Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 In Review

Welcome to my 3rd annual year in review, where I take the first line or two of the first entry of each month in order to produce a random and (hopefully) interesting summary of 2007.

January: Our friends have a terrific and lovable dog named Hershey, pictured here. Hershey has been entered in the Dog Show USA contest, and she needs your vote!

February: When I went to my doctor's office last month, he suggested that I take Omega-3 Fatty Acid pills (I've talked about this before) and exercise to help my cholesterol.

March: I received a call from my college earlier this week for its annual student phonathon program. They were asking for money, which is fine since I’m glad to contribute a little.

April: Happy belated National Procrastination Week! National Procrastination Week took place the first full week of March, so I hope that you had a productive, or not so productive week!

May: Since I missed Ben & Jerry’s free scoop day a few weeks ago, I wanted to let everyone know that tomorrow (Wednesday, May 2) is 31-cent scoop night at Baskin Robbins.

June: I’ve been away for a few days, so I have not had the opportunity to write. It may also be tough to write this week between the Pirates-Nationals series and the Celebrate Fairfax festival.

July: The following were the top stories on Yahoo News today as of 12:42 p.m. EDT: Bush and Putin meet to discuss ties.

August: In celebration of an undefeated regular season, my ultimate frisbee team went to Rio Grande Café, a local Mexican chain, last night for food and drinks.

September: I watched a few hours of the US Open on Saturday and was really impressed with the young Americans John Isner and Donald Young.

October: This was a huge sports weekend, and I plan on writing about the Steelers, Pitt, Steve Breaston, fantasy football, fantasy baseball and much more later today or tomorrow.

November: I am writing live from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yesterday, I arrived at the Albuquerque airport and traveled north on Interstate 25 towards Santa Fe.

December: I’m back from the 2007 hockey road trip, just in time to watch the Steelers-Bengals game.

Based on my summary, the first line of many of my posts have nothing to do the rest of my entry, especially for February. As usual, it seems like I wrote about a wide variety of topics.

Look for some exciting entries to start 2008. On behalf of everyone here at Sean's Ramblings (that would be me), have a Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Top Songs of the 2000s

Inspired by VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs on the 90s, I decided that I would create a list of the greatest songs of the 2000s thus far:

1. In Da Club – 50 Cent
2. Lose Yourself – Eminem
3. Bye Bye Bye – ‘N Sync
4. Smooth – Santana & Rob Thomas
5. Crazy In Love – Beyonce & Jay-Z
6. How You Remind Me – Nickelback
7. Yeah! – Usher featuring Lil Jon & Ludaris
8. Complicated – Avril Lavigne
9. Hot in Herre – Nelly
10. We Belong Together – Mariah Carey
11. Fallin’ – Alicia Keys
12. Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
13. Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones
14. Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
15. Breathe – Faith Hill
16. Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
17. Drop It Like It’s Hot – Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell
18. Hanging on a Moment – Lifehouse
19. Apologize – Timbaland and OneRepublic
20. Rehab – Amy Winehouse

If you are looking for a specific equation as to how I determined these rankings, you’re not going to find one. I just tried to rank them based on my perception of how big these singles have been during this decade in terms of airplay and sales. I have no statistical data to support these numbers. So what do you think? Are there songs that I missed? I feel like a Black Eyed Peas song (either Where is the Love or My Humps) and Hey Ya by OutKast are other possibilities.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Calling Out The Washington Post

I am having some problems with The Washington Post recently. It has nothing to do with the content or any of the writers, just the manner in which the paper is delivered. I am a Sunday only subscriber and regularly read part of the daily paper on the Post’s website. On Sunday, December 16, I received the paper at 9:30 A.M. To me, that is unacceptable. You see, my brother was a paperboy and he regularly delivered the Saturday and Sunday newspapers before 7:00 A.M. When I had to fill in for him or took over a route from a friend when he was on vacation, the paper was also delivered early. I was awake around 8:00 on the 16th, and would have liked to have read the newspaper before I left my home at 10:00. Since I was out all day, I barely touched the paper.

I was away this past weekend, so I requested a vacation stop. Nevertheless, the Post delivered the coupon section on Saturday (we left on Saturday morning and the coupons were on our door step) and the Sunday paper on Sunday. What’s the point of submitting a vacation stop if the paper is just going to be delivered anyway?

I have already contacted the Post about the vacation stop and the fact that the coupons get delivered even when a stop is requested for the Sunday. I have not yet received a response, but that is to be expected since yesterday was a holiday. However, if the situation is not resolved, I may cancel my Sunday subscription. I would hate to do it, but I might come to that.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Steelers Sign Haynes; Not Important Enough to Verron

The Steelers re-signed Verron Haynes to replace the injured Fast Willie Parker. According to the Verron Haynes website, well, there's nothing new on his website. I'm sure that Haynes is excited to be back as a Steeler. Maybe someone will now update his site.

(The picture below is Haynes on the cover of Pittsburgh Magazine's 25 Most Beautiful People. This was also not mentioned on Haynes' website.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Pittsburgh Wins, Five Year Olds Lose

Thursday was a huge day for Pittsburgh sports as the Steelers, Penguins and University of Pittsburgh Panthers all won. I felt like my remote control skills were pretty good switching between the Pitt and Steeler game (the Penguin game was not available); however, I was late in clicking back to the Pitt game and missed seeing Levance Fields hit a 3-pointer with 4 seconds remaining in overtime to defeat Duke. During Fields’ shot, I was watching Ben Roethlisberger grab his knee after being awkwardly sacked. Roethlisberger finished the game, but he can’t continue to take these types of hits if the Steelers want to advance through the playoffs, especially with Aaron Smith and now Willie Parker out for the year.

Here are a two fun links to get you through the day:

Did you ever wonder how many five year olds could you take in a fight? Probably not, but this is fun nonetheless. I can take 17. (from Arjewtino).

If you played for Brazil, what would your name be (found on Deadspin)? Mr. Sean Ramblings would be Sea. That's not a very exciting or intimidating name. Here are some other "Brazilian" names:

Denzel Washington – Roberto Washingtidas
George Bush – Georgildo
Jamie Lynn Spears – Speundo
Kris Kross - Krson Pau
Myron Cope – Copito
Troy Polamalu – Polamalaldo
Ben Roethlisberger - Roethlisbergaldo
Hines Ward – Hinaldo

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Finally Something to Watch on TV

As the writers’ strike continues and the reality television programs and game shows get worse and worse (is anyone really watching Duel and Clash of the Choirs?), I am struggling to find good things to watch. Fortunately, two of my favorite things have come together: 90s music and VH1. Every night this week at 10:00 pm Eastern, VH1 is airing the 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s. While I love 80s music, the 90s are truly the musical era of my formative years. Each song seems to have a different memory and takes me back to high school and college. Some of the songs I have heard thus far include Groove Is In the Heart; The Humpty Dance; Kris Kross; Tennessee; and I’m Too Sexy. Almost all of the songs are great in its own special way. (I’m not sure where Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Achy Breaky Heart” fits in, although I remember Myron Cope doing a funny parody of the song.) Like most of the VH1 countdown shows, they air parts of the video and incorporate comments about the song from music critics, comedians, musicians, and occasionally, the artists themselves. So if you want to know where I will be tonight at 10, I’ll be watching VH1.

Of course, I will not be watching on Thursday as its Pittsburgh night on televisions across the country. First, Pitt faces Duke at 7:00 live from Madison Square Garden on ESPN. Then, the Steelers meet the St. Louis Rams on the NFL Network or, in most cases, at bars and friends’ houses. However, I won’t really miss Thursday’s episode, as I’m sure that VH1 will replay the show again and again and again.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Trivia Night

I attended my first trivia contest in many, many years last night, and remarkably, my team won! Actually, that should not have been a complete surprise since Messiah, Nick and Lee carried our team to victory. I contributed very little except that I knew the name from the lyrics of the following song:

“Stronger” – Let’s get lost tonight. You could be my black _____ _____ tonight.

I figured I would share some of the questions from the game here. Question #1 is above.

#2 – Of the 48 contiguous states, which state located entirely west of the Mississippi River is the smallest in area?

#3 – There is five nicknames in the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB that are shared. For example, the sports teams at the University of Kentucky and the University of Arizona are both the Wildcats. Of course, my example is for college teams, not professional ones. Can you name the five professional names?

