bang for your buck (pun!) than this magnet.

For a mere $3 you can tell someone "You will always be a goat to me" without having to actually talk to them. Where were these magnets 25 years ago?

Even if the Yard Goats don't supplant the Flying Squirrels as your favorite minor league mascot, I hope you can find some room in your heart for this herd. Herd up, as they say.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Kicks, Unmasked

As the world at large knows quite well at this point, we're foremost a blog about dipshittery, William & Mary basketball, and Muppets. But somehow we've also become a blog about sneakers and sneaker culture. If I had the means, I'd be the Imelda Marcos of sneakers, and I'm a piker compared to Mark and zman. The modern sneaker has become as much a work of art as a functional item.

In the case of Freehand Profit, the sneaker as an art form is more literal. The DC-born, Corcoran School of Art and Design-educated, and L.A.-based artist/designer/illustrator deconstructs sneakers to create mesmerizing masks, like this one, built from Nike SB Dunk Lows:

Profit says that his often darkly-themed work can be viewed as a comment on consumer culture, saying, "I don’t want to condemn completely, some of what we consider “consumer culture” provides and improves goods & services. It also provides jobs for creatives. But when we are unaware of how deep it affects us or if we put too much value in the object, then that consumerism becomes a problem. The masks I make are also an attempt to balance the materialism. Both celebrating and destroying the sneaker, embracing the art that is already designed into the sneaker, but using the gas mask to remind us we are a world faced with war, civil unrest and environmental destruction."

If you're doing some early holiday planning, Profit's masks go for as much as $10,000, though you can grab one for as little as $2,500. He did a solo show at Rosewood, a sneaker shop in San Diego, so pay attention to your local kicks merchant's website - you never know.

I can't stop looking at the masks on his website. They're haunting, and they're flat beautiful. Guess I need to start saving some cash.

Friday, April 07, 2017

One to Grow On

I have a confession to make. 

My name is Rob, and I'm an addict. I didn't realize how deep my addiction was until today, but it hit me with full digital force, and I've got some self-reflection to do.

I got a new iPhone from work, and I set about early this morning to activate it in advance of a series of meetings that began at 8:30. I only got as far as the iCloud backup screen before things went south. I couldn't connect to my AppleID, likely because my kids' phones are connected to the same account, and they've somehow created some ungodly intermingling of devices and identities. Even after I reset the account and spent time online with Apple support, I was unable to complete the setup process.

This would've all been fine, except that I'd deactivated my old phone as a part of the process of activating the new one.

Facing a day without immediate gratification via Twitter, and texts, and G:TB, I kinda freaked out. My mood soured, my anger grew, I became irritable and short-tempered. (Contrary to general consensus, this is not my normal workplace persona.)

In all seriousness, I acted like someone in the throes of withdrawal. I spent the better part of the day distracted, unfocused, and annoyed. My mood was dark, and it's only improved now, two strong beers in.

I was finally able to activate my new phone when I returned home in the evening, but technology was not quite done with me.

As I prepared to take my daughter to a friend's house, the GPS system in the car wouldn't allow me to advance past the first screen when attempting to input the destination address. I almost punched the windshield.

Upon my return home, as I was washing dishes after dinner, I knocked the coffee grinder off of the counter, shattering it and rendering it useless. Like me, today.

Then, as I was disposing of a bag of silicon-based coolant that comes with the weekly portion from one of those fancy prepared food delivery services, I dropped it into the toilet, sending a shower of water and chemical particles half-way up my bathroom wall and all over my pants.

Fuck off, modernity. I need to find me a 12-step Luddite group. And sit in a dark place and think about what I've become.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

RIP, Hockey Puck

Pour out some vitriol for the original insult comic. Don Rickles passed away today, pissed off at something. Probably you.

Here's Rickles and the Muppets, with bonus Coolio:

And here he is roasting Frank Sinatra:

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Brand

I ain't the best GTB poster of late, but when a Muppet Mashup appears on the internet, you god damn know I'm posting it here. Enjoy.

