Thursday, July 02, 2015

July Fourth Fillerpalooza Open Thread

Maybe one of you jackalopes has a post coming down the pike, but I saw nothing in drafts, and felt you have been subjected long enough to pics of my Posehn-esque mug long enough, so pull up a stool and down a few cold ones - It's Filler Time.

For the hell of it, I googled "most patriotic thing ever" - a few of my favorite images are posted below. So think of this as a hybrid "ghoogles"/filler post (hashtag postcount, amirite).

See you all in the comments, where I expect to be regaled with fun fourth adventures and hijinks.

Loadin' up the family truckster for some holiday weekend fun.


Please stop doing this to dogs


C'mon, it's Czechoslovakia. We zip in, we pick 'em up, we zip right out again. 

And of course no patriotic post would be complete without these two very important music videos:





And finally, in lieu of spending time with a real NBA celebrity this weekend, one who draws fans two decades after his heyday...



...we were around one who was sitting all by his lonesome on a bar patio in front of a crowded bar on a holiday happy hour afternoon.  There is only one Gheorghe Muresan, people.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

The many faces of Brian Posehn


"Well, I can't believe that actually worked."

Those seven words were spoken very loudly to a coworker over a remixed 20-second clip of Baby Got Back at roughly 12:30 am last Friday night in downtown Miami, when, after months of prodding by the likes of rob, Mark, and even my wife, I decided to try my hand at (pseudo)celebrity impersonation for the first time ever.

After three and a half days spent in a Miami hotel (the very lovely Intercontinental, right on the water), a co-worker and I decided around midnight Friday that we had to at least hit the town. The plan was to go to South Beach, but we encountered some fellow conference attendees in the lobby, and a local friend of theirs. After very little convincing, South Beach was scrapped and we all headed to a place called The Blackbird (I think. It was on Brickell). We pulled up, andddddd...then we realized it's Miami at midnight on a Friday. Line was 50 to 60 people deep, there was a hefty cover charge, this wasn't to be.

As we stood on the corner trying to figure out where to go to next, alcohol-inspired brilliance struck. The decision was made on the spot to tell the bouncer I was Brian Posehn, and see if that got us in. The worse that could happen is a laugh and a "Hell, no", and we move on. I stood about 8 to 10 feet from the club entrance, and we sent someone to the bouncer with a pic of Posehn on the phone. After a brief moment of explanation, the bouncer looked in my general direction, I acted relatively disinterested, and then....he waved us all in. No line, no cover, no hassle. I gave the bouncer a thank you head nod, and then we entered some club that I assume is like all Miami clubs: music blasting, booze flowing (as well as plumes of smoke flowing), and hot as f'ing hell because the club is actually outside (!).

"Well, I can't believe that actually worked."

Thank you, Brian Posehn.
'til we meet again...


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Dave, Stacey, and Young Cunningham Make a Podcast: The Test!

I am annoying. Luckily, this is a prerequisite for my job: I am paid to annoy sleepy teenagers . . . to pester them with questions, irk them with activities, and coerce them into reading, writing, and thinking. I've been doing this for a while, so I've gotten adept at it. But I've always recognized the subversive questions lurking beneath the surface of every high school class: Do we really need to learn this shit? Is it really worth the time? The frustration? Calculus? Seriously? Organic chemistry? Sex education? When am I going to actually use any of this crap?

We attempted to address these epistemological questions with something my friend Kevin invented: the Life Quiz. This is a set of ten questions that don't count towards your grade, but instead determine how you are doing at seeming to be educated. Art, science, current events, and common knowledge. Major events in history and psychology and economics. Significant sports stuff. No trivia. Just information you should actually know. Or probably should know. Who knows? I encourage the students to pick a partner of similar intellect and bet some push-ups. Then I pose some questions: what is the boiling point of water? How long ago did the dinosaurs live? What is the population of New Jersey?


You don't have to nail the answer . . . it's like horse-shoes and hand-grenades. Close enough counts. Within ten percent.

Sometimes the questions are broad: name a jazz musician and their instrument. Sometimes they are specific: what does it mean to "bury the hatchet." And sometimes they seem really obvious: what are the seven continents?

You end up with some surprising answers, and some surprising logic as well. And plenty of discussion about epistemology. What should we have rattling around in our brain? What do you need to know? Do you need to know anything?


