Friday, July 21, 2017

Friday Video: Linkin Park

In the spring of 2001, I was a full-time graduate student with three part-time jobs, a long distance relationship, and no solid prospects for what I was going to do after graduation. I also disliked my boss at my primary job. I don't remember why, but at some point, she asked me to show her my schedule over a several day period. Maybe she thought I wasn't doing enough at the job or she was actually concerned about my well being (though I doubt the latter), but I remember she criticized me about my time management, particularly for working 8 hours at a different job over the weekend. Maybe she didn't think I needed a second or third job or that I didn't need to spend an entire night writing a paper?

Anyway, what helped me get through this time was the song called One Step Closer by Linkin Park. It was exactly how I was feeling at the time, especially in my relationship with my boss. It felt good to sing (or scream) along with the song when I heard it on the radio.



Linkin Park's Chester Bennington passed away Thursday in an apparent suicide. The band's music will live on, but this is another sad example of someone gone too soon.

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, contact the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at afsp.org or 1-800-273-8255 (TALK.)

I also feel like sharing Linkin Park's Faint since this is a great song too.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Interview With Chris Wright: Minnesota Timberwolves & Lynx President

Welcome to part two of my interview with Chris Wright, the former General Manager of the Pittsburgh Spirit and current President of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx. Please click here to read part one about how Chris went from England to Pittsburgh and everything you didn't know you needed to know about the Spirit. In part two, Chris discusses the end of the Spirit, how he went to Minnesota, his role with the Timberwolves and Lynx, and memories of Pittsburgh.


Sean: When did you know that there wasn’t going to be a next season for the Spirit? Is there a certain time that you knew?

Chris: At the end of the [1985-1986] season, we got called up to a meeting in Youngstown, Ohio, met with Mr. DeBartolo, and Mr. DeBartolo at that point said, guys, I’m sorry, but I think we’re done with the MISL. At that point, although our attendance was terrific, it was still at a difficult time when the NASL teams had come into the MISL, so they’d closed down their sort of indoor league, and now the NASL teams were coming in, payrolls were not necessarily out of control, but the investment that you were making in players, if you're looking at it from a business standpoint, it didn’t make an awful lot of sense because the owners were writing checks at the end of every year, and you know, in hindsight, if the one thing that the league had ever done was sort of impose some type of a salary cap, you know, on the league, it might have been really helpful for the indoor game particularly to have continued to grow because if you went to a Cleveland Force game, if you went to a San Diego game, you went to the Strikers game here when I came here, and saw the number of people who were really appreciative of the sport, loved the sport, loved the quickness of the sport, loved the prolific goal scoring in the sport, you know, it had an amazing following for a young league. But unfortunately the players’ salaries outweighed the revenues that you were able to bring in.



Sean: I remember in the mid-80s, the Spirit definitely drew more than the Penguins.

Chris: There was one year I can remember we drew on average just underneath 11,000 a game.

Sean: Before that meeting, did you have much interaction with Mr. DeBartolo and his family?

Chris: Oh, yeah. My boss on a day-to-day basis was Paul Martha, and Paul Martha was in charge of the Civic Arena, the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Pittsburgh Spirit, so I mean, his office was right around the corner from mine, so I would see Paul every day, whether it would be senior or junior, all people from different areas of Mr. DeBartolo’s sort of business operation, they were in our building all the time. Mr. DeBartolo would come down for games. Junior would come down for games, which was terrific, then every now and again, whether it would be player transactions, whether it be budgets, whether it be attendance, you would be invited up to Youngstown to explain some of the things that either you were doing or were happening inside the franchise. So yeah, I got to know that drive pretty well.

Sean: That’s funny. So the team ended, and then I guess you went to Minnesota from there?

Chris: I was asked by Mr. DeBartolo, the way that he looked at it, he said Chris, he said, you were the first one in when we hired you and we decided to bring the team back, I want you to be the last one out. Your job for me is to close down the franchise, all of our obligations, etc., and obviously get the players, as many of them as you possibly can, a home somewhere else in the league. So that’s what I did for probably about almost three months. And while I was doing that, and I asked permission to do this, I said, look, obviously I want to be able to sort of continue in the league if I possibly can, if I close it down by a particular date for you, are you OK with me going out and interviewing for different jobs around the league that might be available. And he said absolutely, and there were three jobs that were open, I interviewed for all three of them. I was in conversations to accept all three of them and decided that Minnesota was the place to come for a lot of different reasons. I knew Alan Merrick very well here, the coach here. I liked the fact that Joe Robbie was an NFL owner and had sort of “deeper pockets," and I just loved Minnesota. Every single time that I came here, I always had a great time here. It’s cold during the winter, but it’s an incredible place to live and a very good place to raise a family. So a very good friend of mine, John Best, who was running the Tacoma Stars at the time, was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t go out to Tacoma. A very very good friend of mine, Kenny Cooper, was disappointed that I didn’t go to the Baltimore Blast and that I chose to come to Minnesota. And it was sort of in hindsight it was meant to be. Even though we closed the franchise down here two years later, it was when the World Cup was being bid for 1994, and Minnesota back at the time was looking to bid to be one of the cities where games would be hosted. So I was invited to be part of that group of people that were going to bid for games to be played in the World Cup in Minnesota, which led to development of something called the National Sports Center here. So I was one of two people who went to the state legislature, got $17.4 million, built the National Sports Center here. We weren’t fortunate enough to get games here in the World Cup, but then the Timberwolves expanded to this market in ’89, 90, and I came to work for them during the 1990-1991 season.


