Memorial Tournament: Division G


“Tiny Dancer” (Elton John)  defeats  “Higher Love” (Steve Winwood), 136.3 to 105.4 (8 to 6.2 average)

“Paradise” (John Prine) defeats “Louisiana Woman/Mississippi Man” (Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn), 120.7 to 105.2  (7.1 to 6.1 average)

“The Joker” (Steve Miller) defeats “Keep Your Head Up” (Ben Howard), 99 to 91 (6.2 to 5.3 average)

“Chicago” (Sufjan Stevens) defeats “Jump” (Van Halen), 106.8 to 103.3 (6.3 to 6.1 average)

Welcome to Division G, which rolls us into the final weekend of Round 1. We’ve got some great songs here, along with some really lovely memories. Get your scores in by midnight on Sunday.

Here’s the playlist and matchups:
“Tiny Dancer” (Elton John) v. “Higher Love” (Steve Winwood)
“Louisiana Woman/Mississippi Man” (Conway Twitty & Loretta Lynn) v. “Paradise” (John Prine)
“The Joker” (Steve Miller) v. “Keep Your Head Up” (Ben Howard)
“Chicago” (Sufjan Stevens) v. “Jump” Van Halen

Tiny Dancer” was nominated by Rafter because “it seems to belong here.”

“Higher Love” from Karissa: Guillermo went through a phase of obsession with this song, probably fall 06.
He’d blast in in the Astro van on the way to John Henry Beck Park every morning, and I’d hear him belting
it out across the park all day long… the phase lasted a couple weeks, I don’t remember if this one ever made it into a music tourney. Of course, this is a difficult decision, I considered nominating Papa was a rodeo (thanks Aiko!). I also considered Where is my mind – Pixies, this one was a tournament winner from a roadtrip back to Biloxi from Jackson, I actually think G might not have been in the car but it was a memorable trip anyway, we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in Louisiana… so we got
daquaris from a drive-through stand and continued our extra long journey, I remember pulling into the pothole ridden dirt parking lot at Hands On listening to this song. It has quite a G feel to it anyway. I also considered What a wonderful world by Israel Kamakawiwo;ole because G used to blast it as a wake up
song for all the balcony dwellers at the Hands On warehouse.\

“Louisiana Woman” from Maegan O.: I was trying to decide between a Patsy Cline song and a LorettaLynn song, but landed on this one. Seemed appropriate given the content- I remember Will uploaded a bunch of Loretta Lynn songs onto my ipod (!) in 2010 when I did my own epic 6-week long roadtrip from Vermont to San Francisco to “see about a boy”. The boy didnt work out very well, but my love of old classic country continues on to this day.

“The Joker” was an automatic nominee – it was one of Guillermo’s nominees to the 2011 People’s Choice Tournament
“Keep Your Head Up” from Morgan T.: We went on a road trip to South Dakota in 2016 and this won the music tournament. This song has always brought me to tears every time I hear it. There was really no better feeling than blasting it through the Badlands with the windows down with my 3 best friends.
“Chicago” from Sara: We were listening to this song a lot in 2005- also driving to cities with our friends with no plans, also making lots of mistakes
“Jump” from Janos: Gmo and I did a road trip tournament together in 05. Africa was heavily favored to win, and eventually did. But not until a TRIPLE overtime victory in the finals against this song.

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Memorial Tournament: Division F


“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” becomes the second song to average above an 8 (“Hallelujah” having averaged an 8.2). The only upset in this round is in our 4th seed, where Arcade Fire beat out Doobie Brothers. Female vocalists and country continue to do poorly as Brandi Carlie and Chris Stapleton are knocked out, as the prevailing opinion runs contrary to my forever-take about Dylan’s mediocrity. But what is the fun of being a music fan if you can’t stake out a few contrarian opinions? Just don’t say you don’t like the Beatles; we all know you’re just trying to get attention.

Jackie Wilson got the rawest match-up of the tournament so far, and in another division would have easily moved on.

