Friday, June 29, 2018

Fuck Civility

There's been a lot of talk lately about civility. Fuck civility. Civility got us Neil Gorsuch. Civility gets us one party steamrolling every political and civic norm we used to say we held dearly while the other party clutches its pearls and tries not to offend, lest it be called uncivil.

Marco Rubio tweeted about civility this morning.

Fuck Marco Rubio. Here's what he was referring to, an interview with Annapolis Capital Gazette writer Selene San Felice after she'd seen colleagues killed and feared for her life. In it, she says, “Our whole lives have been shattered. So thanks for your prayers, but I couldn’t give a fuck about them if there’s nothing else.”

You'll forgive me if I seem angry. I am angry. I'm angry almost all the time these days. It's not healthy, I realize. But it helps, sometimes, to say fuck. And so I'm not going to stop.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Buy Mike's Paul Newman!

My father-in-law, Mike, about whom I wrote previously, died on June 20. This was expected but sad nonetheless. Mike was very much a participant, rather than an observer, in the game of life. As a result we are fortunate to have tons of "Mike stories" to remember him by.

And we're in the process of generating one more Mike story! TR threw a party for his son's first communion last month, where I wound up talking watches with a mutual friend as well as FOG:TB Juan Carlos. I mentioned Mike's watch, a Paul Newman Daytona, and our family's interest in selling it without getting ripped off. Turns out both guys know the head of Christie's watch group and he lives around the corner from zfamily. They put us in touch and the watch expert is a fantastic guy. I brought the watch to his house, he verified it isn't a fugazi, and it will be auctioned online starting June 28 through July 12. They even took some nifty glamour shots.

Remarkably, it appears to have the highest estimated value of any lot in the auction. Not too bad for a $295 purchase that was worn daily for 40-some-odd years.

You can follow Mike's watch here. Feel free to bid--you can use a credit card! The whole zfamily hopes the auction results in one more awesome Mike story.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

This Week in Wrenball: Viva Le Tribe

It's early summer, and we find ourselves equidistant from the promise that comes with the beginning of the next Tribe hoops season and the familiar resignation of early March. In other words, it's not the customary time to talk Wrenball.

But when two of our throughlines intersect, we can't help but notice.

According to its Wikipedia entry, Le Mans Sarthe Basket, commonly known as MSB or Le Mans, is a professional basketball club that is from the city of Le Mans, France. The team plays in the French League and internationally in the Basketball Champions League.

After finishing third in the regular season in France's top division with a 21-13 record, MSB reached the finals against regular season champion Monaco. The top seed featured former Georgia star Gerald Robinson and Ohio State sparkplug Aaron Craft. Le Mans was led by FOGTB and FOLebron James Romeo Travis, Tennessee product Chris Lofton, and featured W&M's own Terry Tarpey as a reserve guard.

And in a hard-fought five game series, the underdogs from Le Mans prevailed, winning 76-74 in the deciding fifth and final game to capture the championship.

Travis scored a team-leading 14 points in the clincher. Tarpey was injured, and missed the tournament, but he's got a ring.

In Tarpey's first year in the French top division, he put up numbers that looked a lot like his collegiate box scores. He did a little bit of everything in the 26 games he entered (of a total of 47), averaging 6.8 points on 42.6% shooting (39.3% from three - a noteworthy improvement from his time in Williamsburg), led Le Mans in steals with 1.3 per game, was second on the squad with 4.8 boards, and added 2.0 assists and 0.4 blocks. And despite the fact he wasn't a starter, he was fourth on MSB with 23.6 minutes/game.

Not bad for the second guy from W&M to bond with Romeo Travis.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Fuckmooks to the Barricades

I came here this evening to finish a cathartic and ultimately impotent post about our current political environment. It wouldn't have done much, but it would've been a marker to posterity about where I stood at this particular moment in time. I'll complete it in a day or two, but I'm kinda drunk, and I came across the most epic of Twitter ragestorms from a wordsmith of the first order, and I believe his words must be recorded in the event the Praetorians guarding the high castles of social media riches scrub them from our collective memory.

