Monday, December 30, 2019

Sean's Best and Worst of 2019

Just in time for the start of 2020, here is my best and worst of 2019.

Best Movie I Saw In The Theater/Airplane: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

On Friday, January 11th, I boarded a flight from Washington Dulles airport to Dallas-Fort Worth for my annual-ish hockey road trip. I realized the night before that I had an economy ticket, meaning that I was allowed only one item that fits under the seat. Any other bag would need to be checked for $25 or $30 each way, so I successfully fit everything for my weekend trip into my backpack including a 2011 Kindle in the hopes of downloading the United app for in-flight entertainment. Although the Kindle was too old to download the app, it worked on my phone, so I watched documentary "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" on a very small screen. What a film! First, Mr. Rogers is iconic and an excellent subject matter. Then, the clips, and especially interviews with people who knew Fred Rogers the best, were outstanding. It definitely got a little dusty a few times during the flight. How this film didn't receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary is one of the biggest snubs in Oscars history. Because of this oversight, I fully expect the 2019 film A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood (which I also saw) to receive several nominations with Tom Hanks winning for Best Supporting Actor.

Worst Movie I Saw In The Theater: Angry Birds 2

The problem was that I never saw the original Angry Birds, so it was difficult to follow along. Actually, the movie wasn’t that bad, and there’s an amazingly deep voice cast including Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Leslie Jones, Bill Hader, Sterling K. Brown, Awkwafina, Peter Dinklage, Tiffany Haddish, and more. My frustration is that I took 5 year old Pedro Tulo to the movies, and he chose to see Angry Birds 2 over Toy Story 4. I tried to convince him that Toy Story 4 would be a better movie, but it’s really difficult to persuade Pedro Tulo once his mind is made up. We still haven't seen Toy Story 4.

Best Song: Bad Guy by Billie Eilish

As always, my criteria for best song is that I have to feature the song in a blog post at some point during the year. My best song for 2019 is by a teenager who hadn't heard of Van Halen when asked. She's also really talented and recently earned 6 Grammy nominations including those in the biggest categories like Album of the Year, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best New Artist.

An honorable mention goes to Here We Go by Dave Grohl with Elmo and Big Bird.

I love this song!

Worst Song: Bad Guy remix by Billie Eilish with Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber's verse in the remix version of this song is totally unnecessary and simply not nearly as good as the original.

Best Television Show: Barry

This was the most difficult category for me. I watched both seasons of both "Succession" and "Fleabag" in 2019 which are outstanding shows that deserve all of the recognition and praise they receive. My pick though is another show that I started watching in 2019, Barry. This HBO show features Bill Hader (of Angry Birds 2 fame) as a hit-man who joins an acting class. Hilarity (and murders) ensue! I guess you'd call this a dark comedy or a funny drama if that's a thing. Anyway, I'm always entertained by the show and love the acting by Stephen Root, Henry Winkler, and especially Anthony Carrigan who plays a "nice" Chechen mobster named NoHo Hank. He makes the show.

Worst Television Decision: ABC Cancelling Speechless

I don't have a worst TV show. I pretty much watch the shows I know that I'll like and even then I don't have time to watch what I want. For example, I have over 40 episodes of "This Is Us" and "Modern Family" saved on my DVR that I haven't seen yet. Even the shows that my kids have watched this year like "American Ninja Warrior Junior" and various cooking competition shows have been fine. It may not have been the best parenting decision to let the kids watch The Masked Singer, but we are fascinated by the reveal of who is behind the mask. It's probably not appropriate to have them chant "TAKE IT OFF" though.

That's why I'm creating a worst TV decision category. I don't understand why ABC cancelled "Speechless," a show about a family where the oldest child of three has cerebral palsy. They could have made this a heart-warming drama, and there are definitely some touching moments, but it was a really funny show. USA Today even included Speechless in its top 25 shows of the 2010s. It deserved more than three seasons, especially since it would have been fun to see how the writers dealt with JJ going to college. ABC could have made room to fit the show in its schedule, even if it's only a 12-episode season. Here are a few clips to remember the show.

Best Book: John Temple

This was John Temple’s year even if he didn’t realize it! Temple published "Up in Arms: How the Bundy Family Hijacked Public Lands, Outfoxed the Federal Government, and Ignited America's Patriot Militia Movement" over the summer, and I also read his 2015 book "American Pain: How a Young Felon and His Ring of Doctors Unleashed America's Deadliest Drug Epidemic" this year. Both nonfiction books are thoroughly researched and filled with detailed first-hand interviews. These books are examples of what journalism and story-telling should be.

Full disclosure. I know John Temple's wife though I haven't talked with her since I was in high school.

I also wanted to share other books that I read this year for no particular reason other than to show off that I read some books!

- Educated: a memoir by Tara Westover
- The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
- Playing Through The Whistle: Steel, Football, and an American Town by S.L. Price (I thought about writing a blog post about this book and compare Aliquippa to my own Western Pennsylvania community. I still might in 2020.)
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- The Club: How the English Premier League Became the Wildest, Richest, Most Disruptive Force in Sports by Joshua Robinson and Jonathan Clegg
- Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
- Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
- The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer by Caitlin Murray
- Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
- The Life and Afterlife of Harry Houdini by Joe Posnanski

Best Sports Moment: US Women's World Cup Win

Not a great year for Pittsburgh sports (I'll get to that momentarily), so to me, the best sports moment was the dominance of the women's national team. I included three videos below based on the round. In the quarterfinal, Megan Rapinoe scored twice in a 2-1 win over the host team France.

Alex Morgan's gave the US a 2-1 lead in the semi-final against England. A lot of people made a big deal about the sipping tea celebration. What a dumb discussion that was. This was a monster goal in a huge match. The celebration was fine.

