Thursday, June 29, 2017

Distraction

Today, as much as any day in the past five months, I need a distraction. Because real life is fucking barking mad.

I feel like Alex Honnald is pretty good at blocking out distractions. The 31 year-old Sacramento native famously became the first human to ever free climb Yosemite's El Capitan, finishing the nearly 3,000 foot Freerider route in just under four hours.

Without a rope. Or a net. Or Twitter.

I held my breath just watching this 30-second clip. I can't imagine actually doing that for four hours.



There's balls. And then there's whatever Alex Honnald has.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Professor Truck!

I just finished recording and mixing a new song-- "Circumscribed"-- and I learned so much during the process that I've decided to award myself an honorary doctorate. If Bill Cosby can have one, then so can I. So from here on out, I'll go by Professor Truck. 



I've made a list of some of the reasons why I've graduated from Greasetruck to Professor Truck (also, Grease Truck is a drone band from Canada and I don't want to share a name with a drone band . . . especially if they're from Ontario). I must warn you, though, the next section gets a little technical and nerdy. You can hear it all in my new song, which started off as my usual silliness but eventually became an epic rock adventure. Mainly, I'd like to say that I really enjoy recording audio as a hobby and highly recommend it. There's never been a better time in history to screw around with this stuff.

Here's why I deserve my honorary doctorate:

Professor Truck knows how to use envelope filters, both for panning and gain.

Professor Truck used a noise gate to get rid of a hum on an overly distorted track.

Professor Truck knows how to use an arpeggiator!

Professor Truck made a template of loops, subtly changed the meter in places, and then recorded over the looped template with live guitar.

Professor Truck uses drum fills.

Professor Truck updated his mastering software.

Professor Truck listened to his mix on headphones and monitor speakers, so you should be able to crank it without distortion.

Professor Truck can play the microbass.

Professor Truck used a send and a bus for the vocals, and then added separate EQ and reverb.




Monday, June 26, 2017

The Test Approaches Dave's Mental Age

Long ago, Whitney pegged my mental age at 92 . . . for those of you unfamiliar with this concept, your mental age is the age that most consistently reflects your behavior and personality throughout your entire life. He's probably spot-on: I can be irascible and stubborn and grouchy, I often act like a know-it-all, I struggle with change and technology, I find many of the things people do a waste of time and effort, I like to go to bed at 8:30 PM and get up eight hours later, I've seen it all, I don't mind being alone, and-- despite all these willful characteristics-- I'm fairly easygoing because I know we're all going to die soon, so it's not worth getting too upset over anything.

My podcasting partners, Stacey and Cunningham, are both much younger than me, but Stacey's mental age is 18 (and mentally she's a male) and Cunningham's mental age is somewhere around 64. On this week's show, we are joined by special guest Little Allie Hogan, who is chronologically rather young, but has the mental affect of a 42 year old Amish woman . . . from 1880.

Quite a crew.




If you haven't tuned in to The Test for a while, this is a good one. And now you can listen on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, etc. Please subscribe and give us a good rating. We're getting 12,000 or so downloads a month, which is in the vicinity of being real. Marls, you can subscribe and never listen, we won't be offended.

Anyway, we finally got back to "the studio," a little carpeted room in Stacey's house that is great for recording audio, and I've figured out how to compress and EQ everything so it sounds fairly professional. I've also made a stellar quiz on this one, the answers will most definitely surprise you, and probably make you a little embarrassed to be a modern American.  It's only taken 90 episodes to get it right, but I don't think I'm ever going to sound like this guy again . . .






Podcaster Makes Solemn Promise To Improve Sound Quality Next Episode



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Goo Goo Muck

Last time we came here to sing the praises of Open Culture, an incredibly diverse and extensive compendium of free literary, academic, musical, and artistic resources, we reveled in Bob Ross' pretty little trees.

Less pretty, our subject today, but no less impactful.

