Monday, December 31, 2018

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Twelve

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

Twelve Numerical Milestones
Eleven Months of Memories
Ten fingers and ten toes
Nine (ten, actually) Gheorghemas albums
Eight Bud Lights with Andy
Seven Book Categories for Reading
Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T

Welcome to another edition of the Twelfth Day of Gheorghemas. Day 12, like the Yeti, or his North American cousin the Sasquatch, has been rather elusive the past couple of years, in part because I've had a lot to say and yet nothing. Wrote a song about it. Like to hear it? Here it go:

I'm not the only Gheorghe: The Blog staffer to be divorced.  In fact, I'm one of four. I am, however, the only one to get divorced after having children, and I'm also the only one still divorced. It's been . . . a journey.

Recently, after a couple of handmade vodka drinks, I explained semi-seriously to some good friends that even I have periodic moments of reflection, and a particular image frequently enters my mind. It's this: I once had this beautiful meal on a plate: my life in culinary metaphor. And that I took this delectable, would-be thoroughly satisfying plate of food and dropped it. Down a flight of stairs. Into a basement. Where the plate shattered, sending shards of ceramic and sustenance into dusty corners, never to be retrieved and reassembled.

It was, even delivered with my standard stupid smile, a dramatic and depressing proclamation. But it's how I feel -- sometimes.  Certainly not all the time. And certainly not never. I routinely acknowledge that I've been handed quite a lot of good in my life, from my socioeconomic station to my clever wit to my dashing good looks and debonair (see wit, clever). I am not feeling sorry for myself. I'm just recognizing that I have thrown a pretty good life into the thresher at least once, maybe multiple times. And I feel like I epitomize Dion's B-side, "The Squanderer."

At least until now...

 * * * * * *

For most Day 12's that have hit the blogwaves, I have polished off Gmas with "Twelve Appreciations." This year is a little bit of a pivot thereon, incorporating a dozen numerical milestones that mean something to me and interspersing it all with how I got here.

So . . . I got married at the ripe old age of 26, when I knew neither who I was nor what I wanted. Genius. When I expressed some indigestion at the prospect of my looming wedding date to a trusted family member, I was offered this piece of Confucian wisdom: "She checks all the boxes. You're immature. Don't screw it up."  Not blaming anyone, but . . . thanks.

Anyway, she was and is a truly great person, but there was some already loose footing on that trip down the aisle. No worries, we had a big party in Richmond and a number of my dudes were there to support me / love company. And later that summer we embarked on the 4th Annual Outer Banks Fishing Trip. We had a bunch of dudes make a trip to NC for four years in a row! That's a feat by most people's standards. It would be interesting to see how much further we could take that.

25 Years of the OBFT
Are you kidding me? A quarter of a century of a dudes-only sojourn to a little cottage on the beach that sleeps eight? And we routinely boast 15-20? I cannot accurately convey what the unflinching dedication of my comrades to keep this wagon rolling means to me. It's just the best.

In between fishing trips, the missus and I got up to the devil's business a couple of times, as ol' Evan would say, and I helped to create the two greatest points of vulnerability that could possibly exist in my universe.



17 Years of Being a Father
The Marls saga brought tears to my eyes -- a significantly more common occurrence in my old age -- because as much as I was being honest about the vulnerability part, it's even more true that these two girls represent the most overwhelming joy I could ever experience in all my life. Nothing comes close. They are my reason for being, which candidly translates: they are, in all likelihood, the reason I'm still alive. I just spent four days in Florida with them. When they laugh, usually at me, the world is perfect.

Now back to your regularly scheduled dipshittery. Like dressing up as Abe Lincoln!

14 Years as Abe Lincoln
Hard to believe I made such a ridiculous trip back in time/up I-95 for so long. I was a fat guy portraying the skinniest president ever. (Obama is second, maybe?)  I was a young guy playing a much older president and I had to dye my fucking beard to make it look younger. And I left a popular beach region on a holiday weekend to sweat to the oldies in DC. Full disclosure... Abe partied all night long before traveling up to the parade on no sleep more than once. Super swell idea. No more. The final curtain (insert Ford's Theater joke here, yuk yuk) has fallen.

So . . . I had a pretty full life going on back then by most accounts. And I filled in my happiness gaps (the gappiness) with excursions like...

6 Nations
Every February/March, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy square off in a round-robin rugby tournament for bragging rights and some sort of trophy. It's great fun. The Six Nations. I went in 2000 with 12 hoodlum ruggers from American U, several of whom I knew from work. Reykjavik and Cardiff have never been the same.  One month from today, more than 10 guys from our college posse will fly to Dublin to watch Ireland host England in the marquee match on the tournament. Hell yes.  I'm stunned we pulled it off. I'm more stunned flights from Dulles to Dublin were $319 on Icelandair. I'll be even more stunned if I make it back in one piece. I appreciate the old Irish expression, "may the road rise up to meet you" but not so fast that you break your face, lad.

Meanwhile, the single most consistent enhancement of my life in times good and bad has been music, something chronicled on this blog by many of us ad infinitum. Starting in 2006, I started to issue a year-end CD to keep my musically-inclined-but-not-quite-current friends up on the latest and greatest. 20 from 2006 and it subsequent ilk were tons of fun for me and well-received.  Damn the technology! CD's are dodos, and with their extinction went my outlet for fun. Yay, technology! Via Spotify I can issue dueling playlists: 20 from 2018 and 100 from 2018. F anyone who says there's no good new music any more.

20 / 100 Songs from This Year Worth a Listen


Back to the story. We moved back to my hometown of Norfolk in 2005. By all metrics, a great move for everyone. As Buffett sang before he cliff-dove into awfulness, I Have Found Me a Home.

But that didn't solve the marital stuff, and in 2009, I blew it up. People assumed I was a maniac, because it didn't make sense from the curbside view. Whitney was going off half-cocked again, so to speak, and it was neither fruitful nor possible to convey the thought and pain that went into that.  Nor the pain that came from it, both for me and everyone involved.  Agony not worth documenting. The three words that best describe it are as follows, and I quote: "Stink, stank, stunk."

So you dust yourself off and try again. I leapt into the waiting tentacles arms of the one who would be wife #2. It's mean and a tiny bit unfair to lob grenades her way now, but let me just say this . . . sometimes your comeuppance comes in the form of a mate, and that can be humbling, humiliating, horrible. For my countless flaws, I do try to follow the "I shit the bed, now I must lie in it" (or something akin) adage, and so I set about making myself happy in other ways.