Monday, April 03, 2017


On Saturday morning I learned the news of Mississippi State beating UConn the night prior. The Huskies were 21 1/2 point favorites and as we all know, hadn't lost a game since about the time I last posted something on GTB. 111 games straight. Last loss sometime in 2014. And the two teams played each other last season with the Huskies coming out on top by a mere 60 points. What were the odds of an upset? Long to very long. On Friday I remember seeing the money line on one of my degenerate gambler Twitter feeds. To win $100 on UConn simply winning the game you'd have to put down $7,000. No joke. Conversely if you had the wherewithal and spare coin to take a flyer on Mississippi State, that same $100 would nab you $2,000. Veddy Nice!!!
I rarely wager outside of college football but I do follow gambling related stories. Here are a couple of lads who wagered on the Friday night game. One found himself on the right side of luck. The other...nope. These are just the two that we know about. One big bet I would place would be on the likelihood that there were many others that wagered on the game and for much bigger dough. It isn't hard to imagine pretty boy Floyd (Mayweather) dropping $100,000 on the upset for the chance to collect a $2M payday. I'm guessing our readers stayed away.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Man Races Dog, is Elf

I was perusing Runner's World the other day, as I occasionally do if I'm in a mood to torture myself with the realization that my fastest race times are behind me. (Though I did finish 2nd in my age group in a 5k two weeks ago. If you think this post is an elaborate and thinly veiled attempt at self-congratulation, well, you might smarter than you look.) In between reading about the soul-breaking training sessions of world class ectomorphs and the best oatmeal and avocado-based diet for distance training, I happened across a heart-warming story about a man and his dog.

Or so I thought.

A guy named Jessey from Ontario, Canada just ran a 15:25 5k while tethered via leash to his dog, Hunter Buxbaum, setting a world record in the process. That's a pretty cool story, and Jessey was justifiably psyched.

But that wasn't half the story. At least it wasn't the amazing half. Turns out the Jessey isn't a man at all. He's an elf.

Born Ben Sayles, the 22 year-old Canadian grew up with a serious affinity for Christmas, and specifically for all things elven. He played an elf in a local holiday play for four consecutive years. And as the story goes,

"He thought it was fun and wanted to make the passion part of his identity. So two years ago, he underwent a five-hour operation to morph the tops of his ears into a point. The procedure cuts out a pie-shaped portion of skin, then sews the ends back together to form the sharpened apex. Elf (then with the last name Sayles) was awake during the surgery. He watched Interstellar, and of course, the Will Ferrell-classic, Elf, to distract himself from the pain." (To the latter, natch.)

And he paid the Canadian government $138 to legally change his name to Jessey the Elf.

Mr. The Elf is a serious triathlete (he finished 18th in last year's Canadian National Championships) and started running 5k races with his dog, a Hungarian Viszla, as part of his training regimen. The rest, as they say, is history.

According to the world's fastest elf, “People ask if, psychologically, I actually think I am an elf. It is not to that level. I just think it is cool having such a different name and pointed ears. It’s really out there.”

That's one way to put it. We celebrate you, Jessey the Elf. May your aerodynamic ears cut through the wind like a hot knife through maple syrup.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

NBA Potpourri - Math Nerd Edition

We're approaching the end of the NBA's regular season. This has been a fun one, with the three-pointers, the triple-doubles, the heated MVP race and the meshing of the Bay Area's superstar team. But we're seeing some twists toward the end of the regular season, as injuries have impacted several contenders and tightened races for home-court advantage. Let's dig in, shall we?

1) Russell the Love Muscle's Triple-Double Chase - It's in the Bag
After his latest ridiculous stat-line last night, Russell is averaging 31.8 ppg, 10.6 rpg and 10.4 apg this season. So the triple-double stat line is well within reach. Through 74 games, Russell Westbrook has 769 assists. That's a 10.4 per game clip. To ensure a triple-double, he needs 51 more in his last eight games, or 6.4 per game. So it's possible he clinches this portion of the feat in the next 4-5 games. He has 781 rebounds so far this season. At 10.6 per game, he only needs 39  more in his last eight games, a 4.9 per game clip.

2) The Eastern Conference Race for the #1 Seed is Wide Open
The Cavaliers are first right now, with 26 losses from their 73 games played. The Celtics are second, with 27 losses and 75 games played. The surprising Wizards are in the mix as well, with 28 losses and 74 games played. With the Cavs "reeling" (5-5 in their last ten games), both other teams have a legitimate shot. The real upshot of the #1 seed (other than home-court) is that you theoretically can play Toronto in the second round and avoid one of the other two. Methinks the Cavs pull this out, but will be fun to watch in the next three weeks.

3) The Western Conference Race - Also Wide Open
At press time, it is halftime of the Warriors-Spurs game, and the Spurs are leading by three at home. Going into the game, the Warriors had a 60-14 record and the Spurs had a 57-16 record. A Spurs win tonight would put them 1.5 games back, but only one back in the loss column. I think the Spurs get it done this year. Coach Pop has to be aware of the psychological significance of taking homecourt advantage, especially since the Spurs won the first two head-to-head match-ups this year, and are now leading in the third. I think the crew in San Antone gets it done and takes the #1 seed.