#4 – What famous female singer guest starred on a 1995 “Friends” episode in which Phoebe taught her the “Smelly Cat” song?

As always, share your answers in the comments section. I’ll be back later today to provide the correct answers and to hand out gold stars!

P.S. A belated congratulations to the Miami Dolphins in defeating the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. I am very happy for the Dolphin fans, players and organization, and even happier that the win was over the Ravens.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Weekend Links

Looking for the perfect holiday gift? Get your loved one some rhino poop!

An $85,000 cell phone bill! That’s a lot of text messages (IDK my BFF Jill).

Tamir Goodman is back (courtesy of the D.C. Sports Bog).

While there really is not a TV season anymore with the current writers’ strike, I am presently in first place in the 2007-2008 Alison LaPlaca Open. There have been four shows cancelled, and I have accurately picked all four.

These cloned cats are really freaky.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

See SpongeBob, Dora and Um, Joey Porter and Cleo Lemon

It is tough being a Miami Dolphins fan these days. The team is 0-13 and has an excellent chance of being the first team in NFL history to compile a 0-16 season. It’s probably not much fun working for the Miami Dolphins at this time either. If you work for the Dolphins, how can you encourage fans to attend your games? Apparently, someone has an idea; two ideas in fact.

The first is Kids Day at Dolphin Stadium. According to the Miami Dolphins website, “December 30th is Kids Day at Dolphin Stadium. The Grand Plaza will be jam-packed with kids interactive activities including a special visit by Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer as well as Nickelodeon interactive games, face painters, NFL Experience-type activities, Dolphins alumni, cheerleaders and much more. After the pre-game fun, kids will experience the emotion and glory of the NFL when the Dolphins take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the final game of the 2007 season.”

It’s nice of the team to mention that there’s actually a football game to be played.

The team is also running a $99 Dolphins Pepsi Holiday Pack promotion where you can get:
• Your choice of 2 tickets to either the Ravens Dec. 16th or the Bengals Dec. 30th game
• 2 Hot Dogs
• 2 Pepsi Sodas (This should really be pop.)
• 1 Game Day Program

As a Steelers fan, I can’t imagine a football team needing promotions and gimmicks to get people into the stadium. It makes perfect sense for baseball, hockey or basketball since you have 40 or 80, in the case of baseball, home games to sell each season. There’s only 8 home football games. Giant Jason Taylor may not be pleased.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Steely McBean Is a Steeler

There are a lot of great Pittsburgh sports blogs out there that I respect and read frequently. However, I want to give myself a little bit of credit for the extremely creative nickname for Steelers rookie Ryan “Steely” McBean. You see, I dubbed Ryan McBean Steely way back in August (here and again here) and also in September when he was cut and signed to the practice squad.

Now that Ryan McBean was signed to the 53-man roster in place of the injured Aaron Smith, everyone seems to be using the Steely McBean nickname. Here are just a few examples:

- Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls
- Behind the Steel Curtain
- Doubt About It
- Mondesi’s House

Just wanted to point this out.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spice Girls Tickets

I am a Spice Girls fan. Feel free to mock and ridicule me. When the Spice Girls debuted in the United States in early 1997, they were unlike anything else on the music scene. Here were five attractive women, each with a memorable nickname, singing about girl power while dressed somewhat scantily. “Wannabe” was and still is an extremely catchy song, even though to this day, I have no idea what a “zigazig ha” means. Plus, all guys have to love the line, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.” Sounds good to me. A friend of mine even bought me the Spice Girls tape as a gift (it was 1997 and I still didn’t have a CD player; I’m always a bit behind on technology). Despite the fact that some of the Spice Girls really don’t sing very well, they managed to have hit after hit anyway.

As you probably know at this point, the Spice Girls have reunited. There was great celebration throughout the land, specifically in the UK as they are performing 17 shows in December and January in London’s O2 Arena. I recently learned that the Spice Girls are coming to the Verizon Center in DC on February 21, 2008. If tickets were reasonable, I figured that it might be fun to attend. Of course, finding someone to go with me would be a challenge. Unfortunately, this is all a moo point. (“It's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter.”)

I went to the Ticketmaster website yesterday and found that two tickets in Section 418, Row J are $92.50 each. Ticketmaster also charges a “convenience charge” of $17.45 per ticket and an order processing charge of $4.90. Fortunately, there is no charge if the tickets are sent through Standard Mail. What a bargain! How nice of Ticketmaster to cover the 41 cents to mail the tickets. Anyway, the total charge for two tickets (and not even good tickets) = $224.80!! I think I was willing to spend $25 per ticket. That is just about the cost of the Ticketmaster fees alone. Are there really people out there willing to spend that much to see the Spice Girls? Maybe I'll try to catch them when they reunite again in another ten years.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I Hate Fantasy Football

Remember the time that I mentioned that I may need to quit fantasy sports? Apparently, I am a glutton for punishment. Of my four fantasy football leagues, I'm now out of the two leagues that I don't care much about (i.e. no $), and I'm not going to make the playoffs in the league where I'm the Commissioner. At least in the latter league, I got destroyed this week, meaning that I won’t have to second guess my decisions of starting Shaun Alexander over Fred Taylor and having Trent Edwards in my line-up only to elect to pick up and start Vince Young instead.

In my monster 16-team league, in which I won the scoring title and earned the #1 seed, I have the high score so far this week with 135 points. However, my opponent, the #8 seed with a 6-7 record losing 5 straight weeks to end the regular season has 131 points courtesy of Kurt Warner, Antonio Gates, Fred Taylor and Brandon Marshall having the game of the life. Therefore, I am 40 Jerious Norwood rushing yards from being eliminated. I will now proceed to watch the entire Monday night football game tonight between the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints even though both teams have little chance to make the playoffs, and I don’t particularly care about either team.

If I do lose this week, it’s my own fault. The football gods saw that I was actually cheering for and supporting the Ravens last Monday night against the Patriots and punished me by having Willis McGahee and Derrick Mason have their worst performances of the year. Plus, maybe this is payback for me being a terrible person.

Update 11:05pm - On the third play of the fourth quarter, Norwood caught a 46-yard pass. With that reception, Norwood now has 57 receiving yards and 21 rushing yards. Unless Norwood fumbles twice or catches a pass and somehow manages to lose 48 yards on that play, my season is over. On that note, I'm going to sleep.

Friday, December 07, 2007

2007 Hockey Road Trip Recap Part II

If you missed the first part of my hockey road trip summary, click here. If you don’t want to click, here’s a quick recap: the Wild-Coyotes game was rather boring; the Minnesota fans were disappointing; the Mall of America has many stores; I ate poorly; AirTran was better than expected; the XCel arena and St. Paul were cool; and Uff Da!

Thursday, November 29

The ultimate driving day from St. Paul, Minnesota to Chicago. Did you know that there are no large cities anywhere near Minneapolis/St. Paul? Fargo, North Dakota, Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Madison, Wisconsin are all approximately 250 miles away and I don’t think most people would consider any of these as, well, large. As soon as we crossed into Wisconsin and left the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area, there was very little for miles…with one exception. If it is not already, western Wisconsin should be known as “Dead Deer on the Side of the Road” country. There was a dead deer seemingly every few miles until we reached civilization near where Interstates 90 and 94 meet. Are there no taxidermists who live near Interstate 94? If someone likes venison, there is plenty of free meat in Wisconsin. Actually, forgot the whole Cheese-head thing; this should be Wisconsin’s new claim to fame.

Near Madison, we started to pick up local radio coverage from the Green Bay Packers network. The pre-game show featured a version of Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” called “Talk Packers With Me.” It was quite silly. I can’t think of any other fans that would create songs for their team.

Friday, November 30

Welcome to Chicago! The Windy City! We drove around and pretended like we were tourists. Actually, I guess we were tourists. We ate deep dish pizza, spent a few hours at the Museum of Science and Industry, and went by Wrigley Field. The scoreboard outside the stadium stated the Cubs are the World’s Greatest Fans. According to the scoreboard and announcer at the XCel Center, the Minnesota Wild has the greatest fans. I’m confused. Anyway, I really need to return to Chicago during the baseball season to see a Cubs game.