The brain is a counter-intuitive instrument. It's not like a computer-- your memory doesn't fill up. In fact, the more things you know, the better your brain works. The more connections you have, the more connections you make, and the more you understand. So despite the ubiquity of Google, I think there is some value in knowing stuff. The question is: what?

A few of us were so enamored with this theme, that we decided to make a podcast about it. The concept of the show is simple-- it's ostensibly a quiz show, but it's the anti-Jeopardy-- one of us asks seven questions, and the other participants try to answer them. Or argue about them. Or declare them stupid. Stacey, Cunningham and I are the hosts, but we plan on having lots of guests. On the plus side, our voices are easily discernible and we cover three decades: Young Cunningham is in her twenties, Stacey is in her thirties, and I am forty-five. Not only do we ask questions and discuss validity, but we also crack a lot of jokes. On the minus side, I am annoying. I try not to be judgmental, with varying degrees of success.

We're calling the show The Test and we've recorded two episodes. We haven't had any guests yet, but they are coming soon. If you want to be on, just ask . . . I think we can even Skype you in. While we're certainly not pros at this yet, we've got original background music, an audio montage, and a theme song.

Good luck and have fun . . . you can play along at home, but no studying . . .




Monday, June 29, 2015

USA!

According to legend, English newspapers, assuming that the score coming over the teletype was a misprint, reported a 10-1 victory for England. It was a measure of the magnitude of the upset that most people didn't really bat an eye at that lopsided result.

Sixty-five years ago today, the United States of America defeated England, 1-0, in the group stage at the 1950 World Cup. England were 3-1 favorites to win the cup, widely regarded as the world's best team. The U.S. team was made up entirely of amateurs: painters, teachers, mail carriers, and 500-1 longshots to take the title.

For the first 20 minutes of the match, the powerful English peppered U.S. keeper Frank Borghi, hitting the crossbar twice, forcing Borghi to make two saves, and recording six total shots on goal. While the U.S. settled down, England continued to pressure the American back line, nearly scoring on three consecutive breakaways.

But in the 37th minute, Walter Bahr launched a shot from 25 yards out, and Joe Gaetjens grazed the ball with a diving header attempt, changing its trajectory just enough to direct the ball past England keeper Bert Williams and into the net. The U.S. had an improbable 1-0 lead that they carried into the break.

Borghi kept up his stellar play in the second half. England thought they'd scored on a header from a free kick, but the referee ruled that the ball never crossed the line. Despite pressure throughout the second half, the Americans never yielded.

It's regarded by many soccer experts as the greatest upset in the history of the game at the national team level. Neither side advanced beyond the group stage, and the U.S. wouldn't even play in the World Cup again until 1990.

Walter Bahr went on to a long career as one of the legendary coaches in the American game. His sons Chris and Matt both played for the national team, and kicked in the NFL. Joe Gaetjens' story was more tragic, as he was killed in his native Haiti by Papa Doc Duvalier's Tonton Macoutes. Author Geoffrey Douglas' book about the match, The Game of Their Lives, tells the story of the 1950 U.S. team in depth.

Sixty five years later, this match still resonates in England. In the runup to the 2010 World Cup and the U.S.' group stage matchup with England, Jozy Altidore's Haitian heritage was a noteworthy part of match previews. And the fact that the Americans managed a draw in that match denied England 'revenge'.

Frustratin' Brits since 1776.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Amazing

When the long history of the United States is written, yesterday will stand as one of the more remarkable days in a journey filled with them. A day filled with joy, with pain, and redemption. We're far, far from perfect, but we continue to follow the moral arc towards justice, peace, and grace.





Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wingspan & Upside & Length. Oh my.

Once again, its time for my favorite night of the year. NBA Draft night. A night filled with potential stars, possible busts and Jay Bilas' wingspan drinking game. This years draft is, at the top, one of the strongest in years. I believe that all three presumed top picks, Karl Anthony-Towns, Jahlil Okafor and D'Angelo Russell have All-NBA potential so I'll only briefly discuss them.


He comes in peace. He's aware of your drinking games.


Karl Anthony-Towns- All NBA potential both offensively and defensively. Could be the leagues second beau big man, behind Anthony Davis, within 4-5 years.