Finally, with a 1-0 lead part-way through the second half of the final against The Netherlands, Rose Lavelle took a pass near midfield and sealed the victory for the US. She's an assassin!

Worst Sports Moments: Penguins vs. Islanders Playoff Series

Pittsburgh sports fans hoped that the Pirates would be decent in 2019, but I think we knew that seemed unrealistic. The Steelers lost Big Ben in week two and pro-bowlers RB James Conner and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster missed significant time. The fact they have been as competitive as they have been is a credit to the defense and head coach. Still, the most disappointing moment of 2019 was the Penguins getting swept in the first round of the NHL playoffs to the New York Islanders. Look, I don't think most fans realistically thought the Pens were going to win the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay and Boston looked really strong in the Atlantic division. In the Metropolitan, Washington and the Islanders were better than the Penguins all season (and continue to be so far through the 2019-2020 season) and Carolina and Columbus were about equals. Still, with Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, Guentzel, Letang, and Murray, you didn't expect the team to lose a series 4-0.

Best Blog: The Steel Trap

I really enjoy Heidi's writings. Her first world problems posts are worth the price of admission alone. (I should probably note that there are no fees to read The Steel Trap.)

Worst Blog: All of the blogs that I used to read but aren't around anymore.

I get it. Writing a personal blog takes a lot of time and life gets in the way. I'm going to write more about this soon in a separate post.

Best Podcast (No Budget Category): The Donut Bag

Joey is the hardest working man in podcasting. He puts out 3-4 podcasts a week on Pittsburgh sports, movies, television shows, random drafts, and more. I don't think this man sleeps!

Best Podcast (With a Budget Category): Hit Parade

I only learned about this Slate podcast regarding music chart history in 2019, and I'm only a few episodes away from going through every episode. This podcast was made for me. Chris Molanphy picks a song or artist in each full-length episode and does a deep dive on the song/group/time period with lots of song clips.

Best Sean's Ramblings Blog Post: Kamala, Katy, Ariana, & Demi

I had the most fun writing about what may have occurred when Senator (and now former Presidential candidate) Kamala Harris met with Katy Perry, Ariana Grande, and Demi Lovato.

Honorable mention to field trips. Specifically, our family vacation to Pittsburgh and taking Pedro Tulo to a DC United game. In addition, The Moose ran for class office.

Worst Sean's Ramblings Blog Post: ............

In late April, I fell asleep in front of my computer and either my finger got stuck on the keyboard or Ziggy sat on the keyboard. The result was a series of periods. According to Blogger, this has also been my most-read post of 2019, and it's not even close. Maybe I need to have Ziggy blog more often.

Best Play/Musical I Saw: Come From Away

This musical is based on 9/11 and the subsequent days where Gander, Newfoundland in Canada, a town of less than 10,000 people hosted approximately 7,000 people from international flights after the American airspace was closed. There are plenty of lighter moments but with the realization that 9/11 just happened. So so good.

Worse Play/Musical I Saw: None

With three young kids, you think I have time to see lots of plays and musicals?

Thanks for making it all the way through this post. Please feel free to click here to see my best of and worst of the last few years. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Happy Hanukkah 2019

Happy Hanukkah everyone! If you celebrate, I hope that you're enjoying the tradition of eating pickles during the Hanukkah festivities! Here are some videos to get you into the holiday spirit.

The Maccabeats are back with their annual Hanukkah song.

We can't have a song by The Maccabeats without a song by their bitter rival, Six13.

But wait. An Israeli singer named Shefita clones herself to have her own medley.

Did you know that Alton Brown likes latkes?

Someone named DJ Raphi has a dance.

Boris Johnson says Happy Hanukkah.

Finally, I didn't know that I've been missing a Hanukkah laser show my entire life!

Friday, December 20, 2019

Sean's Ramblings 2019 Year In Review

Welcome to my 15th (yes, you read that right) annual year in review, where I take the first few lines of the first entry of each month in order to produce a random and (hopefully) interesting summary of 2019. Please note that these are not my picks for best of and worst of 2019. That will be a separate blog post coming soon. This is simply a summary (sort of) of Sean's Ramblings in 2019.

January: The biggest story in Pittsburgh sports clearly involves the son of now former Riverhounds assistant coach Mark Pulisic. If you haven’t heard, Chelsea signed his son Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund for approximately $73 million. Not too shabby.

February: It's been a busy month so far due to forming an exploratory committee to run for President. Apparently, donors aren't all that interested in contributing to a campaign of someone with no political experience or name recognition.

March: Actor Luke Perry passed away earlier this week at the way-to-young age of 52. Perry is best known for his role as Dylan McKay on Beverly Hills 90210.

April: I'm so glad that I'm on my community's email list. I mean, usually the posts have no relevance to me, but every once in a while, something entertaining comes out. Enter Rob (not his real name).

May: In November 2018, Ariana Grande released the song Thank U, Next. The song was Grande’s first number one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 and topped the charts in 12 countries. Basically, this was a massive hit. The reason I bring up this up today is because of the song’s first line:

Thought I'd end up with Sean / But he wasn't a match.

June: The 38th annual Celebrate Fairfax took place over the weekend and this was my 18th festival. Based on the time I’ve spent at the festival, I can now vote (which I’m actually going to do today).

July: One of my favorite topics to write about on Sean’s Ramblings has been attending live sports events and concerts. From Max Scherzer’s no-hitter (and nearly perfect game) to Fleetwood Mac and Paul McCartney shows to my hockey road trips, it’s fun to look back at events I’ve attended over the years.

August: A good friend of my in-laws is a huge Pittsburgh Pirates fan. He even got to be the Pirates alumni manager for a day at a Spring Training game about a decade ago where Terry Francona (the Phillies manager at the time) ribbed him since they were from neighboring towns in Butler County.

