Saturday, September 23, 2017

Where Have You Gone, Peter Venkman?

We've been pretty consistent here with respect to our concern that the world-destroying power of the Large Hadron Collider isn't receiving anything close to the level of public scrutiny and panic that it deserves. Other than CAA Hoops and Muppet videos, it's our stock in trade.

Of late, I gotta tell you, I've been less concerned about the LHC's intentions, mostly because it feels like this is a world that could use some annihilation via black hole. Frankly, we kinda deserve it.

That doesn't mean I haven't been on the lookout.

Just yesterday the black helicopter pilots at CERN announced plans to build a new collider three times larger than the LHC, some 90-100 kilometers long, in an effort to keep pace with Chinese particle physicists. If you think the LHC is going to take this lying down, friends, you don't know that vindictive bastard very well.

And while the eyes of science are on the mega-collider debate, another demonstrably evil development has taken place.

According to NASA and NOAA, "The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R Series (GOES-R) is the next generation of geostationary weather satellites." Launched in November 2016, GOES-R just started delivering high-resolution satellite imagery this hurricane season. Some of the incredible images we all saw during Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria were captured by GOES-R.

So it would seem that the latest NASA/NOAA collaboration is not just innocuous, but a really important and valuable scientific and forecasting tool.

That's what the LHC's sycophants wanted you to believe, too.

GOES-R. Say it a couple of times. Take out the hyphen and say it again. What's it sound like?

Maybe, just maybe, does it sound like...Gozer? As in...the Gozerian? Gozer the Gozerian, Gozer the Destructor, Gozer the Traveler, Volguus Zildrohar and Lord of the Sebouillia?

It does, doesn't it.

On your toes, people. And see if you can find Winston Zeddemore. We're gonna need him.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Seven Miles High, Thinking About Vietnam

I was seven miles high last week (in a literal sense, not a Snoop Dogg sense), returning to the East Coast from a brief work trip. I had Maron's WTF podcast filling my ear-holes while I tried to subtly disperse methane amid my comrades in Economy Plus. I am lactose intolerant and have spent my whole life ignoring that fact, much to the chagrin of family, friends and others who have crossed my path. I need to give up dairy. But I digress.

I have been touting Maron for a while to you fockers. I have to admit that after 800+ episodes, he's running out of intriguing guests. No offense to Edie Falco or Jay Baruchel, but I have plenty of podcast options these days. So I skip many episodes. But I was excited to see Ken Burns and documentarian colleague Lynn Novick were going to be guests. I recently finished the podcast. It was the first time I heard Burns speak at length. He is an unbelievably articulate and elegant speaker who has the ability to weave curse words into the spoken word without having it detract from the power of what he says. Not sure if that makes sense the way I want it to, but let's just say he is no revanchist.

So why was he on WTF? As many of you have probably seen/heard by now, Burns did the interview as press for his ten-part documentary on The Vietnam War. It started last Sunday night on PBS. I strenuously urge you all to set your Tivos accordingly. I set my DVR on my cell phone from 2,500 miles away when I realized the series was starting. The whole process took about fifteen seconds. Technology is neat.



You all know Burns' work by now. I was immensely moved by his WWII documentary, which I can't believe came out a decade ago. I was equally moved by his Civil War doc, but merely whelmed by his baseball doc. Sorry for being honest. With that said, I am excited by this new documentary, even though I know it will keep me awake a few nights and bring up plenty of uncomfortable emotions. Burns documents war like no others.



Episodes 1-4 have aired already. There are ten in total. The wifey and I watched Episode 1 and part of Episode 2 so far. The doc provided a lot of new information to us. You can make a legitimate case that the whole issue can be blamed on the French, which you should naturally do, because, France. Sacre bleu!  I won't divulge much more, but the story has been fascinating so far. If you're going to give the benefit of the doubt to any creator of art these days, give it to Mr. Burns. Do yourself a favor and go get some history. It may make you cry, but it will make you wiser.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Nothin' But the Dog in Me

Y'ever wonder what kind of dog breed your fellow Gheorghies would be, if they were canines. Teejay's obviously a lhasa apso, but for everyone else, the Internet has come to the rescue.

Courtesy of what-dog.net, here's something to debate for a while. I'd have done the whole team, but the site stopped working for some reason. Maybe we'll have a sequel.









Sunday, September 17, 2017

In Memorium

I never met Len Wein. And I'm not a huge comic book guy. But Mr. Wein's recent passing caught my attention nonetheless.

Within the past year, I read Michael Chabon's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, so I feel fairly expert regarding the comic book business. Based on that hard-earned pedigree, I'm confident that I'm on solid ground when I say that Wolverine, a character created by Wein, is the greatest superhero of all time.

Brooding, conflicted, and yet completely badass, Wolverine doesn't rely on extrahuman capabilities like the ability to fly or shoot lasers out of his eyes. He doesn't have billions of dollars with which to outfit himself in technological superfluity. Sure, he's got an adamantium-enhanced skeleton and the ability to heal himself from nearly all injuries. Big fucking deal. He still feels pain. And he still wades into the fray to rep the forces of good.

So rest in peace, Len Wein, and may your adamantium casket preserve your brilliant brain.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Move Over Dad, 'Cause I'm a Double Dipper

Tuesday night was a humdinger for music junkies like me.  I began the evening at the historic Naro theater in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk.  As I mentioned that day, they were part of the one-night-only theatrical release of the documentary on the Avett Brothers.

The film is good fun. Now, I can't recommend the film if:
  • You like your music documentaries to have sex, drugs, violence, arrests, and general mayhem throughout the picture.  This film is the opposite of the "Behind the Music" on Mötley Crüe. Two musically inclined brothers whose feelings about each other are the diametric opposite of the Gallaghers.
  • You want all concert footage.  There's a lot of studio footage, backstory clips, family time, and behind the scenes of the process. Good live stuff, but it's not Stop Making Sense.
  • You don't like overly emotive bad banjo players.  These dudes emote heavy.  Seth Avett describes the band as guys who read their diary on stage.  Scott Avett says it's never crossed his mind that people might not want to hear his innermost feelings.  And he admits that's really stupid at times.  That's just who they are.  
Some cool stuff includes clips of them as a wanna-be grunge band in the early 90's; lively performances; closer looks at a couple of the other band members, including my friend's old co-worker at IBM Joe Kwon who's now the cellist; some emotional moments surrounding the health of bassist Bob's child; Deb from "Dexter"; and a cool segue from scratching out lyrics to them performing the song live.

Rob, check it out.  Rootsy, probably don't.