There's so much here. The outrage is real and justified. It's an indictment of the elevation of economic value over humanity. It's a celebration of the versatility of the language a communication method and a cudgel - can you imagine that we lived in a world without the word 'fuckmook' before today? It's rage against power subservient to power. It's fucking beautiful and it's awful and it makes me sad and it makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.

I just got done telling my kids over a gut-filling meal of fajitas and margaritas (the latter for me and my wife, not the teenagers) that they have an obligation to stand up for people less powerful, less visible, less white. And I came home to find out that even people like David Simon get silenced, even if only for a week.

The road ahead, my friends, is paved with peril. Don't be fuckmooks.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Give the People What They Want

Back in simpler times, we used to make a big deal of the NBA Draft here in Gheorgheville. Some of our longest and most entertaining comment threads were inspired by the annual talent distribution/fashion show extravaganza. As our resident expert, Mark used to gin up cogent and contrarian analysis of the players on offer for the league's clubs.

While we remain simple men (the women, far more complex and interesting), times change. And the amount of time we have to spend on frivolous pursuits has diminished. Or we've just drifted to different frivolous pursuits. Fucking Twitter.

Times change, but the draft remains a constant. So join in this evening so you can hear me sing the praises of this year's Draymond Green - still the best call I've ever made on draft day - and so we can all relish the sartorial excesses of this year's class. Got a long way to go to top Jalen Rose.

Our lord and savior Gheorghe on draft night:

Samaki's sartorial splendor:

And the man most likely to throw the whole thing into chaos early...

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summit, Dammit

If the mountain wouldn't come to Muhammad, then Muhammad resolved to go to the mountain.

G:TB has one up on ol' Mo.

After repeatedly pledging to convene an actual summit of Gheorghies at CAA Men's Basketball Tournaments held in various locales, with mostly good intentions, and nearly always reneging on those pledges (there have been a couple of near-exceptions, where a couple of us made our way to Richmond, or Baltimore), the Colonial Athletic Association has seen the light.

The CAA needs more Gheorghies, and the league is moving its feature event in order to attract us.

Beginning with the 2020 CAA Tournament, the league will host the event in Washington, DC, at the nearly-completed St. Elizabeth's East Entertainment and Sports Arena (SEEESA - they're not using that acronym, but I'll find a way to add a W and make it work) in Southeast. The 4,200-seat home of the Mystics (and the Capital City Go Go) snagged the CAA deal as its first-ever collegiate event.

Setting aside my obvious personal geographical affinity for the move, it also makes a ton of sense for the league. D.C. is essentially smack dab in the middle of the CAA footprint, 438 miles from Boston (northernmost league member Northeastern) and 506 miles from Charleston. It's within a three-hour (ish) drive of half the league's teams, and a relatively easy day's journey for all ten schools.

The move is also an acknowledgement by the CAA of its status in the pecking order. Last year more than 8,000 fans showed up for the title game in Charleston, but rumor has it that the league gave away more than half of those tickets, even as the host team made it to the championship. In a 4,200-seat arena, the odds are much better that the league will have a full, vibrant venue for its games.

We'll do our part to make it so when the Tribe's in the house. 2020 will be Nathan Knight's senior season, and we'll be in the SEEESAW, riding a roller coaster of emotions as the Commodore leads our guys to the NCAA Tournament.

And hell, while we're dreaming, we've got one more year to get together in Charleston at the 2019 CAA Tournament. See y'all there.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Got my Mind Set on Wanting to Rock

(Before you read, here's the gist of this nonsensical post: Which phrase is repeated more in a song - "I wanna rock" in Twisted Sister's song of that name, or "set on you" in George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set on You?" Think about it, make guesses and then read on to find the answer!)

Well yes, I am having a fine Father's Day. Thank you for asking. The recipe for success started with not having much scotch lying around the house on Saturday night. One nightcap and a 10:30 PM bed time made it easy to hit the gym when it opened at 7 AM Sunday morning. I did some nautilus and then decided to hit the bagel shop to buy breakfast for the rest of the fam (I'm off carbs, so no delicious bagels for me, unfortunately).