4) Back to the Thunder - is Big Russ the MVP? 
Today, my vote goes to Harden, given the Rockets' strong season (especially relative to the Thunder) and the comparability of his stat line (29/11/8) to Westbrook's (32/10/10). I am not a sucker for the "all in double-digits" pizzazz. But we still have about 10% of the regular season to go, so I have time to change. And the middle of the pack is pretty tight. The 4-6 seeds (Jazz, Clippers, Thunder) are separated by only two games in the loss column. Getting to the #4 seed would mean a team is only one spot behind the Rockets. So if Russ can lift his team higher (the #5 seed seems inevitable, given the Clippers find a way to suck balls at the end of every regular season), the MVP race could get tighter.

Happy viewing, fockers.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sometimes Hate Wins

There is an official mantra at this blog about not taking things seriously or something like that. I can't be bothered to check in the manual to find out what it really is. And I guess there is some sort of unofficial vibe that this is a place to visit to escape the stress/annoyance/ennui of the real world. So content that is put up here should check these boxes.

But sometimes it can't. Because sometimes the content needs to show that we will stand up for the things we have conviction in. Even if the conviction is a palpable mix of fear and loathing that runs through every vein in your body, a feeling that dates back to November 2016, to a moment that feels like the beginning of the end of everything you ever felt comfortable about in your previous life.

I am speaking, of course, of the worst pop song of all-time. A song that wormholed its way into my head when I first heard it, and occasionally pops up on that gawdawful SiriusXM station The Blend that my 7 year-old occasionally requests.A song that a good friend called "a tsunami of douche". I love that phrase and have no idea what it means.

The song is Play That Song. The band is the tsunami of douche otherwise knows as Train. The first time I heard this song, I thought it might be a sex groove. After all, what would you think if you heard the line "Play that song, the one that makes me go all night long"? But is far from a sex groove. Far, far far from it. Instead, it is a make-your-johnson-shrivel-inward-like-the-head-of-a-frightened-tortoise kinda tune. It takes the classic piano riff Heart and Soul, strips away everything authentic and sincere about it, and adds layers of cheese, synth and sadness to create something terrible.

The video below speaks louder than my alcohol-soaked verbiage can. It is just so goddamn awful that it makes me want to cry and punch something. The addition of the piano rug at the 2:20 mark, a sad, sad, sad call-back to Big, somehow makes this whole thing even worse. I wouldn't bet on the lead singer in a fight against a piece of corn in Robert Loggia's feces, let alone against Josh Baskin. Over 12 million folks have watched this video. That makes me all kinds of sad. This song is not catchy in a good way or a bad way, like the jammer Pen Pineapple Apple Pen. It

If you did not know this song existed and resent me for bringing it to your attention, just remember that I am showing you a side of this American society that is very real. And very sad.

I am sorry for ruining your week with this post. The only antidote I have is some unadulterated rock and roll. So enjoy the tune below and try to unhear the tune above. Screw you, Train.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Stouter The Better

Most readers of this blog know that I'm an unrepentant beer snob, a lover of the dank, bitter hop. It's not a big secret. Lately, though, I've been stepping out on my best girl (metaphorically, and beer-wise only) with a sweet, sexy, boozy little number. I'm talking about caramel, and chocolate, and vanilla, and ABV to keep you away from heavy machinery. I'm talking about Imperial Stouts.

It started over Christmas, where a friend had Weyerbacher Sunday Mole Stout on offer. I had two, and I couldn't walk straight. The Easton, PA brewery starts with their renowned Sunday Morning Stout, and adds a traditional mole blend, including ancho, pasilla, mulato, and chipotle peppers. It's got a nice late heat, and an almost sweet chocolate/coffee flavor. And, did I mention that it's 11.3% ABV? Dayum.

My interest in the dark arts piqued, I snagged a 22 oz. Stone Imperial Russian Stout at my local Wegmans. Predictably, one of America's best and most creative craft brewers serves up a righteous tipple. Ratebeer gives it a 100 score. At 10.5% ABV, it'll warm your cockles - it's a smooth yet full-bodied mistress. Stone themselves say that the stout is "intensely aromatic (notes of anise, black currants, coffee, roastiness and alcohol) and heavy on the palate...expect this mysterious brew to pour like used motor oil and taste even heavier! Serve at 55 degrees." This is one Russian investigation I'm not going to want to stop.

