Wednesday, October 31, 2018

What Car Should a (non) Gheorghie Drive -- failed rushees Edition

I have WCSAGD ideas for all of you but I want to do each post justice. Rather than rush any of them, here’s a list requested by TR of cars for non-Gheorghe rush failures.

1. Sean took a shake and gave it back to go SAE in 1993. He was a bad bad man—he almost made the Olympic judo team. He also was a bad dude—he slapped his girlfriend at College Deli once. Luckily Teza knew the young lady in question and stepped in. Not many other guys on campus could’ve handled that situation. TR called this type guy a “diesel tool” because he’s a tool but he’s too diesel for you to do anything about it. Sean Hannon should drive a 1987 Buick Grand National GNX. It looks like something a villain would drive and it has a crazy powerful engine to destroy anyone else in a drag race, but it’s still a Buick.

2. Graham was Sean’s roommate. He also took a shake and gave it back to go SAE in 1993. I don’t remember much about him other than the time he said to me, after his shake, “We’re basically brothers now, right?” and I said “Well you still have to pledge.” Maybe that’s why he unshook himself—he was too shook to keep the shake. Otherwise he was pretty boring and unremarkable, but he was smart and I understand he’s very successful. He should drive a beige Toyota Camry, year and engine don’t matter. A completely bland and uninspired car that sells very well.

3. Boutros Boutros Batros also took a shake in 1993 and ditched it to go SAE. Craziest cross-rush pattern ever. I could see fading us for Lambo or even Theta Delt, but SAE is way way different. I don’t remember much about him either other than that he had $300 and could live in a room. He should drive a Honda Civic, basic transportation that you turn to out of necessity rather than interest.

4. Mikelowski took a shake and gave it back remain independent (I think) in 1993. We really killed it in the Fall 1993 rush, by the way. When he found out I was dating the woman who became my ex-wife he told her “Oh, you could do so much better.” He should drive a Trabant because it’s generally considered to be the worst car ever made anywhere in the world.

5. The Dwonger was TR’s favorite rushee ever. He was essentially an Asian version of TR but chubbier and happy and fun to be around. He was pretty fratty, in a sloppy fat drunk and happy kinda way. He became a Sig Ep. He should drive a 1966 Lincoln Continental converted into a Deathmobile.

6. Brandon should drive a 1995 Lincoln Town Car, the getaway car from the bank robbery scene in “Heat.”

7. The kid who transferred in from Villanova and took a shake only to give it back to go Sigma Chi should drive a Mini Moke.

8. I only saw Farrar a handful of times but he was always wearing a black Members Only jacket. He should drive a 1985 Pontiac Trans Am.

9. Warren initiated but I never saw him again so he should fly around in Wonder Woman’s invisible jet.

Lynda Carter y'all.

Monday, October 29, 2018

What Car Should A Gheorghie Drive — rob Edition

rob recently bought a Mini Cooper convertible. His instincts are good, but this isn’t the exact car he should drive. In another overly long post, I’ll tell you the right car for rob.

rob is compact. He is also light. Based on this post he appears to be swift and nimble, some might say athletic and lithe.

No one would consider him to be particularly powerful or intimidating, in the physical sense. But he is a thinking man. He enjoys self-improvement, working on things over and over to improve his skills and get better. He loves sports in all forms and often waxes poetic about them, finding the sublime where others see only mundanity. I also sense that he’s meticulous about some aspects of his life, like his attire—he works hard at looking like he didn’t work hard to look cool (or at least something approaching cool).

rob should drive a 1965 Lotus Elan in British Racing Green with a yellow skunk stripe.

The Elan is the epitome of British sports cars. Some consider it to be the ultimate roadster. Others say it is the best handling car ever. It is the perfect embodiment of Colin Chapman's philosophy to "simplify, then add lightness.”

Chapman also noted that "Adding power makes you faster on the straights; subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere." The Elan is really light—rob's 1965 version only weighted 1,485 lbs. For comparison, a 2018 Mazda Miata weights 2,332 lbs. One of the reasons the Elan is so light is that it is really really small. Like, insanely tiny.

The Elan only made 105 horsepower, but with so little mass to cart around it could hit 60 MPH in 7.6 seconds. And with a low center of gravity, short wheelbase, and genius suspension geometry, skillful drivers barely need to use the brakes to navigate turns. Despite being wildly underpowered compared to other cars of the period, the Elan could get around the track faster than everyone else through a combination of small size and cleverness. That said, it takes practice to hustle one of these things through the chicanes. You can't just jump in and drive like Jim Clark, you have to learn how to finesse an Elan properly.