From Ronnie Cook and the Gaylads to Green Day, from MC5 to the Buzzcocks to Black Flag, over 50 years of punk and its progenitors get a nod in a well researched post and an 11-hour Spotify playlist featured this month in Open Culture. The 250-song curation is offered in chronological order, beginning with the aforementioned Gaylads (who gave The Cramps a hit song) and ending with 'Not a Fan', a 2017 track from Orange County, CA band Skaal.



Punk kinda feels right for the moment, y'know? So put on your headphones, turn off the world, and let Brother Stummer and his high priests proclaim the word.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NBA DRAFT NIGHT OPEN THREAD

Join us in the comments for world-class analysis and hi-jinx. Now, some pictures to get you excited for the evening.




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

zTravelogue: I Love The Hanshin Tigers

For my last night in Osaka I went to Koshien Stadium to watch Osaka's beloved Hanshin Tigers play the Yokohama DeNA Baystars. I think this was the best live sports experience of my life.

Tigers fans are notoriously passionate, possibly the most rabid fans in Japan. The Tigers are also perennial losers. Taken together, they were called the Red Sox of Japan until 13 years ago, and fans still use that analogy to explain their vibe to foreigners. When I went to the game they were in first place but the guys who took me assured me that it wouldn't last for long. They are 4 games out of first place as I write this.

I was invited to the game before I even left the US and I jumped at the chance, name dropping Kosuke Fukudome in my reply email after checking the roster and recognizing the former Cub. That I knew who Fukudome was put me in good stead as he is one of my host's favorite players.

I work closely with the two guys who took me to the game but I've only met them in person a handful of times. Most of our interaction is by phone or email. But they like to drink beer and watch baseball and we get along well so I was sure we would have fun.

In order to foster more eating and drinking in Osaka restaurants and bars, the local government started this "Premium Friday" summer program where corporations are incentivized to let employees leave early so long as they go out and have fun. Sort of like summer hours crossed with beer bash. As luck would have it, my last night in Osaka was the first Premium Friday ever so I went out with a large contingent of colleagues.

People in Japan love to drink, and if you aren't drinking speedily or volumetrically enough booze, someone will say "Will you drink my sake?" I Apparently this is trash talk (I think it sounds more like smack in Japanese) so when someone explained what was going on I started telling everyone "Oh, I'll drink your sake!!!" Aggressively. But it went over well (Osakans love humor, even misguided American humor) and I drank a lot of sake and malt liquor and ate some beef and fish and headed over to the subway.

A ticket from Umeda Station (right by my hotel) to Koshien is 270 yen, or about $2.50. As with all trains and subways in Osaka it was immaculate and the AC was forceful. We got there in about 20 minutes. I got off the train and the weather was perfect.

Koshien is the oldest stadium in Japan but you'd never know it. It looks modern and spotless, although the stadium itself doesn't look like much from the outside.


On the way in my hosts got all excited when we passed a trinket stand. They bought a bunch of what appeared to be unrolled condoms with very large reservoir tips and insisted that I do so too. They were balloons. More on this later.


We also passed a bunch of food vendors. Suffice it to say that ballpark food in Japan is different than what they serve in the Bronx.


Later we passed some higher quality merch. I abstained.


Then we went inside. The first order of business was getting more beer, then we found our seats in right field, near Fukudome. I settled into my seat and I was not prepared for what I saw. An entire section in left field was blue jerseys--Baystar fans. And they had flags and drums and trumpets and chants. It was hardcore. And it was clear that I would never run out of beer--the vendors are 21 year old girls in pink Asahi outfits carrying small kegs in backpacks. They are ubiquitous.

video


The Tigers fans soon clapped back. Turns out they have their own band in center field, sort of like the Bleacher Creatures only more musical. They even have a conductor. The whole crowd got into it.

video


One of my friends disappeared, presumably to go to the bathroom, and returned with two yellow Tigers jerseys. He told me "This is my gift to you so now you are a Tigers fan! And now we will wear them." I'm the fat guy on the right.