After a disastrous experience working for the Devil herself for 12 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day, I found myself unemployed and searching for meaningful, not just gainful employment. For six long months.  These were not the salad days, as they say.

7 Years of a Dream Job
The good fortune that follows me came through hugely in 2011. I landed at a nonprofit that serves people with disabilities. I'm the Director of Business Development, finding jobs for this underserved but amazing subset of our population every day. It's fucking awesome. I could talk about this for hours, but let me say this: I am awed just about every day there. I get to help people who've been passed over. I get to go to Richmond and Capitol Hill and advocate for them. I gave a rather animated, 15-minute speech in the Virginia Capitol three weeks ago, and the kudos I got from senators, delegates, people in the industry, and even people who fundamentally disagree with my argument brought (more) tears to my eyes. I love it. We are an ass-kicking machine of a nonprofit with a $47 million annual budget and over 1,000 employees on 18 federal government contracts and countless commercial ventures serving people with disabilities of all kinds. Including cool-assed shit like this (I either had a bender the night prior or just look like it, so please forgive):


My job and my daughters were the bright spots of joy in an otherwise depraved and joyless time. I was behaving like I thought I was playing bass on Aerosmith's Live Bootleg Tour in '78. Having abandoned a home that was sadly lacking but stable, and having sacrificed a lot of time with the lights of my life who needed me . . . for a life that checked no boxes except a bit of Hugh Hefner and maybe some Sam Kinison . . . well, that needs some heavy supplementing with good old-fashioned happy stuff.  Enter ORF Rock!

4 Years of Being a College Radio Disc Jockey
I love ORF Rock. I love Les Coole and Penny Baker. My OCD loves that my lovely co-host gives me control of the track lists. Okay, my real dream job is this...


And so that time of my life went. Until it could not go any more. In September of 2016, I blew it up.  Again.  The maniacs.

I then went pretty dormant for a while, by design. For one thing, there are few things more financially ruinous than divorce. I was broker than broke. Moving money around I didn't have to stay one step ahead of pauper's prison.  All my doing.  The plate down the stairs. To put it in a very gauche perspective, a decade earlier we had sold a house for seven figures and now I was scrounging for coins on my car floor to buy lunch.

Here's one way to make some money, though! Let yourself go in an era of utter decadence where there's neither a cheeseburger nor a pale ale that doesn't have your name on it.  Be a slovenly pig for years in the ultimate sandbag . . .

30 Pounds in 3 Months
Then meander innocently into a bet with Marls and Buck that you can get down to 230 pounds by Thanksgiving. Make $230 off each of them! It's a cinch!

Okay, since this post is full of way-too-full disclosures . . . my manorexic father had already bet me a far larger sum to reach that identical goal AND offered to pay for gym and trainer fees. Sorry, boys, I had to go for the con.  But I did reach that goal. And that bet was settled 13 months ago and the weight's still off and I am now paying my own freight at the gym and still going. So there's that.

That helped my self-esteem in some down times, I do have to say. And down was down not just for my own self-inflicted wounds, but also some family stuff.  I think I disclosed along the way that my dad was diagnosed in early 2016 with Stage 4 lung cancer.  Tumors in lymph nodes and nasty shit. In April of that year his sisters came from North Carolina and Hawaii respectively to pay their last respects . . . and then he miraculously got better. (I just knocked on wood 73 times, one for every year he's been alive.) Immunotherapy (Opdivo was his brand) saved his life. Like, really fast. It's a fucking miracle serum (for some people with some cancers) and should be produced and dispensed freely to all. I already feel pretty bad about the friends I love who've lost their nearest and dearest to the Big Casino. So unfair. Fuck cancer and anything that stands in the way of anyone getting this treatment.

And I will always be grateful for this chapter of my story, not only because it saved my dad's life, but because the process majorly closed a gap between my father and me -- one that had been pretty wide and had been so since . . . wait for it . . . he left my mom in 1978.  Life is funny. Not always haha funny. And it doesn't always work out so famously, obviously.  Like when . . .

36 Years of Being a Stepson
My Xmas gift to Dad this year
My stepmother, my dad's wife of 36 years, wasn't as lucky.  She had cancer all over her body and wicked, degenerative dementia that bode very ill and strained life for her and Dad. She passed, mercifully, in April of this year. I've never seen my father so emotional, and I say that in a good way.  He scattered her ashes on four different beaches, including at the Martha Wood Cottage at dawn with me standing next to him. And because we are now closer than ever before, I was able to be there for him in a way I could never have just a few years ago. We road-tripped five hours to PA for Christmas at my sister's, and we listed to a live Grateful Dead compilation I created for him. Which he loved. Life is funny.

Earlier this year he and I went to see the Mr. Rogers documentary. Front row of the balcony of the old Naro Theater in Norfolk. I absolutely broke down crying from it, and the old man was weeping as well. I've never had such a visceral reaction to cinema anywhere, much less in public. I was so glad I could take my dad to that film.

So . . . things have been on the upswing of late. And to aid my career, and maybe just maybe because I had a chip on my shoulder about squandering my undergrad education on Milwaukee's Best, rugby, and countless hours of idiocy with some of you jive turkeys, I went all Rodney Dangerfield.

24 Years Since Attending College
As I wrote to you in May at the end of my first semester, I enrolled in the College of Knowledge's night school MBA program in January. Insane. This shit is arduous!  Oh, well. Self-improvement and all that crap. I currently have a 3.85 through the first five classes, which feels like wearing another man's suit to someone whose undergraduate transcript is Stephen King-worthy. Hell, it feels like wearing women's undergarments. What? No, what?

And yet there is still time when I need it to expand my productivity. Between work, school, and part-time parenting (and oh yeah, there is still some good times-ing), I'm usually exhausted but still driven by my innate carpe diem as inflamed by lost friends and aging.  Especially when I see this...

5-ash
So there's a dude named Robert Fiveash. I've know him most all my life. We went to school and camp together all the way up. His family co-owns the Martha Wood with mine. He also attended William and Mary's MBA program with our tiny dictator two decades ago. And he helped found and runs a promotional product company called Brand Fuel. Anyway, he's a Superfan. The object of his adoration? The Drive-By Truckers. For those in the know, the DBT's go back to Athens, GA every February and play a trio of shows that (1) assemble their legions of fans, (2) feature up-and-comer opening acts, and (3) raise money and awareness for a suicide prevention nonprofit called Nu├ži’s Space.  The shows are called the HeAthens Homecoming.

Robert is a crazy DBT's fan. He hits a ton of shows, is always there at the rail starting at soundcheck, and he spends lots of time on the Three Dimes Down DBT's fan forum.  His moniker is ramonz. And he conceived of and spearheaded a herculean effort to produce a book that's a tribute to this annual event and the people that comprise it. And the proceeds go to the same worthy cause.  It's called The Company We Keep.