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

October: I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Sports was definitely a big part of my life growing up and continues to be today. I’ve been fortunate to see both the Penguins and Steelers become champions. I’ve also lived in Northern Virginia, just outside Washington DC, for over 18 years.

November: If you follow sports or the internet, you’re probably already aware of the situation that occurred last week at the website Deadspin.

December: Before I begin this post, I want to share some alternate titles. I Barely Survived Frozen 2. Or How Seeing Frozen 2 Almost Ended My Life.

That's my year of writing Sean's Ramblings. You can click on previous year in review posts here.

Photo of Luke Perry in 2001 by Leslie Hassler/AP
Photo of Jerome Bettis and the Jonas Brothers from Colin Dunlap

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


Full disclosure. I wanted this to be a post sponsored by MyPoints. It didn’t happen. On to the post.

I signed up for MyPoints, a website where you earn points for shopping online (and by clicking on emails), in December 1999. I probably figured that my computer was going to die thanks to Y2K,*so I might as well get some points towards purchasing a new computer. The fact that a website has been around for more than 20 years is rather remarkable. How many other shopping websites (not sites like or do you know that are still around from the 20th century? And how many sites have you used consistently for 20 years? Anyway, I don’t do much online shopping, but when I do, I go through MyPoints to earn points. I’ve earned enough points over the years to get probably $1000+ in gift cards to places like Target and Wegmans. Sure, they send me too many emails a day, but I just don’t open many of them. In related news, my one email account has 9,000 unread messages. Not 9,000 emails. 9,000 unread emails. That’s my email account linked to MyPoints and others sites like airlines, hotels, and restaurants. I should probably unsubscribe to things someday.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the start of the post, I contacted MyPoints in the hopes they would sponsor this post. I figured they might like the free exposure in exchange for maybe 7,000 points. They did not reply to my message. With that written, if you’re not part of MyPoints and want to be, please let me know. I’m happy to get points through a referral.

(And maybe MyPoints will see this and decide to give me points.)

* Quick Y2K story. I called the company where I bought my computer in late 1999 to see if it was going to die. They said I would be fine as long as I had Windows95. When I replied that I had Windows 3.1 (less than 2% of computers with Windows had this or an earlier version), the representative said oh and got quiet. The computer survived.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Sean On Sports

I root for multiple college basketball teams. My favorite team is the University of Pittsburgh based on following them while growing up in Pittsburgh. I’ve probably written about this before, but I also support The Ohio State University, San Diego State University, George Mason University, University of Rhode Island, and several others to a lesser degree. One of those other teams is Duquesne University based on growing up in Pittsburgh and knowing people who graduated from there. It’s nice seeing the team doing so well at 7-0 to start the season, and I think their annual game against Pitt should be outstanding this year. Oh but they aren’t playing this year. I know Pitt has won 29 of 30 or some ridiculous number, but it’s a travesty that these two teams aren’t playing.

DC area pizza chain, Paisano's needs to find new athletes to be in their ads. Take a look at this picture.

Santana Moss has been out of the NFL since 2014. Josh Doctson was recently the Minnesota Vikings. AndrĂ© Burakovsky plays for the Colorado Avalanche. That's three of the five guys on this ad. No Nationals even after they just won the World Series? What about someone on the Wizards? The pizza company probably can’t afford Bradley Beal, but promising rookie Rui Hachimura would be good for them.

The Moose calls Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Devlin "Duck" Hodges, "The Duck." I don't think he's trying to be funny; I think he thinks the nickname really is The Duck.

Speaking of the Steelers, take a look at this:

* Ben Roethlisberger: 2 games started with 0 touchdowns and 1 interception
* James Conner: 8 games played with 390 yards (less than 50 a game) and 4 rushing TDs
* JuJu Smith-Schuster: 10 games played with 38 catches for 524 yards and 3 receiving TDs.
* Back-up QB Mason Rudolph got benched for an undrafted free agent.

If I told you all of this before the season, what would you think the Steelers record would be after 12 games? 3-9?

Even though I admit that I don’t follow the NBA that closely, it still seems extremely odd looking at the Western Conference standings (as of Wednesday morning) and seeing Golden State, San Antonio, and even Portland and Oklahoma City doing so poorly.

I’m a fan of Sheffield Wednesday in the English Championship League, one step down from the Premier League. I don’t have ESPN+, so I don’t get a chance to watch any of their games, but I follow along on Twitter to see whether or not they are winning. With that written, I don’t understand anything that is happening off the field. Apparently, the team (and/or owner) put the sale of the stadium as revenue for one season instead of for another season and this is bad. Now, the team may lose points or get relegated to English Football League One, which is the third tier. I’d love for some English football (soccer) expert to explain what’s going on and what might happen.

Finally, he Carolina Panthers fired long-time coach Ron Rivera with a month left in the season. From this ESPN article, Panthers owner David Tepper said the decision to fire Rivera now -- instead of letting the organization's winningest coach and a two-time NFL Coach of the Year finish the season -- was made so that Tepper could move forward with finding a replacement without going behind Rivera's back.

"I thought it was time,'' Tepper said. "Why specifically now is I was informed of other teams doing different types of searches out there, and I'm not going to start a search and not tell Ron Rivera I'm starting a search. Too good of a man.''

I don't buy this. Let Rivera finish the season. I'm sure that the owner could have told Rivera privately that he was going to hire a new coach after the season. Plus, is there really that big of a different starting a search now than in 3-4 weeks?

Monday, December 02, 2019

How I Injured Myself At Frozen 2

Before I begin this post, I want to share some alternate titles. I Barely Survived Frozen 2. Or How Seeing Frozen 2 Almost Ended My Life. (Thanks to Chris for this one.) On to the post.