--THEN--


As soon as the credits rolled, my friend Jeff and I trucked it downtown to the Norva, where St. Paul and the Broken Bones had just taken the stage.  
A friend gave us VIP passes (her cousin Allen is the trumpet player), and we spent the night overlooking the band from immediate stage left. They were outstanding -- extremely enthusiastic performers and pure purveyors of soul. Lead singer Paul Janeway spared not an ounce of sweat, and his moves were... well, he had a lot of moves.  

I hadn't seen this Birmingham-based act before, but I'll see them again.  Based on their gratitude at the crowd going bonkers, I expect they'll come back to Norfolk.  At least I hope so.
Yes, the mic is lying on the floor
Check out the video.  Paul Janeway had crawled under the drum riser mid-song, and sang a verse from under it. Just silly.  Here's when he comes out...

Tons of fun.  Great night. Damnation, I enjoy music.

video

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I've Got Love

"You can't stop me. You can't break me. I'm too loving. These songs are going to change the world."

In today's American society, those words from an octogenarian African American woman speak with a bullhorn's turned-to-11 volume. And while I've found it so very easy, too easy, in fact, to dwell on division, and hate, and stunned disbelief, Mavis Staples' new song, 'If All I Was Was Black' is a little bit of a light in the darkness.

The legendary soul/spiritual singer collaborated with Jeff Tweedy on a new record, due out November 17 on Anti-Records. Per Tweedy, "I've always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself – that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on."

Man, does it feel like something we need by the bucketload.




Monday, September 11, 2017

Hope and Scoop

I may not do this enough every day, but today is certainly a day to think of others.

The Islanders (not the hockey team), Texans (not the football team), and Floridians -- especially GTBers traumatized by 100+ mph winds and storm surges taller than Gheorghe Muresan.  God bless.

Mexican earthquake victims, just the latest natural disaster to plague the planet's inhabitants. With more such events to come along soon, sadly and assuredly.

All of these catastrophes remind me of two things. Weirdly.

One, the line "we care a lot about disasters, fires, floods, and killer bees. Faith No More.



The other is Gheorghe Carlin's typically irreverent take on our planet and those who would assert it needs saving.  It's all good Carlin, but jump to 6:30 for the best.




Well, there's a slew of Mother Nature ass-whippings taking place out there this week, and I am hopeful that casualties are few and far between.  It does seem like Irma could have been far crueler to the Gulf Coast (thus far).  At least compared to what was "forecast" from the meteorologists.  The weather folks appear to be chucking darts at a board for their predictions, now more than ever.  Actually, Dave throws darts far more accurately than they predict weather.

Me wishing good things for those that have endured these irrevocably life-changing disasters doesn't really do a whole lot, as our curmudegonly fratre Malone posted this weekend (see meme at right).

As such, for those that are inclined, click on this link to go straight to the Red Cross donation site.  I will make a donation so as to not be a total hypocrite.  Or give blood. I'm Type O+ so they need my blood, amazingly.  It's more pure than in the old days, so I give every few months.
Anyway, today is September 11, so there's more to think about.  This morning 16 years ago a lot of things changed for the worse.  This far removed, it remains important to keep the spirit of fallen brethren (and anyone who perished that day) alive.  We frequently highlight our friend Lud, in part because he always seemed to think of others first, and because the elder GTBers were simply much closer with him, his sister, and his parents. For sure, never let the vitality of Mark Ludvigsen ever fade.

At the same time, it's just as important to remember that, accordingly a school official, six undergraduate alumni of the College of William & Mary died in 9/11, and three of them were members of our fraternity separated by just six years. Uncanny.  Crappy.

In addition to Jim Connor '85, a resident of Summit, NJ at the time, we lost Mike Edwards '90.

Scoop, as we called him for some reasons unbeknownst to me, was a couple of years older than Dave, Rob, and I, and he mocked us mercilessly.  Deservedly.

It's funny that in college you know someone for just a few years, but because back then we crammed 37 guys into 19 tiny rooms without cable access, we got to know each other -- and our faults -- really well.  Of course, then you read someone's obituary, like that of Michael Hardy Edwards:
One way he found joy was through athletics. He was a crack hurdler in college, and he continued to run. In fact, name just about any sport, and it seemed that he did it: golf, skydiving, scuba diving, snowboarding, skiing.
Crack hurdler?  I don't even know what that is, but if it's akin to papal elector, I guess that could be right for Scoop. I don't remember him doing a whole hell of a lot athletic, maybe simply because his permanently affixed do-rag and tie-dye don't exude "SPORTS."  Anyway, I do like that on a memorial website there is this:
Education:Garden City High School
College of William & Mary 
Affiliations:New York Athletic Club (where Lud's memorial service was)
Garden City Golf Club 
Hobbies and Interests:
Pi Lambda Phi
running
golf skiing
playing guitar
scuba diving 
Special Interests: Scuba Diving, Skiing, golf, the Grateful Dead, Central Park, Cuban cigars, Dave Matthews Band, Allman Brothers, Traveling, his friends, family
I trust that last section isn't in order.  Anyway, what I remember most about Mike Edwards is whiling away the afternoons when others went to "class," lounging with a Milwaukee's Best or two and some crap cassette of Hartford '83 or the like.  In his honor, here are three shows that we would have enjoyed, each performed on September 11.

Scoop... have one.

GRATEFUL DEAD -- AUDITORIUM, WEST PALM BEACH, FL 9/11/82

GRATEFUL DEAD -- CAPITAL CENTRE, LANDOVER, MD 9/11/87

GRATEFUL DEAD -- WILLIAM AND MARY HALL, WILLIAMSBURG,VA 9/11/73


Sunday, September 10, 2017

That's My Fun Day

As you certainly know, because you're an educated crowd and you dig your music, the late Prince Rogers Nelson was a prolific songwriter. Wikipedia credits him with writing (or co-writing) 171 songs, which seems low, given that he recorded 260 songs on his own. In any case, the dude wrote a lot of tunes.

That first paragraph isn't particularly relevant to the topic at hand, but I needed a way to stretch this somewhat thin post idea. Some filler, if you will. You see, one of the songs Prince wrote was Manic Monday, recorded by The Bangles (and the supercute Susannah Hoffs).



"It's just another Manic Monday. I wish it were Sunday. 'Cause that's my fun day."

And today, in a complete lack of coincidence, is Sunday. See how it all comes together?

What I really want to talk about is statues. Not the ones Nazis are defending, though they've probably got an opinion on this one. No, we're talking about a different rapacious and divisive historical figure than those from the Confederacy.

The State Capitol building in St. Paul, Minnesota features a statue of Christopher Columbus. And Wintana Melekin and 2,000 others want to replace it with a monument to a son of their city. They want Columbus to come down, and Prince to rise in his place.

