Friday, September 27, 2013

2013 Song of Fall

It seems like every year, music sites and companies declare the song of the summer. Last year, you couldn't avoid Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe which was the undisputed 2012 song of the summer. According to Billboard, Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell was the summer song of 2013. However, have you ever heard of anyone talking about the biggest song of the fall? Although fall only started last week, I'd like to formally declare Royals by Lorde as the Fall Song of 2013.



I'm sure that folks will say that it's too early to declare a song of fall. Others may argue that Katy Perry (Roar), Lady Gaga (Applause), Miley Cyrus (Wrecking Ball), Bruno Mars (Gorilla) or Avicii (Wake Me Up) deserve this title. I disagree. Lorde and Royals didn't have the hype of the first four songs/artists. Actually, these first four artists could release songs of them singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and they would reach the top 10. Anyway, Royals has been building slowly and it somewhat reminds me of Goyte's Somebody That I Used To Know in that it doesn't sound like anything else on the radio. Oh, the song is also now receiving airplay on nearly all radio formats.

So join me in congratulating Lorde for Royals, the 2013 Song of Fall.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sean's Steelers-Vikings Preview

If you've read my blog long enough, you know that I like to point out absurd and fun (at least to me) information about sporting events. Therefore, if you're looking for the keys to this Sunday's Steelers-Vikings or a breakdown of Steelers rookie Shamarko Thomas' positioning, you'll have to go somewhere else. I'm also sorry if this post doesn't help you with your NFL picks this weekend. Anyway, here are my thoughts on the game:

- The Steelers leave Pittsburgh tonight and arrive in London on Friday morning. Meanwhile, the Vikings landed in London on Tuesday. Doesn't it seem like the Steelers should have left earlier to get acclimated to the time change and new city? For the Olympics, did Usain Bolt arrive in London two days before his race? I think not (though I have no idea when he actually got there).

- Someone needs to make sure Big Ben visits Big Ben and shares pictures of this.

- Do you think the British will know that the Terrible Towel is associated with the Steelers? As I wrote recently, you wouldn't know by this Terrible Towel.


- Serious question: Do people in London care about this game? I'm not talking about Americans living in England or Europe but your regular British citizen. I'm guessing that two 0-3 teams aren't helping walk-up ticket sales.

- Perhaps as a way to get more Londoners excited for the game, Gene Simmons of Kiss and his reality show Family Jewels is performing the National Anthem. Personally, I think the NFL should have gotten performers that represent Minnesota and Pittsburgh. Prince and Christina Aguilera would be fine.

- Remember Giant Jason Taylor from the 2007 NFL game in London? For this year, I hope they have a Giant Christian Ponder that has a matching rib injury like the non-giant Christian Ponder.


- Let's say that you're a rookie free agent in Steelers or Vikings training camp in August. Do the teams require you to get a passport in case you make the team and will travel to London? Who pays for the passport?

- Meanwhile, the Steelers signed center Fernando Velasco just a few weeks ago. Did the team make sure that he had a passport so he could play in London before they signed him?

- I assume that someone from the Associated Press (AP) will cover the game and write about Adrian Peterson (also AP) in the story. I wonder if United Press International wishes that there was a successful football player named Upton Paul Iglesias with the nickname UPI.

- I hope Troy Polamalu has a chance to freak out people at London's Madame Tussauds.



- I feel like Brett Keisel and his beard could become stars in London. Of course, people might think that he's one of the Duck Dynasty family.

Enjoy the game!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Troy and Elmo

Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher attended Sunday night's Steelers-Bears game in Pittsburgh which resulted in this awkward (at best) picture of Kunis and Steelers owner Dan Rooney.


While some of my favorite websites have criticized Kunis, perhaps Rooney was simply walking away from an actress who he feels is inferior to his distant relatives Kate and Rooney Mara.

Although Kunis & Kutcher's appearance at the game is worth noting, these celebrities are no match to the star power of the individual that recently spent time with Troy Polamalu: Elmo.