And what a book it is! It's huge, 10" x 14". Amazing photos from Homecoming shows, interviews with band members and tons of affiliated people. Read this from Patterson Hood of the Truckers:
I spent an hour looking through it (it will take far longer to actually take it all in) and I was moved to literal tears. I don’t know if anything like this has ever existed in any other band’s community but I was blown away by the enormous amount of work and love that obviously went into its creation. It has made me want to strive even harder to be worthy.
Robert had a lot of help and will take little credit, but make no mistake, this is his doing. He said with a smile it nearly cost him his marriage, but all is well. And it's done. You can buy one here. I did. In fact, I'm mailing another copy to Zman later this week.

I'm blown away by this endeavor. We can do stuff that matters. In a movie not too many people loved but I did, Benjamin Button laments, "I was thinking that nothing lasts, and what a shame that is."  Well, this book and the collaborative efforts that brought it to life will last. And I want something in that vein.

My NOLA buddy Ned released another album this year. As did another guy we graduated high school with, as well as another old friend of mine.  Dave still makes music when he's inspired. Rootsy still makes real music.  And twice he has let me defile his music studio with my vocals and guitar playing. As McManus once posited, "There's nothing that can't be done."

10 Tracks
That's what my goal is. That's what my plan is. Now that I do have a little money in my pocket (so long as I stay away from Pristine Auction), I plan to turn my third floor into a home music studio. And crank out an album's worth of stuff. I have lots of lyrics penned. Let's sample:


Crescent City Sunrise 
Someone said it's darkest / Right before the dawn
I can't tell, said Marcus / From the barstool that I'm on
A painter with a problem / has a breakfast margarita
I slap him five and tag out / And slug down my Abita
Crescent City Sunrise
Just beyond that wall
New day through the window
Serves as my last call

Stagger to the sidewalk
I have to close my eyes
From the bright beams of a
Crescent
City
Sunrise

I was drinkin' with my sorrows / I know that it's a sin
And I was thinkin' about tomorrow / When tomorrow just walked in
Not ready for the day / Wish tomorrow would head back out
Time flies, as they say / When you drink until you black out
Crescent City sunrise
Mine eyes have seen its glory
A streetcar rattles by
All the riders know my story

Shuffling out of Igors
Anybody can surmise
I wasn't doing laundry
Til a Crescent
City
Sunrise

Garden district sunup / It'll steal your breath from you
Am I the only one up / To enjoy this perfect view
A million slumbering dreamers / Couldn't dream this kind of sight
Beautiful day New Orleans / And so I say good night
Crescent city sunrise
Sends me home to bed
Gorgeous and serene
And the one thing that I dread

I'm gonna hear about it
'cause there's really no disguise
Stumblin' in to a
Crescent
City
Sunrise
(Les Coole)


So that's Day 12 by the numbers. I'm still learning something new every day. After the second divorce (D2), I spent two years with a wonderful twentysomething who helped me restore my sense of being worth a damn. And then I let her go, as our roads had to diverge. I blew it up again. Such is life. Since then I learned what "ghosting" is ($#@&!), and I've also spent time in the company of beautiful greatness whose timing was unaligned, breaking my heart for the umpteenth time. Such is life. I'm growing. Learning. Evolving.

Whatever. I'm still the guy that Rob linked to Rhett Miller's 2018 song (see the playlist above) "Total Disaster." I'm still more than capable of doing something really stupid and blowing up my life again. But I'm less regretful now and I'm less worried about scraping myself up off the sidewalk and having another go. Life is hilarious when you get the joke.

Speaking of superfans and Rhett... this is so dweeby of me and the coolest thing ever by him.


So here's where I am on the last day of 2018. I still . . . still . . . have more going for me than 99.9999% of the people who occupy this planet. I've seen some pain, I've unfortunately inflicted it on good people I love, and I'm probably not done with either of those things. But I'm far more aware of my surroundings and more keenly interested in bettering them, so that's a start.  And I'm back to adoring most every minute of what I do.

Thanks for waiting for me to get around to a Day 12 after several years. Thanks for letting me air out my failings and flaws like a Dear Diary moment.. Thanks for meeting up with me for beers the next time I'm in your town.

Anyway, I love Gheorghe: The Blog and all you people. Like for real. As Mr. Rogers would say, 143.

Now back to your regularly scheduled dipshittery.


Sunday, December 30, 2018

Gheorghemas Interlude: Shit to Make You Smile

As we wind down what has to go down as one of the worst annums in recent memory (Red Sox World Series championship notwithstanding), I want to leave us on a high note. Over the past several weeks, in addition to the usual heartwarming holiday fare - like Gheorghemas - a number of noteworthy and happy-making things crossed by desk.

FOG:TB LeBron James was caught on camera dadding the shit out of it after his son's basketball game. While I might argue that a parent's first job post-game is to ask his kid if they had fun, tell them that you love them, and leave the coaching to the coaches, we'll give the world's best basketball player a pass. I love how he boosted his kid while pointing out how his efforts contributed to the team's outcome.



Lin Wang died in December. He was a cat-litter chemist from Muscatine, Iowa. Charles Barkley showed up at his funeral, and said a few words. The full story, from Wang's daughter Shirley, is remarkable.



Here are a handful of Liverpool players surprising kids at a local school, not all of which are fans of the Reds.



I'm a sucker for military parent/child reunions, maybe because I had a few of those myself as a young man. They never fail to bring a tear to my eye. You can argue that they're exploitative, and when they happen in public venues like ballgames, I might agree. But this one was great.



I miss President Obama. Hell, I miss President Bush at this point - either one. I cannot for a moment fathom the current occupant of the White House doing this, which is all the more reason for the sentiment in the first sentence of this paragraph.


And finally, in a bit of a departure from everything else in this post, Christmas Day marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Tombstone, one of the all-time stop-and-watch movies. Whitney really nailed it when he scored me that autographed Doc Holliday lid. In honor of the occasion, one of too many terrific scenes from the film.

Friday, December 28, 2018

As On Brand as On Brand Gets

Sometimes, post copy isn't even needed:


Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Eleven

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

Eleven Months of Memories
Ten fingers and ten toes
Nine (ten, actually) Gheorghemas albums
Eight Bud Lites with Andy
Seven Book Categories for Reading
Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T

This Gheorghemas has been a bit of an emotional journey for our little village. We've written about love, loss, community, and appreciation, with just enough goofiness to keep our fans from wondering if we've lost our edge.

