Friday, May 26, 2017

Grappler? She's My Daughter!

According to the National Wrestling Coaches Association, more than 13,000 girls participated in high school wrestling programs last year, up from 804 in 1994. More than 20 states held female-only high school state tournaments this year. 30 colleges sponsor women's varsity wrestling programs. Helen Maroulis won America's first Olympic gold medal in women's freestyle wrestling at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

At this point, you're asking yourself, Why does he know this, and why do I care?

It's a fair question.

My eldest daughter is nearing the end of her freshman year of high school. She ran cross-country (slowly) during her the Fall, and has been a competitive dancer since she was 7. She's short, and compact, and fit, and has above-average strength and balance from all those years of dancing. And about two months ago, she came home and told her parents that she was going to wrestle next year.

Careful readers of this blog, and casual followers of my impotent ranting on Twitter know that I'm a pretty progressive guy. I believe strongly in gender equity, and that our society has treated women shamefully for far too long in matters of public health, equal compensation, and sexual violence, among others.

But goddamn if the thought of some pimply-faced punk working an arm bar on my baby doesn't give me serious pause. I've seen what wrestlers do to each other. I watched a fraternity brother use a butt drag to successfully maneuver an opponent in an intramural match. This move is colloquially known as 'checking the oil'. I Ghooghled it, so you don't have to. If some fucking kid pulls that move on my little girl, I can't be held legally responsible for my actions.

Initially, my wife and I thought this was a bit of passing phase, an infatuation with something different, which isn't out of the ordinary for my kid. But after she went to a wrestling clinic a few weeks ago, and came back saying, "I got my ass kicked. I loved it.", we're starting to think she might be serious.

By complete coincidence, we found ourselves a few weeks ago seated at a communal table in a local brewery next to the wrestling coach from my daughter's school. He's a passionate dude, full of inspirational moxie and motivational nuggets. And he's committed to getting more girls involved in wrestling. There were three girls on the team last year - his goal is to double that next season. He sold us hard on the notion that wrestling is excellent for girls' self-confidence, fitness, and discipline.

I wouldn't say I was ready to take the mat, but I was a little more ready to let my daughter do it.

She's her father's daughter, so there's a 50/50 chance that she fails to follow through on this interest. But if she does, I'll support her.

Just don't ask me to be relaxed when I watch.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Chronicles of an Aging Gheorghie: Dog Bites Man

As a veteran newsman, Dave Fairbank knows the oldest story in the book - dog bites man pieces don't sell. Dog bites kid, though, that's a horse of a different color. 

My dog’s morning constitutional is usually a routine, welcome exercise. Gets us both out of bed. Clears the cobwebs. Makes sure he’s still the master of all he surveys. Reminds me who actually runs the show. Except when we’re at a public campground, with kids and other dogs and a million new sights and smells. Then it’s jarring and potentially terrifying and what little control I believe I have is out the window. Yeah, pretty relaxing.

We spent the weekend at the KOA just outside Williamsburg on a getaway with friends. We rented camping cabins – “glamping” in the outdoors vernacular – because we all like creature comforts, and the fact that our dog tethered to a tent and a traditional, no-frills campsite is untenable.

Not that he’s a bad dog. On the contrary, he’s a pretty sweet-natured fellow, a 25-pound crotch-seeking missile of cocker spaniel-poodle mix named Nappy. But he’s a little neurotic and territorial and possessive. He fancies himself an alpha dog, but that’s an act. While probably not an omega dog, he’s more like an upsilon or maybe a chi. He gets along with people better than with other dogs. He’s given to brief bursts of energy and enthusiasm, followed by lengthy periods of sloth, much like his doggie daddy.

Which brings us to Sunday morning, following an evening of eating, drinking and general goofballery, and dragging myself out of bed for the morning’s unexpected and unwanted adrenalin rush.

I’m walking him up a hill when he spies another dog maybe 50 yards away being walked by his owner in our direction. He starts barking, because that’s what he does when he sees other dogs. Ahead of them, bounding rapidly down the hill toward us, are two young boys who appear to be brothers and are all about my dog, and apparently, all dogs.

“Can we see your dog? Can we see your dog? We have a dog, too,” says the older of the two, who looks to be 7 or 8 years old.

I say, sure, while I pull him up close on my left side and try to get him to quit barking at the other dog. The younger brother stands to my right and starts telling me about their dog. While I’m watching and listening to him, the older brother moves in close to Nappy. Suddenly, I feel the leash jerk and out of the corner of my left eye, I see the older brother leaning in to try to hug Nappy, and Nappy lunge forward.

