Monday, January 30, 2017

Land of Confusion

I spent the better part of yesterday coaching soccer and ranting impotently against the various ways the Trump Administration is obviously subverting our national interests and character. (Not at the same time - that might get me in trouble with my soccer club.) For the record, I will be beating the 'Bannon's the real power' horse until that nag is dead, reincarnated, and dead multiple times, so you might want to unsubscribe if that particular issue isn't dipshittery enough for you. When they come for me, please tell my family I loved them very much, and to make sure the Nazis know that the little one has blond hair and blue eyes.

In the midst of my rage-tweeting, I used 'puppet' to describe the President*, and it triggered a thirty-year old memory. The late, great British satirical puppet serial 'Spitting Image' ran from 1984 to 1996, and pulled zero punches. Most Americans remember it from the role it played in Genesis' 'Land of Confusion' video in 1986.


We're gonna need more than a puppet show to tell truth to power over the next four years, especially after the Gestapbros have Alec Baldwin killed, but we'd do far worst than to have the creators of 'Spitting Image' rev up the righteous anger machine once more for bad times' sake.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tokyo Travelogue, Volume 1: I Have a Pen, I Have an Apple

Much like the globetrotting love machine that is Zman, I find myself in Japan for a work trip this week. I flew out Friday morning on a 14-hour direct flight, landing at 3 PM local time in Tokyo Saturday. I was told to take the extra day to acclimate to the 14-hour time zone difference. I was unable to sleep on the flight, so I pushed myself until 9 PM last night. I then promptly slept until...330 AM. Sub-optimal. On the flip side, no wait for the stationary bike at the gym at 445 AM today (Sunday)!

Tokyo is big, clean and modern. I am excited to explore a couple cool neighborhoods today and eat. A lot. Of course, I can't start until the breakast places open in two hours. Again, this is sub-optimal. And of course, since this is Japan ,there is strange Japanese music everywhere. Like this song that I heard yesterday and was able to find on the world wide web (you'll figure out how I was able to track it down after you hear it). It has wormholed its way into my head, finally pushing out the phrase "drip drip drip" from the Chappelle R. Kelly video that was stuck in my head for a couple weeks.

This video is Japan in a nutshell - kitschy, catchy and really fucking strange. I am trying to keep my head from exploding - the dancing, the outfit, the stache, the whole thing. PPAP indeed. And it's SFW and safe for kids.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Oh, Dear Lord. He's Rick.

On Wednesday El Presidente DJ Trump gave an exclusive interview to ABC News, one which the The Washington Post calls "stunning," one which The Gheorghe Blogtimes reviewed as . . . well . . . this:


As the Post opines, the interview paints the Commander-in-Chief as a terrifyingly insecure lad "endlessly obsessed with his popularity."  As the transcript reveals (don't bother watching it), Trump discusses important matters at length, such as his recent speech to the CIA.  An interview to talk about a speech to talk about an inauguration crowd.  Have at it:
That speech was a home run. See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. … I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time. You probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. … People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. … That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did.
There are fine universities across this country.  There are departments within them, some of them dedicated to Psychology.  Within those departments are courses, courses with curricula and in many cases, textbooks, either printed or virtual.  Within those textbooks are case studies, cases we would call "textbook." This chap in the White House is a textbook case for a great number of things; start with Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I called to the Mayo Clinic to learn more. I had to put them on hold briefly.


 Eventually I got through and learned this about narcissistic personality disorder:
Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and other areas of their life, such as work or school.
If you have narcissistic personality disorder, you may come across as conceited, boastful or pretentious. You often monopolize conversations. You may belittle or look down on people you perceive as inferior. You may feel a sense of entitlement — and when you don't receive special treatment, you may become impatient or angry. You may insist on having "the best" of everything — for instance, the best car, athletic club or health care.
At the same time, you have trouble handling anything that may be perceived as criticism. You may have secret feelings of insecurity, shame, vulnerability and humiliation. To feel better, you may react with rage or contempt and try to belittle the other person to make yourself appear superior. Or you may feel depressed and moody because you fall short of perfection. 
DSM-5 criteria for narcissistic personality disorder include these features:
  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance 
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it 
  • Exaggerating your achievements and talents 
  • Being preoccupied with fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate 
  • Believing that you are superior and can only be understood by or associate with equally special people Requiring constant admiration 
  • Having a sense of entitlement 
  • Expecting special favors and unquestioning compliance with your expectations 
  • Taking advantage of others to get what you want 
  • Having an inability or unwillingness to recognize the needs and feelings of others 
  • Being envious of others and believing others envy you 
  • Behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner 
Although some features of narcissistic personality disorder may seem like having confidence, it's not the same. Narcissistic personality disorder crosses the border of healthy confidence into thinking so highly of yourself that you put yourself on a pedestal and value yourself more than you value others.
Some of you aren't into "reading" or "science."  Do you want to learn pretty much the same stuff by watching television instead, perhaps a snippet one of the best British comedies of the 1980's or any other time?  Fair enough.

We've highlighted the merits of "The Young Ones" here before, but when I read the transcript text above from Trumplestiltskin, I immediately thought of a certain farcical character and a certain ridiculous scene. And for those who do like equations, "I feel sorry for you!" = "Sad!"

Observe and learn:


It's the same.  Except Rick was enjoyable.

This post, trying to be everything to everyone, concludes with something for those who like celebrities before they were stars.  A later scene from this same episode features Oscar-winner Emma Thompson, "House" Hugh Laurie,  Stephen Fry, and various other people.  And Rick is officially named as The World's Stupidest Bottom-Burp, so the parallels to DJT just keep rolling on.


