Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Moose Plays Recorder

The recorder. Like the harp or flute, many people think of the recorder as an instrument with the most relaxing and soothing sounds. Or not. Especially when played by a third grader. The entire third grade at The Moose’s elementary school recently got to bring home recorders from their music class. While they are apparently playing or learning to play the instrument at school, they were able to bring them home to practice along with a song book called “Recorder Karate” with five or six songs. The idea is when you complete a song, you get a belt. Successfully play the recorder classic “Hot Cross Buns” at school, you get a yellow belt. Ideally, I suppose that everyone in third grade gets a belt. Oprah can probably explain this better.

For the first day or two after The Moose brought home the recorder, he basically just blew it creating lovely original tunes. (Again) Or not. Finally, we sat down to try to work with him on the specific notes and songs. He (and we) lost patience with each other pretty quickly. We decided to try a different route and found a how to play recorder series on YouTube. The Moose watched probably four or five videos, but he didn’t exactly get the point that you’re supposed to master the notes or sounds on the video before advancing to the next one.

A few minutes later, I noticed that he was watching a video about how to play “Old Town Road” on the recorder. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t quite master this, but apparently you can play this song on the recorder.

He had to take the recorder back to school, so we haven’t been blessed to hear the majestic sounds of The Moose playing the recorder the last few days. However, he said that he’s earned two belts, so maybe he did learn how to play some songs. In that case, thank you to his music teacher and of course Lil Nas X!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Vote Against Tom Wilson

I generally don’t write much about politics on this blog. I mean, sure I looked into starting an exploratory committee to run for the President in 2020, criticized Donald Trump for calling Eat ‘N Park by the wrong name, and questioned Sarah Palin’s allegiance to any particular NFL team, but I prefer writing about many other topics. However, I saw these campaign signs driving around Northern Virginia, and, well, let’s see if you have the same reaction as me.

Tom Wilson for school board? TOM WILSON FOR SCHOOL BOARD? Look, I understand that he has name recognition. Being a professional hockey player on the Washington Capitals and winning the Stanley Cup with them is going to garner a lot of positive support in community. But why school board? What experience does he have with American public schools? I mean, he was born in Toronto, didn’t go to college (not a requirement for school board, but it seems like you want someone with some college on their resume in this position) and has only lived in the United States for the last 6 or 7 years. During this time, has he become familiar with the Fairfax County Public School ("FCPS") district, only one of the 15 largest public school systems in the United States? It seems like he’s spent most of the time figuring out the best way to injure his opponents. To be fair, maybe he has spent significant time learning about FCPS and American school systems during all of the time away from ice rinks during suspensions.

Based on his character alone, I will not vote for Tom Wilson. Granted, I don't live in his district, but I will do everything I can to support his opponent, whoever that may be. Go Pens!

So, um, it turns out the Tom Wilson on the Tom Wilson for School Board Facebook page (per the picture above) looks a little different than the hockey player. In addition, he's already on the FCPS school board and is running for reelection. I'm starting to think that maybe it's not the same Tom Wilson. In that case, please disregard what I just wrote.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Friday Video: Barenaked Ladies and Hootie and the Blowfish

During the 2019 Sean summer concert series, I saw the Hootie and the Blowfish and Barenaked Ladies twin-bill at Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. Since I am always write about recent events, I thought now would be a good time to share some videos, pictures, and thoughts from the, um, July show.

Barenaked Ladies are awesome. They look like they are having so much fun on stage. Lead singer Ed Robertson enjoyed saying the word “Lube” when talking about the concert venue name and also shared a story about smoking a certain substance with Willie Nelson at the same location 20 years ago. There was also a funny moment when they announced that their friend Sarah McLachlan was there only to have the big screen show a bald guy. They ended the show with an awesome medley that included "Shallow," "Old Town Road," and this:

I thought it was a nice touch that drummer Tyler Stewart and Ed Robertson changed places.

Hootie and the Blowfish came next, and I don’t know if there’s a better voice in music than Darius Rucker. He just has the coolest voice. There was also a heated (well, maybe not so heated) exchange where he saw a few people wearing Clemson gear in the audience. With Darius and his band mates being graduates (or at least students) at rival University of South Carolina, Rucker said something like, “Let me know if anyone from the school up north ever wrote a song like this” and went into "Let Her Cry."

