Thursday, May 31, 2018

Gheorghestarter II: Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood

I don't have to tell you that we failed miserably in our first attempt to raise funds to purchase something that would benefit our entire community. Adam Jones bought Cal Ripken's estate, outbidding us by nearly $9 million. We tried. (Note: we didn't.)

In dipshittery, as in life, there are second chances. Opportunities for redemption.

On July 10, in London, the venerable Sotheby's auction house offers a original artwork that has a special place in my heart, and if you're a red-blooded human of Western descent, yours, as well.

In 1926, E.H. Shepard sketched the original map of the Hundred Acre Wood, home to A.A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and his friends. Pooh was my main homie for a good part of my young childhood, both in stuffed form and on the page. One of my favorite memories of being a parent is reading Milne's stories to my girls. I love Pooh more than any other fictional character, with the possible exception of Teejay.

So I think it'd be great if we can chip in the $200,000 Sotheby's estimates will take to win the auction. We can display the sketch at G:TBHQ. Which, as I understand it, is my living room. You're all, obviously, welcome to visit it any time you'd like.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Stuff You Slept On, Alternatively Titled "layzman's post" -- Whitney Edition

The hits keep pouring in. Here's what Whitney had to say:

Peter Gabriel
Peter Gabriel (Melt)

Peter Gabriel is a curious fellow. He was the star of the art-house theater show that Genesis was in the early 70’s. Then he saw a Bruce Springsteen show and broke from that act to go solo, as diarized in “Solsbury Hill.” His first four solo albums were all called Peter Gabriel, which he explained as being like issues of the same magazine. Weird, confusing, and a mess to catalog. Thanks, Pete.

His first two albums were interesting but spotty, like G:TB. Experimental sounds and oddities, but drifting into pop/rock more than his Genesis stuff. And then, somewhat out of nowhere, he released his third eponymously titled record in 1980. It’s come to be known as “Melt,” because of the graphic on the cover which features half of his face melting. The picture is interesting; the album is a keeper.

It starts with a creepy song about B&E, with former bandmate Phil Collins drumming out something pretty spooky. There are songs about blacking out, an assassin’s POV, Stephen Biko’s murder, and “a commentary on war and international diplomacy being like children's games.” Titles such as “No Self-Control,” “And Through the Wire,” “Not One of Us,” and “Lead a Normal Life.” His record company thought he was having a mental breakdown and dumped him. PG is an odd bird.

Fortunately, up-and-comer David Geffen’s new company scooped him up. The album is listenable start to finish with nary a dud. He makes the weirdness work, and this is the genesis, if you will, of the sound that gave him the hit “Shock the Monkey” two years later and a big batch of successes on So in 1986. (See John Cusack and the boom box.) Of course, then he released two (lesser) albums in 22 years. Mr. Gabriel is a strange one.

Give this one a listen start to finish, and play it loud and/or on earphones. The studio work is worth some attention. The lyrics are worth catching. The songs are worth multiple listens. I discovered the album while attending a summer program at Bennington College in 1987 and played it on repeat all summer long. (The ratio was 6:1 girls:guys, so a lot of girls got really tired of “Games Without Frontiers as a backdrop.) Anyway, I was seven years late to the party back then. It’s been 38 years now, and still it’s not too late.

Check it out.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Stuff You Slept On, Alternatively Titled "layzman's filler" -- shlara Edition

Shlara, also known as Gheorghe Muresan's favorite Gheorghie, sent what she deemed a "half-ass entry" in response to my request for layzman's filler, which means that one of you attempted what is at best an eighth-ass entry. But I guess that's what happens when you can only write one sentence a day. Foreshadowing! Anyway, here's a post about an album that Shlara thinks you should listen to.

I like this idea
I don't like doing a lot of work, though.
So you get a half-ass entry from me

Album: The Rip Tide by Beirut

Link #1: cheating with this Tiny Desk concert clip. It features 3 songs, 2 of which are from this album (East Harlem and Santa Fe)
Upside is you get so see the band's endearing nerdiness

Link #2: official video for Riptide (video is weird, song is good)

Why Gheorghies should listen:

It's got a modern 80s throwback feel to it. Angsty and also optimistic. If you like DeVotchKa, you'll like this Beirut album. It was on my regular rotation when I lived in NYC--nice way to tune out and stay zen while you're riding the subway. I think the band is technically labeled as "world folk music" and I'm pretty sure I heard one of their songs on XMU years ago and bought the album. The critics didn't like this album as much as their others, "too mainstream and cute." But that's just the way I like my fringe music: pop-y and cute. Top to bottom, all 9 tunes are good, but if I have to pick one, East Harlem is my fav song on the album.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memories, New and Old

Deep breaths, Fulham fans
My sporting cornucopia overfloweth today, at least from a soccer perspective. From the lowest levels of the American game to the pinnacle of European football, it's an embarrassment of riches.

At venerable Wembley Stadium in London, that city's oldest professional club plays for a berth in the Premier League after a handful of years wandering in the Championship. Fulham, which finished third in the Championship standings, narrowly missing out on automatic promotion, take on nouveau poor Aston Villa, the regular season's fourth place club in the final match of the Championship playoffs.