The kid recoils and slaps his hand over his right cheekbone and says in shock, “He bit me. Your dog bit me.”

Oh fuck. I immediately envision blood and bite marks and scars and pissed-off parents who want to kick my ass and have my dog put down and tetanus shots and lawsuits and Lord knows what else. Dogfight at the KOA Corral. Or something like that.

I’m sorry, I say, I’m sorry. He doesn’t know you. He didn’t know you were just being friendly. The kid’s hand is still covering his cheekbone. Are you OK, I say, can I see where he bit you? The kid takes his hand away, and there’s a tiny pink mark on his cheekbone. I lean down closely to look. No blood, no broken skin. Nappy just nipped at the kid when his face got too close and he reached for him.

By this time, the kids’ dad finally catches up, with their dog alongside, and is about 15 feet away. I say, hey, I’m really sorry, but I didn’t see your son get that close to my dog, he can be a little skittish around strangers, and probably three or four more, I’m sorrys.

The guy earns the Chill Dad of the Week Award. He shakes his head, says don’t worry about it. He says something about their dog and how the kids hug him all the time, and they know better than to run up to strange dogs. He tells his son to come see him so he can look at where Nappy nipped at him. Says, you’re OK and go see your mother. Kid runs off toward their cabin.

Meanwhile, the younger brother is standing there the entire time. Dad says to him, what do we do if we want to see other dogs? We have to ask permission. Younger brother looks at Dad, looks at me, asks can I see him? I say OK, but hold out your hand first. Kid holds out his hand, Nappy sniffs it, isn’t interested. I tell Chill Dad again, I’m really sorry. He shakes his head, resigned look on his face, says don’t worry about it. They know better.

Meantime, Nappy still hasn’t evacuated yet, and I haul him in the opposite direction of the other folks’ cabin. He drops a hand-warmer and we quickly circle back to our cabin. I glance over at their cabin and I see Mom on the front porch swing in some state of agitation – gesturing, pointing, head bobbing, arms moving up and down. Dad’s standing in front of her, chill and still, dog on leash at his side. We scoot inside and I fully expect a knock on the door at any moment.

Doesn’t happen. I feed the dog and climb back into bed to try to sleep a little more. That doesn’t happen, either. I’m wide slam awake and still expecting a visit from Mom or Dad. Nappy, meanwhile, goes sideways and sleeps off breakfast until everybody starts moving.

I find out later that our friends, who also brought their dog and were in a nearby cabin, had a similar run in with the same kids. Our buddy takes his dog for a walk. The kids rush the dog and want to pet him and get close. His dog, a rescue who’s quieter and younger than ours, just kinda cowers behind him. We depart without further incident or confrontation.

To all of you who juggle kids, pets, and kids and pets, you have my undying respect.

Monday, May 22, 2017

One

It was a whirlwind of a weekend for me, complete with graduation ceremonies, a roundtrip to and from Hampton, VA in the span of 18 hours, a state gymnastics meet (I did really well, and thanks for asking), some lawn grooming, and sadly, a continuing bout of Mexico-related gastrointestinal issues. As a consequence, I didn't really sit down to look at the coverage of Chris Cornell's passing until last night.

Like most men my age, I was pretty into the grunge era. We've talked before about how the W&M Gheorghies of a certain age are responsible for Nirvana blowing up on our campus, so you could argue that we're responsible for the flannel explosion. Hell, we had friends in a band named the Flannel Animals. But while I liked Nirvana and Pearl Jam, and dug Soul Asylum and Screaming Trees (and fucking hated Smashing Pumpkins), I didn't really elevate Soundgarden, even as I appreciated Cornell's otherworldly pipes.

And I don't think I appreciated those pipes until Cornell and Eddie Vedder went voice to voice on Temple of the Dog's 'Hunger Strike'. Vedder's bassline foundation with Cornell wailing over the top? That's a hall of fame vocal.



As I spent a little time listening to Cornell's work, I came across something I'd never heard before. It was recorded live about four years ago, and it's completely unique. To hear Cornell tell the story, he wanted to cover U2's 'One', but when he Googled the lyrics, the words to Metallica's song of the same name were the first things to come up. So he decided to mash up the two. The result, in his voice, is pretty remarkable.



