Wednesday, December 06, 2023

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas, Day Three

On the third day of Gheorghemas 

Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Near as I can tell, it's been close to two years since we celebrated the littles, Bite Me Randy Newman-style. That's a wrong we gotta rectify. 

Fortunately, a trio of the wee-o have made sporting news over the past several weeks.

First, on November 13 Corbin Carroll was named the National League Rookie of the Year after a stellar debut campaign with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Carroll became the first rookie in history to hit 25 homers and steal 50 bases. He slashed .285/.362/.506, and compiled 30 doubles, 10 triples, 25 homers and 54 steals in 59 attempts, finishing in the NL's top ten in runs, OPS, steals, triples, and WAR. He was key to the D-Backs deep post-season run, as well, hitting two homers, driving in 10 runs, and stealing five bases as Arizona made it to the World Series before falling to Texas.

Of note, Carroll is listed at 5'10", 165 pounds. We have questions. He's also dating Miss America 2022, Emma Broyles, which is a victory for short kings everywhere.

Last week, FC Cincinnati attacking midfielder Luciano Acosta, all 5'3" of him, was named the 2023 Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player. Including the playoffs, Acosta scored 17 goals and recorded 14 assists for the league's best regular-season side, contributing to nearly half of FC Cincinnati's 64 goals.

I've been a Luchi fan for some time, ever since he made his debut in 2016 for my local eleven, DC United. He scored 24 goals and delivered 35 assists in 126 matches for the Black and Red before departing for a season in Liga MX with Atlas. He returned to MLS with Cincinnati in 2021. During his time with DC, he was the exclamation point on one of Wayne Rooney's most remarkable highlights.

Finally, while this may be the first time you've ever heard of Jenna Nighswonger (and I'd be gobsmacked if any of our community knew of her), it says here it won't be the last. The 23 year-old Florida State graduate earned her first USWNT cap on Saturday, playing the final 28 minutes of a 3-0 win over China in Fort Lauderdale.

The 5'3" Huntington Beach, CA native won a national championship at Florida State in 2021 before winning Rookie of the Year and an NWSL Championship this season as a rookie with Gotham FC. Nighswonger plays outside back and midfielder, and appears to have the look of a winner, if her teams' history is any testament. She's got a lethal left foot, and played attacking midfielder in college, which highlights her versatility.

As always and forever, Bite Me Randy Newman, and Merry Gheorghemas!

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

The Twelve Days of Gheorghemas: Day 2

On the second day of Gheorghemas 

Big Gheorghe gave to me...

Two books for your Gheorghemas wish list
And a doofus to lead this country

I assume you're all working on your Gheorghemas wish lists.  For Day 2 of Gheorghemas, I'm channeling my inner Dave and recommending two books for you to include.  But I'm not Dave so my list will be fun and reflect the spirit of Gheorghemas.

First is Ghostface Killah's forthcoming biography titled "Rise of a Killah."  According to the publisher, the book "is intense rather than comprehensive," which I guess translates to "it's short."  It isn't available until May 14, 2024, but Gheorghemas often drags on for several months (and in fact Gheorghemas 2015 is still ongoing as the twelfth day hasn't published yet) so it will be a timely gift nonetheless.  I, of course, will opt for the digital audio version, nah mean.   Hopefully Jack Urbont and Andrew Coffman will enter appearances.

Second is "The Ananda Accords" by Zeke Springer.  I've known Zeke for over 20 years and I'm stumping hard for his self-published first novel.  It's a sci-fi thriller about a peace mission gone wrong.  Go get it on Amazon.

Monday, December 04, 2023

Gheorghemas, Day 1: LFG

The natives (particularly the tiny one) are restless, demanding the Day 1 post. Gheorghies, it's officially go time once again on your favorite faux holiday...

On the first day of Gheorghemas

Big Gheorghe gave to me...

A doofus to lead this country

Pre-Gheorghemas Filler

As we eagerly await the Teej coming out of his den and seeing his shadow, here's something light and silly to start your week.

This is an actual headline on from 2018:

There's a metaphor in there for the state of our current body politic, but I'm not wise enough to tease it out.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Farewell II, Part 2

Musings about the death of Shane MacGowan, as spoken into my phone whilst driving around the region today. 

65. I can’t believe he made it to 65. News of people's passing, especially the famous kind, can be sort of wistful. Shane McGowan, dying at 65... all that popped into my head was Damn, it’s a miracle he made it to 65. 