Sean: You just answered my question. That’s what I was wondering, how you went from MISL in soccer to the Timberwolves and later the Lynx.

Chris: Yeah, so a lot of people, a lot of people from the MISL found their way into the NBA. Because the MISL was very creative from ticket selling standpoint, unique promotions, to this day, one thing that people don’t realize, the creative group that we had in Pittsburgh was unbelievable. We actually were the first team in the history of sports, back in 1986 I think it would be, maybe ’85, we developed what was the equivalent of a family four-pack that was four tickets, four hot dogs, Cokes, Pepsis, and a tub of popcorn for a particular price. That still exists in sports today, and we were the very, very first team to do that in sports in Pittsburgh. So, you know, you’ve got everything from those, think about introductions back in the day, think about Hot Legs, think about neon sort of rolling up and down in smoke and ice, and think about the Baltimore Blast with basically a space ship coming from, you know, the rafters to introduce their players, and now think about sort of NBA-style introductions today. Well, an awful lot of that actually started back in the MISL, and the creativeness of the people who were involved. Because everybody saw it as outside of the big four, they saw it as this upstart league, nobody could figure out why 10,000 people on a night were going to go and watch these games be played. So, you know, fast forward now to Minnesota in 1990-1991, there were already three or four people working for the Minnesota Timberwolves who came from the MISL. One of them was a guy called Tim Leiweke, and Leiweke ran the Kansas City Comets, and he said, Chris, we’re moving into Target Center, we played our first year in the Metrodome, they built a building here, we need more talent, come on down and come work for us. So there we were in 1991, and I’ve been here ever since.

Sean: My brother-in-law is from the Minneapolis area, and he mentioned that the Target Center is doing some renovations. How that will benefit the team and the fan experience?

Chris: We’re putting $150 million into Target Center. The building was built in ’89-90. We moved in here in the 1990-91 season. Basically the building has pretty much stayed the same for all of those years. The bones of the building are very, very good. It’s in a great location right in the center of downtown Minneapolis. And so rather than tear it down and build new, we worked out a relationship with the city of Minneapolis. And the city of Minneapolis is now the owner of the building. We don’t own the building. AEG manages the building. We’re the major tenants in the building. And so some money from AEG, some money from the team, some money from the city, $150 million all told, basically we’re renovating this incredible building in downtown. So it’s everything from clubs to skyways to concourses to concessions to seats to scoreboard to the outside cladding on the building. It’s going to look really, really beautiful when it’s finished.


Sean: Another question about your day job. So I will admit that I follow the NBA the least just because growing up in Pittsburgh, we had the Penguins, Steelers, Pirates, but I’ve certainly followed enough of the off-season to know that you acquired Jimmy Butler and a couple of signings just happened. Have you noticed an increase in ticket sales or merchandise sales or even sponsorships?

Chris: Yeah, I mean, just so you know, we’re involved in a number of different things. So, you know, you talk about a day job. It’s fascinating because we own the Timberwolves, we own the Minnesota Lynx, we won three championships in six years in the WNBA. We just bought a G-league team in Des Moines, Iowa, and we’re a major investor in Minnesota United, the MLS expansion franchise that we got here last year, and we’re actually building a stadium for the MLS team to play in in two years’ time, in 2019. So a lot of my responsibilities are across multiple platforms. Actually, yes, Jimmy Butler is here, and [Jeff] Teague and [Taj] Gibson and we’re not done yet in rebuilding our roster around sort of some really good young talent, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and we will be very, very good on that side next year, and we’ll be able to capitalize on that. We’ve sold over, I think we’re just shy of 15,000 new full-season ticket memberships right now for our next season. We have the highest base in the WNBA season ticket members. We lead corporate sales on the WNBA side. The G-league team that we now own is the second most profitable team in the G League. And we are getting more and more and more and more involved in the MLS and basically sort of helping run that franchise. So there’s a number of us on the senior executive group that we have here. We have different roles and responsibilities to all of our franchises, but the idea is that we make every single one of those franchises as healthy as we possibly can for Glen Taylor, who is our primary owner.


Sean: Do you have any other memories of Pittsburgh or the Spirit? Do you get back to Pittsburgh at all?