The year past offered similar themes, sprinkled as they were between a shitload of posts about music, W&M basketball, poop, beer, and cars. We wrote a lot about cars this year. Specifically, zman wrote a lot about cars this year and we all learned a lot.

By the numbers, with Mark Twain's perspective on statistics duly noted, we had a productive year by recent standards. 2018 is the first year since 2013 in which our postcount increased over the year previous. This very post gives us 213, topping last year by one. Those 213 posts mean that we kept our 11-year streak of at least 200 posts alive. We seem to have hit a comfortable stride in our middle-aged years, bloggily speaking. (If 15 is middle-aged, does that mean every blogyear is the same as three human years?)

Reflecting back on 2017's year-in-review, I note that the tone was a bit downcast given the state of affairs in our political nation. Shit hasn't gotten any better in that area, has it? And Gheorghies have dealt with personal pain, the deaths of loved ones, and professional strife, all while living through a ceaseless barrage of bullshit from our government. (I do recommend Dave's Park the Bus post from this morning for its paragraph-long distillation of our leader's degeneracy and incompetence.)

As ever, though, this place is a refuge from the real world. Whether it's a venue for venting inchoately into the void, or learning about music, or smiling at something preposterously silly to the point of sublime, G:TB delivers in spades. I'm more convinced than ever that community matters to our mental health, and even more convinced that G:TB offers a real sense of community for those of us that choose it.

Mazel Tov, Gheorghies, and thanks for another year of glorious, mood-lifting goofballery.

On to the stuff you're all waiting for.

January

You knew it was gonna be some kind of year when the very first post was about TR spraining his dick.

It should've also been a clue when zman did a three-part series on a bills/jaguars regular season game:

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

We know someone who did The Dakar Rally. Sort of. Six degrees of Gheorghe, or something.

I learned some lessons about civics. (Reminder, go see a naturalization ceremony if you want to feel good about America.)

Zman wrote about cars, and the law, and John Cena. Two of those things are areas of significant expertise for our in-house counsel.

TR's second post of the year had 'fecal deluge' in the headline. Strong start.

Isolated vocal tracks are cool.



Weasel playing the rock and roll, documentary-style.

February

The year's shortest month only delivered 14 posts, but there was some wisdom to be won.

'Never had to/But I better knock on wood' takes on a new meaning in the Trump era.

Life. Celebrated Daily. As the alternative seems bleak.

TR, zman, a plane to Tokyo and Johnny Dangerously.

Afterschool Special: It Makes Me Anxious.

John Perry Barlow's rules of adulting.

Not Four Years, But a Lifetime.

Ten for the Wrens

Z on B(MW)

March

'This is William & Mary's Year'. Let the record show that it wasn't, but that the Wrens finished the season as the best-shooting team in America. And that ain't nothing.

Fountains of Wayne were featured in the first Whitney's 6-Pack. Whitney had a lot more six-packs that he didn't write about.

Zman sued the President*.

One of several inspired Fashion is Dumb posts by the Teej.

Guestie from a young reader who lives in TR's house.

Judge Alison Nathan has a posse.

Dave is Russell Crowe is Dave.

The 12th Day of Gheorghemas 2017 was celebrated on March 29, 2018.

April

I had an idea for a tattoo. There's no way I'd follow through on something like that, though.

Danimal made The Masters!

TR and Andre the Giant.

Topps 80s baseball cards - #2!

We didn't buy Cal Ripken's house. But we should have.

Return of zman Bouillabaisse.

The 411 on 420.



"Mark this, friends. I predict that I'll smoke a joint together with my now 16 year-old daughter before she turns 25. And I'll do it legally, where I live today."

TR stole Whitney's 6-Pack.

We used the phrase 'toxic bubble of handjobbery and mendacity' in a post. That might be the highlight of the year.

May

May was a month of milestones, with fully three different long-running endeavors coming to fulfilling ends.

Whitney repped Britney Spears.

Made up for it with a Connells 6-Pack. We were slackjawed there for a minute.



Apparently I also stole the 6-Pack idea. Didn't remember that.

Jim Comey's is a complicated legacy.

Our eight-year journey finally reached its destination: the top-ranked set of 1980s Topps baseball cards!

Abe Lincoln retired from the National Memorial Day Parade.

Here's to TR's goth Sheila.

Pugs not Drugs.

Weed might have been our third-most popular subject this year, behind music and the Wrens. Here's zman with a legal angle.

My daughter retired from competitive soccer. I waxed maudlin, part one.

We didn't buy this awesome map of the Hundred Acre Wood, either.

June

I used the Caps' Stanley Cup run as an excuse to write about the Red Sox.

We didn't buy Gheorghe's house, either.

My daughter dropped her debut hip-hop track.

We made a vasectomy playlist. As one does.

TR's got his mind set on wanting to rock.

We didn't buy Mike's Paul Newman, either.

"Fuck Civility. Civility got us Neil Gorsuch."

July

Lots of music this month, wrapped around a handful of serious and silly. So, kinda G:TB in a microcosm.

"You Put Out a Paper. It's What You Do."

I followed through with something. Finally. It's a whole new me.

Anthem to a Layoff.

The new W&M logo is...well, it's okay.

OBFT explains G:TB, in a manner of speaking: "At some point late on Saturday, or possibly Friday (definitely wasn't Thursday or Wednesday), with a good-sized group of dudes sitting around the table in the dining room, someone commented about how lucky we are to have this many friends ready, willing, and able to spend several days together, as comfortable in each other's company as ever, after so many years." I'm gonna get that tattooed on my face.

August

zman's brilliant 'lazyman's filler' series is worth checking out in its entirety. The final episode, courtesty of Rootsy, came out on the first day of the month.

The inside story of the new W&M logo, which upon further review, is...okay.

Z wrote about Hungarian rap, which is a pretty Z thing to write about.

You can kinda see the bones of what would become WCSAGD in this excellent post about cars and paint colors.

Wayne Rooney made the play of the world soccer season for D.C. United.



Whit found the worst song ever recorded.

September

Squirrels are the progenitor of the human race. You're welcome.

We only did one Better Know this year, and it featured the Rocket City Trash Pandas.

Peak Gheorghe.

Danimal went to Notre Dame, and couldn't come up with a better post title than 'Random Post'. Was Touchdown Declan too hard to figure out?

Never Forgetting Means Remembering.

The 'badass women' tag got some work this year. As Shlara pointed out during Gheorghemas, it probably could use some more.

October

A 6-Pack about actual six packs.

Turns out we had multiple posts about shit this year. Strong.