Game #2: Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

My pre-game prediction was that there would be more goals scored in this game than the first one on the trip. Little did I know what was about to transpire. The Blackhawks scored on their first three shots and didn’t stop. In fact, Chicago scored 5 goals on their first 7 shots before Wayne Gretzky thought it would be a good idea to pull goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Three of those goals were scored by defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. I’m sure that I can tell my grandchildren that I was in attendance for Byfuglien’s first professional hat trick! In all seriousness, Chicago looked really good in its 6-1 victory. Before leaving on the trip, Seth from Empty Netters wrote me that the Blackhawks remind him a lot of the Penguins from last season. There really aren’t any expectations, and whatever happens, happens. Rookies Jonathan Toews (a goal and two assists) and Patrick Kane (two assists) are fun to watch, they have a proven goaltender in Nikolai Khabibulin (one of the coolest names in hockey) and a good supporting cast including Martin Havlet, former Penguin Robert Lang and Tuomo Ruutu, who scored two goals and may or may not be related to Jarkko Ruutu (after searching the web for an hour to try and find a picture of the Wild fan on the ticket stub, I’m not looking this up). There was also a Patrick Lalime sighting on the Blackhawks bench as the team’s back-up goaltender. I can’t believe that it’s been 10 years since Lalime was a Pittsburgh Penguin. As for Toews and Kane, while I don’t think that they are in the same category as Crosby and Malkin, they and the Blackhawks are going to be very good for a long time.

The player that I couldn’t stop watching throughout the game and the trip was Coyote left wing, Daniel Carcillo. I found this article about Carcillo by Dave Molinari in the Post-Gazette when I returned from the trip. The article is spot on. The Penguins traded Carcillo for Georges Laraque late last year. After seeing him play live, I feel like Phoenix definitely got the better part of the deal. Carcillo seems to hit someone or get hit by an opponent on nearly every shift. He also has a scoring touch as evidenced in a nice backhand shot against Detroit in Game #3, and he plays on the power play. His temper is a problem though. He had 23 penalty minutes in the Chicago game including two double minors, the second of which was for Interference for moving the goalie's stick when it was on the ice and then an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and 10-minute major for going crazy arguing the call. I think Gretzky benched him in the third since the only time he was on the ice was going from the penalty box to the bench after the penalty ended.

Although the United Center opened in 1994, it seems like an old arena, but not in a good way. Dank may be the word to describe the place and the concourses should be much wider for a newer arena. I feel for the Blackhawk fans as they really want a winner. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2001-2002 season when they got knocked out in the first round. Plus, most of the Blackhawk games aren’t even shown on local television. As the Blackhawks improve and continue to win, the fans will return. Fortunately, the Blackhawks didn’t claim to have the world’s greatest fans like the Cubs and the Wild.

Two quick stories from the game:

1. I went to the main stadium shop at the arena looking through Bulls and Blackhawks merchandise. After a few minutes, I asked one of the store employees if they had any Aaron Gray gear. Gray played college basketball at the University of Pittsburgh and is now a rookie for the Bulls. The employee had no idea who Gray was. That’s not a good sign.

2. The highlight of the evening was a father behind me explaining the finer points of hockey to his young son, who was probably attending his first hockey game. Part-way through the third period, a rather large gentleman sitting in the row in front of me, attempted to climb over his row to exit instead of asking a few people in his row to stand up to let him get by. Oh, I forgot to mention that said guy was pretty drunk, and struggled to climb over the seats, spilling beer along the way. After he left, the kid asked his father about what he just witnessed. Although I do not remember the father’s exact quote, it started with, When you have too many adult beverages….

Saturday, December 1

Game #3: Detroit Red Wings vs. Phoenix Coyotes

I’ve written way too much already, so I’ll make this one brief. Phoenix and Bryzgalov bounced back from the Chicago game, and led 2-1 after 2 periods. However, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and the Red Wings were too much for the Coyotes and pulled out a 3-2 victory. The Red Wings are an extremely talented team, but I had the feeling that they weren’t playing their best.

I was really excited about seeing a game in Joe Louis Arena. You often hear Detroit referred to as Hockeytown, so I wanted to see the fans and the arena in person. While I liked the arena primarily because of its history and old-fashioned feel (a good old-fashioned feel as opposed to the United Center), and the dozens of Red Wings banners hanging from the rafters, I was disappointed that there were not more people in attendance. There seemed to be a lot of empty seats. What I really liked most about the arena may have been the announcer, who sounded like he was from another era. Most of the announcers I hear at stadiums over the past few years yell to get the crowd excited. This announcer was Joe Friday; simply providing the facts. It was refreshing to hear (I’m especially talking to you, Washington Capitals announcer).

During the game, we learned that Henrik Zetterberg has a website. Among the website’s highlights as mentioned at the game are a weekly podcast and the Z-Mailbox, where Hank (Hank?) answers questions sent in by fans. I visited the website and found that Hank’s weekly podcasts took place on October 2, October 22 and most recently on November 8 (Note: Right before I posted this, I saw that there is a new Z-Cast Podcast dated December 6. Damn you Z!). That’s not exactly weekly now is it Hank?

Final notes from the trip:

- I knew it was going to be a good sign for the road trip, when the license plate started with UWE, which must have been for former NHL defenseman Uwe Krupp, who played for the Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, New York Islanders, Quebec Nordiques, Detroit Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers in his career.

- Phoenix has a player named Zbynek Michalek and Chicago has player named Andrei Zyuzin. If Michalek marries Andrei’s sister (if he has a sister) and decides to change his last name, Zbynek Zyuzin would be a heck of a name!

- This year’s random songs heard several times during the trip: “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats and Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas song. Can someone please explain Trans-Siberian Orchestra to me? They only have one song, but they tour every year around the holidays, and seem to do well.

- Here are the attendance numbers from the games:
Minnesota - 18,568 (102.8% full)
Chicago - 16,234 (79.2% full)
Detroit - 18,557 (92.5% full)

- The total mileage for this trip was 918 miles and we visited five states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan). Indiana really got screwed when the state boundaries were developed. All of these other states have many miles of lakefront property; Indiana only borders Lake Michigan for 25 or so miles.

Finally, I have a few thank-yous I want to share (these are specifically for people who may read this):

Thanks to Andy for the excellent pizza and Chicago advice.

Thanks to Scott, Manager of Hockey Development of the Phoenix Coyotes, for providing a detailed description of the Phoenix players and even suggesting places to stay in Minnesota and Chicago. I e-mailed Scott that I understood if he and the entire organization no longer wanted me to attend future Coyote games since the team lost all three games I saw live. He replied, “Yes, please never attend a Coyotes game again,” and said wrote that he was kidding. (Or was he?)

Thanks to Seth at Empty Netters for putting together an excellent Pittsburgh Penguins and hockey site and for proving me with a list of players to watch since I really am not familiar with many Western Conference teams.

Thanks to “Uncle Chi-Chi” for organizing the entire trip. I would never do this by myself, and this really was his idea in the first place.

And thank you to everyone who actually made it to the end of this!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Chanukah

2007 Hockey Road Trip Recap Part I

The second annual hockey road trip was a great success. Well, unless you were a Phoenix Coyote fan or player. More on this in a moment. This will be a long entry which includes my thoughts and observations about the three hockey games I attended as well as notes and thoughts on the road. If you’re a sports fan, there will be plenty here about hockey and the arenas where the games were played. If you’re not a sports fan, there will be plenty here about Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit and points in between. I should probably start at the beginning.

This year’s road trip actually started in the air. I was all prepared to start this post by complaining about AirTran. Although the airline provided the cheapest tickets by far, I was not all that keen on taking a 6:40 AM flight from Dulles to Atlanta with a 3-hour layover before flying to Minneapolis/St. Paul. My return flight featured only 30 minutes between stops, so I figured that I had an excellent chance of missing the second flight and staying in Atlanta for hours, possibly missing Sunday night’s Steelers-Bengals game. Plus, if you want to chose a specific seat, whether it is window, aisle or even middle, AirTran charges $7.50 per leg. So what happened? I had window and aisle seats on all four segments, the flights departed and arrived on time, and AirTran has XM satellite radio, so I was able to listen to ESPN radio on Sunday’s flight in order to get updates on my fantasy football teams. Overall, I’ll give AirTran a thumbs up, particularly for XM, but did I really need to fly through Atlanta to get from Dulles to Minnesota and then again from Detroit to Dulles? Plus, charging to choose a particular seat seems a bit absurd.