Pity, our future is in Rick's hands.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Big Hazy

I didn't go to New Orleans to escape the inauguration of President* Donald Trump; that was just a providential side effect. And I didn't drink to forget. That's just kind of how it goes in that no holds barred town. What follows is a scattershot diary of the parts of the weekend I do recall.

Should've known better, probably, than to start my first day with back to back sazeracs at Backspace, on Chartres. Its motto is 'Located at the intersection of writing and drinking', so I think you know how I feel about it.

After a couple of hours of really bad pool (and watching the dealer we'd been playing with run some local youths off his corner) at Checkpoint Charlie's, my friends and I spent the better part of the rest of the day wandering from bar to bar on Frenchmen Street before winding up at Balcony Music Club. We danced with the locals to a killer brass band at the latter place, but I'll be damned if I remember their name. One of my friends really, really wanted to ride the mechanical bull at The Swamp, and we indulged him. Bourbon Street is by far my least favorite part of New Orleans.

Woke up Saturday morning* rarin' to go** and headed out to grab a bite to eat***.

* It was 10:45, so I guess that's still morning.
** I'm still hungover, so you can imagine how I felt about my life choices at that point in the day.
*** Ate about three bites of jambalaya and choked down a bloody mary before I had to go back to my hotel to clean myself up.

I had a decision to make at that point, and since I was in New Orleans, that decision made itself. I went to Jackson Brewery. I managed to force a few beers down my throat and began to feel almost human just as the local version of the Women's March made its way down Decatur Street. The pussy puns gave me a second wind.

Headed back to B.M.C. just in time to catch the end of a set by the Jazzmen Brass Band right as the buzz was beginning to overtake the pain. Tight race for a while, though.

video

Caught a Jeff Tweedy lookalike at the Apple Barrel Bar while my friend unsuccessfully tried to chat up the singer's girlfriend. That bar might - might - hold 30 people, if everyone sucks in their stomachs and doesn't move. It's so New Orleans that the band in that tiny venue was unique, talented, and committed to their music. 

Made a tactical error because most of the group wanted to try oysters at Bourbon House. The charbroiled oysters were sublime, and the small batch bourbon flight phenomenal, but the restaurant is the hell and gone back to Bourbon Street from Frenchmen, and I'm quite sure we could've gotten our fill of oysters somewhere closer. 

While we were eating, we noticed multiple tables of young, floppy-haired dudes in tuxedos with dates in fancy dresses. Turns out a fraternity from the University of Alabama (Roll Tide) was having a formal in New Orleans. Had I known such a thing existed, I'd have reconsidered my matriculation in Williamsburg. Who knew stuff like that happened?

Trekked all the way back to the Spotted Cat, where I saw something I'd never seen before:

video


That's Doctor Sick sitting in with the Russell Welch Quartet, playing a saw with a fiddle bow. No big deal. Happens all the time. Those were four of the best gypsy jazz musicians you'd ever want to see, in a room as big as my basement. As zman is wont to say, cot damn.

And to top it all off, we went back to B.M.C. yet one more time (careful readers will recall that this was the same place where I 'met' Chris Rock and Olivia Wilde that last time I was in New Orleans), where we danced with an elfin lesbian and a smoking hot British girl to Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers. I wish I'd captured my own video of these cats, but this'll have to do.


Ended on a high, we did. It wasn't my finest New Orleans performance, but I'm a bit past my prime. It's still the most unique place I've ever been. I'm in the market for a wearable washboard.

And some cot damn aspirin.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Half a Million Thank You's

Almost back to full functionality after my trip to New Orleans. When I make it all the way to normal, I promise I'll drop a recap here. Give me a few days.

In the interim, a very cool first-person recap from the Women's March on Washington that features my wife and kids (one of them by name) popped up in the most random of places. My 15 year-old attends high school with the daughter of D.C. area radio personality Robb Spewak. In the most random of coincidences, Spewak's friend and podcasting partner Katie von Hermann came to town for the Women's March and landed a seat on the same bus that my wife and kids took into the city, with Spewak's daughter in tow. Since she and my daughter are friends, they decided to pair up with my family, and wound up spending the day together.

Von Hermann and Spewak recorded a special episode of their podcast yesterday, recounting her experience. It's alternately inside-jokey, silly, and moving, and though it's 72 minutes long, I really enjoyed it. Those of you that attended will relate, and those that didn't will find yourself transported to that incredible scene.

And if anyone can figure out how to embed it, they've got more skeelz than me.

My wife is at top left, and my rugrats at bottom left. Teejay is there somewhere.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Thanks, Obama

Today is the last day Barack Obama will wake up as the President of the United States of America. We'll have plenty of time over the next four years to blog about the next guy (and I'm sure it will all be measured and coherent), but we gather this morning to remember the 44th holder of the highest office in the land.

Other people will (and already have) spill tons of ink on Obama's legacy, from both sides of the political divide. This isn't a post about politics, even if I might be inclined to do some partisan arguing. This is a reflection about a man who couldn't possibly have lived up to the hopes he embodied for liberals like me, nor could he have ever changed the hearts and minds of so many who refused to see beyond their self-built walls.

I remember the amazing swell of emotion I felt in November 2008 watching this completely unique family (at least in terms of our political experience to that time) walk onstage at Grant Park after Obama had defeated John McCain. In that speech, he echoed John F. Kennedy, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, and he also worked in some Sam Cooke when he said, "It's been a long time coming, but change has come to America."

In that same speech, he also laid out a vision for the country, saying, ""This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can."