We crossed the 4000 post mark. That's a lot of dipshittery.

Whitney dropped his annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame post.

Zedman initiated the best post series of the year on October 12, giving Whitney license to procure a 1969 Chevy Impala convertible. The WCSAGD arc, along with his general excellence in the field of jurisprudence, music, and bouillabaisse earned Z the coveted Gheorghie of the Year award. His reward is that he's required to keep posting for our entertainment.

Teejay wrote a book.

Jimmye Laycock retired. Dave Fairbank wrote about it, exclusively at G:TB.

November

14 posts? Guess we were all busy working to get out the vote.

Whitney gave us the best 15th blogday presents we could ask for. Potentially the greatest post in G:TB history. I think we should give him Gheorghie of the Year. Someone ask Z to give the trophy back. That shouldn't be too awkward.

Back at it with This Week in Wrenball, for another ultimately futile effort. Like Sisyphus, Tribe fans push that boulder up towards Capistrano year after goddamn year.

Danimal can't font for shit, but he can spin a yarn. This one about Warren Spahn is a beaut.

Here's to you, Gheorghies. You're the best.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Gheorghemas Interlude: I'm That Type of Guy

The National Portrait Gallery is one of the more underrated museums in the Smithsonian system, suffering a bit from its location several blocks off the National Mall, and its relative lack of marketing attention. It might be my favorite spot to see art in the Nation's Capital.

We took a family trip there a few days ago as a way to get out of the house and not spend the entire holiday period laying on our asses and overindulging. Our primary objective was to see the new portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama recently unveiled in the Gallery. We didn't have a ton of time, so our trip was mainly focused on the Presidential wing, though we did see a handful of other notable portions of the collection.

Because you're an erudite bunch, I thought I'd share my favorite images from the day. Some struck me because of the artistic expression, others for different reasons entirely. In any case, here are a few of my favorite things, portrait category:


James K. Polk looked a lot like Colin Farrell. I was amused by this.


Bill Clinton's portrait is an abstract by Chuck Close, himself accused of sexual assault. There's a lot to unpack here. It's visually fascinating, and inspires mixed emotions, if the people around me were a representative sample. 


George W. Bush occupies a wall directly opposite from his father, gallery-wise. Bush 41 is depicted in a suit, formally. His son chose to be portrayed casually, which seems to me to fit his character.


Elaine de Kooning's portrait of John F. Kennedy was the most unique of all the Presidential images, abstract and expressionist. 


I hadn't seen this view of Abraham Lincoln before. Dude aged a lot in the last four years of his life.


I didn't love Amy Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama, to be honest. The skin tone seems gray and flat, and the likeness of Mrs. Obama's face isn't great. But the artist captured the former first lady's elegance and grace in the carriage of her wrists and arms. I couldn't stop looking at those details.


Norman Rockwell painted Richard Nixon. I did not know that. The artist said that he found his subject difficult, and ultimately chose to paint him in a flattering light because he wanted his subjects to feel good about themselves. It's a Nixon I don't think I've ever seen.


Kehinde Wiley's portrait of Barack Obama was my second-favorite image. It's visually remarkable in its attention to detail - the folds of Obama's suit and lines on his hands are perfect, for example - and its contrasting colors. It juxtaposes a serious man with an unusual background, a reminder that Obama moved comfortably between the most formal environments and the most relaxed with equanimity.

After we'd seen the Presidental portrait gallery, we wandered through several other halls. When I entered the room that contained Michelle Obama's portrait, I was immediately attracted to an image. It wasn't that of the First Lady. On a wall by itself, an immense 6' by 8', all pop and flash, Kehinde Wiley's (the same artist who painted President Obama's portrait above) 2005 study of LL Cool J dazzled. It's worth the trip to the Gallery just to see this single painting. It's stunning.


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Twelve days of Gheorghemas: Day 10

On the tenth day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Ten fingers and ten toes

Nine (ten, actually) Gheorghemas albums
Eight Bud Lites with Andy
Seven Book Categories for Reading
Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T

For the past few years, it seems like things in the real world have been kinda crappy for a lot of us around these parts.  Maybe not crappy all the time, but crappy more often than in the past.  Sometimes it's politics, sometimes it's work, sometimes it's family, sometimes it's health.  Perhaps that is just part of getting older...jobs get harder, loved ones age and need our help, politicians just seem to keep getting worse, the Tribe still misses the Big Dance.  As others have noted this Gheorgehmas, I am so thankful for this part of the electronic world that allows me to connect with friends and relieve a little bit of stress when necessary--the exact things that Rob discussed on day two.

While I have always known the importance of (but was sometimes terrible at achieving) having meaningful relationships and being able to limit stress, it was not until this year that the true meaning hit home.   As some of you know, Mrs. Marls & I I were blessed this year with a new addition to the family.  In early April, after 3 years of waiting, we were notified that a birth mother had selected us as adoptive parents.  Within four weeks, we were in the hospital as the parents of a 45 minute old newborn baby girl.  (Given the short amount of lead time, I think we may be on Jeff Bezos' Christmas card list with the number of deliveries from Amazon.)  I'm not sure how to explain the range of emotions you go through when something like this happens, but all I know is that noting is quite like the arrival of a newborn child.   Maybe Danimal can explain it because of his extensive experience.  It goes without saying that I think Lil' Marls is the most beautiful, special, unique, smart child to walk the earth.  When she could lift her head the night she was born, I tried to get Mrs. Marls to begin filling out the Harvard early admission application.   I attribute all of this to not having to share my DNA.   

Needless to say, our world has changed.   This little girl has turned our world upside down and inside out.  I feel like an old man.  What I can say is that child rearing is a young person's game.  Sleep deprivation, constantly being covered in a sheen of baby spit-up, plus baby weighted squats every time you stand up is not something my body was ready for. And I'm lucky because Mrs. Marls does most of the heavy lifting (literally and figuratively).  We would not trade a moment of it for anything in this world.  The last 7 months have been the most rewarding of our lives.     

On top of all that, the members of this little community stepped up in ways that it is hard to put my gratitude into words.    TJ and his wonderful bride threw us a shower.  Whit  & Rob were there from almost day one.  Shlara has been sending books and getting her ready to lead the woman's march in 2040.  TR, Zman, Mark & Mrs. Mark, and Mr. Fairbank sent supportive messages to a dad in the midst of an unfinalized adoption that meant more than you could ever know.   I can't thank you enough, though we will try.   We love you all.         

