Tuesday, September 29, 2020

A Few Thoughts On Wednesday

I mentioned recently that I started writing for Owls America, a website for Sheffield Wednesday fans in North and South America. I knew going in that my writing style works well here on Sean's Ramblings, but I was a little concerned about how it would fit on Owls America. It seems like the readers of Owls America expect analysis and match previews. I'll admit that this really isn't my specialty. In my opinion, there are plenty of other website that offer preview and game analysis. My posts tend to focus on a few things about the team and mixed with some "fun" facts. Anyway, since the site decided not to run my latest blog post, I figured that I would share it here instead. Please note that I think you can still enjoy this post even if you don't know anything about Sheffield Wednesday.

* With Sunday's 2-0 loss at Bristol City, Sheffield Wednesday has now scored only 2 goals (both against Cardiff City) in 4 games against non League One teams. It's a little early to be too concerned about the lack of offensive production, but Wednesday needs to score some goals soon. The latest rumor is that Wednesday has interest Cardiff City's Callum Paterson. Although Paterson has scored or assisted 29 goals in his 106 games for Cardiff, he has yet to play this season. I've been pleased with Josh Windass overall so far, and I'm still hopeful for production from Elias Kachunga and Jordan Rhodes, but another experienced forward would be a welcome addition.
* Chris Martin assisted on Bristol City's first goal. This man can do everything. He sings and plays multiple instruments for one of the world's biggest bands (Coldplay), and he even acts. (He's been on Modern Family and Curb Your Enthusiasm.) In addition to all this, he was married to Gwyneth Paltrow and has been romantically linked with Dakota Johnson and Jennifer Lawrence. Now, he's trying to help Bristol City reach the Premier League. Amazing!

* There were reports this week that Watford and an unnamed Premier League team are interested in defender Dominic Iorfa. Last season's team player of the year is the rock of Wednesday's defense and arguably the team's most important and dependable player. If someone offers Wednesday $15-$20 million for him, I think it would be hard to say no particularly with the uncertainty about any ticket revenue. 
* Barry Bannon's Instagram account is bazzaboi10. I just wanted to point this out. Bazzaboi10. 
Next up: Queens Park Rangers at Hillsborough on Saturday, October 3rd. Some goals (and more importantly 3 points) would be nice!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Yom Kippur 2020

Every few years, I write a post about Rosh Hashanah or Hanukkah featuring various videos to celebrate the new year (like I did last week) or the festival of lights. I don't typically write about Yom Kippur though. Well, except for the time that Train had a song where Patrick Monahan sang "How could you leave on Yom Kippur?" That remains one of the strangest lines in pop music this century. (I could share my thoughts about Train right now, but that would be totally off topic. And at a time where I'm asking for forgiveness, I probably don't want to insult Train.)

Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, is the holiest day of the Jewish year. It's a day where people 13 and older don't eat or drink from sundown to sundown. (There are obviously exceptions for those who are sick, pregnant, or unable to fast.) You spend much of the time in synagogue praying, you don't work, and you refrain from sexual activity. Traditionally, you don't bathe or wash, put on perfume or lotions, or wear leather shoes. The leather shoes thing has bothered me for years. In the old days, leather shoes were considered a luxury, which is part of the reason why you're supposed to wear sneakers or sandals instead. For me, I'd much rather wear sneakers than leather shoes as they are more comfortable, so I continue to wear leather shoes. Of course, since I'm doing services from home this year, there is no debate for me. I'm wearing only socks. Problem solved!

The services at home thing really isn't new for me anymore. I've been doing them since March. What is new is that Yom Kippur is the only day of the year where I don't watch TV, I don't turn on the radio or listen to music, and I don't use my computer or phone. This year, I'll have to turn on the computer to participate in services. 

During Yom Kippur, there is a memorial service called Yizkor. With my dad passing away earlier this year, this will be the first time I'll participate in Yizkor during Yom Kippur. I suspect that it will be less emotional being at home instead of in the same room as others thinking of their loved ones.

We often host a "break fast" gathering at our house with friends and family with bagels, cream cheese, lox and more. I'll definitely miss that this year. 

So it turns out that there is one (just one) amusing Yom Kippur, so I'll share it here.

If you're observing Yom Kippur, have an easy fast and a meaningful day.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Friday Video: Blinding Lights

My blog posts have been a little heavy lately, so let's get back to basics. "Blinding Lights" by The Weeknd may just be the song of the year. It's been out for months now, and I'm still not tired of it. Enjoy!