We've got a little restaurant here in town owned by a FOKQ&MRKQ, called the Leesburg Public House. The food's creative and consistently excellent, and the beer list is long, ever-changing, and diverse as all hell. It's in a location that's been death to restaurants in our town for years, and it's a testament to the quality of their execution that the Public House is thriving where many others have failed. My wife and I frequently head there for a couple of pops and apps when we're trying to escape our kids. About a month ago, I had a Lickinghole Creek Heir Apparent from LPH's taps. The brewery is based in Goochland, VA, home to at least a few FOGTBs, and Heir Apparent is a revelation from the Man above. In the words of the brewers, "Heir Apparent is an imperial stout with a complex caramel soul tempered by a chocolate and roasty undertone. Sweeter in style than Russian Imperial stouts at only 60 IBUs but balanced by the heat of fresh Mexican peppers, vanilla and cacao nibs. The Heir Apparent is ambitiously biding his time until he comes to power. His time will come." This 11.5% monster is fucking amazing. After trying it a the pub, I grabbed a 25.4 oz. bottle at the store. It was the sweetest ass-kicking I ever had.

And just this week, I found Afton, VA's Blue Mountain Dark Hollow. Just like the others described in this post, it's big, and dark, and boozy as all hell. Drinking it on a weeknight is poor decision-making. But if you want to sip something that'll take the pain away and leave a sweet haze covering everything, Dark Hollow will do just fine. It's an Imperial Stout that's aged in bourbon barrels "still dripping with uncut whiskey". I don't know what that last part means, but I do know that you can taste the brown liquor in the 10% ABV beer.

Like a junkie needing more and more, I appear to be ramping up to stratospheric ABV heights in my personal beer-based Vision Quest. The stuff I've gravitated to lately is closer to wine than to your normal American lager. This is the single best thing about the Trump era, as far as I can tell.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Have Fun, Go Nuts

One for all and all for one/We salute our champions/Hail to the Flying Squirrels/Who stand for you and me

So begins 'Hail to the Flying Squirrels', the brand new anthem for Richmond's AA Eastern League franchise, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. As you might imagine, we're predisposed to like all things Flying Squirrel, but minor league baseball ain't exactly renowned for its highbrow cultural institutions. And as a result, we received the news that the Squirrels had released an anthem with appropriate caution.

As it turns out, it's a catchy little ditty. The songwriters from Richmond-based production company Black Iris, obviously listen to their share of the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly, to name just a few.

I can't figure out how to embed an mp3 file into this newfangled blogging interface, so you'll have to go here to listen to the song (and download it, 'cause I know you'll dig it and want to have it at your fingertips).

As the chorus exhorts us all, have fun, go nuts.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Laughing with Tears in My Eyes

For a while there, Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and the rest of Team Trump rode a wave of hagiography that cast them as paradigm-destroying, swamp-draining geniuses. The left added 'evil' to that description, but in general, a credulous media gave the new administration a great deal of credit for a systematic approach to dismantling the foundations of the modern American state.

That edifice crumbled pretty quickly, no? From a disastrous ban on foreign travel from Muslim-heavy countries, to a nearly-as-disastrous attempt to resuscitate it, to support of a widely panned healthcare bill, to a budget proposal that would be crippling in its breadth  if it weren't literally illegal to pass, the Trump brain trust seems to resemble nothing so much as the Really Rottens of Laff-a-Lympics fame. Their cruelty and bad intent is routinely scuttled by their incompetence.

It would be laughable, if it weren't so consequential.

It's still laughable, actually. Case in point, last week, the White House either completely failed to understand obvious satire and mockery, or never read past the headline of an article by Washington Post writer Alexandria Petri. That headline, "Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why", was followed by an obvious and over the top (so, really, quite Trumpy) sendup of the folks that are running our country at the moment, including such gems as:

The piece continued on to describe in ridiculous detail some of the specific cuts President* Trump's budget proposal (which, as I may have mentioned, is cruel and incompetent) suggests:

 Petri closes with a flourish, and a literal LOL line to boot:

The article was amusing, an obvious (to most) cathartic salve to the liberal soul. To at least one person who works in the White House (it's Trump, isn't it?), it was something different entirely.

Here's a screenshot of the White House Daily Newsletter from March 16, which includes the President's daily schedule, as well as links to a couple of articles the White House thinks are important for the public to read. One's a Politico piece about Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny's visit to Washington. The other, Petri's budget-praising snarkfest.

As Petri herself put it in a follow-up article/facepalm explaining how it feels to become part of the story, "This is 2017 in a nutshell: You start with what you think is obviously a joke, and then a few days later it is being sent out from the White House."

