Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Video: Toxic

Let me preface this post by stating that this video (which is actually just an audio recording) is juvenile and pretty dumb. However, I listened to it several times and laughed each time.

Enjoy this cover version of Britney Spears' Toxic being played by mediocre flautists.*

* If nothing else, please appreciate that I used the word "flautists" for the first time since I started this blog more than a decade ago!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Trivia Tuesday: 21st Century Pop Music Edition

I'm going to vent here, so if you want to go straight to the questions, please feel free to skip this paragraph. I've been part of LearnedLeague, the trivia league of all trivia leagues, for just over a year now. As I've probably mentioned before, I learned that there's a lot that I don't know, particularly in the science, world history, and literature. Therefore, I'm likely to stay in the E rundle (the lowest tier) for as long as I continue in LearnedLeague. However, I've done quite well in current events, sports, and pop music, so I was extremely excited to play in 21st Century pop music mini-league. For mini-leagues, everyone is placed in 12-person groups where you play an 11-match "regular season" with the top two advancing to the finals. Based on my pop music knowledge, I thought I had a decent chance of advancing. I thought wrong. Despite getting 45 correct answers out of the 54 questions in the first 9 matches, I'm in 8th place out of 12 in my group. The 45 correct answers are third best in my group and would be good for first or second in most groups. However, I'm in an extremely difficult group, I've done a poor job playing defense, and my "correct answers against" is the worst in the group. Basically, I'm Duke basketball with everyone playing their "A" game against me, but my record is more like NC State in the ACC. So frustrating.

Anyway, your challenge today is to answer the 9 21st Century pop music questions that I missed. As always, please don't use the internet for assistance.

1. In August 2001, shortly after completing filming on her "Rock the Boat" video, Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in what country's Abaco Islands?

2. In March 2016, what band released their 4th self-titled album, known colloquially as "The White Album", riffing off a previously set precedent to identify these same-named albums by colors?

3. What 19th century artist painted the work used as the cover art on this Coldplay album?

4. The name of what Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard duo is equivalent to a border of demarcation approximately equal to 31 degrees north latitude?

5. n 2007, wht bnd drppd th vwls frm tp 20 ht frm thr albm "nfnty n Hgh" s jk whn thr rcrd cmpny rqstd shrtr sng ttls?

6. What 2010 song's title question is asked of Drake by Rihanna a total of 24 times over the track's 4:24 duration?

7. What American singer's studio album Mr. A–Z was a commercial success, peaking at number five on the Billboard 200 and spawning the singles "Did You Get My Message?," "Geek in the Pink," and the (quite fitting) Billboard Hot 100 hit "Wordplay"?

8. What singer has twice hit the Billboard Top 40 with songs titled along the template "I'm" followed by a four-letter descriptive word (with 2001's "I'm Real" and 2003's "I'm Glad")?

9. What is the first name of the harpist/songwriter whose discography includes the albums Ys (2006) and Divers (2015)? She is the second cousin once-removed of California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom.

Please leave your answers in the comments section below. Good luck!

These questions are courtesy of LearnedLeague.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Mandy Moore Likes Me

Monday, October 24th. It was a sunny, typical fall day in Northern Virginia. I went to work and the kids went to school. Just your ordinary day seven days before Halloween. And then, on my way home on the Metro, I saw this tweet by actress and singer Mandy Moore.

I have enjoyed the first two episodes of This Is Us, and I'm also a Pittsburgh Steelers fans. So I casually quoted Ms. Moore's tweet with a comment of my own.

I really wanted to include Mean Joe Greene in the tweet, but I figured he was already retired at the time This Is Us is taking place. And then, this happened:

Holy crap! Mandy Moore liked my Tweet. I think this could be a start of a beautiful relationship. Sure, she used to be married to Ryan Adams, but maybe she wants to interact with a regular, non-Hollywood or musical guy. Maybe she just wants to learn more about the Steelers. Well, I'm here to help. Just let me know Mandy. You know how to reach me on Twitter.