They don't play Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch. Instead they do this.

video


That's what the balloons were for. Fun, right? But that wasn't my favorite moment of the game. Here's my favorite moment of the game.

Top of the fifth inning, Fujinami, their 6'5" 19-year-old fireball-throwing future phenom with control problems (think of an Asian Nuke LaLoosh) gets into a jam. Japanese managers let their pitchers try and work out of it longer than Americans do--it only gets worse and he gives up three runs (one unearned) and they pull him with two men on. Iwakazi comes in and gets out of the inning but gives up two more runs. My friends are pissing and moaning, in English, throughout. "Oh, bad control!" "He trying to kill me!" "I've been saying he too young!" "Ug. Tigers." It really was kinda Red Soxy.

Bottom of the fifth, runners on first and second, Fukudome comes up to bat. He's 40 but he's still a slugger in this league and you can feel a energy and hope ripple through the crowd as he enters the box. The bandleader calls up their rally song--every batter has their own song, but this time they play the Hanshin rally song (this was explained to me by one of the other guys). You know how sometimes you can just feel a big play coming? Here's what happened. The video is a little over 2 minutes long but I think the payoff is worth it.

video


That was great. But it wasn't what made me title this post "I Love The Hanshin Tigers." I've never experienced a sporting event like this. Plenty of people were drinking, many heavily, but no one even considered getting into a fight. We were all having fun. There were tons and tons of children at the game. They were all well behaved and all the adults behaved well in front of them. There was passion and heartbreak (the Tigers went on to lose 5-2) but everyone was happy and upbeat. Everyone cheered together and no one took the loss to heart. Everyone knew all the songs and all the cheers, everyone wanted the home team to win and yelled themselves hoarse, but no one was a meathead or a jerk. No one gave the chubby American guy a hard time. Instead, for a few hours on the west side of Osaka on a perfect May afternoon into night, I was passively taken in by a community of people, embraced and accepted and included, and despite the fact that I had no idea what they were singing or why they were singing it, I had a spiritual experience. Those who know me well know that I laugh when people wax overly poetic about sports, and my sister says I'm the coldest person she knows, but God help me I got misty-eyed at the affection on display between parents and children, groups of friends, complete strangers. It was like a cross between an SEC football game, or maybe a Premier League soccer match, and a Quaker meeting. Maybe it was the alcohol, who knows. But I can't wait to get back to another Tigers game.

Monday, June 19, 2017

zTravelogue: Another must-try restaurant in Osaka, alternatively titled "Mm.. Food"

I went back to Osaka a few weeks ago and did two things for the first time that were post-worthy (no TR, not those kinds of things). I will regale with each in separate posts. Suspense!

I'm good friends with two guys in Osaka. The last time I went they took me to the Swimming Squid (which is still my favorite restaurant in Osaka). This time they took me to Umapero, a horse meat spot. The menu is all horse all day. For real.


It turns out horse is really good! And Umpero is really cool! As I should've expected from the Google translation of their website and the horse pinatas mounted over the door.


Fun drinking party girls' association! Reasonable horse meat! Homemade sangria and grilled wine glass! What could go wrong?

Our first course was horse sashimi. The white stuff on the right comes from the horse's neck, right under the skin below the mane. The stuff above the neck meat is skirt steak (which is the diaphragm). I think the thick pink meaty stuff on the top left was tenderloin. The stuff below that was cured tongue. The stuff below the tongue was sirloin, I think.


The neck meat wasn't particularly flavorful, but the other selections had clear, clean flavors. The tongue, skirt, and tenderloin were all lean and different from beef but not gamy or cloying like venison can be. The sirloin was fattier but not not nearly as fatty as Japanese beef.

After that was horse sushi. It was good but after that sashimi platter it was just more of the same and the rice actually detracted from the flavor of the meat.


I ate cooked food too, like this horse steak frites (which was completely indistinguishable from American beef).


We had a bunch of other cooked and raw courses, but the most interesting (at least to me) from a cultural perspective was the pastrami and pepperoni platter.