Says their petition, “Across the nation, city governments are choosing to remove statues of white supremacists, slave owners, and those who threatened the livelihood of Black people. Here in Minnesota, communities are reigniting the demand to bring down state’s monument to Christopher Columbus, a man who murdered, raped and enslaved Black and Native peoples in the Americas. We, the undersigned, do not believe that Columbus represents the values Minnesotans carry. Rather than glorify a man who wanted to extinguish Black and Native peoples, we should honor members of our community whose leadership we find inspirational.”

I think we can all agree that this is an inspired solution to a problem that's plaguing us as a nation. It might even be a sign...o' the times.



But why let Minnesota have all the fun? Let's get rid of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville and replace him with Dave Matthews. Let's raze Birmingham's Confederate monuments in favor of Patterson Hood and Jason Isbell (Muscle Shoals is close enough) and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Down comes Stonewall Jackson in Atlanta, and up goes Outkast.

We could do this for a while. It'd be more fun than arguing with ignorant revanchist assholes. Play along in the comments if you've got a mind to.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Terra F-irma

The lore of the islands and anywhere from Dewey Beach to Duval Street includes romantic tales of "hurricane parties" and stubborn sons of Hemingway refusing to leave their domicile for any storm.

CNN and The Weather Channel report stories of homes devastated and lives lost, and government officials implore anyone in a storm's path to take higher ground in far-off safe havens.

The reality of most folks we know is somewhere in between.  Batten down the hatches, meet in Danimal's safe room, and drink rum until she's gone.

As such, there should be some appropriately themed songs to soundtrack your experience.  Let's spin a few...







Fingers crossed for Mark, Dan, collective loved ones, and all of Florida.  Even Finky's.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Spanning the Globe

Throughout the past week, national soccer teams the world over have been engaged in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Predictably, at this stage of qualifying, results varied dramatically. Spain, for example, belted poor Liechtenstein, 8-0. The German Mannschaft rolled to its eighth consecutive final round victory, improving its goal differential to 35-2 with a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic and a 6-0 drubbing of Norway.

But keeping things in Europe, tiny Luxembourg drew mighty France, 0-0 to put a monkey wrench in Les Blues plans for Russia. The Faroe Islands, which might be imaginary, beat Andorra, which definitely is, by a 1-0 score, rising to striking distance of third place in their group, a moral victory in the making.

Closer to home, our Yanks were four minutes away from goose-egging this international break, trailing Honduras, 1-0, on the heels of a dismal 2-0 home loss to Costa Rica. Had Bruce Arena's squad failed to equalize, the U.S. would've fallen to fourth place in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying, and put our hopes in real jeopardy. Great American Bobby Wood let us breathe for a few more weeks by doing this:



The U.S. plays its final two matches against minnows Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, but at this point in the process, nothing is guaranteed, given both the USMNT's tepid form and the fact that fucked up stuff happens in CONCACAF on the regular. The top three teams in the region qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, while the fourth is forced into a playoff.

In far less sublime global soccer news, FIFA ruled today that Senegal and South Africa must replay a qualifier originally contested in November after finding that the match official, Ghanaian Joseph Lamptey, "unlawfully manipulate match results'. Lamptey awarded the South Africans a penalty kick on a phantom handball in the Senegalese penalty area, which keyed the home team's 2-1 win.

Since sports are nothing if not redemptive, we'll close on an amazingly emotional note. Syria, a nation that's been through some of the worst trauma imaginable, has made a surprisingly competitive run through the Asian Football Federation's qualifying process. More than 50 Syrian professional players have been killed during that nation's six-year civil war, and 13 others are missing or detained. Top talents have left the country in fear for their lives. Nonetheless, the Syrians entered play yesterday with an outside chance to guarantee a World Cup berth.

Into stoppage time, Syria trailed Iran, 2-1, and results elsewhere meant that the underdogs would be eliminated with a loss. And then this happened:



Syria now play a home and away series against Australia, with the winner advancing to take on CONCACAF's fourth place team. Which, as we've learned, could be the United States of America.

And how'd you like that for some geopolitical intrigue?

Monday, September 04, 2017

Expanding Our Cultural Horizons

In the spirit of my man Plato (and/or Socrates - scholars are somewhat divided), I've been doing some deep self-examination of late*, trying to step back from the urgency of the social media-driven now and figure out where I can make personal changes that help in some small way influence societal evolution. I realize, for one, that like very many Americans, I'm comfortably ensconced in my own personal bubble, surrounded by people who generally view the world the same way I do, and if they don't, are awfully quiet about it. Bill Bishop continues to be right.

As a solution to this issue, I've resolved to try to put myself in places that make me a bit uncomfortable, or at least in places where people with different worldviews are likely to show up. For example, I went to Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, looking for Nazis. I'm told I was a few weeks late, though I did see a lot of white folks. And Malcolm Brogdon. I also ate at a Chick-fil-a. I'm going to run the Army Ten-Miler in October, surrounded by flag-waving and troop-saluting, something I'm told liberals don't do. That might surprise my Dad.

The point is, I'm trying**.

In fact, I found and event in my local area that promises to put me in the middle of a demographic dogpile that's beyond my normal boundaries, with the bonus virtue of supporting a friend and fraternity brother. The Tribe's own Kevin Reynolds has traded in the constricting world of Capitol Hill for the freedom of professional wrestling management, as you can see below:



Seriously, though, that dude (the one getting an asswash from a fat 'Scottish' guy) was the Chief of Staff for a U.S. Congressman as recently as two months ago. 2017, man.

Given the sketchy circumstances surrounding that match, the principals have agreed to a rematch during Ultimate Championship Wrestling (UCW) Defiance on September 23 in Sterling, VA. Tickets are available here. I'll be there with bells on***.

Because, as I said, I'm trying****.

* I haven't really been doing that much self-examination. I feel like I'm mostly right and we're being led by a bunch of fucking buffoons elected by morons and halfwits*****. And Russians. But I am trying to be a little bit nicer on Twitter.

** I'm really not. I probably should be. But I'm not. Still mostly pissed.

*** I won't, but only because I have a commitment with my daughter's soccer team. I've reached out to Mr. Reynolds in an effort to ascertain if/when the UCW may come back this area. I'll be at that one. Unless I get a better offer. But hit me up if you want to go.

**** As noted previously, not really.

***** That's really not fair. But we do need to come to terms as a body politic with the reality that one of the most distinct lines of demarcation in the 2016 Presidential election was whether a voter had a college degree. The increasing disdain by a large number of Americans for expertise is dangerous shit, and not at all what I came here to blog about.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Sit-around Sunday Sounds

You're not doing anything today. No reason to try to hide it. Embrace the inertial pull of your sectional, pull up an internet-connected device, and dig on some soothing tunes.

Jason Isbell's recent Tiny Desk set is sublime, and there's a little lagniappe tucked into the last tune for people who wonder what it might be like to sit in with the band.