“(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding) defeats “Broken Halos” (Chris Stapleton) 167.6 to 99.6 (8 to 4.7 average)

“Shelter from the Storm” (Bob Dylan) defeats “Wherever is Your Heart” (Brandi Carlile) 159.8 to 123.4 (7.6 to 5.9 average)

“Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) defeats “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson) 163.5 to 157.6 (7.8 to 7.5 average)

“Wake Up” (Arcade Fire) defeats “Black Water” (Doobie Brothers) 128.6 to 150.9 (7.2 to 6.1 average)

Sorry that this post is going up a bit late — coordinating this music tournament amidst full-blown adult lives is its own kind of nostalgia for the focus and energy Guillermo brought to all those tournaments for all those years.

This division brings some real heart-wrenchers and possibly polarizing match-ups. It’ll be interesting to see how individual scores shake out. The Division F Match-ups are:

Otis Redding performs in Paris, 1966.
Otis Redding performs in Paris, 1966.

“(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” (Otis Redding) vs. “Broken Halos” (Chris Stapleton)

“Shelter from the Storm” (Bob Dylan) vs. “Wherever is Your Heart” (Brandi Carlile)

“Romeo and Juliet” (Dire Straits) vs. “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” (Jackie Wilson)

“Black Water” (Doobie Brothers) vs. “Wake Up” (Arcade Fire)

Listen to the match-ups on the Division F Spotify Playlist. You will have until Thursday at Midnight to vote (but let’s be real, I’ll be tallying on Friday morning and I’m on West Coast time, so don’t fret if you need some wiggle room).

Stories from the vault:

“Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Elizabeth: My first interaction with Guillermo was him asking me to help him come up with songs for the 90’s music tournament in Fall 2006. We checked in with each other constantly over a couple days with ideas. Guillermo asked me to go to the pub soon after and when I walked in he was already parked at the jukebox and immediately put on Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.” Otis Redding became a soundtrack we shared for years after.

“Broken Halos” by Dan S.: I didn’t speak with G-Mo about this song, however, I just feel it in my heart that it would be one that would have him slowly fist pumping with his eyes closed.

“Shelter from the Storm”: We sang it once by the campfire, but only once. Twas in another lifetime // One of toil and blood // When blackness was a virtue // The road was full of mud // I came in from the wilderness // A creature void of form // Come in, she said, I’ll give you // Shelter from the storm…

“Wherever is Your Heart” by Brittany T.: In 2018 we put together a map with pins and strings representing all the roadtrips we ever went on. Anyone who knows Guillermo knows how much he loves the sentiment in maps and road trips! The entire time we worked on the project we listened to a live Brandi Carlile concert on YouTube. This was the song that inspired it all.

“Romeo and Juliet” — This was one of Gmo’s nominees to the “Peoples Choice” tournament in 2011

“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Ben: Another throwback to the early tourney days, this was my best performing offering ultimately making it to a quarter-finals. Let’s see if it’s still got legs. Also, just a very uplifting song.

“Black Water” — “Oh Mississippi, she’s calling my name” / Pub jukebox memories

“Wake Up” by Cristina: Just eternal.

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Memorial Tournament: Division E


No upsets in this strong-scoring division, but Hallelujah looks like the song to watch in the next round.

“Under Pressure” (Queen and David Bowie)  defeats  “Angel From Montgomery” (John Prine) 165.9 to 146.8 (7.9 to 7 average)

“Home” (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros)  defeats “Transdermal Celebration” (Ween) 156.4 to 111.2 (7.5 to 5.3 average)

“Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley)  defeats  “End of the Line” (Traveling Wilburys) 172.1 to 153.4 (8.2 to 7.3 average)

“No Rain” (Blind Melon) defeats “Walking in Memphis” (Marc Cohn) 146.7 to 143.4 (7 to 6.8 average)

We’ve now arrived at our fifth matchup with some pretty strong contenders.  This matchup sees John Prine, whom many are still grieving for since his recent passing.  Yet still I wouldn’t sleep on his matchup against the Bowie/Queen classic “Under Pressure”.  Looking now at this division it features many artists who sadly had very untimely passings; from Shannon Hoon, Tom Petty to Freddy Mercury and Jeff Buckley.  With the exception of the Ween track I’m familiar with all the songs and personally a fan of each of them.  Seems like it will be a tight set of matches…

freddie-mercury-cats-5c6fb3e608ae2-jpeg__605Here is the Spotify Playlist Link   (These are not in sequential order, but you shouldn’t need them to be for scoring purposes anyways)  You will have until Monday at midnight to vote in the comment section below.