The ambiance is great too. The waitresses are friendly, cute, and speak serviceable English. Their uniforms include a golf shirt with one of those giant Polo logos, except instead of a mallet the polo guy has a giant fork. I was the oldest person there. Everyone was knocking back malt liquor and/or sake and you can smoke if you want. There were several tables of ladies that definitely made the place seem like "Fun drinking party girls' association." The tables are close to foster conversation between parties, and if things go well you don't have to go far--during a conversation about Japanese politics and societal norms, my friend Soichi pointed out the window to a building and said "That is a place for sex. If you meet a girl and want to have sex you don't have to take her home, you just go to an hourly place like that. They are all over the city." Umapero even has an adjacent hourly sex hotel! But be sure to bring some Alka-Seltzer and be prepared for strange smelling farts.

Umapero gets a 5 out of 5 spur rating. You should absolutely check it out if you're in Osaka. And if you need a reason to visit Osaka you should read my next post ...

Saturday, June 17, 2017

New (and Newish) Stuff I'm Listening To

Here's some new music I'm enjoying and you might too.

White Reaper, "The World's Best American Band"

Who would like them? TR, Clarence

What do they sound like? Everything there is to love about Van Halen, Queen, Blue Oyster Cult, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy; Japandroids if they got laid more and listened to AC/DC.

What's your favorite track? Crystal Pistol




The Regrettes, "Feel Your Feelings Fool!

Who would like them? rob, Squeaky, anyone who won't be depressed to learn that the band members are in high school

What do they sound like? An angrier harder Dum Dum Girls; a post-modern feminist take on 60's rock n roll; a cross between the Pixies and Florence and the Machine if Florence had a sore throat and recorded an album in a broom closet using old and marginally functional equipment.

What's your favorite track? It's hard to say, the whole album's really good. I Don't Like You is good, but Hey Now and Hot have actual music videos so I'll post those.





And this isn't on the album but it's worth listening to.




Talib Kweli, "Indie 500" (This isn't new but it escaped my notice until recently.)

Who would like them? Mark, maybe Dave

What do they sound like? Exactly what you would expect a Talib Kweli/9th Wonder collaboration to sound like.

What's your favorite track? Every Ghetto. This song is so sparse and so hard that it inspired me to write a post about the sparsest hardest conscious songs in hiphop history but I never wrote it.




Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, "The Nashville Sound"

Who would like them? Rootsy, Whitney, rob, anyone who appreciates lyrics that are simultaneously austere and a punch to the gut

What do they sound like? Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, which is to say damn good.

What's your favorite track? This album comes out June 16 and I'm writing this on June 15 so I've only heard four songs. That said, If We Were Vampires is the weirdest love song I've ever heard but it's sincere--you can hear Isbell's voice crack around the 1:56 mark.

Friday, June 16, 2017

I Want My MTV

Okay, so if you're the opposite of the guy who needed 40 years of hip-hop videos crammed into one 4 minute song, this is for you.  Got all day and nothing to fill it? Well, here's one hour and 18 mins of MTV from June 16, 1982.  As in 35 years ago today.

The videos are limited to a few seconds of each, which is as much as you need of certain acts.  (I'm looking at you, Loggins.)  There are old commercials, amusing and nostalgic.  (Erasable pens! Wow!) Touring info like Asia playing Norfolk Scope on June 25, and tons of cool arty graphics of the MTV logo.

And lots of Martha Quinn.Who doesn't love Martha Quinn?


Total waste of time but more compelling than I would've thought.

Did you know?  Five (5) of the first 50 videos aired on MTV were Rod Stewart tunes.  What gives?


Untitled . . . or Monkey Wrench, Whichever

Gheorgheness occurring is worth celebrating these days, what with some decidedly un-gheorghey people barking most loudly.

Dave Grohl did a cool thing, one which probably didn't require a large degree of skin off his back, but (a) plenty of folks in his position don't do that and (b) it was still very kind and very thoughtful.