Jahlil Okafor- If you're one of those people selling on Okafor, ill buy all your stock shares. Is he a defensively dominant big man? No. What he is though is the most skilled post player to enter the NBA since Tim Duncan. And he's only 19. I also think he's much tougher than he's being given credit for. He played on a badly sprained ankle for the last 6 weeks of the season and only managed to lead Duke to a National Championship. 

D'Angelo Russell- His offensive skill and versatility is unmatched in this years draft. He's going to be a 20+ ppg scorer in the NBA but what truly sets him apart is his vision and passing. He's going to be a dominant pick and roll guard in very short order.

Now, onto some other guys.

Like:

Justise Winslow: The first time I saw him play I told my Dad that he was the most athletic wing at Duke since Grant Hill. I stand by that. He's a ferocious competitor, tenacious defender and aggressive rebounder. I think his offensive skill is underrated and will continue to develop. He'd be mentioned among the rest of the drafts elite prospects if he had measured out at 6'6"-6'7" as expected. Instead he measured at a little over 6'4". While that does give me pause it doesn't shake my belief in him. He plays much bigger than he measures (he often played the 4 at Duke) and he works his tail off on both ends of the floor. In an NBA which values positional versatility more than ever, give me Justise Winslow.


Trey Lyles: You could make the case that going to Kentucky last year was the worst thing that could've happened to Lyles' draft stock. He didn't play badly. He just often played out of position at small forward. He was stuck behind this draft's best player in Towns and behind its best defensive player in Willie Cauley-Stein. Lyles is still a highly skilled 4 with the potential to become a stretch 4 along the lines of Ryan Anderson (a higher ceiling though) or Draymond Green. If he hadn't picked Kentucky, Lyles would've averaged nearly 20 ppg and he'd be a top 10 pick.

Devin Booker- Critics will say all he does is shoot the ball (they said thst about Klay Thompson when he entered the draft too). That's true to a degree but he shoots it really, really well. He's got great size for the 2, he's a high character guy, plays with great poise and he's he youngest player in the draft. In a league that's very average at the 2, Booker has a chance to be top 5 at his position in 4-5 years.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson: Extremely limited offensively (read: can shoot) but a terrific athlete and the best perimeter defender in the draft. I believe he ends up somewhere between Tony Allen and Ron Artest though significantly less crazy.


The hope is that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson will be much less crazy version of this guy.

No Thanks

Sam Dekker:  He has great size and athleticism for the 3. However, I don't think he's creative enough off the dribble or a consistent enough 3 point shooter to be a major contributor on the perimeter.

Myles Turner: His rep is that of a skilled, athletic big man. Except he doesn't shoot it that well (or at least didn't during his one season at Texas) and isn't an elite athlete. You even see reports that his gait when running is possibly problematic in terms of his health going forward. Hard pass.

Kevon Looney: whoever drafts Looney is drafting based solely on potential. He's a great athlete who could possibly develop into a dynamic rebounder with perimeter skills. However, that's all way down the road. He was often a non-factor for long stretches at UCLA. Even as raw developmentally as he is, I'd like to see more in terms of energy and fire at this stage of his career.

Kelly Oubre: another player with all the measurables. He's got great size for a wing, is a tremendous athlete and possesses a shooting stroke that shows great long term potential. He's limited off the dribble though and often played soft on defense which landed him in Bill Self's doghouse and on the Kansas bench with regularity.

Fuck if I know

Kristaps Porzingis: One of he or Mario Hezonja will hit and one will bust. That's my gut feeling. If I had to bet I'd bet on The Zinger. He comes from a basketball family. He played and played well in the Spanish ACB league which is widely regarded as the second best league in the world but I've only watched highlights of him so.. 

Mario Hezonja: Hezonja's highlight tape is the most impressive of any prospect this year. He's got great size for a wing (6'8"). He's among the best 2-3 shooters in the draft and he's a great athlete. Possibly the best athlete in the draft. He also hails from Dubrovnik, Croatia which you may or may not know is where all the scenes in King's Landing on GOT are filmed. So what's not to like? Well, he might be nuts. He's said to be borderline arrogant, he's prone to taking awful shots (but makes enough of him that he continues to take them) and Chad Ford listed his closest player comp as JR Smith. So...there's that. He'll be great or he'll be the most entertaining Euro disaster of all time. There's no in between.