Chris: Yeah, you know what, there was a big retirement party for Paul Martha, and it was just before the Igloo was imploded, so I got back there for that. I haven’t been back since. I have a lot of great friends there. The best man in my wedding, Dan Frasier, who lived out in a community just south of the city, unfortunately passed away about a year ago. A great, great friend. So I used to do an awful lot of different things with him outside of the soccer world there. We lived in Shaler for a while, we lived in Upper St. Clair for a while, still got many friends that we go backwards and forwards with, you know, in the Pittsburgh community. I absolutely love Pittsburgh. I love the sense of a diverse community. I love Shady Side. I love Polish Hill. I love the German Quarter.

Sean's Note: Is the Deutschtown area of Pittsburgh also referred to as the German Quarter?

I love the Gandy Dancer over on the other side of the river. Pittsburgh was this incredible melting pot of cultures, and that’s why I really believe that soccer, football, the real football, sort of worked there, because there was an appreciation from a heritage standpoint of the world’s great game, and although everybody said, no, this is a Steeler town, it’s a University of Pittsburgh football town, I always saw it as more than that. It was always more than that to me just because of the depth of sort of heritage in the majority of people there. And a lot of them sort of coming from Europe. So I loved my time there, miss my time there, miss a lot of my friends there, but I remember those days as being great days for me and my family.

Sean: Last question for you. If the Vikings play the Steelers, do you root for the Vikings or is it a toss up?

Chris: You know, I don’t. I root for every Pittsburgh team. So I root for the Penguins, the Pirates, which has been tough, and the Steelers. So I am a huge, I love Roethlisberger, and I love those guys, I love watching them, and I actually, when I’m looking at schedules during the NFL season, the very first thing I look for is what time is the Pittsburgh Steelers game.


Thanks again to Chris for taking the time to speak with me and answer my questions. The Spirit had a huge impact on me and many others in Western Pennsylvania, and Chris played a huge part in this. You can follow Chris on Twitter.

Thanks to Patrick McCarthy, probably the most active Pittsburgh Spirit fan on the internet, as well. This interview wouldn't have happened without his connection to Chris. Please follow him on Twitter @pwmst1. In addition, I'm still amazed that my friend Ellen agreed to transcribe this interview. There are a lot of tough names to try to type! Thank you!

Finally, please feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter where I'll also include some outtakes of this interview.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Interview With Chris Wright: Pittsburgh Spirit GM

Chris Wright is the President of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx and previously served as the General Manager of the Pittsburgh Spirit of the Major Indoor Soccer League. As someone who was a big Spirit fan back in the 1980s (I even attended a Spirit soccer camp), I recently learned that Chris held the GM position and reached out to him to find out more about the inner-workings and history of the team. Chris was gracious enough to take 30 minutes to talk to me last week about his time with the Spirit, his current job, and much more. I broke this interview into two posts. Today focuses on how Chris went from England to Pittsburgh and his work with the Spirit. The second portion includes his transition to Minnesota, everything he's doing with the Timberwolves and Lynx, and his thoughts about the city of Pittsburgh. Please note that there are a lot of names in this post, and there's an excellent chance that some are spelled incorrectly. If you have any corrections, please feel free to contact me. And now, here's my interview with Chris.


Sean: How do you go from growing up in England to Pittsburgh and being the GM of the Spirit?

Chris: Yeah, I mean, it’s an incredible journey when you think about it. A young kid from in Filey, North Yorkshire, England, fishing town, 2,000 people, you know, goes on this sort of journey all the way through to ultimately ending up in Pittsburgh, then Minnesota, Minnesota in soccer, national sports center here and then into the NBA and the WNBA. So it’s been quite a journey, and I’m on the sort of back end of that journey now, but it’s been truly remarkable. So I played at school, at high school, I was seen by Hull City, invited to be part of their junior program, in the end didn’t make it to the top levels of their professional roster, so went away to college and played at Carnegie College of Physical Education. The single biggest thing that we did there is we won the English colleges cup by beating Cardiff 1-0 where I saved a penalty.

Sean's Note: Take that, Cardiff!

From there I decided that really what I wanted to do was be part of the game, so I did my English full badge, which is their top coaching award, I did that in Cardiff in Wales. Back then the national team manager of the Welsh soccer team, Mike Smith, he basically led that particular course, and he passed me to be able to coach at the highest levels in England. So I did a lot of work for the English FA, the Welsh FA, etc., coached at a really good level in England. I coached a team called Hitchin Town in the Isthmian League and from there managed to get a job in Allegheny County through the county commissioners there, Tom Foerster, Robert Pierce, Jim Flaherty, they hired me to come in as the soccer coordinator of Allegheny County, and from there Jim Mihalke bought the Spirit and they sort of folded for a year, and [Edward] DeBartolo [Sr.] brought them out of moth balls and offered me the General Manager’s job. So that’s how I sort of ended up in that seat.