It was a beautiful morning, and I had the windows down in the car when leaving the gym. I dial-flicked to Ozzy's Boneyard just as Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock" came on. It was the perfect mindless tune for my five-minute drive. As I drove, I couldn't help but notice that Dee Snider pretty much just says "I Wanna Rock" over and over again, as well as saying "I WANT to Rock". Once you focused in on it, it was comical.

It reminded me of one early 90's song where the lead singer just repeats the title/chorus over and over again. That song, of course, is George Harrison's "Got My Mind Set on You," a shit-burger of epic proportions that ran heavily on MTV when i was in high school.

Because it's Father's Day and I finished my morning chores (fed family, watered flowers/bushes, walked the dog we are dogsitting, set up sprinkler in back yard), I decided to count the repeated phrases in each song, It is such an inane and pointless mission that it is perfect fodder for this fine blog.

We'll start first with I Wanna Rock. I decided to include both "I Want to Rock" and "I Wanna Rock" as acceptable because they're both conveying the message that Dee Snider wants to rock. I loved this album a lot when it came out. I think I can sing along to every song, including the terrible power ballad "The Price" and the creepy "Captain Howdy." I may not have loved this band as much as Marls though, given he owned a double-live CD of the band. I love him for owning that. Strong Island pride indeed.

Turns out Dee Snider says that phrase 26 times in the song, an average of once every 7.1 seconds. I know, it would be cooler if the song was five seconds shorter. C'est la vie. But the message is clear. Dee wants to rock.

Turning to the Harrison tune, we faced a quandary. Do we count only the full "got my mind set on you" or do we also include when he (or the backup singers) simply say "set on you?" We decided to just focus on "set on you."  Turns out Harrison and his posse of sadness utter that phrase 26 times as well, an average of once every 8.9 seconds.

So there you have it. Go on and impress family, friends and lovers with this knowledge. Happy Father's Day.

Happy Fathers Day

To all you brothers from another mother who happen to be fathers. I thought it might be appropriate to post something from the Godfather of Soul. Pay attention Dave, you can use these moves at your next pub night.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

And You Thought Filler Was Lazy

We usually try to write things in complete sentences, at least most of the time. But this morning, it's all experimental bloggery. In an effort to not lose the news cycle, and to celebrate what I think is an amazing record, herewith the notes, ephemera, and rapid scribblings that came from my keyboard when I listened to Neko Case play the songs from her new album, Hell-On.

if you thought i wasn't going to write about a new neko case record, you're crazy, man

speaking of 'man'. that's the first song she played in a live set at Littlefield in Brooklyn. but everything after that came from her new record, 'hell on'.

'god is a lusty tire fire' - title track. operatic, theatrical. 'i'm an agent of the natural world' - a damn force of nature.

there is no voice in the world like neko's. slate calls it 'her lonesome mesa of a voice'

'chipped my tooth on an engagement ring/and that's bad luck' bad luck

'i left home and faked my i.d./i fucked every man i wanted to be' curse of the i-5 corridor - epic tale

the guardian calls it "a pitch-perfect roar of female defiance"

gumball blue, written with carl newman, new pornos autobiography

winnie/gorgeous ode to women warriors 'i wanted to be her sailor's tattoo'

Friday, June 15, 2018

Say, That's Not Peter Cetera

Summertime is here again, our just about, and with that comes a bevy of music festivals, countrywide rock tours, and summer shows in each of the gheorghies' respective homelands.  I implore you people: go out and take in some live music, then blog about it at GTB.  I love to read about what you guys are listening to and the shows you see.

Some of you ask: what shows are out there?

Go here:  Pollstar.  Individual band pages are worthy but take longer to sift through.  Other sites exist and are fine (Bandsintown, JamBase, etc.) But Pollstar has been my go-to for a long time, and you can search by city, venue, or band quickly and easily.