(Based on the look on Mandy's face, I'm guessing I'm not going to hear from her.)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Random Ramblings

1. It's never good when you get call from my son's elementary school. Earlier this week, I received this message regarding my five year old, The Moose.

This is [school nurse] at the [elementary school] health room and I just wanted to let you know that [The Moose] was here in the health room. He was accidentally hit on his right eye by another student's bottom at recess. He could see without difficulty. There was no redness and he did stay here with me for 20 minutes with ice next to his eye just for comfort. He wasn't upset or anything like that, and I did not see any adverse symptoms, so he did go back to class and just wanted to let you.

I'm not sure why the nurse needed to include that he was hit "by another student's bottom." I think accidentally by another student is sufficient. Adding the bottom part, while funny after hearing that he was fine, seems a bit humiliating.

2. I had big plans for this weekend between coaching my son's soccer game, attending a neighborhood Halloween party, and of course, going to Wegmans. All of these plans are cancelled. Instead I'm going to wait at home for Miley Cyrus to visit and encourage me to vote. When she comes to my door, I plan on playing a Britney or Jay-Z song so that she put her hands up, nods her head like yeah, and moves her hips like yeah.

3. On Thursday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appeared at the Al Smith charity dinner hosted by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. Just out of curiosity, when do you think the two of them will be at the same place at the same time again? My guess is that it will be at least two years if ever.

4. With apologies to fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the entire country should be rooting for the Chicago Cubs to make the World Series. Instead of non-stop election coverage, every news outlet will cover the Cubs making their fist World Series appearance since 1945 and trying to win for the first time since 1908. Now, I'm completely fine with them losing, especially since Cleveland hasn't won a World Series since 1948, but a long series will be a fantastic distraction from the election.

5. Please like Sean's Ramblings on Facebook. I'm going to apply for media credentials for the Oscars (more on this later), and I probably need more Facebook likes for them to consider my application seriously. I think 50,000 likes should do it!

6. Finally, let's end this week with a video. This is Heathens by Twenty One Pilots from the movie Suicide Squad which I think was a big deal for about a week before leaving theaters pretty quickly. In my opinion, this song has a legitimate chance of getting an Oscar nomination. If that happens, maybe I can ask them questions from the red carpet!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Helping US-Russian Relations

This is an interesting time in US-Russia relations. Things are tense between the two countries in relation to Syria, and it appears that Russia attacked the Democratic National Committee's files (unless it was a 400-pound hacker). However, I'm here to help bridge a gap between our two nations. In the past week, I received two messages from Russian citizens. Here's the first message from Elena:

Good morning,

I am Elena from Petropavlovsk, Russia; an IT specialist by profession and belong to an upper middle class family.

Sorry to interrupt Elena's email, but I had never heard of Petropavlovsk. Based on the picture below, what a beautiful city. It seems so scenic. Plus, if you live in Nome, it appears that Petropavlovsk is closer than Seattle. Okay, back to Elena.

My life is a bit lonely on the personal side and it is largely due to my profession which requires me to spend large amount of my time in the computer labs with techno geeks like myself. Even though I like my job and field much, I don’t have any interest in men from my job profile. Saddest part is that I am able to be only in their company.

Sorry to be stereotypical here, but aren't the majority of IT professionals men? A woman in the IT field could do well at a convention of IT professionals.

So after many trials and errors I came to the conclusion that I will find my love on the internet through online dating and came across this premium dating and friendship website which had its primary aim to make suitable people meet each other with the ultimate outcome of making a family for themselves. I haven’t met my love here yet, but I am fully satisfied with this website as it has given me a chance to meet a lot of people who match my taste and to break my dry spell in match making. Through this website I have made many new friends both girls and men and this has given a lot of relief to my stressful life.

So if you are also in search of a life partner or just a girlfriend or some true friend to confide your feelings with, then join this website by clicking here!!!
(I'm not including a link.) I can assure that you won’t be disappointed. Maybe you will find me here and something might work out between us also!!!