I obviously hired John Kowalski as the Head Coach, and between John and myself, we put that new version of the Pittsburgh Spirit that played in the Igloo together with basically a Polish line, a sort of an Anglo-Scottish line, remember Graham Fyfe, David Hoggan, Paul Child, those guys, and sort of a mix of American players, the Joey Papaleos of the world, the Dave MacKenzies of the world, Canadian by birth, but Johnny O’Hara, etc. One or two additions like Drago [Dumbovic] that we found, Marcio Leite that we found, they became sort of that first iteration of a team that we put together.


Sean: Going back a little bit there, how did this all come to pass? Did they come to England to recruit people, or were you interested in moving to America?

Chris: No, between the ages of 21 and 28, I came to the United States every summer to coach in different soccer camps all over the country. Back in the day, North American soccer camps were absolutely huge. They were owned by a guy called Gary Russell. I actually met him over in England when he brought an American soccer team to England and I was asked to basically chaperone and coach the team while it was over in England. So he brought me over to the United States when I was 21, and I basically at that point started coming over every single summer. So I got to know a lot of people around the country but particularly in Pittsburgh, some of which happened to be led by Jim Flaherty [one of] the County Commissioners of Allegheny County. So when they wanted to expand their soccer program, they reached out to me to see if I was interested in the job, and after a series of interviews, they offered me the job, I packed my bags and came to the United States.

Sean: That’s really interesting. As a kid, I loved watching the Spirit, I never knew the history.

Chris: When I got here, in terms of registered players with the United States Soccer Federation, there was, believe it or not now, so I was 21 then, 68 now, so this was 47 years ago. 47 years ago there was 2,000 kids registered with the United States Soccer Federation. When I actually moved into the role with the Pittsburgh Spirit, there was 26,000 kids playing. So that was how the program grew. And through that and really getting to know the Pittsburgh area and a lot of the coaches in that area, there were already people doing great work, Denny Kohlmyer, John Wilshire, Bruno Schwarz, Jim Perry, Joe DePalma, all of those guys were doing incredible work in soccer. I just became for Allegheny County the catalyst and the growth of club soccer in each of the communities.



Sean: What was it like working with Stan Terlecki? It seemed like he had quite a personality.

Chris: Stan was an incredible talent, and back in the day, he actually came to us from Bruges in Belgium. There were basically two teams that were chasing him, we were and the New York Arrows. And Don Popovic was the head coach of the New York Arrows back in the day. John Kowalski had seen Stan play back in the day a number of times for the national team at the club level and really, really felt that Stan could be an incredible force inside of our league. Back in the day, the Arrows had Branko Segota, they had Steve Zungul, and we just felt, and I can remember conversations saying, if they got Stan Terlecki, then they would become just this basically unbeatable team because of the fire power that they would have had. And so we worked really really hard to recruit Stan. We actually went over to Europe a couple of times, once to Belgium, once to Poland, to really recruit him very very hard, and in the end, an agent for IMG called George Kalafatis), who we worked with on a lot of different player contracts. We convinced them to come to Pittsburgh. Stan was incredible, had a great family, incredible work ethic, very passionate about the game, prolific both right footed left footed, could go past players like nobody that I had seen, and it was unbelievable for the indoor game, particularly Pittsburgh. Because we had a big Polish community in Pittsburgh, Polish hill, etc. people like him and Greg Ostalczyk, Piotr Mowlik, Adam Topolski, Zee Kapka, Jan Sybis, all resonated really really well with the market. Stan obviously was the most notorious of all of them and well-known, but that group of players were, one, they were incredible human beings, very very incredible work ethic all of them, and always gave you 110, 120% in everything that they did. So we were really proud of the Polish connection, particularly John. This was nothing of the doing of Chris Wright, I just supported John in all of his efforts and made sure the contracts and everything else. I supported John in all of this, and he was the one who really recruited very very hard that Polish group.


Sean: You mentioned Steve Zungul, and Patrick asked me to ask you if the Spirit were close to acquiring him in the last season.

Chris: It was a little bit of a pipe dream because he was very close with Don Popovic, and obviously the last season was under the guidance of Don. We had struggled, I think it was season number five under John, if I remember correctly, you know, we had struggled, we decided to part ways with John Kowalski, and that was one of the, really that was one of the hardest decisions that I had to make because John was, John’s an incredible person, incredible coach, incredible human being, had worked so hard on behalf of the Pittsburgh Spirit and its fans and its players. And that’s one of the hardest decisions that a general manager ever has to make. So it was difficult to do that, and having made the determination that John would go, then obviously to have someone the caliber of Don Popovic as the potential head coach, I thought at the time was truly going to be a game changer for the team. He knew a tremendous number of players. He was able to attract a lot of great players, Helmut Dudek, Freddy Grgurev, and as much as he and we particularly wanted Steve to come, we knew that it was going to be problematic. So although we talked about it, it was never going to be realistic that Steve was going to wear a Pittsburgh Spirit jersey.