The stock market's just started to figure out that maybe Trump is full of shit and genuinely incapable of understanding or keeping his campaign promises. FBI Director Jim Comey (Go Tribe! If we're claiming him. Given the fact that there's a strong argument all of this is his fault, maybe we shouldn't.) confirmed D.C.'s worst-kept secret, telling Congress that the Bureau is investigating the Trump campaign's ties to the Russian government. We're basically all fucked.

At least we'll die laughing.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Madness, Day Four

You've almost made it, boys and girls. One more day to go in the first weekend of the tournament, and I know we're all feeling a little bit melancholy. Except for Danimal, who's been wearing the green in Savannah for the past few days, and might not remember his own name. It's Danimal.

But we're here for you. A little pick me up to get you ready.

Chuck Berry passed away yesterday, and while his personal legacy is a bit justifiably tarnished, his musical influence is undeniable. In a terrific 2016 New York Times Magazine piece, Chuck Klosterman argues that, "Chuck Berry may very well become the artist society selects when rock music is retroactively reconsidered by the grandchildren of your grandchildren."

I think Przemek Karnowski is my favorite player in the tournament, with Deonte Burton a close second. In the big Pole's honor, here's cut by Riverside, the Krakow Post's selection as the Best Polish Rock Band of 2015.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Musical Madness, Day 3

The on-court action hasn't been all that mad yet, so we fully expect today to be bonkers. And if it's not, all the better for the pool I filled out solely based on KenPom ratings. Go Zags! We're in the business of slapping together barely related musings this week, so here's a little more.

Both this fine blog and Sentence of Dave have posted about the legendary Tuareg band Tinariwen in the past few weeks. I'll be damned if you can't hear their influence in the first part of this excellent, multi-faceted (and wicked chill) new single from English indie group Alt-J.

Run the Jewels rolled into DC last month for a couple of shows at Echostage. While they were in our little town, they played one of the cooler NPR Tiny Desk Concert sets I've seen (and there have been some amazing Tiny Desk shows - you could do worse than spend an evening sipping a beverage of your choice and binge-watching on YouTube). The chemistry between Killer Mike and El-P is amazing in such a small space - their ad-libbing is effortless. Make sure you watch to the very end for a message from Mike.

As always, this is but a vehicle for your commenting genius. Go get 'em, champ.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Madness Open Thread, Day 2

Hey you. Don't watch that. Watch this.

Your commenting paradise awaits.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Madness Open Thread

On the best sports day of the year, our traditional* filler post, complete with my earliest/best childhood NCAA Tournament memory. I even remember the Bryant Gumbel cut-in:

*It's not, but I'm ticked I didn't think about it earlier. Go Seahawks.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Better Know Your Asshole Politician

Steve King (R-IA) just saw a black person on Capitol Hill
It's been a while since we dropped one of our signature 'Better Know' posts. Historically, we focus on minor league baseball mascots and the occasional Canadian Football League franchise. Today, a bit of a departure. I hope it's temporary, but there are lots and lots of potential entries in this particular category. Just wait until we get to Gohmert.

Name: Steve King

District: 4th District of Iowa

Tenure: 2003 - 2017, though technically he served the 5th District from 2003-2013, then didn't get the hint when the 5th was abolished and won election to the 4th in 2013.

Major Policy Issues: Healthcare, Agriculture, Immigration, Economy & Federal Spending, Unvarnished Racism

Legislative Accomplishments: Near as I can tell, based on a review of, King's accomplished fuck all in 14 years in Washington other than conclusively proving that he's soulless racist asshole. Maybe you can figure out where I've missed something.

Achievements in Jackassery: King made news this week for retweeting nationalist Dutch politician Geert Wilders, adding his own enlightened commentary.

David Duke quickly endorsed King's viewpoint, saying, "sanity reigns supreme in Iowa's 4th congressional district". By day's end, even Republicans were going on record to say that, "Hey, y'know, maybe that's a littttttle bit racist, bro. And we prefer our racism a bit more subtle." Paul Ryan said that King had maybe misspoken, but King clarified that he meant exactly what he said. It's refreshing, I guess, that racists are cool with coming out of the closet. Means we can see them coming.

So America got woke to Steve King's gross worldview this week, but this dude's been a fucking asshole for a long time.

He's compared immigrants to dogs, and suggested that America select them as if we were choosing the pick of the litter.

Predictably, he made an issue of Barack Obama's middle name during the 2008 Presidential campaign.