Round 1, Division E:

“Under Pressure” (Queen and David Bowie)  vs.  “Angel From Montgomery” (John Prine)

“Home” (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros)  vs. “Transdermal Celebration” (Ween)

“Hallelujah” (Jeff Buckley)  vs.  “End of the Line” (Traveling Wilburys)

“No Rain” (Blind Melon) vs. “Walking in Memphis” (Marc Cohn)

Stories from the vault…

“Under Pressure” by Jacob: Got to include the runner up in the 2011 finals. I listened to this and Stand By Me 20 times each to make my decision and remember listening to the official play with Guillermo and many others on the upstairs deck at the Red Derby in DC. Pretty thrilling finish.

“Angel from Montgomery” by Kristen: I can’t decide between the John Prine version of Bonnie Raitt. In a way, I feel like G may have preferred Bonnie’s version. Oh no! I forgot that the Tedeschi Trucks Band version was amazing as well. Well Shit. 

“Home” by Committee: This was one of Gmo’s nominees to the “People’s Choice” tournament in 2011

“Transdermal Celebration” by Adam: My interactions with Guillermo were exclusively emailing about music during the tourneys, or talking about music during marathon days. I don’t know if he liked Ween, but I could see him getting into them as a general music fan. Ween’s music is by definition all over the place, but this is one of their more accessible tunes – I can imagine grooving to this at about 1130 AM at a bar in Staten Island 4 beers in and walking the streets in the sunshine.

“Hallelujah” by Committee, after recommendations from folks on Facebook.

“No Rain” by Natalie: Oddly enough, despite how important music is to both of us, I don’t have any memories of Gmo and I connecting over any music in particular beyond fleeting music tourney banter, which may just be that I have a terrible memory or that it’s been too long. The one memory that popped into my mind was us bonding over our childhood love of the Chipmunk Adventure movie and soundtrack, but I’ll spare you from listening to the Chipmunks in this tournament (but I still highly recommend checking out “Off to See the World” – it’s a legitimately great song.) Instead, I’ll throw in some Blind Melon. No idea if Gmo was a fan, but he definitely appreciated the classic sing-alongs and rock’n’roll anthems, and this is a 90s classic that you can really belt out to. It’s got that high energy with underlying darkness that just seems fitting for this occasion. 

“Walking in Memphis” by Committee: Pub jukebox memories …  From Ryan: **oddly enough, Elizabeth, Guillermo and I wound up roommates in a house only a few blocks from where Marc Cohn was shot following a concert in Denver. They said it was a robbery and  he was only wounded. But this was front porch conversation with G once..

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Memorial Tournament: Division D



These results are pretty remarkable, basically no difference between the four winners, which means the next two rounds will be very interesting. Also means Don’t Stop Believin’ may not be the powerhouse many of us assumed it would be.

Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey) defeats “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Crowded House)
158.3 to 130.7 (7.5 to 6.2 average)

“Golden Slumbers Medley” (The Beatles) defeats “The Cool, Cool River” (Paul Simon)
155.9 to 116.9 (7.6 TO 5.6 average)

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (The Rolling Stones) defeats “Whiskey”
(Trampled by Turtles)
160.2 to 129.6 (7.6 to 6.2 average)

“Caravan” (Van Morrison) defeats “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” (The Smashing
158.75 to 134.1 (7.6 to 6.4 average)


Welcome to Division D, and our 4th set of matchups!  You’ll have until midnight on Friday to vote in the comments. After these songs we’ll be a quarter of the way through the whole tournament, which is kind of wild to think about.

