Many television shows, magazines, websites and newspapers have best and worst of 2014 lists. Well, I do too!
Best Movie I Saw In The Theater: Gone Girl. A well-made film with a huge twist. Great acting by Neil Patrick Harris, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry & Emily Ratajkowski too.
Worst Movie I Saw In The Theater: Gone Girl. I liked the book much better. Yes, I only saw one movie in the theater in 2014.
If you think my list so far is a bit ridiculous, I encourage you to stay here. It gets better. Possibly.
Best Song: My rule is that the best song must be from a video that I posted on my blog. I actually didn't post many videos this year, but I'll take The Walker by Fitz and the Tantrums slightly over Vance Joy's Riptide. And yes, I realize that the video for The Walker was posted on YouTube in October 2013, but I don't think I first heard the song until 2014.
Worst Song: I think I'll go with Anaconda by Nicki Minaj solely for her desecrating Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back. I just hope that Sir Mix-a-Lot got paid well for this. (I don't even want to share this probably NSFW video here.)
Best Sports Moment: The Pirates reaching the playoffs for the second consecutive year, highlighted by Josh Harrison excelling in rundowns.
Worst Sports Moment: The Penguins leading the Rangers 3 games to 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals only to lose the next three games and scoring only 3 goals in these games.
Best TV Show: Game of Thrones. HBO had a free preview this spring, and I was able to record the entire first three seasons. It took me a few (okay, more than a few) episodes to figure out who was who, but what a show. Now I need to watch season four. Honorable mention to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, a consistently funny show.
Worst TV Show: Anything on Bravo. I can't stand any of the people on that network especially any housewives or Vanderplumps or people that work on a boat or sell houses. Bring back West Wing reruns!
Best Book I Read: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. This is the summary: "Unbroken is a biography of World War II hero Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic track star who survived a plane crash in the Pacific theater, spent 47 days drifting on a raft, and then survived more than two and a half years as a prisoner of war in several brutal Japanese prisoner-of-war camps." Any of these could be its own story, yet all of this happened to Zamperini. All of this is just unbelievable. I'm hesitant to see the movie since I don't know how it will work. To fully tell Zamperini's story, I don't know how the movie can be less than 5 hours. Honorable Mention: The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson. A fun Forrest Gump-esque book.
Worst Book I Read: I didn't read nearly as many books as I would have liked in 2014, so I'm the worst for this category.
Best Blog Post: My post on becoming a dad for the second time along with the 6-month update. I still like my idea of bringing a Pittsburgh festival to DC too.
Worst Blog Post: My post congratulating someone named William Tell on marrying Laura Conrad. Exactly.
Have a Happy (and safe) New Year!
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Many television shows, magazines, websites and newspapers have best and worst of 2014 lists. Well, I do too!
Monday, December 29, 2014
Welcome to my 10th annual (yes, 10th! More on this in a few weeks) 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 2014. Please note that this is not my last post of 2015. I'll have another entry or two to close out 2014.
January - Happy New Year everyone! Anytime that a picture of someone wearing a Pittsburgh sports logo or discussion of Pittsburgh appears in a major magazine, I'm going to blog about it (see Emma Watson and the New Girl cast).
February - It's the Monday after the Super Bowl and Groundhog Day, so I'll keep today's post short and simple.
March - As I'm typing this on Sunday evening, the Federal Government and every school in the DC area announced that they are closed on Monday even though it is calm outside right now.
April - Today’s post comes from Tyler of YinZSTER, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. You can see my post over on Small-Town Dad, where I write about preparing to be a new father again.
May - With a new child, it's time to find a bigger home for the family. While I'm not really looking to leave the DC area, there are two job openings in Los Angeles that interest me: the head coaching job for the Los Angeles Lakers and being the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
June - Did you realize that it is now June? That means Celebrate Fairfax!, Northern Virginia’s largest community-wide celebration, is set to take place THIS WEEKEND (June 6-8, 2014) at the Fairfax County Government Center.