Wednesday, November 28

After arriving at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport, the first stop was naturally the Mall of America (MOA). Actually, my first stop should have been an attempt to find the famous “Larry Craig bathroom” at the airport, but after a long day of traveling, I just wanted to get my bag, get the rental car and start the trip. According to its website, the “Mall of America is the nation’s largest retail and entertainment complex.” My thought: “This is a big mall.” MOA features an indoor amusement park, aquarium, movie theater and hundreds of shops and restaurants. Of course, what I noticed most was the multiple Caribou Coffee and Orange Julius restaurants. There also seems to be a good number of Minnesota related stores selling Minnesota items. Despite the hundreds of stores, including a giant Lego store and a Green Bay Packers store (in Vikings territory!), there was no Leftorium. There was, however, a Long John Silvers, which made me very happy. In case you were wondering, my food for the entire day consisted of a Dunkin’ Donuts donut; Egg McMuffin meal; Long John Silvers meal; arena popcorn; and a beer. Breakfast of champions!

Following the trip to the mall, it was time for the first hockey game: your Minnesota Wild versus your Phoenix Coyotes. A few notes about the XCel Center, the Minnesota Wild and the game:

- The XCel Center is located in downtown St. Paul, both of which are very cool. The arena opened in 2000 and still feels like a new arena with a huge merchandise shop and numerous food and beer options. I was also really impressed with the area directly surrounding the arena. Besides the numerous bars and restaurants, the arena is attached to a convention center and theatre with a beautiful small park just behind it.

- The arena was filled with signs for the “State of Hockey,” which apparently is Minnesota. They even have a neat little song and video. As much as I wanted to make fun of the song, it is significantly better than “The Hockey Song” (otherwise known as The Gold Old Hockey Game).

- I searched for nearly an hour online to find a picture of the ticket stub without success. The ticket features a picture of Brain Cutter, a Wild fan in Section 218 wearing a Wild hat and jersey. What I don’t understand about the picture is that Cutter is holding three plastic cups, one of which has the Buffalo Sabres logo and another one for the Nashville Predators. I don’t get it.

- Former Penguin Mike Ramsey is an assistant coach for the Wild.

- As for the game itself, Marion Gaborik scored a game-winning goal on a breakaway, after getting behind the defense on two other occasions and getting stopped by Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The final score was 3-1 and was perfectly summarized by Coyotes defenseman Nick Boynton who said, “"I didn't think they were very good either. It was two bad teams out there and it's unfortunate that we didn't come out on top. They were ready to be had and we didn't play well enough."

- It really was a terribly boring game. Even though there were 18,000+ in attendance, there was no excitement and the crowd was fairly quiet. Maybe this has to do with the game itself, but if you claim to have the world’s greatest fans (or something like that), call yourselves the “Team of 18000” and retire the number 1 as a tribute to the fans, I expect some enthusiasm and passion.

Finally, I learned of the following Minnesota saying: “Uff Da.” It is featured on T-shirts and bumper stickers in several of the Minnesota stores. I asked someone I know from Minnesota what this means, and he replied that it is a Minnesota way to say Oy Vey. I really would like someone to use Uff Da in a sentence.

Oh, the temperature on Wednesday night was a whopping 7 degrees with a very cold wind chill.

I’ve only written about one day of the trip, but I’m done for now. Stay tuned for part two.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Steelers-Bengals Notes

I’m back from the 2007 hockey road trip, just in time to watch the Steelers-Bengals game. Here are my thoughts about the game:

- Are people going to think that it always rains in Pittsburgh? Last week’s monsoon and Sunday’s rain and muddy field were both shown on national television.

- I love watching Hines Ward. Eleven catches for 90 yards and two touchdowns and he passed John Stallworth for the most touchdown receptions in team history. He has such passion and enthusiasm and consistently makes tough catches.

- The primary focus on sports talk shows and the internets over the next few days is going to be Willie Parker’s fumbles. He had four overall with two either overturned or upheld by challenges. With Davenport out for who knows how long (hopefully not long), the team really does not have any viable alternatives if Parker continues to struggle (which I do not think he will). Will there be calls to bring in Kevan Barlow or Verron Haynes?

- Except for one poor Sepulveda punt, the special teams played well forcing a fumble and not giving up any big punt or kick-off returns. Of course, when I write that the special teams played well, I have low expectations. Allen Rossum seems to have mastered the art of returning punts by running completely across the field and then stepping out of bounds for a whopping three-yard gain.

- After the first drive when Cincinnati marched down the field for a touchdown, the defense also played great. Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh were held in check (especially after the first drive); although the team only had one sack, it seemed like the defense pressured Carson Palmer quite often; and Palmer was held to under 200 yards passing with a completion percentage less than 40%.

- The offensive line played much better than the previous two games against the Jets and Dolphins as the Bengals had no official sacks (the safety was erased due to a questionable penalty for holding by a Cincinnati defensive back). Parker had 87 yards rushing, but that was on 28 carries. The O-line has to perform even better next week against New England.

- NBC did a nice job of having Jerome Bettis visit a Steeler bar in New York City. Seeing Cris Collinsworth visit a “Bengal bar” was quite amusing. For those of you who missed it, Bettis went to a packed Steelers bar with hordes of fans wearing jerseys. NBC showed Collinsworth at an empty bar.

- Here is the game recap from the Post-Gazette and ESPN.

Expect complete details of the 2007 hockey road trip soon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2007 Hockey Road Trip

The second annual hockey road trip is back after a very successful adventure in 2006. This year’s trip includes stops in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago and Detroit. I’m leaving on Wednesday morning and will try to post updates from the road if possible. If not, expect a full review when I return.

Some initial topics I plan to discuss:

- Why am I flying through Atlanta to get from Washington to Minnesota?

- Will the rental car really be $45 as quoted or will they try to screw me?

- Since I am attending three straight Phoenix Coyote road games, will coach Wayne Gretzky send me a personal invitation to meet the team?

- Is the Mall of America worth visiting?

- Who will win Dancing With the Stars?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thankful To Be A Steelers Fan

As the four-day Thanksgiving comes to a close, I wanted to share a few stories that make me proud to be a Steelers fan. The first comes from a reader at Mondesi’s House:

I was in NYC for business over the past weekend and linked up with the New England rep and his fiancée to watch some football on Sunday. They're Patriot fans. Found out about a Steeler Bar in NYC, Scruffy Duffy's, donned my #36 jersey and headed over. An hour before kickoff, the place is filled with #7, #12, #32, #47, #58, #75, #86...........with more and more by the minute. As game time approaches, the Steeler polka and Here We Go is played. People are singing and my buddy asks me, "Do you know the words to this song?" Of course I do. Game starts and there's passion in the air. Folks are disappointed by the start, but no one has given up. The place is erupting with every key 3rd down pick up and exploding with Ben's touchdown run. After momentarily being silenced by Cribbs' return TD, the place builds up and explodes again with the final TD drive. Final Browns drive. The bar has a wheel that it spins with numbers associated with different plays that will result in a free drink: Interception return for TD, Fumble return for TD. The free drink for the second half was a 50 yard field goal. So as Dawson lines up, a make equals a free drink, and miss equals a victory. Victory is preferred to even a $6 beer and place goes crazy. Here We Go is being blasted again. High five and hugs for people who would be strangers if not for their Steelers garb.

The scene and passion of the past four hours has confused my Patriot friends. As we walk back to our hotel to begin going our separate ways, the comments I heard were:

- "Why don't we (Patriot fans) have a song?
- "I'm not sure I wouldn't have been rooting for the free beer."
- "Even the girls wear Steeler jerseys. And not those pink ones."
- "You guys (Steeler fans) are crazy."
- "Do you think they have Patriots' bars in other cities?"

I have also come to find out that my buddy bought a Pats #12 jersey on Monday. It's amazing what happens when fans of other teams get a glimpse at the Steeler Nation.

I have had discussions with folks over the years about the most passionate football fan base. I challenge anyone to prove that their team, whether it is the Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, or, this season, the New England Patriots are more passionate or more wide-spread than the Steelers. Stories like the one above happen all over the world. Seriously. The Post-Gazette has a detailed list of Steeler bars, which includes places to watch the Steelers play in all 50 states, plus Canada, Iraq, Mexico, Japan, Germany, China, Brazil, Peru, Spain and more.