Fulham play an attractive brand of attacking soccer, recording 79 goals in 46 league matches, second only to Championship winners Wolverhampton Wanderers on the campaign. The Cottagers have only lost once since Christmas (though frustratingly, that defeat came in the season's final game, when a victory would've earned an automatic promotion). You'll certainly hear about Ryan Sessegnon in years to come; the 18 year-old winger led Fulham in scoring this season and is destined for Premier League football one way or another. He's already being linked with a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur. But Fulham's got attacking talent all over the pitch, with striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and playmaker Tom Cairney among several Fulham starters with Premier League quality. For those of you who need a bit more in deciding your rooting alignment, Fulham also feature American back Tim Ream, and are owned by mustache legend and Jacksonville Jaguars boss Shahid Khan.

Make this man happy, Fulham
Aston Villa, meanwhile, have John Terry, a villain if there ever was one, slumming it in the second tier and plotting his return to the Premier League, where he'll bang teammates' wives, shiv opposing forwards in goalmouth scrums, and lower the average IQ.

This one kicks off at 11:55 ET, and a Fulham win assures you all high-quality Premier League content in the coming year. I think you all know what to do. Come on you Whites!

In Kiev at 2:45 ET, my daughter's favorite side square off against the white-hatted evil-doers from Madrid in the Champions League final. It shouldn't be terribly hard for neutrals to choose sides in this one.

In the red corner, lovable Liverpool, helmed by German teddy bear and hug-centric manager Jurgen Klopp. The Reds' frantic pressing style and world-class front three pose a problem to every back line they face. They're brilliant on the counter, scoring for fun when they're on their game. Egyptian striker Mo Salah tallied a record-breaking 32 goals in 38 Premier League matches this season, and perhaps more amazingly, turned Liverpool into a pro-Muslim town.

Real Madrid, on the other hand, is anything by lovable. Unless you like despotic arrogance. In the regally self-absorbed Cristiano Ronaldo, Los Blancos boast an all-Universe talent with an even bigger ego. And in nearly every position on the pitch, Madrid features a player probably more talented than his Liverpool counterpart. The Spanish side are two-time defending Champions League titleists, seeking an unprecedented third consecutive victory in European football's most prestigious club event.

Even if I didn't have a familial rooting interest, this wouldn't be a hard choice for me. Liverpool famously never walk alone. Here's hoping they walk back to England with a title.

As much as I care about both of those matches, I don't think I'll have much of an opportunity to view either one. My most important soccer is happening a little bit closer to home (though not exactly around the corner).

Diminutive winger Reilly Russell (11),
circa 2013
At 10:30 this morning, the Loudoun Soccer 04G Gray team, which includes diminutive winger Reilly Russell, takes on the SOCA Reddest Stars in the first match of the Colonial Cup in Richmond, VA. The Loudoun squad are undersized but fairly skilled (as much as one could describe the fifth-tier team in its age group in such a way - it's a testament to both the size and depth of our Club that it's an accurate label). They built on a middling Fall campaign to win the first seven matches of the Spring season and clinch first place in Old Dominion Soccer League (ODSL) Division One.

Unless something drastic changes, this weekend's tournament will be the final one of my daughter's competitive soccer career. She likes the game, but she loves cheerleading, and she's decided that she wants to focus on the latter. The process has been a lesson in subverting parental ego, allowing her to make her own choices, even if those choices aren't the ones her father would've selfishly made.

And speaking selfishly (which, frankly, is all we've really done here over the past 13 years), I'll miss being her coach. I first led her team when she was a seven year-old rec mini player, barely able to kick the ball five feet in front of her. I took a couple of years off after she surprised us by making a travel side, but have served as the assistant coach for her teams over the past three years, supporting a trio of dedicated coaches with a ton more knowledge about the game than I possess.

It's not the on-field stuff that I'll miss, though it's an undeniable kick watching your kid score a goal in extra time to send her team to a tournament final, or thread a diagonal pass into a striker's run, or slide tackle and topple a much bigger kid. I won't miss the near-constant battle between a headstrong child and her stubborn father about getting out the door on time for practice or games. Probably won't miss the stony silence in the car that followed those battles, either.

Diminutive winger Reilly Russell (14), left, and her
sister Katy (16), circa 2017. Gratuitous family photos.
No, that stuff will be forgotten. But being present while my kid grew from a little girl into a young woman, a vocal on-field leader, a player with above-average instincts (with barely average work rate), and a terrific teammate and friend, that will all stay with me. I love watching my older daughter dance, but I have nothing to offer her in terms of guidance and advice. While my youngest doesn't always want to hear it, I have something to give her when it comes to soccer.

Mostly, though, I'll miss the time spent with her. She'll be a high school freshman next year. After her final travel soccer game on June 3, I'll never again drive her to practice, or schlep 2 ½ hours to Richmond for a tournament. That time, even the part spent in mutually bullheaded disagreement, is magic.

If there are soccer gods, they'll sprinkle some magic on Fulham, and Liverpool, and Loudoun 04G Gray this weekend. And if not, I'll walk away full-hearted nonetheless.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sream and Roor Will Smoke You

Martin Birzle (as in, fo' shirzle my Birzle) is an award-winning designer and manufacturer of smokers' products. Mr. Birzle owns Roor International BV, which is headquartered in Germany, and he sells his high-quality borosilicate hand-blown jointed-glass water pipes under the Roor trademark.

The Roor mark is the subject of three registrations with the US Patent and Trademark Office. To put it more plainly, Birzle sells fancy glass bongs--so fancy that they have trademarks associated with them. Don't laugh! Roor bongs start at $300 each. Roor sales in the United states alone have been in excess of $5,000,000 for the last three years. That's a lot of green.