And it's really fucking cool! For example, before she was Olenna Tyrell, Diana Rigg tore around England in a catsuit and an Elan. Paul Newman had one too.

Talk to any Elan owner or read their comments on message boards or car-related websites, and you'll see just how much people love these cars. Once you get to know one of these diminutive little buggers they inspire tremendous loyalty and affection. That's what rob should drive.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Game, Blouses

The NBA's now-annual City Edition uniform program gave us some dope togs last year. Utah's, in particular, was inspired. And Milwaukee's was pretty killer, too.

 But none may be as good as this year's Minnesota Timberwolves' City Edition gear.

Inspired by the Twin Cities' most famous musical resident (with apologies to Husker Du), the Wolves' kits feature a font that looks just like that on Prince's Purple Rain album cover.

I don't care what the rest of the uniform looks like. I only want to see these standing in the purple rain.

(We already had a Game Blouses label. We're the best.)

Friday, October 26, 2018

What Car Should a Gheorghie Drive -- Marls Edition

I made a lot of decisions in college, the vast majority of which were bad. A handful were good, including my steadfast determination to rush Marls. Even back then he wasn't much to look at, he was generically northern and physically blocky. He didn't jump out at you like some other rushees did, but that was fine with me. I was always concerned with what was going on under the surface.

Parenthetically, I remember a discussion early on in my sophomore year where a rush candidate's name came up and one of his strongest attributes raised by his sponsor was "He's the fastest guy on the rugby team." This, of course, enraged one of our brothers who proclaimed "I'm the fasted guy on the rugby team!!" To which I thought to myself, "Is this really how the sausage is made here, at the tightest brotherhood on campus?" I was much more concerned with people's character, whether I wanted to drink a beer with them, whether I could rely on them, rather than their footspeed. Luckily, Pi Lam sausage contains multitudes--our sausages are yoodge.

Looking past Marls' staid appearance and bad hygiene, I saw that he had a ton of heart, a motor that wouldn't quit, and a snarky Yankee attitude. He was clearly the type of guy who you could rely on when you needed help. He comes up big, some might say bigly, and unexpectedly so. He outkicks his coverage. Nowadays he showers regularly and wears (relatively) clean clothes. His "set the clippers on one" haircut and lawyerly attire present a no-nonsense mien, but he's still the same fratty powerhouse underneath that unremarkable shell. Despite his Teutonic heritage he is, in a word, a mensch.

Marls should drive a 1993 Mercedes 500E, black with black leather, and with the windows tinted as much as the Virginia DMV will allow.

W-124 is the internal code name Mercedes-Benz used for their E-class cars produced between 1985 and 1996. These are considered to be some of the best-made cars of all time. They routinely last for 300,000 miles. They are preposterously reliable. They have a cult following not unlike our President*. In fact, I work with a guy who has at least four W-124s: a 300TE wagon (in this insane non-metallic pistachio green that makes me lose all decorum every time I see it in the garage), a 300CE cabriolet (also non-metallic green, but deeper, a coniferous color), a 300E sedan (non-metallic maroon) and a black over black 500E with tinted windows. They are all fucking glorious.

If you don't care about cars, the 500E doesn't look like much, just another old Benz. Turns out that the 500E is the result of an unholy alliance between MB and Porsche. For reasons I don't completely understand, Mercedes turned to the boys from Zuffenhausen to help them turn the W-124 platform into a hotrod. Mercedes wanted to put their 322 hp 5.0L V8 from their SL roadster into an E class, and Porsche had to modify the body and undercarriage so much that the car was too wide to be manufactured in MB's facility, so Porsche had to build it in their plant.

Porsche didn't fuck with robots back then, so they built the 500E by hand. So that boring old Benz you see on this page? That's the first Porsche four-door sedan, engineered and bolted together manually, one screw at a time by Porsche engineers. Can't say that about the Panamera. They didn't make a lot of these, about ten thousand, and most people don't even appreciate them when they see them in the flesh. But if you take the time to look under the hood of a 500E, you'll realize it's something special.

Make no mistake, the 500E will eat a Boxster's lunch in a straight line and in the twisties, and it's comfortable as hell so you can take your clients to dinner. It is in all likelihood the best all-around car from the analog age, and the cops won't hate on you for driving it. We probably won't see anything like it ever again--a family sedan from one of the premiere mass-market luxury manufacturers of all time, engineered and assembled by hand by the best German sports car firm ever. And it's a goddamn Benz made back when Benz really cared about being Benz, which means it's more solid than a bank vault and you know your kid will be safe in the back seat no matter what.