 

FOGTB Dave Fairbank tweeted about Chris Whitley and few days ago, and while I knew of the man's legend, I didn't know any of his stuff. Holy shit, but this dude's sound was incredible.



St. Vincent's new single, 'New York', is almost certainly the most beautiful tune ever recorded that prominently features the word 'motherfucker'.



The National have a new record out on Friday. If the first two singles are any indication, it's gonna be killer. Here's 'Day I Die'.



Have a great sit-on-your-ass Sunday. It's the least you could do for you.

LATE UPDATE:

As part of my ass-sitting, I read this great Washington Post feature on Hanson. You read that correctly. NPR Music called their new single, 'I Was Born', "...a gloriously rousing, life-affirming top-down anthem that's virtually impossible to resist." It's seriously catchy, for real.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Friday Entrepreneurial Update

We've all got talents here at G:TB. Mark excels at recreational hoops and finding blank spots on his body for new ink. Danimal's a renowned hobnobber and elbow-rubber, not to mention an elite triathlete. Me, I have a talent for wasting time while appearing productive during the workday. Case in point.

Not all of us can turn our natural abilities into financial gain, as nice as that might be. Now, though, through the miracle of modern science, one of us is well on his way to a gilded existence.

According to a recent Washington Post article, the local sanitation utility, D.C. Water, is now in the business of selling human poop as fertilizer.

TR just struck brown gold.

D.C. Water's not just selling human waste, they've created two different branded offerings designed to appeal to diverse markets. Fresh Bloom is a less-processed offering, with a gummy consistency, while Cured Bloom is sun-dried and turned, offering users a more soil-like experience.

As you might imagine, reaction to the Bloom product line has been mixed. Lidia Epp, a New Kent, VA-based biologist goes full alarmist, "This is Flint, Michigan, happening everywhere in the country in slow motion."

Sunday morning in TR's backyard
Meanwhile, Bill Brower, resource recovery manager at D.C. Water's Blue Plains treatment facility, and wholly unbiased observer notes that independent scientists, "have looked at all the literature, and if biosolids are applied correctly there’s no significant risk to human health or the environment."

That 'if' is doing a lot of work in that sentence, but as one who tends to fall on the side of modern institutions generally doing the right thing, for fear of crippling lawsuits and public approbation if for no other reason, I lean towards Brower's point of view. (And I'm conscious of how much work 'generally' is doing in that sentence - Wells Fargo says 'hello'.)

I lean in that direction in large part because I've used processed human poop on my own lawn without negative consequence. Without positive consequence, too, for what it's worth. The locally sourced pelletized poop was inoffensive in smell and appearance, but didn't do much for my lawn. I'm sure my lack of attention to the grass played no role.

Watch this space for news about the G:TB-sponsored Kickstarter campaign to fund launch of TR-branded bags of poop. Next step, profit.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

I'm Sorry, Houston

Bad times "on the streets of Houston Town," as we have seen in startling technicolor this week.

Don't read any of the articles from the past couple of years foreboding this tragic event based on politically administered blinders and willful stupidity.  It will only elevate blood pressures.  We need a distraction from the horribleness.

So, let's salute all that is Houston, why don't we?


Here's to you, Houstonites
Like George Foreman, who grills and fights!
Pastor / pass rusher Reggie White
And Mary Lou Retton in those tights!

Bowling for Soup, kind of lame
Whitney Houston -- it's just her name!
Baseball player James Loney
And Craig James, he was called The Pony!

Nolan Ryan, 7 no-hitters
Roger Clemens, he's just bitter!
Michael Strahan, Giant sacker
Donald Driver, Green Bay Packer!

Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County was funny
Jeff Bezos has lots of money!
Eccentric cool, Howard Hughes
Not so much, eh, Ted Cruz?!

Clint Black, Lyle Lovett
Kenny Rogers, gotta love it!
The guy from Big Bang Theory
Both Quaid brothers? It's almost eerie!

Good ol' Clyde "The Glide" Drexler
Shelley Duvall, I wanna sex her!
Race car driver AJ Foyt
Houston's still better than Detroit!

Beyoncé, she sure can croon
Houston's puttin' people on the moon!
Shannon Elizabeth without her top
All three guys from ZZ Top!

Houston's big, like my tush
President George H.W. Bush!
Walter Cronkite, that's the way it was
Stupid is as W does!

Texans, Rockets, Phi Slamma Jamma
Cougars rule -- don't mean your mamma!
Rodeo, go rope some calves
You have not what Houston haves!

Anna Nicole and Jaclyn Smith
Two girls I'd have liked to get with!
The cool guy who directed Rushmore
Joel Osteen should prob'ly shush more!

Adam big ol' Donkey Dunn
Houston people are so much fun!
Ken Houston, famous Skin
The Houston Astros sure do win!

Astroturf in the Astrodome
If you like homers, you'd better go home!
The Snake, White Shoes, the Tyler Rose
Your nickname isn't as cool as those!

Remember what BJ Thomas said
Raindrops are falling on my head!
The best of all? You'll think I'm crazy
Gotta be my boy Patrick Swayze!!

This list is done -- oh, wait, damn
I almost forgot to mention Sam!
This silly list contains no spoilers
But listen to the Houston Oilers!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Requiem for an Artiste

My kids love horror movies - the gorier, the better. Me, not so much. Hell, the trailer for the upcoming revival of Stephen King's IT is enough to keep me away from dark places for a while. I've seen a few of the classics: Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen, The Exorcist, etc., but I rarely stick around for the sequels. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I've only ever seen bits and pieces of the greatest horror film of all time, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

So apologies for my poor form to the family of Tobe Hooper, the director of that classic, who passed away this week. In his honor, the best homage I can recall:






Sunday, August 27, 2017

White Supremacy

I love each of you equally, and for different reasons. For example, I love Teejay for his utter lack of self-consciousness in service of making people smile. Our fucked up world need more of this kind of white people.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Your Handy-Dandy Calendar of Rock & Roll

Last year was a bit challenging for me in a handful of ways. Family illness, divorce #2, got no jack, blah blah blah. There's no time to feel sorry for yourself in a world brimming with sad events and sorrow, but I probably did.

But music is solace, especially if you can emotionally compartmentalize like I can.  A good rock show cures what ails you for two to four hours at a time.  Festivals even moreso.  And against some odds, I did manage to make it to a boatload of good concerts last year.  As I recall, in order:
  • Badfish
  • Wilco
  • Widespread Panic
  • Pink Talking Fish
  • Jimmy Buffett
  • Pearl Jam
  • Jason Isbell
  • Violent Femmes
  • The Wailers
  • Avett Brothers
  • Bruce Springsteen
  • English Beat / Squeeze
  • Old 97's
  • The Cult
  • Drive-By Truckers
Thus far this year I have caught three of those same bands once again, plus Ween, Green Day, Trombone Shorty, U2's Joshua Tree tour, Lionel Richie, the Australian Pink Floyd Show, and a ton of bands at JazzFest in New Orleans. Plus some local acts.  And the Random Idiots uncorked session in Norfolk pre-OBFT.  And drumming on my desk when I'm bored.