We are still maintaining a social media blackout so there will be no names and photos of Lil' Marls here, but feel free to call or text, as she's my favorite subject to talk about.  I can also send you a great picture of her and Whitney dressed as Abe Lincoln before the Memorial Day parade.

So on this Gheorgehmas, as always, I am thankful for the denizens of this site, whether it be for the wit and insight you bring to your posts and your comments, or just the sheer buffoonery that makes this place special.   But this year I am especially thankful for the newest addition to our family who has taught me a lesson about the power of unconditional love and the power of the friends here that make life special. 

I finish this while wearing matching Santa pajamas with my wife and little girl on her first Christmas morning.  Life is full of surprises - thanks for being part of the crazy ride.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Gheorghemas Filler Before rob's Gheorghemas Interlude

Over the course of our lives, we have been bombarded with holiday-themed television specials and movies. Some we love, some we hate, some cannot be stopped (that goddamn Grinch franchise). But the one that randomly stays with me despite being below the hard deck is the cartoon mouse vehicle 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, a 1974 tale of holiday hope from animation powerhouse Rankin/Bass (once we get that GTB intern a longer post needs to happen on RB). I believe I've written about 'Twas in this space before, but wanted to check in once more on this Christmas Eve to say, folks, this tune is a holiday banger:

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day 9

On the ninth day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Nine (ten, actually) Gheorghemas albums
Eight Bud Lites with Andy
Seven Book Categories for Reading
Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T


Last year I turned to the G:TB community for help assembling a playlist of subversive Christmas music for a Christmas party I didn't want to host. I got some good feedback here and elsewhere and assembled a pile of songs that made people smile. A few even said "Nice job with the music!" although the bar is really low for this neighborhood tradition (no one else plays music).

For the ninth day of Gheorghemas I will reveal ten albums that you can use to create awesome holiday playlists. They are all remarkably Gheorghe--even the safe choices are fun. If you have these ten albums you don't need anything else to host a sonically impressive soiree. If you do things correctly, you can turn any old holiday party into a Gheorghemas party.

1. "A Christmas Gift for you From Phil Spector"

Like it or not, most people want to hear music they recognize when they're at a party. You have to accommodate this reality if you want to keep the fun flowing. As a result, this album is the backbone of your Gheorghemas mix. Everyone recognizes at least half the songs on the album and a few are indispensable classics. And simply put, this thing bangs. This version of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" inspired Springsteen's. This version of "Frosty the Snowman" appeared in Goodfellas, as did "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)."

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Sleigh Ride" by the Ronettes (ring-a-ling-a-ling-a-ding-dong-ding indeed)



2. "Christmas Cookin'" by Jimmy Smith

This album is ten classic Christmas songs filtered through Jimmy Smith's Hammond B-3 organ. The cover features Smith dressed as Santa giving out gifts from behind the wheel of a red Alfa Romeo Duetto so you know it's good. This album bops hard except when it swings. Everyone will recognize every song on the album but it will take them a second or two to do so, but when they do they'll smile and go "Huh, that's cool!"

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (Smith turns a staid Christmas standard into a Gheorghemas jam--shit gets real around 0:37--if you don't enjoy this then you probably don't enjoy G:TB)



3. "Elvis' Christmas Album" by Elvis Presley

I can't believe we don't already have an Elvis label. Much like Christ he's the king and no Christmas mix is complete without one or two of his songs. If you didn't speak English you would think "Santa Claus is Back in Town" is a song for getting it on (it isn't, at least I don't think it is) and "Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane)" is quintessential Elvis. I guarantee at least one attendee will appreciate these inclusions.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me)" (A rockabilly torch song, sung by Elvis, asking Santa Claus for help to procure a woman? Yes please.)



4. It's A Holiday Soul Party" by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

SJDK always brought it and this album is no exception. It's a mix of funkified classics and soulful originals. "Just Another Christmas Song" is smooth, "Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects" is gritty, "Funky Little Drummer Boy" is infectiously groovy, and "Big Bulbs" is playfully naughty.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "8 Days of Hannukah" (Those horns though! Neal Sugarman is a pimp. Name another Hanukkah song with more soul.)



5. "A Charlie Brown Christmas" by the Vince Guaraldi Trio

I can envision TR's frown as he reads this but his disdain is misplaced. This album serves as glue to hold things together. Sometimes you need to cool your Gheorghemas mix off a notch. Seriously, that's one of the rules:



Every track on this album is an identifiable classic and Don Draper would love the nostalgia. "Skating" and "Linus and Lucy" are Christmas.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Christmas is Coming" (if you don't like this song then your ears don't work right)



6. "Socks" by JD McPherson

This album was the motivation for this post. You should be listening to JD McPherson as a general matter. I told you about him previously. His first album, "Signs and Signifiers," sounds like something you found in your parents' attic, it's vintage 1950's style rock-n-roll with a southern/rockabilly edge. McPherson's voice is remarkable. It's simultaneously raspy and syrupy smooth; elastic and rigid; wild and meticulous; bulging and refined; distorted and clear like a bell. The best comp I can come up with is the sound from Lee Morgan's horn, if that means anything to anyone other than rootsy. Only the title track isn't vintage, and it sounds like what Dan Auerbach is trying to do in his solo work only more authentic. I think Auerbach feels the same way because he collaborated on McPherson's next two albums and they are fantastic. Perhaps the highest praise I can give to McPherson is that he's one of a handful of artists zson demands as soon as we get in the car. Go check him out.

McPherson dropped "Socks" in November and I've been listening to it ever since. There are no covers, just original songs with vintage flair and they rock. Add this to your rotation even if you aren't hosting a Gheorghemas jam. Standouts include "Holly, Carl, Candy & Joy," "Santa's Got A Mean Machine," and "What's That Sound?"

zson's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Bad Kid" (further proof that zson is TR's illegitimate lovechild, he loves this garage surf ditty about a natural-born bad kid with a permanent spot on Santa's naughty list)



zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Hey Skinny Santa!" (just tons of swinging fun; I heard it in Barnes & Noble yesterday and at first I felt betrayed but upon reflection it verifies the pick--it's an instant classic)



7. Rockabilly Christmas

I'm sort of cheating with these next four albums because they're compilations. They're really good though--this is where things start getting particularly subversive. I found them whilst searching for individual songs you recommended or ones I found in Rex Doane's fantastic playlist archive of Fool's Paradise episodes.

"Rockabilly Christmas" is available through iTunes and Amazon. Highlights include "Rock N Rudolph" by The Uniques, "Sleigh Bell Rock" by Chuck Blevins (and another version by Three Aces and a Joker), "Rock 'n Roll" Santa by Little Joey Farr, and a fantastic surf version of "Jingle Bells" by Vel Mares.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Rock Around the Christmas Tree" by Big Bud (Santa frolics with the whole family, kisses a man, grabs his mom, then takes off in a Cadillac.)