Here’s the Spotify link:

Round 1 Division D:

“Don’t Stop Believin’” (Journey) v. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Crowded House)

“Golden Slumbers Medley” (The Beatles) v. “The Cool, Cool River” (Paul Simon)

“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (The Rolling Stones) v. “Whiskey” (Trampled by Turtles)

“Bullet With Butterfly Wings” (The Smashing Pumpkins) v. “Caravan” (Van Morrison)

Stories from The Vault

“Don’t Stop Believin’” (automatic entry):   I can’t think of any better than Guillermo spinning circles while playing the air guitar solo on the floor of a jam-packed 2 Train at the most epic part of the song on the most epic subway ride down the West Side of Manhattan during the greatest Marathon Day ever. – Ben

This song, at the pub, again and again and again. Forever tied to me with Guillermo (and Janos) – Ryan

“Golden Slumbers Medley” (nominated by Danno): I’ve never met Guillermo in person. All of our interactions were through Music Tournaments. As such, I took a trip down memory lane to the very first one and revisited my votes that ultimately made the Wall of 10s, which included “A Day in the Life”, “Paranoid Android”, “Wavin’ Flag”, “Thriller”, “Hurt”, “Hey Jude”, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and “Golden Slumbers Medley”. Listening through each of these one more time, the Golden Slumbers Medley struck the right chord for me. — “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

“The Cool, Cool River” (nominated by Mike C.): this song just feels eternal

“You Can’t Always Get What you Want” (nominated by Midnight Spin):  In the early 2010’s when Midnight Spin was just getting off the ground, the music tournament was running strong. The band members were regular participants in the tourney, and when we finally went on our national tour we had our own honorary music tourney to pass the time on the road where every song had to be the last track on an album. YCAGWYW ultimately won the tournament beating out Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” which came into the finals a heavy favorite~ having scored perfect 10’s in every round up until the championship. Other notable tracks included “It’s the End of the World as we Know it”, “Train in Vain”, and “Jungleland”. Of course the most insane upset was 16th seed “Zombie Zoo” from Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever knocking off the #1 seed “A Day In the Life” from Sgt. Pepper in the first round of the Northeast bracket. I guess that’s why you play the game.

“Bullet with Butterfly Wings” (nominated by Zach):  Will (as I knew him) did his level best to instill a love of music in me from a very young age. This was greatly appreciated on my end, as I was a very young child at the time while he was going through high school. As a younger sibling, I did my best to emulate him. This naturally lead to a series of awkward conversations between my kindergarten teacher and our parents, as I would loudly, and seemingly at random, begin singing (well, more accurately, screaming) the chorus to this song at other children during recess. He found this hilarious, and never admitted to our parents that he had anything to do with it. Though it’s tonally VERY different from what both our musical tastes developed into, to this day any time I hear this song I think of him, plus most of my picks have already been entered.

“Whiskey” nominated by Jim, commentary by Janos: Trampled by Turtles were a Guillermo favorite. One of the last times I saw him in New York, he had planned his visit around a TBT concert at Bowery Ballroom. I don’t think they were even headlining. We ran into them at the bar after the show, and he bought the band a round of whiskey. Which is also the name of this song, one of their best!

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Memorial Tournament: Division C


“Stand by Me” (Ben E. King) defeats “Devil Makes Three” (Old Number Seven) 133.4 to 93.1 (7.8 to 5.5 average)

When the levee breaks” (Led Zeppelin) defeats “Paradise by the dashboard lights” (Meatloaf) 114.2 to 83.3 (6.7 to 4.9 average)

“Somewhere over the rainbow/Wonderful world” (israel kamakawiwo’ole) defeats “Against the Wind” (Bob Seger) 111.8 to 100.7 (6.6 to 5.9 average)

“When Doves Cry” (Prince) defeats “One Sweet Day” (Mariah Carey) 116.5 to 76.2 (6.9 to 4.5 average)

The love for Ben E. King remains strong though looking perhaps less indomitable than in ’11. On to Division D!

We are on to our 3rd set of matchups. Some pretty epic songs here, so buckle up. Also the return of the King (Ben E.), who won nine straight matchups en route to victory in 2011.


Folks have until midnight on Wednesday to vote in the comment section. Unlike past tournaments, we are posting the results of the previous vote in the original post – so for Division B results, look at the original Division B post.

Here’s the Spotify link.

And without further ado:

Round 1 Division C

“Stand by Me” (Ben E. King) vs. “Devil Makes Three” (Old Number Seven)

“Paradise by the dashboard lights” (Meatloaf) vs. “When the levee breaks” (Led Zeppelin)

“Somewhere over the rainbow/Wonderful world” (israel kamakawiwo’ole) vs. “Against the Wind” (Bob Seger)

“When Doves Cry” (Prince) vs. “One Sweet Day” (Mariah Carey)

Stories from the vault…

“Stand By Me” (automatic entry): The winner of the 2010-2011 grand 600-song tournament that Guillermo and Janos ran together. Over a hundred people participated.