The 500E will take care of you and yours, and kick everyone else's ass if it has to. That's what Marls should drive.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The 'E' Is For Excellence

I used to pay a lot more attention to Tribe football. I used to pay a lot more attention to a lot of things, now that I mention it. Whitney and I spent a great deal of time around former Tribe grid greats (and not so greats) in the years just after college. The Lammies and the Sigs in the DC area ran in the same very different-sized circles. (I did go as Halloween one year as one half of the Devito/Schwarzenegger Twins duo, with former Tribe lineman Tom Walters as the other half. I'll let you guess which was which.)

I don't come here to sugarcoat things - those guys had plenty of gripes with Jimmye Laycock. But they also had a great deal of respect for W&M's all-time winningest coach, who's playing out the string on his legendary career. 

FOGTB Dave Fairbank covered Laycock for the bulk of his sportswriting career. In fact, Fairbank may not remember this, but he and I met for the first time at a Tribe football game. I worked for the W&M Athletic Department in the press box at home games. Huffed a lot of mimeograph fluid on those Saturdays. I went to Paul's Deli with Fairbank and some other scribes after the final home game my senior year. Don't recall much more about that evening.

So when Dave told me he had 1,200 words on Laycock teed up, who was I to tell him we didn't have space?

There's a thousand things that can be said about the monumental career of William and Mary football coach Jimmye Laycock, nearly all of them inadequate, as he steps down after nearly four decades at his alma mater. The best I can do is: he succeeded without ever making it about himself, and he made football matter at a place where it had no reason to do so.

When Laycock took over in 1980 at age 31, the third choice by all accounts, William and Mary's
program was betwixt and between. It had left its longtime home in the Southern Conference several years earlier, so the program operated as an independent. Its game-time home, Cary Field, was a relic built during the FDR administration. Facilities were embarrassing to non-existent. College football was undergoing a divisional split into the haves and have-nots, what was then called Division I-A and I-AA, and William and Mary had neither the will nor resources to pursue a major college path. The school's famously rigorous academic standards limited the recruiting pool, and they certainly haven't eased through the years.

Yet somehow, Laycock and his staffs and players overcame those obstacles and built a program. They began to gain traction after several difficult seasons. They strung together winning records and amassed playoff appearances, first with entertaining, quarterback-centric offenses and later with stout defenses that produced NFL-caliber players. Laycock is the reason that Zable Stadium underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation, that the stadium has lights, and that the program operates out of a quality support building that bears his name. He's also the reason that the football program is as well-integrated into the campus community as any you're likely to find at that level and has operated without so much as a hint of scandal.

(I freely allow that some of you, who were in close proximity to the principals at the time, may have seen examples of criminal conduct or outrage or meatheadery that never went public. Editor's note: not that we're going to talk about here, at the risk of self-incrimination and/or mutually assured embarrassment.)

In 30 years as a newspaper keyboard jockey in Newport News, Va., I observed Laycock and his teams. What he and they accomplished in the 1980s, '90s and early aughts was nothing short of miraculous. I've heard him joke that had he known facilities and resources were as lacking as they were, for as long as they were, he might not have stayed. But I suspect that the challenge motivated him. And because he was never driven solely by money or status, once resources began to trickle his way, he was finally able to enjoy the fruits of his labor and to see where they might take him.

Here are a few numbers that speak to both his success and longevity: His 248 (and counting) career wins are second nationally among active Division I coaches and 25th all time - one shy of his former college coach, Lou Holtz, for 24th; they also represent 43 percent of the program's entire win total in 125 years; his 111 conference wins rank second all-time; his 443 games as coach are 37 percent of all games in the program's history. Factor in his four years as a player, and he has been a part of almost 41 percent of every football game the school has ever played.

Laycock and I get along fairly well, which wasn't always the case. In the mid and late 1980s, I was a dumb guy trailing him around and asking questions about why they did what they did and about who was injured. When his teams began winning and he attracted the attention of other schools, I wrote what I could find out about his job interviews. An intensely private fellow, he was particularly frosted about that.

At some point in the early to mid-1990s, things thawed between us and we began having conversations, rather than formal Q&A sessions. Maybe we both realized that neither one of us was going anywhere, so we might as well make the best of it. I recall one of our earliest casual discussions came right after the 1995 NCAA basketball championship, when UCLA defeated defending champ Arkansas (brief aside: Laycock was always more genial out-of-season than during football season - to me, anyway). That UCLA team had brothers Ed and Charles O'Bannon and Tyus Edney, but freshman wing Toby Bailey went off in the championship game for 26 points and nine rebounds. Laycock marveled at Bailey's performance. Couldn't say enough about him. I learned through the years that Laycock is a hoops hound who was a pretty fair player in high school and probably would have pursued basketball in college, but football provided more opportunities.

