Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Living In New Hampshire During An Election

You may have heard that there is an election in New Hampshire today. Even if for some reason you don't ever follow the news, I'm sure that you've seen this outstanding video from Saturday's Republican debate which I may have watched a dozen times.

I've always wondered what it's like to live in New Hampshire during the nation's first Presidential primary. Does every candidate personally call you or knock on your door? My friend Ellen, also the author of the terrific Bookspired blog, moved to New Hampshire a few years ago, so I asked her about life in the Granite State.

My perception is that New Hampshire, in terms of population, is rather small. With so many candidates spending so much time in New Hampshire over the past year, I feel like the odds of seeing or meeting a candidate are pretty high. So since you're a parent of young kids, what candidate has kissed or tried to kiss them?

You know, I thought we'd run into a candidate or two in recent weeks or months, but so far we haven't. They're around, of course ... Many of the major events happen at St. Anselm College, which is right in our town. Carly Fiorina did a town hall meeting at our kids' future school this Saturday. I'm glad no candidates have tried to kiss my babies!

(This may be the last picture you'll see of Fiorina as a Presidential candidate.)

Being serious (momentarily), what's it like being in New Hampshire days before an election where the whole country is watching (or at least will watch after the Super Bowl)?

It is kind of exciting that all eyes will be on New Hampshire. We've had a lot of knocks at our door from canvassers. I'd say tomorrow we'll get more. The weirdest one happened yesterday. My attending nurse for my second daughter's birth knocked on my door to ask for my vote for Hillary. Really tugging at heartstrings.

Just going to the grocery store or running errands, can you avoid the election or do people simply go about their business?

People seem to go about their business. I thought I might have an exciting sighting at Market Basket, but nothing yet. So far, no one has approached me while I've been in public. They just come right to my house. The political signs are everywhere, though, similar to the situation in Northern Virginia.

I decided to look up famous people from New Hampshire. I figure (my perception again) that they are all traveling the state with the candidates they support. So who did Mandy Moore, born in Nashua (though she moved to Florida at two months) endorse? What about current Pittsburgh Penguin Ben Lovejoy? Basically, have you had any celebrity sightings either from people endorsing the candidates or even media members?

I didn't even think of the possibility of meeting real celebrities! That would be truly exciting. Mostly I've been thinking up choice words for Donald Trump, if he should cross my path.

What do you expect when you go to the polls on Tuesday? Big crowds? Offers for a free California Tortilla taco if you wear your "I Voted" sticker?

Hmm well they are pretty organized here in my town, and it's not that big, so I expect an efficient voting experience. I would love the bribe of free tacos, but it'd have to be Chipotle ... No California Tortilla in these parts!
(Sean's note: Chipotle offered free burritos Monday, but that had nothing to do with any elections.)

What do you expect New Hampshire to look like on Thursday?

I expect there will be no candidates left in the Granite state ... they'll be heading to Nevada and South Carolina, I guess? Or maybe making their rounds in the other states in preparation for Super Tuesday? It'll be interesting to see how long the signs hang around. Jeb seems to have the most signs in our area ... maybe because of the proximity to the family residence in Kennebunkport. I think NH will be back to business as usual pretty quickly.

Thanks again to Ellen for answering my questions. Tuesday should be fun in New Hampshire. Please make sure to check out Ellen's blog, Bookspired.

Friday, February 05, 2016

A Reason To Root Against Peyton Manning

During last year's football season, we established that Peyton Manning dresses terribly. He is probably the only person to tuck a football jersey into his jeans. Now, Manning is at it again. Hanging out at the gym with J.J. Watt and Papa John, Manning tucks his T-shirt into his gym shorts.

Again, is Manning the only person to tuck in his shirt at the gym? I can't tell what he's doing with his football jersey at the end of the video either. It may not be tucked in, but it doesn't look right.