8. Blues, Blues Christmas Vol. 3

Also available through iTunes and Amazon. It's 40 raucous songs recorded between 1927 and 1962, a not insignificant number of which are at least slightly mischievous. More than a few of the old-timey songs will scratch rootsy's itch--Lightnin' Hopkins makes an appearance (but T. Bone Walker does not). Highlights include "Christmas in Jail" by The Youngsters, "Rock and Roll Christmas" by Cordell Jackson, "The Christmas Boogie" by the Davies Sisters, "Baby It's Colds Outside" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and "Far Away Christmas Blues" by Little Ester.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Jingle Jangle" by The Penguins (Is it doo-wop? Bebop? Calypso? I can't say for sure but I know it's good.)



9. Underground Christmas A-Go-Go

Also available through iTunes and Amazon. This is a mix of 20 mostly punk rock songs. It gives you "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" by the Ramones, "Father Christmas" by The Kings, "Run Rudolph Run" by Keith Richards, "Santa's Coming Home" by The Cocktail Slippers, and "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" by Roy Wood's Wizzard. There's plenty more here to pick from.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Back Door Santa" by Clarence Carter (play it back-to-back with "Christmas in Hollis" to educate your friends)



10. Domo Loves Christmas

Also available through iTunes and Amazon. I have no clue who Domo is but his compilation gets you "Christmas Wrapping" by the Waitresses, "The Christmas Song" by The Raveonettes, Iggy Pop covering "White Christmas," and "Party For Santa Claus" by Lord Nelson.

zman's pick if you have to choose just one song: "Santa's Got a Bag of Soul" by The Poets of Rhythm (they got your head noddin' cause your neck knows it's phat)



SPECIAL BONUS TRACKS: also consider "Christmas was Better in the 80s" by The Futureheads, "Gee Whiz It's Christmas" by Carla Thomas, "A Five Pound Box of Money" by Pearl Bailey, "Santa Came Home Drunk" by Clyde Lasley, "Christmas at the Zoo" by The Flaming Lips, "Soulful Christmas" and "Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto" by James Brown, "Every Day Is Christmas (When I'm Lovin' You)" by Charles Bradley, "Wake Up Christmas Morning" by The Mighty Spoiler, and "It's Christmas Time" by Little John (not that one).

There you go. Christmas music doesn't have to stink. Merry Gheorghemas!

Friday, December 21, 2018

Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day 8


On the seventh day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Eight Bud Lites with Andy
Seven Book Categories for Reading
Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T


This first paragraph written from TX BBQ restaurant bar in IAH. That’s frequent traveler talk for Bush. Bush Airport. Houston.TR knows what’s I’m talkin’ ‘bout. Wednesday night the 19th after two full days here touching some bases. Upon unpacking Monday night, I realized I only had one pair of dress socks, so when you leave the house and get that inkling that you forgot something, look in your bag and figure that out. Today’s PRO TIP.

Flying to ROA tomorrow afternoon. That’s Roanoke. Virginia. Sup Rootsy. Solo. Two nights. Glutton for punishment. But not really. Going to have eight Bud Lite’s with Andy. It won’t be a literal 8, for he anyway, more like 1 over eight pulls. Consuming a 12’r of BL’s during a VATECH tailgate Saturday is of the past.

Looking forward to the rendezvous. Dreading it too. When I with complete randomness picked the 8th day, I knew I had to tie it to my bro Andy. Would have been the case for the first, fifth, eleventh. Just would have been. Why? Because it is all I think about. And all I never think about. It’s why I am waiting until this very last minute to put the tip to keyboard.

On my 16th bday, Andy married one of my sisters, Kim. Kim and Andy met while Andy’s mom was in Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, VA some thirty years ago. Kim was her nurse. A few years later they were hitched, and hot damn I finally had a brother.

Andy is a Hokie. As is his sister. Brother. Brother-in-law. Sister-in-law. And his two boys. Until this year, Kim and Andy never missed more than one Hokie game in a season. They’d travel to bowl games too when it allowed. And all games mind you are and have been preceded by world-class tailgating. We are talking about a 30-year span of excellence.

Great guy. Great father, husband, sibling, brother-in-law, son. Truly. Smart chap too. Chemistry nerd followed by an MBA. Completes every crossword puzzle and rubic’s cube with downright ease. Artistic as well -can draw any cartoon. A solid sense of humor and ability to have a good time made he and I pretty compatible. He is very Gheorghian.   

As I write this, I go a few minutes and all is well. And then it is not – extremely dusty in here! To the point I have to shield my face & eyes from the bartender and foreign couple sitting right next to me while I ponder ordering one more Manhattan before boarding.

My sister Kim recently got healthy after years of dealing with some very rare disorders. Sparing you w/the details but Cervical Dystonia preceded by Spasmodic Dysphonia (which another sister has also), a million doctors, stress, years, dollars, marital hardships, and as I said, eventually back to a close to normal thanks to a couple of very small batteries placed in the head. Praise lawd Jesus she’s good to go and damn it, I, and my family, are very, very, happy for she and equally Andy.

That was a year ago. Within what was a month or two, my boy Andy develops breathing issues, seemingly benign until it becomes a bigger problem, breathing that is. Since breathing is a sort of a big deal, Andy went to the doc, or docs more accurately. Pulmonary Fibrosis. Can be treated, managed, but could get worse. It did. Duke visits ensue, several. Lung transplant needed but need to do more tests to confirm. Let’s put you on some pharma to assist with the symptoms. Breathing becomes more difficult and thus heart is working harder. Heart getting weaker. Heart gets bad. Lung transplant need now trumped with heart transplant need. You wanna try and live a few years – how about the old lung and heart transplant? Pretty straightforward really. We just replace your heart and your lungs in one fell swoop.

A double organ transplant? How’s that shake out? It requires a move to Durham well ahead of time. You prepare, get ready. And then wait (do you hope?) for someone to die, hopefully younger and healthier than you that has agreed to be an organ donor and happens to match your needs. And then if that works out, you’ll probably be in the hospital for at least six months, maybe a year. And if it doesn’t work out, you’ll know pretty soon. Could be just a few weeks, days even. Mid-50’s, grown kids. Conundrum for some, others not so.

What say you Andy?

I think we’re going to go ahead and proceed to tap out pards, says Andy. I might be paraphrasing.