Like I'm gonna miss a chance to use this Fairbank/Teel beaut.
I don't know that Laycock mellowed as he aged, but he certainly got more comfortable. As the newspaper business began to hemorrhage money and bodies in the 1990s and into the 2000s, our shop was no exception. He was genuinely interested in what was going on, how me and my colleagues were holding up, management and coverage decisions, etc. Plenty of times he wanted to talk more about newspapers and the news business than football, with me or comrade David Teel. My last decade or more at the paper, he'd often end our conversations by saying, Let me know if you need anything else.

All that said, I cannot say that I know Laycock, only that I know some things about him. He possesses a keen tactical mind and is an exceptional teacher. I've been told that he coaches coaches, as well as players. Assistants had better be able to justify or explain their ideas, lest they get carved up in meeting rooms. His quarterbacks told me that games were a breeze, compared to practices and meetings, where he pointedly judged every action and decision. He is uncomfortable in the spotlight, preferring to share credit with those around him. He is ultra-competitive, but not to the exclusion of other aspects of life. He will do whatever possible to help young men achieve their athletic goals, but he demands that they conduct themselves well under his watch, personally and academically, since that's their ultimate legacy.

As the years passed, Laycock was always vague on his exit timetable. But he said that when he turned 70 earlier this year, he thought it was time. His health is good. He didn't want to expire in the job or be dragged out of the building. He wants to do things in late summer and fall that he's never been able to do in almost 50 years as a coach - go to the beach, golf, tailgate. He wants to give the new school prez and athletic director the chance to forge their own direction. The program hasn't performed to his standards of late. They've had losing seasons each of the past two years, and much work is required in the final month not to make it three in a row. Frustrating as that is for all involved, it's a blip in the big picture. Laycock leaves a program in far better shape than he found it, and along the way he impacted hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. William and Mary, and perhaps all of college football, won't see his kind again.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Congrats to one of our own

The cultural leader of this community (assuming our culture is one of unabashed doofishness) deserves a shout-out. While you all know many of his roles (real estate scion, Twitter ninja, sock fan, lover, drinker, Mac McFisty, etc.), you may not know one recent one he has assumed.   

So congrats to our own literary genius. Teejus Christ, that kid can write. Congrats on getting this book out the door. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Laziest Filler Yet: Teej Tweets

A potentially semi-recurring feature, in which I just take screengrabs of my own tweets that I like and post them here.

I've already typed too much.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Homecoming Filler

Springtime 25 years ago, I, at long last, graduated from the College of Knowledge. 25 years ago this weekend, Rob and I journeyed back to campus where we pretended that we were still in school, hung out at the fraternity house, and likely passed out somewhere unpleasant. Good times.

Things were different back then. None of us were married.  A few of us had jobs (not me), but none of us had meaningful ones. We drank Milwaukee's Best. Pi Lam had a fraternity house.  Most of us went back for Homecoming every year.  And Rob and I were about to co-rent a place in Arlington, Virginia with our friend the Spoid, and that would change our lives' pathways forever.

Oh, and back then we called Rob "Squirrel."

Here's to the old days.  Enjoy your weekends. I'll be headed to Williamsburg.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Post, in Parts

Our newly-minted DC United fan TR mentioned this in the comments last night, just as I was beginning to formulate a post on the topic. United's Wayne Rooney struck a sublime goal against defending MLS Cup champion Toronto FC to give the home side a 1-0 win and take his team to the brink of the playoffs.

The combination of technique and power required to beat a keeper from 35 yards is otherworldly. Candidly, a Premier League (or international quality) keeper might save that. But he might not - the audacity of trying to score from that far away and the four-yard swerve on the ball might've beaten even the best.

The 2018 DC United story is remarkable. I'll be back later today to tell you more about it. Unless TR feels like picking up the baton and running with it.
Technically, this is later today.

Through 14 games in 2018, DC United sat in dead last in MLS' Eastern Conference, having won two, lost seven, and drawn five. In fact, Ben Olsen's side spent 15 consecutive weeks at the very bottom of the table.

Two things happened starting in DC's 15th game: English legend Wayne Rooney came to America to join the premier side of the league's first decade, and Russell Canouse made his 2018 debut in defensive midfield for United.