Anyway, if you're not sure who to support in Sunday's big game, I doubt you'll see any member of the Carolina Panthers tucking their football jerseys into jeans or T-shirt into shorts at the gym.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Randomness & Monday Links

Wegmans celebrated its 100th birthday this weekend by giving away lots of samples, grocery bags and birthday cake. (My 1.5 year old - Pedro Tulo - loved the sheet cake.) While I really enjoy shopping at Wegmans and definitely appreciated the free swag, I feel partially responsible for keeping the grocery store in business. Wegmans opened in Virginia in 2004, so I have shopped at either the Dulles or Fairfax locations for 11-12 years now. I also shopped at Wegmans when I was in college for 4 years in Ithaca. Conservatively, I've probably easily spent $50,000 at Wegmans. You're welcome, Wegmans!

This is a recent discussion between me and my 4 year old (The Moose)

The Moose: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Me: Retired.

The Moose: (Excitedly) A Tiger!

Although The Moose doesn't read yet, he is now a subscriber to Entertainment Weekly. He had some airline miles that were about to expire, so "he" redeemed them for a year subscription. I'm sure he's going to be excited to read articles about The Walking Dead.

A few articles to start your week:

PGH Sports Daily had an exclusive interview with Steelers and Pitt sportscaster Bill Hillgrove

This is a fascinating article by John Scott, the NHL enforcer/All-Star/now minor leaguer who also happens to have an engineering degree. [Players Tribune]

The Steel Trap published its latest, always entertaining First World Problems post.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Craig Adams Retires

Former Pittsburgh Penguin Craig Adams retired on Tuesday after playing 14 seasons in the NHL. I actually thought he retired when the Penguins didn't sign him to a new contract at the end of the 2014-2015 season. Adams is (I believe) the only NHL player born in Brunei and also attended a small Boston-area school called Harvard. Adams frustrated many Penguins fans at the end of his tenure for his lack of offensive, and even defensive, production. He also made the dumb decision to fight his own teammate, superstar Evgeni Malkin, in practice. Someone that went to Harvard should know better. With all of this written, I still have a bit of a soft spot for Adams.

Adams was claimed off waivers in March 2009, but his Stanley Cup experience and excellent work on the penalty kill helped lead the Penguins to their own Stanley Cup three months later. There was also a bit of a running joke that whenever Adams scored, which was infrequent (though he did score three goals during the 2009 Cup run), the Penguins won. However, my favorite Adams moment came off the ice during HBO's 24/7.

Now that I'm a father of a preschooler, I appreciate this video even more. My 4 year-old loves to rattle off names of his classmates or tell us who has what job (line-leader, calendar person, etc.). Maybe The Moose (my son) could have been an HBO star!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter Storm Jonas

If your city is going to be paralyzed by a blizzard, it might as well be an historic one. Winter Storm Jonas arrived in the DC area on Friday afternoon and finally finished its work sometime late Saturday night / early Sunday morning. While you can see the snow totals for the DC area here (my estimate is that we received about 27 inches at my home), I decided to give a thumbs up/thumbs down on the snowstorm.

Thumbs Up: Jonas. Look, I don't understand why every storm needs a name, but Jonas is fine particularly since the Jonas Brothers are probably thrilled by the extra exposure. Meanwhile, I hope that Hanson is plotting somewhere to have their own blizzard.

Thumbs Down: Snowzilla. Is this name really necessary? Why did this name make it in news stories?

Thumbs Up: My son (The Moose) helping shovel.

Thumbs Down: My street. The snow plow got stuck on Sunday morning, and I don't think it's been back since. My side of the street isn't bad but the other half is still a mess.

Thumbs Up: I found a bag of Stacy's Pita Chips. Sure the expiration date was last month, but they still taste good to me.

Thumbs Down: Sweets. I don't seem to have any here. I should have bought a bag of Hershey's kisses before the snow hit.

Thumbs Up: Me. I did an awesome job shoveling. Here are before and after pictures from Saturday morning.

Of course, we received another foot of snow after I finished, so there was much more shoveling. However, after I finished I felt like quoting Lords of the Underground. They don't understand, I'm the motherf'n man. (Some of the words in the video are NSFW.)

Thumbs Down: My car. I don't think it's ever getting out of this parking spot. My car is in the middle.

Thumbs Up: Pittsburgh Sports. Pitt won an exciting basketball game on Saturday afternoon while the Penguins defeated the Vancouver Canucks.