Seems like a lot.  But never enough, I guess, because there's more on the docket. Who's with me?

Okay, I'll be more specific.  I began to assemble a list of bands heading to the area over the next few months.  Then "the area" expanded, since we've journeyed far and wide for the right rock concert in the past.  And then I thought I'd have some fun with it and threw in my estimated percentage chance of attending each show. And some bands I likely will not see.  Ever.

Note... that percentage figure increases substantially if other gheorghies are going to go.  Some recall the mini-summit of 2013 in NJ for the Old 97's/DBT's show.  No fewer than 4 GTBers ganged up for that one.  Let's do this.  Apologies to Mark, Squeaky, and others geographically displaced from my town.  Though I will friggin travel for the right show.

Also... what is up with the explosion of music venues in DC now?  I leave town and they pop up like an outbreak of... whatever that is down there.  Used to be the Verizon Center for big acts, the 9:30 Club for mid-majors, and the Black Cat and such for the littl'uns.  Now: Rock & Roll Hotel, Hamilton Live, The Anthem, Hill Country Barbecue Market, U Street Music Hall, Sixth & I Historic Synagogue (??), Lincoln Theatre, and a place near the old Bayou called Gypsy Sally's -- each of which have bands I listen to playing there.  Kind of awesome, kind of wtf.

Anywho... come join me for some musical shenanigans, won't you?




Thursday, August 24, 2017

First Day of School Filler

A little upbeat 80s alternative for those of you who have kids who went back to school this week. Mine started 8th and 10th grade today. Life, she comes at you fast.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Official G:TB Eclipse Open Thread

Car and Driver called it one of 1992's ten best vehicles, "an honor earned by giving the enthusiast as fine a combination of value, good looks, and tummy-tightening performance* as could be found anywhere at any price." The experts lauded its "explosive acceleration [and] all-wheel drive stability" in a separate piece.

*Some of you might look around your local area to see if you can scoop one up, if you catch my meaning.

No less an automotive authority than our own Zman lauded it, saying "fantastic cheap thrills, so much so that by 1999-2000 high school kids bought all the good used examples and slammed them Fast n' Furious-style".

And today, millions of Americans will take the better part of the afternoon to celebrate them.

We speak, of course, of the Mitsubishi Eclipse, manufactured by the Japanese automaker from 1989 to 2001. Says Zman, "The all-wheel drive turbocharged GSX was way ahead of its time. The engine's counterbalanced cam shafts were a game-changer. Porsche took a license to Mitsubishi's patent so they could do it, too."

Earlier this year, Mitsubishi announced plans to resurrect the Eclipse name on a compact crossover called the Eclipse Cross. This didn't go over well with our resident gearhead, who noted wistfully, "The early-to-mid nineties were a golden age of fun, cheap ponycars. Now high school kids aspire to SUV ownership. Sad!"

This renewal of the brand, we're sure, has something to do with the current spate of eclipse-related publicity. Enjoy today's automotive celebration safely, but do enjoy it.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

1,100 Men Went In the Water, 316 Men Come Out

On July 30, 1945, the USS Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea, and sank in 72 minutes. The cruiser was returning from a top-secret mission to deliver an atomic bomb to Tinian Island, the same bomb that was called 'Little Boy' and dropped on Hiroshima.

Many of us know this story from Robert Shaw's haunting monologue in the role of Quint in Jaws.



Just this week, a civilian research vessel funded by Microsoft founder Paul Allen finally located the Indianapolis in 5,500 meters of water in the North Pacific, 72 years after it was lost. Allen's Research Vessel Petrel deployed a submersible capable of descending 6,000 meters, and leveraged research by Naval historian Dr. Richard Hulver to narrow the search range, which led to the discovery.

In fact, 1,196 men really did go in the water, and only 317 came out. Nineteen of those men are still living - what incredible emotions those old sailors must be feeling today.

Friday, August 18, 2017

This Date(ish) in GTB History

Contra Florence Welch, the dog days are most certainly not over. The doldrums are full upon us, in more ways than one. Leave it to the community of Gheorghies to liven up this stagnant portion of the calendar.

During a text thread this morning 'twixt Marls, Whitney, and your humble tiny dictator lamenting the Mets' current
run of substantial suckitude, our man in Norfolk started reminiscing about the Tidewater Tides. In particular, the unique skills of one Chuck Carr, who hit a triple in the Tides' old ballpark moments after Whitney and I concluded that the yard's dimensions were such that it was impossible to get three bags. We were just as smart about sports then as we are now.

The discussion led Marls to dig up this article about Carr, who was flakier than a General Mills cereal. The nut grafs:

Outfielder Chuck Carr cemented his legacy with the Milwaukee Brewers on this day 20 years ago.

In the 8th inning of a game in Anaheim, the Brewers were trailing 4-1 against Angels' ace Chuck Finley. Leading off the inning, Carr had a 2-0 count and was given the signal to take a pitch. He ignored the sign, swung and popped out.

Brewers manager Phil Garner who had already had two dustups with Carr in the still-young season confronted the player at his locker about the at-bat, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Carr responded in the third person: "That ain't Chuckie's game. Chuckie hacks on 2-0."

Whitney hacks on 2-0, as well, as anyone who played softball with him over the years can attest. Or maybe not, actually, as very few counts got that deep.

Marls' text got Whitney to reminiscing about another Tides game we attended with some other friends (and notably, with Whitney's mother - to this day, we have no idea why she wanted to hang with me, Dave, FOG:TB Buck, and Whitney at a baseball game). The on-field highlight of that game was Tides' infielder Tim Bogar's playing all nine positions, capping his day off by striking out one batter and hitting another in the face with a pitch.


That memory, in turn, sent me down a rabbit hole, searching first for 1991 Tidewater Tides stats, and then for G:TB posts on the topic. I was certain we'd blogged about that game previously, particularly about the off-field event that was far more entertaining than anything on the diamond.

I was correct.

Just over nine years ago, I wrote a post about the five most memorable sporting events I'd seen in person. It included this story:

In September 1991, the Tidewater Tides took on the Richmond Braves in the final week of the season. G:TBer Whitney, our friend Chris and I made the short trip down I-64 to meet Whit’s mother and stepfather for a leisurely afternoon at the ballyard. Normally, a late season minor league ballgame wouldn’t hold much allure, but two events made this one noteworthy. First, by the 3rd inning of the game we realized that the Tides’ Tim Bogar was switching positions every inning. He took the mound in the 9th having played everywhere on the field, and then proceeded to strike out the leadoff man before hitting the next batter in the head. At which point the entire stunt took on a decidedly less whimsical bent. Far more amusing than Bogar’s misadventure was the action that took place in the stands.