Personal backstory: I don't boycott many things in my life, in part because I enjoy a lot of stuff and in part because I don't have the will power to see it through.  But I boycotted Dave Grohl for a while.

I formally abstained from the Wendy's on Lee Highway in Arlington when I was living with Rob (when he boycotted Best Buy).  They mangled every drive-thru order, just total and complete ineptitude.  Never to my advantage.  I let them off the hook in 1996, and on the very first run-through they forgot my order of chili.  I don't eat much fast food these days, but since that night that particular Wendy's has had a lifetime ban.

I have consistently forbidden myself to frequent Paul's Deli in Williamsburg, Virginia since 1989. Our fraternity was banned from entering for a semester for throwing snowballs at the place during an inter-frat pelting one snowstorm in late '88, my freshman year. Banned in a really heavy-handed manner by the owner, George.  Then he proclaimed in the spring that we were once again allowed to resume spending our limited funds at his establishment.  Didn't go over well.

A huge group of our gang rolled into Paul's one afternoon.  George was all smiles, very welcoming.  Everyone lined up and ordered sandwiches one by one, and ordered some pitchers.  The sandwiches were being made.  The pitchers were all poured.  And just as it was time to pay, one of our most smart-assed brethren said for all to hear, "Eh . . . let's go over to College [the adjacent, rival deli]."  Mass exodus.  Permanent ban of our fraternity!

The permanence of that ban was severely tested.  George forgot about it after some years.  Meanwhile, some of our less-imbued fratres caved very early.  Others over time.  I have never purchased food or drink there since, and although I don't really care at all, I'll go ahead and take advantage of the opportunity to mockingly question any of our vintage who do.

Worth noting that George bought the College Delly some years back.  Point totally moot at this point.  But still . . .

In 1997 or 1998, I was living in Arlington, fairly newly married.  Sitting on the couch and watching Kilborn interview Dave Grohl on the "Daily Show" prequel.  Kilborn asked Grohl what kind of music he listened to, other than that which he created.

Out of nowhere, utterly unprovoked, Dave Grohl responds:
"Why, what do you listen to, Craig?  Bruce Springsteen?  because if he's the Boss, then I quit!"
I remember shouting angrily and shaking my fist -- with no one around.  Always a bad sign.

That was it.  The boycott was on.  I told Evan and he would have boycotted Grohl and the Foo Fighters as well, if he had been otherwise interested in that band at all.

That ban lasted for a few years.  Signifying nothing, of course, but it was the principle.  Those years were the apex of my chronic CD-buying time, and I steadfastly refused to buy their album.

Sometime after acknowledging that "My Hero" and "Everlong" were great tunes and I was only impacting myself with the ban, I later broke down and eventually bought The Colour and the Shape.

Used.  Ha ha!!  Take that, Dave Grohl!

Over time, of course, Mr. Grohl cemented his reputation as a top-shelf music composer and performer, as well as an all-around great dude.  No more boycotts.

Makes you think, though -- did my punishment help turn him into who he is today?  One has to wonder.

Fast forward to now.  Among a number of other cool things, Dave Grohl reached out to a mourning fan and did this:

Dave Grohl Sends Heartfelt Note to Husband of Fan who Died of Cancer 

The band is expected to dedicate 'Everlong' to his late wife at Glastonbury.

Dave Grohl has a big heart, as he proved yet again by sending a touching note to the husband of UK Foo Fighters fan who recently died of cancer. 

 The woman, Laura Plane, suffered an eight-year battle with the disease before she died last year. She and her husband Jon were huge Foo fans. When they were married, they danced to the band’s song “Everlong” for their first dance and they had planned to attend a Foo Fighters gig to celebrate their 10th anniversary. But Laura was too ill to make the show. So her husband posted a note to the band to ask them to play “Everlong” at Glastonbury festival in her honor. 

After the post went viral Grohl wrote a response to Plane on a piece of scrap paper: “Jon – Dave here,” he wrote. “Heard about Laura. Sending you much love and hope and light. Will be thinking of you at Glasto. Take care mate.”