This was a guy who was booted out of his band in 1991 because he was drinking so much that he was on a downward spiral to hell. Not only did he resuscitate and rejoin the band 15 years later in a Comeback Player of the Year sort of performance, but he lived 17 years beyond that. He outlived his bandmate Phil Chevron, amazingly. He outlived Dave Flynn, sadly. 

When I think of my appreciation of the Pogues and Shane McGowan, it begins in college. A Pi Lam pit dance floor, as "Fiesta" blared. And "Fairytale of New York," a Christmas song unlike any other, in small part because I could enjoy it midsummer as much as anytime. Our buddy Paci did and does still look just like Shane McGowan. If either of them ever aged at all, it’s hard to tell. You could say neither has aged all that well, but did you see what they looked like at the starting gate?  Sorry, Paci. 

What can you say about Shane McGowan's singing voice? It is equal parts fantastic and puzzling. It’s the opposite of lilting, as so many of his duet companions were. It’s semi-spoken, with a gravelly grit the waves of whiskey helped create. Make no mistake, it’s beautiful, but it’s Picasso beautiful. 

The Pogues piqued my interest in what can be called Celtic rock, I guess. I dug into The Waterboys and Big Country. Later the Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly.  Joe Strummer got involved with the Pogues and Shane McGowan. Amazingly, and not in the blessed kind of amazing, Joe died 21 years ago. Shane McGowan fucking outlived Joe Strummer, and all bets were against that. Whiskey drinking more than... well just a bit more than any other good Irishman, I suppose. Shane was a mess; there’s a documentary on him from a long time ago (2001, ghooghle says!) where you can hear him talk but you can’t really understand what he says because he’s down to a few teeth. He seemed on death's door then! I can’t believe he lived to the age of retirement. 

Maybe he just wanted to stick that middle finger up at all his doubters, reach the end zone age, and punch out. He outlived Kirsty McCall, tragically. He outlived SinĂ©ad O’Connor. Outlived Dolores O’Riordan. All his duetters. 

The comeback show of 2006 was a story unto its own. Shane had been touring for a number of years with his band the Popes. They put out a couple of albums, Not terrible, not in the canon of the Pogues. Word got to us in DC that the 930 Club would be the venue where the Pogues would land for the first stop on American soil on their Reunited with Shane and It Feels So Good tour. Subtitled "Shane... Come back!" It was a big deal, and not just for those of us of Irish descent, or those of us who enjoyed good blarney rock ‘n’ roll, or those of us who had been following the Pogues. It was a big fucking deal. 

I haven’t known many Americans of Irish descent who so embodied the spirit of Erin as my large-and-in-charge friend Dave Flynn. Drinking with Dave was one of my very favorite pastimes of the late 1990s and early 2000s, and something I miss many Saturdays a year. And many Tuesdays a year. We got tickets for the March 9 show, that inaugural evening. Flynn's wife Marguerite was pregnant with their second daughter, and that Pogues show, momentous and unmissable as it was, was a little bit dicey in its timing. Until my mind goes for good, I will never forget the phone call I received from Dave about a week prior. 

Hey, when’s that Pogues show again?
March 9.
Perfect!! Marguerite gets induced on the 10th!! 

That's perfect?? I will still never get it, but I laughed heartily. We pregamed like ungated banshees, and we boozed whiskey the whole show while singing along with that long lost friend I’d never had, Shane McGowan. Old college mate Cap came up to us out of nowhere with two slugs of Jameson for us, then whisked away into the shadows of IRA whispers. The Pogues played every song on the desired docket. (Set list here.) Four songs in, however, Shane made a beeline off stage, and Flynn and I shrugged and looked at each other as if to say, it was a good run, and four songs was enough. What we didn’t know was that he would only remain off stage for two songs and then come back with a vengeance. And a bottle. 

As he sang "Fairytale of New York" with so-and-so (ye olde internet says Ella Finer, the daughter of Pogue Jem Finer), fake snow fell from the rafters of the 930 Club. It was fucking lovely. 

For "Fiesta," the night's closer, I charged up front to the moshpit. At 35, I still thought I had it. I did not. That muddy floor meant I hit hard. Some heavenly messenger in black denim scooped me up and set me upright so as not to be trampled by the masses. Maybe I’ve got a little luck o' the Shane in me as well. 

Dave Flynn died nine months later of a weekend heart. (I meant weakened but the dictation robot is clever as hell.) Shane McGowan outlived Flynn by 17 years. The world is weird and sometimes sad. 