The aforementioned Chris stands roughly 6’6” with a wingspan to match. Midway through the contest, lefty Kelvin Torve lofted a lazy foul ball towards our bleacher seats midway down the third base line. Were we not there, the ball would have landed in Chris’ seat. The big fellow stood to his full height, spread his legs in a textbook block out of Whitney’s mom, and clapped his hands together while talking a full menu of shit – and he’s an accomplished shitriloquist. The ball descended gracefully, landed in his waiting (and freakishly large) mitts…and bounded 15 rows forward into the waiting hands of an 8 year-old boy. Whitney’s mom led the parade of grief givers for the rest of the game, and when we returned to campus to share our story, the local sportscasters beat us to it, showing footage of our friend’s ignominious moment at 6 and 10.

Nine years on, I'd have to amend that list a bit. I'd certainly need to include a couple of Tribe hoops games I watched, notably Marcus Thornton's buzzer-beater at Drexel in Teejay's company and Daniel Dixon's double-overtime winner in the CAA semifinals against Hofstra. And very sentimentally, I'd add watching my daughter score her very first travel soccer goal, a game-winner late in regulation to send her team to a tournament final.

In that post back in 2008, a number of you chimed in the comments to offer your best in-person sporting memories. Rhymenocerous was there, for one. I wonder what's become of that guy. In this slow sporting time, I wonder if any of you would care to update your lists, or if those that didn't weigh in back then have something to offer.

Whattya got, Gheorghies?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Juuuust A Bit Outside!

Thursday Filler....

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Moonlighting

Look. This is a team effort, boys and girls. A lot of you aren't going to be super happy when performance evaluation time comes around this year. And the Christmas Jelly of the Month Club budget won't be as generous if we can't start churning some content out of this factory. Consider yourself warned.

At least Teejay's got an excuse:


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sweet and Goofy Hooligan

I'm in a dark fucking mood, people of the House Gheorghe (someone needs to work on a sigil). I've got post ideas ranging from rage to gobsmacked amazement to anger-whimsy (I think you'll like that one). And I've got an 8-hour drive from South Carolina to Virginia tomorrow during which to stew in the juices of my current bewildered incoherence at the state of my nation.

So goddamn do I need something goofy and sweet, or otherwise affirming the fact that life is too short to take too many things too seriously.

Kermit's always good for what ails ya.



Here's hoping we'll find it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: Cool Gunnings

Connor Burchfield's been in the weight room
There are lots of reasons to believe that the 2017-18 season will be a challenging one for the William & Mary hoops squad. The team's top three scorers and rebounders from last year, Daniel Dixon, Omar Prewitt, and Jack Whitman are all gone - the first two via graduation, and the latter via transfer. Greg Malinowski, who gave W&M 7.7 ppg and was poised to be a team leader, transferred to Georgetown so he could play with George Muresan (who seems to be missing a couple of h's). The cupboard may not be completely bare, but it's down to Cheetos and a couple of potatoes with those root thingies growing out of them. Only senior David Cohn returns from the 2016-17 starting lineup.

So we may not get that much opportunity to celebrate our Wrens this year, which is why you're reading about them on August 10th. W&M might not make much noise in the CAA, but our boys are smacking the crap out of some Jamaican dudes this week.

With one contest remaining in their three-game tour of the Blue Island, the Tribe are 2-0, with an average margin of victory of 44.5 over the Jamaican U-21 National Team and a collection of professional players known as Jamaica Select.

Boston College transfer Matt Milon led all scorers with 22 points in the Tribe's trip opening 103-59 win over the Jamaican U-21s. Frosh Jihar Williams added 16, with both W&M debutants going 4-7 from deep. Returning high scorer Nathan Knight went for 10 points and 9 boards, sophomore Justin Pierce (of whom much will be demanded this year) got 8 and 9, and point guard Cohn added 9 assists to his 10 points.

SPIKEBALL!!!
In W&M's second matchup, a 98-53 win over Jamaica Select, sharpshooter Connor Burchfield scored 16 points on 4-9 three-point shooting, while Williams kept up his production from downtown, scoring all of his 15 points on 5-11 longballs. Pierce scored 11 and grabbed a game-high 13 boards, and Cohn dropped 8 dimes and scored 15 points. In what we hope isn't a bad omen, Milon missed the game with an injury.

The Tribe finishes their tropical slate this evening against the Mingo 79'ers, which is either a Jamaican pro squad or very painful Caribbean sexual position.

If our 2017-18 outlook is any indicator, go with the pain.

Monday, August 07, 2017

OBFT Reentry Filler

Generally speaking, what happens at OBFT stays at OBFT. At least the stuff that needs to stay at OBFT. In this case, most of that is related to stuff that's now legal in Colorado. For the other stuff, feel free to head over to Sentence of Dave for our correspondent's review of the proceedings.

Incidentally, the reason most stuff that happens at OBFT stays in Nags Head is that none of us can remember anything. As a case in point, I got an email from Rootsy this morning reminding me that we had a rousing singalong to the song below.

There's also no judging at OBFT, unless we're talking about playlists.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Summer Dave: Audio Up Your Ass Edition

If things go according to plan, I'll be driving down to Norfolk when this post hits the internet. For your convenience, I have provided two pieces of audio that I recently produced. If you're headed to the OBFT, you can listen to them before you see me, and then we'll have something to talk about (besides kids and the weather and the state of our bowels). If you're not headed to OBFT . . . well, your liver thanks you.

The first piece is a song I just finished. It's called "Monkey Mind" and it's about the primitive anger and frustration that's lurking just below the surface of modern life. So often, I want to throw shit around the house, yell and rant, and just up and leave the situation . . . and it's often the simplest things that cause these feelings: the kids still don't have their shoes on, I have to call the tree guy and get an estimate, the laundry needs to be switched over . . . but everything can't go in the dryer, you've got to take out the bras and swimsuits and hang them or put them in a little bag or both . . . and don't forget the dryer sheet or they'll be static cling!

I don't want to call the tree guy, and I don't care about static cling (in fact, it's kind of magical that electrons can do that shit). I want to go play tennis or noodle around on my guitar. It's fucking brutal. According to Jared Diamond, it's the worst mistake the human race made, switching from lazy hunter-gatherers to industrious and specialized agricultural city-dwellers. Anyway, we can't go back in time, we can't retreat to the trees, but I can write a song about it. And, because of the internet, you can listen to it.