I know all of this because Roor and its licensed US distributor, Sream, Inc., sued Arzumanara Corporation in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida for trademark infringement, asserting that Arzumanara sells knock-off Roor bongs. Fugazis if you will.

It turns out that Arzumanara does business as "Food Zone 619" which, according to Yelp, appears to be a bodega in Homestead, FL (about 15-20 miles outside of Miami). Remarkably, this isn't the first time Sream and Roor took legal action to enforce the Roor marks. It appears that Sream filed 313 complaints (313!?!) in the past two to three years, mostly against what appear to be mom-and-pop food stores or gas stations that sell cheap glass bongs under the counter.

Their complaints are filed almost exclusively in C.D. Cal. (which covers LA), S.D. Fla. (Miami), S.D.N.Y. (Manhattan), E.D.N.Y. (Brooklyn Queens Staten and LI), and E.D. La. (New Orleans). They seem to focus on places where pot is plentiful.

None of this makes a ton of sense to me. How do you walk into federal court and assert trademark protection over a product used to commit a federal crime?


Apparently they don't walk into court too often, instead they settle. And that's likely a great way to make money. Even if they only get $10,000 per settlement, that's over $3 million for 313 cases. Once their attorney takes his contingent fee cut they're left with at least $2 million.

So if you're selling bootleg Roor bongs in the back of your bodega, stop now! Or else Birzle will put a hurtin' on you! I'm looking at you Mark.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

A GTB #TBT: In Abe We Trust

As Whitney chronicled the other day, his long, strange trip as President Abraham "Vampire Hunter" Lincoln comes to a close this weekend (hopefully with a whimper and not a bang). It seemed we were in need of some filler (as compelling as TR's what coulda been goth tales are), so I went the Throwback Thursday route and am pasting below Abe at his most Presidential, walking Maple (RIPug) during the weekend he stayed at our unofficial Lincoln bedroom for the big parade.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Happy World Goth Day. And a Trip Down Memory Lane for TR.

I found out it was World Goth Day about 30 minutes ago and wanted to share that news, just because. No mention of anything goth-related can go without including this magnificent video. So first off, enjoy this:

When I was in college, I spent summers as a waiter at a very ordinary New Jersey diner. I came across all sorts of characters. Line cooks who couldn't read, illegal aliens working under false identification, fellow college kids who wondered why they didn't instead work at a bar/pub, women with many babies and no husbands, drug dealers, alcoholics and the like. It was a fascinating time in the underbelly of the very lowest end of the service industry.

I had a crush one summer on another waitress. Her name was Sheila and she was a college student who was a year or two older and much more NYC-savvy than me, which exacerbated that age difference, at least to my fragile 19 y/o self-esteem.

Sheila was a goth. Not a full-on character like the folks above, but the kind who shaved the lower half of her hair under her pony tail, wore dark-rimmed glasses before they were "cool," wore bright red lipstick, and spent a couple nights a week in NYC clubs like the Limelight.

Sheila was smart and cool and funny and we would have music debates all the time. She listened to my pleas that she dive into Phish and Widespread Panic, and politely dismissed them. She tried to explain to me the appeal of her goth scene. She invited me up to NYC to go to a club, but after an uneventful rave experience w/ Zman, Shem, Kyle and future dropout Garrett P in VA Beach in '92 (you read that right), I was hesitant.

In the middle of that summer ('94, I think), Sheila came up to me one day at work and told me she made a mix tape for me. This threw me off. Did she like me? It was the kind of thing a girl did when she liked a boy, right? The tape was littered with Christian Death songs. I gave it a shot. It didn't take, but it made my interactions with her all the more awkward, b/c it now seemed like she liked me. And I knew I liked her. And I knew I was driving a beat-up Dodge Caravan and was broke and was not anywhere close to holding my own in the goth/club scene. Conundrum.

At the end of the day (or end of the summer to be precise), nothing happened. I was just an emerging, underage party animal desperately trying to grow out my ROTC-mandated short hair in my 3.5 months home from college. The idea of hanging with her at Limelight to have a crack at a hookup/date was way too far out of my wheelhouse. It's just one of the dozens of "I wonder what would've happened..." memories* I have as I look back on my days as a young buck at the Jersey Shore. I miss you Sheila.

*Paul Simon captured this sentiment pretty well a long time ago:

If you took all the girls I knew when I was single
And brought them all together for one night
I know they'd never match my sweet imagination
Everything looks worse in black and white

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

One Last Ride for Lincoln

If you like Falco's masterstroke "Rock Me Amadeus," and I know you do, then you love the Salieri version, the 8-minute Stretch Armstrong rendition.  It features, just after the 1:00 mark, the DJ coming on and giving a Cliffs Notes account of Mozart's life:

1756, Salzburg, January 27, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is born
1761, at the age of five Amadeus begins composing
1773, he writes his first piano concerto
1782, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart marries Constance Weber
1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart becomes a Freemason
1791, Mozart composes The Magic Flute
On December 5th of that same year, Mozart dies
1985, Austrian rock singer Falco records "Rock Me Amadeus!"

The late, nearly great Falco was ahead of his time, some say, and his byte-sized summary fits our ADD world more than ever.  I'm going to borrow from him as Random Idiots records "I'm Drinkin' with Lincoln," a new tribute song that features a similar timeline.

This is a public service announcement... with guitar!