So turn on the Pogues and tune into Shane McGowan today. I'll be heading to Grace O'Malley's (it's an Irish pub, for obtuse readers) in just a few moments and will raise a glass to Shane and Dave and a dozen more besides. Join me in spirit, if not in body.

65 years old. 

May we each defy the epitaph that others have constructed for us. And may we live on the sunnyside of the street forever.

A Farewell of a Different Sort

RIP to the amazing, debauched, brilliant, tortured Shane MacGowan. There are a ton of tunes that come to mind, but this one jumped into my head first. Come all you rambling boys of pleasure, indeed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


This is a lovely eulogy by Jason Carter for his grandmother, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. May we all live lives with such purpose and impact.

Jason Carter reached out to Jason Isbell last week and said this:

High praise, that. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

It's News to Me [***NEW RECURRING BIT ALERT!***]

I know a lot of things. Mostly inconsequential and esoteric things, but a lot of things nonetheless. But as Bill James tells us, the world is a billion times more complicated than our minds, and so there's a universe of stuff out there that someone knows, but that I don't.

Case in point, the origin story of Old Bay Seasoning.

Gustav Brunn was a successful spicemonger (we should use 'monger' for more things: zman is a lawmonger, for example) in Wertheim, Germany in the late 1930s. On Kristallnacht, he was one of 30,000 Jewish men who were captured by the Nazis and taken to the notorious Buchenwald concentration camp. At this point in history, the Nazis had yet to initiate their ghastly final solution, and men of means were often able to purchase their freedom. Brunn's family paid a lawyer 10,000 Deutschmarks to secure his release.

Brunn and his family left immediately for the United States and settled in Baltimore. He emigrated with very little, but he was adamant that he take his hand-crank spice grinder on the trans-Atlantic journey.

Unable to secure funding from banks to start a new business because he was Jewish (and after getting fired from McCormick for the same reason), Brunn got an assist from Katz American, a Jewish-owned competitor in the spice game. Katz loaned him the seed capital necessary to start Baltimore Spice Company, which in 1940 developed a seafood spice to pair with the crabs coming into town at the Wholesale Fish Market, which was immediately across the street from Brunn's business.

The rest, as they say, is history, save for one ironic coda. Brunn's business and McCormick feuded for years as the latter marketed a seafood seasoning in a suspiciously yellow tin. In 1990, five years after Brunn passed, the company sold the recipe for Old Bay to McCormick. Those dicks. 

Some of you may know this story, but it was news to me. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Weird-Ass Filler/Audience Participation

My wife headed to Pittsburgh today to visit her folks. Her father had a bit of a medical scare and didn't get to travel to us for Thanksgiving (all is well, thankfully), and he's getting on in years, so she felt it important to get to see them. Took my youngest to the airport this morning, so my oldest and I got to hang for most of the day. 

If you know my oldest, you'll be clued into the fact that they're wildly creative, a bit provocative, and a perpetual motion machine. They're recovering from a stress fracture to a big toe, so the usual physical outlets aren't available. Which has manifest itself in a manic artistic spree: short stories, poems, drawings, vocalizations that may or may not make one think they're in the presence of a lunatic.

Because I wanted to extend my time with my kid, I agreed to play along when they suggested we make art together. We drew for five minutes and then switched pages and drew for five more, and so on. Friends, I give you...shit, I don't know. But I enjoyed it.

The pencil work is mine. The ink, my kid's. Please don't try to psychoanalyze us.

Might or might not be a Muppet sex party

Jesus doing a kick-flip

In addition to our illustration, we dug up a poetry prompt website and did some speed poetry. In the interest of expanding your parameters, this is a call to y'all. Using the random prompt generator at, I got the following:

Include as many of the following words (or variations on these words) as you like:

pore-wise, derived, neighbor's, petrified, deaf, bright, norden, orphant, lemmate, goddesses, kools, rain-beaten


Mention an aspect of agriculture or farming
Make up an unusual name for a person and include it in the poem

And I turned it into:

Pore-wise Lemmate Orphant
Rain-beaten by the norden windspray
Deaf to his neighbor’s petrified plea
Skin alive buoyed by goddesses

Kools from his pocket, bright
With sparks derived from fakeflint
Hoping reaping pleasure
Sown from hopeful flirtation

Now it's your turn, Gheorghies. Use the poetry prompt generator at the link above, write as fast as you can, and share your work in the comments. Flex those right brains, my friends. Embrace your inner lunatic. I'm glad I got to do that with my kid.