Cameron Payne: Payne has gone from a little known prospect signed to Murray St. to a possible late lottery pick in the span of three years. He's got good size (6'3") and shoots it exceptionally well. However, it's his passing ability that scouts really love. I *think* Payne will end up as a top 10 NBA point guard but he played at Murray State so I've only seen him play twice.

Frank Kaminsky: I like Kaminsky but its starting to feel like he's going to be drafted to high with regard to his ceiling as a player. What is that ceiling? Channing Frye? Andrea Bargnani? I think both of those are reasonable but I think he could end up being a much lesser player depending on how much more he does or doesn't develop as well as how he perceives his own ability Recently, there have been reports that Kaminsky's been slimming down (he was already pretty damn slim) because he think he's going to be like Dirk. Frank...I've watched Dirk Nowitzki. I've marveled at Dirk Nowitzki. You sir are no Dirk Nowitzki.

Tyus Jones: As far as heady less athletic point guards go, I'll take Jones over TJ's buddy Tyler Ennis. With that said, I'm unsure of how successful Jones will be in the NBA. He lacks great size or athleticism and is a streaky shooter. He has, however, shown himself to be unafraid of stepping up in late situations and he's been successful when doing so. If any guard with his physical limitations can make it, I believe it's Tyus Jones.

Late 1st/Early 2nd Sleepers

Joseph Young: He can score in bunches and in a variety of ways. I don't like him as a starting PG but I love him as your PG and scorer off the bench. Think Aaron Brooks and Isaiah Thomas.

Rakeem Christmas: He's old (24) in terms of NBA prospects but has improved his skill level a ton in the past two years. Should be a valuable rotation big man off the bench for many years.

Pandering

As we all know, Rob's favorite athlete this side of Dustin Pedroia, Marcus Thornton, is eligible for tonight's draft. Most think he'll go undrafted but many of these same pundits also believe that Thornton may eventually play in the NBA. One major reason for this is that Thornton was born at the right time. If Marcus had been ten years younger, a combo guard of his type would've been roundly dismissed by NBA GMs and scouts. The league has changed though and combo guard is no longer a taboo phrase. There is value in being able to play both guard spots without mastering either. Marcus Thornton is just this type of player. I don't have the soft spot for Marcus most of you have but I'll be rooting for him nonetheless.

See you in the comments...




Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Little Things

On the 24th of April my clavicle broked and subsequently underwent this procedure. That was the bad news. The good news is that since that time I’ve been able to indulge much, much more than customary during these summer months when the usual has had me training for xyz event. Up through last week, call it 7 weeks since the mishap, I won’t lie to you…you mean too much to me…the weekly consumption skyrocketed. Yes, my essentially forced idleness has played a large role in the increase, but also playing a part are my new favorite little things.

The last visit for me to The Grove Hotel was in June of 2012. Cliché but…”so choice”. Work brought me there only to strike out. At joints such as these a strikeout is less painful. I and my fellow GTB’rs have a nose for the hotel bar. After my din din, that is exactly where I ended up sampling the different cocktails constructed by the enthusiastic bartenders. It was there that I had the best Old Fashioned ever. No joke. Next time you’re there go ahead and order one. But what put it over the top wasn’t the type of whiskey chosen (Woodford) or the orange twist set afire ever so briefly to extract a bit of the oil to enrich the concoction, and it wasn’t even the homemade bitters. No, ‘twas none of those things old chap! Can you guess what it was? It was the glass. The second I picked up that glass I knew that I’d never drink out of another glass again once three full years went by. Many times have I imagined that glassware since. Many time have I said, “I’m gonna find out where the hell they get those glasses and order some myself.” Until one month ago, it was all talk. Until one month ago. Sitting on my couch one Saturday mid-morning a few weeks into my period of slothdom, the image appeared and the brain took over. You need to order these glasses Dan. Call the hotel, get one of those limey’s on the phone and find out who makes ‘em. Do it and do it right now or it will be another 2 years before you have the inclination. So it was done and they were ordered a few minutes later on Amazon.