Cornell, Cobain, Weiland, Staley - the leading men of the grunge movement are all but gone. Every generation's leading men is destined to fade away, but this one feels closer to home than most.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Never Forget

This is one of the greatest moments in television history. Enjoy.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Perils of Male Groupthink

Men, it must be said, are the perpetrators of nearly all of history's great atrocities. More specifically, groups of men, thinking as one, are responsible for some heinous shit. The catalogue is too long to give a full reading here, but it spans the spectrum from war to famine to genocide to fraternity hazing. (Not all atrocities exist on the same scale.)

We have President* Trump because the (mostly) men of the Republican Party couldn't see past the confines of their party to call a stop to something that represented a clear and present danger to the future of our country.

Man, to put it bluntly, are fucking morons. And bros are men evolved to their most moronic.

Case in point, the ubiquitous news this week of the rise of the RompHim, a romper for dudebros that, despite my incredulity, seems to actually exist. And not only does it exist, but Reebok is in the process of copying it.

Feast your eyes on these doucheweasels:


We did some immensely stupid, and in some cases grossly misogynistic stuff as younger men. We had a Naked Party, which was mostly harmless, except to our egos. We had a Scale Party, which was harmless in our eyes, and egregiously offensive to our female friends. In retrospect, we were assholes, and I apologize on our behalf.

I look at the fuckmonkeys in the picture above, and I see the worst in modern male culture. I see entitlement, and preening self-satisfaction with a joke that's gotten big enough to get mass laughs.

And I think, there but the grace of God and the span of 25 years go I.

Men. What a bunch of dicks.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Joe Montana is Laughing

Leonard Marshall played defensive tackle for the New York Giants for 10 years, and for the Jets and R**skins for one season each. He went to the Pro Bowl twice, he was named NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year twice, he won the Super Bowl twice (including XXV against my beloved Bills), and he almost killed Joe Montana once.



He recorded 83.5 sacks and 711 tackles. It's safe to say that he had a good career in football.

Like many retired professional athletes, Marshall began a career in business after hanging up his cleats. In particular, Marshall became the Director of Strategic Initiatives and Brand Ambassador for ED Healthcare LLC, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in the manufacture of sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) to treat erectile dysfunction. To put it another way, Marshall started selling boner pills. At the price of $4.95 a pill! Through telephonic hotlines! He now lives on Prospect Avenue in Hackensack, NJ.

I know this because Marshall filed a complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Essex County Division, against ED Healthcare alleging that he was fired for telling the CEO that two female employees said they were sexually harassed by one of the EVPs. According to the complaint, the CEO "explicitly stated to [Marshall] that he was terminating [Marshall] because [Marshall] had conveyed the aforesaid sexual harassment complaints to him." Apparently the EVP was particularly terrible to one woman, he allegedly "repeatedly touched her breasts, asked for pictures of her in sleep wear, put his hand up her skirt, and used sexually explicit language ...." This is bad stuff but are we surprised given that this company sells hard-ons? Maybe he was all hopped up on boner pills? Or he was just trying to act presidential?


The plot thickens: "In further retaliation for [Marshall's] protected activity, Defendants cut [Marshall] out of all financial benefits due him from sales of Sildenafil by and on behalf of ED." I bet he isn't the first guy to be cut off due to ED. Marshall also claims that he "suffered and continues to suffer career damage, economic loss, damage to his reputation and emotional distress, as well as physical pain and suffering." I guess selling boner pills didn't damage his reputation? And his 12 year stint in the NFL didn't lead to any physical pain?

In fact, his 12 year stint in the NFL did lead to physical pain as Marshall described in this interview where he advocates for legalizing marijuana. Actually that's not 100% accurate--Marshall advocated for legalizing cannabidiol, a marijuana extract sold by ... wait for it ... a company owned by the CEO of ED Healthcare! It all comes full circle (or maybe it doesn't if you've been cut off from your sildenafil supply).


I suspect that all this and more will come up in Marshall's deposition, and it won't go smoothly. I'll update you as the case firms up.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Recovery

Big ups to the entire community of Gheorghe for keeping the home fires burning while Whitney and I served as our ambassadors to Mexico. Set new standards, y'all did.

Pretty proud of me and the big fella. We dazzled with our erudition during pre-wedding toast festivities, then with our athletic ability during poolside stupid-ball games, and finally with our charm and beer-drinking ability at the reception. So what if I've spent most of the past two days in gastrointestinal distress. Small price to pay.

Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo is a gorgeous place, all rugged coastline and quirky towns. I can see why Andy Dufresne wanted so much to be there. The wedding itself was held at Puerta Paraiso, owned by the bride's uncle, a nine-room inn in a remote area outside of Zihua (that what we locals call it). If anything, the pictures on its website don't do it justice.