Thanksgiving. A time to come together with family and/or friends and eat lots and lots and lots of wonderful food. The day after Thanksgiving: well, the leftovers are good. Otherwise, um, I guess it's a positive that I didn't see any videos this year of people fighting or rioting at Walmart! Let's start with how my Black Friday began. The Moose and my niece (both 8) woke up sometime very early. They say that it was at 4:00, but it might have been 5:00 or 6:00. Regardless of the time, it was still dark outside, and they thought it would be a brilliant idea to wake up Pedro Tulo and my nephew (both 5). Hilarity ensued! Except that it didn’t. Naturally, all of the screaming woke up everyone including two-year old Luigi. So at just around 6:00, all five kids were awake. Fantastic way start to the day.

Oh, but there’s more. Luigi had too much milk too fast and proceeded to throw up all over me. This is still before 6:30. While Luigi was fine and the kids all settled down with some television and donuts, we decided to take a trip to the movies. I mean, what’s a better way to spend Black Friday than with five kids (along with a theater full of other kids) at Frozen 2?

We arrived at the theater 20-30 minutes before the scheduled start time to get seats. There were no movie star scrambles for celebrities like Otm Shank.

Instead, the kids devoured the popcorn before the previews began, and maybe 2 minutes into the film, Luigi got restless. And by restless, I mean that he started to cry. I quickly took him out of the theater, and after he calmed down a few minutes later, went back inside. While walking up the stairs to our seats, I tripped while holding him. He was a little shaken up but fine. Meanwhile, I banged my left knee into the floor or stairs. Apparently, I shouldn’t carry my kids up or down stairs. It wasn’t too bad at the time, probably because I was too embarrassed about tripping in public.

I limped around a little for a few hours, and then drove home. My knee must have tightened up during the drive, so throughout Friday and much of Saturday, going up and down stairs hurt. I couldn't seem to put much weight on my left leg when alternating stairs. It was okay if I put one foot on one step and the other foot on the same step. Alternating steps (like how a normal person goes up or down steps) hurt.

I’m blaming Josh Gad. No not Josh Gad being the voice of Olaf, Josh Gad himself.

A few quick spoilers from Frozen 2. How does Elsa just let Anna become ruler of Arendelle? Is there no democracy there? So much nepotism.

Elsa is a bad influence for kids. I’m not talking about her strength and independence or about how she tries to help others (in this movie, not the first Frozen where she runs away and abandons everyone, but it’s okay since she “let it go”). No, Elsa travels to really cold places but apparently doesn’t feel the need to wear a coat, gloves, or hat despite exposing her shoulders. I’m sure that there are countless parents battling their kids about wearing a coat in cold temperatures. The kids are probably refusing to wear coats, citing Elsa for not wearing one in the Frozen movies, and then replying, “the cold never bothered me anyway.”

Hot take. The songs in Moana are so much better than the songs in Frozen. And I’ve already forgotten the songs in Frozen 2.

Back to me, my left knee felt better on Sunday, but my right foot has bothered me on and off for the last week or so. I'm a mess!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Thanksgiving 2019 (or 1993)

For more than a decade, I've wished everyone a Happy Thanksgiving here on Sean's Ramblings by taking a few lines from Adam Sandler's "Thanksgiving Song." I've now run out of lines from the song, so instead, I'm going back 26 years to the 1993 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Starting around the 2:06:30 mark, you'll see the Woodland Hills High School Marching Band including my brother. I mean, I don't see him, but he's there. Or at least he said he was there. He left home with his trumpet for a few days and came back with a "Tommy" T-shirt, so I assume he went to New York to perform in the parade.

Other highlights of the parade include Stevie Wonder, Joey Lawrence, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, and for some reason, members of the 1969 Mets singing (at the 1:32 mark).

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Steelers Playoff Chances

I’m going to go back to pretending that I’m a Pittsburgh sports blogger today. The topic: will the Steelers make the playoffs? And yes, this is a perfectly appropriate time to share this from Jim Mora’s legendary press conference.

It’s difficult to talk about playoffs after seeing the Steelers gain only 236 yards in a 21-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns last Thursday to go along with Mason Rudolph throwing four interceptions. However, assuming that their playmakers like JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Connor, and Diontae Johnson get healthy (and I realize that this is a big assumption), I think the Steelers will make the playoffs. According to the odds from this site, the Steelers currently have the 8th best chance to reach the playoffs among AFC teams with their odds currently listed at 9/5. Unfortunately, there are only 6 playoff spots, so being in the top 8 doesn't help them much, but here's why I think they'll make it.

Let’s look at the Steelers’ remaining schedule.

November 24 vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-10)
December 1 vs. Cleveland Browns (4-6)
December 8 at Arizona Cardinals (3-7-1)
December 15 vs. Buffalo Bills (7-3)
December 22 at New York Jets (3-7)
December 29 at Baltimore Ravens (8-2)

Every one of these games are winnable. Sure, you might be thinking that the Steelers have no chance against the hottest team in the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, but the Ravens may rest players like Lamar Jackson in week 17 with their playoff spot possibly secure.

In addition, the strength of the Steelers is its defense. Do any of the offenses (besides Baltimore) really scare you against Cameron Heyward, TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and company? I think it’s likely that the Steelers cause turnovers in most, if not all, of these games. Again, assuming the Steelers are healthy, I think the team can go 4-2 or 5-1 in these games. That would give the Steelers an overall record of 10-6 or 9-7. A 9-7 record may or may not get a team into the playoffs in most seasons, but the Steelers already have the tie-breaker against the Colts and could have it against the Bills. I like their chances.

Maybe the most important factor is that the team just signed Superman, Dean Cain.