Thumbs Down: This was supposed to be the annual hockey road trip weekend. It didn't happen. Of course, the New York Islanders actually cancelled the game in Brooklyn, so maybe it will happen in February instead.

Thumbs Up: The Washington Post. The Capital Weather Gang provided great information over the past few days.

Thumbs Down: The Washington Post. I'm a Sunday subscriber, and while I didn't expect to receive the Sunday paper, I liked getting the circular on Friday. Unfortunately, instead of including the Comics, Travel and Arts sections, all I got was the weekly ads. Heaven forbid we don't know the sale prices at Kohl's and Target!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

There seems to be a lot of hype about the upcoming Batman v Superman film. Personally, based on the picture below, I don't get it.

Of course, maybe the special effects will be unbelievable. I will give director Zack Snyder and the make-up people a lot of credit though. The Batman pictured doesn't look anything like Ben Affleck.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Perfect Crime

I'm not a thief, but I'm going to play one today on the Internet. Recently, a man dressed in a Walmart uniform to steal from the store. Here's the story:

Authorities are searching for a man who may be stealing from Walmart stores by wearing an employee vest and who, on one recent occasion, used a ruse to get a cashier to walk away from their logged-in register, Fairfax County police said Thursday.

Police said the unidentified man walked up to a cashier at the Fair Lakes Shopping Center store around 4 p.m. on Dec. 15. He told the cashier that he was needed in the office and, after the cashier left without logging out of the register, proceeded to check out a customer before taking an undisclosed amount of cash.

This (and thinking about watching Ocean's Eleven) has inspired me to pull off my own heist. Look out, world. Prepare for the Blockbuster Bandit!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

11th Annual State Of The Ramblings

President Obama may have had his final State of the Union on Tuesday, but the State of the Ramblings continues! 11 years is a long time to write a blog. When I mentioned on Twitter that January 8th marked this anniversary, Kip replied that I was "blogging when 95% of people didn't even know what a Blog was!" Now, I'm writing as people prefer to read everything in 140 characters or less. (Although, if Twitter starts allowing for 10K characters, blogs could be back, baby!)

Long-time readers probably noticed that I don't write nearly as often as I used to. The number of blog posts has decreased annually. Honestly, I just don't have the time to write as I once did. My prime writing time is after the kids go to sleep, but even then, there are things to do around the house, or I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV. Actually, I partially blame TV for my lack of productivity. You just can't concentrate on writing when incredible shows like Fargo, Game of Thrones, or Better Call Saul are on television. I'll blame the Pittsburgh Pirates too. They've been really good the past three seasons, so I find myself trying to follow them as much as possible during the baseball season. (It seems like every Pirates game last summer was a 1-run game!) Of course, I still manage to fall asleep watching television several times a week, so writing while napping isn't possible (at least, not yet!).

With all of that written, I still managed to write 123 posts in 2015. That's a post every three days. Not too shabby if you look at it that way. I had several big ideas for blog posts last year, but many of these fell through for various reasons. One that succeeded was my fascinating interview with Sean Guillory of Sean's Russia Blog. It's very long (part 1 & part 2) but much deeper than what is usually on Sean's Ramblings.

I also wrote a piece where I blasted VH1's decision not to renew Jim Shearer's contract. This turned out to be my most read and most-commented on post in 2015. Oh, check out Jim's latest project Stillers Cabin (a new version of the fantastic Yinz Luv Da Stillers)

I could write more about my kids, but I'm not sure how interesting that is to anyone outside my immediate family. Here are two recent stories:

1. The preschool teacher for my four year old (The Moose) read a story about a child with an imaginary friend. At the end of the story, she asked the class if any of the kids have an imaginary friend. The Moose was the only one to raise his hand. When the teacher asked the name of The Moose's imaginary friend, he gave the name of his brother, my 1.5 year old child (Pedro Tulo). My younger son is quite real and certainly not imaginary.

2. Pedro Tulo had a bad case of diaper rash not too long ago. Our doctor recommended a homemade recipe of mixing equal parts Desitin, Vaseline, and corn starch. It worked, but this is definitely not Kosher for Passover.

So is this stuff worthy of its own blog post? I don't know.