In 2010, he took to the floor of the House and insisted that racial profiling was an important part of police procedure.

He was one of 11 Representatives to vote against providing Federal aid to Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Because, blacks, I'm guessing.

I could go on. I won't because I'm becoming even more disgusted than I was when I picked up this pen* and started writing.

Fuck Steve King, and fuck a party that countenances people like him.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Morning Pajama Music

Ignore the awkwardness of the scene. Maybe don't even look at it - just listen to the tune. I've been digging on Pinegrove's Old Friends for a couple of weeks now. It's spare, and simple, and it somehow brings me back 20 years. Perfect Sunday morning coffee drinking, newspaper reading, bracket contemplating stuff.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Today is a #nice day

Morning folks. TGIF. I'd like to welcome you all to the 69th day of the year. Niiiiiiiiiiiice.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Announcing An Upcoming Announcement

Democracy Dies in Darkness is the earnest and timely new motto of the Washington Post. Peeps, apparently, die in the bright light.

On Sunday, the Post is set to announce the end of its popular Peeps Diorama contest's 10-year run. According to the Deputy Editor of the Washington Post Magazine, David Rowell, "Hard journalism this was not, but for us the contest offered its own sweet rewards. As fewer submissions began to come in, though, echoing the decline in readership of this feature, we knew that it was time to let bunnies be free again, and we have ended the Peeps contest run."

As staunch supporters of Peeps, and of the contest (several of us having submitted losing entries in years past), we can't stand idly by while Peep sculpture is denigrated as less than serious journalistic enterprise. Nor can we let this rite of Spring simply disappear.

We're not the only ones, apparently. The Washington City Paper quickly tweeted their intent to pick up the Post's sword and fight on, as will local blog Popville (I don't know them any more than they know us). And we're cool with that, because a) our idea transcends Peeps, and b) more importantly, we've always been kind of an NIT-level thing, and so our aspirations are fairly modest.

The Teej and I were in the midst of discussing logistics for G:TB taking over the Peeps Diorama contest when we realized we'd actually started seven years ago. Dave, who's known for a lot of things, but generally not for his prescience, actually prepared us for this moment when he inaugurated the first G:TB Circus Peanut Diorama Contest in April 2010. Here's a copy of the rules:

The rules for G:TB First Annual Circus Peanut Diorama Contest are as follows: 1) while making the diorama, you must be under the influence of at least ONE circus peanut. I ate two. 2) No Peeps allowed.

So we've got a framework, but we're going to make a few changes. We'll announce the complete rules on Monday, which will likely expand the candy palate to the entire Easter ouevre (yeah, that's right, you can use Cadbury Creme Eggs and those crappy thin-shelled chocolate eggs, if you'd like, and Peeps will be allowed). But fret not, Post Peeps peeps, we're here for you. Get to work.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Check Ya Rec(tum)

Last night, I had a delicious meal of pork dumplings and Asian slaw, which I followed with a large chocolate chip cookie. I had a beer at about 9:30 (Rogue 7 Hop IPA, if you're curious, courtesy of the new Total Beverage in my hometown - and ain't that a gift from the Gods). And I won't have anything else of any substance until 3:00 PM tomorrow.

I'll be subsisting on Jello, coffee, broth, and water today, and I can't have anything at all tomorrow morning. Beginning at 4:00 PM today, I'll be cranking 12 oz. of SuPrep and 80 oz. of water to Roto Rooter my insides. Then, tomorrow, a doctor's going to knock me out and shove a tube up my ass.

I'm doing this for you, friends.

You see, my family's got a history of lots of different kinds of cancers, chief among them colon, with esophageal and prostate running close behind. As a result, my doctor suggested that I accelerate the normal timeline for men to get their shit checked out (literally, I guess), and I'm scheduled for my second colonoscopy tomorrow. The first one was a thing of beauty. The pictures, anyway. My colon's a kaleidoscopic marvel. I'll spare you actual visual.

So if I'm cranky online today, you'll understand why. Just remember that I'm sacrificing so that you'll have me around for a good long while, and make sure you ask your doctor about your own colonic health. The life you save may be your own.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: There Are Mountains

Sublime confluence of superstition, laziness, and Gheorghian repetitive tendencies this morning, as we get you ready for the Tribe's 2:00 tip against top-seeded UNCW in the CAA Tournament semifinals.

As we told you previously, W&M needs senior Omar Prewitt to play to his potential to have any chance of breaking history's grip on the program. Prewitt scored 10 of the Tribe's first 16 points on the way to a 20-point, 13-rebound effort in a 71-66 quarterfinal win over Elon. One down.