Yes, we can. And yes, we did. Some things. It's the great shame of our time that so many worked so hard to make sure that we didn't do so many others out of pure partisan (and let's not mince words - racist) spite. But if you look at the record, it's remarkable what Obama was able to accomplish despite that unyielding opposition. In the last eight years, President Obama's administration:
  • Ended the most significant economic recession since the 1930s
  • Passed the most sweeping healthcare reform measure since the implementation of Medicare, which provided more than 20 million Americans with access to healthcare
  • Killed Osama bin Laden
  • Supported the legalization of same sex marriage, which eventually happened in 2015
  • Nominated the first Hispanic American to the Supreme Court
  • Oversaw net positive job growth every month since February 2010, a record streak
  • Presided over an economy that drove a 235% growth in the S&P, a 16.4% annualized return
That's a partial list. It's very difficult to argue that Obama wasn't an impactful President, despite recent attempts at early-stage revisionist storytelling. Of that healthcare reform, Teej noted, "I'd like to shout out Shannon's visit to the White House during his tenure, highlighting the inclusion of American people in his administration as a direct contrast to asshole racist homophobe oranj Julius Caesar." (Ed: We were trying to make this not so political a post. Like most things, we failed a little bit. But that post about Shannon is one of my all-time favorites, so you should read it again.)

While I'm a homer, I'm not a blind one. Obama wasn't perfect. His failed Syria policy will be a blood-red stain on his legacy. He either underestimated or discounted the ferocity of the GOP resistance to his Presidency, and in so doing foreclosed on any opportunity to productively collaborate, or to take his message more directly to the voters. Dave has strong opinions here, saying, "I'd like to thank him for...doing some weird pardons, backing off his red line on biological weapons, allowing Aleppo to fall to pieces, kowtowing to the tire lobby (Ed: tire lobby?), and not pushing for the legalization of marijuana." Dave had the same high hopes as a lot of lefties who feel a little betrayed by Obama's cautious centrism, apparently. And worth real notice, as Marls points out, "I would not thank him for taking liberties with Presidential powers in response to obstructionist douchenozzles, the same douchenozzles who are now going to advocate the fucktard in chief use them the same way." Word.

But on balance, I agree strongly with the words of no less a sage than our own Zman, "He brought a combination of intelligence, dignity, respectability, and competency to the office what was unprecedented in my lifetime. So thanks for making our country great again."

While we dabble in crappy political commentary here from time to time, at root we're about popular culture. There's never been a President more aware of and connected to the culture, nor more influential. He was, and is, cool. Cooler than us. Cooler by miles than any previous President. George W. Bush might've been fun at the bar, but Obama...man, that dude was chill. Remember this?



Or this?



His opponents freaked the fuck out at that last video, because, well, because a lot of them are racists. In Mark's telling, he appreciated Obama because his tenure, "Allow[ed] me to get a very, very clear picture of how many of my high school classmates are not so sneaky racists. They thought their Facebook posts were subtle and that they weren't betraying their true feelings. They were wrong. And my previous decisions to not actually be friends with these people were validated."

All presidents invite artists to the White House. None before had Common and Chance the Rapper and A$AP Rocky and Pharrell and Kendrick Lamar and Prince and Alicia Keys at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

He name-dropped Ludicris, Bob Dylan, Miles Davis, and Sheryl Crow. His playlists included Arcade Fire, No Doubt, Raphael Saadiq, and Jennifer Hudson. He sung along with Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, and B.B. King and tried his hand at singing Al Green solo.

He tore up the White House bowling alley to put in a basketball court, and he actually played hoops on the regular. He showed us his NCAA Tournament bracket, even if it was always chalky as hell. He had legitimately great comedic timing, killing the White House Correspondents Dinner roast on an annual basis.

He wore Dad jeans, sure, but even the coolest misstep from time to time. We can forgive him that, too, because he was such a great public Dad and a gracious and clearly doting husband.

And in the cool de grace, he gave us Biden. Man, we don't have time to do Biden justice, but that cat was one of a kind.

The Obama moment that'll stick with me the longest, among a great many memorable moments, involves a different kind of music. In the wake of the tragic murder of nine people at a church in Charleston, President Obama spoke at the eulogy of Reverend Clementa Pinckney. His anguished, human, moment of grace told us so much:



He was at his best in moments like this one, like the days after Sandy Hook, like his words about Trayvon Martin, where his humanity, his dignity, his grace, and his willingness to believe in our better angels were all on full display. We didn't deserve that belief, as it turns out, and that's both his greatest blind spot and our failure as a people.

Whitney reflected on that belief and that failure, saying, "I would thank him for being a brilliant beacon of hope and optimism in 2008. Many of us say stunned, post-election 8 years ago, wondering how the hell it happened in our country that a black man was elected President when we were convinced there was enough subterranean bigotry to preclude that from ever happening. From that moment, quickly revealed as fleeting, we basked in the promise of a day, an era, a future devoid of skin-deep-hatred and scapegoatating. We smiled broadly along with Barack Obama.

This is my favorite picture of President Obama
8 years later, many of us are just as stunned, blind-sided by a core contingent of countrymen/women who have naively ushered in their own worst nightmare a la the Mob hiring the Joker in The Dark Knight or the townspeople of Lago recruiting Stacy Bridges and the Carlin Brothers in High Plains Drifter. Let's hope Batman or Clint Eastwood appear out of nowhere to save us from ourselves. Maybe Obama in 2020 (in a Batman suit, chewing on a cheap cee-gar). (Ed: Eastwood's too busy yelling at furniture. Don't think it'll be him.)