Rooney you know all about. He's scored 10 goals and assisted on seven others. He's lifted Luciano Acosta from super-talented but frequently MIA little dude to bad motherfucker. Eight of Acosta's nine goals this season and nine of his 16 assists have come since Rooney came to DC.

And Rooney did this, the signature play of the team's season and the emblem of DC United's resurrection:

Canouse is a bit more of an unknown to most. But his return to the side corresponded with a significant improvement on the defensive side of the ball. Without Canouse, DC gave up 2.1 goals per game through the season's first 14 outings. With the Lancaster, PA native in the lineup, they allow a full goal per game fewer.

And while DC's slow start was partially attributed to the fact that they only played two of their first 14 games at home, their resurrection was spurred by the opening of Audi Field in July, and a schedule that saw them play eight of their final 10 in that cozy new yard.

With two games to play, DC are four points ahead of Montreal for the final playoff spot in the East. One win, or one Montreal loss, ensures DC of the most improbable playoff berth in some time in MLS. There's an outside chance that they could host a first-round elimination match.

Vamos DC!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

What Car Should A Gheorghie Drive -- TR Edition

TR is the Gheorghie I know best. His WCSAGD requires almost no effort.

TR and I have a lot in common. We are middle-aged guys from New Jersey. We are the sons of immigrant fathers who were raised by mothers who divorced said immigrants. We both grew up middle-middle class, but in the bottom tier of that socio-economic strata so we didn't get everything we wanted as kids and from time to time we indulge ourselves with things we feel we missed out on (looking at you, Jets PSL). We now live among upper-middle class people and we're proud of what we accomplished, essentially on our own, and feel smugly (if secretly) superior to those around us who got here with minimal effort. As a result we both revel in our outsider status and brazenly flaunt our contrarian views.

That said, TR gives even fewer fucks than I do. Way fewer. His no-fuckery is downright brash at this point.

TR and I differ in several ways, many of which I learned soon after we first met. For example, TR loves everything relating to the 1970s. The depth and breadth of his knowledge of adult film is astounding--his smut scholarship is nonpareil. And attendees of Pledge Auction 1993 recall his immodesty (no matter how hard they all try).


TR loves PT Anderson movies and he LOVES "Boogie Nights." I mean, he LOVES "Boogie Nights."

TR should drive a 1977 Corvette with a 350 cube, three and a quarter horsepower, four speed, 4:10 gears, ten coats of competition orange, hand-rubbed lacquer, with a dual-plane manifold ... full fuckin' race cams, whoo.

Unfortunately, no such car exists, at least not stock OEM. By 1977, EPA standards had strangled the 350 cubic inch engine down to 180 hp. The go-fast version of the 350 only made 210 hp. There were no other engines available that year. Further, there was no color called "Competition Orange," it was "Corvette Orange."

TR would want the bigger engine. So he gets it.

This C3 is just right for TR. It's brash but vintage. It is simultaneously a workingman's car and a collector's car. Orange is the perfect color--plastered on a C3, it essentially gives his entire neighborhood of German and Swedish black or gray seven-row SUVs the middle finger. But it's still a classic car eligible for QQ plates in NJ so it passes snooty muster. None of his neighbor's dads ever drove a Corvette in the 1970s or 1980s--they were afraid of the guys who did. TR also gets T-tops because, well, they're perfect for TR. Aluminum wheels, no luggage rack. Boom.

Every American man has at least a small part of him that wants to be the louche with the cigarette and the chest hair and the gold chains and the mustache and the sex and the drugs and the rock and roll driving an orange C3 Corvette. And some of them are that guy. It’s fast and brazen and loud and self-confident and I-don’t-give-a-fuck-eriffic. That's what TR should drive.

Monday, October 15, 2018

“Wu-Tang In Space Eating Impossible Sliders” Is A Real Thing

“The RZA, the GZA, and Ghostface Killah walk into a spaceship full of vegan sliders” sounds like the start of a joke. And I guess it is. But it’s also the premise of a new four-part video series to promote White Castle’s new vegan “Impossible Sliders.” It's real and it’s fantastic.

“It’s kinda crazy on Earf right now, so we came to space to acquire some knowledge and gain some perspective.” That’s some true and deep shit.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


The Nicks were the one of the worst basketball teams in the history of organized sport. Long live the Nicks.

For the uninitiated, the Nicks were our fraternity's novelty intramural squad, comprised of players 5'9" and under, with the exception of Whitney, who is 6'5", but plays like he's 5'7". In my senior season, we made the mistake of actually having a couple of small dudes who could play a little bit, and we won a couple of regular season games, which landed us in a first-round intramural tournament matchup against The 250s, made up of offensive linemen on the W&M football squad. That didn't go so well for us.