Full article here.

Kudos to Dave Grohl and the gheorgheness he brings on a pretty routine basis.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I Come Bearing Mashup Magic

Sure, it's not the Muppets, but it's definitely in our wheelhouse:



[H/T here]

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bubble Football With Bulls

 
This looks like fun.....
 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Underdogs, Rise Up

And a child shall lead them. We hope.
The U.S. Men's National Team is breathing slightly easier after grabbing seven points from a possible nine in its past three matches. Bruce Arena's boys have risen from dead last in the final stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying to third - and three teams automatically qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia.

The Americans aren't out of the woods just yet, but the panic that set in after consecutive losses to Mexico and Costa Rica to begin the Hex has subsided.

All of which makes this evening's roadie against Mexico in Estadio Azteca somewhat less nervy that it might be. Had the Yanks needed a result in Mexico City, it'd hard to be confident. Mexico is 19-1-2 all-time against the US in Mexico, having never lost in World Cup qualifying on home soil. We'd be thrilled with a draw against El Tri, but even that's a tall order.

But while we're all focused on the big one tonight, there's an even more compelling David vs. Goliath story unfolding in the U.S. Open Cup. On Tuesday night, MLS side D.C. United hosts pub-leaguers Christos FC, an amateur side from Baltimore, quite literally named for and sponsored by a liquor store.

Christos FC was founded in 1997 by a group of soccer-loving friends. The club competes in the Maryland Major Soccer league, and won last year's United States Adult Soccer Association Amateur Cup, which qualified it for the U.S. Open Cup, the national championship tournament.

After dispatching fourth-division Fredericksburg (VA) FC, 3-0, in the opening round, Christos FC figured to bow out against the USL's Richmond Kickers. But a 79th-minute goal by Baltimore Blast midfielder Geaton Caltabiano held up and send the upstarts to Chicago for a third-round match against Chicago FC. The team resorted to a GoFundMe campaign to cover travel costs to the Windy City, and only dressed 14 players.

And still, they won, topping Chicago by a 1-0 count.

So Tuesday at Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Maryland, Christos FC - the last remaining amateur side in the tournament - takes on one of MLS' most storied clubs. DC United isn't having a great season, but they're still a full-time professional side. Christos is a decided underdog.

But they're not going to Mexico City. Viva Christos.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Well That Turned Out to be a Terrible Idea


Those of you who have known me longest know that I have been prone to some epic bad decision-making. Since my college days, I have made mostly good decisions on the job/family front, but my college years could best be summed up as "Bad decisions and their unfortunate consequences". This refers to academics, military endeavors, fraternity decisions, substance use/abuse, matters of the heart and (more often) matters of the groin.

Fast forward to today. We are living in the world of Trumplestiltskin. And it is an unpleasant time. The potential for civil liberty erosion, a potential war with North Korea, the increased rancor in everyday life, and the idea that I actually agree with Rob on political matters is too much for me to handle.

The 24/7 news cycle has become too much to handle, and I found myself diving down the rabbit hole every time the liberals and the never Trump Republicans wet the bed getting worked up on the fat man's latest misstep. As a result, I recently had to do a self-intervention with technology, realizing that I spend far too much evening time on my electronic devices. It is affecting my sleep, because I am now no longer reading before nodding off, something I have done for most of my life.

So I had multiple reasons to pursue distractions from CNN's 96-pt font hyperbole (BREAKING NEWS!!!) on my iPad and TV. On a recent Acela train from Boston to NYC, I started digging into The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu. On that same train, I ordered some books from Amazon, to try to re-ignite my love for the ancient hobby of reading paper books. I ordered a Winston Churchill biography, as well as Cormac McCarthy's The Road. The latter item was something I'd been itching to dig into for a while - a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that others spoke highly of. But I have to admit I knew little of the details. When both arrived, the massive Churchill tome immediately looked imposing. So I opted for the smaller McCarthy book.