July - As a global national social-media influencer, I was invited to attend Gifford's Good Times Ice Cream Tour Ice Cream Social at Dulles Golf Center & Sports Park.
August - Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez is struggling. Actually, that may be an understatement. Alvarez seems to have lost the ability to accurately throw the ball to first base.
September - Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison officially retired over the weekend. While I have never been an NFL quarterback or even played one on the internet, I would think that Harrison would be at the top of the list of defensive players I didn't want to play against.*
October - As a soccer referee (and probably every other type of referee), you are required to dress professionally. There is no room for individuality when you put on your yellow shirt and pull up your black socks with white stripes by your knees.
November - Did you vote today? If so, good for you. If not, there's still time to read this and go to your local polling station.
December - One of my son's favorite books these days is Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. When he wants us to read this book, he simply asks for Green Fish. I don't know why.
I hope that you enjoyed Sean's Ramblings in 2014 (though I'm not done yet)! Thanks again for your support.
* This post is particularly funny since Harrison came out of retirement and will start against the Ravens in the playoffs on Saturday.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Last month, it seemed like everyone posted a United States map on Facebook showing the states they visited. Since I'm always up on current trends, I'm happy to share my map only 4-6 weeks late.
41 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico (not pictured) isn't bad. Plus, with the exception of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and Iowa, I've actually spent time in all of these states rather than just driving through. With that written, if missing the exit for the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds stadiums and driving into Kentucky multiple times counts as spending time in Kentucky, then remove the Bluegrass State from the list of exceptions.
Meanwhile, twice during my 1997 road trip, I drove on Interstate 44 and entered Oklahoma from Missouri yet somehow missed Arkansas and especially Kansas.
As for the remaining states, I still have no idea how I've never been to Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont. That's a trip that needs to happen sometime soon. I'll visit North Dakota during a future hockey road trip to Winnipeg to see a University of North Dakota game. I have no idea when I'll hit Idaho, Kansas, Arkansas, Montana and particularly Hawaii.
I really want to travel now!
Thanks to Maploco for the map and thanks to Ngewo for doing this first.
Monday, December 22, 2014
While I'd much rather have trivia on Tuesday, this is a strange week with Christmas and people off work and schools closed. As a result, you get trivia on Monday. If you prefer to have your trivia on Tuesday, simply come back tomorrow. Enjoy!
Your challenge is to answer the questions below about these classic novels.
1. A Tale of Two Cities: What are the two cities?
2. The Scarlet Letter:* What does the letter stand for?
3. The Lord of the Flies: What is the Lord of the Flies?
4. The Lord of the Rings: Who is the Lord of the Rings?
5. Slaughterhouse-Five: In what city is Slaughterhouse five?
6. Moby Dick: What kind of whale is Moby Dick?
7. Harry Potter: Who is the prisoner of Azkaban?
8. Crime and Punishment: What was the crime?
9. It: What is "It"?**
10. Catcher in the Rye: What does Holden Caulfield imagine himself catching?
As always, please leave your answers in the comments section below and do not use the internet for assistance. Good luck!
This quiz is courtesy of the fine folks at District Trivia.
* I can't see this title without thinking of one the greatest names in fantasy baseball history. Yes, only 10-15 people will get this & only 2-3 may actually read this post.
** Lyrics from Faith No More's Epic is not the correct answer.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Actor Joe Manganiello is a huge Steelers fan and (likely) a huge fan of his girlfriend, Sofia Vergara. Therefore, I figure this Head & Shoulders ad in the recent Sunday coupon section must be Manganiello's fantasy:
Vergara and Troy Polamalu together? Merry Christmas to Joe! Plus, Manganiello has luxurious hair so perhaps he can use the $3 coupon on the shampoo.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
I often joke that I'm addicted to fantasy sports. I'm currently in 5 fantasy football leagues, 3 baseball leagues (though I only truly care about one) and a hockey league. While I spend time scouring the free agent list, reading box scores and creating detailed draft plans (this last one is pretty funny in that my draft preparation is minimal, at best), fantasy sports don't take over my life like a true addiction. It's a hobby and something I do to stay in touch with friends. If you want to see a real addiction, this is an incredible story about my former friend/acquaintance Mike.