We got home last night after midnight (and had it way easier than Whitney, who still had three hours to drive after my head hit the pillow), so I'll be taking it easy for a day or two. But when I'm back to full strength, I know what's on my to-do list.

My man Squeaky sent me an email a week or so ago saying, "Hey Rob, I have a few spare cans of Heady Topper and Focal Banger. What's your address and I'll try to send you some." I resisted the urge to give him shit for having leftover beer (Editor's Note: No, I didn't.) because I didn't want to look a gift pint in the mouth.

And when I got home from Mexico, here's what was awaiting me:


For those scoring at home, that's an Alchemist Beelzebub American Imperial Stout, a Trillium Cutting Tiles IPA, an Alchemist Focal Banger, and an Alchemist Skadoosh American IPA. Four beers from two of America's greatest breweries. I don't know what I did to deserve a friend like Squeak, by I'm going to try to keep doing it.

Looking forward to some rest and recovery, and to reading all the posts you guys wrote while I was away.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Sort of Homecoming, NOLA Style

New Orleans, Louisiana is, in my humble estimation, the most interesting city in the world.

The quintessential hub of culture, music, cuisine, ecology, history, spirits, social stratification, and the allowance of the good times to roll, NOLA leads the world in many categories, including nicknames:
  • The Big Easy
  • The Crescent City
  • The Birthplace of Jazz
  • Mardi Gras City
  • The City that Care Forgot
  • The Northernmost Caribbean City
  • America's Most Interesting City
  • Queen City of the Inland Sea
  • The Gateway to the Mississippi Valley
  • Home of Igors
Igor at Igors
I first was exposed to New Orleans' loins (New Orloins) in the summer of 1995.  I attended my high school buddy Ned's wedding in the Garden District days after Jerry Garcia died.  That weekend we shook it like Sugaree, and I could swear I saw Jerry's ghost among the many apparitions who inhabit the city.  I walked into Igors bar/game room/laundromat on a Friday night about 11, walked out the next morning about 7:30, and nothing was ever the same.

My most recent trip to my favorite city on the planet was last week.  I saw Ned, I took in some more spirits, and I spent indefensible amounts of time in Igors.  Not much changes down there. The multitude of bodily aches I felt as I left town last Thursday included some in my face from smiling and laughing for seven straight days.  God, I love that town.

This monkey could dance
I could regale you with a recap of my week in the sun, replete with culinary (grilled shrimp, fried green tomato, remoulade po-boy at Mahony's; firecracker shrimp at Parasol's; swordfish topped with lump crab and crawdads at Palace Cafe), musical (JazzFest music galore, Rebirth at Le Bon Temps, and so much more), and dipsomaniac (from Cooter Brown's to Pat O's and many in between) memories, but that'd just be rubbing it in.

This was my 17th visit to this fair city and my 10th JazzFest.  There was a stretch from 2009 until 2015 when I never got back there. Terrible idea. I am always reminded of how much I love the place, and that I need annual sojourns there for peace-of-mind purposes.  Join me in the years ahead, won't you?

The last night I was in town (after Fest and conference were over), Ned got us tickets for a show at Preservation Hall.  For the uninformed, I'll let the PresHall website explain:
New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture. Situated in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, the Preservation Hall venue presents intimate, acoustic New Orleans Jazz concerts over 350 nights a year featuring ensembles from a current collective of 100+ local master practitioners. On any given night, audiences bear joyful witness to the evolution of this venerable and living tradition.
On this night a few Preservation Hall Jazz Band players welcomed some musical guests into the fold for a one-set tribute to the late, great native son Lee Dorsey.  I hadn't realized how amazing the dilapidated Hall is, how tiny a venue it is, or that Ned had landed us front-row seats.  Close enough that I seriously needed to dodge the trombone (not a euphemism) on many an occasion.

The players were all as fantastic as the backdrop was.  Well-known in musical circles but not thoroughly recognized beyond the region, they were each incredibly skilled; full of smiles, jokes, and stage presence; and in love with Lee Dorsey's gumbo-soaked tunes.

Eric "Benny" Bloom: trumpet
Jon Cleary: piano
Jamison Ross: drums
Roland Guerin: bass
Clint Maedgen: saxophone
Ronell Johnson: trombone

Additional guests stepped in for songs here and there, including a be-wigged Angelo Moore of Fishbone who showed up out of nowhere to sing and play sax on "Get Out of My Life Woman."  So good.