Oh, that's Deon Cain

Close enough. Go Steelers!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Cortaca 2019

When it was first announced nearly a year ago that the 61st annual Cortaca game between Ithaca College and SUNY Cortland was to be played at MetLife Stadium just outside New York City, I was a little skeptical. Sure, it seemed like a unique opportunity to have this game take place somewhere new in the hopes of setting a Division 3 attendance record, but how many students, faculty, and staff would travel from central New York to East Rutherford, New Jersey? Were there enough alumni in the NYC area to justify moving this game 200+ miles?

It was this uniqueness that got me and my friends on board. Living in Northern Virginia, a drive to New York City/New Jersey is much easier than driving to Ithaca or Cortland. So for the first time since 1996, I planned to see an Ithaca College football game. And as the date approached, I got more and more excited about the trip. I took 8 year old The Moose with me and was joined friends that I first met over 25 years ago.

The Moose got to witness his first ever football tailgate as we walked from the parking lot to the stadium entrance. This included seeing a woman vomiting into a bag being held by I assume a really good friend. The best explanation I could come up with when he asked why she was throwing up is that this woman had too many adult beverages and wasn’t being responsible. Fortunately, there were no follow up questions.

MetLife Stadium set up an area where kids (and adults) could pass, kick, catch, and more. Here are a few pictures of The Moose in action.

The Moose needed to be about 9' 10" to catch this pass!

Very cool ceremony to start the game.

The Bombers about to score a touchdown.

The half-time show should have been Ithaca College graduate Tony DeSare or Ithaca College student (but not graduate) Gavin DeGraw, but instead we got several Ithaca College and Cortland groups. While they were good and I enjoyed their performances, a headliner would have been nice. Even David Muir (who it turns out may have been in a class with me) and David Boreanaz doing cartwheels at midfield would have been fine!

Credit to my friend T for taking this picture below. Why no Heinz ketchup? I have a friend who believes that there is an NFL conspiracy between the Mara (owner of the Giants) and Rooney (owner of the Steelers) families since they are related somehow. If they were truly linked, MetLife Stadium would serve Heinz. (By the way, I'm pro-French's mustard, so I didn't get as upset about this as I would have if they offered Hunt's.)

With about five minutes to go in the game, and Cortland cutting the deficit from 26-6 to 26-20, I mentioned to my friends that I was much more invested in the game’s result than I thought I would be. The point of the trip was to hang out with friends and take The Moose to a game I knew he would enjoy. At that point in the fourth quarter, I realized that I wanted (needed?) an Ithaca College victory too!

Ithaca got the ball back, and I'll let Ithaca Athletics explain:

Cortland would answer after the missed field goal and found the end zone just 1:32 later to pull the Red Dragons to within a score at 26-20 with 6:53 to go. On the 7-play, 80-yard drive, Ithaca was flagged for three separate 15-yard penalties, which allowed the Red Dragons to move down to the Ithaca 27-yard line. Segala then hit Burgess for a 24-yard gain and Tripodi capped off the drive with a 3-yard run.

Sean's note: I don't want to get into the penalty calls.

Now in a fight with 6:49 left in the game after the kickoff, Ithaca needed another sustained drive, which is exactly what the Bombers did. Garcia began the drive with a 2-yard run and then Germinerio notched five straight carries for 27 yards. After two more runs by Garcia and Germinerio, Cortland burned two timeouts with 3:14 to go and Ithaca faced a third-and-six at the Red Dragon 46-yard line.

Out of the timeout, Ithaca pulled out a play for the ages with a pair of fake handoffs to stretch the Cortland defense and Germinerio threw a perfect pass to a wide open Vito for a 46-yard touchdown with 3:06 left to give the Bombers a 32-20 lead after an unsuccessful two-point conversion.

D3 Football used less words.

The Red Dragons scored on another Tripodi run with 6:53 left in the game to make it 26-20.

But Germinerio, who had picked up a bunch of yards running the ball, found Andrew Vito streaking behind the defense on a bit of razzle-dazzle, and Vito ran the rest of the 46 yards to the end zone to seal the game with 3:06 left.

And here's the play:

The ball was in the air for what seemed to be about 8 minutes! Ithaca's wide receiver was so open, you just hoped he wouldn't drop it. Great way to basically end the game.

And there was great celebration throughout the land!

Several people in my section started a “State School” chant a few times during the game. This is apparently a chant to try to denigrate the education students receive at Cortland compared to at Ithaca. I’ve always hated this chant. First, Cortland students are continuing their education after high school to become more educated and to increase their employment prospects. This is a good thing. As a country, I think we can agree that we want people to continue in education whether this is at a “traditional” school or in vocational programs. A better educated society is a better society. We also generally want more government funding to go to education. That’s (at least historically) one of the hallmarks of public education. Basically, what I’m writing is that the state school chant is garbage and needs to go. Rant over.

In case you're wondering, the Cortaca game did set the Division 3 attendance record.

Cody Holyoke, news anchor at KMBC in Kansas City, also highlighted the game on his newscast.

Definitely a fun weekend. Go Bombers!

Thanks to T, Sista K, and T-Rike for many of these pictures.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Dave Grohl, Big Bird And Elmo Visit Pittsburgh

There’s a lot going on in the world. There was another mass/school shooting on Thursday, this time in Santa Clarita, California. Impeachment hearings are occurring in the House. The Steelers played horribly in last night’s loss against the Cleveland Browns, yet all anyone is talking about (probably rightfully) is Myles Garrett swinging a helmet and smashing Mason Rudolph’s head with it. Oh, the Cortaca game at MetLife Stadium is also happening on Saturday.

So with all of this going on, I’m writing a post about...Sesame Street. Dave Grohl of Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and The Moopets did a song called "Here We Go" with Big Bird and Elmo, and they all traveled together around the country. Here’s a picture of their stop in Pittsburgh.

I think Grohl, Elmo, and Big Bird picked an excellent spot seeing the entire city skyline from Mt. Washington.