For 2016, I still have a few big ideas. I want to apply for media credentials for the 2017 Academy Awards. (I need more likes on my Facebook page for this to happen.) I also really, really, really need a fashion makeover. My pants, jeans, and some of my shirts are too big, and even the clothes that fit aren't all that stylish. Basically, unlike Taylor Swift, I do go out of style. Anyway, my dream is for a fashion blogger and/or clothing store to help me while I document the experience. Ideally, the store with donate these clothes to me (or reduce the prices significantly) for the exposure. I'm basically a pro-bono case for them!

So thanks to all of you for reading over the past 11 years. Cheers!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting (Steelers-Bengals Recap)

What a strange Saturday night! No one won the Powerball, and we learned that Sean Penn met with El Chapo as the Mexican drug lord was a fugitive. Sean Penn is welcome to further explain his actions right here on Sean's Ramblings. You know since his name is Sean? Oh, there was a playoff football game between the Steelers and Bengals too.

I have so many thoughts about this game, but that could take a while, so let's start with this non-comprehensive list of things to happen in Steelers/Bengals by Patrick Daugherty, a NFL writer for Rotoworld/NBC Sports:

A few items not mentioned above.

- Domata Peko's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was actually amusing, especially if you imagine Michael Keaton or Christian Bale in the "cape" instead of Peko.

- Early in the game, Phil Simms said that Antonio Brown is a "tremendous catcher of the football." Is Brown just an adequate catcher of a baseball and basketball? Maybe he is a lousy catcher of the frisbee. Perhaps he is a catcher in the rye.

- There has been no discussion about the size of Steelers RB Fitzgerald Toussaint's forehead. I really want to find clips from I Married an Axe Murderer here, but we'll settle for the picture.

- I'd love to know what Joey Porter said to Pacman Jones to cause Jones to go nuts. Maybe he said Ms. Pacman is a better game (which is completely accurate) and Pacman disagreed.

- For Bengals fans upset about Porter even being on the field while the Steelers medical staff were treating Brown, let's check out this video from near the end of the third quarter.

Giovani Bernard was just leveled by Ryan Shazier. (I'm not going to debate whether or not there should have been a flag.) The call on the field was a catch, so the Bengals offense and the Steelers defense were on the field as the Bengals' medical staff was attending to Bernard. This was before Mike Tomlin challenged the play. So look who was out in the middle of the field? Bengals defensive player Vontaze Burfict. There were other Bengals folks there too who had just as much reason to be on the field as Porter did in the fourth quarter. Pause the video at the 10 second mark. Who is the person dressed in all black (clearly not an active player) at the top left that puts his hands on Bud Dupree? While Porter is going to get fined by the NFL, he shouldn't be alone in sending money to the league.

- Mike Munchak got a 15 yard penalty & Joey Porter helped draw one. These are both Steelers assistant coaches. So where was the leadership of defensive coordinator Keith Butler and offensive coordinator Todd Haley for not getting involved themselves? Or was this brilliant leadership by having their subordinates get involved?

This isn't from Ted Cruz, but someone should probably let the Cruz campaign know that telling a football team's fans that they do not deserve a team is not going to help to win the Ohio vote.

So now the Steelers will travel to Denver to face the Broncos with a questionable Brown, DeAngelo Williams, and Ben Roethlisberger. However, if you want to read even more about this game, I recommend the following:

DK Pittsburgh Sports
PGH Sports Daily Bulletin
Behind The Steel Curtain
USA Today's Steelers Wire
Steelers Depot

Oh, let's end with Nick Lachey's thoughts on the game. (h/t Rob)

Friday, January 08, 2016

Friday Videos

Today marks the 11th anniversary of Sean's Ramblings. I'll celebrate this milestone and write my annual State of the Ramblings next week, but in the meantime, here are two videos to end the first full week of 2016.

The first video is Cake By the Ocean by a band called DNCE. Apparently, the band is too cool for an A. Anyway, I heard this song for the first time on New Year's Eve Day on the radio. Then, I saw DNCE perform this song on ABC's New Year's Rockin' Eve. It's a really, really, catchy song. Oh, the band is fronted by one of the Jonas brothers, and there are some NSFW words in the song/video. I didn't realize any of the Jonas brothers were allowed to swear. Back to the song, I can't get it out of my head, and that's a good thing.