I thought of the Nicks today when I came across a tweet by Kendall Cross, an Olympic wrestling champion. He was at the Georgian wrestling team's camp in advance of the world championships, where he captured this video:

We've already established the Nicks' bonafides as purveyors of awful basketball. But the single worst player in the history of the Nicks was Doug Mazzoni, a W&M wrestler, whirlish dervish, Tazmanian Devil of a fellow, on and off the court. He would fit right in with these gleeful Georgian (and Gheorghian) goofballs.

Friday, October 12, 2018

What Car Should A Gheorghie Drive -- Whitney Edition

rob recently opined that Whitney should drive a Bentley. That opinion is wrong. Bentleys are for ostentatious old men, rappers, pro athletes under the age of 30, and assorted other dooshnozzlery. To wit, Ben Affleck drives a Bentley.

Whit is many things but he is neither old and ostentatious, nor a rapper, nor a pro athlete, nor under 30, nor a dooshnozzle. He should not drive a Bentley. I know exactly what he should drive. And I will tell you over the course of an overly-long post. I might even turn this into a recurring shtick.

Whit is big and American. He is a man of the people, salt of the earth. He is thirsty. He guzzles beer, which is his fuel. He can be loud, but often in a good way. Sometimes in a bad way. He sticks out wherever he goes. He is highly visible but not visually offensive. But he isn't exactly beautiful either. He loves to travel and he loves to hang out with lots of friends.

Whit should drive a 1969 Chevrolet Impala convertible in Butternut Yellow with a black top and black interior. The base 327 engine with an automatic transmission is all he needs--Whit's out for cruising in comfort, not speed.

The Impala is massive. It can easily hold six people, their luggage, and a keg of beer. It has bench seats for SOB turns. All of this obviously suits Whit's lifestyle.

Like Whitney, the 327 drinks deeply, swiftly and often. The internet says it gets 12.7 MPG with a manual transmission and that's probably too high.

It's a Chevy so it's down-to-earth. Snobs don't drive Chevrolets. You won't be upset if a bird poops on your Impala, or if someone spills ketchup on the vinyl seats. Ownership isn't stressful.

Like Whitney these cars are not strikingly beautiful but they are inoffensive to look at and you cannot miss them on the road. That said, the pastel Butternut Yellow is calming. Even when it's going fast, a Butternut Yellow Impala seems be be gliding smoothly and slowly down the road. The power steering is preposterously boosted so they can be driven with one finger. The experience is, in a word, relaxed.

And, of course, the top goes down to enjoy great weather on the way to the beach. That's what Whit should drive.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Political Natterings

1. The Tyranny of the Minority

The Democratic nominee has won six of the last seven presidential elections, but a Republican president has filled four of the last six Supreme Court vacancies. As a result, the makeup of the Supreme Court doesn't necessarily reflect the views of the electorate and this will likely be exacerbated now that only 51 Senators are required to approve a nominee. California makes up 12.14% of the US population. That's roughly equal to the combined populations of Iowa, Utah, Arkansas, Nevada, Mississippi, Kansas, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming. But when it comes time to vote on Supreme Court justices, California only has two votes, just like each of those little states. This might have made sense back in 1790, when the biggest state (Virginia) was only 11.7 times the size of the smallest state (Delaware), but it seems unworkable today when California is 68.2 times the size of Wyoming. My solution? Amend the Constitution so that the House votes on Supreme Court confirmations instead of the Senate. If we're going to turn this process into a political shitshow, at least make it more equitable from a representation perspective.

2. I love Richard Linklater

I will always have a soft spot for Richard Linklater because he made "Dazed and Confused." Then he went and made this ad:

Now I'm in love. Bigger Linklater fans than I will recognize this character from the movie "Bernie."

3. Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld?!?

Christian Bale as Dick Cheney? Sure. Sam Rockwell as George W. Bush? Fine. But Steve Carell as Donald Rumsfeld?!? No way. Carell is supposed to play me when they make my biopic (he'll have to ditch his hair plugs). No way he can pull off Rumstud.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

My Name Ain't Baby. It's Whitney. Miss Jackson If You're Very, Very Drunk.