So, what should these good people see?

Whatever you want! And if what you want is to see a big-name act that costs more than it should and you're stuck in row YY or at the back of the lawn and you're watching the band on a screen and they look like Fisher-Price figures, at the very least... at the very least... they should be the band you intended to see.

What the hell does that mean, Whitney?

Okay, forgive the rant, but there is a growing trend I'm seeing wherein older bands of prior popularity are touring the globe with a hodgepodge of musicians who were not a part of the original incarnation of the band.  Sometimes those stand-ins have replaced vital elements without whom, this really isn't the same band, now is it? But you see no asterisks or disclaimers.  And it's crap.

Obviously, things happen in the course of the life of a musical act.  People die.  People fight and leave.  People go solo.  People just get tired.

Obviously, there are some slots in the roster of a given band that could be filled by just about anyone.  For Random Idiots, that was 2nd pots/pans player.  Scott MacDonald took Jason Elliott's spot there for "Dr. Seuss" because Elliott was on the john or talking to his girlfriend or something.  Nothing was lost, and the rest is history, of sorts.

But when either the role that is replaced is a major one, or the talent that is lost is formative and foundational to the band, please don't ask the listening audience to just nod along like it's the same ol' same ol'.  It's not.

Lead singers are tough to replace, fair or not.  When Brian Johnson replaced Bon Scott, AC/DC recorded an amazing classic album's worth of material before hitting the road.  A quick switch of Brian as Bon just wouldn't have worked. Talking Heads cannot continue without David Byrne. It would rob the public of what they paid to expect.  Say what you will about Dead and Company, but at least they aren't out there peddling the name Grateful Dead without Jerry.  Without John Fogerty, the rest of the dudes took to Creedence Clearwater Revisited. It's about truth in advertising.

Here we go.  I've taken the liberty of doing some work for you. I'm taking a look at the landscape of summer tours and letting you know which are the real deals, which are close enough, and which are pale facsimiles for which you should be paying knock-off prices.

To preface this, I include an interview from Derek Trucks after Gregg Allman died. Keep an eye out for the subtle dig:
Trucks closed the book on the Allman Brothers Band forever after the deaths of both Allman and his uncle, who died in January. "You can't have an Allman Brothers gig without an Allman brother," Trucks said. "I've heard people try to argue that you can, but I'm not buying it. If [late band co-founder] Duane [Allman]'s not there, Gregg certainly better be there. There are a few bands out there right now that are using names that maybe shouldn't be. That's another discussion." 
This is that discussion.  Here goes.

Lynyrd Skynyrd
Hey, boys, if your ears were ringing, it's because you are the A#1 band out there that's using a name you maybe shouldn't be.  Ronnie Van Zant and Steve and Cassie Gaines died in one of rock's greatest tragedies. Ronnie's voice and lyrics were at the core of every Skynyrd song. After a 10-year hiatus, a handful of the survivors reformed as Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Maybe shouldn't have. Ronnie's little brother Johnny has manned the mic since. Through the years, original members have faded to the point where it's only guitarist Gary Rossington left.  Admire the perseverance, but it's not Skynyrd and if even one unknowing ticket-buyer thinks they're getting the original... hell, maybe they deserve what they get at this point. Anyway...  Verdict: Cover Band.

Fleetwood Mac
Last month the band announced that Lindsey Buckingham was no longer a part of the band. Okay, so the band has had numerous lineup shifts throughout its 50-year career, and maybe you were big fans of the Peter Green or Bob Welch eras of the band with hits like "Black Magic Woman" and "Albatross." You weren't. The core lineup since' 75 of Fleetwood/McVie x 2/Buckingham/Nicks was a hit machine for a brief moment, and they are a terrific live act to see.  But Buckingham is a living genius and the heart of too many of those hits. He and Nicks left the band in the late 80's, and the number of people that attended Mac shows without them you could fit on a single school bus.  And they were disappointed.  Stevie is there, but without Lindsey, leave it be.  Verdict: Not the Same.