The full video of their adventure is here:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Everything Cortaca 2019

Perhaps you have heard that the annual Ithaca College-SUNY Cortland football game is being held at MetLife Stadium just outside of New York City this Saturday. I may have mentioned it. I thought I would create one post with everything that you need to know about this historic game.

* First, based on tickets sales, the 2019 Cortaca Jug game will be the biggest game in terms of attendance of any Division 3 football game. Last I heard as of about a week or two ago, there have been approximately 43,000 tickets sold. My guess is that the total will be between 45,000 and 50,000 tickets sold. (I also wonder what game will have more people: the Cortaca game, the New York Jets game against the Miami Dolphins on December 8th, or the New York Giants game against the Dolphins on December 15th.)

* A little publication called "Forbes" has an article about the game.

* Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone has thoughts about the game.

* Despite my thoughtful and elaborate post outlining why ESPN’s College GameDay should broadcast from East Rutherford, New Jersey, ESPN is going to Waco, Texas to cover the Baylor-Oklahoma game instead. It’s nice of ESPN to travel to Waco for the feel-good story which is Baylor football. Baylor clearly runs an extremely clean football program, so it’s nice to see ESPN reward them with national exposure. (In reality, maybe GameDay just wants to go to Texas since it will be 30 degrees warmer than New York City.)

* There's a Cortaca Jug Giving Challenge:

For the first time, IC and Cortland will go head to head off the field to see who has the strongest donor support. Whichever school secures the most donors through game day wins the challenge and the vice president of institutional advancement from the losing school will have to write a personal check to the winning school’s Annual Fund!

* I'm not going to tell anyone how to sell their tickets on StubHub, but my guess is this person is not going to get $500.

The Ithaca Journal has a story titled "Cortaca Jug: 10 things to know about the rivalry game at MetLife Stadium."

* I miss being around college campuses a getting free shirts. Ithaca College students can "shed the red" by donating articles of red clothing to charity in exchange for a student-designed Cortaca shirt. Yes, I want this shirt!

* The biggest thing about Cortaca 2019 is that I'm going to see friends that I first met 25 years ago. I'm going to see people who I haven't seen in over 20 years. This is really exciting!

* The Ithacan has information about the actual football teams and key players.

* There's going to be an Ithaca College Fan Fest at the game.

Participants will be able to run on a turf field and try on helmets and shoulder pads. The event will feature music from DJ Washburn, an alumnus who performed at numerous college sporting events while a student, and there will be a giant inflatable chair adorned with the IC shield that fans can sit in to take pictures. While Fan Fest will be geared towards the Ithaca College community, anyone is able to participate.

* Finally, MetLife Stadium has everything you need to know about what you can and cannot bring into the stadium. Here are some of the "highlights."

Event Timeline:

Parking Lots Open: 8:00am
Ticket Office and Will Call Opens: 10:00am
Gates Open: 11:00am
Event Time: 1:00pm

Stadium Carry-In Policies:

- Clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC bag that does not exceed 12” x 6” x 12” OR one-gallon clear, plastic freezer bag (Ziploc or similar) – limit 1 per person
- Small clutch purse/wallet no larger than 4.5” x 6.5” with or without a handle or strap can be taken into the stadium with one of the clear plastic bag options
- Bags that do not meet these specifications can be checked-in at one of our bag check facilities (located outside each entry gate) for a $5 fee per bag
- An exception will be made for medically necessary items after proper inspection at a gate designated for this purpose

Sadly, battery powered heated clothing is prohibited. I don't know what exactly this is, but with the temperature set to be in the 30s, I wish I could have this!

Friday, November 08, 2019

Friday Video: Normani

Today's video is "Motivation" by Normani. While I'll get to the song momentarily, a few things about Normani. First, her name is Normani and not Normandy like the region in France which was also the site of the World War II D-Day Invasion. She was a member of the group Fifth Harmony and appeared on songs with Khalid and Sam Smith. "Motivation" is her first solo song, and she performed it a few months ago at the MTV's Video Music Awards. (Yes, I watched some of the show even though I'm definitely not the target audience.)

Before you watch the video, here's a fun(?) way to listen to the song. Instead of motivation or innovation, replace the last syllable with Sean. So motiva-Sean or innova-Sean. It's nice to see sound a talented young artist think of me and all of the other people named Sean out there!

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

The End of Deadspin

If you follow sports or the internet, you’re probably already aware of the situation that occurred last week at the website Deadspin. The short story is that new ownership of Deadspin directed the writers and editors to “stick to sports” even though the website’s most-popular articles were sports-adjacent and sometimes not about sports at all. As a result, everyone, or at least nearly everyone, resigned. (The longer version of this story is available on "The Washington Post" here and here and on "NPR".)

I just want to share my own personal experience with Deadspin. The blog/website debuted not long after Sean’s Ramblings started, and I read the site everyday for years. Some of the language on Deadspin could be R-rated, but I was able to check out stories by reading them on Google Reader. (I miss Google Reader.) The content was generally light and made fun of so many things that some people take so seriously in sports. Yet, powerful and insightful posts regularly appeared on the site. I would definitely say that Deadspin influenced my writing, particularly in my posts about sports. Most of my sports posts don’t discuss strategy or analysis and instead focus on lighter topics such as fun with names or commercials featuring athletes or even Pittsburgh athletes with other athletes and celebrities. I was also honored to have Deadspin link to several of my posts in its early days.

While I used to check out Deadspin multiple times per day, my visits to the site lessened over the years. Still, I continued to read as many Drew Magary posts as I could, and I learned about many stories/articles from friends sharing them on Twitter.

It seems that Deadspin is going to live on in the short term, but I can't see it being viable going forward. Replacing an entire writing staff and culture is going to be difficult at best. Plus, the core readers (and probably advertisers) are gone and aren't coming back.