Mike is one of those people I knew growing up, but I don't remember how we met.* We didn't go to the same school or live in the same neighborhood. However, we attended several camps together and worked together as counselors at one. Mike went to Penn State and I had not heard about him in close to 20 years...until last week.
On Thursday, Deadspin had a story about Mike getting arrested at Charlotte International Airport "accused of attempting to scam at least five different passengers by giving them fake stories, and asking for $200 from each." Although I thought the spelling of his last name was incorrect in the story, the picture looked like how I thought Mike would look today. Soon, I found myself reading as much about Mike as I could find. It turns out that Mike is an addicted gambler with an insane, and extremely sad, story.
Back in June, Mike shared his story on the Two Plus Two poker message board. You really can spend hours here. Start on page 14 to hear from Mike himself.
I just now read through the whole thread and let me state this emphatically: Everything the initial op has stated is 100% true. I am not going to come on here and try to minimize anything or justify anything. I have a serious compulsive gambling addiction which i think it is safe to say, has ruined my life in so many ways. I really did graduate from Penn State in 1999 with a degree in Chemical Engineering and had the whole world at my feet. Instead of working hard at my job and doing things the right way, i chose to use any excuse to gamble and gamble and gamble and gamble. I became so compulsively addicted that not only did I get fired from various jobs as an engineer and a sales engineer, I also started getting a nice welcome to the criminal justice system because I was a degen who needed and wanted money to play.
I would also like to state that I am actually relieved that this thread was started because in all likelihood it would have happened eventually anyways. I promise to be open and answer any questions any of you 2+2ers have for me because since I have been an active participant in NVG for over 2 1/2 years, it is only right to do so.
I will now write a brief summary of what led up to me "hustling money" at airports(which will be in my next post soon) and if any good can come out of this thread I am hoping that I can eventually be forgiven and hope to turn my life around.
Unfortunately, we know that he's still hustling money at airports five months later.
I started getting really heavy into gambling right after I graduated from Penn State in 1999. I took a job with Dupont as a chem eng in Clinton Iowa(the middle of nowhere) and I absolutely hated it. I was super depressed and realized right away that there were 3 riverboat casinos within a 10 minute drive from my apartment. Before long I was calling in sick to work, gambling at these boats almost every hour of the day. I soon lost all my money, maxed out my new credit card and had to take out a loan from the credit union to pay my rent. Within 2 months I was fired and given a $7500 severance check(I was shocked, $7500 for 2 months of not showing up for work??) I told my parents what happened and they didn't understand any of this. They are both hard working people, how could they understand gambling/instant gratification lifestyles ,etc... My parents actually hired some financial planner for me in Iowa to manage the $7500 and told me to go to Gamblers Anonymous immediately. I did and at the same time was looking on monster.com for a new job in a better city. I was telling myself that I only went off the deep end gambling because I was in a boring place with a boring job. I wish that was why.
Found a new job around March 2000 with an industrial gas company in Irvine California. It was a sales job and they gave you a car and base salary was $50,000 plus 20-25k in commission. I also was given a gas credit card, laptop, cellphone and $5000 relocation bonus check. I thought my troubles were over. Well before I left Iowa I was told by GA members that I had to go to meetings in California or I would relapse. I wish I would have listened. I didn't go to any meetings and within 1 month I spotted all the LA card clubs and visited them all. Of course it was only a matter of time before I lost all of my money again and started writing bad checks. I learned a game called paigow at these places and it became my game of choice. Soon I had no money at all and I called my father begging him for a loan. I told him California was an expensive place to live and that I didn't have enough money to cover my rent. My father trusted me, wanted to believe me and wired me $6000. That money was gone in 2 hours. Soon after I was fired once again, the car taken away and was left with no job, no money and I didn't know what to do.