Their songs have faded into dreck, but I've seen Rivers Cuomo and Co. in recent years. Still good, 3/4 intact, and Cuomo is most everything to Weezer. Verdict: Good to Go.

Pixies were a band most (included me) missed seeing in their original stint ('87-'92).  I did catch them when they reformed in 2004, and they were great.  Black Francis still leads the band around the country, (now with Weezer in tow) but there's one problem.  Kim Deal left the band 5 years ago this week.  There's a reason the Dandy Warhols sang "Cool as Kim Deal." Her voice, her bass, her cool.  An irreparable divot. Verdict: Not the Same.

Steely Dan
A two man classic.  Fagen and Becker.  Becker and Fagen. Walter Becker died in September. To tour again as the Dan without him there?  Verdict: Eat Bat Prick

Guns N' Roses
It's simple.  Axl, Slash, and Duff is good enough.  Axl and Buckethead and whoever else? You're crazy. They have the core together right now, so go see 'em before they implode again. Verdict: Good to Go.

A strong assemblage of talent from their earliest days, but Henley and Frey were at the center.  Minus Glenn Frey, the best days of the Eagles are already gone. Verdict: Not the Same.

Stone Temple Pilots
Name someone in this band beyond Scott Weiland.  He died. Verdict: Not the Same.

Alice in Chains
I grant you, you can likely name Jerry Cantrell.  But Layne Staley meant too much to the band.  Verdict: Not the Same.

Tommy Shaw and a couple of others are in.  Dennis DeYoung and Mr. Roboto are out. Verdict: Not the Same, but do any of you guys really give a crap?

ZZ Top
All present and accounted for, sir.  Verdict: Good to go.

Def Leppard
Lead guitarist Steve Clark died of alcohol poisoning when the elder gheorgies (excepting Monsignor KQ) were in college poisoning themselves with alcohol, and Rick Allen is missing an arm, but otherwise they're the same.  Verdict: Close enough.

Wow, this one is interesting.  Dude, if you love Journey, and more people than ever seem to, go see Arnel Pineda. The sound is extraordinarily similar, and Steve Perry ain't walking back through that door. Verdict: Good to go.

The Who
Keith Moon died 40 years ago.  The Ox 16 years ago.  Daltrey and Townshend are all-timers among all-timers and worthy, though.  Verdict: Legit.

Little Feat
Lowell George 1945-1979.  Enough said.  Verdict: Cover Band.

The English Beat
Dave Wakeling is still the voice, and that counts for a lot. Verdict: Good enough.

Cheap Trick
Amazingly, mostly intact. Touring with "Skynyrd." More authentic. Verdict: Good to go.

Also touring with "Skynyrd" this summer. Only the drummer from the original lineup. Verdict: Cover Band.

Violent Femmes
2/3 together. Vitally importantly -- with Gordon Gano.  Verdict: Good to go.

Simple.  They are still the same dudes.   Verdict: Good to go.

Rob's first concert featured Peter Cetera and the gang. Now it's just the gang. Verdict: Not the same.

REO Speedwagon
Mostly still together, Kevin Cronin still singing. Roll with the non-changes. Verdict: Good to go.

Steel Pulse
David Hinds and Selwyn Brown and a newer crew. Get behind me Satan. Verdict: Good enough.

The Wailers
Debatable, a pale imitation of their former leader, but at least Family Man Barrett is there.  Verdict: Eh.

Just kidding. Some things never change. Verdict: Duh. Good to go.

10,000 Maniacs
Natalie Merchant left during the Clinton administration. Verdict: Not even close.

Barenaked Ladies
Steven Page left in 2009.  Sang most of their best songs. Verdict: Not the Same.

Pearl Jam
Locked and loaded with most of the original crew.  Verdict: Good to go.

This one's for Mr. KQ. The roster rotates every few years. Steve Howe is pretty much the only original in the current iteration.  Verdict: No. (Sorry.)

The Cult
It was always Ian Astbury and Billy Duffy.  Still is. Verdict: Good to go.