My hope is that the writers and editors of Deadspin are able to create its own site. Perhaps they can add some of the writers from the late Kissing Suzy Kolber too. The writing and posts by these individuals are too good not to be shared and seen by a large audience.

Update: There's a Deadspin freelance account @UnDeadspin, which features the work for the now former Deadspin staff.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Washington Nationals World Series Videos

The Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series. Living in Northern Virginia, this is kind of a big deal. Of course, I also saw a guy wearing a Steelers long-sleeve T-shirt on the Metro this morning, so maybe it's not a big deal for everyone.* Anyway, if you're a baseball fan, I think you have to appreciate this series and the Nationals. The road team won every game of this 7-game series which has never happened before in major league baseball, the NHL, or the NBA. Juan Soto just turned 21 and is about to become a superstar. Stephen Strasburg represented San Diego State well too. Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick are also awesome. I thought I would share a few videos to celebrate the Nationals.

This is from the final out of the game.

I'm really happy for Daniel Hudson, the Nationals pitcher who got the final out. I'm also really happy that there is a net behind home plate and down the third base line. That glove being thrown at approximately 200 miles per hour could have really hurt someone. Anyway, Jeff Passan's book "The Arm" followed Hudson after he went through Tommy John surgeries. After reading this, I've rooted for the guy, even though he struggled in Pittsburgh.

The next video is one that I took from Washington's FOX affiliate. I apologize in advance that the sound is poor. I love the guy saying, "I don’t know how I feel right now. I feel amazing.” Then, watch how he interacts with the camera after they go to someone else. And by someone else, I mean the woman who has been a die-hard Nationals fan from all the way back in 2012.

Finally, one of the reasons why this team is fun to watch is Gerardo Parra and his walk-up music of Baby Shark. (Another reason is because Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth are no longer on the team.) This is a video of Parra at bat during an August 30th game I attended with The Moose and Pedro Tulo.

Congrats to the Nats!

* Full disclosure. That person was me!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

College GameDay Should Go To NJ/NY

College GameDay is the biggest show/event in college football. Each week during the football season, ESPN broadcasts live from the marque game of the week. Generally, College GameDay goes to places like Columbus, Ann Arbor, Baton Rouge, Tuscaloosa, Norman, Gainesville, Clemson, and Happy Valley. However, on November 16th, I believe that GameDay should go to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for the Cortaca Jug game between Ithaca College and the State University of New York College at Cortland (SUNY Cortland).

You're probably thinking, Sean, why would GameDay want to go to East Rutherford? Isn't that where the New York Giants and New York Jets play? First, I applaud you on knowing your geography. Yes, that's where the Jets and Giants play, outside New York City. That's also where the 61st annual Cortaca Jug game is taking place. With the game still a few weeks away, ticket sales are at around 40,000. This will set the attendance record for a Division III game. GameDay should be in New Jersey just for this reason alone.

While I'm sure that only a handful of you are unfamiliar with this game, "Sports Illustrated" once dubbed the Ithaca-Cortland game as "the biggest little game in the nation." Both schools have successful traditions as well with Ithaca winning three Division III championships and Cortland regularly making the playoffs since the late 1980s. Now, you might be thinking, that's great, Sean. Sure, this is a cool rivalry and both schools have histories, but what about this year? Good question. Ithaca College is currently 7-0 and ranked #7 nationally. Meanwhile, Cortland is also 7-0 and ranked #18. Those seem pretty good to me.

Maybe you're still not convinced. You're thinking, GameDay deserves to be at a college campus and not at an NFL stadium. I agree with you. I also know that GameDay has been live at various bowl games and conference championships and at the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas in Dallas and the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Florida and Georgia in Jacksonville. Basically, they can take a break from being on a college campus once or twice during the season.

Based on the history, attendance record, quality of the teams, and the uniqueness of this game, College GameDay needs to be there for the Cortaca Jug. As an added bonus, I will be there too! Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard, Kirk Herbstreit, and company can have the rare opportunity to meet me in person. Let's make this happen, ESPN!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Cerebral Overload

Apparently, Sunday was National Bloggers Day. It seems like I missed this national (international?) event the past 15 years or so. To celebrate this special and historic occasion, I am reviewing the Cerebral Overload blog, which, possibly ironically, does a lot of reviewing itself!

First, full disclosure. Ben, one of the individuals behind Cerebral Overload, and I are in a fantasy football league together. Therefore, I thought I should point out that this review will not be clouded by the fact that Ben defeated me in week two and has a much better record than me this season. So with that in mind, let me tell you that Ben’s blog would be significantly better if his team lost to mine earlier this season!

Cerebral Overload focuses on technology news and reviews and has its own podcast. This really shouldn’t be shocking or cutting-edge, but I’m impressed that Ben’s product reviews are done by video instead of in written posts. Any reviews I have ever done have always been written posts, so this seems revolutionary to me. His recent reviews include one of a Pittsburgh photography coffee-table book, headphones (I love the “What’s In The Box” post title), and a very cool flashlight. Ben is quite thorough and gives you the information you need to decide whether or not you want to purchase the product. Cerebral Overload provides tons of useful information on cars and NASA news and is a good source for both. I’ll admit that I haven’t listened to the podcasts, but I heard Ben appear on the Ya Jagoff podcast and he definitely knows his stuff (technical term).

So celebrate National Bloggers Day by checking out Cerebral Overload. A great site if you’re interested in new technical products, cars, and much, much more!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

One Year Later

The horrific shootings at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh occurred one year ago this weekend. I shared my thoughts in the immediacy of this tragedy and wrote another post about the victims. So what has happened in the last year? Did Pittsburgh become a turning point and become the last mass shooting in America? Sadly, we all know the answer to this. Shootings in El Paso, Dayton, and Virginia Beach rightfully received significant coverage, but there have been even more shootings in the last 12 months. "Time" listed those that occurred through in 2019 July. Did the government finally decide that enough was enough and enact legislation for background checks or restricting certain types of weapons? Of course not. With that written, I’ll give Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto credit for trying to do something, even though it will likely be tied up in courts for years.