The other piece of audio makes me very very sad. Last week on The Test, I gave the ladies a quiz on the blues, and they bombed it. I was so excited-- I thought I had the perfect clips: easy to identify and clearly pointing to a larger theme (a famous film) but I was very wrong. You can hear me getting more and more depressed, as I realize that they don't know anything about the blues, and they've got no shot at solving the riddle. Humor me and give this one  ashot, and then tell me I'm not insane.





Tuesday, August 01, 2017

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

For the second time in the past three years, I really, truly disconnected from the workaday world and spent four days and three nights paddling down the St. Croix River in northeastern Maine with friends and family. I'm not one to ascribe deep meaning to the quietude of nature, or to dig for wisdom in the vicissitudes of the wild. And so I won't.

But I will confess that the shrinking of my world to a canoe, a tent, and eight other people had a materially positive impact on my psyche. I couldn't follow the healthcare debate/bacle, even if I wanted to. I had no way of knowing if our idiot President* did something else powerfully stupid, norm-destructive, and coarsening. Couldn't follow the Red Sox, or the U.S. Men's National Team.

All I cared about was missing the next rock, getting to the campsite in time to relax, building a fire, managing our beer supply so it lasted the full trip, and cooking the shit out of some high-calorie camp grub. Oh, and watching eagles. I saw six of those majestic creatures.

Didn't see any moose, though one of our number was goaded into singing a camp song entitled, 'There Was a Moose'. There's no self-consciousness after three days of shitting in the woods, friends, so we all joined along.



In addition to camp songs, I learned a whole bunch of other things while on the river.

I learned, all at once, that SPAM is effectively the same color as a human thumb (my human thumb, at least), and that a Leatherman knife blade is really fucking sharp. Hope to be healed by the time OBFT rolls around. I've got Red Stripe bottles to grip.

I learned that an eagle in flight against a cloudless blue sky is jaw-droppingly impressive.

I learned that sardines don't taste all that bad on Town House crackers, at least while floating down a river.

Speaking of SPAM, I learned that there are times, rare though they might be, that SPAM, ground beef, Velveeta shells and cheese, and peas combine to make a deliciously rib-sticking dinner.

I learned that whispers (the sound of the bottom of a canoe gently gliding over rocks) are far better than screams.

I learned that a broken tentpole can be fixed with a shitload of duct tape.

I learned that waking up at 5:30 in the morning isn't nearly as bad when an alarm clock isn't involved.

I learned that my brother-in-law, cousin, and uncle all snore like motherfuckers.

And I learned that (or better, was reminded that) the trappings matter so much less than the company. That, my good friends, is what keeps me coming back to this humble corner of the internet.


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Amazing Human Tricks

I'm readily and consistently amazed by the sheer variety of the human experience, the multi-hued, manifoldly abled diversity of our brothers and sisters the planet wide.

Like an increasing number of mostly comfortable citizens of the world, I've completed a couple of Spartan races. I'm modestly well-conditioned, and entirely devoid of strength, so I ran well, climbed nearly everything that required it, and did a shitload of burpees when I couldn't completely execute some of the strength events. (Fucking monkey bars, man.)

I ran my most recent race with a guy who's a few years older than me, and a pair of twenty-somethings. The former is married to a woman who owns a local gymnastics gym, and the latter were both coaches at the same gym. I was envious of their sick coordination, absurd body control and strength in endless supply, though I suspect they were a bit surprised that a 45 year-old kept leaving them behind on the running portions of the event.

All of this is preface, really, for a couple of videos. The first is one of the two youngsters at a prominent gymnastics camp, where each year the coaches put on an exhibition for the campers. Check out my man Mark via this Facebook video, which I can't figure out how to embed.

At the same camp, a world-renowned tumbler named Aaron Cook attempted to complete the first-ever standing double backflip. As in, from a standing start, this dude tried to do two full rotations. I've tried to do a single backflip on a trampoline and nearly killed myself. To put it mildly, even thinking about a standing double is insane.

Cue Aaron Cook:



People, especially those outside the halls of American power, are pretty damn amazing.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Filler - The Bar is Crying

Below is the view out of my office looking due North. The building at the bottom left is The Ritz. No, it's not a 5-star hotel. It's a bar. A staple here in Jax Beach, it is quite popular with the locals. Surfers, boaters, Ferrari driving lawyers and everything in between frequent the joint. With my vantage point and ADD, I see most of the patrons that walk through the doors between 4 & 5. A trio of old ladies just walked in for example. Kinda early isn't it ladies!? If only my window opened.

After last week being abroad, hopped up on jet lag and too many pints the intent has been to lay (or is it "lie") low for 10 days or so. No drink. Meaningful exercise. Then Friday hits. A nice productive week has me thirstier than normal.  I struggle with wanting to stay clean and taking the elevator down the 6 floors to a mere 20 strides away from the real cold ones.  The struggle is real. I'm trying. I'm tryin real hard.
Enjoy the weekend folks.

Monday, July 24, 2017

The Great Gig in the Sky

So apparently Eddie Vedder joined Roger Waters onstage for "Comfortably Numb" recently.  Not bad.


Now, Roger made the Douche List AND has irritated a whole lot of people lately with his anti-Israel remarks. Meanwhile, a friend of mine who works for the best music venue in Hampton Roads (and whose family co-owns the cottage we inhabit for the fishing trip) tells me that the band I saw last night is a bunch of truly nice people.  So maybe you should watch their rendition of the same song instead.


And for those brothers of the Virginia Psi chapter of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity*, you may want to watch this.  And fall into the fetal position, shaking. Enjoy the inflatable kangaroo.

*before it went all soft in the eras of Marls and Teej; they may not appreciate this


Anyway, Roger Waters and David Gilmour are done playing together forever.  Their reunion for the Live 8 concert was 12 years ago now.  You can go see one of their individual shows and pay some inflated rate to watch a grumpy famous guy or you can watch The Australian Pink Floyd Show crank out astoundingly note-for-note, brilliant versions of the classics.  (They started with a full run-through of Dark Side of the Moon and then went from there last night.)

Good stuff.

Friday, July 21, 2017

G:TB Writing Challenge/Friday Filler

On this day in 1899, Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, IL. In honor of Papa's birthday, we kick off the first-ever G:TB Writing Challenge. See the advice in the image below, and head to the comments to enter. Some restrictions apply, namely, if you're Dave, don't assume that the judges will have the same interpretation of 'sentence' as you do.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Get Up, Get Moving

We've talked about NPR's Tiny Desk concert series here before, though probably not enough. One of these days, I'll do a post about my favorite sessions. (Note: that probably won't happen, as it'd require effort.)