I thought Elena and I had a decent chance of becoming friends, but I don't like sentences ending with also. I should give her the benefit of the doubt though. I mean, I doubt English is her first language.

Here's the second message from Veronica:

Hi Sweetheart,

Well, that's a little forward.

Don’t get confused about why some stranger is calling you like that.

Oh, thanks for clearing this up.

The reason is only the fact that I am desperate to find my sweetheart and love of my life, my future husband with whom I want spend the rest of my life.

Are you the “someone special” that I am looking for? Are you also in search of your love, your future wife?

I'm good thanks, but please continue.

Well many may think that getting acquainted through internet is somewhat risky and not real. But in our fast and busy modern life not many are left with enough time and luck to meet their love spontaneously in their day to day life which has forced most of us are forced to use online dating.

I am Veronica, a sweet and uncomplicated girl from Vladivostok.

My guess is that Veronica is one of a few. I think many girls from Vladivostok are complicated.


Sorry. Back to Veronica.

I am from an upper middle class family, which treasures family values and cultural traditions even while leading our modern sophisticated life.

I think I see a trend among upper middle class Russian women.

I am an Engineer by profession and I bored of solitude and lack of personal happiness. I want to find the perfect man with whom I want to settle in life.

So please click here (removing website again) and join this premium online dating website if you want to find me and thousands of other beautiful ladies and talk with start communicating with us straightaway.

I honestly don't know what to do. If Putin and Clinton or Trump can't get along, it might be up to me to bring us together. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Donald Trump Must Repent

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the Jewish year, begins on Tuesday at sundown. This is a day of prayer, repentance, and self-reflection. There's also no eating or drinking for approximately 25 hours.

Although Republican nominee Donald Trump is not Jewish, he may learn from his daughter and son-in-law to ask for forgiveness on this holy day. Sure, he already apologized for his behavior on the video with Billy Bush before changing the subject and criticizing former President Bill Clinton (who is not running for President) for doing worse, but that's not what this post is about. On Monday, Trump did the unthinkable. Something so outrageous and unbelievable that he will probably lose the Pennsylvania vote because of it. Viewer discretion is advised from Trump's Facebook post.

The horror! The horror! Smiley cookies are delicious treats. You can purchase Smiley cookies from a restaurant called Eat 'N Park. There is no such restaurant called Smiley Cookie. Well, maybe there is but the restaurant pictured is an Eat 'N Park.

My children have been to Eat 'N Park. I'm not sure how I can explain to my kids that someone running for President called Eat 'N Park, Smiley Cookie. I'm sorry but I can't continue with this post. I just hope that Trump does the right thing here. I'm not even sure an apology is enough.

h/t @emilyzikoski

Friday, October 07, 2016

Sean's Fantasy Baseball Championship

I know that you don't care about my fantasy baseball team; however, since this is my blog, I feel the need to document my recent title. Enjoy! (Or skip this post and scroll down to read others.)

After being in the same fantasy/rotisserie baseball league since 1992, I finally won in 2014. I wrote about my historic victory from two years ago and noted that I traded my future to win the championship. It was entirely worth it. (The Pittsburgh Pirates might also want to try this sometime.) In 2015, I went in an entirely different direction. Knowing my team wasn't going to win part way through the season, I traded many assets for cheap keepers. I finished in 11th place out of 12 teams but felt optimistic about the 2016 season.

In the auction league draft this season, I spent big money on Jake Arrieta, Ben Zobrist, Stephen Strasburg, Yasmani Grandal, and Andrew McCutchen. With my team challenging for 1st place, I acquired Ryan Braun and Carlos Gonzalez. Free agent pick-ups of Keon Broxton of the Brewers and Alex Dickerson of the Padres were pleasant surprises. I also got amazing production from holdovers Freddie Freeman, Justin Turner, DJ LeMahieu, Freddy Galvis, Ichiro, Tanner Roark, and Tony Watson. In addition, I really enjoyed watching Jameson Taillon came up from my and the Pirates the farm systems to pitch well.