As a bonus, artist/musician Ali Spagnola performs all 46 Top Ten hits from 2015 into one 4:30 video. Plus, I believe that Ali is originally from Pittsburgh. Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

2015 Sean's Ramblings Visitors

Ryan Seacrest, Carson Daly and Pitbull all counted down to start 2016 on national television, but I know that the new year can't truly begin for all us until we know the top visitors to Sean's Ramblings in 2015. Like past years, this information is courtesy of Google Analytics.

Top 10 Number Of Visitors To Sean's Ramblings By City

1. New York

2. Chantilly, VA

3. Pittsburgh

4. Arlington, VA

5. Washington

6. Deerfield Beach, FL

7. Chicago

8. Los Angeles

9. Houston

10. Towson, MD

This is the third straight year New York finished in the top spot.

For many years, some variation of Pittsburgh, New York, and Washington always finished in the top 3. Washington has slipped the last two years, and my guess is that's because the popular blog, DC Blogs has gone dormant as has the DC blogger community. (There's a DC Bloggers MeetUp group that just started, but where the DC blogging community seemed dynamic about 6-7 years ago, it's no comparison to the current vibrant Pittsburgh blogging community.) The fact that I seem to write less and less about Pittsburgh sports is probably the reason my hometown finished 3rd.

As a reminder, if your city is not in the top 10, visit my blog from multiple computers or mobile devices in 2016 early and often and encourage your friends and family to do so too.

Top 10 Visitors by Country

1. United States

2. Canada

3. United Kingdom

4. Australia

5. Germany

6. France

7. Russia

8. Philippines

9. South Korea

10. India

Where did you go Brazil visitors? I guess you'll be back in 2016 since you won't find any better coverage of the Summer Olympics than here!

Finally, in the past, I shared the top 10 keywords used to find Sean's Ramblings. However, I'm not sure about how reliable this is anymore particularly since there are separate entries for Sean's Ramblings, Seans Ramblings, Sean Ramblings, etc. Therefore, here are the Top 10 Visited Posts In 2015 (even if they were published prior to 2015).

1. The Last VJ

VH1's decision not to renew the outstanding Jim Shearer's contract to host the Top 20 countdown.

2. Maroon 5's Sugar Sounds Like Michael Jackson's Beat It

3. 2011 Year-End Credit Card Spending Summary

People still find my blog for this post simply because folks freak out when they see Sun Refining & Marketing on their credit card bills. This company is also known as Sunoco.

4. Why Do People Hate Hillary Clinton?

This blog post is now 8 years old...and will probably be the #1 most visited post in 2016.

5. Hyomin Throws Out First Pitch At Pittsburgh Pirates Game

Korean pop superstar Hyomin threw out the first pitch at a Pirates game. I'm still convinced that the Pirates would have won the Wild Card game if she threw out the pitch at that game too.

6. Do Pretzels Go Bad

I still think I need a good answer to this.

7. Sally Wiggin

A 2013 post about a legendary Pittsburgh broadcaster

8. Songs With Alcohol in the Title

This post is from 2007! 2007!

9. Chris Coghlan Hates Asians

I may have been a little upset that the Cubs outfielder injured Jung Ho Kang.

10. Hanson Brother Runs NHL All-Star 5K

A fun post about my friend who dressed like this to run a 5K.

See you in 2016!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sean's Ramblings 2015 Year In Review (Sort Of)

Welcome to my 11th annual year in review, where I take the first few lines of the first entry of each month in order to produce a random and (hopefully) interesting summary of 2015.

January: Happy 2015! Now that 2014 is complete, it's time for my annual post where I share data about Sean's Ramblings visitors and how people find this blog.

February: Happy Tuesday everyone! Let's get right to the trivia today. Your challenge is to answer the questions based on the pictures below.

March: I don't understand Maroon 5. I mean, I understand that they have a string of catchy pop hits, but they're as big as they are solely because of Adam Levine.

April: Today’s post comes from Stephen of the Crank Crank Revolution, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Jelly Jars where I share a never-written about story about trying to impress my wife by biking on our honeymoon.