Part two of the interview is available here.

A special thank you to Patrick McCarthy, probably the most active Pittsburgh Spirit fan on the internet. This interview wouldn't have happened without his connection to Chris, and he gave me some suggestions of questions to ask. Most of the pictures and videos in this post are courtesy of Patrick. Please follow him on Twitter @pwmst1. In addition, I'm still amazed that my friend Ellen agreed to transcribe this interview. There are a lot of tough names to try to type! Thank you!

Please feel free to follow me on Facebook and Twitter where I'll include some outtakes of this interview.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Trivia Tuesday: Golden Age of Television

Listed below are 10 questions related to television over the past 20 years or so.

1. Andre Braugher! He portrayed Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street, Marcus Chaplin on Last Resort, as well as what character on Brooklyn Nine-Nine? (Please give his character's real name, not any aliases he has used.)

2. Come visit beautiful Hawkins, IN, a perfect place to raise your kids…so long as they're not pulled into the Upside-Down. Please name the show in which Hawkins features.

3. He played Nate Fisher on Six Feet Under, Adam Braverman on Parenthood, and Casey McCall on Sports Night. Please name the actor.

4. "Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have." Gravity Falls featured many actors better known for other roles, including Nick Offerman as Agent Powers. What was the full name of the role Offerman played for seven seasons on Parks and Recreation?

5. Based on the still from its credits, please name the show.


6. Andre Royo portrayed Reginald Cousins, drug addict and informant on The Wire. What was Mr. Cousins' much-better-known nickname?

7. In the guise of Mags Bennett, no one can resist her apple pie, and as Claudia on The Americans she plays a tough handler of spies. Please name this actress.

8. "Danger zone!" Please name the man who voices Sterling Archer, Bob Belcher, and Mitch/Can of Vegetables.

9. Please name the star of Transparent, playing Mort/Maura, who was also a star of Arrested Development, playing both George and Oscar Bluth.

10. Lady Mary marries twice (and has one child), Lady Edith marries once (and has a child out of wedlock), and Lady Sibyl marries once (and dies of pre-eclampsia - though her child survives). Please name the show that followed the ups and downs of the Crawley family.

Please leave your answers in the comments section below and don't use the internet for assistance. Good luck!

This quiz is courtesy of the LearnedLeague Golden Age of Television Mini League.

Monday, July 17, 2017

U2 Concert Review

While I don't necessarily have a bucket list of bands/performers I want to see live in concert, if I did, U2 would be on this list. U2 is currently on a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the release of The Joshua Tree, so despite the fact that I vowed never go to FedEx Field again, I traveled there to see U2 in June. (For the record, I said I would never see a Redskins game at FedEx again. It's extremely inconvenient to get there, parking and refreshments are extraordinarily high, and it's owned by Dan Snyder. Also for the record, for the U2 concert, it was still extremely inconvenient to get there, but I parked in a non-FedEx Field lot and didn't buy any food or drink at the stadium.)


* There were two songs that I wanted to see U2 perform live more than any others: Sunday Bloody Sunday and New Year's Day. U2 opened with these two songs, so I decided that it was time to leave on a high note.



* I'm sure that you're shocked that I didn't actually leave after two songs. U2 performed four songs on the "small" stage and then transitioned to a gigantic stage to play The Joshua Tree album in its entirety.



* Hot take: Side A of The Joshua Tree album (cassette!) with Where the Streets Have No Name, I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For, With or Without You, and Bullet the Blue Sky is great. Side B is meh. From top to bottom, the All That You Can't Leave Behind album with Beautiful Day, Elevation, Walk On, and Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of is better than The Joshua Tree. Hot take complete.

* I saw The Rolling Stones in San Diego in 1998 and remember thinking that they were old (yet were still amazing live). At the time of that show, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were 54, Ronnie Wood was 50, and Charlie Watts was 56. Meanwhile, U2 is actually older now than The Stones were then as Bono and Adam Clayton are 57 and The Edge and Larry Mullen Jr. are 55.

* Does The Edge ever not wear a hat? Does he sleep in one and shower with a hat too?

* So despite leaving more than two hours before the start of the concert, we didn't make it to our seats until part-way through The Lumineers set. Therefore, I never saw The Lumineers perform Ho Hey, also known as the only song that I know by them. I did hear Ho Hey twice on the radio the day after the concert, so I'll call it even.

* I'm not taking credit for this observation, but Adam Clayton has an Anthony Bourdain look to him.


* U2 has such a deep catalog. I was (and am) happy that they played Elevation, Beautiful Day, One, Vertigo, and Pride (In the Name of Love) but it would have been cool if they also played Mysterious Ways and Desire. Again, really, really deep catalog.