Here are a few videos from their performance:

To close the set (but before the encore), Barenaked Ladies joined them on stage.

I could probably include 30 seconds of my own poor video of Hootie and the Blowfish covering R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion, but I'll close with a few pictures that I took of the show instead. My streak of taking awful pictures at concerts continues.

Oh, it was nice seeing St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina at the show!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Moose Runs For Office

My eight year old son, The Moose, is running for his third grade classroom Student Council Representative. The Student Council is made up of two representatives from each classroom and meets once or twice a month to improve the school and community. I have no idea what that means. I mean, I know what it means, but I'm not sure how they accomplish this. I'll share his platform and portions of his speech momentarily, but it's nice to see him following in his father's footsteps.

Yes, I was a class officer during my junior year of high school (and also served in Student Government in college). How did I get elected an officer in my 450+ high school class? I still have no idea. I knew it made no sense to run for President or Vice President. The President during our sophomore year was (and still is) intelligent and very popular becoming Homecoming Queen during our Senior Year. She was also possibly the best soccer player I played against. I remember shadowing her in a game when I was probably 13 or 14 and was excited to hold her to one goal in our team's victory. I'm pretty sure that she's a doctor now. Our Vice President was known in the area for her acting, and she was the lead in our high school musicals. I believe that she also earned a Gene Kelly Award nomination during our Senior year. She continued in acting after graduation appearing in at least one Sex in the City episode and the film Failure to Launch. All I remember about the movie was that Terry Bradshaw was awful in it. Actually, was he naked in it? That's something I don't want to think about ever again. She's now a lawyer (the vice president, not Terry Bradshaw).

Anyway, I decided to run for class secretary. While I don't remember making any speeches or having any type of platform, I made a few posters that weren't very exciting. Somehow I won. I helped put together our homecoming float and organize the Junior/Senior prom (even though I didn't go). Apparently, this was not enough to get reelected during my senior year. Of the four class officer positions, the president, vice president, and treasurer were all the same all three years. The secretary was the same during my sophomore and senior years. I went down as a footnote only to be remembered if someone is looking in our junior year yearbook.

As for The Moose, he has a solid plan. He wants hour-long PE (physical education), music, library, and technology. I mean, it’s not like the teachers and school administration can extend times for specials in the middle of the year, but his third grade classmates don’t know this. He also wants longer recess with more gym equipment (specifically balls) and monkey bars. The extra physical activity makes sense since the kids will need to work off the calories from his plan of having cookies available for sale in the cafeteria every day. He also wants to have a school shirt day. I’m pretty sure the school already has a school spirit day, but I like the idea. Besides his platform, The Moose wants classmates to vote for him because he is friendly, likes sports, and wants to make the school a better place. He has my vote! Plus, I can guarantee that he won’t threaten, bully, or insult people on Twitter (or in person).

I'll let you know how he does. The Moose practiced his speech that he's giving to his class many, many times.

Update: Although The Moose did not win, he said that he finished 2nd out of 6 candidates. He was very pleased with himself and his speech, and I'm really proud of him for trying this. Now, I'll have to teach him how to lobby his classroom representative to try to extend PE, music, etc. and get cookies in the cafeteria every day!

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Worst Professional Sports Team: Pirates vs. Redskins

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Sports was definitely a big part of my life growing up and continues to be today. I’ve been fortunate to see both the Penguins and Steelers become champions. I’ve also lived in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington DC, for over 18 years. I’m not as passionate about any of the DC area teams, but I follow how they are doing and regularly watch games of the local teams. Because of my fandom and geography, I think I’m in a unique position (along with thousands of other members of the Pittsburgh diaspora in the DC area) to evaluate who is worse between arguably the two current worst franchises in American professional sports, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Washington Redskins. Let’s start with the Pirates.

- Since reaching the National League Championship Series for the third consecutive year in 1992, the team finished under .500 every year until 2013. The team made the playoffs via the Wild Card game in 2013-2015, but despite finishing over .500 (82-79) in 2018, the team hasn't truly competed for the postseason since 2015 and finished 69-93 in 2019.

- The team fired long-time manager Clint Hurdle, yet it doesn't appear that Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington or President Frank Coonelly are going anywhere. Bob Nutting, the owner, is certainly not going anywhere.