May: I received a message in my Spam folder recently from someone named BadGirl28. Yes, it really was a Spam folder. Anyway, I was curious about why BadGirl28 went by BadGirl28.

June: There hasn't been a Trivia Tuesday here in a while, and this one is unique. Your challenge is to answer these very random questions.

July: Meow Mix isn't saying anything, but I can see what's happening. They are discontinuing the wet cat food that Ziggy eats. I used to purchase Ziggy's wet food at Target, but they stopped carrying his specific food a few months ago.

August: I watched a lot of wrestling when I was in middle school/junior high. Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, The Junkyard Dog, The Ultimate Warrior, The British Bulldogs, King Kong Bundy, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and so many others including Rowdy Roddy Piper who passed away on Friday at the age of 61.

September: We went to a birthday party at a park on Sunday, and as we were leaving, I noticed that a youth group that I was involved in during high school was setting up in a nearby pavilion. I approached one of the girls, who was probably about 16, and had the following conversation.

October: One of my favorite events of the year, the Fall for Fairfax KidsFest, takes place this weekend (Saturday, 10/3 & Sunday, 10/4) at the Fairfax County Government Center. This free event is a huge hit for my kids.

November: Many years ago, I was somewhat of a political junkie. I majored in politics, organized a successful voter registration drive in college and had internships with my Congressman and a State Senator. Like many people, though, I got tired of all of the partisan fighting.

December: I received a coupon pamphlet in the mail recently featuring ads and deals for local businesses. While there didn't seem to be anything worthwhile, I couldn't help but notice this ad on the cover.

While this was a "summary" of my blog in 2015, I encourage you to check out my Best and Worst of 2015 post.

Have a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Sean's Best & Worst of 2015

Many television shows, magazines, websites and newspapers have best and worst of 2015 lists. Well, I do too, and while mine is probably not nearly as good as their lists, I think that my list is more entertaining.

Best TV Show of 2015: Fargo

Game of Thrones is always amazing, and while I don't see every episode, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is both educational and extremely entertaining. I also always enjoy Brooklyn Nine-Nine. However, my favorite show this past year was Fargo. Although season one was in 2014, I didn't actually watch it until late 2015. And I couldn't stop watching it. Billy Bob Thornton was incredible in such a fascinating character, and the rest of the cast was amazing. I've recorded all of season two and am finally going to start watching it any day now.

Worst TV Show of 2015: The Mysteries of Laura

I've never actually seen this show, but the fact that it wasn't cancelled cost me The Ted Marshall Open TV Death Pool championship for the 2014-2015 season. I seriously have no idea how this show got renewed and is still on the air.

Best Song of 2015...

My rule is that the best song must be from a video that I posted on my blog in 2015. Your nominees are:

Renegades by X Ambassadors
Ex's and Oh's by Elle King
Uma Thurman by Fall Out Boy
Beggin for Thread by Banks
Kathleen by Catfish and the Bottlemen

And the winner is: Kathleen!

Worst Song of 2015: Dooo It! by Miley Cyrus

The Video is NSFW due to language...and for it being a terrible song and terrible video.

Best Movie I Saw In The Theater: Trainwreck

I saw two whole movies in the theater in 2015. That's double what I saw in 2014! Trainwreck was much funnier than I expected. Surprisingly enjoyable appearances by John Cena and LeBron James. Oh, you may have heard that Amy Schumer was in it too.

Worst Movie I Saw in The Theater: The Martian

Okay, so The Martian was better than Trainwreck, but it was a weird experience for me. I finished the book only a few days before I saw the film, so I compared the two constantly. While I won't give away much, there was a part in the movie where Matt Damon drives thousands of miles across Mars. In the book, this was quite an eventful trip. In the movie, driving across Mars was as difficult as driving from New York to Chicago on the interstate in perfect weather. I was also frustrated by the ending. It's really my fault though. I should have known better than to finish the book and see the movie so close together.

Best Book I Read in 2015: My Sunshine Away: a novel by M.O. Walsh

Here's the description: A man reflects on the summer of his fourteenth year, where in Baton Rouge he fell in love with a golden-haired girl across the street before an unspeakable crime shattered illusions in his seemingly idyllic neighborhood.