Number two will be much harder, and 71-66 is more likely to be a halftime score than a final. UNCW dropped 101 on W&M in the teams' first meetings before the Wrens turned the tables, scoring 96 to blow the Seahawks out in Williamsburg. Both teams have strong offenses and like to play at reasonably quick pace. Wilmington is deeper, and in Devotae Cacok have an inside presence that the Tribe is hard-pressed to match.

The Tribe are underdogs, there's no question. For them to reach their third CAA final in four years, a lot of things have to click. You know what one of them is.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: CAA Tournament Preview.

We're kinda exasperated, too, Tony.
The 2017 CAA Men's Basketball Tournament begins tomorrow in Charleston, SC with the annual Pillow Fight Friday play-in games. Your William & Mary Tribe (16-13, 10-8 CAA) nailed down the 4th seed with a nerve-wracking 83-79 win over Towson last weekend. The winningest senior class in school history (all 318 years of it) takes on 5th-seeded Elon at 2:30 Saturday afternoon.

Let's dispense with the obvious. I don't have the first clue what to expect from this W&M team. They beat every team in the conference at least once, and lost to everyone except Delaware. They ran then-unbeaten-in-league-play UNC Wilmington out of the gym in Williamsburg, winning by 18. They topped Elon at home, too. The Wrens also got ripped by 24 in Wilmington, and lost on the road against a dreadful JMU team and a lousy Drexel squad.

The Tribe can win this tournament. There's an equal chance that they lose to Elon.

I've been wandering through a thicket of statistics to see if I can figure out a key to W&M's success, and I'm struggling to come up with anything concrete, other than a fairly obvious correlation between shooting percentage and victories. When they shoot well, they win. When they don't they usually lose. The Tribe's not gonna create a bunch of extra possessions via turnovers and offensive rebounds, so they need to make their shots. Rocket surgery, it ain't.

While I was engrossed in hoops stats, I did find something that amazed me. Check out this comparison (click on the table to enlarge it):

Player A is Marcus Thornton during his senior season in 2014-15. The consensus CAA Player of the Year and unquestioned greatest to ever wear a W&M basketball uniform was incredibly productive, for sure.

We'd take another game like this one.
Player B is Daniel Dixon this year. Nearly across the board, his senior year numbers are better than Thornton's. He's been a more efficient shooter, better from deep and from inside the arc. He's rebounded effectively, passed well, and been a better defender.

Color me bumfuzzled.

You could argue that Thornton had greater responsibility, initiating the offense while being the unquestioned focus of opponents' defensive game plans. And you might note that Dixon has the luxury of a pass-first point guard in David Cohn to get him looks and carry the primary ball-handling load. You'd be right in both cases. But as good a season as I know Dixon's had (he's scored in double figures in 22 straight games, dropping 30 or more five times - the most for a Wren since Adam Hess did the same in 2003-2004), I had no idea he was scoring at such an elite level.

Dixon's numbers get even better in CAA play, where he's shooting 60% from two, 40.7% from three, and a league-best 86.7% from the line. He's averaged 29.5 points per game in his last four, getting stronger down the stretch. He pulls down nearly six boards a contest in league play, and drops almost three assists a game. He's a no-brainer first-team All-CAA selection who'll get some POY votes. Considering where he came from the first time we wrote about him (in a cameo performance in the greatest basketball story ever told), Dixon's step up has been the story of the season.

As good as he's been, he's going to need help in Charleston. Omar Prewitt's senior year has been as strange as Dixon's has been sublime. Prewitt's scoring and efficiency numbers have declined across the board, and his three-point and free throw percentages are the worst of his career. He looked lost at the line late in the Towson game, short-arming a pair of crunch time freebies. He's capable of dropping 30 or completely disappearing - he did each of those things in the season's final five games.

The Tribe's two-headed post has stepped up of late, with both junior Jack Whitman and freshman Nathan Knight recording big games in the season's final stages. Cohn's been a solid and reliable triggerman. Greg Malinowski's been less consistent than Wrenville would like, but he's capable of getting really hot from deep. All of those guys need to deliver to keep the impossible dream alive, but we need the Omar that showed up in the epic Hofstra semifinal in 2015 to have more than a slim chance.

It ain't Baltimore any longer, but it may be our last time to type it. Omar need to be comin', or the forces of good can't hold this corner.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

PSA: Soccer Safety

In every youth soccer league of which I'm aware, the kids are required to wear shinguards. On it's face, this seems like a prudent policy, but if you delve below the surface, it's really just a ploy by Big Shinguard to get millions of American parents to drop extra coin on thin pads that don't provide that much support.