1809, Kentucky, February 12, Abraham Lincoln is born
1832, at the age of 23, Abe joins the Illinois Militia
1834, he is elected to the Illinois House of Representatives
1842, Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Ann Todd
1847, Lincoln becomes a U.S. Representative
1860, Abraham Lincoln is elected President
1865, April 9, the Civil War ends
On April 14 of that same year, Lincoln dies
2005, American blogger Whitney first appears as Abraham Lincoln on Memorial Day
2015, Whitney is photographed and recorded as Lincoln for a Chrysler Museum exhibit
2018, May 28, Whitney makes his final Abe Lincoln appearance ever
I'm drinkin' with Lincoln!

For the unfamiliar (not sure who that'd be), back when I was living in Arlington, a friend of my folks called me up and said, "Hey, we're starting this new parade in downtown DC, we have a George Washington impersonator, we could use an Abe, and you fit the suit."

From that, a legend was unborn.

That first year I had three days to prepare.  They sent me a costume and fake beard. I walked onto the mall blind to what lay ahead of me.  I was interviewed by Canadian radio and Russian TV.  It was weird, to say the least.  I walked down Independence Avenue as our sixteenth president.  My mom and my kids (aged 3 and 1) cheered me on.

I said I would do it again if they asked me to, but figured they'd ante up for a real Abe. They never did.

They did pony up for a horse and carriage.  And a Mary Todd for a few years.  They made me furnish my own suit and hat in the years that followed. And I grew a real beard. So now I show up on the mall at the designated time each year and we roll down Constitution Avenue right by the White House.  That's a lie... I show up with 10 minutes to spare and they sweat it each year. Dude, the suit is hot.

Anyway, 14 years later, I'm hanging up my stovepipe and string tie for keeps.

I moved to Norfolk six months after that first appearance.  It's no bargain making my way up to the nation's capital on a holiday weekend, often on a boomerang same-day trip. I get to see Rob and Teej and Marls and folks sometimes at Cowboy Cafe, but I can do that another time of year.  My girls (now almost 17 and almost 15) couldn't give less of a crap about their dad dressing up like a president and riding down the street. The Abe thing is played.

In truth, it's been a long and fun run.  A number of friends have seen me in action.  I've had beers as Abe in the Sign of the Whale afterwards, though without the stovepipe it just looks like Jebediah got lost. I've done some fun things in that hat and beard, a number of which will go unblogged.  I will miss it a little.  But not enough.

Every year the same yuk-yuk Confederate re-enactors make the same stale joke about how we ride about a block from Ford's Theater and that I should watch out.  I've got one last ride to not get shot.  In this insane political climate, I'll be watching out.  Keep your fingers crossed, my people.

And if you happen to be anywhere near the District this Memorial Day, give me a call and maybe the President will by you a cold one.  Otherwise, watch for me on TV.  Below is last year's broadcast.  You can skip to the 28:00 mark...

To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Odds and ends filling up our content bucket like the water from the biblical deluge plaguing the Eastern Seaboard.

For starters, The Virginian Pilot weighs in with the definitive pronunciation of Norfolk, as chronicled by one William S. Forrest in 1853. According to Mr. Forrest, "NORFOLK — correctly pronounced Norfoke — is a Saxon word, compounded of North and folk, and may, with some propriety, be rendered North people." What say ye, Norfolkers?

If it helps you think about it, I've signed us all up for a subscription to Gossamer, a new magazine from a pair of Huffington Post alums focused on the cannabis lifestyle. Now that eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational weed and 21 other states have legalized some form of usage, marijuana is coming out of the shadows and into the light, the glossy, soft-focus, People magazine light. According to co-founder Verena von Pfetten (totally made up name, by the way), the magazine isn't focused on the green per se, rather "...weed is more like the lens through which they approach stories. People who enjoy smoking pot, “kind of want to open their mind and try new things.” [I really need a copy of the AP Style Guide, 'cause I think I kinda butchered the punctuation of that quote. Prolly because I'm high.]

I'm gonna post this unobtrusively, because it may well be wishful thinking, but today I became convinced that Donald Trump is probably going down at Bob Mueller's hands. He might not serve time in prison (though I bet at least one of his idiot sons does), but today's revelations about Saudi Arabia and the UAE offering assistance to the Trump campaign in defeating Hillary Clinton are precise, and damning. Fuck, it's all damning, to be honest. I was right about Trump in the run-up to the election, and I hope I'm right now. And more than that, I hope it's not too late for us to recover.

It's easy to underplay it, because we live so far away, and all we see are photos. But y'all, the earth is literally opening up and spewing liquid fire in Hawaii. Or, said differently, the planet is low-key reconfiguring itself in real time. I've been to a place on the Big Island where lava flows into the ocean. It's among the more spectacular things I've ever seen, even from hundreds of yards away.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights are one game away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals. As an expansion team. If this were the NBA, MLB, or the NFL, this would be the biggest sports story of the past quarter-century. It's amazing, and only slightly less so than the Knights' pregame shows. Vegas, baby.

I attended the Preakness Stakes in 1996, when Louis Quatorze edged Skip Away by 3 1/4 lengths. If you think I pulled that from memory, you may not have ever attended a Preakness. It was, in the parlance of the time, a shitshow. I won $600 on the race, and spent it all that evening at a bar. I met my future in-laws for the very first time at brunch the next morning. I wasn't hungover, thankfully. Because I was still really, really drunk.