While we don't let my son watch much TV and he's probably only watched Sesame Street a few times, he loves Elmo. He's seen Elmo videos, has several Elmo books and sleeps with an Elmo stuffed animal. On Sunday, we listed to Elmo's Song over and over and over and over and over again. Well, until he reached the Mr. Snuffleupagus solo at which point my son simply said "again" to inform me that it was time to start the song over. I haven't showed him this video yet, but I think it will be a big hit.

Meanwhile, in the video, Troy's hair has a strawberry fragrance. To my knowledge, Head & Shoulders, who likely pays Polamalu tens of thousands of dollars (if not significantly more) for him to appear in their commercials, does not have a strawberry product. Is Troy cheating on Head & Shoulders? Will Head & Shoulders cut ties with their spokesman over this? Do I like asking questions to end blog posts?

h/t Blog 'n' Gold

Photo by Brian Cassella of the Chicago Tribune.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Actual Trivia Tuesday

Do you remember when there used to be Trivia Tuesday every week? It was a simpler time. Anyway, I'm proud to bring back Trivia Tuesday today, and I hope that this returns to being a regular feature.

Your challenge this week is to name the movie based on the tag line below.

1. The mission is a man.

2. Earth. It was fun while it lasted.

3. He's having the worst day of his life...over, and over.

4. We are not alone.

5. Get ready for rush hour.

6. He's a big city plastic surgeon...in a town that doesn't take plastic.

7. With the right song and dance, you can get away with murder.

8. There's something about your first piece.

9. A family comedy without the family.

10. You won't believe your eye.

For those of you new to Trivia Tuesday, please leave your answers in the comments section below and do not use the internet for assistance. Good luck!

These questions are courtesy of the fine folks of District Trivia.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Steelers-Bears Live Blog

The Steelers are 0-2, so perhaps a good old-fashioned live blog is what the team needs (well, that plus a better offensive line, an actual running game and some turnovers from the Steelers defense). Basically, this Steelers-Bears live blog will be like Twitter except with the opportunity for more than 140 characters, no chance to see Breaking Bad spoilers and with more inside jokes/comments. Join the gang tonight at kickoff.

 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Bar Mitzvah Invitation Video (The Jewbilly Way)

I keep going back and forth on this video. It's creative, unique and there's a catchy chorus, but I also question the appropriateness based on who is receiving the invitation (the dancing women; World's Drunkest Dad) and what the heck is the Jewbilly Way?



Yes, you're now going to have "Come Down to Reisterstown" stuck in your head. So what do you think: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

I also recommend checking out the Owings Mills-Reisterstown Patch to see Jacob's mom reply to every comment.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sisqo Coming To Fairfax

Let's go back to early 2000. The time after we learned the world didn't end due to Y2K with a Bush-Gore election on the horizon. During this time, one of the biggest songs in the world was the "Thong Song" by Sisqo. According to Wikipedia, the "Thong Song" received four Grammy nominations; reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100; went to #1 in Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand; and also reached the top ten throughout the European charts. "That thong, thong, thong, thong, thong." Actually, let's not go back to 2000.


Thirteen years later Sisqo is back...playing a club in Farifax, Virginia. Here is all of the information according to the RedZone Grill Facebook page,

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 20, 2013
RED ZONE GRILL PRESENTS:
END OF THE SUMMER BASH - 90's REWIND PARTY
LIVE PERFORMANCE BY: SISQO (FROM DRU HILL) (THONG SONG)

Sisqo from Dru Hill will be live at Red Zone Grill Friday September 20th! Come check out Red Zone Grill, Northern Virginia's newest powerhouse Lounge. This is a 90s rewind party so all of your favorite 90s hits will be on full blast that evening. We will also have several bikini models hosting and walking around Red Zone all evening.


I had no idea there even was a club in Fairfax! Who knew there were any clubs in suburbs?

Anyway, while I'm sure that Sisqo will put on a fun show (there will be not just one or two, but SEVERAL bikini models walking around), I haven't been to a club since the "Thong Song" was a hit, so I think I'll pass. (Although I picture Sisqo performing the "Thong Song" every ten minutes.)