Same with Squeeze: Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.  Verdict: Good to go.

Dave Matthews Band
You know what's odd?  Dave is obviously still there, but with LeRoi passed on and Boyd now out (in lots of ways), is it the same experience? Verdict: Debatable.

INXS, AC/DC, and REM aren't doing this any more, but they were never the same after losing members of the band and now they are all kaput.

If you're at the State Fair and see "Quiet Riot" or "Thin Lizzy" playing, keep in mind that there are no original members in either band.

And Michael McDonald is... out of the Doobies.

Oh, one last one.

The Beach Boys
A few years back, I took my daughters to see them when Brian and Al joined #1 d-bag Mike Love for the 50th reunion tour.  It was great.  Soon thereafter, of course, it fell apart again, and now it's back to just Mike and not-quite-original-but-close Bruce Johnston and others (not John Stamos). This is bullshit of the highest order, as Mike Love continues to sue for the right to be the only Beach Boy in The Beach Boys. Honestly, people. Verdict: Bad cover band.  Don't do it.

Be forewarned, and don't be afraid to write into Dear Gheorghe with questions about a band coming to your town.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Quick, Dirty, Definitive: A G:TB World Cup Preview

The 2018 World Cup kicks off today in Moscow (and dig on the vaguely Cyrillic/Moorish font FIFA's chosen). It's well-established that the United States squad will be watching from home, kicking it with their Italian and Dutch pals, in what's now surpassed the 1998 World Cup as the most abysmal American failure in modern soccer history*. And you already know who I'm pulling for, even though the Ticos have played really poorly in the run-in to the Finals. So in the spirit of Gheorghe, we'll keep this short and sweet.

We lost to Iran in 1998. Not good. Bad.
* If you're interested in a great story, packed with melodrama, hubris, players sleeping with their friends' wives, and mullets, check out Roger Bennett's podcast, American Fiasco, about that 1998 U.S. team.

Forthwith, the official G:TB World Cup predictions:

Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay

On the field, Uruguay are the class of this group, and if Mo Salah is healthy, Egypt are a good bet to advance, as well. But Russia are involved. And the tournament is in Russia. There will be chicanery. It won't be subtle. But we still like Uruguay and Egypt to move on to the knockout stage.

Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran

Spain just sacked its head coach, Julen Lopategui, after word leaked that he'd agreed to become Real Madrid's new manager. This might normally derail a squad, and it certainly could have an impact later in the tournament as tensions between the Barcelona and Real players on the team boil over. But Spain's going to win this group easily. Portugal will join them in the next stage.

Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark

France are the class of this group, and on paper, one of the favorites to win the entire thing. I don't believe in their chemistry - too many preening show ponies for my taste. Peru will finish second, barely edging Denmark.

Nigeria have the best kits in the competition
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria

The heart wants Iceland and Nigeria. The head says Argentina and Croatia, two really strong sides.

Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia

Brazil's biggest worry in the group stage is staying healthy. They should cruise. While I'm rooting for Costa Rica, I think they'll finish last in this group. Serbia's on fire, scoring goals for fun in their prep matches. I'm tipping them to go through.

Group  F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea

As with Brazil, the Germans won't be challenged, even as they've looked a bit ragged of late. Each of the other three sides could make a case. If Mexico can hold Germany to a draw in their opening match, they'll be a lock. Says here they can.

Group G: Belgium, Panama, England, Tunisia

England's been so bad in major competitions over the past several decades that their notoriously harsh media have gone easy on the Three Lions heading into this tournament. It pays off, as Gareth Southgate's boys ease into the knockout stages by finishing second to Belgium. England's opener against Tunisia is huge.

Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan

It's long past time for an African nation to make some real noise at a World Cup Final, and Senegal's at least going to have a chance. They'll finish second to Colombia in this group and grab the world's attention.