- The Pirates #1 pitcher, Jameson Taillon, recently had elbow (Tommy John) surgery and will likely be out for the 2020 season.

- The team’s best trade asset, Felipe Vazquez, is currently in jail for child sex charges. Yes, it is as awful as it sounds. While people can, should, and do criticize the front office for lots of things, the Vazquez arrest is definitely not on them.

- Speaking of trades, recent blockbuster deals have worked out poorly for the Pirates. The team traded now all-star Austin Meadows and Tyler Glasnow (who is only starting game one of the American League Division Series) for Chris Archer. They also traded possible Cy Young award winner Gerrit Cole for Joe Musgrove, Jason Martin, Michael Feliz, and Colin Moran. Yeah.

- The team ranked 27th in attendance in 2019 out of 30 MLB teams.

- Bob Nutting is almost uniformly disliked by Pirates fans.

Now, the Washington Redskins:

- Since Dan Snyder took over the team in 1999, the Redskins have two playoff wins in 20 seasons.

- Arguably the team’s best player, offensive tackle Trent Williams, isn’t playing right now. Usually when players hold out, it’s because of money. Not this time. Williams is unhappy with the medical staff and front office in how they treated him last season.

- The team is 0-4 so far in 2019 and might only be favored in one game for the rest of the season.

- The Redskins had an NFL-low 74.4% home capacity during the 2018 season, averaging about 61,028 fans per game. Many of these fans are rooting for the opposing teams.

- FedEx Field is expensive and extremely inconvenient to get to. The team is looking to build a new stadium (though the location is uncertain) when the current lease ends sometime in the next decade.

-Many people consider the team name to be racist which may complicate the team moving back to Washington.

- When the team fired General Manager Scot McCloughan two years ago, they leaked that it was because he had a drinking problem.

- Owner Dan Snider and (to a slightly lesser extent) President Bruce Allen are almost uniformly disliked by Redskins fans.

So who is in a worse situation going into 2020? Your winner (or I guess loser) is the Pirates.

There is really no hope for this team in the next few seasons. Yes, the team has some nice offensive players like Josh Bell, Starling Marte, and Bryan Reynolds, but that’s about it. The only pitching prospect is Mitch Keller, and even if he turns into 2019 Gerrit Cole, that’s not going to get the Pirates into the playoffs. You can rightly justify that the Pirates really can’t compete economically with the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, and Astros. However, poor drafting and development obviously doesn’t help nor does the apparent inability or interest of the team to spend significant money on free agents. Plus those trades mentioned above have been awful for the franchise. You might be thinking, if the team is so bad, maybe they can draft a big-time player. The problem is that the Tigers, Orioles, and Marlins among other teams had even worse records, so the Pirates only have the #7 pick in the 2020 draft, not the #1 or #2 pick.

As for the Redskins, they have a young quarterback with a lot of promise in 2019 1st round draft pick Dwayne Haskins. He certainly gives the team some hope, if not for this year, then the next few years. With the NFL’s salary cap, it seems like teams go from last in its division to first regularly. In addition, a potential franchise quarterback already on the roster should allow the team to score a major prospect with a likely top 5 pick in the 2020 draft after the top few teams select quarterbacks. The Redskins may even be able to trade its draft position and acquire even more picks.

In both cases, the owners aren’t going anywhere. They are making good money and likely live extravagant lives, so why would they sell? They are among a small and prestigious club of American professional sports owners. While we hope they sell and the teams’ results improve, that seems unlikely.

So what do you think? Who is in a worse situation?

Photo from FoB&D Sports.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Stealing Is Bad, But Community Message Boards Can Be Fun

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I have found my community message board to be great for blog content. This recent thread will make any Buffalo Bills fan upset. Please note that I live in Northern Virginia. I also include my own thoughts on the comments throughout this post.

Warning: there’s a NINJA among us

(Sean’s note: Now this headline is perfect to attract attention. By the way, I had no idea that Drew Drechsel of American Ninja Warrior or the YouTube star Ninja live in my neighborhood.)

I discovered this morning my 3x5’ Buffalo Bills flag missing from its post on my street-facing third floor balcony. It was secure in its base, and couldn’t possibly fall or be blown off.