These days, the Fall for Fairfax Kids Fest is more my speed!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Yom Kippur Football

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish year, occurred this weekend. On this day, you refrain from eating and drinking for approximately 25 hours (or 25 & 1/2 hours if the rabbi ends services a little late on Saturday night). This is also the only time of year where I go on media lock down meaning no internet, TV, phone, radio, music, etc. While I'd like to be one of those people who writes how refreshing it is to live without these modern-day items we take for granted, I rely on all of this during the day.

Anyway, I don't need to tell you the importance sports plays in the United States and around the world. So what happens when sports, particularly in Alabama on a college football Saturday, coincides with Yom Kippur? This:


As a bit of a tangent, when I first moved to Northern Virginia, I attended Yom Kippur services at George Mason University. Although I didn't know anyone, I naturally talked with some of the folks sitting around me. When I mentioned to one guy that I was from Pittsburgh, he said sorry about last night referring to a Sunday night football game between the Steelers and either the Browns or Bengals. Per my no TV on Yom Kippur policy, I had recorded the game on my VCR (yes, VCR) to watch after the holiday concluded. I was not thrilled by learning the outcome of the game (and by the result), so I can see where the Alabama synagogue is coming from with this announcement. Of course, the last sentence is a bit much.

h/t Deadspin

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Interview With Pat of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke

With the Pirates clinching their first winning season since 1992, coming off an impressive (if somewhat stressful) sweep at Texas, and battling the Cardinals & Reds for the National League Central division title, I thought Pat Lackey of Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke (or WHYGAVS) would be the perfect person for this edition of the Pittsburgh Sports Blogger Interview Series.

When and why did you start WHYGAVS (and yes, I realize that you already addressed this in the "About WHYGAVS" section of your blog)?

WHYGAVS started in a dorm room on Duquesne's campus in 2005. The short story is that when baseball started that year, I could never find enough people around campus to talk to baseball about, and I started putting these long updates about the team in my AIM profile (Facebook was still thefacebook at the time, which, sheesh), and that seemed dumb. I got the idea to start a blog so that I could put all of my ideas in one place. It didn't hurt that I think I was probably putting off Organic Chemistry homework at the time. I decided I'd rather spend time writing about the 2005 Pirates than studying for O-Chem. That should give you an idea of how much I liked that class.

While you've written that Andy Van Slyke was your favorite player, was there ever any considering of naming the site after another player like Doug Drabek, Orlando Merced or RJ Reynolds?

Not at all, actually. I barely spent any time on the name when I started the blog. I sat down and set it all up on Blogger, looked at the empty box where the name would go, and "Where Have You Gone, Andy Van Slyke?" popped right into my head. That just felt right, so I went with it. No baseball player can ever replace your favorite player from when you were seven, you know? That's sort of what I was going for with the name and I think that it captures it nicely, even if it's a little bit long and unwieldy.


Have you received any response from Andy Van Slyke about your blog/blog name?

Not directly, no. Dave Brown, who blogs for Yahoo!'s Big League Stew blog, once asked him [about] the site. Since I sponsor the Baseball Reference page and everything, it's not like I'm hiding from him, but I've never had any contact with him. Honestly, I've always been a little worried that he probably thinks I'm some kind of weirdo stalker. Can't trust those people on the internet, man.

I believe that I've seen your posts, or at least your blog name, referenced by ESPN.com, Jonah Keri of Grantland and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Do you have a post or moment that you're most proud of?

I don't want to downplay any of the accolades the site has received, because I really do geek out every time I see a link on Grantland or Deadspin or in a local paper, but I'm not sure any of that is what I'm most proud of. I didn't set out to rack up a huge audience or become famous or to get a bigger or better writing gig. I only ever wanted to talk about baseball and write about what it was like to be a Pirate fan. When I first started blogging, I did it partially because I just felt like I didn't know any Pirate fans at Duquesne that I could talk to about the team. Within the first year, I'd interacted with people from all over the country and I started to understand just how many Pirate fans there really were. Suddenly realizing that being a Pirate fan wasn't something that had to happen on an island changed my perspective on the team quite a bit. Last night, when the Pirates clinched their first winning season since 1992, I didn't get my post finished until midnight and as soon as I posted it and tweeted the link out, I could see visitors streaming into the site and retweets piling up and I realized that people had been staying up late, waiting for my post to finish. The thought that I've been able to take that feeling of community that I first got when I started my blog and share it with so many people is something that is really, really meaningful to me.