After I was fired, I was basically living in these casinos. Hollywood Park had at the time an upstairs "sleeping room" and if you played enough they would let you sleep upstairs. That place became my 2nd home and it was awful. I was desperate for money and after getting fired from my 2nd job, my parents and any other family members cut me off. I started calling a few of my good college friends, giving them any story I could think of and begging them for some money. They western unioned me a few thousand and all I did was gamble it away. My apartment complex in Irvine then told me they were starting eviction proceedings so I was so stressed I couldn't even think straight.
Around the end of September I was just walking around Hawaiian Gardens Casino when I was approached by these 2 black guys(not being racist, just mentioning they were black). They told me that they have seen me around a lot and asked me if I needed money. Needed money??? I heard that and I perked up real fast. Of course I needed money I told them. The 1 guy told me that he knew a guy who worked for a company and that he could get his hands on a few "big" checks made out to the company from certain vendors or something. He told me that his buddy could change the paid out name on the check to my name and that we could deposit the checks and split the money 3 ways. He asked me if I had a checking account and I told him yes. Basically he wanted me to deposit "altered" checks made payable to me in my bank account and withdraw money every day. Me being in total despair, desperate and not thinking clearly told him okay. He said even if they eventually catch on it would be years and that nothing would really happen to me. I don't know if I even thought of the consequences of all of this - all I thought of was how I could get my hands on thousands of dollars to play paigow with. So, within a few days I deposited $24,000 approximately of 4 altered checks into my bank account and started withdrawing the money. The 1st time I withdrew $6000 I believe and the next day I withdrew $4400. The 3rd day however, the bank got suspicious and stalled me while they called the police. When the police showed up those 2 guys who were always waiting in their car outside the bank were gone and I was arrested for 1 count(initially) of defrauding a financial institution. Welcome to my introduction to the criminal justice system.
There's just so much more. Mike won six figures on multiple occasions and lost it all, sometimes in just a matter of hours.
Oh, apparently he also knew Eric Garner:
On a much more somber note: when I was locked up in Rikers Island in March 2008 after not being able to pay my hotel bill for 3 weeks when I blew $150,000 at the pai-gow tiles table at Mohegan Sun Casino - I met a guy nicknamed BIG ERIC or Big E. He was 6 ft. 4" and weighed 280 at the time. He was an intimidating guy to look at but he was a gentle giant. He looked out for me in that hellhole, played poker with me and a few guys and was just a real nice guy.
Fast forward to 2009-2010 when I was in the 3rd and final program in Staten Island before I ran away and got sentenced to prison. Eric would hang out in this park by a bodega selling cigarettes. I ran into him and we chatted for a while. After that I would see him often and he was still as nice as ever, always with a smile on his face.
This morning I was reading the NY Daily News online and there he was, Big E, on the front page - 6 Staten Island cops tried to arrest him for selling cigarettes and 1 officer put him in a choke hold and killed him. They have the video online which I linked with his confrontation with the officers. It's just sad, he didn't deserve to be killed and there is a big investigation now.
RIP Big E. - puts this gambling, airport thing in a whole other perspective.
There's also a podcast about all of this.
This entire situation is sad. It's unlikely that he can turn to family or friends for support or help. It seems like he's burned those bridges years ago. There were a lot of folks on the message board encouraging Mike to stop gambling. Apparently, he can't. You hope he can turn his life around, but as of now, a happy ending doesn't seem likely.
* Update! It's always nice that my mom reads my blog. She let me know that Mike and I attended the same nursery school and even had play dates together as toddlers.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Although the holiday completely snuck up on me this year, Hanukkah begins this evening. While you light the Menorah and eat potato latkes, don't forget to celebrate the Hanukkah tradition of pickle tasting. This tradition of eating pickles is now 16 years old! I think this counts as multiple generations!
Here are some videos to celebrate the holiday:
Six13 - Chanukah (Shake It Off)
There are way too many Hanukkah songs based on Taylor Swift lyrics this year (though this one is probably the best).