Related image

What does this mean? It means I spent the last three weeks escaping the Trump presidency by watching The Handmaid's Tale and reading The Road, two extremely personal tales of tortured souls trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic America. Yep, that turned out to be a terrible idea. A really really bad one. A shiver-inducing, may-as-well-drink-scotch-while-it's-still-available kinda decision. Both works of art make me want to build a bunker and buy some guns, which is unfortunate, because the (sur)real world of Trumplestiltskin occasionally makes me want to do the same. I almost took a break from these show/book to watch Schindler's List to cheer myself up. Praise be.

Image result for handmaid's tale

After finishing The Road over Memorial Day weekend, I needed something light. Immediately. So I dug into a book I had purchased a week before, unaware how ironic the timing would prove to be. The book is the highly entertaining Gregg Allman biography My Cross to Bear. It arrived less than a week before his passing. Reading about the teenage Allman Brothers learning the blues and sowing their oats in Daytona and Los Angeles in the late 1960's is a more apt form of escapism for my weary soul these days. As my buddy Lester Burnham said in American Beauty, "At least once a day, I want to retire to the men's room so I can jerk off while I fantasize about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell."

Happy 6/9, gents and dames.

Image result for greg allman biography

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

THE KING ADD ROCK

Too busy to spend the time reading and listening to GTB-recommended hip-hop posts and playlists like this and this?

Too ADD to allocate 39 minutes for Raising Hell, 48 minutes for The Low End Theory, or a whopping 79 minutes for To Pimp a Butterfly?

No worries!  Check this out.


Kurtis Blow is wondering who he pissed off.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

From the Crap Part of LoCo

My daughter has played travel soccer for the past five years. Over that time, she's been a part of some decidedly mediocre sides, playing at the lower levels of the DMV soccer pyramid. She's a decently-skilled kid, but she's small, and she's lazy as hell, so she's been surpassed by kids who've worked much harder to get better. I'd like to say that there's a life lesson in there, but I never learned it, and I'm afraid I've passed on my work ethic in addition to my size.

We hired coaches based on height.
It's possible that she's played her final game in Loudoun Soccer's red and black - tryouts just ended, and hers is a competitive age group. I'll be bummed for her if she doesn't make a team, because she claims to love the game, but we'll both get over it.

If this is, in fact, her swan song, I think I sent her (and her teammates) out on a high note.

Last November at the Club's annual gala, I won an auction for a customized message from Michael Davies and Roger Bennett, better known in soccer circles as Men in Blazers. I had no idea what I was going to do with the message, but I was drunk, and I thought it was a cool thing to have in my back pocket.

During the Fall soccer season, my daughter's team proved to be hard-working (most of them), highly coachable, and rapidly improved as a group. They finished that campaign with a 3-3-2 record, narrowly missing promotion to the first division of the Old Dominion Soccer League (ODSL), which is itself the lowest of leagues in the byzantine local landscape.

My blog, my kid.
In the Spring, they continued to improve, gaining confidence as their results became incrementally better. They started with a 1-3 performance in a tournament against teams from much higher divisions and leagues, though they were in each of those matches until the late stages. They got out to a 4-1 start during regular season play before running into a physical and talented squad and falling, 7-1. They bounced back from that drubbing, learning a lot of lessons about intensity and effort, and went 2-0-2 in a Memorial Day tournament, again against ostensibly much better competition. They tied the team that ultimately won the event, giving that team its only blemish. They scored seven goals and allowed one across the event's four matches. And my lazy daughter scored her team's only goal in a 1-1 tie, on nothing more than sheer effort. It might've been her finest moment, save a sick slide tackle she pulled off in the game in which she's pictured above.

In their final regular season match, with promotion to the first division assured, they faced the same team that bullied them a short month ago. In the movies, this is where the plucky underdogs complete their narrative arc, punch Biff in the mouth, and ride off into the sunset. In reality, the girls played their asses off, fighting back from a 1-0 deficit to tie the game, only to yield a late goal on a fluky bounce to lose, 2-1.