Round of 16

Uruguay over Portugal
France over Croatia
Brazil over Mexico
Belgium over Senegal
Spain over Egypt
Argentina over Peru
Germany over Serbia
Colombia over England


Uruguay over France
Belgium over Brazil
Argentina over Spain
Germany over Colombia


Belgium over Uruguay
Argentina over Germany


Belgium over Arg....Russia. Russia's gonna win. Russia wins everything. Forget all the rest.

And enjoy the footie.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Audience Participation

Big day for our pal Whitney. He's purchased the frozen peas. He's consulted his doctor. He's still got oats to sew, but as of this morning, no more seed. And to help him through, we commissioned a playlist.

Or at least the beginnings of one. You, the good people of Gheorghe: The Blog, get to add to this to your hearts' desire. Be kind, but be amusing.

zed man wanted something sexy, so here we are:

All yours, friends. Let's send our friend's, um, friends off in style.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Last Week of School: Kids These Days

When I was in 8th or 9th grade, I wrote an epic poem about World War II as part of a school assignment. It probably wasn't any good, but I remember being pretty proud of it. That's about as creative as schoolwork got back in the day.

Now, with the advent of technology and access to digital tools, my kids are doing all kids of cool multimedia projects as part of their educational process. Case in point, my 16 year-old's hip hop debut, courtesy of her Research Biology teacher:

Yung Adrenal drops rhymes to teach us about glands and their function. She's no Yeezy, but I think her flow's pretty decent. I've got her working on a mixtape about thyroid function.

Friday, June 08, 2018

It's Kickstarter time, folks

Gheorghe's house is up for sale. It only costs $2.1M. Let's get on this, immediately.

It's a seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom, 9,159-square-foot house. Perfect for our little blog community.

Oh yeah, chickens and peacocks apparently run around the backyard. And look at that gorgeous fucking pool!

Bonus: The McIlvaine quote is pretty ghreat.

American Hero

We talk about joy and emotion in the context of sports around here a lot. Here's another entry in the GTB Hall of Fame. T.J. Oshie's done a lot of stuff to make me believe he's a good dude, from his efforts in the 2016 Olympics, to his friendships with kids in St. Louis and Washington, to his everyman Metro rides this week. This is a pretty excellent capper.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Red Winning

All over the greater DMV today, giddy, nervous, white-knuckled Washington Capitals fans are dealing with personal maelstroms of conflicting emotions. The long-choking Caps are a mere single victory from clinching the club's first Stanley Cup title, and the city's first major sports championship since 1992. (DC United says hello, several times, but nobody listens to them.)

As someone with a great deal of relevant experience in such matters, I come here to offer advice to Caps fans, many of whom I hold in great esteem. I'm not one of them myself, but in the same way Mets fan Whitney jumped on the Red Sox bandwagon to support me in 2004, I'll be pulling for the team in red this evening.

After Game 3 of the 2004 World Series, with the Red Sox one game away from snapping their legendary losing streak, and from changing forever my relationship with sports, I wrote this*:

"The Red Sox are 1 win from capturing a World Series championship so elusive that 3 generations of Sox fans have never seen one. They find themselves on this precipice because they believe in themselves and each other to the exclusion of all distractions, and I and people like me find ourselves silently mouthing, "Believe" as games draw to a close. Though the karmic cruelty supposed by a Cardinal comeback in this series would be legendary in its devastating impact, we still hold on. "Believe," I tell my family. "Believe," I implore as Pedro Martinez faces a 0-out, 2nd and 3rd situation in the 3rd inning of a 1-run game. "Believe," as Pedro retired the next 14 Cardinals, and then watched Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke shut the door. 

It's a new thing for us, this believing. We're all still dipping our toes in it, hoping that it's real. We know the facts, and the stats, and we understand that the Cardinals team, while terrific, really isn't set up well for postseason baseball, especially with so many control pitchers who don't make many batters swing and miss. Pitchers that throw a lot of strikes against these Red Sox tend to get battered - no change in this series thus far. We also understand that the Sox have gotten all the breaks thus far - that the Cardinals, the league's best fundamental team, essentially gift-wrapped Game 3 with 2 colossal base-running errors in the game's first 3 innings. We see the Sox rap 2-out hit after 2-out hit, and belief comes a little easier. We know that the bullpen is rested, that Derek Lowe is confident, that the offense is on fire, and that the Sox players are looser than the intestines of a dysentery patient. (Did he just introduce dysentery into this paragraph? Forget it, he's rolling.) 