(Sean's note: I think a lawyer could definitely make a case to a jury that it is possible that the flag fell.)

I don’t have any photos of it flying from my balcony, but it is similar to this photo below. The pole was an old shovel handle from the farm I grew up on so it has sentimental value. How anyone could have gotten up to my 3rd floor balcony and taken it is beyond me. Unhelpful comments degrading my team will be deleted. If you had a flag of your team stolen, you’d be upset too.

Now to the comments!

1. I’m sorry your flag has gone missing ♥️ my grandfather had a large and expensive metal mallet and metal chisels stolen from his backyard a number of years go. It really sucks but eventually it just becomes a distant memory.

This seems like a nice message, but the phrase "eventually it just becomes a distant memory" seems kind of harsh.

2. That’s disappointing, hope it shows up & let’s keep our east division strong


3. That’s crazy that someone somehow got 3 levels up to take your flag. Hope you find it! Looking forward to a good game this weekend between your Bills and my Patriots! I’ve been impressed with the Bills’ play this season! Josh Allen is da bomb!

Forget about the flag. Let's talk some football!

4. It sucks that you got ripped off. I doubt that a fellow Bills fan would do this, but having been to OP, I can understand their determination. Go Bills ! Beat NE !

I saw a comment below before I saw this one, so you'll have to see my thoughts below.

5. That's not good I like the Bills. From a PATS fan. I would be angry also!

6. I would start with any Jets or Dolphins fans in the neighborhood

This is my favorite! Go door to door and ask neighbors to declare their favorite NFL team. If they answer Jets or Dolphins, begin waterboarding! Of course, maybe it’s another Bills fan who likes the flag. As we saw before, they are determined. This case is wide open!

7. (Replying to 6.) no the Dolphins sucks too bad for them to care lol

Poor Miami Dolphins. At least they’re going to have lots of high draft picks in 2020. Plus, they live in South Florida in the winter. And there’s no income tax in Florida. And the city is hosting the Super Bowl in February. And Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will be there for it. You know, forget that poor Dolphins statement.

8. After the Bills lose to the Patriots this Sunday, the guy who stole the flag will return it.

9. Did you report it to the police? Go Bills

There were no replies to this comment. Maybe it was an inside job!

10. Time to send in the Bills Mafia! Poncho Billa lives!

I knew there would be a reference to Bills Mafia at some point.

11. I own a unit in [neighborhood]and am wondering - is there any chance it was removed during the recent painting and pressure washing they’ve done on the exterior of the buildings? You might look in your storage closet and check with your downstairs neighbors. The crews just worked on my section of the community so I’m wondering when they did yours. Just a thought!

This makes some sense. How dare there be a good and coherent point on a message board!?!?

12. Hope the Bills get to the Super Bowl in your lifetime! Would be nice to see the Bills defeat the Patriots! #LEGENDS

And we're back to football with nothing to do with the flag.

13. (Replying to 12) They already HAVE...FOUR times in a row! No team will ever do that again. Now let’s see them WIN one in my lifetime

14. This thread actually inspired me to order a Pats flag on Amazon to arrive in time for Sunday.

Helping the economy. That's what this message board is for!

15. Pats have been to 4 of last 5 Superbowls and won 3. That’s pretty good too (not taking away from Bills of early 90s, they were awesome)

Please, let's have more Patriots fans in this discussion. That would be great.

16. (Replying to 15.) I definitely respect what the Patriots have team of a generation. Brady is awesome, Belichick is a genious. Doesn’t mean I LIKE them...😝

Yes, Belichick is a genious. A genious!

17. (Replying to 16.) I like it when the AFC East is good! Too bad Darnold got mono and the Phins decided to tank for Tua. It’s a two team race!

Okay, I did not come here for a breakdown of the AFC East. I'm done.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Jason Rollison (1980-2019)

Although it doesn't appear that he was the first to say it, General Douglas MacArthur is often credited with the quote, "Old soldiers never die, they just fade away." It seems some a silly comparison, but I think the same of bloggers. Many bloggers stop writing, but generally, their work lives on and stays online forever. I mean bloggers don’t actually die, right? You don’t interact with someone on Twitter only to learn that they passed away. That just doesn’t happen. Until it actually does.