In case you wanted to make an argument for the Dallas Cowboys, since they are “America’s Team,” check out this story courtesy of the DC Steeler Nation group:

"The term was coined by sportswriter Bob Ryan in 1979, although he didn't have the Cowboys in mind when he created it." After the '78 season, the Cowboys had just lost a crushing Super Bowl to the Steelers," he recalls. "I wanted to come up with a different twist on a story I was doing. So, I asked the Rooney family if I could name the Pittsburgh Steelers, 'America's Team'. But, I was surprised when the Rooney family said no. The next year I asked the Cowboys franchise and they said yes." Other media personalities soon adopted the colorful phrase and within a matter of weeks football fans from coast to coast were referring to Dallas as America's Team. Surprisingly, Steelers owner Art Rooney still has no regrets about declining the honorific title. 'We didn't want that," he says. "We're a Pittsburgh team. We feel strongly about that."

Go Steelers!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving Message

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to share the following message for you and your families:

Can't believe the Mets traded Darryl Strawberry.

We should also be thankful that Neil Diamond is in the news for revealing the inspiration of "Sweet Caroline."

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Follow Up From Yesterday

The video of the Jonas brother tripping at the American Music Awards is now on YouTube and also here.

Christine pointed out the following ad that was listed on the right side of page:

Gay-Friendly Autos
Does your ride reflect your Pride? Is your car out of the closet?

We didn't realize cars could be gay. Who knew?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Procrastination Week

It is a short week for everyone unless they work in retail, and I don’t want to write about the Steelers embarrassing loss to the Jets (special teams and offensive line problems AGAIN) or Ithaca College falling to Mount Union (this was not unexpected but I was hopeful for a huge upset). Actually, how can a team allow the Jets, who only had 9 sacks in 9 games, record 7 sacks? OK, I don’t want to talk about football anymore. Instead, I’ll share the following links and quizzes that will hopefully occupy some time if you don’t feel like working very hard or if you’re waiting for the turkey to be ready. In case you were wondering, national procrastination week is in March, so I wish you a late Happy Procrastination Week!

* Rolling Stone presents “The Almost-Impossible Rock & Roll Quiz.” I scored a 32 but with lots of guesses.

* The Chicago Tribune lists the top 25 worst TV shows ever. There is no reason why Mr. Belvedere should be on this list especially when shows like MTV’s Date My Mom or A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila or the quickly cancelled Heather Graham show (Emily’s Reason Why Not) are excluded.

* Dr. Freada Kapor Klein wrote an article in the Post-Gazette titled 'The Office': Why doesn't anyone ever quit? While this could and should be a funny article, the author decides to make it serious. Sigh. (I’m not even sure why I am linking to this article. I guess if you work in HR, which I do not, it could be useful.)

* Here is a game to match the movie heist mastermind(s) to the score they tried to steal. I was 12 for 12 on this one.

Finally, I watched some of the American Music Awards on Sunday night and saw part of the Jonas Brothers performance. When they entered the stage, one of the brothers tripped and fell. It was quite funny. (Why is there not a clip of this on YouTube yet?) Anyway, it seems like people think the Jonas Brothers are going to be the next big teen band. Well, let me tell you that I knew Hanson; Hanson was a friend of mine (well, not really). Jonas Brothers, you’re no Hanson.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blog Readability Test

Apparently, someone needs a high school education to understand this blog. I disagree. I'm sure that elementary school kids can understand my writing about the Steelers, California Tortilla and the stupid Verizon commercial, although my references to Small Wonder and Vanilla Ice probably doesn't help.

To access the Blog Readability Test, click here or on the box above (where it says "click here to find out").

Found on The Burgh Blog.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Worst Television Commercial Ever

In one of my first blog entries almost three years ago, I wrote about my dislike of the Dr. Scholl's “Are You Gellin?” commercials. The whole melon, zinfandellin, gellin’ thing really got on my nerves. Fortunately, I have not seen one of these commercials in many months.

Unfortunately, a new commercial has emerged to replace Dr. Scholl’s. That honor goes to Verizon Wireless for its commercial where a father goes around the house handing new phones to his wife and two kids while telling them each individually that they are his number one. He ends the commercial by pulling out a new phone and telling the Verizon / Can You Hear Me Now guy, “saving the best for numero uno.” What the hell is wrong with the dad? Why does he really need to tell everyone that they are his number one? He’s just a lying liar. And what kind of exercising is his wife doing? After an hour of her moving back and forth, she may burn a total of 10 calories. I’m also not a big fan of her fake laugh when the husband tells her that she is his number one. The wife really could the adult version of the robot girl on the syndicated 80s show “Small Wonder.”

Personally, I can’t wait for the sequel to this commercial where the father receives the first bill and flips out at his kids because they sent and received thousands of text messages. Then, maybe the tables will turn and the father will be exposed for the pompous, lying liar that he is.

So please join me in congratulating Verizon Wireless for having the worst commercial ever. This commercial, which seems to air all the time, is making me reconsider Verizon as my cell phone carrier.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Car Rental Help

I need some help. My 2007 Hockey Road Trip is quickly approaching, and I recently discovered that renting a car is going to be more expensive than the combined cost of airfare and tickets to three separate games. For some reason, the cost of renting a car at Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and returning it four days later to Detroit airport is astonishing. (I think this has something to do with dropping off the car at a different location.) Anyway, I’m looking for suggestions to rent a car for a reasonable price. If you happen to be a travel agent that can get me a good deal, e-mail me at seanramblings at yahoo [dot] com, and I will be glad to promote you and your business here. (That has to be worth thousands in free advertising!)

Thanks in advance to anyone and everyone for their advice.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Steelers-Browns Notes

I attended Sunday's Steelers-Browns game and here my thoughts from Heinz Field:

- In my opinion, Joshua Cribbs has now replaced Eric Metcalf as the scariest Steelers' opponent. Fortunately (or unfortunately), I missed his kickoff return for a TD as I was in the bathroom.

- I was shocked (sarcasm added) that a county act performed the national anthem and a song before the game. I generally only attend one Steeler game in Pittsburgh per season, but every game recently has featured a country act. This week's country group that I've never heard of: Lady Antebellum. For country fans that read this, have you ever heard of them?

- The Steelers struggled to get a pass rush most of the game, so I think they made a nice adjustment by having more defenders in coverage in the second half.

- Since I don't listen to Cleveland talk radio, I wonder if Romeo Crennel is being criticized for his terrible decision late in the game to take a time-out, then challenge Heath Miller's TD catch only to lose the challenge and the second time-out. The Browns really could have used the extra time in the final drive to attempt a field goal closer than 53 yards. These are the kind of poor decisions that will open the door for Bill Cowher to become the Browns' head coach next season.

- Browns' offensive lineman Ryan Tucker's right arm is entirely covered by tattoos. However, his left arm features no tattoos. I feel like this was important for me to share.

- When did Roethlisberger become Randall Cunningham and Fran Tarkenton?

- In the final play of the game, a Browns' player was penalized 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct. However, since the game ended, no penalty was actually assessed. I think the Browns should be penalized 15 yards in their next game against the Steelers.

- There was no sign of Steely McBeam in the stadium. His only appearance was on the scoreboard as part of a visit to a school. McBeam got booed.

- When Steelers' General Manager Kevin Colbert checks his voicemail today, I'm guessing there will several messages from Chidi Iwuoma just saying hi. Based on the team's special teams performance, Colbert will probably return the call.

For a recap of the game by professional journalists, check out ESPN & the Post-Gazette.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Bombers Win!

Ithaca College defeated Cortland 40-17 to take back the Cortaca Jug. Woo hoo! Go Bombers! (Here's the box score.) Now we wait until Sunday to see if Ithaca makes the Division III playoffs.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Rivalry Weekend

This is a big rivalry weekend with Cortland State at Ithaca College on Saturday and the Cleveland Browns visiting the Steelers on Sunday. I’ll start with the 49th Cortaca Jug game, although there have actually been 65 games in the series (Ithaca leads 36-26-3). Both teams enter with 7-2 records and the winner has an outside chance at making the Division III playoffs, even though no 8-2 teams earned an at-large bid in 2006 and the playoff projections fail to include either team. I’ve got several links for this game so here we go:

* The Ithacan explains how the Bombers can make the postseason.
*Cortland Game Notes
*The Ithaca Journal’s preview #1 and #2
*To the fans, stay safe out there. (Seriously, don’t drink and drive; plus, there are usually checkpoints set up between Ithaca and Cortland.)