“When Doves Cry” (nominated by Joe): Guillermo and I both spent meaningful portions of our life in Minnesota. Somehow, despite being at different points in our lives, and our residencies being separated by several years, we still found the same home away from home—a small, grungy coffee shop tucked away in an unassuming corner of St. Paul. He and I had no particularly shared history tied to “When Doves Cry”, but as another proud son of Minnesota, Prince felt like the right choice to honor this shared experience.

“Paradise by Dashboard Lights” (nominated by Kate Gage): Guillermo and I had EXTENSIVE conversations about this being included in a previous tournament (I think 2011?) and while I think I ended up submitting something else for that roud, someone else nominated it and thus began internal organizing to vote this up. We also would go to this record store up by his place in Greenbelt and I can’t remember what we bought there but that might have bee where I got this as a single on vinyl (which I TREASURE mostly because it has both the short version AND the 12:$% minute version with the baseball narrative) Also one time after going to that record store Guillermo and I went to a FANCY DINNER at Red Lobster which remains the only time I’ve ever been and will ever go to Red Lobster. I refuse to go without Guillermo.

“Levee breaks” (nominated by the Catholic): Played this song on repeat driving around Biloxi and Plaquemines

“Somewhere over the rainbow/Wonderful world” (nominated by Karissa, version adjusted by Janos): G used to blast it as a wake up song for all the balcony dwellers at the Hands On warehouse.

“One Sweet Day” (nominated by Chelsea): At the risk of either end of the spectrum of cheesiness or intense emotion, Guillermos love of 90s music made this song coming on the radio a few days after I found out Guillermo died cemented this song’s cathartic powers for me.

“Devil Makes Thee” (nominated by Adrock): In 2014 after numerous tournaments, Janos organized a series of weekly populated playlists – not competitive just what you were hearing. Guillermo posted this one and it’s become a permanent feature in playlists and tournaments of mine ever since. It even strikes the right feel these days, so an added bonus.

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Memorial Tournament: Division B


We are on to a 2nd set of matchups. Thanks to Brian and Lindsay for putting this together.

Folks have until midnight on Monday to vote in the comment section. Unlike past tournaments, we are posting the results of the previous vote in the original post – so for Division A results, look at the original Division A post.

Here’s the Spotify link.

And without further ado:

Round 1 Division B

“Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) vs. “Careless Whisper” (Eagles of Death Metal)

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) vs. “Finer Things” (Steve Winwood)

“With a Little Help From My Friends” (Joe Cocker) vs. “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen)

“Thriller” (Michael Jackson) vs. “Running On Empty” (Jackson Browne)

Results posted! These are going to be some very interesting Round of 32 matchups!

“Superstition” (Stevie Wonder) – 165.6  vs. “Careless Whisper” (Eagles of Death Metal) – 110.55

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” (Nirvana) – 165.1  vs. “Finer Things” (Steve Winwood) – 116

“With a Little Help From My Friends” (Joe Cocker) – 150  vs. “Atlantic City” (Bruce Springsteen) – 147.3

“Thriller” (Michael Jackson) – 144.4  vs. “Running On Empty” (Jackson Browne) – 120.4

Stories from the vault…

“Careless Whisper” by Brian O: I’m having trouble explaining why this song seems right. For some reason it made me think of the night when our entire fraternity went over to the house next door to defend Olivos’ honor. The night ended in a mysteriously broken television. Every time I think of Will, I think of that night.

“Superstition” by committee: Tournament champion at Hands On summer ’06 tournament, which Guillermo personally supervised after dinner each night

“Finer Things” by Dan Sherman: G-Mo stopped a conversation we were having over the phone once and held his phone up to the Astrostar’s speaker while this song played in its entirety. I’m including it because its an example of how passionate he was about music, that he wanted everyone around him to feel the message and meaning like he did.

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by committee: This song won the “Best Album Lead-Off” Tournament that Guillermo ran in 2013.