Those in the Pittsburgh sports community learned that Jason Rollison passed away from cancer earlier this week at the age of 38. 38! Jason wrote for and/or ran several Pirates blogs over the years such as Rumbunter, Pirates Breakdown, and Bucs Dugout. He most recently wrote for DK Pittsburgh Sports.

I talked to Jason once. Ron, author of Steelers Takeaways, organized a Pittsburgh sports blogger conference call a few years back with the purpose of helping create a closer-knit community and to share some ideas. While not much occurred after conversation, it was cool talking with Jason and the other Pittsburgh sports bloggers. I didn’t interact with Jason much since then though I certainly read his work over the years. Still, it’s shocking seeing someone that you read or see tweet, even within the last few weeks, pass away at such a young age.

Jason's obituary via Koch Funeral Home is here (I copied the text below), and Dejan Kovacevic wrote a really good piece about Jason. (The picture above is from the article.)

The Pirates also did this:

Jason Craig Rollison, 38, of Uniontown, died September 23, 2019 after a brief but commanding battle with cancer. He was born December 7, 1980 in Uniontown. He will be remembered as a gentle giant with a heart of gold.

He attended Uniontown schools and graduated from Brownsville High School in 1999, where he was a member of the basketball team. He went on to receive his Associates Degrees from Laurel Business Institute and Duquesne University. He then pursued a career in information technology. He was employed by ACPI in Thompsontown. Jason was a member of St John Evangelist Catholic Church in Bellefonte, PA.

Jason started his journalism career in the early 2000s providing coverage for high school sports in local newspapers. His passion for writing and sports continued throughout his life as he contributed to the Pirates blog, Rumbunter, eventually as editor-in-chief, which he held until 2015. He is the proud author of two books to include PiratesGuide 2019: A Field Guide to the 2019 Pittsburgh Pirates. He also served as the analyst on the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Major League Baseball for, editor at SB Nation's Bucs Dugout and the enthusiastic voice of the 'Buccocast' podcast.

Jason leaves behind his wife of 9 years, Jessica, in what he described as "domestic bliss" and a Hollywood type of love with their pup Tippy Tumbles. Jason would want it noted that he had no say in what to name her. They filled their spare time by exploring, dancing and finding new adventures. Jason loved to find new places and experiences at every turn.

He was pre-deceased by grandfather Wendell Rollison, who raised him as his own. To carry on his memory, he leaves behind his mother Joyce, brother Corey Rollison (Ashley) and many friends both personal and professional.

There will be a viewing at Koch Funeral Home on Thursday September 26, 2019 from 4pm to 7pm. On Friday, September 27, 2019 a funeral service will be held at St John Evangelist Catholic Church at 10am.

In lieu of flowers, request donations be made in Jason's name to The American Cancer Society as a thank you to Hope Lodge for their support in the fight.

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at or visit us on Facebook.

Jason will certainly be missed.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Friday Video: Alligator

If I had to make a new list of the greatest Icelandic musicians (yes, I really made such a list), Of Monsters and Men would be second behind only Björk. You may remember this band from their monster hit song "Little Talks" back in 2011. Of Monsters and Men released a new album called Fever Dream a few months ago, and here is "Alligator," their excellent first single. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Random Questions and Ramblings

* When I was in junior high and high school, I generally didn’t mind reading the assigned books (assuming that I liked the books), but I definitely didn’t enjoy writing book reports. Now, I read about a book or two a month, and I want to share how much I enjoyed them. While I’m not going to write a book report today, I just want to share that I highly recommend these books that I’ve read over the last few months.

"Playing Through the Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town" by S.L. Price

"The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports" by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg

"Evvie Drake Starts Over" by Linda Holmes

Say nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

"American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic" by John Temple

Very different books on a variety of subjects but all worth reading.

* On Monday night, Rontez Miles Sr. of the New York Jets (and Woodland Hills High School) and Eric Kush of the Cleveland Browns exchanged jerseys after the game. Both players graduated from California University of Pennsylvania. While I assume that the players will likely put the jerseys in frames, what if they wanted to wear them? Let's say that I play in a celebrity basketball game. (It could happen!) After the game, I’m looking to exchange jerseys with someone closer to my height like Kevin Hart or Muggsy Bogues, not Shaquille O'Neal.