My Sunshine Away is a coming of age book, but quite dark because of the crime that I guess I can't speak about. The book was very well written and the neighborhood certainly had some fascinating characters. I highly recommend it.

Honorable mentions: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng and The Martian: a novel by Andy Weir.

Worst Book I Read in 2015: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books all of time, so I felt like I had to read this book. It actually felt like a homework assignment reading the "new" Harper Lee book at times. There were parts that were really good. Lee also gave what appeared to be an accurate description of what it was like to live in the South during a specific time period. However, Atticus Finch, though fictional, is supposed to be perfect (at least in my mind) and some of his views in Go Set a Watchman don't mesh with how most people in the real world view him.

Best Sports Moment: Max Scherzer's No Hitter

I didn't like the fact that this occurred against the Pirates, but seeing a no-hitter live and at my son's first baseball game was priceless.

Worst Sports Moment of 2015: The Pirates Losing the Wild Card Game

The Pirates had the second best record in all of baseball and were rewarded by getting to host the NL Cy Young Award Winner. Naturally, Arrieta dominated. Here's what ESPN's Jayson Stark wrote about Arrieta:

1) Over his last 18 starts of the season, the Cubs went 17-1 -- and in the only loss, they got no-hit (of course they did) by Cole Hamels. (2) Over his last 20 starts, he hit as many homers as he allowed (two). And (3) if you'd started your clicker on Aug. 1, you'd have counted 269 pitchers who allowed at least four earned runs in an inning. And while all that was going on, Arrieta was also allowing four earned runs -- in two months.

Stupid Cubs. Stupid Arrieta.

Best Blog Post: (Tie) My Summer of Sean series & a special TMI Thursday

The Summer of Sean series chronicled part of my incredible summer of 2000. Unfortunately, I only wrote a few posts. When I have free time, maybe I'll continue this series. I also shared what really happens in my bedroom on nearly a nightly basis.

Worst Blog Post: My Interview With Dr. Christopher Geary About Big Ben's Injury

Based on his position as an Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Sports Medicine at Tufts University Medical Center, you would think that Dr. Geary would be better than sharing wild Tweets. He also didn't give much in my interview with him or come close to apologizing for declaring that Big Ben was out for the season.

I hope that you had a great 2015 and a better 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Pittsburgh Pirates Should Hire Phil Elson

On Monday, WEEI in Boston announced that New Hampshire native and now former Pittsburgh Pirates broadcaster Tim Neverett will join the Red Sox radio broadcast. This is apparently Neverett's dream job, so I wish him well in Boston. In the meantime, it seems that the Pirates need to find a new radio and TV play-by-play broadcaster. I know the perfect candidate: Phil Elson.

Phil is currently the radio voice of the University of Arkansas' baseball and women's basketball teams and the play-by-play broadcaster for Henderson State University football. He also served as the broadcaster for the Arkansas Travelers, Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, for over a decade. Here's more about Phil from this October 2014 MILB.com article:

Phil, 37, has 20 seasons of experience in professional baseball, including 17 years on the radio. Phil has also worked for baseball teams in Stockton, California; Ogden, Utah; Helena, Mont; Akron, Ohio; his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Fayetteville, North Carolina. He was voted the 2009 Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.

"Phil will always be a part of the Travelers Family," said General Manager Paul Allen. "We will miss his patented "Seventh Inning Stretch" and the energy he brought to our broadcast. We are proud to say that Phil was on our team and know that he will continue to shine as a Razorback."

While I have no idea if Phil is even interested in the job or moving back to Pittsburgh, Phil is a Pittsburgh native graduating from the world-famous (thanks to Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller) Taylor Allderdice High School. He certainly has experience in the baseball broadcast booth, and if there's anything Pittsburghers like it's successful Pittsburghers (especially when/if they return home).

Full disclosure: While I can't remember if Phil and I ever attended the same school, we definitely went to the same camp and probably competed against each other in a basketball league growing up. While we are Facebook friends and follow each other on Twitter, I haven't seen Phil in about 20 years.

Please don't let this ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video impact your views on his abilities as a broadcaster!