For now, however, while nobody is truly smiling alongside smirky President Trump, I take a moment to smile at what was achieved by Barack Obama in the face of long odds, and I hope that kind of progress and good fortune passes this way again someday."

Whitney never did lack for things to say.

Shlara was a bit more concise, offering this farewell, "Thanks for being the best president in my lifetime. But more importantly, thanks to you and your wife for being inclusive and real and empathetic and decent and kind and optimistic--always."

She also turned me on to President Obama's final letter to America, a typically optimistic and hopeful message, in which the unlikeliest (second most unlikely, I guess) President says, "And when the arc of progress seems slow, remember: America is not the project of any one person. The single most powerful word in our democracy is the word ‘We.’ ‘We the People.’ ‘We shall overcome.’"

As for me, I'll really miss his basic, fundamental humanity. In the face of all the bullshit he dealt with, he was never not decent, honorable, and caring. Our greatest failure, not his, was setting impossible expectations. And he never complained about the unfairness in that, but rather raised his eyes, looked at the bar, and gave it a run.

Fuck, but I'll miss him.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fair and Balanced

We've written a lot of words over the past 18 months about Donald Trump, nearly all of them derogatory. And since he's going to be President soon, or at least pretend to be, we figured it was time to follow Thumper's Mom's advice.



It was a challenge, frankly. So much so that we had to contract it out to a FOG:TB. Our newest guest contributor hails from Pittsburgh by way of Central Jersey, and answers to the name Brother of Fat Guy in a Speedo (two or three of you will know who he is by that description - to the rest, he'll remain anonymous). He's got a lot to say about one of Trump's greatest qualities, and something Mike Tomlin knows something about:

Alright, let’s just swear in this asshole already…

Donald J. Trump is one of the most perfect assholes in the history of mankind.  Please don’t stop reading if you love DJT, or jump to any conclusions yet – just hear me out.  I am using the term “asshole” to categorize a specific behavior type.   The term “asshole” is and always should be bipartisan, it should not be relegated to a particular political party, race, group or nationality – it is a specific term to describe a specific behavior in a specific type of person.  I thought Hilary was a great asshole too, but her issue – she tried to hide and suppress her asshole-ness, and as a result she came across as just an uninspiring, bad actress.

Since the primaries I’ve been struggling daily to rationalize and understand the appeal of DJT to any human on the planet (other than his children, who were born into his Trumpian alternate reality, like the hidden tribespeople of Papau New Guinea).   I’ve been trying to categorize than man the world has deemed as “uncategorizable” and I think I’ve found a way to do it.

From my observations and readings, he was an asshole as a husband, he was an asshole to his partners and people who worked for him, an asshole at parties, he was an asshole on his TV show (you’re fired! Is such an asshole thing to be known for); he was le royal asshole to a few farmers in Scotland over a golf course.  He was an asshole to Obama over the birther movement, he was an asshole to Jeb, Marco, Kasich and Ted during the primaries, and he was an asshole to Hilary during the campaign.  He was an asshole to a Gold Star family.  He acts like an asshole around other men because he does not know how to be a “guy” “dude” or “fella”.  He is an asshole many times a day on Twitter and he is an asshole to the media.  He simply does not know how to - not be an asshole.



Again, this is not a political diatribe or an “I Hate Trump” commentary; it is merely an observation of the human behavior DJ Trump has perfected and 100% personifies day in, day out.  Beyond DJT, I would argue that this specific behavior is a necessary tool at times to achieve certain outcomes in certain situations.  Sometimes before I walk into a client meeting, I coach myself that I have to be an “asshole” in the conference room in order to get the right deal done for my company.  Or I might be an asshole to the people who work for me to make a certain point.  It’s actually kind of easy and somewhat of a lazy way to behave; it’s obviously better to properly articulate specific truths and confront people in an honest and constructive way.

Being a total asshole can get shit done too.

But when I truly came to understand that Donald Trump is one of the greatest assholes of all time it kind of all makes sense to me.  So the burning question - Why did he win the election?  Most of the U.S. population abhors Washington D.C., they think it’s full of assholes.  So how do we combat that?

We elect our own asshole, the people’s asshole, and send him down there to speak asshole, behave asshole, and antagonize the hell out of every participant in the big asshole show.  (Editor's Note: Jon Stewart predicted exactly that in one of his final shows.) Most of the globe thinks Americans are assholes, so guess what, we now have the world’s greatest asshole as the face of our nation.  We actually have the best asshole in the world – is that not most American?  To have the absolute best in every category we can measure?

So you don’t like assholes or care for that behavior?  Too bad, we have unleashed the asshole and now we have to deal with it.  At this point in time I don’t think we need major league assholes any more, thought they were quite effective throughout human history – Kaiser Wilhelm II comes to mind.  The sooner you deal with the fact that we just happen to have a big time asshole as the president of the U.S., the easier the next four years will go down for you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Here's to Badass Women

Donald Trump will be inaugurated as America's 45th President on Friday, of that there's little doubt.
What follows that, well, I think we've all got some questions.

No such questions about the day immediately after, though. That's when hundreds of thousands of women from across the country, including a number of FOG:TB (see here for KQ's well-named band of sisters) and my wife and daughters, are gathering in the Nation's Capital in protest.

The Women's March on Washington's politics lean decidedly to the left, though the principles the organizers espouse hit on universal themes of respect and dignity - a pair that's been in hiding during Trump's frantic first months on the global stage. The March's Unity Principles look like a mashup of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders' greatest hits, and I say that with respect - more of this during the election and this weekend's gathering might have a much different tone.