* Pedro Tulo's kindergarten class has had a “Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See?” theme at school based on the Bill Martin/Eric Carle book. The idea is to wear a different colored shirt each day based on the color such as Yellow Day and my favorite, Green Day. (I'm not sure how an American Idiot T-shirt would have gone over.) Earlier this week was Black Day where the kids were supposed to wear a black T-shirt. That day was also Constitution Day where the whole school is supposed to wear red, white, and blue. Therefore, there was a dilemma on what to wear: black or red, white, and blue. I felt ridiculous doing this, but I emailed the teacher about this dilemma. She (rightly) replied that we should choose whatever we want. My wife ended up just having him wear a faded Pirates T-shirt where the black looks more gray. I think we failed this assignment. Oh, and to get in the patriotic spirit, The Moose (now in 3rd grade) wore a Messi Barcelona jersey with red and blue and just a little white for the sponsors. Nothing makes you think constitution like a Messi jersey!

* Mr. T is famous for his mohawk hair (and his catchphrase). Would he be permitted to grow out his hair or shave his head or would his agent stop him?

* One of the key metrics used in baseball is exit velocity. It got me wondering if baseball executives also monitor the exit velocity when players bunt the ball. Is the slower exit velocity while bunting considered better? Is there one player (likely a pitcher) highly regarded for his extraordinarily low exit velocity while bunting?

* I recently found about a dozen papers written during my first two years in college in classes like Introduction to Theatre, Media and Politics, Chinese Politics, and an introductory Freshman seminar course related to Sociology. Although I generally keep way too much stuff, I recycled all of these papers. They won't even make a Found In My Basement post!

* The Pirates currently have pitchers Parker Markel and James Marvel on the roster. Has anyone with names so close but not identical ever been on the same team?

Monday, September 16, 2019

Eddie Money In Pop Culture

Musician Eddie Money passed away on Friday at the age of 70. I believe that I was first introduced to Eddie Money by seeing the video for “Take Me Home Tonight” with Ronnie Spector on MTV. You may also be familiar with his hits that still receive regular airplay on classic rock stations like Shakin', Two Tickets To Paradise, I Wanna Go Back, Think I'm In Love, and Walk on Water. This post is about remembering Eddie Money in pop culture more than from his music career. First, Eddie Money made a terrific cameo on an episode of The Drew Carey Show.

A few things here. The Drew Carey Show theme song still holds up as one of the best in television history. You can fight me on this. Anyway, Eddie Money plays himself. It turns out that Money married Mimi years earlier, and for her to get married to Drew Carey’s brother (played by John Carroll Lynch who once liked one of my tweets) in the church, she needs to get an annulment. Eddie Money refuses, but Craig Ferguson saves the day. This episode also features the late Max Wright, arguably best known as the dad in Alf, playing Drew Carey’s stomach. I can’t imagine anyone under 21 understanding these last two sentences.

Eddie Money was also in an episode of King of Queens, but I never watched that show. However, the food truck in the underrated and short-lived Happy Endings was named Steak Me Home Tonight, presumably in honor of the Eddie Money song.

RIP Eddie Money.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

End of Express

On Wednesday, "The Washington Post" announced that the final publication of its free, daily newspaper, "The Washington Post Express," would be today. Basically, the paper gave the 20 employees at Express and the 75 people who hand papers out at Metro stations throughout the DC area 24 hours notice that they were losing their jobs. This really sucks for them.

The paper started in 2003, and it has been part of my morning commute since I began taking Metro to work in 2005. I’ve made fun of Express over the years and even created an “Express Fail” series, but I always read it. The paper was (I hate writing this is past tense) a good way to catch the headlines of the day. It introduced me to "Pearls Before Swine" and Sudoku and let me know of area events along with articles on sports, television, music, and movies. Plus, the people handing out Express at the Metro stations were almost always friendly. There’s one guy in particular who has distributed newspapers at my station for years, and it’s nice to see him each day. It gives you some comfort and consistency seeing a familiar, welcoming face each day. Today, people were taking pictures with him. I simply thanked him for being outside handing out papers all these years and wished him good luck. He thanked me and shook my hand.

Back to Express, I was honored to have my blog listed several times in its Blog Log feature. This was one such time. It was really exciting, and I have physical copies of them in my home. (Though I’m not exactly sure where. When I find them, it will be a Found in my Basement post.)