It's October again, which brings us baseball playoffs, my favorite pro football team looking like a band of misfit donkeys, pumpkin spice crap, ghosting, and yes, the release of the latest batch of nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Giddyup:

  • Def Leppard
  • Devo
  • Janet Jackson
  • John Prine
  • Kraftwerk
  • LL Cool J
  • MC5
  • Radiohead
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Roxy Music
  • Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
  • Stevie Nicks
  • The Cure
  • The Zombies
  • Todd Rundgren
For those of you on Gheorghe's music tip, you'll recognize a few acts that were left outside the gates last year.  Radiohead's snub stunned mopes with stunted social skills and regular rock fans alike last year. It would be surprising (if kind of amusing) were they to be left on the doorstep once more.  And I can't see Janet Jackson getting left off the list this go-around.

But that's the thing about us fallible humans... we do make "interesting" decisions.  (Like what my first wife called "poor choices"; what my second wife described in terms we can't use here; what my next wife will call her wedding day. But I digress.) At least the Rock Hall isn't like the Recording Industry Association of America and the team of semi-trained goats they have picking the Grammy nominees and winners.

As usual, I'll do the heavy lifting for you.  Last year I came reasonably close in my prognostications. Let's have another go at this, shall we?

Be sure to go to the Hall of Fame website and place your vote.  Oh, and if you want to see someone who nerds music up even worse than I do, check out this masterful list of historic RnRHoF snubs. What a geek.

My personal picks would be The Cure, Devo, John Prine, LL Cool J, and The Zombies, but they don't ask me.  Neither did you, I suppose.

And here's your handy-dandy playlist from the nominees.  Enjoy.

Monday, October 08, 2018

A Little Memphis Music

John Paul Keith (not to be confused with FOGTB John-Paul) is a Memphis-based musician with a new album, "Heart Shaped Shadow," that deserves your attention. Sometimes he sings straightforward self-deprecating sad country songs like this:

Other times he plays jazzier songs like this:

But my favorite songs are the ones where he lets loose with old school honkytonk flavor:

Give it a listen.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Going, Going, Gone

I don't presume to know anything about the art world, in particular the rarefied precincts where artists sell their works for millions of dollars. I know what I like (Roy Lichtenstein, for example), but the nuances of valuation completely escape me. I think artists should be able to make a living providing us with beauty and joy, making us think, calling attention to injustice and inequality, and sometimes just celebrating whimsy.

You could argue that Banksy's newest work, a combination of artistic technique and subversive social commentary, ticks all of those boxes.

The painting, entitled Girl With Balloon (voted last year as the UK's most-loved artwork), was auctioned at Sotheby's in London on Friday night for $1.4 million. Moments after the sale was finalized, an alarm sounded, and a mechanism within the frame activated, slowly pulling the painting through a series of blades hidden within the frame, shredding the picture in front of gasping onlookers.

That's a lot of bemused rich white people, man.

Banksy himself (herself?) posted on Instagram in the aftermath, using the words in the headline to this post. On the one hand, it's a brilliant commentary on the absurdity of trying to put a value on art and the ephemeral nature of life (or something). On the other, it's a cynically genius bit of marketing, calculated to continue to build a brand and increase the value of the next thing Banksy does. This thing even, actually, as some experts suggest that the shredded artwork is now worth as much as 50% more than the auction price, given its notoriety.

I choose to focus on the whimsy. I laughed. And that's enough.

Friday, October 05, 2018

4002: A Backspace Odyssey

It seems our tiny dictator let a significant milestone go by.

On Monday, October 1, 2018, we the people at Gheorghe: The Blog, known collectively as the "gheorghies," except to people who are wholly unfamiliar with this blog, and even by some who are familiar with this blog and simply do not care for the colloquialism, did bear witness to and possibly even read the text of, in some cases, a post about beer.  Really good beer, like Keystone and Keystone Light. And others.

And it was our 4000th post.  

The big 4-0-0-0.  We're up there with The Georgia Peach and Charlie Hustle.  Which, um, isn't fantastic company if you just want to kick back and have a beer and a laugh, but still.

Nothing to be proud of, Russ.  Four thousand posts.

To herald such an achievement with a post itself that contains no real content but is merely self-referential may be considered resting on laurels, or simply living in the past.  Four thousand posts of beautiful tradition, from LeBron to Jonas Salk --you're goddamn right I'm living in the fucking past!

And to think it only took us 15 years.  (G:TBday is coming up in a month, it's gonna be glorrrrious.)

There's really only one thing I have to say to a group of friends who have spent a decade and a half bringing each other tiny bits of joy to brighten each other's every day:

Seriously, people.  Get a fucking life.  Also, it's happy hour.  (If you align yourself with the time zone of the brewery that produces your beverage.  And you drink Guinness.) 

Cheers, gheorghies.  Here's to 4000 more.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Everybody Poops

Tom Ricks is a decorated journalist, having won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work with The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. His work focuses primarily on military and national security issues. He is, in short, a serious dude.