“With A Little Help From My Friends” by Sue Cole: No particular reason other than it makes me think of Biloxi

“Atlantic City” by Rafter: Trying to decide on one song here is nearly impossible, but I can’t hear this without thinning of Biloxi, and can’t think of Biloxi without gmo.

“Thriller” by Josh Potter: Guillermo and I both took pride in the fact that Michael Jackson’s Thriller was the number one album the year we were born. It’s become a little harder to love MJ unconditionally, but my nomination is in the spirit half-baked decisions that were fun at the time and look pretty bad in retrospect–like when G-Mo and I dressed up for Halloween “reverse-trick-or-treating” in Biloxi, him as a Native American casino owner (headdress and all) and me as Jesus H. Christ (using the church’s cardboard nativity decorations).

“Running On Empty” by Maegan O: Mentioned during Biloxi remembrance memorial

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Guillermo Memorial Music Tournament

(EDIT: Scroll to bottom to see Division A results.)

A few weeks ago we lost a dear friend and beautiful soul when Guillermo passed away. Among his close friends, there was no question that this was going to be one of the ways we were going to honor his love of music, and fondness for bringing people together through music tournaments.


For the uninitiated, a music tournament is what it sounds like: songs going head to head in single-elimination match-ups, until a champion is chosen.

You can do them at home alone, with a buddy on a road trip, with dozens of Hands On volunteers after dinner every night, or with people across the world on a random internet site like We’ve done it all.

For the 64-song memorial tournament, we’ve asked Gmo’s friends from all walks of life to offer a song or two as fitting tribute. As you’ll see, many of these songs come with accompanying stories from the nominators. You can see the full list here.

Here’s how the tournament works. Every two days we’ll spin through eight songs, one division. In a little over two weeks we’ll finish the first round, and be down to 32 songs. And we’ll keep going.

Anyone who wants can vote once per set of songs  Scoring works on a 10-point scale. (Any of the old-timers have a description?) Basically, a “10” is like listening to pure bliss, “7” is good, “5” is ‘wouldn’t change it if it were on the radio, and “2” is ‘my ears are bleeding, but I finished.’  So a person might score a match “Good Vibrations” (8) – “Satisfaction” (7). We then add up everyone’s scores, and 48 hours later, we have a winner!  Feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

Folks have until 12pm on Friday to vote – please vote in the comment section below.Without further ado, here is Division A:

“Africa” (Toto)  vs. “Josaphine” (Dispatch)

“Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) vs. “Girl from the North Country” (Bob Dylan ft Johnny Cash)

“Thunder Road” (Bruce) vs. “We’re all in this together” (Old Crow Medicine Show)

“Papa Was a Rodeo” (Magnetic Fields) vs. “When My Time Comes” (Dawes)

We’ll be using Spotify for this tournament, but feel free to use whatever streaming you prefer – and thank you to Aiko for lending her time to make these daily playlists.

Stories from the vault…

“Africa” by committee. Ryan: Who didn’t hear Gmo squealing this out in his pitchy falsetto from the corridor of HOUSA or in the field? This is the first song he learned to play on the guitar, and definitely not an easy one. But I remember fondly him working these chords and trying his damndest on this classic tune. Janos: Gmo and I road-tripped back to the northeast for the weekend in 2005, and held a tournament along the way. This song, widely favored, indeed prevailed. 

“Josaphine” by Salem: Guillermo was a hopeless romantic. It seemed that just about everyone of his blog posts had a section of “I met the most amazing girl last week and we immediately fell head over heels in love. Then things went sour but she’ll always hold a special place in my heart.” This sweet little song always reminds me of that.

“Thunder Road” by Cristina: Classy song for a classy guy.

“We’re all in this together” by Jim Rock: I don’t have a particular story to relate this to Guillermo, specifically. Wagon Wheel was huge at this time, as we all remember. This song, more than any other on the album, stood out to me. Many friends of mine have passed away over the years and I listen to this song every time. It gives me chills and tears me up.