The Washington Post seems to blame Metro ridership for Express going out of business. Not the number of riders (which would make some sense), but the habits of riders constantly looking at their phones and not picking up the paper. I'm not sure that I completely buy this rationale and feel like it has to be more of an economic decision.

I guess that I’ll use my commuting time reading books more and catching up on The Washington Post Magazine. It would be great if something similar took its place (or The Post changed its mind) though giving away free newspapers may not be a good business model in 2019. Plus, what's going to happen to all of these yellow boxes throughout the area?

I’m definitely going to miss Express.

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Kamala, Katy, Ariana, & Demi

My friend Josh recently included this picture as part of a post regarding his 2020 Democratic Primary Fantasy League.

This is Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris with pop musicians Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato. I would have loved to have been in the room to hear the conversation between these women. And actually, maybe I was. Here is a brief transcript of that conversation.

Katy Perry: Senator Harris, we’re so excited that you’re here to meet with us today.

Kamala Harris: Oh please just call me Kamala. I’m honored to be meeting all of you. You know how important it is to get young people out to vote and to engage in our democratic process, and I appreciate you encouraging your fans to do this.

Perry: The three of us talked about it, and we want to endorse you to be the next President of the United States. However, we want to know that you’re real. What we mean is that if you want us to encourage our fans to vote for you, we need to know that you know us and aren't just pandering.

Harris: Yes, I know that you have a cat named Kitty Purry. That’s wonderful.

Perry: Oh, Kitty Purry is the sweetest. Anyway, to show that you’re in touch with the youth of this country, we want you to name your favorite song of ours.

Harris: Well, I really think that young Americans will care about my plans on healthcare and education and the environment.

Perry: Do you want us to call Elizabeth Warren?

Harris: Fine.

Ariana Grande: Me first.

Harris: Um, okay. My favorite song of yours is Thank U, Next. I love how you sing about growing from each of your past relationships and how that has helped you become a better you. It’s really an empowering song for women.

Perry: What about my song?

Harris: Well, Katy, I want to say Firework, but since both of us represent the great state of California, I’m definitely going with California Gurls. Us California girls need to stick together! (Gives Perry an awkward high five.)

Demi Lovato: What about me?

Harris: Oh, um, you have so many great songs that it’s hard to choose just one.

Lovato: Well, then give me several of your favorites.

Harris: Well, if I have to pick one, it would be (6 second pause which seems like hours), Party in the USA.

Lovato: That’s Miley Cyrus!

We interrupt this conversation for a choose your own adventure. There are two possibilities here. You can see what happens when I was in the room for the discussion (Ariana and I have a history) and when I was not. For the option of me NOT being in the room, continue reading below. For the option of me being in the room, skip to after the picture.

You chose the option of the four women continuing their conversation.

Harris: Fine, I can’t name one of your songs. I do know that you have had some rough times, and I’m glad to see that you’re doing well. You'll see that my plan is to increase funding for healthcare, both physical and mental. Besides, do you think that Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders know your songs? We both know that you’re not going endorse Biden.

Lovato: True.

Perry: So are you going to meet with Taylor Swift too?

Harris: I haven’t really thought about it, but I’m looking into more ways to connect with younger voters, so it’s a possibility,

Perry: Taylor and I are friends again, so I can put in a good word for you.

Harris: Thanks!

Perry: You just probably shouldn’t mention that you met with us at Scooter Braun’s house.

Harris: Why?

Perry, Grande, and Levato go through the entire ordeal which can just be summed up here. Harris tries several times to switch subjects with no success. Finally,

Harris: That’s really interesting, and I hope it works out. As President, I will do my best to make sure that Taylor Swift is not engaged in any more feuds.

Perry: Thank you, Kamala. You have my endorsement.

Lovato and Grande: Me too.

Harris: Excellent!

You chose the scenario with me in the room.

Harris: Well, if I have to pick one, it would be (6 second pause which seems like hours), Party in the USA.

Lovato: That’s Miley Cyrus!

Sean (who was hiding behind the curtain): Senator Harris. Demi’s best song is clearly Cool for the Summer or Confident and

Harris: Security!