The infield at Pimlico on the best of Preakness Saturdays is a drunken bacchanalia. Yesterday, in the midst of the aforementioned deluge, it was as if The Road met Animal House. I can't even imagine what the infield was like.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Theme Songs, and Such

You Gheorghies, as you're all undoubtedly aware, are among the most magnificent bastards I know. And, man, do I need some good bastards right now, 'cause the motherfuckers, fascists, and heartless bastards running shit in Washington have me down. I started to write a post about it, but it quickly ran to word salad without a point. My thesis, as it were, was a muddled mess. I'll work on it.

As is the case in situations like this throughout my life, I turned today to music.

This one doesn't really fit the theme, but I'm down a rabbit hole, and I love this song.

Chime in with your own bastard-fighting tunes in the comments. Or better yet, append them to the post. It'll be our own little revolution rock.

Challenge accepted, Robbie! Here's one fun one for a shockingly dry Friday here in the NYC area (at least until dark). From your pal TR. 

Here's my favorite bastards song.  Here they come... From your buddy Whitney.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Stuff You Slept On, Alternatively Titled "layzman's post" -- Squeaky Edition

G:TB superfan Squeaky is a musical connoisseur extraordinaire. I don't know if he has more GB of music than Whitney, but he has a shitload of music. So much so that I requested multiple layzman fillers from him. Here's the first.


What is Mastersystem? It's a supergroup that TJ and everyone else on G:TB has never heard of before.

They are comprised of members from Frightened Rabbit (a few of you have heard them before) [zcomment: I've heard of them, through Squeaky, natch], Editors (you haven't heard of them) and Minor Victories (not a chance). All their music is indie rock/pop slash whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Mastersystem just released an album April 6, 2018.

The single, “Notes On A Life Not Quite Lived”, is below but you can hear the whole record on the streaming service of your choice at this point.

The music is more on the dirtier, grungier side of indie rock. It has a little harder edge than most Frightened Rabbit stuff but not punk. But the soul-searching lyrics are still present.

As is wont with album releases, the members of the band get interviewed. Below is one such question and response from Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit and Mastersystem.

Speaking with Stereogum about the themes behind the record, Hutchison said,

“I thought it would be interesting to play around with the themes of restlessness and dissatisfaction on this album, both as a counterpoint to the exuberance of the music and as an obvious reference to the angst and tension I heard in the grunge and fuzz of my teenage years. This is not the angst of a teenager, however. This is the anxiety of a man in his mid-30s, and for a lot of this record I found myself wrestling with the ways in which I am not quite doing life right, in spite of appearing to lead a relatively joyful, playful and artistic existence.”

Bold emphasis is mine. But if you spent any time listening to Frightened Rabbit you can always hear about his fight with his own ‘demons’ through his lyrics.

Is this album revolutionary? No. Is it a desert island classic? No idea, but doubtful. Just started listening to it today but after a few passes it’s squarely in my musical wheelhouse.

So why mastersystem, why the bolded emphasis, why this post? Well on May 8 Scott walked away from a Glasgow hotel after tweeting the following tweets.

“Be so good to everyone you love. It’s not a given. I’m so annoyed that it’s not. I didn’t live by that standard and it kills me. Please, hug your loved ones.”

“I’m away now. Thanks.”

As a lot of us know firsthand, depression can bring out the worst thoughts and actions. Let’s hope he is safe but it’s not looking too good right now.

Unfortunately we have more information about Hutchinson now than when Squeaky sent me this. Enjoy what I assume is Hutchinson's last album.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ranking Topps 1980's Baseball Cards: #1 - 1983

Almost eight year after we started this feeble exercise, we finally bring it on home.

To recap, here are the rankings we came up with, after a proprietary and highly quantitatively-oriented, multi-variate analysis: 

#10 - 1986
#9 - 1988
#8 - 1982
#7 - 1980
#6 - 1985
#5 - 1987
#4 - 1981

#3 - 1984
#2 - 1989

Those of you who were Algebra majors may deduce that one year in this decade was excluded. That year is 1983, our winner.

Readers of our series will remember the many factors put into play to measure each set. Who were the biggest rookies? Was it a good year for baseball? What were the card's aesthetic features? And on and on it goes. At least for winners losers like me.

The 1983 set had two big attributes going for it. First, it had a trio of rookie cards from players who had legendary careers, two of whom essentially* played their whole careers with one team (Boggs, Gwynn, Sandberg). Second, it had a great look to it, with one action photo and one portrait-like photo on the front of each card. And given it was 1983, there was some strong MLB stache action, as seen by both Boggs and Gwynn.

*Sandberg had a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 1981 (6 plate appearances), but was added as a throw-in to the infamous Ivan DeJesus - Larry Bowa trade after that season. Oopsy for the Phillies. 

While we're here, let's pay homage to the great Tony Gwynn, who put up some gaudy stats worth repeating here: 3,141 hits, .338 career average, 8 batting titles, 5 seasons with 200 hits, zero seasons with more than 40 Ks. The card below shows us the Oscar Gamble-esque look he sported in the early 80's, and reminds us what he looked like before he got fat.

And last but not least, let's salute Wade Boggs. Not for his opposite-field hitting, but for his prodigious beer drinking. It is the stuff of legend, up there with stories of Andre the Giant's beer drinking. There are lots of stories about it on the internet, which means it's surely true. Read this if you don't believe me.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

What Will You Tell Your Grandchildren?