Today, though, a little get off your ass and move music to get the day started. Here's Rare Essence from earlier this week, all packed around Bob Boilen's desk and delivering D.C.-style go-go. Hard to watch this and not get body movin'.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie Meets Greasetruck (Eventually): The A-Fib Blues

Our man at the beach returns with another cautionary tale about growing old, getting medical tape stuck to groin-area hair, and surgical adventure. This time with a twist, as sedation met inspiration. Today's post is the first of a multi-parter, wherein Fairbank writes lyrics for a different Dave to set to music and record. Stay tuned.

I’ve been saddled with heart arrhythmia, specifically atrial fibrillation, for several years. It’s not constant, it doesn’t limit activity or exercise, and I rarely feel it. Still, if left untreated, it increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and other unpleasant outcomes. I’ve come to think of my heart as a family, where three or four responsible, hard-working siblings will eventually be brought down by the alcoholic brother with a couple of priors who can’t hold a job.

Which is how I found myself recently at the Norfolk Heart Hospital for Round 2 of Fun With Catheters and Electrically Charged Wires. Not to denigrate the good folks at the hospital, who are wizards that perform daily damn miracles, and in my experience, are uniformly engaging and of good cheer.

Atrial flutter and fibrillation can be treated with medicines or surgery. One isn’t superior to the others, and is often a personal choice. Meds treat the symptoms. The more invasive procedure, an ablation, is the only option that offers the chance of a permanent fix. An ablation consists of inserting a catheter into a vein in your groin area and sliding it north several inches through your hip. A small wire is snaked through the catheter, into your heart and deadens the area causing the faulty electrical impulses responsible for the arrhythmia.

Am I the only one that thinks A-Fib looks like Gonzo?
I had an ablation done 18 months prior, but that didn’t take. Further testing determined that the offending area this time was in a different heart chamber. The success rate for that particular procedure isn’t as high as the electro-cardiologist would like – 75 to 80 percent. But again, it provided the only chance at a fix, and beat the prospect of a lifetime of blood thinners and heart regulating meds. The procedure required catheters in each groin, a smaller one on the left side to check the previous ablation, and a larger one up the right side to address the current fib. The doc said afterward that early indications are that this one will take, though only time will tell whether I’m part of 3 in 4 or the less fortunate 1 in 4. After an overnight stay for observation, I was home the next day. I’m padding around for a few days, and peeling off the tape and dressings from around the groin incisions was a special moment.

Sometimes, discomfort and adversity inspire creativity. Or in my case, a frivolous diversion. With apologies to Muddy Waters and Lightnin’ Hopkins, here’s a traditional style, slow blues number I wrote while laying in my hospital bed as the anesthesia wore off and I stared at my IVs and heart monitor.

                                                                A-Fib Blues
Gypsy woman told me
You won’t stammer or stutter
But you’re gonna have
An atrial flutter

Heart can’t tell
A saint from a sinner
But you’ll need a beta blocker
And a big ol’ blood thinner

Won’t do no good
To wail and shout
Just avoid sharp objects
And try not to bleed out

CHORUS
Talked to the cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues

They see this condition
All over the nation
Doc recommended
A cardiac ablation

Pretty little nurses
Gonna tend to your groin
And you don’t even have to
Give ‘em no coin

Needles and tubes stickin’ in
Guaranteed not to please ya
But you’ll catch a break
When you’re under anesthesia

They snip pulmonary vessels
And cauterize nerves
I said, please, please doctor
Don’t let your hand swerve

CHORUS
Talked to the cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s just a quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues

Recovery ain’t bad
Body’s a little off
But whatever you do
Don’t sneeze and don’t cough

Doc thinks it’s fixed
Don’t believe he’s a faker
Just hoping to avoid
Getting a pacemaker

CHORUS
Talked to the electro-cardiologist
He gave me the news
Son, your heart’s quiverin’
You got them a-fib blues
Son, your heart’s not deliverin’
You got them atrial fibrillation bluuuues

Saturday, July 15, 2017

There's Only One Bradley Lowery

The athlete visits sick kid trope is nearly as old as modern sports. Babe Ruth legendarily hit a trio of homers in Game 4 of the 1926 World Series after visiting 11 year-old Johnny Sylvester in the hospital and promising a round tripper. So legendarily, in fact, that Sylvester has his own Wikipedia entry.

Sometimes, probably most times, the athletes in question provide a momentary bright ray for a stricken child before they return to their lives. More rarely, kids and their heroes develop real relationships, a testament to a shared humanity that transcends age and class and circumstance. Recall, for instance, Michigan State basketball player Adreian Payne and his friendship with little Lacey Holsworth, who lost her life to cancer in 2014 at the age of 8.

In the case of English soccer player Jermain Defoe, there's only one Bradley Lowery.

Defoe is the 7th-leading scorer in English Premier League history, tallying 158 goals in 16 seasons in England's top tier, with another 20 in 57 appearances for the English national team. At 34, he's nearing the finish line of his decorated career, but he still managed to bang in 15 goals for Sunderland last season. His efforts weren't enough to keep the Black Cats from relegation, so he moved on after three seasons in Tyne and Wear, signing with Bournemouth for the 2017-18 season.

Lowery was five years old when he met Defoe earlier this year. The youngster, a huge Sunderland fan, had been battling neuroblastoma, a cancer of the brain, since 2013, and been invited to be a mascot for his favorite club. Defoe and Lowery struck up an instant and fast friendship.

"As soon as he saw me, he ran over to me and jumped on my lap," said Defoe, recalling his first meeting with Lowery in February. "I think probably from that moment, it was sort of overwhelming, because I was like 'oh wow.' And that sort of love he gave me from day one was just like, that instant moment, was sort of like when we bonded. It was just a great feeling."

The two famously appeared together at Sunderland matches, in addition to English national team ties. In March, Lowery accompanied Defoe as the latter walked onto the pitch for an England/Lithuania World Cup qualifier.

Said Defoe, "All the lads know the bond between me and Bradley and how important it is for him to be happy and enjoy every moment ... I mean, these moments will live with me for the rest of my life. I will never forget all the times he's walked out with me."

Defoe scored in that match, a 2-0 England victory.

Last week, at the age of six, Bradley Lowery succumbed to the cancer that racked his little body.

In the days before Lowery's passing, Defoe spent time with the boy and his family. He was asked about his relationship at his introductory press conference in Bournemouth:



Defoe joined a number of Premier League players and officials at Lowery's funeral in Sunderland. His emotions matched those of the thousands of people who lined the route from the church, thousands who didn't know Bradley Lowery personally, but who were touched by his story, his pure joy in the real friendship of a man from an entirely different background who played a game for a team he loved.


There's only one Bradley Lowery. But there's only one Jermain Defoe, too.