Or so I thought, until my weekly run with the rest of the old guys. I cleared a ball off the line, but just barely. As I tangled with an attacking player, he attempted to backheel the ball into the net. He made solid contact. With my unprotected shin. I pretended it didn't hurt.

It hurt like a motherfucker. It still kinda hurts, but I'm so sore for several days after playing soccer that it kinda blends in with the rest of my aches.

I'm buying catcher's shin pads for next week's run.

And I prevented the goal, and later scored on a sweet flicked header, so glory is mine.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Game Over, Man. Game Over.

As most of you know, Bill Paxton died today at the way-too-young age of 61. He was Gheorghe's kind of actor, versatile and funny, with an ever-present hint of mirth in his eyes. He appeared in two of my very favorite films, stealing the show as Chet Donnelly in Weird Science, and catalyzing Kurt Russell's badass turn as Wyatt Earp's younger brother Morgan in Tombstone. Ironically, in both cases he played the brother of a character named Wyatt.

We'll pour a few in his honor this evening while watching the Oscars.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Turn This Mutha Out

As I haven't been shy to disclose, my wife and I walked around the corner to see George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic at a cool little music venue in our town. The Tally Ho Theatre's been around for a while in various incarnations, but at present, it's a 500-ish capacity joint with great acoustics and good beer. We usually get touring tribute bands, local talent, and the occasional one-hit wonder (Gin Blossoms have been here a couple of times), so it was a bit of an excellent surprise that the Mothership landed in Leesburg.

Brother Clinton is pushing 80, and his role is more that of conductor than full participant in much of what his band kicks out, but he led P-Funk through a nearly three-hour set of funk, rap, metal, blazing guitar from Blackbyrd McKnight, and more funk. 

I grabbed a couple of shitty videos, but I missed capturing McKnight's incendiary ten-minute solo work on Maggot Brain. You can check out a reasonable facsimile here:

Here are the few that I took, and no, I have no idea how to rotate the second one. Just tilt your heads. Coulda sworn I got video of Atomic Dog, too, but there's no proof of that. Clinton's the one wearing the white bathrobe, though he's done away with his trademark rainbow dreads. We got close enough to the stage by the end of the evening that my wife managed to snag beads tossed by the band on their way off the stage. Didn't ever think I'd get see P-Funk live, and I sure as heck didn't think it'd happen walking distance from my house. Pretty, pretty cool.



Thursday, February 23, 2017

I need some parenting advice

How am I supposed to handle this?

When I sat zson down and told him he wasn't allowed to use potty words at school he said "Like what?" and I said "Like poop and butt" and he laughed and I started to laugh and caught myself. Then he asked "Can I yell penis?" and he has a lisp so he said "penith" and I almost lost it but held it together and said "No, you can't yell or even whisper penis." So he whispered "penith" in my ear. I don't think the talk was successful.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Soothing a Savage Beast

It's Presidents Day, but we're not here for that. We're here for a whole bunch of new music by bands we like. And we're here for you adding new stuff to this post, because you like bands, too.

Longtime GTB faves Old 97s release Graveyard Whistling, their 11th studio album, on February 24. Rhett Miller and the boys recorded the record at the same studio they used to make their 1996 major label debut, Too Far to Care. If the first two singles are any indication, this one will be on the dark side. Here's the second single, All Who Wander.

Indie darlings The Shins (famous mostly for the namedrop on The Test podcast) are out with Heartworms, their newest album, on March 10th. The first single, Name for You, sounds very Shinnsy.

New Pornographers are one of the most underrated bands of the last fifteen years. A.C. Newman stands in line to nobody when it comes to writing a pop hook. Their new album, Whiteout Conditions, hits on March 10. They'll be at the 9:30 Club on April 28 and 29 if anyone wants to go see them. This is High Ticket Attraction.

Red Baraat might be the world's best party band. They release Bhangra Pirates on March 24, and will conveniently be playing The Hamilton in DC that night and the next. Haven't seen any videos yet for this record, so enjoy this NPR Tiny Desk Concert from 2012.

Last, but certainly not least, Son Volt released Notes of Blue last Thursday. You can hear Promise the World here, and listen to the entire record at NPR. Jay Farrar might not have the critical and public acclaim of former Uncle Tupelo bandmate Jeff Tweedy, but Son Volt are reliably excellent and evocative of a place and time.

What else is out that the Gheorgheverse needs to hear, boys and girls?