Maccabeats - All About That Neis
Is there some type of rivalry between Six13 and the Maccabeats? I envision this like the Hatfields-McCoys or the Sharks-Jets.
Hanukkah Song Mashup - Dance Spectacular! - Elliot Dvorin | Key Tov Orchestra
Finally, these are kittens celebrating.
Happy Hanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, Chanukkah!
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
You may (or may not) have noticed that I don't write as much as I used to. Part of the reason is because I don't have much time, but I also don't have as much to write about these days.
So Sean (you may ask), what's going on?
Well, we have worked with our 3 year old on potty training for months, yet there still tends to be an accident most days. His teacher considers him to be potty trained, but that he chooses not to use the toilet. Great. When he has an accident, the doctor told us to simply tell him that "big boys use the potty" and to leave it at that. After, I don't know, 20 accidents, it's not easy to say 5 words and be done. I could write so much more about this, but I don't want to. So frustrating.
Meanwhile, our 8 month old still does not sleep through the night. He goes to sleep around 8:00 and usually wakes up anywhere between 3:30 and 4:30. He's made it past 5:00 the past few days, so maybe this is a positive trend.
Oh, both kids seem to like getting ear infections, so we've had antibiotics in the house regularly this fall.
So that's my life. I'm fortunate to have two happy and healthy kids, but is it too much to ask for a full night's sleep and a potty-trained kid?
By the way, this exact scenario was the original version of this Bon Jovi song:
Friday, December 05, 2014
For your Friday video, this is Riptide by Vance Joy, possibly my favorite song out right now. Although Riptide is fairly new to me, it appears that this song is over a year old. Does it really take that long for music to get from Australia to the United States or I am way behind the times? Actually, I probably don't want to know the answer to this question.
This is a bonus video of the song where you can actually see Vance Joy.
Thursday, December 04, 2014
NBC is airing a live version of Peter Pan tonight, and I plan on watching it...eventually.* You may not know that I starred in an award-winning musical production of Peter Pan 21 years ago. I played Twin #2, one of the Lost Boys (some may say that I'm still a Lost Boy). I probably had a dozen lines and even had a solo in the song "I Won't Grow Up." Sure, I earned the solo because my voice was so far off from how well Twin #1 could sing, but a solo is a solo. Since the kids seem to like throwing things back on Thursdays, here are some pictures from the 1993 production of Peter Pan. Yes, I'm in there somewhere.
I have no recollection of those animals in the middle being in the show.
Anyway, I'm interested in seeing how NBC pulls off the live musical version of Peter Pan. Christopher Walken as Captain Hook is a brilliant casting move. I'm not sure about Allison Williams as Peter Pan, but if it ensures a cameo from her father, I'm all for it!
* I rarely watch anything live these days, and there is a 0% chance that I can commit three hours on a Thursday night to watch Peter Pan. I'll still be putting the kids to bed when the musical begins at 8:00. Thank goodness for the DVR. I love you, DVR (though we still have some catching up to do)!
Wednesday, December 03, 2014
Today, I'm giving credit to GEICO for having the best commercial currently on television. If you haven't seen this commercial yet, well, here's your chance.
Nicely done to everyone involved with this commercial. On a semi-related note, we had a "dance party" at our home over the weekend. Salt-N-Pepa's Push It was part of the playlist along with C+C Music Factory's Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) and Groove Is in the Heart by Deee-Lite. However, as a NFL referee might say, upon further review, perhaps The Humpty Dance is not an appropriate song for a three year old (though the video is more tame than you'd think).
Monday, December 01, 2014
One of my son's favorite books these days is Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. When he wants us to read this book, he simply asks for Green Fish. I don't know why. Anyway, this part of the book reminds me of the former major league baseball player Antonio Alfonseca.
For those of you not familiar with the former Florida Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, Alfonseca has a condition called polydactyly where he has six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot.
Aren't you glad that you read Sean's Ramblings for all of these timely references?