* Overall, I really enjoyed the show. Yes, Bono talks a lot between songs about a wide variety of topics, but you know that coming in.

* Here's The Washington Post's review of the show. A lot of people didn't like it along with a few songs. The Baltimore Sun reviewed the show too.

* Oh, I was able to take this picture at FedEx Field for free. Thanks, Dan Snyder!


Finally, here are some videos from the show:

Sunday Bloody Sunday


(Another view of Sunday Bloody Sunday)


New Year's Day


Where the Streets Have No Name

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Welcome To The Serene Tundra

In the late 1980s, Guns N' Roses emerged on to the music scene with Welcome to the Jungle. With lyrics like, "I want to watch you bleed," "Feel my, my, my serpentine" and "You know where you are? You're down in the jungle baby, you're gonna dieeeeee," they were an intimidating and even scary band.

Thirty years later, you can now purchase your GNR T-shirt at the very terrifying, threatening, and menacing store called, um, Kohl's.


Does this qualify as a "Sean on Fashion" post?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Found In My Basement: Clinton Defeats Bush

I'm attempting to do a major clean-up/organization of boxes I haven't opened in years, which means that I'm bringing back the popular(?) Found In My Basement series. Enjoy my first entry in this series in nearly two years!

In 1992, the city of Pittsburgh did not have a major newspaper. Prior to this, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published a morning paper while the Pittsburgh Press came out in the afternoon. The idea of an afternoon paper today seems ludicrous. Anyway, there was a strike by the newspaper delivery truck drivers (I remember that there was a strike; I didn't remember that it was by the truck drivers) that left Pittsburgh without a major newspaper for months. So if you wanted news, you had to watch the local news or the national nightly half-hour newscast on CBS, ABC, or NBC. Perhaps you could check out CNN or get a USA Today though the best bet may have been to pick up a suburban newspaper. You couldn't get news from the internet in 1992, and there weren't 10 stations with 24-hour news coverage.

While I briefly mentioned that there was little to no newspaper coverage of the shooting at my high school, there also wasn't a major Pittsburgh newspaper that covered the 1992 election. Yet, since my dad picked up newspapers of major events (something that I still try to do today), here is the November 4, 1992 edition of McKeesport's The Daily News showing the 1992 election results.


Please click here for archives of Found In My Basement posts.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Link Time

I haven't shared links in way too long, but it's a summer Friday, and I'm sure you're looking for something good to read. Actually, if you're here, you probably aren't looking for something good to read. Anyway, check out these excellent pieces:

* Josh reached a major milestone. His daughter is now 6 months old! [Josh's World]

* A really good piece about the reaction people had to the author's daughter cutting her hair short. I really don't understand people sometime. [Red Pen Mama]

* Val and his family took a Midwestern road trip. They went down the biggest slide I've ever seen! [Small Town Dad]

* I don't know much about lacrosse, but I'm guessing that a goalie scoring a goal from the other side of the field while the opposing goalie holds a water bottle doesn't happen very often.
[Deadspin]



* This is Nichole's life lately. She wrote about so much stuff, and sadly, my biggest takeaway is that she was able to spend less than $5 at Target. I don't know how that's possible. [The Mrs. Fisher]

* J.J. Hensley was asked to read in front of a crowd to promote his new book. I wonder if he considered reading something completely different, like Harry Potter or something by John Grisham to help sell a few copies. [Steel City Intrigue]

* An oral history on the 25th anniversary of A League of Their Own? Yes please. [ESPN]

* Emma G, who has performed at my Metro station, is going to be a star someday. She's got an amazing voice plays and writes her own music, which seems more and more rare these days. Check out this feature of her by Fox 5 DC. [Emma G Music on Facebook]

Enjoy your Friday and weekend!

Monday, July 03, 2017

Boyz II Men's Shawn Stockman Wearing a Pens Jersey

In the early 90s, it was impossible to avoid Boyz II Men. They performed ballads such as "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday," "End of the Road," and "I'll Make Love To You" that was played at every wedding, graduation ceremony, and prom. (Well, high schools probably didn't play "I'll Make Love To You.") I'm still partial to their seemingly only "fast" song, "Motownphilly." Anyway, Boyz II Men is currently touring with New Kids on the Block and Paula Abdul and recently performed in Pittsburgh...with Shawn Stockman wearing a Penguins jersey.



Unlike Drake wearing a Pens jersey, I'm guessing that this jersey was not a gift from Mario Lemieux and his family.


h/t to Sean Gentille for this post.