They won't remember that part, most likely. They will, I hope, remember  the video that Davo and Rog made for them. I wasn't sure if they'd like it, or even get it, but the feedback I've received has been amazing. Hell, I was happy enough to do this just for me. To know that it made a great group of kids happy (and made them thing I have some serious juice) is serious icing on the cake.



Sunday, June 04, 2017

We're Fucked: Fashion is Dumb Version

Just two short weeks ago, we decried the emergence of the male romper, or romphim, as it's known. Whether ironic attention-grabber or serious fashion statement, there's really no escaping the fact that it's a really fucking stupid look.

It got worse.

I give you...this matching lace shirt/short romphimesque ensemble.


We deserve everything that happens to us, and may the Lord have mercy on our collective souls.

Friday, June 02, 2017

The Best Game in Football

A wise head texted me this quote from yesterday's Rose Garden press conference without comment:

I laugh in your general direction.
"At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us as a country? We want fair treatment. We don't want other countries and other leaders to laugh at us anymore."

While America and its increasingly infantile president* hurtles headlong into irrelevance on a wave of stupidity and xenophobic paranoia, the ripples of laughter from the global community growing in volume and frequency (nervous laughter, it must be said, because who the fuck knows when babytrump's tiny brain and giant ego get embarrassed to the point where he bombs someone to make the meanies shut up), we seek solace in dipshittery and sports.

European sports, in this case, though our domestic championship series in basketball and hockey are fun, too.

Tomorrow at 2:45 Eastern, two of the world's biggest football clubs tangle in Cardiff, Wales for the UEFA Champions League title. Real Madrid are gunning for their second consecutive championship and third in four years. No club has ever won back to back Champions League trophies. Opposite Madrid, the legendary Italian side Juventus makes its second finals appearance in three years.

Both clubs have appeared in six UCL championship matches, a record tally. Madrid have won all five of their previous appearances, while Juve have lost four of their five, with only a 1996 win over Ajax to their credit.

Total dick, right?
Beyond the titanic names on the front of the jerseys, some (me) might argue that this is a battle of good versus evil. Real Madrid's historical association with the oppressive rule of Francisco Franco is bad enough, but they feature prettyboy gloryhound Cristiano Ronaldo, and spend like drunken sailors. It's true enough that Ronaldo is a sublime talent, among the most skilled and ruthless goalscorers of all time. But he kinda seems like a dick, you know?

Juventus, on the other hand, while bestriding Italian football like a colossus, is still the squad of hardworking, blue collar Turin (it's possible that I'm overstating this for effect), the center of Italy's automotive industry. Sure, the club has won six consecutive Serie A titles, and we rooted for Roma to overtake them in this, Francisco Totti's final season, but for tomorrow, Juve are a tiny little underdog, battling the forces of darkness and global domination.

They're also battling the forces of Madrid's balanced and deadly offense, led by Ronaldo, but featuring brilliant talents like Gareth Bale (battling an injury), Karim Benzema, Isco, Alvaro Morata, Toni Kroos, and Luka Modric. Madrid have scored in an absurd 64 consecutive matches in all competitions, with 32 goals in 12 Champions League matches to date.

Buffon!
Juventus, though, seem uniquely qualified to stand up to Madrid's offensive firepower. Backstopped by the legendary Gianluigi Buffon, the Old Lady's back line of Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, and Andrea Barzagli, in partnership with wingback Dani Alves and defensive midfielder Sami Khedira, have conceded a mere three goals in their 12 matches, with nine clean sheets.

Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

We're not one for predictions here, at least not accurate ones, but Juve's defense has been sick. They blanked Barcelona twice in the quarterfinals, and only a late, inconsequential goal from Monaco's Kylian Mbappe in the final leg of the semifinals kept the Bionconeri from recording shutouts in all six knockout stage matches. It says here that the cup heads to Italy on a late tally from the head of the towering Chiellini.

I wouldn't bet on it, though.