Other songs (many written by old fave Allen Toussaint, RIP) they played to perfection: "Yes We Can," "Ya Ya," "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On)," "Holy Cow," "Ride Your Pony," "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley," and my all-time favorite... "Working in the Coalmine."

There are concerts that are the perfect length, those that you are ready to exit early, and those that you just hope will keep going on and on.  This fell under that final category.  I knew I was amid greatness, I was so close I felt like I was trespassing (or should've picked up a tambourine), and I knew it would leave a mark.

"New Orleans ain't a city, it's a scar."  -- Old 97's, "504"

This city leaves marks on me inside and out.  Seems like a fleur-de-lis tattoo might have to happen.




Pics from the show... that's me in the blue shirt and Jagermeister ballcap looking like a tourist.  But with a stellar vantage point.


Monday, May 08, 2017

Your Week of Zen

"The Mexicans say the Pacific has no memory. That's where I want to live the rest of my life. A warm place with no memory."



So said Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, talking about Zihuatenejo, a small, theretofore fishing village on Mexico's southwestern coast. Andy and Red wound up there (spoiler alert, but if you need a spoiler alert for Shawshank, maybe we've misjudged you), warm and amnesiac in the passing of their days. This week, Whitney and I will wind up there, too.

Bit of a different reason.

We're headed to Mexico's Pacific Coast for the wedding of two friends, not to escape from justice or anything else. But it'll be warm. And we'll forget a lot of stuff. So I can't wait. We're gonna get busy living, 'cause the alternative ain't much fun.

Try to keep the lights on here while we're gone.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Throwback Saturday

Just minding my business on the Twitter this afternoon, eating some lunch, when @JerryBeach73 dropped a Living Colour reference into my Mentions. And from there, down a rabbit hole. Do enjoy.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

BREAKING NEWS

Presented (initially) without comment or accoutrement, because you need to see this:

YOU DA MAN HAS BEEN REDONE.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One

A bit of a break from dipshittery this morning, and a share of something that you'll probably see lots of other places, simply because it moved me. Jimmy Kimmel's emotional monologue last night is worth a listen for its humanity, humility, and unfiltered reality.

It's okay if it gets dusty in your office.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Morning Music

It's been four long years since Haim released their first record, Days Are Gone. Their single, 'The Wire', was one of the best songs of 2013, a killer mix of 70s guitars, sisterly harmonies, and driving , insistent beat.

The sisters that make up the band, Este, Danielle, and Alana, have been teasing a new record of late, and just dropped a new video. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, 'Right Now', displays a far more spare version of Haim than the one to which listeners have become accustomed. But for a Sunday morning recovery, it's about perfect.



And just for kicks, here's 'The Wire', live on Saturday Night Live from November 2013:

Friday, April 28, 2017

It's Been a Long Week. I Want to Funk.

I went to the gym near my office at Monday to wail on my lats and delts. After crushing it like I always do, I showered up and started getting changed, keeping my head down to try to avoid the dangly, furry balls of the chit-chatting geriatrics around me who qualmlessly let all their shit hang out. Amazing how much of an impact gravity can have on a ballbag. But I digress. As I was changing, I heard a familiar beat on the radio. It took me a moment to process it, but then I immediately remembered what it was and how I knew it. It's the scene below, from the second movie I ever saw on a VCR. Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first, if you want to know. I watched both with my dad. Nothing more awkward as a kid than seeing a pair of boobies on the telly when your parents were in the room. But I digress again. Let's get back to this awesome awesome tune.



Well, amid a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week for me, that song has worm-holed its way into my head. And yes, if you're asking, I do. I do want to funk. Right now. And I'm not even sure what it means. Is it fucking? Doing drugs? Dancing? Getting drunk? Dressing like a woman in a sequined top? Putting Kools out on a Persian carpet? Any/all of the above? I'd be game for about all of those right now. NJ Transit is self-combusting, The job is bringing stress from all angles. I am fighting politics amid the stressful travel soccer tryout season in my neck of the woods. And I came to the realization that I can no longer keep scotch in my house b/c I will pound it down with excessive aplomb.

But Friday is here. I'm working from home. It's 80 degrees today and will be just as warm tomorrow. The landscapers mulched up my yard so it looks nice. And I will be able to watch my oldest kid play in an oddly scheduled soccer game at 430. So maybe life is not so bad. And maybe for me, funking is just mowing the lawn with a podcast playing in my ears under the hot sun. And maybe that's okay.