Click here to see more posts with celebrities wearing Pittsburgh gear.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lucky Charms Milkshake

About 12 years ago, my weight was at an all-time high, and I also had high cholesterol, likely due to regularly eating bagels and cream cheese and snacking on Little Debbie Swiss Cake rolls everyday. I replaced the Swiss Cake rolls in my lunch with a yogurt, lost some weight (changing jobs where I now had to walk to and from the Metro helped), and my cholesterol levels plummeted. With all of that written, I still have a soft spot for chocolate chip cookies and milkshakes.

So why am I bringing this up today? Look at what Burger King is selling:


I eat a bowl of cereal almost every morning, and while Honey Nut Cheerios is usually on the menu, I'll purchase Lucky Charms from time to time. Since I enjoy milkshakes and Lucky Charms, I really want to go to Burger King and try this. Who's with me? Let's go!

(There are some R-rated words in this video.)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Emergency Room Trip

I've been involved with Celebrate Fairfax for 16 years, and some of my enjoyment now is seeing the my kids' excitement at the festival. So this year, I took my kids figuring that we would eat some food, see a few performances, and maybe even ride a couple of carnival rides. When we arrived at the festival, I wanted to make sure to say hi to a few people and to show off the kids before we partaked in the food and merriment. These are people who I've worked with for years but only see at the festival, and of course they want to see how much the kids have grown.

After being on site for approximately 10 minutes, we wandered over to the VIP area to say hi to someone I didn't see during festival set-up. The VIP area had trays of food, presumably for sponsors and other important people. Basically, the food wasn't for me. Anyway, as I was talking with my friend, my three year old (Pedro Tulo) apparently became curious by a Sterno container and its flame. I don't know if he touched the Sterno itself or the pan, but my friend told him to be careful that it was hot. Neither of us actually saw if he touched something. Pedro Tulo wasn't happy after this, so I picked him up, said goodbye, and walked away as he started to cry. Not a massive cry/meltdown like when I take off his shoes when he wants to take off his shoes himself (the remedy for this is to put the shoes back on his feet so he can then take them off himself), but he seemed to be in some discomfort.


(An innocent looking Sterno kit.)

With his hands wrapped around my neck, I wasn't sure at this point if he did touch something, but I figured we should find First Aid just to be safe. He stopped crying pretty quickly though he still wanted to be held as we walked to the First Aid station. It was at the station that I saw his hand for the first time. Three fingers on the back of his right hand were white. I learned later that they blistered over quickly. The folks at the First Aid tent really couldn't do much for us on site and arranged for us to take an ambulance ride to an Emergency Room. This was about the time when I started to panic (on the inside; I needed to stay calm so my kids would stay calm). I had no experiences with burns, but going to the hospital never crossed my mind. The ambulance was located probably 250 yards away, and the First Aid crew offered to wheel us over. Pedro Tulo decided that he wanted to walk. My six year old (The Moose) was next to him the entire time being an excellent big brother.

When we arrived at the ambulance, I lifted Pedro Tulo up the stairs, but then he took it from there. He went right into the bed which surprised the medic* as he said he had never seen a kid so young go into the bed so willingly and easily. Although there are hospitals much closer to festival site, we were transported to Children's National Medical Center, the place to go in the DC area for pediatric burns. The medics were outstanding. They were patient and caring and really put my kids at ease. The medic in the back of the ambulance gave The Moose an iPad to watch a video and Pedro Tulo his phone to watch a video, and both kids enjoyed the ride.

At the hospital, Pedro Tulo held the hand of one of the medics walking into the ER registration and then part-way through the walk, decided he wanted to hold the hand of the other medic. Throughout the ambulance ride and at the hospital itself, Pedro Tulo acted like his normal self. I had to stop him from touching every piece of equipment in the room and try to stop him from going into other rooms. It turns out that he had second degree burns on the back of his hand. They gave Pedro Tulo some sort of pain inhalant and rubbed off the already dead skin. Lovely, right? They bandaged the area and sent us home with instructions not to get the bandage/wound wet.

Pedro Tulo and I had three subsequent visits to the Children's National Medical Center's burn clinic where they saw how the skin was healing and re-wrapped the wound. They are wizards at wrapping.


At the last appointment, they said he has no restrictions, and hand should heal in as soon as a few weeks or several months. We put lotion/massage his hand 2-3 times a day, and the key is to protect the hand from the sun, so we have a special zinc oxide suntan lotion.

This is a picture of Pedro Tulo's hand six days after he burned it. While this may look bad, this was actually the new skin growing back. It looks much better now, just 10 days after this picture.


A few notes:

- When we got to the First Aid tent, I repeatedly referred to the Sterno as steno. Obviously, no one knew what I was talking about, unless someone thought that there was a stenographer who was on fire running around the site.

- While in the ambulance, I gave both of my kids fruit snacks since I figured they were or would be hungry. In hindsight, that was not very smart. If Pedro Tulo needed to have any type of surgery, he couldn't have had any food.

- Giving Pedro Tulo a bath over the last few weeks was loads of fun. We put a sock on his hand, then covered his hand/arm with two plastic grocery bags, and tied it on with one of my wife's hair bands all while pleading to him not to get anything wet.