“Girl from the North Country” by Carrie: Rather than a specific story (and how much I waffled about song selection), I’ll share an excerpt from a Guillermo-made mix CD enclosure I recently stumbled upon. It underscores his obsession with mix CDs, and by extension, how exciting he would find this music tournament. “…It’s [this CD] not just a playlist – I’d call it a testament. A testament to awesome. It’s the kind of music you’d listen to while inventing Rollerblades, or coming up with the idea for Neapolitan ice cream…”

“Change Gonna Come” by committee: This song is included because Sam Cooke was Guillermo’s artist in the iconic “Last Band Standing” tournament of 2013. And this particular song is poignant for this moment.

“Papa was a rodeo” by Aiko: I knew Guillermo almost exclusively through the Music Tournament, so I went back into the archives to remind myself what the field looked like. I found the “Wall of 10s,” which is a list of songs that received a 10 from at least two voters; “a score of 10 is a statement that in that moment that you listened to the song, it was absolutely perfect.” I scanned through to see which songs Gmo and I matched on, and all of those but this song had already been included. I’m not sure if Gmo was otherwise a fan of the Magnetic Fields, but this song about finding connection in a rambling, on-the-road, rough-and-tumble life resonated with him that summer.

“When my time comes” by Ryan: This song has a few implications. I fell in love with it when it first came out and I think I entered it into one of our 2010-11 music tournaments but I need Janos to confirm that… I loved the line “you can stare into the abyss, but it’s staring right back” because it comes from a Nietzsche quote that Gmo once used as a warning to me long, long ago about some existential crisis going on in my life or something. Anyways, fast forward to this year and it became a steady play for him again and he texted me in January “Do you ever have those moments where you hear a song like 50 times and all of the sudden the 51st time it hits you?” Yep, I sure do and now more than ever.



“Africa” (Toto)  def. “Josaphine” (Dispatch), 156-108.

“Change Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke) def. “Girl from the North Country” (Bob Dylan ft Johnny Cash), 153-150. Sorry, Carrie, your song should have been seeded higher!

“Thunder Road” (Bruce) def. “We’re all in this together” (Old Crow Medicine Show), 138-117.

“When My Time Comes” (Dawes) def. “Papa Was a Rodeo” (Magnetic Fields), 127-121.



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The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 92)

The road to ACL recovery is full of peaks and plateaus. Excitement over sudden improvements should be tempered, and disappointment over lack of progress should be limited. It’s a game of patience, and with hard work, improvement comes in time. 

I haven’t posted here in three weeks, and that is because progress had been minimal. I continued to add weight resistance to my rehab exercises, but hadn’t noticed any significant changes in my quality of life.

On Thursday I had a breakthrough. We started doing lateral movements, quick steps on the ground called “the ladder.” This is really exciting, and will be my focus for the next month as I move towards the goal of jugging, just in time for some pleasant early evening summer runs across the Williamsburg bridge.

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The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 72)

A shade over two months after surgery, I’ve graduated to some more rigorous PT exercises as I pursue the next frontier: jumping. We did some testing yesterday to see if I was ready, and while my hip abduction (lying on my side, lifting my leg) was at full strength, the quad was still week. This was surprising, considering that my biking is almost up to full speed. Biking, I suppose, can be a misleading indicator.

I have upgraded to one of my favorite exercises: standing on a balance board and pivoting slightly to the left or right to catch balls being thrown at me, or, in this case, bouncing at me off a trampoline. Feels like sports again.

Pain comes and goes these days, so the two-month mark doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. I still ice my knee almost every day when I come home, especially if I’ve been walking or standing a lot.

I’ll update next when I finally get some air time.

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The Road to ACL Recovery (Day 59)

I didn’t want to jump the gun and celebrate early,  but as we approach Friday evening, I have now gone without a cane or crutch for the entire week!

I probably could have ditched it slightly earlier, especially if it weren’t for those dastardly subway stars. Now, however, I’ve reached the point that a gentle lean on a rail is enough to stabilize even a rush-hour-paced ascent.

Last weekend I went to a dance party for many hours without feeling an ounce of pain. My sidewalk speed is probably at 90%. My stationary bike resistance level is also approaching 90%. Simply put- life’s basics are no longer out of reach.

Next week at PT I hope to start doing some work that’ll put me on a path to jumping again. Unfortunately, the clock is ticking in at least one respect: my insurance company just sent me a letter that I only have four covered sessions left. I’m sure once I get my surgeon involve we can boost that number, but insurance may well be a battle going forward.


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