Jim Comey's pulled off a unique double over the past year, managing to inflame the passions of both the left and right wings of the American body politic. The former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) spent 90 minutes on Friday talking about that, about his time at the Bureau, and about his fairly optimistic view of the future of the United States in a candid discussion with Ben Wittes of Lawfare.

The conversation, recorded for the Lawfare blog's podcast series, was open to the public, so I took advantage of my proximity and a nice hole in my late-week schedule to attend. Throughout a discussion of complex issues and an overheated time in our political history, I was struck more than anything by Comey's decency, humility, and humanity.

As he recounted the events surrounding his firing, Comey said that the only thing that made him angry was the way he was prohibited from saying goodbye in person to the people with whom he had relationships, like the custodial staff and the ladies in the special records room on the 7th floor of FBI headquarters. He called that aspect of his dismissal especially cruel.

Wittes is an admitted friend of Comey's, and the questioning was kind to the guy who many on the left fervently believe led to Hillary Clinton's loss in November. Comey noted that reasonable people have reason to criticize his decision to go public with the news that the FBI had reopened an investigation into Clinton's handling of emails, but characterized his choice as between an option that "sucked" and an alternative that "really sucked". Not exactly the phrasing I expected from a former FBI Director.

Comey took pains several times to pop his own bubble - he's either a very relatable guy, or a terrific actor. He routinely bought a sandwich in the FBI cafeteria for lunch (a practice far from the norm for past Directors) and asked questions of the people he found himself in line with. On one occasion, he spoke with an enthusiastic young IT technician, who explained how much he loved working for the FBI before asking Comey, "So, what do you do?" When Comey responded, "I'm the Director", the junior staffer asked, "Of what, like a division or something?"

"Dude, I'm the Director of the FBI," replied Comey. His wife enjoyed that story, according to Comey, who was surprisingly funny.

Throughout the session, Comey never mentioned the current President* by name, though he pulled very few punches in describing the damage to norms his administration and a complicit Congressional GOP are doing. He castigated Republicans for the way they've drifted far away from the foundational values that have governed us for centuries, specifically talking about the rule of law, all in the name ephemeral political outcomes. His test is a simple one: What will you tell your grandchildren when they ask what you did to stand up and be counted? In his analysis, too many in the modern GOP will fail that test if they're honest with themselves.

In the end, Comey's an optimist about our country. He described a number of tipping points in our history where Americans rose up to affirm our common values and resist threats to our unique republic. The American people are a sleeping giant, as Comey sees it, and once awoken are capable of righting even great wrongs.

He analogized our current times as a forest fire, capable of doing great damage in the short term, but ultimately regenerative. Comey sees green shoots in the work being done by the press and certain Congressional leaders, as well as the increasingly vocal common people refusing to accept the erosion of certain norms. (For what it's worth, Wittes wondered if a giant meteor of death might be a better descriptor of modern America.)

I found myself understanding the former analogy, wishing it were accurate, and deciding that it might not be. But Jim Comey's seen a lot more than I have, and he's a lot smarter than the average bear, so I'll continue to hope he's correct.

And I'm pretty sure he'll have no problem answering his grandchildren's questions.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Stuff You Slept On, Alternatively Titled "layzman's filler" -- A Recurring Post

There are a number of albums I love that no one else seems to know about. It occurred to me that there are innumerable such albums, albums that are beloved by a only a few people and that deserve more spins. So I decided to shine a light on this stuff that we slept on, while simultaneously harnessing the immense power with which I am clothed via my G:TB platform to crowd-source content. To that end, I surveyed about a dozen of our twelve person readership for hidden musical gems. The resulting layzman's filler will trickle out as needed. First up is TR's response:

Warren Zevon's Excitable Boy turns 40 this year. The song he is most known for (Werewolves in London) is on this album, but it is far from his best song on the album (IMO).

Excitable Boy is a fun rocker with an oldies tilt, but that's not the tune I'm gonna pimp here.

Lawyers, Guns and Money is also on this album. I have loved this song for the last fifteen years, since I first heard Widespread Panic cover it. The lyrics are like something Hunter S. Thompson would write, which is high praise from a guy with a Gonzo tattoo and a son named Hunter. "Now I'm hiding in Honduras. I'm a desperate man. Send lawyers, guns and money. The shit has hit the fan." Giddyup.

The other tune I'm gonna pimp is Night Time in the Switching Yard. I vividly remember when I first heard this. I was driving to Saratoga early on a Friday morning for Sammy the Bull's BP in the mid aughts. I was near Woodstock and found a great classic rock station. This was pre-Sirius, when you had to work to find tunes. This song came and I quickly turned the volume up to 11.

YouTube link is here. You have to embed this video or you won't be my friend any more:

If nothing else, Werewolves, Excitable Boy, Lawyers and Night Time highlight Zevon's tremendous musical range, lyrical prowess and potential as a rock superstar cut from the same cloth as Petty and Springsteen. Ultimately, his numerous personal demons proved to be too much of a limiting factor on his professional success. But he put it all together on one tremendous LP. I own it on vinyl. You should too.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Gheorghe's Six-Pack: Hymnal

We hired Whitney to innovate, to bring new ideas to the editorial team. Good thing we didn't hire him for volume production.

I digress.

The Six-Pack Filler gambit is an excellent new addition to Gheorghewhorld, one that I'm pleased to embrace.