After the Steelers crushed Cleveland in week one, I wrote that the rivalry between the two teams was over. I’m not ready to retract what I wrote, but Sunday’s game may decide the AFC North division winner. If the Browns do manage to win the game, the rivalry is back. I’ll be live at Heinz Field on Sunday, though not live-blogging, but I’ll try to share notes about the game.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

G-Hog and Other Links

I can’t decide if this is unintentionally funny or not. From Wonkette, the Pennsylvania Department of Labor is promoting Health Career week by having a groundhog, called G-Hog, rap about health careers. I think Steely McBeam has some competition.

According to the Turnkey Team Brand Index, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the number 1-ranked brand in sports. Of the 122 professional sports teams, the Penguins finished at 20, the Pirates at 72 (how are they ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers at 73?), the Capitals are 118 (yikes), and the Nationals are 100. (I found this on Deadspin)

Here’s a vocabulary game where, apparently, 10 grains of rice are donated through the UN to help end world hunger for each correct answer.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Steelers-Ravens Recap

First, I would like to thank the fine folks at Dulles Airport for ensuring that I missed the first quarter and half of the second quarter of Monday night’s Steelers-Ravens game. While my flight actually arrived on time, I waited at baggage claim at least 15 minutes before receiving my luggage and this is after taking the people-mover thing to the main terminal. Why does it always take so long to get your bags at Dulles airport? I know it’s a big airport, but only once can I remember luggage arriving within a few minutes. After finally getting my bag, there were 15+ people waiting for a taxi. I silently (and not so silently) said c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon…well, you get the point.

By the time I walked through the front door, the Steelers were already up 21-0. While I would love to talk about James Harrison’s incredible performance, I did not see the three forced fumbles and two of his 3.5 sacks. I also missed seeing Ben’s first three touchdown passes including Nate Washington’s first TD of the season. It may finally be time for Tivo. So this is what I did see live on television:

- Hines Ward blocking. It was great seeing him level Ed Reed. How do fans of other teams feel about Hines Ward? Is he seen as a dirty player? I can guarantee that every fan would love to have Hines on their team.

- Santonio Holmes burned the Ravens secondary on several occasions. It’s hard to believe that he’s only played in 24 NFL games.

- If you are a Ravens fan (or player), you had to be embarrassed by linebacker Terrell Suggs. Down 35-7 late in the first half, Suggs sacked Ben proceeded to celebrate. Losing by 28 points is no reason to celebrate!

- I know it has been written and discussed in many places, but I hated seeing Ben return to the game in the fourth quarter. There was no reason for him to re-enter the game after being injured earlier.

- Harrison’s performance reminded me of several dominant games by defensive players. I watched Osi Umenyiora record six sacks against the Eagles earlier this season and remember Derrick Thomas and Jason Taylor causing havoc with multi-sack games.

The comments on the Baltimore Sun message board are fun. Billick must go; McNair must go; “Stick a fork in them. THEY'RE DONE! I don't see them winning one more game this season.” Naturally, some Steeler fans living in Baltimore are happy and share their comments; Raven fans reply; hilarity ensues.

I’m getting really excited about attending the Steelers-Browns game on Sunday! I will not forget the tickets in Virginia!

P.S. The picture is by Peter Diana of the Post-Gazette.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Return of Name That Tune

After a several month absence, welcome to a new edition of name that tune. Hopefully this will be a nice distraction for your Monday. Lyrics from five songs are listed below. Your challenge is to name the song title and artist. Please try not to search the internet for the answers. Either you know the songs or you don't. Good luck!

1a. Out on the road today I saw a deadhead sticker on a cadillac
A little voice inside my head said, don't look back. you can never look back.
1b. Out on the road today, I saw a black flag sticker on a cadillac
A little voice inside my head said, don’t look back. you can never look back.

2. I'm dope on the floor and I'm magic on the mic
Now why would I ever stop doing this
With others makin' records that just don't hit
(Full disclosure here: I thought the first few words were I go four for four and I’m magic on the mic)

3. I know that you're gonna have it your way
Or nothing at all
But I think you re moving too fast

4. And just like fashion it's a passion for the with it and hip
If you got the goods they'll come and buy it just to stay in the clique

5. Oh can't you see me standing here,
I've got my back against the record machine

Friday, November 02, 2007

Deception in New Mexico

I am writing live from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yesterday, I arrived at the Albuquerque airport and traveled north on Interstate 25 towards Santa Fe. A few miles north of Albuquerque (I like typing Albuquerque – is there another large city with two Qs in its name?), I saw a sign that stated 101 miles to Las Vegas. I did not realize that Santa Fe was so close to Las Vegas, so I immediately started to think of an excuse to leave Santa Fe for a few hours to go to Las Vegas. Unfortunately, as most people familiar with U.S. geography already have figured out, the sign referenced the number of miles to Las Vegas, New Mexico, not Las Vegas, Nevada. I wonder how many people have seen the mileage signs and visited Las Vegas, New Mexico thinking that they were going to Nevada. Is it so much to ask the fine folks at the New Mexico Department of Transportation (and I really do mean the fine folks since the speed limit here is 70 or 75 in some places) to put Las Vegas, NM on the signs? I guess that most people driving in New Mexico already know that the sign means Las Vegas, NM, and it may offend the residents of this historic town.

It really is an historic town. According to New Mexico Las Vegas website, "Las Vegas was founded in 1835 by Mexican settlers, whose family roots went back to the early 1600's when the Spanish arrived, Las Vegas was the first town wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail, which went through the heart of town, hit after 600 miles of tough travel from the last town in Kansas. General Kearney in 1846 announced to the residents that they were no longer citizens of Mexico but under the "protection" of the Army of the United States of America. Located on the edge of the eastern plains at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the town became a key stop on the Santa Fe Trail and later host to outlaws, Rough Riders, and silent screen stars. Kit Carson, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Teddy Roosevelt, and Tom Mix all strolled these streets. The town's history is preserved in the city of Las Vegas Museum & Rough Riders collection."

Who knew that there was a museum for DMX? Despite the interesting description, I am not going to try to leave Santa Fe for a few hours to visit this Las Vegas, especially since I do not have a car.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Top 10 Bands Named for Places

I recently found the following list of the top ten bands named for a location from the folks at

10. America
9. Asia
8. Berlin
7. Nazareth
6. Styx
5. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
4. Kansas
3. Boston
2. Europe
1. Chicago

One of the first topics I posted on this site was bands that have a city, state or country as part of the name. When I wrote this, I used HaloScan for comments, so I do not have the responses anymore. Anyway, I now present my own top 10 list:

10. Hannah Montana (You can laugh at this, but Hannah Montana tickets are the hottest in town)
9. Asia
8. Europe (The Final Countdown is not enough for me to make Europe higher on this list)
7. Berlin
6. L.A. Guns / Hollywood Rose (precursor of Guns ‘N Roses; GNR would be at or near the top)
5. America
4. Kansas
3. Boston
2. Alabama
1. Chicago

Honorable mentions: Frankie Goes to Hollywood, New York Dolls and Bay City Rollers

I should probably include more rationale for my picks, but I’ll wait to see everyone else's comments before defending my selections.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Colclough Released

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “the Steelers today released fourth-year cornerback Ricardo Colclough, the team's second-round draft pick in 2004.” I’m a little confused by this decision. Although he is the #4 cornerback, he made the Pro Bowl team last season and looks like he has a good chance to make it again this season. Colclough is dangerous coming on the blitz from the dime package. Sorry, I just realized that I described Colclough in my Madden 2007 game.

The real Colclough will be best remembered as a Pittsburgh Steeler for his muffed punt against the Bengals in 2006, which ended up costing the Steelers a victory. AOL Fanhouse has more about the Ricardo Colclough era.