The bottom line since you are asking is…absent a miracle this is Andy’s last Christmas. Possibly his last month. We don’t know. Ask me in 24 hours. Or don’t, rather.  It’s okay though, really. Andy is handling this like a champ, worried more about those around him than himself.

I always amused Andy, made him laugh a lot through the years. Sometimes at me and sometimes with. Hoping either to happen here shortly. Will let you know how it goes as I write this last bit from hotel in Christiansburg, VA.

To echo Z’s sentiments yesterday, thankful for GTB. Could be called Gheorghe: The Outlet. It has been a good one for everyone here no doubt.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gheorghemas Interlude with a Side of Bacon

The second half of 2018 was difficult for me. Ours is sometimes referred to as the "sandwich generation" because many of us have to take care of our kids and our parents, so we're sandwiched between them. Since the end of May I've been in a sandwich only mine's a club--I take care of my kids, my mother, and my grandmother. Through all of it G:TB has served as the bacon in my club sandwich. Thank you for giving me a venue to be an idiot and to read other people's idiocy. The past few months would've been much harder without your humor and dipshittery. Mark also gave me tremendously helpful advice on navigating the eldercare delivery system, TR helped me move some furniture, and many others sent me well-wishes and good vibes. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate all of this. Thank you.

via GIPHY

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Seven

On the seventh day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Seven Book Categories for Reading
Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T


I'm sure you're all sick of all the end of the year lists . . . the movies you didn't have time to see, the political events you finally forgot about, the celebrities that croaked. And the books you didn't read. So I'm going to make this as simple as I can.

I'm quite proud that I read forty-three books in 2018. Or I was quite proud, until my friend and colleague Stacey presented me with her book list. That's when I decided lists are stupid (it might have been sour grapes). It's really hard to recommend a good book, let alone 43 of them. Reading is deeply personal . . . it's a commitment. While I would love it if all my friends read the exact same books as me, at the exact same time, it's just not feasible. You can sample music or a TV show and then tell your buddy you tried, but a book takes more effort.

And a book recommendation is fraught with peril. You could really disappoint someone. They could think far less of you (this could happen with music and TV as well but we tend to excuse trash in those domains . . . if you think Here Comes Honey Boo Boo is the shit, I'm not going to bother arguing with you. But I'm still bickering with folks in my department about how contrived and lacking in hockey-insight Fredrik Bachman's novel Beartown is).

However, a good book recommendation is a wonderful thing. I'm still passing along George Dohrmann's Play Their Hearts Out: A Coach, His Star Recruit, and the Youth Basketball Machine, a book that Mark recommended.

So instead of recommending seven books, which is six too many, I'm going to recommend seven book categories. In each category, I'll recommend one or two books. I think that's reasonable.

I'm going to start with one over-arching recommendation, however. The first book is the one book on my list that all the Gheorghies should read. It is a surefire hit for this crowd, and I'm asking you to trust me on it. Oklahoma Thunder Basketball, tornadoes, The Flaming Lips, city planning, and the 1889  Land Run, all wrapped up in hurtling juggernaut headed towards the inevitable BOOM. Give it a shot, and then thank me when you finish it in three days.

1) The One Book All Gheorghies Need to Read 

Boom Town: The Fantastical Saga of Oklahoma City, Its Chaotic Founding, Its Apocalyptic Weather, Its Purloined Basketball Team, and the Dream of Becoming a World Class Metropolis by Sam Anderson

2) OBFT XXVI Book Club Selection

Cliffy (who runs a moving business) also enjoyed this one, which details-- in his words-- "America's first move." I would really enjoy if some of the fishing trip guys read this one, so we could discuss it in the appropriate setting.

The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Andrew Lawler

3) A Classic That's Worth Reading

This novel is regarded as "The Great Gatsby of the West Coast." I think it's a lot more fun than Fitzgerald.

Ask the Dust by John Fante

4) Two Books for the Whole Family

We had a family book club this summer, and my kids chose these two books. I loved both of them, and both made me cry (one is about dogs and the other has several underdog sporting moments).


A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

5) Two Books with BIG Ideas

These suckers are heavy, but I guarantee if you make it through either one (or both) you'll never look at the world the same way again. Both are comparable to Guns, Germs, and Steel.





6) Two Books That Will Make You Laugh

Nothing is harder than humor, and these are two authors at the top of their game. If you've never read Sedaris, you can start with this one and then work your way through. The best part about Schumacher's epistolary novel is that there's a sequel, which is more traditional in format, but just as funny.



7) Something Thoughtful and Political

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Merry Gheorghemas! Happy Reading!

If you'd like to join me, this winter I'm going to wade through Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy 1945 - 1975 by Max Hastings It's 900 pages, and it's supposed to arrive before Christmas.

There's no better way to celebrate the holidays than by being thankful you weren't drafted into a chaotic misguided quagmire of atrocities and futility (with flashes of honor, resourcefulness and heroism . . . often for lost causes).



Monday, December 17, 2018

Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day Six

On the sixth day of Gheorghemas, Big Gheorghe gave to me:

Six Cylinders for Shlara
Five Givings of Thanks
Four Badass Women
Three(+) Decades of Love’s Labor
Two Things You’re Needing
And a Fat Guy in a Sweet T


It's What Car Should a Gheorghie Drive, Shlara/Gheorghemas edition! Normally I keep my selections relatively attainable but it's Gheorghemas (so let's splurge!) and it's Shlara (who is unattainable!).

I have only met Shlara once. As a result I know that she really exists (as opposed to being some other Gheorghie’s alter ego). Shlara is petite and Italian. You cannot help but notice Shlara when she’s in the room (at least that was the case the only time I met her—she was was the only woman at Gheorghefest). She’s fun and spunky, she likes to dance, and she loves the Steelers. She's smart and accomplished but she's also down to earth--she has her own non-profit for Pete's sake.

Shlara should drive a 1968 Fiat Dino 206 Spider in yellow with a black top and interior. This video explains it all.



It's small and Italian and athletic and those are Steeler colors! It literally had the heart of a Ferrari but it doesn't have the associated snootiness--it's a Fiat, a car of the people. Based on her musings in this space, I know that she likes athletes, especially dreamy foreign ones, and I'm sure they would like "a gigolo's car" like this, one "designed for young good looking Italian stallions to blast around and pick up chicks and have a good time." Seriously, tell me this guy isn't a gigolo.


Much like the Dino, it has been said that Shlara has no bad angles. Much like Shlara, I have seen this car exactly once (at the Dairy Queen in Emerson in the mid-80's). The Dino is cool and unique and so low-maintenance that you can drive it while wearing a wet swimsuit. That's what Shlara should drive.