- There are no quick ways to get to Children's National Medical Center. None.

- I have a feeling (and another friend said this too) that this won't be Pedro Tulo's last trip to the emergency room. He is mischievous and will find some other way to get into trouble or hurt himself.

I think the kids will have a better time at Celebrate Fairfax next year!


* I'm using the term medic though I'm not sure of the actual title.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Video: Take It All Back

In the last two weeks, I saw U2 and Bush in concert (not at the same time), and I took my first ride in an ambulance to go to an emergency room. (Everything is okay.) Basically, I have a lot to write about, so stay tuned for a fun next few weeks.

Today's video is Take It All Back by Judah & the Lion. This is a really catchy song that seems to be getting more and more airplay. The banjos truly make the song. In a complete upset, without ever seeing a picture of the band, I figured that they would all have beards. Not necessarily ZZ Top beards, but regular beards. I am surprisingly wrong. Only one of the band members has a beard. Enjoy!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bring Back Press Your Luck

Have you looked at the network television schedule this summer? If so, you may have noticed the return of the Match Game, Gong Show, Battle of the Network Stars, $100,000 Pyramid, Family Feud, and To Tell the Truth among other game shows from the past 40 years or so. One show that is conspicuously absent though is probably my favorite game show of all time, Press Your Luck.


If you somehow have never watched this cinematic classic, I'll let Wikipedia describe the show:

Press Your Luck is an American television daytime game show created by Bill Carruthers and Jan McCormack. It premiered on CBS on September 19, 1983 and ended on September 26, 1986. In the show, contestants collected spins by answering trivia questions and then used the spins on an 18-space game board to win cash and prizes. The person who amassed the highest total in cash and prizes kept his/her winnings and became the champion. Peter Tomarken was the show's host, and Rod Roddy was the primary announcer.

The show was known for the "Whammy", a red cartoon creature with a high-pitched voice. Landing on any of the Whammy's spaces on the game board reset the contestant's score to zero, accompanied by an animation that showed the Whammy taking the loot, but frequently being chased away, blown up, or otherwise humiliated in the process.


And here is said Whammy and part of the show:



So here's my idea. Bring back Press Your Luck with a bit of a twist. Celebrity animators for the Whammy! It would be fun to see what a Stan Lee Whammy would say or do. A Whammy along with Cartman by Trey Parker and Matt Stone? Absolutely! I'd love to see what animators of The Simpsons, Bob's Burgers, Archer, Family Guy, etc. do with the Whammy.

Get right on this, CBS! Big bucks no Whammy, stop!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Congrats Pittsburgh Penguins

I'm posting this on Thursday morning more than 72 hours after the Pittsburgh Penguins won the franchise's fifth Stanley Cup including back-to-back titles and about 24 hours after the victory parade. I'm happy for the team and organization (feel free to say organization like they do in Canada - organ-I-zation), the city of Pittsburgh, and my fellow Penguins fans. What's odd is that while I'm happy, I'm not exuberant. I don't think I'm being complacent; it's just that I'm getting older and maybe sports aren't as important to me as they used to be which is an extremely odd thing for me to write. Old me would have written this blog post Sunday night or Monday morning.

When the Pens won their first two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992, I believe that I watched the games in Pittsburgh at my home with my dad and brother. When the Pens defeated the Red Wings, I watched game seven over at a friend's house. Last year, I watched the clinching game at home by myself. This year, not only did I watch the game at home by myself, I actually fell asleep and missed half of the second period and most of the third period. While my six year old loves sports and asks every morning who won games from the previous night, I wasn't going to let him stay up to watch a game on a school night. So I basically watched the game at home with my computer at my side following Twitter.

This seems a little sad though that's where my life is. Spending hours at a bar (and probably $25+ on food and drinks) to watch the Penguins game doesn't appeal to me and really isn't practical. Honestly, the reason I probably wasn't as excited about the Pens' win is because there was a family situation this weekend (everything is okay and may be a future blog post), and my mind was preoccupied with that and an appointment on Monday morning.

This post seems a bit depressing. Sorry. I'm happy that the Penguins won. I really am. I'm happy that Crosby and Malkin were able to "secure their legacies" and that Marc-Andre Fleury got another Cup. That Matt Cullen at age 40 won again and long-time NHL vets like Ron Hainsey and Mark Streit won their first titles after about a combined 25 years in the league. Chris Kunitz has 4 Cups! Matt Murray has played in only 62 regular season games and has two championships. This Pens team is extremely likable (even for those of you who hate Crosby, you can read this), so good for them and Pens fans.

So congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins! Now here are some pictures to commemorate the championship.









Photos by Getty and Matt Sunday of DKPittsburghSports. I don't know who deserves credit for the Justin Schultz photo.