Division III Football

I could write about the impressive Steelers victory over the Bengals (the way the Bengals have been playing this season, it might be easy for Steeler fans to get group tickets again like it was pre-Carson Palmer days), the Red Sox winning the World Series, Ohio State defeating Penn State, or even Pitt and the Penguins. Instead, I want to write about a topic that I haven’t mentioned much this season…Division III football. More specifically, Ithaca College football, but I’ll start with D3 football as a whole. Perhaps you read about or saw video of the amazing ending of the Trinity-Millsaps game in which Trinity had 15 laterals on the last play of the game to score the winning touchdown. While much of the article describes the play itself, it ends with the following:

With the victory, Trinity remained in contention for the Southern CollegiateAthletic Conference title and an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III playoffs. Millsaps would have clinched the playoff spot by winning.

"This puts us in position to play for something in November," said Mohr, 143-53 in his 18 seasons at Trinity. "It doesn't guarantee anything. Our kids understand it, but at least it kept us in the hunt."

Unlike the ridiculous Division I Bowl Championship Series where you may not have the best teams meet in the championship (are the best college teams really Ohio State and Boston College or could Arizona State, Oregon, LSU, West Virginia, Oklahoma or others beat either of these teams on a neutral field?), Division III football has a real playoff system where the argument over the best team is settled on the field. I included the above quote because the Trinity coach realizes that the victory, although incredible, keeps the team alive for the D3 playoffs.

This all brings me to Ithaca College football. The Bombers started the season 2-2, but have now won four straight games going into this Saturday’s game at #19 Alfred. Following the Alfred game is the annual Cortaca Jug game against SUNY Cortland, one of the greatest rivalries in sports (yes I’m being serious). In my opinion, Ithaca will earn a playoff spot with two wins. Things are a little dicey if IC wins only one of these two games. I’m sure that I’ll write more about the 2007 Cortaca Jug game as it gets closer, but in the meantime, visit for all of your Division 3 football news.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Giant Jason Taylor

I am very intrigued by this giant Jason Taylor robot. Is this really helping to promote American football in London? Maybe "Big JT" was designed to keep the pigeons out of Trafalgar Square.

Personally, I'm hoping to see "Big JT" come to Pittsburgh and visit Woodland Hills High School, where the real JT played football. I'd love to see Big JT walking on the Parkway East, although I'm not sure how he'll get through the Squirrel Hill tunnel.

My favorite part of the video may be where the announcer attempts to define a sack.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Am An Idiot Part 3

Welcome to the latest edition of Sean is an idiot. In part one, I left tickets to the Pittsburgh Steelers game in Virginia. In part two, I decided to throw salt at the tires of my car when it was stuck in snow. The tires were spinning quickly, so the salt flew back at me. I now present a new version of “I Am An Idiot.”

The DC area has had little rain over the past few months, so we certainly needed the 4-6 inches we received over the past few days. While I do not have the exact rainfall total, the rain was steady during rush hour on Friday afternoon. When I left my office to make the short walk to Metro, I checked my bag and noticed that my umbrella was not there. I couldn’t remember if I used the umbrella in the morning, so I figured I either left it in my car, home or office. On a normal day, the only time I would have needed the umbrella was waiting for the bus. However, I was going to Bethesda for dinner so I was sans umbrella for the evening. To reach my destination, I needed to take Bethesda’s free trolley and then walk a block or two. Since I had never used the trolley system, I got off about 5 blocks earlier than I should have, making the entire walk much longer than necessary. Did I mention that the rain was fairly heavy at the time, and I was walking without an umbrella or jacket? Naturally, by the time I arrived, I was soaked.

So here is why I am an idiot (this time) besides walking 5-6 blocks instead of just one. I needed to get something in my bag this morning, and what did I find? Of course, the umbrella. Apparently it was there the entire time, and I did not see or feel it with all of the papers and copies of the Express in my bag. I blame Rihanna.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why I Am Rooting Against the Red Sox

Before you send me hate e-mail and comments, please bear with me. This post is not directed to die-hard Red Sox fans, the fans who suffered through years of heartbreak. I should also state that I dislike the Yankees (again, please hold off on the hate e-mail and comments) and always root for the Red Sox to defeat the Yankees, especially during the 2003 and 2004 American League Championship Series. I remember cheering for Red Sox in 1986 because, as a Pirates fan, I hated the Mets (I even have an autographed picture of Bill Buckner from when he was a Chicago Cub), and was excited for Boston when they won the World Series in 2004. The 2004 Red Sox were amazing as they became the first team in baseball history to come back from a 3-0 deficit. Unless you were a Yankees fan, how could you not like the team with the slogan “Cowboy Up” and the nickname of the Idiots? They were a fun team and one that you wanted to support.

However, at least in my mind, things have changed. The Red Sox have essentially turned into the Yankees. What I have hated about the Yankees for years was their ability to buy any player they wanted (see Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, Carl Pavano, Randy Johnson and A-Rod – yes I know that they acquired him through a trade, but do you really think he’s going to get $30 million from another team next season?). The Red Sox have done the same thing. Instead of trying to repeat with the team that won the 2004 season, Boston allowed Dave Roberts, Derek Lowe and Orlando Cabrera to leave and replaced the latter with Edgar Renteria (I have no problems with the team’s decision not to match the incredible contacts of Damon and Pedro). They paid $8 million for Renteria, but after a mediocre season, he was gone. After a year or two of failure particularly when having one of the highest payrolls in baseball, what did the Red Sox do? They spent more money. The team signed J.D. Drew to a 5-year, $70 million contract (yes, we all know Drew is now worth the $14 million salary this season just because he hit a grand slam in the ALCS), Julio Lugo to a 4-year, $36 million contract and Daisuke Matsuzaka to a 5-year, $52 million deal plus another $51 million just for the negotiating rights. Overall, the Red Sox have a team payroll of more than $143 million! While that is less than the insane $195+ million payroll of the Yankees, the payroll is greater than every other team in baseball, and it’s not even close (the Mets are 3rd at $116 million). Unless you are a die-hard Red Sox fan or one that recently joined the bandwagon in 2004 (the main reason why I am sick of the Red Sox; see the terrible Fever Pitch movie), how can you root for this team? I’ll concede that I still like seeing David Ortiz in a clutch situation and Josh Beckett has been incredible this postseason, but I’m not supporting the Red Sox in this World Series. I'm sure that real Red Sox fans don't want me to support the team, and I'm fine with that. I don't want people jumping on to the Steelers or Pirates bandwagon (when the team is good again in 2037). The Rockies are an incredible story, plus I can't imagine seeing Josh Fogg actually pitching in the World Series.

Now I’ll get to spend the next week listening to how great Red Sox are from Joe Buck and Tim McCarver and read the same from Bill Simmons.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Randomness Part II

I still have a lot to write about, but I don’t think anything is worth a post by itself.

- “Phenomenon” debuts on Wednesday night on NBC. According to NBC’s description, the show is an intriguing and mystifying meeting of the minds on live television where famed mentalist Uri Geller and world-renowned mystifier (this can’t be a real word) Criss Angel conduct an intensive search for the next great mentalist. I think I’ll pass simply because I got sick of seeing the commercials during the Steelers game on Sunday night. Uri Geller’s eyes/stare is scary and Criss Angel needs to put on a real shirt.

- Remember the Taco Bell promotion I wrote about? It’s not really that good of a deal.

- If you haven’t heard, J.K. Rowling announced that Albus Dumbledore is gay. Here’s a discussion with Melissa Anelli of The Leaky Cauldron website from The Washington Post. Personally, this does not change the Harry Potter stories one bit, although it’s interesting that Rowling is revealing information about the characters outside the pages of the books.

- This is as good a place as any to mention my conversation with “Sloppy Drunk Penguin Fan” at a bar after the hockey game Saturday night. I walked over towards the television to see some college football scores, and this guy comes up to me asking about the Michigan-Illinois score. We talked for a minute or two as he managed to spill some beer on my shoe, and we figured out that we attended high schools close to each other. He then told me at least four times in about three minutes how he made an open field tackle against current Arizona Cardinal rookie Steve Breaston in high school. In addition, I learned that he and his friends came up with the nicknames “Uncle Gary” for Gary Roberts and “Big Dick” for Jordan Staal. According to SDPF, the Penguins players use those nicknames because of him and his friends. Um, yeah. Thankfully, one of my friends came up to me since he was leaving, which gave me a perfect excuse to walk away.

Actually, this conversation could have been a post on its own.