Chvrches release their newest album, Love is Dead, on May 25. They kick off a world tour on May 19 in Toronto. Eventually, in October, they're coming to Anthem, the new waterfront venue in Washington, DC. I hope to see you there.

Here's 'My Enemy', one of two singles from the new record that have been released to date. You'll recognize the voice of The National's Matt Berninger in this one, which is a bit of a departure from Chvrches' normal sound.

'Get Out' is the other new tune that's in wide release. It's more in keeping with the band's traditional sound.

'The Mother We Share' is the tune that introduced me to the Scottish trio and their foul-mouthed, hypercute lead singer, Lauren Mayberry.

My wife and I took our kids to their very first club show at the House of Blues in Orlando in October 2015. Here's 'Bury It' from that packed venue.

Mayberry has a law degree, which is one more thing that might endear her to certain Gheorghies. I don't think that has much to do with 'We Sink', but I admit that I'm not a legal expert.

The band started covering Prince's 'I Would Die 4 You' early in its touring career, to much acclaim.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Carrot Highway

At time of publishing, it is unclear if this road is related to the Hershey Highway.

Edit: TR, this may be the way to get to the Hershey Highway...

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Footie Up Your Ass

The major European leagues are a mere handful of games from wrapping up their seasons, and there's very little drama at the top of the tables. In England, Manchester City ran away with the Premier League title months ago - all that's left is to see how badly they break the league's records for points and goals. Likewise, in Germany and France, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain lead by more than 20 points, long-since clinched their titles. Juventus leads Napoli by seven points atop Serie A with two to play, though the Neapolitans have a game in hand. But it's over there, too.

In Spain, there's nothing to play for in terms of the championship, as Barcelona coasted to first place in La Liga. But there's still history at stake this evening in Madrid. Barca are unbeaten through 34 of 38 matches, with 26 wins and 8 draws. Tonight, their bitter rivals Real Madrid offer the last realistic chance to take points from Barcelona. Madrid have scuffled through a mediocre season by their standards, lagging in third place behind Atletico Madrid, but they're into the Champions League final against Liverpool, and a win over their hated foe would be a brilliant knife-twist. Fuck Cristiano Ronaldo, though, that preening bastard. Vamos Leo Messi!

While there isn't much to play for at the top of the Premier League table (Chelsea still harbors long-shot hopes of sneaking into a top-four finish and a Champions League berth), there's a bunch of action in the relegation zone. Stoke City became the first team relegated this season after a loss yesterday to Crystal Palace, leaving West Bromwich Albion (31 points), Southampton (33), Swansea (33), Huddersfield Town (35), and West Ham United (38) to scrap to stay out of the bottom three.

Darren Moore walks on water
Five matchweeks ago, West Brom was left for dead, with 20 points through 31 matches and nine consecutive losses. Alan Pardew was sacked after an ignominious and embarrassing stretch in relief of Tony Pulis, himself fired after a poor start to the season. The Baggies elevated former player Darren Moore to the head job on an interim basis, and the team hasn't lost since, beating Manchester United, Newcastle, and Tottenham Hotspur, and drawing Swansea and Liverpool - the latter with two goals in the final 10 minutes of play. Yesterday, needing a win to avoid relegation, West Brom scored in stoppage time to beat Spurs, then watched Everton score in the sixth minute of stoppage time to record a draw against Southampton. A Saints win would've also relegated the Baggies.

West Brom's fate still very much hangs in the balance. They need Southampton and Swansea to draw on Tuesday, then they need both of those sides to lose next weekend. They also need to beat Crystal Palace on the road, and make up a four-goal net differential against Southampton. It's possible, and if they pull it off, it'd be one of the greatest escapes in soccer history. Up the Baggies!

By the time you read this, the matches I really care about today will be well underway. Fulham are on a magical run of form, shaking off early-season somnambulism to rip off 19 consecutive games without a loss. Many observers tip them as the best team in the league. The Cottagers have rocketed from the middle of the League Championship table to third, one point behind Cardiff City. The top two teams in England's second division are automatically promoted to the Premiere League, while the third through sixth-place teams play a mini-tournament to decide the third promotion spot. Needless to say, there's a massive difference between second and third.

Ryan Sessegnon is a golden god
At 7:30 Eastern this morning, Fulham kick off at Birmingham City, while Cardiff host Reading in the final matches of the League Championship regular season. Birmingham sit 20th in the table, not yet out of the woods from a relegation perspective, so the game matters quite a bit to them. Reading are 19th, tied on points with Birmingham, so they've also got something to play for.

Fulham's chances of auto-promotion aren't quite as long as West Brom's odds to stay in the top flight, but they're still on the slim side. But I'm sayin' there's a chance. Come On You Whites!

Friday, May 04, 2018

Gheorghe's 6-Pack: The Connells

Hi, Gheorghies!

I can't remember when Igor or Clarence first drunkenly threw out the late-night "hi gheorghies," but we need more of that.  And more drinking!

Why are we drinking today?  It's the end of the semester!  Not for most of you, but it is for me.  You see, for reasons still in development, I enrolled at the College of William and Mary business school in January.  I am in their Flex MBA program.  I take night school, two 3-hour classes a week year-round for the next three years.  You know, personal betterment and all.

I just finished my first two classes: Financial Accounting and Organizational Behavior.  I had A's going into this week's finals, but we shall see.  But for now... cue the Alice Cooper / Barenaked Ladies mash-up, "School's Out for One Week."  Gimme some music, gimme some beer.