The picture doesn’t help much does it? Kind of a letdown no? Sorry. This my friends is the Luigi Bormioli Veronese Double Old Fashioned Glass – 11.5 oz. Not pictured is the 8.75 oz. Whisky Rocks glass. It looks exactly the same. Just smaller. We were way overdue on glassware. I’ve had the same stuff since the late ‘90’s – heavy, big, unwieldy, and tired. It was time to start anew. Having these in the cupboard now cause me to think about them nightly on my commute home, sitting there in the dark, empty and upside down, lonely and scared and screaming to be turned around and filled with something, something smoky or of barrel-aged, brown or clear, they don’t care. They just want to be held, used, adored. Who doesn’t? At $40.00 per half dozen they were much less expensive than what I was expecting. And that’s a good thing! Why are they special? They may not be special to you at all. In fact, if you order 1 (I think you can do that), you should have low expectations. I had none when I picked up my first in that bar outside of London. From the picture you can see for yourself that the glass is oval, kind of. The bottom is oval – let’s say the bottom 1/3rd. The top is round. It’s the damndest thing I tell ya. The ovality (new word coined here) at the bottom makes for a level of comfort not experienced before in the handling of a mere cocktail glass. It just fits right into your palm. Sure, the standard cocktail glass lift & sip isn’t so strenuous and uncomfortable that you say to yourself, “Man, I sure wish this was a different shape,” that is until you’ve taken a pull out of the Veronese.

A couple weeks prior to trying to create a pothole in a St. Petersburg road with my right shoulder, unsuccessfully, a riding buddy who also favors drinking was trying to explain to me a pre-made mixer that he pairs with his bourbon. What’s it called I asked? Bittermilk he responded. Bitter what? Bittermilk bitch, he said. It's a small little shop up in Charleston that has created a handful of different pre-made mixers each with its own distinct flavah. Oh. Ok. Bittermilk. What a great name for a mixer. He said we’d get together in the coming weeks to sip on it. Well it never happened, but a few days after my surgery a package was delivered to the house containing two of Bittermilk’s products - #3 Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour and #1 Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned. It was from my pal. Thanks pal. (As an aside, just last night this same fella came looking for money for a cause - the event is a 200-mile Bourbon Trail Run for the cause "Casa For Children". Anyone feelin frisky?)
The box was opened with curiosity, and the bottles more so. I immediately went to the website to check out the recipes. Chosen was the Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Fashioned which is simply 4 parts Rye or Bourbon and 1 part Bittermilk #1. Easy peezy and very good. Don’t feel like sippin straight whiskey but also not in the mood to go through the requirements of making a great Old Fashioned from scratch that let's face it, will probably suck? This is your ticket. I go both routes – sometimes Rye, sometimes Bourbon. Also exceptional is the Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour: 1 part Rye or Bourbon and 1 part Bittermilk #3. (For the whiskey drinkers, I suggest a ratio closer to 2:1; for the beer & wine folk stick with the 1:1)

No. 3: We've revived this old classic by smoking honey over bourbon barrel staves. Bitter orange peel and lemon make for a slightly tart and smoky cocktail. Honey adds a nice frothy head when shaken vigorously. Mixes best with bourbon but swap it out for tequila to make a slightly smoky Honey Margarita. Shake equal parts Bittermilk No.3 + Whiskey with heavy amounts of ice. Ingredients: Organic Lemon Juice, Water, Bourbon Barrel Smoked Organic Honey, Organic Cane Sugar, Orange Oleo Saccharum (Organic Orange Peel, Organic Cane Sugar)

Now that sounds pretty appeeling does it not? 

In the 2 months since being introduced, we've (mostly me) have gone through 4 different bottles and then some. Heavily weighted have been the bourbon & rye drinks including the aforementioned and the Old Fashioned Rouge - 4:1 Rye to #4 New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge. A couple of tequila based have proven to whet the whistle as well - 1:1 Tequila to #3 is the "La Cabra". Translation: Umm...Wild Goat? Another is the "Handsome Devil" - 3:2 Tequila to #5. Five btw is the Charred Grapefruit Tonic with Bulls Bay Sea Salt. How's that sound? Pretty damn refreshing if you ask me. This week I aim to sample the rum based stuff. See website for more details and be the cool guy or gal at your next soiree to break out the Bittermilk. 

To cap it off, or to round it out I should say…Ice balls.  Balls. Of ice. In this case slightly larger than a golf ball. 

No explanation necessary. Fairly sure that a couple of you have adopted this practice already. Mix the ingredients of your next delight into an ice-filled mixer (regular refrigerator made ice - don't waste ice balls on the shaker), shake it and do so hard, and strain into your new Bormiolo Veronese atop a big ball of ice. Or get crazy and go with two balls. Just think of Danimal when you do.