Grande: Sean! Is that you? I’m so glad to see you. I’ve missed you so much.

Harris: You know him?

Grande: Of course. This is the Sean from the first line of Thank U, Next.

Security: Yes, Senator.

Harris: It’s okay. He can stay.

Perry: Wait, this is Sean. Wow! He’s the one who got away.

Lovato: Sean, let me give your heart a break.

Harris: I think I’m going to go now. It was a pleasure meeting with all of you. And Sean, I could use a person like you in my administration. These three extraordinary women obviously think highly of you, so I think you could be a valuable asset to my campaign and administration. I'm not sure why you were hiding behind that curtain though.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Jerome Bettis and The Jonas Brothers

Over the years, I've had various posts about "Celebrities in Pittsburgh Gear" (like these) and "Pittsburgh Athletes with World-Renowned Athletes" or PAWRA (like these). This post, based on the following picture, doesn't fit either of these categories though:

That's Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis (second from the left) along with The Jonas Brothers sometime before/after/during playing golf at Oakmont on Tuesday. The Jonas Brothers played at PPG Paints Arena later in the evening. Yes, that's um, one Jonas brother on the left, Joe Jonas fourth from the left, and Nick Jonas fifth from the left (next to Joe). Okay, I admit that I had to look up the name of the first Jonas brother. His name is Kevin, even though I was pretty sure it was Plaxico. I assume that Joe's wife, Sophie Turner of "Game of Thrones," and Nick's wife, Priyanka Chopra, went to grab lunch together at Primanti's and then took the incline up to Mount Washington during the golf game.

Any idea who the other guys are in the picture? What do you think The Bus and The Brothers discussed during the round?

Photo from Colin Dunlap

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Sean Analyzes Song Lyrics - Summer 2019

The 2019 MTV Video Music Awards took place on Monday night. This isn't a post about how I'm too old for MTV or me complaining about how MTV doesn't play videos anymore. Instead, this is the return of Sean analyzing song lyrics featuring some of the songs from Monday night. Please note that I'm including videos of the songs below. Some of them may not be suitable for work.

Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello - "Señorita"

Land in Miami

Before I talk about the first line of the first verse, let's look at some other Shawn Mendes songs.

Shawn Mendes - "If I Can't Have You"

I'm in Toronto and I got this view

Shawn Mendes - "Lost in Japan"

Do you got plans tonight?
I'm a couple hundred miles from Japan, and I
I was thinking I could fly to your hotel tonight

Okay we get it. Shawn Mendes is a successful 21 year-old pop star who gets to travel the world. I'm happy for you Shawn. Really I am. Now, correct the spelling of your first name.

Lizzo - "Truth Hurts"

New man on the Minnesota Vikings

I actually thought that this line was "No man" which would have been quite a shot at Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, and their teammates. Oprah Magazine has a thorough break-down of this entire song, and while there was some debate about whether or not Lizzo is/was dating someone on the Vikings, it appears that she is/was not. Therefore, let's take a look at some other options about the meaning.

Terence Newman played in the NFL for 15 years most notably for the Dallas Cowboys. Now, he's the nickel/defensive backs coach for the...Minnesota Vikings! So yes, (Terence) Newman on the Minnesota Vikings.

Another possibility is that Lizzo is a Vikings fan and does some PR for the team. After every draft pick or free agent signing, she announces "New man on the Minnesota Vikings."

Lizzo may also be involved in player personnel. Perhaps she's trying to recruit Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman to the Vikings, or, no. She couldn't do this. No way. It's not possible!

Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus - "Old Town Road"

Can't nobody tell me nothin'

A triple negative in a 5-word sentence. This is really impressive!

Taylor Swift featured Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco - "Me"

And you can't spell "awesome" without "me"

I actually originally thought that this was "can't spell us without me" which makes no sense at all. So let's take another line from this song.

Hey kids, spelling is fun.

This reminds me of a post I did, um, several years ago where I looked into the Britney Spears song, "3." In that song, counting was fun. Now, spelling is fun. What a world!

Taylor Swift - "Delicate"

Oh damn, never seen that color blue.

This song is a few years old, but this line really jumps out. Apparently, Swift has never been to the paint section of Home Depot or to Sherwin Williams.

Please click here to see other posts where I look at song lyrics. Some of them go back, um, several years.