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.