If you follow him on Twitter, you know that he's also witty, irreverent, and smart.

Recently, though, he's been full of shit. Or at least some of his journalistic work has been.

Ricks writes a blog at Task & Purpose, a site focused on a broad range of military and veterans' issues. His posts vary widely, from military history to tactics to policy to military-based video games. And of late, shit.

In early September, Ricks launched a contest for his readers, asking for submissions about the most memorable combat craps they'd taken.

There weren't a lot of entries, but the final one was a doozy. In the midst of a firefight with the Viet Cong, a young officer felt nature's call. As he concludes, "Despite all mortal reasons not to, I finally succumbed to the most powerful force on earth—a shit whose time had come."

That's a story worth reading.

So's this one about a dickhead officer who got what had long been coming to him. The kicker: "The door was blown open by the Majah who stumbled out. He was covered from head to toe with a colorful mixture of shit and toilet paper as if he had been tarred and feathered in different material."

In this time where nearly everything seems covered in shit of one form or another, a couple of good old fashioned poop stories seem the kind of mindless crap we all need. Your mileage may vary.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Gheorghe's Six Pack: An Actual Six Pack

I noticed yesterday that the prices for canned beer have gone up more than 10% across the board. A quick search of the relevant literature suggests that America's new tariffs on imported steel caused the price hike, steel being the key ingredient in beer cans. And tariffs, as we all know (all of us, perhaps, except the President*), affect consumers in the country that levies the tariffs, rather than the importers.

So, great. One more, albeit minor, reason to disdain this band of fuckups, degenerates, and incompetents.

But, tangentially, something that led me to think about Oskar Blues, the leaders of the can-driven revolution in craft beer, and from there, about my six favorite current brewers of American beer. I dig a lot of beer, and I've got a rotation that's subject to change, as well as an embarrassment of local riches. In fact, I'm buzzed now on stuff from an entirely new joint right in my little town - which brings the total number of brewpubs serving their own stuff within the town limits of little Leesburg, Virginia (population: 30,000ish) to six. That doesn't begin to count the two dozen or so operating within the county limits, nor Aslin, which is in Herndon, just over the county line in Fairfax, and probably deserves to be on this list - I've loved everything I've had from them, but I haven't had enough just yet.

The reigning champ of the American craft beer movement, according to me, is Stone Brewing. Consistently creative in their beers and their marketing, the Escondido, CA-based Stone has pushed well beyond the previously-held limit in their worship of the hop. And now that they've established an East Coast beachhead in Richmond (a town where the beer scene might be the best on this side of the country, and perhaps worth a GTB road-trip), we're getting fresh stuff on the regular. Stone's Fear.Movie.Lions celebrates Virginia's capital, specifically, and it's a great 16 oz. double IPA. Try their Woot Stout, and any of the dozens of speciality beers they distribute on the regular.

I've been obnoxious in my repping of Minneapolis-based Surly Brewing, and it appears that those of you that live in Northern Virginia might get to put my taste to the test soon. I came across a four-pack of Surly's Todd the Axe Man double IPA in a local Total Beverage this weekend. I was so shocked and amazed that I exclaimed 'holy shit' aloud. And then asked the manager if they had more than the one four-pack on offer. Sadly, no. But if one made it here, more are soon to follow. Surly's got a head-banger's approach to brewing - their stuff is unapologetically in your face. And if you get to Minneapolis, check out their 90,000 square foot brewpub - it combines beer, great food, great music, and community in one massive spot.

Stone's creativity keeps me coming back, but Michigan's Founders is no slouch in that department. Their annual Hopslam and Kentucky Breakfast Stout releases signal serious drinkers to run with their wallets to line up for precious samples. Founders' Dank Wood and its' 11% ABV will nail you to the couch in sweet stupor.

So will Heir Apparent from Goochland, Virginia's Lickinghole Creek. Fun to say, really fun to drink, if only one or two.

I've saved a local for last. About 10 miles up the road from me, just north of the tiny hamlet of Lucketts, Vanish Farmwoods Brewery sits on 53 acres of farmland (where they grow their own hops) in a sprawling hodgepodge of pavilions, beer halls, playgrounds, and open spaces. I like a lot of the breweries in my area, but Vanish is my fave. Their Ghost Fleet IPA will make you warm inside, but if gose is your jam, they've got several of those on offer, as well. Bring your puppy and your kids, hunker down for some live music, live people, and fresh food. If you're headed my way, holler, and we'll Vanish for a few hours.