That's Bullshit

Now that I've listened to all seven episodes of Shit Town, I'm seeking new auditory distraction for my workouts. In the course of my searching, I came across the college course that we all dreamed of taking, one that seems perfectly matched to our stupid fucking era.

INFO 198/BIOL 106B is being offered this quarter at The University of Washington, taught by Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West. You'll know it by its title, 'Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data'. You'll appreciate the synopsis, "Our world is saturated with bullshit. Learn to detect and defuse it." And once you've read the Learning Objectives, you'll find yourself trying to figure out how to audit the course online:

Our learning objectives are straightforward. After taking the course, you should be able to:
  • Remain vigilant for bullshit contaminating your information diet.
  • Recognize said bullshit whenever and wherever you encounter it.
  • Figure out for yourself precisely why a particular bit of bullshit is bullshit.
  • Provide a statistician or fellow scientist with a technical explanation of why a claim is bullshit.
  • Provide your crystals-and-homeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.
We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.

The course just entered its seventh week, the focus shifting from a baseline understanding of forms of bullshit to more straightforward academic treatment of big data and statistical analysis. You can find the course lectures online here.

This course should be required for every American before he or she is eligible to vote, paired with Clay Johnson's The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption and Tom Nichols' The Death of Expertise. (The latter's op-ed this week in USA Today, headlined, 'Are Trump Voters Ruining America for the All of Us', set off a gloriously amusing shitstorm on his Twitter feed. That he's a public conservative intellectual didn't stop Pepe and the Nazis from pulling out the 'libtard Hillary-lover' card.)

Bergstrom and West are serious academics, and take pains in the course FAQ to explain that, despite the catchy name, this course isn't a joke. In it, they note,

"As we explain on our home page, we feel that the world has become over-saturated with bullshit and we're sick of it. However modest, this course is our attempt to fight back.

We have a civic motivation as well. It's not a matter of left- or right-wing ideology; both sides of the aisle have proven themselves facile at creating and spreading bullshit. Rather (and at the risk of grandiose language) adequate bullshit detection strikes us as essential to the survival of liberal democracy. Democracy has always relied on a critically-thinking electorate, but never has this been more important than in the current age of false news and international interference in the electoral process via propaganda disseminated over social media."

We here at G:TB are facile at creating and spreading dipshittery, but our unique brand of bullshit isn't dangerous. Much appreciation to the good professors for doing their part to stop that which is.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Worldwide Leader

It's gonna be a long, hot take-filled day for denizens of the sports cyberverse. ESPN's long-reported culling of talent has finally been announced internally, and the names of the impacted have already started to leak out. Ed Werder was the first to go public, saying via Twitter, "After 17 years reporting on #NFL, I've been informed that I'm being laid off by ESPN effective immediately. I have no plans to retire."

Jason Whitlock's already bleated about this being the inevitable result of ESPN's liberal politics. Others in the business have offered more level-headed insights about the changing economics of the sports infotainment industrial complex. The world changes, and people get caught in that change. So it was, so it shall ever be. Soon enough, a robot will be writing this blog and I'll be working as a Wal-Mart greeter. C'est la vie.

So let's make a pledge, Gheorghies, that we won't join the gleeful piling on at the misfortune of people with families and lives and hopes and dreams. Unless Darren Rovell gets the axe, in which case, well, bygones.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Weekend Bliss

Religion, according to Karl Marx, is the opiate of the masses (or to quote more accurately), the opium of the people. But in America, with the masses increasingly identifying as non-religious, or at least non-affiliated (Between 2007 and 2014, the percentage of Americans identifying as Christian dropped from 78 to 70 percent, while the percentage of self-identified unaffiliated rose from 16 to 23 percent, according to a 2015 Pew study.)

In these fractured times, we do as a people need some solace. Some bread and circuses at the very least. We need a goddamn opiate.

Thanks to a handful of gifted humans, we got our share this past weekend.

El Clasico might've been the most classic ever.



John Wall got pissed off about trailing by 25 in the first half.



Overtime playoff hockey always delivers, even when it kills my team.



At least the locals were on the right side of the bouncing puck.



And Kevin Chappell got his first even PGATOUR win.



I'm buzzed. At least for a minute.




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!
      --From songfacts.com

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 seeker.com, "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 SI.com's kludgey and slow-loading site.




Saturday, April 15, 2017

Damn

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 Contest...is 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

Whoops

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 just...is.



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.