Randomness Part I

- A nice article about California Tortilla in Monday’s Washington Post with the following quote, “Another newly opened restaurant in Reston needs more word of mouth to boost traffic.” Well, I’m doing the best I can to help the word of mouth for the Cal-Tort in Reston, so GO TO CAL-TORT IN RESTON! Of course, reading the article also makes me worry a little bit about overexpansion.

- When I was in Utah last week, I learned that Utahns is spelled, well, Utahns. However, according to Microsoft Word, Utahns should be spelled Utahans.

- I also learned that someone named Frank Lynch is on the ballot in Utah’s Democratic primary for President. According to Frank Lynch’s website, he is “the most important emerging national leader since Abraham Lincoln came out of nowhere to transform America.” I’m going to go out on a limb here and say Abraham Lincoln will be slightly more important than Frank Lynch.

- Major League Baseball is having a “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion with Taco Bell. If any player steals a base in the 2007 World Series, Taco Bell is going to give one free Crunchy Seasoned Beef Taco to every person in America. Join the rest of America in praying for the health and success of Coco Crisp, Willy Taveras and Kaz Matsui. Taco Bell should give away franchises if Curt Schilling gets a stolen base (he has one career stolen base when he was on the Phillies in 1997).

- This is more a reminder for me than anything else; the Penguins game against the Rangers tonight at 7:00 is on Versus.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Penguins Capitals Game

I am heading to the Penguins-Capitals game tonight, for what is always a fun evening. My group consists of 11 people, and we're all Penguins fans. Since it's the beginning of the season, my guess is that there will be more Capitals fans than Penguins fans, but it will be loud on both sides, particularly on a Saturday night with alcohol involved. Near the end of last season, with the Capitals nearly eliminated from playoff contention, the crowd was seemingly 60%/40% in the Penguins favor. So if you're at the game tonight, I'll be the guy in a Penguins shirt (along with several thousand other people).

As always, go to the Post-Gazette's Empty Netters and The Pensblog for Penguins coverage and On Frozen Blog for Capitals news.

Go Pens!

UPDATE: The Penguins defeated the Capitals 2-1. A great time was had by all (Penguin fans)! While there may have been more Capital fans in the bottom section of the arena, it looked like there were a majority of Penguin fans in the cheaper seats. The Washington Post and Post-Gazette have the game story. Stay tuned for coverage of my conversation with a drunk Penguin fan at Regional Food and Drink.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Big Budah

I’m back from a three-day trip to Utah, and I must write about the Salt Lake City Fox morning news show, Good Morning Utah. It’s your typical local news show with traffic and weather, some local news and an on-site reporter who goes to a different place each day. However, Good Morning Utah stands out for one particular reason, Big Budah, GMU’s (not George Mason University) Feature Reporter. I certainly did a double-take when the credits saying that I was watching GMU with Joe Smith, Mary Jones, Fred Thomas (I’m making these names up) and Big Budah. After Big Budah throws the story back to the anchors, they say “Thanks B.” It was somewhat surreal.

Now I understand that this is a local morning news show, so I’m not expecting hard-hitting journalism from Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Morrow. However, a journalist that goes by Big Budah? I checked the station’s website and that really is his professional name. For some reason, I can’t see Dan Rather saying, “Now let’s go to Big Budah reporting live from Iraq.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Notes From the Denver Airport

Does the Denver airport realize that the Colorado Rockies are in the World Series? Based on my observations today, the answer is clearly no. While I did see about a dozen people wearing Rockies hats or shirts, I was shocked to find newsstands and other stores not only failing to sell National League Champion merchandise but also not selling ANY Rockies merchandise. If the Pittsburgh Pirates ever made the World Series, stores in the Pittsburgh airport would certainly sell Pirates gear. When the Steelers made and then won the Super Bowl in 2006, nearly every store in the airport sold Steelers merchandise or in the very least had black and gold decorations.

I couldn't take it anymore, so I went into a newsstand and asked if they sold any Rockies memorabilia. They directed me to a sports store across the concourse. I found the store, and the first thing I saw when I walked in was hats: Nuggets, Broncos, Colorado University, Avalanche, Colorado State University and Rockies hats. There was plenty of Rockies gear in the store but no more and possibly less than Broncos and Nuggets merchandise. I did found two types of "Rocktober" T-shirts, but they were all the way in the back of the store. That was it. In case you are wondering, I was in this sports store at 11:45 am Mountain time, so they had plenty of time to have NL Championship shirts or signs.

My only other comment about the Denver airport is a suggestion to the guy next to me at a McDonalds line. Did you really need to use a $100 bill to buy a Quarter Pounder?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Select a Presidential Candidate Quiz

With so many candidates running for President, wouldn’t it be easier to choose one who is most aligned with your views and opinions in a quiz format? Well, this 11-question quiz is designed to do just that! (Actually, the disclaimer states that “this quiz is not meant to pick your candidate for you; it is designed to inform the public of the various stances candidates make.”)

The candidate ranked highest by how much I agree with their stances is John Edwards. In last place: Tom Tancredo. I have no idea who Mr. Tancredo is unless he is related to Sara Tancredi from Prison Break.

I hope this quiz is a nice distraction for your Monday. Feel free to share your pick in the comments section.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Michael Clayton

By now, there is a good chance that you have seen commercials or trailers for the movie Michael Clayton, opening nationwide today. If you are debating whether or not to see it, I’m going to give an excellent reason to go to the theater. It’s not because of the 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the talk of an Oscar nomination for Best Picture or for the great acting of George Clooney and Tom Wilkinson. No, I recommend that you see the movie because of the major motion picture debut of Jason Strong starring as First Year. Not only is Jason an experienced stage actor and Pittsburgh native, but he’s also my opponent in fantasy football this week. There is no truth to the rumor that he will get bonus points if Michael Clayton makes over $25 million this weekend. If you do see Michael Clayton this weekend (the Steelers are on a bye, so you don’t have to worry about missing the game), get to the theater on time since Jason is in the opening sequence.

Jason also has a blog, where he wrote about his experiences at the Michael Clayton premier.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Life Insurance

This is an extremely random topic, but I’m looking for some advice. I’m interested in getting additional life insurance above what my company provides. I’m not planning on dying or anything; just looking for some information. Does anyone know of good companies to contact or of reputable insurance agents, preferably in Northern Virginia? I really have no idea where to start.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Eastern Promises Movie Review

Welcome to the first ever movie review here at Sean’s Ramblings. I’ve written about movies numerous times in the past although it generally involved movie quotes, the Oscars or a debate about the genius of Kevin Costner. Anyway, over the weekend, I saw the movie “Eastern Promises” starring Viggo Mortensen and Naomi Watts. Although this movie has been out a few weeks, I have heard very little about it except for positive reviews from BDK on the Junkies and my friend Chris. According to the October 5-7 box office numbers, "Eastern Promises" finished 11th this weekend with slightly less than $2.1 million. Compare that to "Mr. Woodcock" that finished in 9th place earning $2.3 million. Now in its fourth week in theatres, Eastern Promises has only made about $14.5 million in cumulative gross, so this is obviously not going to be Titanic or even The Kingdom (that’s the current movie where The Rock is a quarterback who learns he has a daughter; the daughter grows up to kidnap approximately 100 Dalmatian puppies for their fur, or something like that).

Since I don’t feel like writing a summary of the movie (I’m great at this movie review thing), here’s the plot outline “borrowed” from IMDB: “The film follows the mysterious and ruthless Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), who is tied to one of London's most notorious organized crime families. His carefully maintained existence is jarred when he crosses paths with Anna (Naomi Watts), an innocent midwife trying to right a wrong, who accidentally uncovers potential evidence against the family. Now Nikolai must put into motion a harrowing chain of murder, deceit, and retribution.”

So here’s my review: “Eastern Promises” is a fantastic movie. The acting is terrific, particularly Mortensen and Armin Mueller-Stahl (I had to look up his name), who plays the head of the Russian crime family. I think both of them will earn Academy Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively. The story certainly kept me intrigued following Watts enter this completely different world and watching Mortensen just being a bad-ass. I’m not going to give away anything regarding the plot, but I just wanted to give a warning: there are a few scenes that are extremely violent. There were audible gasps by most of the audience on one or two occasions, and one woman ran out of the theatre appearing to suppress vomiting. You really could just close your eyes or look away for five seconds. So because of her, I’m writing to highly recommend Eastern Promises, but if you are against strong brutal violence, you may want to pass.