Speaking of Sanders, and of women, the supergroup Nice as Fuck was one of his early supporters, playing several fundraisers and generally riding for the Senator from Vermont. In honor of badass women, here are a couple of tunes from Jenny Lewis and her bandmates.





Rock on, ladies, and godspeed to all of you on the streets of Washington this weekend. Give 'em hell, patriot pussies.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

In Which I Agree With Dave

My wife and kids are off seeing a movie, and I'm home alone this evening, recuperating from my weeklong walkabout. Just a man and his beer. And his cats.

Most weekend nights when I'm drinking at home, I'll pick up a bomber of something interesting to start the evening. Tonight, perusing my local Wegmans, I saw this:


I'm a huge Stone fan, and the Arrogant Bastard line of hyper-hopped, over the top brews is a particular favorite. It wasn't a hard sell.

The Double Bastard in the Rye is a pretty pour, a dark reddish amber with a nice but not massive head. It smells like fucking magic, boozy and almost sweet in the barleywine way. And at 13.5% ABV, it'll kick your ass. I'm not driving anywhere any time soon.

As I dug in, I wondered how other beer drinkers rated the DBitR, and boy, was I both not disappointed and very disappointed. I recall Dave digging into beer ratings on this site once before (and no, I'm not looking it up) and being amused to the point of mockery. I'd never mock a fellow beer snob, but I thought you might like to hear from people who really, really enjoy describing beers.



And my personal favorite:


In the end, aren't we all just a wood frame for the show, hoping for someone to rub the dregs on our chest?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Easy Does It

I left my house last Saturday morning and returned at dinner time yesterday. That full week away represents the second-longest span I've ever spent away from my family, trailing only a combo canoe trip/OBFT excursion from a couple of years ago. I spent four days in Las Vegas facilitating a strategic planning session for an elite youth soccer league, and parts of three days in San Francisco doing an entirely different kind of planning for my real-world job. My brain got used hard, and the nights weren't really restful. So while I've got a lot on my mind, none of it is particularly organized.

But a couple of things might be worth the attention of this august assemblage.

The first of these are music related. Many of the big festivals have released their 2017 lineups. And if you're anywhere near Boston May 26-28, it's your duty as a music fan to find your way to Boston Calling. I'm not one for hyperbole*, but this lineup is as good as anything since Woodstock. The undercard, the goddamn undercard, features Bon Iver, Sigur Rós, The xx, Run the Jewels, Solange, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, Tegan & Sara, Wolf Parade, Mac DeMarco, Danny Brown, Flatbush Zombies, Frightened Rabbit, Car Seat Headrest, Deerhoof, Modern Baseball, Mitski, PUP, Whitney, The Hotelier, Strand of Oaks, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Kevin Morby. That's fucking crazy, and we haven't even talked about Tool, Mumford and Sons, and Chance the Rapper, who anchor each day's lineup, nor Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Major Lazer, Brandi Carlile, and Buffalo Tom, who somehow aren't even considered the undercard. Fuck me, but that's a sick festival bill.

* I am very much one for hyperbole

Giannis Antetokounmpo did freaky stuff. Again.


On my flight back to DC, I got up to use the restroom about halfway through the trip. As I stood waiting for one of the two rear lavatories to open, I heard a panicked voice from behind me say, "Please. I'm going to be sick."

Without looking back, I stepped forward into the galley, past a startled flight attendant. Her first reaction was to try to stop me, but then she gasped and said, "Oh, my." as the woman who owned the first voice fainted and collapsed on the floor between the two lavatories.

The flight crew swung into action, grabbing an emergency first aid kit, calling for medical professionals on the plane to report to the scene, and assisting the stricken passenger. Two doctors and a nurse practitioner responded as the ailing woman recovered consciousness after a minute or so. They took her blood pressure, hooked up a portable heart monitor, administered oxygen, and tried to figure out what kinds of drugs were contained in the kit (answer: an amazing variety of both orally and intravenously administered chemicals).

They got on the phone with first the pilot, and then a physician on the ground, trying to diagnose the patient and to figure out if we needed to divert to Des Moines. As the patient finally stirred and then sat up, the crew decided it was time to let me and one other guy who were stuck in the galley get back to our seats. After we finally drained our bladders, 45 minutes after we first tried to go to the head.

You don't get that kind of action on just any flight.

My next flight is on Friday. It's to New Orleans, as I bail out on the Inauguration festivities/end of days to spend a couple of days with some friends from my neighborhood. I didn't plan it as a protest against the coming dread, but it sure is convenient. We're gonna drink a lot, see John Boutte at d.b.a. on Frenchman Street, check out the World War II museum (as a means of pacing ourselves), eat some killer food, and drink some more. If the world ends while I'm in Crescent City, I'll miss my family, but I'll be consoled by the sweet narcotic effect of free-flowing alcohol in go cups.

Bless you all, Gheorghies.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy Apocalyptic New Year!

I know Marls gets pissed when I post The Test here, but fuck him, we're still cranking out episodes (and filler is needed). This one is about the impending apocalypse, and it's a tour-de-force.

When we started this project, we assumed we would run out of topics fairly quickly, or get sick of hearing our own voices. Neither has happened yet. Our ignorance is boundless, as is our fascination with how we express it.

This one gets a bit dark . . . beware.


Saturday, January 07, 2017

"What's Old is New Again" Filler

I picture rob discovering this last night, hunched over his phone, excitedly emailing it to me to post this morning. I'll pretend it is the first time I've ever seen it and share with you all, per the tiny dictator's instructions.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

This Week in Wrenball: Run It Back

I've got about 10 minutes to breathe in January, so don't expect a lot of deep thought. So, basically, situation normal.