So what has changed in the last year? I’ll write about my personal experiences 250 miles away from Tree of Life, the synagogue I attended growing up and where my brother and I had our Bar Mitzvahs. My current synagogue underwent a security assessment resulting in numerous changes including things related to locks and cameras with the most notable being an emergency alert system inside the building. (It’s basically a fire alarm system, but instead of pulling it to immediately contact the fire department, this immediately contacts the police.) Naturally, none of this was in the budget which necessitated a fairly substantial fundraising campaign. There are always police at the building for services and during religious school. My kids probably don’t think twice about this and are used to seeing police every time they go to the synagogue, but I am not. Yes, I’m glad they are there, but I don’t want them to be there. I don’t like having to think about someone potentially attacking the synagogue and needing a police presence to discourage or stop this every time I go to pray or to drop off my kids.

What really struck me was the rabbi saying that she was encouraged (presumably by law enforcement) to keep her cell phone on during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in case she needed it for an emergency. I get that cell phones are everywhere, but the sanctuary is one of the few places where you don't expect them, and particularly on the podium used by the rabbi.

I’m sure that my synagogue isn't alone. Many churches, mosques, and other religious institutions around the country have likely done similar things. So what has changed in the last 12 months? Besides additional security and the costs associated with it, I don't know. I wish that I had some type of insightful or meaningful conclusion here, but I don't. The people who lost family and friends much too soon certainly honor and remember their loved ones. This will especially be the case this weekend on the anniversary. You just hope and pray that something like this doesn't happen again. You thank the police officers for helping protect people (particularly the Pittsburgh police officers who were wounded in the line of duty when responding to the Tree of Life shootings). And perhaps we can also see more instances of people coming together like what happened in Pittsburgh in the days and weeks after October 27, 2018.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Random Ramblings

There are several different items that I want to share, and it seemed to make sense to put them all into one post.

* Matchbox restaurants (primarily in the DC area) hosted a pizza competition where people created their own salads. Just making sure that you're paying attention! The Matchbox chefs chose the top four entries and worked with the winners to bring their pizzas to life. All four creations are on the menu throughout October, and the top-selling pizza will stay on the menu for the rest of the year. I mention this not because Matchbox is a sponsor of Sean's Ramblings (which would be fantastic) but because one of the finalists is Ben, the son of a friend who I've known since fourth grade. You'll also notice from the video below that three of the finalists are adults. Even though Ben is likely taller than the other finalists (seriously, Ben towers over me), he's the only finalist not old enough to vote. Ben's creation is the 3.6.9 with zesty tomato sauce, certified angus beef, pickles, mozz, onion straws, and pecorino. According to his dad, it’s a Slider Pizza, basically a deconstructed cheeseburger with onion straws on top like they do. And it’s called the “3-6-9” like how they list their regular sliders on the menu.

So if you go to Matchbox before the end of October, please order Ben's 3.6.9.

* Chesapeake, Virginia takes trick-or-treating really seriously. So serious that this law is on the books:

(a) If any person over the age of 14 years shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever, he or she shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor. Nothing herein shall be construed as prohibiting any parent, guardian, or other responsible person, having lawfully in his or her custody a child 14 years old or younger, from accompanying said child.

(b) If any person shall engage in the activity commonly known as "trick or treat" or any other activity of similar character or nature under any name whatsoever after 8:00 p.m., he or she shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

Apparently, a lot of people aren't happy with the fact that this misdemeanor exists in which kids could get fined and/or receive jail time (up to 6 months if over 14). Therefore, the City of Chesapeake had to provide this statement:

Chesapeake Police staff will focus on making sure the evening is safe for everyone, not actively seeking out violations of the time or age limits. For example, a 15 year old safely trick or treating with a younger sibling is not going to have any issues. (Sean's Note: That's not what the law says!) That same child taking pumpkins from porches and smashing them in the street more likely will. (Sean's note: Smashing Pumpkins is destruction of property - and a band - and has nothing to do with the law.) The City’s trick-or-treat ordinance was updated in 2019 when City Council voted to remove the (never before used) penalty of jail time and to raise the age limit to 14, making it one of the least restrictive ordinances in all of Hampton Roads.

Oh, in that case, maybe they should just cancel trick-or-treating in all of Hampton Roads!

* To a different police department in Virginia, the Fairfax County Police Department has a blog where they post official news and information. On Monday, they shared this item:

GRAND LARCENY/FOOT PURSUIT: 6699 Springfield Mall (JC Penney), 10/19/19, 8:53 p.m. A man and a women walked into the JC Penney’s store and stole merchandise. After a short foot pursuit through the shopping center, officers located the two and arrested them without further incident. Alfonce Powell, 27, of Maryland, was charged with grand larceny and failure to appear in court, and Shardaisha Slater, 25, of Maryland, was charged with grand larceny.

What really stood out from the article is Powell's mugshot. He looks so happy and photogenic!

* I have a friend who appeared in one of (if not the) opening scene of the incredible 2007 movie Michael Clayton. Based on some of the checks he's still receiving from the film, he's close to retiring...or buying lunch.

* Yahoo published an article titled "5 Influencers Share How Much They Get Paid Per #Ad Post." Yes there's a hashtag in the title. Anyway, I figure that I'm only about 975 followers away from being an influencer! And yes, I'm definitely willing to be a model for any interested clothing brand/company.

* Finally, one of the best things on the internet is The First World Problems of HGB & MAB series on The Steel Trap. I'm featured in three different entries in the latest post.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Moose Plays Recorder

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

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

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

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