We know all these things, and we're so ready to really, truly believe. And yet, we're Red Sox fans, so the exhale won't truly come until Keith Foulke induces the last Cardinal batter to fly softly to center, until the last out of the last inning of the last game of the World Series is recorded, and the Red Sox have more runs than the Cardinals. And if that happens, God...I can't even imagine."

Honestly, it was even better than I could...even imagine. The Sox' Game 4 victory ranks in the top five most joyous moments of my life. I cried like a baby.

I really hope the many fervent Caps fans get to experience that.

And so my advice to them, like Curtis Armstrong's Miles to Tom Cruise's Joel, is: say fuck it. If you can't say it, you can't do it. Or, more directly, if you grip too hard on your hopes, you won't enjoy the moment. And goddamn is it a moment to savor.

Fuck it, Caps. And Godspeed.

* If you think I used the occasion of the Capitals potentially winning the Stanley Cup to talk about the Red Sox and highlight my own writing, well, you nailed it. Congrats for your grasp of the obvious.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Stupid Pet Tricks Filler

We have two cats. One, named Theo, is a normal cat, aloof around people he doesn't know, generally friendly, but equally skittish. The other, called Sage, is a big galoot of a lunkhead (or whatever the female version is), not very smart, but probably the most people-friendly feline I've ever known.

We're in the process of having our basement finished. This weekend, the painters toiled in our basement to prime the walls.

I came home yesterday from grocery shopping to find Sage waiting at the front door, angling to make a run for it, which is her normal move. I looked down at her, and saw some sort of foreign substance on her head. When I reached down to investigate, I felt a crust on her fur, and realized that it was obviously paint. I grabbed a wet towel and went to work on her, to limited success.

Later that evening, I went to the basement to see the progress. Sage, dutiful dog-like cat that she is, followed me. While I looked at the walls, she climbed a ladder that stood in the corner. A ladder, as it turns out, that still had wet paint on it. She doubled up on the paint-head look, as you can see:

That white spot in the middle of her head? Not fur.
And yes, it appears that we are down to posting filler photos of our pets. It's summer, man.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

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

Predictably, rob sent me a fully-formed layzman's filler submission. Pay attention Dave.

In 1990, a regionally successful band from Tucson, Arizona released its second album. In 1993, that same band toured with Pearl Jam as its opening act. And within two years, it was disbanded, its legacy carried away like desert dust in a heavy wind. But that second album, man, that thing rocked.

I'm talking about Auntie Ramos' Pool Hall by the Sidewinders, a rollicking 50 minutes of grunge-era (but not exactly grunge) alternative rock. This record could've been the soundtrack of any period film about disaffected teenagers set in the desert southwest, guitar-heavy and evocative of its geographic roots.

The album kicks off with its best tune, 'We Don't Do That Anymore', a young grown-up's lament about how it hurts to stay up late these days, a wistful "I've got a job, you pay the rent and what do you know. All that time spent wasting time, has come and gone." 'Sara's Not Sober' follows, turning the opening track on its head, kicking up the guitars a notch and asking a lover to choose booze or her man. 'Get Out of That Town' could fit in on a Godfathers record, another 80/90s alternative throwback. 'If I Can't Have You' changes the calculus on the typical lovelorn tune, 'cause "If I can't have you, I'm gonna find someone new." And 'Came on Like the Sun' is at turns a sweet duet and a drunk's regret story, wrapped in a Tucson sunrise.

I haven't heard this album in nearly 20 years. And I don't own it any more. But I loved it once, it's Western twist on the East Coast alternative guitar bands that were the soundtrack of my 1990s. And now I'm gonna go listen to it again.