But we'd be remiss as William & Mary's sixth or seventh-leading hoops bloggers (used to be higher, before Teejay became responsible and stopped posting around here) not to acknowledge what happened on Monday in Hempstead, NY.

With Hofstra leading the Wrens, 93-92, and 1.2 seconds left in the first overtime, Daniel Dixon ran off a baseline screen, sprinted towards halfcourt, caught the ball 28 feet from the basket, and did this:



A remarkable ending under any circumstances, but given the fact that the same Daniel Dixon buried Hofstra in a classic double overtime CAA Tournament semifinal two years ago, it etched the Tribe senior's name in the Pride's list of villains.

In case you've forgotten, here's what happened two years ago:



And here's an awesome, painful, brutal first-person account of that contest from FOGTB and Hofstra superfan Jerry Beach.

The Tribe hosts Elon tonight in their first CAA home game. It's the first of a four games in eight days run for W&M (and every other CAA team), with league bully UNCW coming up next. It'd be great to get off on the right wing.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Eleven

On the eleventh day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Eleven books for reading

Ten (plus one) Months of Gheorghness
Nine cheers for Mike
Eight Miscellaneous Items - Probably for Next Christmas (or for yourself, or perhaps a fellow GTB'r right now, just cuz)
Seven (Give or Take) Voters (Should Be) Voting
Six Simpler Memories
Five shows to binge watch on TV
Four Random Thoughts
Three Punk Rock Playlists 
Two Digits Throughout History 
And the debut of Mac McFis-ty

Since this post goes to eleven (and some Gheorghies are watching Stranger Things) I'll start by revisiting my son Ian's Halloween costume. He looks almost as much like Eleven as I resemble Brad Pitt (when I face-swap with Stacey).



My annual book list also goes to eleven this year. It's no secret that I love to read, and I still get very excited when I'm in a good book . . . but I will readily admit that as I get older, it's harder for a book to engrave itself in my memory.

Can you read too much?

One thing inevitably reminds me of another, and I end up in a byzantine labyrinth of free-association. I think this may be a consequence of getting old. The same thing happens to me with movies and TV and stand-up comedy. And it happens with music, which drives me crazy.

Music doesn't have the same effect on me as it did when I was young, which is probably a good thing, as when I was young, music often drove me to violence, moshing, fisticuffs, warped and distorted ideas, capricious moodiness, and a general fanatical weirdness that is no longer age-appropriate.

But I miss that mainlining of emotion, the wild highs and lows. It happens occasionally, when I've had too many beers while cooking dinner and Google Play music tosses out a Liz Phair song that hits home, but it's rare. Normally, music evokes a much more manageable emotion: nostalgia. Nobody gets hurt and it's fun to have those moments, but it's not exactly The Cult at Hampton Coliseum, when I lost a pint of blood fighting for Ian Astbury's razor sharp tambourine in a mosh-pit (my friend John also had a grip on the tambourine, and he had to go to the ER for stitches . . . our blood was thin because we had been drinking with Whitney since 9 AM).

I have a hard time listening to new stuff, unless it's very different from what I used listen to. Which is why I listen to a lot of jazz and electronica, which is why my wife and kids often find whatever I'm listening to unbearable . . . although I did have a nice run this year: I totally dug the new Tribe Called Quest album, and this alerted me to the fact that I never listened to their first album, Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm . . . I started my Tribe Called Quest fandom with Low End Theory and never went backwards.

So I got a little bit of that "It Feels Like the First Time" feeling, and it felt good. But mainly, I've heard too much, seen too much, consumed too much, and while it's made me intelligent and well-versed it has also made me a bit calloused and jaded and rather cavalier. Everything reminds me of something else, or a combination of several things . . . Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman.

Whitney would attribute this to my mental age (91) and he's probably right . . . but that's another post.

The music metaphor also describes much of my reading.

According to Sentence of Dave, I read over forty books this year . . . which is fairly typical. If you project that over my life, it ends up being too many books, many of which are derivative. If were pressed, I could only recount a few in detail. The one surefire winner on this year's list is Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather. I reread it when we traveled to New Mexico, and I loved it even more than the first time I read it. So that one holds up.

As for the rest, who knows? I'm not sure that reading strengthens my mind. My brain is all clogged up, full of junk, it's a demented, disorganized, jumbled mess. Judging by the amount I've read, I should be smarter or have a better memory or be a better writer or something. I understand reading a book is a major commitment, and there's a good chance that you won't remember the details in ten years. Still, the process is meditative, and according to a recent study, book readers live longer than non-book readers. So while I can't assure you that these books will change your life, or that you'll remember them, they still might be worth reading.

This post is long enough, and I'm tired from our family vacation in Vermont, and so instead of providing blurbs, I've simply linked the titles to the Sentence of Dave summaries of each book.

Or just trust me, and take a couple of these titles out of your local library. That's what I do. What have you got to lose? True, the previous borrower may have taken your copy into the bathroom and perused it while taking a huge smelly dump . . . but you could exact vengeance on the next borrower and do the same thing . . .

Confession: while I try not to take library books into the john, I certainly stain a few pages of every book I check out with various foodstuffs.

Happy reading!