So now, I've won 2 championships in 3 years and along with 2nd place finishes in 2011 and 2012, that's 4 top-2 finishes in 6 years. Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins is also Finnish. In my mind, this is a fantastic run. Considering the amount of time I've spent reviewing baseball box scores, trying to select free agents, and contemplating trades (I probably need to spend more time on draft preparation), I'm quite proud of this accomplishment. This ranks up there with other life accomplishments.

Anyway, thanks for making it all the way through this blog post. Stay tuned for future posts about my new role as soccer coach for my son's U6 team, my long-awaited thoughts on Paw Patrol, and my hope to get media credentials for the 2017 Academy Awards. Yes, really.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Sean's Random Thoughts On The Steelers-Chiefs Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers won big against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, and while you've probably already read everything about the game, here are my random thoughts that you won't see anywhere else.

- The Sunday night game overlapped with the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year, which started at sundown. I'm actually surprised that there was no mention of Kansas City offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz being Jewish and playing on Rosh Hashanah. You're probably thinking, well, what's the point of identifying someone's religion? It's not like NBC has the players say their names, colleges (or high schools), and religion.

(In this scenario, would Ike Taylor's swaggin' be appropriate for both the "college" and religion? Would he have to say swaggin' twice or is once enough? Or if he's Baptist would he say "Ike Taylor, Swaggin' (pause) Baptist.")

Anyway, you're also thinking, wait, Al Michaels mentioned that Schwartz left the Cleveland Browns, so that's already a great way for him to celebrate the new year. (Actually, you're probably not thinking about Schwartz at all.) Well yes, but Rosh Hashanah is a big deal. Plus Schwartz and his brother recently published a book about playing in the NFL and their Jewishness, so that could be worthy of a 10-second mention. Based on this Times of Israel article, it's not like he's hiding his religion. Michaels could have said "Happy New Year to Mitchell Schwartz and everyone else celebrating."

- I love the following quote by Michaels later in the telecast: "That time James Harrison, the ageless one at the age of 38, put the heat on."

You can't be ageless and 38! 38 is an age, not ageless.

- Apparently, to demonstrate the intelligence of Chiefs QB Alex Smith, Michaels mentioned that as an economics major at the University of Utah, Smith had a 3.74 GPA. Is there a certain point where you shouldn't discuss someone's GPA? If he's a recent college graduate interviewing for a job, highlighting the GPA is acceptable. However, Smith graduated from college more than 10 years ago!

- Alejandro Villanueva was featured in this USAA commercial. Based on how many commercials he's in lately, I'm still waiting for the version where Antonio Brown appears.

- Speaking of Brown, apparently, he got permission from the NFL to wear cleats honoring the late Arnold Palmer. The NFL needs to do some explaining here. Last year, the league fined DeAngelo Williams for having "Find the Cure" in his eye black in honor of breast cancer awareness and William Gay for wearing purple cleats to show support for domestic violence awareness. Nothing against the great Arnold Palmer, but the league saying that Palmer is more important than these issues. Either have a uniform policy or don't.

- One quick football note. On both of the long touchdown passes to Brown and Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Chiefs defenders went to cover Xavier Grimble. Xavier Grimble is now THE ULTIMATE DECOY!

Happy New Year & Go Steelers!

Sunday, October 02, 2016

L'Shanah Tovah!

With Rosh Hashanah starting later this evening, I wanted to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. To get everyone in the holiday spirit, I thought I would share a quick story. Now that my five year old (The Moose) is in kindergarten, he can check out books from the school library. The first week, he brought home a book about astronauts. Apparently, since it's late September/early October, he decided to check out this book.

Merry Christmas, I mean, Happy Rosh Hashanah to all those celebrating. Here's to a great 5777!