After 20 years of losing seasons and 8 years of WHYGAVS, have you found this season and the playoff chase rewarding?

Yes! One of the weird and difficult things about being a Pirate fan is that everything has always had to be filtered through what it meant for the future. Garrett Jones had an amazing rookie year in 2009, but it was hard to enjoy because there was no way of knowing back then if he was capable of doing it in a season in which it would matter. The same thing went for Neil Walker in 2010. Being able to watch these games and enjoy them in the moment and not have to worry about 2014 or 2015 or 2016, really, it's just so much better than the way things happened in the past. I mean, that's obvious to everyone. I'm just reveling in the moment now, you know?


As a full-time graduate students living outside Western Pennsylvania, do you find it difficult to follow the Pirates and write about the team?

Not at all; I suppose I'm pretty fortunate to be living in 2013. Since I've moved, I've always had the MLB.tv package, so seeing the games hasn't been a problem. With the rise of Twitter, literally all I have to do is open up my computer and I can watch the game and talk about it with a ton of Pirate fans. It's incredible.

You are the Pirates manager. (Congratulations!) In the 8th inning with the Pirates down one, PH Travis Snider is on 1st with no outs and lead-off hitter Starling Marte at the plate. What do you do? What would Clint Hurdle do?

Let him swing away! I'm usually too hard on Clint Hurdle and I'm happy to admit that I am, but geez, Marte's legitimately the second best hitter on the team when he's healthy. Let him drive a ball into the gap and send Snider home, so long as he doesn't have to wear his oven-mitt. I think Hurdle would agree.

You are extremely active on Twitter. Do you feel that this takes time away from your blog or enhances your blog (or both)?

I went back and forth on this a lot in the early days of Twitter. I was worried at first that it was hurting my blog, but to be honest, building a devoted Twitter following has made my life as a blogger much easier. I know that even if I have to take a couple of days off from the site for whatever reason, all I have to do is write something up and post it on Twitter and it will find an audience right away. Part of that's a necessary evolution from being in grad school; I don't have time to post seven times a day with every bit of news that breaks, but I can always fire off a few tweets to keep everyone up to date and then put together a longer commentary post when I have time. Really, I think that the important thing

Finally, what is your overall prediction for the Pirates this season? (Win the division? Go to the NLCS?)

I have no idea, and isn't that kind of the best part of it? I will say that there's legitimately enough talent on the Pirates to make a real run at things if everyone clicks at the right time once the playoffs start; after Gerrit Cole's start on Monday we can say that they have four starters capable of taking over games, with Tony Watson's emergence and Jason Grilli's return the bullpen is getting back to the point it was earlier in the year. The lineup is much different with Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau in it, and if Starling Marte can get healthy by the end of the season I think they'll be awfully dangerous. It's possible that they'll make the wild card game, flame out, and that'll be that, or that they'll run into a buzzsaw of a Dodger team and be done in three quick games, but I don't think that's necessarily a given. They're a well-constructed team with some great pitchers and some very good hitters. Just getting to the playoffs gives them a fighting chance. As a Pirate fan, I'm having a hard time thinking logically beyond that at this point. I suppose now that 82 is behind us, it's time to actually start thinking about the playoffs.


Thanks to Pat for taking the time to answer these questions particularly when he's busy putting together regular blog posts as the Pirates play meaningful September baseball for the first time since I was in high school. (I'm not counting 1997.) Make sure you read WHYGAVS early and often and follow Pat on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Why Is There A Vikings Logo On The Terrible Towel?

The Terrible Towel is a sacred item for a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. It is a symbol of being a Steelers fan, and it is extremely powerful and intimidating seeing tens of thousands of people waving these towels at Heinz Field. More importantly, sales of the Terrible Towel benefit the adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Allegheny Valley School. ABC News did a great feature about the Terrible Towel several years ago (sorry you need to see a 30-second ad before the story appears).