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O'Neil

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark For the Ivy Leagues by Jeff Hobbs

Death Comes to the Archbishop by Willa Cather

The Milagro Beanfield War by John Nichols

Roadside Picnic by The Strugatsky Brothers

But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Seinfeldia by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Ten

On the tenth day of Gheorghemas
Big Gheorghe gave to me

Ten (plus one) Months of Gheorghness
Nine cheers for Mike
Eight Miscellaneous Items - Probably for Next Christmas (or for yourself, or perhaps a fellow GTB'r right now, just cuz)
Seven (Give or Take) Voters (Should Be) Voting
Six Simpler Memories
Five shows to binge watch on TV
Four Random Thoughts
Three Punk Rock Playlists 
Two Digits Throughout History 
And the debut of Mac McFis-ty

Man, I have no idea how Dave Barry does it. Reading a year's worth of posts and selecting the 'best' is hard goddamn work. You're welcome, jerks.

As ever, in the midst of our earnest dipshittery, we wrote some pretty good stuff. I've said it before, but our takes on the election were really fucking spot on. Hell, I predicted the outcome in May. Sort of. Wish I'd sent that post to the Clinton campaign. Zman delivered more than a few lengthy, giffy, and intelligent pieces. And now that the Teej has graduated from big boy school, we can expect the pace of his memery to pick back up.

Looking back on some of my own crap, I realized that I really leaned way to hard on 'if I'm/we're being honest' this year. I'll work on that in 2017, though, if I'm being honest, I won't have much success. Shrug emoji.

But enough prelude. Herewith, the best Gheorgheness of 2016. Nice job, kids.

January

We started fast, with 24 posts in each of the year's first three months. We didn't keep up that pace, as one might expect. Gheorghemas 2015 ended on January 11, so we're right on target this year.

Complex magazine dropped a piece on the rapper of the year for every annum since 1979. It had killer artwork.

We had high hopes for the Wrens. Shocker, that.

In the first of many Gheorghe Explains the Election posts, we examined the Assholian Candidate.

Behold, the Gheorghian Singularity.

Soccer on soccer on soccer.

Even more soccer, and arguably the greatest post title in G:TB history.

February

February was really top notch. Clearly the Most Valuable Month of 2016. Good content, the highest post/day ratio of the year. Every month should be February.

Two violins and a DJ.

Soul Train. Dazz Band. Genius.

Fratty filler from the Teej.

We still had high hopes for the Wrens, and then a week later one of us was exposed as an idiot.

I was depressed about the election. In February.

Zman giffed the electoral process.

Dave wrote an editorial about education. I don't think he really understands our audience.

Zman bouillabaise.

We didn't get much Greasetruck this year, but this song about a dog and the blues was dope.

G:TB beefed with the Aussie hoops web community.

Danimal hijacked my post about Rickie Fowler's hideous shoes, made it better.

March

TR dropped a porn-related throwback. Because he's TR.

Dave faceswapped with his colleague, which was unpredictable. And then made an outlandish claim about it, which was entirely predictable.

I'll put our election coverage up against the mainstream media's any day. This one was about Trump's Vice-Presidential options.

According to science, being a Gheorghie is good for you.

A National Cereal Day throwback.

The oblong ball is rolling.

The first of multiple posts about Morgans this year. Who knew that the Mog was the official automobile of G:TB?

Dave posted something like 40 episodes of The Test in 2016. Postcount! This one was about Zombeavers. I don't know, either.

Z appreciated Phife. And some other shit.

Rappers and the law.

How I learned to love the hustle, Dominican-style.

April

April kinda sucked. We only managed 17 posts, and more than half of them could be defined as filler. And both Prince and Pearl Washington died.

Zman found a beaut of a 911. Pretty sure he didn't buy it.

We had high hopes for Gianni Infantino. Results, mixed.

I turned Dave on to some new podcasts. And that's it, you freaks.

Danimal hung out with Tiger. Got some television face time, too.

We were so desperate for content that we dug up something Clarence wrote 16 years ago. No shit.

May

As much as April sucked, May ruled. Decent number of posts at 22, but more importantly, a significant percentage of them were good to sublime.

Zman continued to demonstrate his mastery of the .gif-based post, this time in reference to the NFL draft.

Chat shit, get banged, win the whole goddamned Premier League.

Read Charlie Pierce on Pearl again.

I wrote about digital currency. And Abba. As one does.

Holy fuck. Holy fuck. Holy fuck. You guys. You guys. I predicted Trump's win in May, when I wrote this about InBev changing the name of Budweiser to 'America':

"No, this marketing campaign - which may well prove to be brilliant in terms of reversing the slide of America's once-dominant beer brand - is inspired by and catering to the rising nationalism stoked by Trump. And unless I miss my mark, America the brand will amplify Trump the candidate's message throughout the summer, peanut butter to his white chocolate. He'll hold cans up as props at rallies, telling us how A-B InBev recognized the path to America's greatness he promises. His supporters will buy it by the keg in symbolic support of the candidate and the country.

And the shitshow will roll on.

Winter is coming, friends, and I'm not sure anyone can stop it."

God damn, but our election coverage was fucking good. From my completely unbiased perspective.

Minnesota high school hockey hair FTW.

More Z-style giffery, this time about Kanye and a Hungarian.

I. Can. Drive. Twenty Fiiiiive.

Zman with the giffy hat trick, in which he kills Jeffrey Loria.

To round out one of the best months in GTB history, in terms of individual performances, Z also did this:


June

Steph versus Bron, and I couldn't decide.

Muhammad Ali died, but that was balanced out by The Test's second season debut.

We wrote about the U.S. Open Cup. Because soccer.

Gordie Howe died, too, and we tried to define a G:TB Hat Trick.

Gheorghe endorsed Gary Johnson. For the weed, mostly.