In the interest of spreading the love of good music, we will throw out six suggested songs by certain bands you may or may not know much about. Not much of a time commitment, just a little something to get the flavor and get you going.

Gheorghe's 6-Pack: The Connells

Where: Chapel Hill, NC
When: 1984–present
Who: Mike Connell, David Connell, Doug MacMillan, George Huntley (originally) with some new faces through the years

This weekend is my 30-year high school reunion.  Tonight at my alma mater, The Connells will play to alums and kegs.  In 1992, they played to us, with kegs, at Trinkle Hall at the College.  They played the first live concert my daughter ever saw. 

And they're just an around-the-way band with some good tunes in their catalogue. Enjoy.

"Scotty's Lament," Boylan Heights, 1987

"Fun and Games," Fun and Games, 1989

"Stone Cold Yesterday," One Simple Word, 1990

"Get a Gun," One Simple Word, 1990

"'74-'75," Ring, 1993

"Slackjawed,"  Ring, 1993

Wednesday, May 02, 2018


You can find lists all over the world wide interweb ranking cover songs that superseded their original counterparts.  For all of the cruddy renditions of great songs that exist, with more added to the junkpile every year, the ones that rise above please me greatly.  There was an ORF Rock show about this a couple of years ago.

As Jules would say, "Example."

"Superman," R.E.M.
"Hurt," Johnny Cash
"Tainted Love," Soft Cell
"The Man Who Sold the World," Nirvana
"All Along the Watchtower," Jimi Hendrix
"Hallelujah," Jeff Buckley
"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me," Violent Femmes
"Sea of Love," Cat Power
"Trapped," Bruce Springsteen
"Renegades of Funk," Rage Against the Machine
"I Love Rock & Roll," Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

So I never really knew or cared about Britney Spears' song "Toxic." I can't believe I'm embedding a Britney song at G:TB, but it provides context.

Then I heard a cover of it some years back by Americana group Nickel Creek.  (No, not Nickelback.) Dug it major. Here's a more recent version.

And now, an instrumental surf version by a Canadian all-girl group in gold lamé?

Yes, please.

I can't turn it off.

These ladies are leaving Toronto and hitting the US this summer.  Look for them in NYC, Asbury Park, and Dunellen, NJ in August.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Trump's Next Pick to Run the VA Will Be ...

As you likely know by now, President Trump (I shake my head every time I type that) picked Ronny Jackson to run the VA but Ronny had to bow out due to a penchant for drinking himself into a state of unconsciousness and giving out prescription drugs like candy--so much so that he was called the Candy Man around the White House. Some might say this sounds like something out of a frat house, while to others it's unprofessional and unethical. Either way, it sounds like Dr. Ronny fit right in with the crew in Trump's White House.

Who will DJ Trump tap next to head up the VA? I have a few predictions.

1. Ronnie Coleman

Ronnie Coleman sounds a lot like Ronnie Jackson so Trump might not even realize it's a different guy. Coleman was Mr. Olympia eight times in a row, so he's a real winner. Trump likes that. Coleman also broke Arnold Schwarzaneggar's record of seven consecutive Mr. Olympia titles. Trump probably likes that too--anyone who beats Schwarzaneggar in anything is okay in Trump's book. Coleman never served as an administrator in a hospital before, but I'm sure he served as an administrator of steroids in his keister. Coleman's best qualification, in my view, is that he served as the inspiration for an Action Bronson song.

2. Stoney Jackson

Stoney Jackson also sounds a lot like Ronny Jackson which makes him an easy choice for our fearless leader. Stoney Jackson is an actor you might remember from the Beat It video (I do not but I trust Wikipedia). Trump loved Michael Jackson so much that Jackson was the only person he and Ivana would let babysit their kids. I'm telling you, Trump's judgment is infallible. The more I learn about him the more I'm convinced that we are in wise hands. More importantly, as you can see from the photo at left, Stoney has one of the all-time-great Jheri curls. Trump admires a man who takes risks with his coiffure and owns the look no matter how insane it may be. Stoney has absolutely no government experience but he apparently works for some media company as a producer ... so he basically has the exact same background as Trump and the Trump presidency is turning out great! MAGA! Stoney MAGA! Stoney also played Jesse Mitchell on The White Shadow. I've never seen the show but I assume the title is a play on race, and no one loves to play on race like Trump. Stoney's best qualification is that he served as the inspiration for a Kool Keith song ("Stoney Jackson") and an entire Strong Arm Steady Album ("In Search Of Stoney Jackson"). Those are remarkably strong qualifications, certainly as strong as anyone else Trump nominated for anything so far.

3. Ben Carson

Shockingly, this might make sense, or it at least might pass for what is considered sensible since Election Day 2016. Trump knows who he is, which helps right off the bat. Carson spent the past 12 months running HUD, which might not be as big as the VA but it's still a major undertaking. So he has some legitimate administrative experience at the Secretary level. And he actually worked at one of the world's best hospitals--he was Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Although he isn't actually a veteran, Dr. Carson repeatedly lied about getting into West Point. That's the kind of military service Donald Trump can get behind. Carson even has his own special handshake with Trump. This pick makes sense from all angles.


Also considered:
Ronny Turiaf, Randy Jackson, Jackson Avery, Ronny Cedeño, Ronnie Spector, Jordan Spector, Carl Weathers