Over the years, there have been multiple variations of the towel including a pink Terrible Towel for breast cancer awareness and a towel showing logos from the 6 Super Bowl Championships. I've never had an issue with any of these towels because they are often commemorative and sales benefit a good cause. That changed yesterday when I received this e-mail from the Steelers selling a special Terrible Towel for the London game against the Minnesota Vikings.


So why is there a logo of an NFL team other than the Steelers on the Terrible Towel? The towel is about the Steelers and should not include the Vikings logo. If you want to include something to honor the game being played in London, show a picture of Big Ben (not Roethlisberger), Wembley Stadium or even Prince George of Cambridge with or without his parents William and Kate.

Apparently, this is not even the first occurrence of an opposing team's logo appearing on the Terrible Towel this season. From the Steelers store, there was a Titans logo for this past weekend's game. Commemorating a game in London is one thing since the Steelers have never played there, but a towel for the first game of the 2013 season is ridiculous.

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I fully realize that this post is trivial particularly on this day of remembrance. (Most of you probably feel that all my posts are trivial regardless of the day.) Please take some time today to remember the victims of 9/11 and to thank the first responders everywhere.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Who Is The Best Athlete You Ever Saw Live?

I think this will be fun. Today, I want to read stories about the best athlete you ever saw play live before they were stars, if they even became stars at all. Maybe this was your brother or a kid you played against in Little League, but saying that you saw Troy Polamalu make an incredible interception as a member of the Steelers is not what we're looking for here.

Since this is my blog, I'll go first. Growing up in Western Pennsylvania, I was fortunate enough to see plenty of amazing athletes. My high school football team regularly competed for the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League ("WPIAL") Championship and included future NFL players like Steve Breaston, Ryan Mundy, Lousaka Polite, Shawntae Spencer and Rob Gronkowski (for one season), though these guys were after my time. Tirrell Greene was an offensive lineman for my high school and later became an All-American at the University of Miami, and although I feel that he paved the way for future Woodland Hills graduates to play in college, I don't remember seeing him play live.

While my high school produced numerous NFL players, it was an opponent that makes the top of my list. As a college freshman home for Thanksgiving break, I attended a playoff game between Woodland Hills and North Hills. North Hills had a freshman running back that seemed bigger and faster than everyone on the field and ran for over 200 yards in a victory over the Wolverines. He also played linebacker, ended up going to Penn State, was the #2 overall draft pick for Washington, a 3-time Pro Bowler and now co-hosts a radio show in DC. His name was and is LaVar Arrington.


Some people who know me probably thought my answer would be Jason Taylor who graduated a year before me. I remember Taylor as being an awkward basketball player who hadn’t grown into his body yet and made only a few catches as a tight end. I never thought he would inspire Giant Jason Taylor.


Honorable mentions:

Gerald Thompson, Woodland Hills RB, who I thought was going to be a star after running for 1,600 yards and 25 TDs.

Brandon Short of McKeesport HS who later played for the New York Giants.

Michael Keyes of Woodland Hills who was a really good basketball point guard. He wasn’t flashy, but was a great leader and always seemed to make the right decision. He played D1 basketball at Towson.

Nia S. – When I was in junior high, I was responsible for shadowing her for nearly an entire soccer game. I felt extremely fortunate that I held her to only one goal and my team won. I believe that she’s a doctor now.

Your turn. Share who the best athlete you ever saw live in the comments section below.

Monday, September 09, 2013

My Leander Paes Story

Since the Steelers looked pretty bad in losing their season debut against the Titans Sunday and the Pirates got swept by the Cardinals in St. Louis, I'm not in the mood to write about Pittsburgh sports today. Instead, I want to share my story about Leander Paes. There's a very good chance you have no idea who Leander Paes is. If I told you that Paes has won 14 tennis Grand Slam titles, you still may not know who he is. Paes along with Radek Stepanek earned the men's doubles title yesterday at the US Open.