We learned that TR fathered Zson.

When TR's feelin' it (and 'it' isn't Zman's wife), we get some sweet music posts.

Quietly, ESPN's on the subversive tip.

"Go Fuck Yourself."

July

The year started going downhill in July in terms of quantity - we never hit 20 posts in any month after June. But there were some highlights:

Zman can't help himself when it comes to tennis.

There was a G:TB tie-in to FBI Director Comey's public release about Hillary Clinton's emails. It was funny at the time.

Terry Tarpey, oui.

Consecutive political/social commentary posts, one somber and one...not.

Automatic, hydromatic, Strat-O-Matic.

TR took a month off (Summer of TR!), wrote about Lionel Ritchie.



Fucking Poke Bar, man.

Too much Morgan isn't enough. (Joke for 4 or 5.)

Zman did a T-NC book report, and Shlara said this in the comments:

"I endorse reading "Between the World and Me" and the case for reparations in the Atlantic.
Then watch all 6 parts of OJ Made in America
Then watch Straight Outta Compton
Then wander over to the Undefeated and read anything by my friend Domonique--especially that piece about black babies and alligators. Well, you can read basically anything non-sports on the site by other writers too.

Then listen to the conversations in this country about lives and guns and jobs and access and education.

Then think about what you can do in your little slice of the world, with the people you know, to make things a little bit better for everyone. Then go do that. And when that commitment to make a difference starts wavering--go back and watch or read some of these things again.

It's all about everyday people being decent to everyday people--every day."

That last part is required behavior, and all the more important right now.

Zman couldn't let TR be the only one who wrote about his impressive dadding.

Jack Urbont! Winner!

August

Ichiro!

Curt Schilling is a Nazi douchewhistle asshat. But he loves the troops.

Someone doesn't care for NoVA drivers.

Anna Kendrick wants to be Squirrel's Girl. I might've added an 's to that. A boy can dream.

Mark Post Alert!

Donna Martin Graduates! So does Teejay. Shlara, too. Legit proud of both of you.

In the first of the zTravelogue series, our hero flies to and from Japan, and all we got were these lousy media reviews.

And in the second, squirrel socks and cultural insight.

The Little Red-Haired Girl died, and I used the occasion to congratulate myself. In retrospect, that seems pretty fucked up.

I got hip to the Hip right at the very end.

The aliens are coming. Maybe just breathing heavy, but still.

Summer Dave came and went. Lifespan of a fruit fly. But he did leave us this nugget, which is profound in its simplicity:

"I don't think I've done anything particularly out of the ordinary to deserve this good fortune. I was just born in the right place, at the right time, with the right color skin, and the right genes. As Woody Allen said, '80 percent of life is showing up.'"

Too many folks with the wrong genes are fucked if the rest of us don't show up over the next few years.

September

The Clarence Institute of Finding Shit Out (CIFSO) went public with its first survey. Results were enjoyable.

Zman has my legal back. This is some tortious interference right here.

The next zTravelogue makes me hungry as fuck.

The week of Z continued apace: WWZD.

And a Bills season preview. Guess who wrote it.

I don't usually link to The Test posts (there were nearly 40 this year, after all), but when I do, they've got lots of words.

Gheorghe, still an advertising icon in the DMV.

Arnold Palmer died. And Danimal recounted a doozy of a story. Fucker still can't figure out how fonts work, but we still love him. (Danimal, that is.)

October

Bruges knows from brews.

Men in Blazers celebrated me celebrating Bob Bradley. Which was awesome at the time, and like everything else in 2016 turned to monkey shit not 90 days later. Fuck you, 2016.

In which Donald Trump and the Humpty Hump became intertwined for your reading enjoyment.

Barack Obama told us this was a great time to be alive. That seemed awesome at the time. Wish that fucker had told Hillary to spend some fucking advertising dollars in Michigan and Wisconsin.

Ichiro! (Whiskey)

Joe Biden drove his old Corvette. Fuck, but we're going to miss Uncle Joe. And if it seems that this recap is starting to use 'fuck' a lot, well, we're getting close to November, aren't we?

I wrote about the Red Sox winning the 2004 World Series. I have a blog and you don't*, so you will listen to every damn word I have to say.

* not necessarily true

Dolly. Miley. Jolene.

November

In a simpler time, I got drunk and taught my kid about music.

On November 8, I wrote this:

"Intellectually, I feel pretty good this morning. Barring a cataclysmic, systematic, and unprecedented failure on the part of the American political polling establishment, the facts suggest that Hillary Clinton should be elected President, and this godforsaken shitshow of an election will come to its only sane conclusion."

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck

Zman and The Teej took a break from their morning show to analyze the election results, each in his own way.

And then Zman and I reviewed the new ATCQ album and previewed the new Tribe hoops season, all at the same time.

I laughed.

Continuing this month's collaboration theme, Mark and I previewed the SEC Championship. It didn't go as well as the greatest thing in the history of the internet.

There you go, boys and girls. Another year of dipshittery in the books. We're slowing down in our old age, but we still managed to drop 235 self-referential, fillerful, and every once in a while compelling piles of words in this steaming pile of a year.

I don't know if 2017 will be better - given the coming change at the top, it's a decent bet that it'll suck even more - but I do know that this little corner of the internet brings me joy. And this fucked up world needs all the joy it can find.  For that reason, this year's Most Valuable Gheorghie is G:TB itself. A shining beacon of sublime silliness and a welcome break from reality. Treat yourselves to something nice, my friends. You've earned it.

Happy New Year, you magnificent bastards.