Paes is the guy on the left. Oh, did I mention that Paes is 40 years old and that I saw him play even though I didn't realize this?

In the summer of 2000, I studied in Lancaster, England as part of my grad program. I had a very odd assignment to help Lancaster University's Management School determine how international students discovered the school through internet searches and to compare the school's website to other business schools in the UK. It had nothing to do with my graduate program, my supervisor took a 2-week holiday during my time there, and I spent most of my time conducting internet searches. Actually, this may have helped me become a blogger!

Anyway, on weekends, we traveled to places like London, Dublin, and Edinburgh. My first weekend coincided with Wimbledon, so since I knew I would be in London, I went with a friend to see this historic tournament. As it turned out, I was not alone. Shockingly, thousands of other people wanted to see Wimbledon on a nice summer Saturday. We waited in line (I'm sorry, "queued") for about 2.5 hours until we finally purchased general admission tickets for 4 pounds, or $6. This granted us full access to the grounds with the exception of the main two courts. My friend and I went to one of the outer courts where Serena & Venus Williams were scheduled to play a doubles match later in the afternoon. However, the all-Swedish match between Thomas Johansson (who later won the Australian Open) and Magnus Gustafsson lasted forever in a not terribly exciting 5 sets. We wandered around the grounds and saw Mary Pierce and Martina Hingis play doubles. We also saw the Williams sisters who got moved to a different court, but the crowd around them made it difficult to see. At the end of the day, Wimbledon opened up the main arena for everyone. That's where I saw Leander Paes.

Paes teamed with arguably the greatest women's tennis player of all-time, Martina Navratilova, in mixed doubles. Very few people were even aware of Paes. At one point, prior to his serve, someone yelled, "Go Martina's partner" which caused Paes to laugh. The match ended up getting suspended due to darkness, but I was and am proud to say that I saw Martina play at Wimbledon.


Probably ten years later, I discovered that Paes played with the Washington Kastles as part of World Team Tennis. While I still haven't attended a match, I receive e-mails from the Kastles constantly which includes updates about players at the Grand Slam tournaments. Therefore, I've rediscovered Paes after all these years.

Congratulations to Paes on yesterday's amazing achievement! Maybe I'll get to see him play for the Kastles or at the US Open next summer!

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Rosh Hashanah Videos (Happy 5774!)

Rosh Hashanah begins this evening, so enjoy these videos and party like it's 5773 (which it is for a few more hours).

I bet you didn't know the video below includes the lyrics of the first draft of Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams' Get Lucky.



I think Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would approve of this version of their song.



Based on the accents, I can't figure out where Ben's Deli is located. Pittsburgh? Alabama?



Matisyahu has some competition.



Finally, these videos has nothing to do with Rosh Hashanah, but I'm really excited about the Pirates. Benstonium did an amazing job putting together these awesome videos.





Have a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Random Ramblings

- My son starts his first day of preschool today. It's a brand new place for him with teachers and other kids he has never met. Plus, instead of sleeping in a crib or pack-and-play, he's going to sleep on a mat for the first time. While I'm sure that he'll be fine and I know this is going to be a wonderful experience for him, I'm a little nervous.

- We received a letter last week from our mortgage company.

A recent analysis of loan file documentation revealed there was an error in the amount you were charged.

Oh?

In order to correct this error we are reducing your principal balance...

Woo Hoo! Big Bucks, No Whammies!

...by $2.57, the amount that was charged in error, along with interest accrued. Please accept our apology for this error.

Um, apology accepted. Now I'll use this $2.57 towards a Wendy's Frosty and fries.

- Rosh Hashanah begins tomorrow night. Yes, it is really early this year. (More on this tomorrow.) Yom Kippur and Hanukkah are also really early this year. I'm sure you'll hear about how early the holidays are about 1,000 more times, particularly around Thanksgiving.

- While I'm not making any assumptions about the Pirates making the playoffs, if they make it for the first time since 1992, I figured that they wouldn't match up well with the Braves and Dodgers. With the additions of Marlon Byrd & Justin Morneau, they match up a little better.