His performance at this year's VMAs was also cool.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Donald Trump And The Jewish Vote

I've been thinking about this for a long time. I know that there are plenty of Jews who support and will vote for Donald Trump in November. Much of the reasoning behind this is due to his relationship and accomplishments surrounding Israel. Let's start with Trump moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. On the surface, this seems like an easy call. How can an embassy not be in the country capital? Congress even authorized this move back in 1995. (Biden voted in favor of this.) For a variety of reasons, though, the move never happened until Trump took office. While maybe pro-Trump Jewish voters are okay with the end result here, Trump said that he moved the embassy “for the evangelicals.”


I'm definitely not going to speak for evangelicals here. I'll let Walker Robins, a former Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University post-doctoral fellow (and current lecturer at Merrimack College) explain.

Some evangelicals "stress biblical prophecy, holding that Jewish possession of Jerusalem, especially the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem, is essential to a number of prophesied events that will accompany the Second Coming of Christ." Many evangelicals see the embassy move as getting closer to the Rapture / End Times / Armageddon where good Christians go to heaven and the rest of us (including Jews) are left behind or worse. Therefore, it's fair to suspect the way the embassy move was done (it upset lots of people) and the reason for the move. 
By the way, Trump said this during his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention last month.

“Rather than spending $1 billion on a new building as planned, we took an already owned existing building in a better location … and opened it at a cost of less than $500,000.”

In reality, from this fact check from the link above, the cost for converting the building is over $23 million, and the costs for the permanent embassy could surpass $1 billion.

Even back in 2018 when Trump claimed that the site would only cost between $200,000 and $300,000, the State Department awarded a $21 million contract for embassy building upgrades.

I’m not going to write that Trump lied about the costs, but, um, I’m not sure the right way to finish this sentence if I don't write that. I should also mention that if people are worried about the status of the embassy if Trump loses, Biden said he’ll keep the embassy in Jerusalem.

I realize that I barely started this post, and I’m including lots of links and quotes. That’s not like me! You generally read stories about my kids or about how many burritos I ate in a year. I’ll try to have less of this.

Israel recently signed peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain thanks in part to assistance by the United States. Trump is taking credit for this, and he should. This is his biggest international accomplishment of his presidency. However, let’s not pretend that Trump was at Camp David with international leaders for weeks trying to broker a peace deal like Jimmy Carter. UAE and Israel have been building towards an agreement for years based on growing business connections and a mutual enemy in Iran. And honestly, the Saudi Arabia and Iran relationship is probably the key here. Hot take: They don’t like each other very much. UAE and Bahrain don’t do these deals without the backing of Saudi Arabia. And this is where things get tricky. Or maybe not tricky at all. 

The CIA concluded that Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”), the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Nevertheless, not long after the murder, Trump bypassed Congress to sell about $8 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia and UAE. He also vetoed resolutions blocking the sale as well as a bipartisan bill to end US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war. In addition, it was recently revealed that Trump bragged to Bob Woodward that he “was able to get Congress to leave MBS alone.” Clearly, Trump values his relationship with the Saudi monarchy (and probably more specifically their money), and they obviously love Trump. I mean, there were no repercussions at all for murdering a journalist. In fact, they were rewarded and protected!

So it clearly looks like Israel decided that they’re on the Saudi side of the Saudi Arabia-Iran whatever you want to call it. And this is where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes in. Bibi (and others including many in the American Jewish community) didn’t like the international deal between the US and other countries with Iran during the Obama administration. Obama and Bibi never seemed to get along, and the signing of this nuclear agreement strained the relationship (at best) between the two. Because of this, there are people who think that Obama and Biden (since he was VP under Obama) are against or hate Israel. However, it was under Obama and Biden in 2016 that the US signed a record $38 billion deal for military aid to Israel. Now, it’s fair to question this deal and incredible amount of money involved here, but it happened even with the sour relationship between Obama and Netanyahu. The point is America is committed to Israel no matter who is in the Oval Office. And it seems to me that Biden has a solid track record on Israel and to a lesser extent so does Kamala Harris.

Okay, sorry for a few more links. Joe Biden’s website discusses his record and plan pertaining to Israel and Harris shared her commitment to Israel. There are also some “fun” facts about Harris and her relationship with the Jewish community.

By the way, Israel definitely didn’t want Iran to have nuclear capabilities. Well, guess who may have enough uranium ore to produce nuclear fuel? That’s right, Saudi Arabia!

Moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is fine, and it’s great the Israel has peace agreements with UAE and Bahrain. However, anyone suggesting that Trump is the best president Israel has ever had certainly doesn’t know the history between the two countries. While I stand by my point that the US-Israel relationship will be strong with whoever is in the Oval Office, Israel needs to worry about their own leadership given that there have been approximately 87 elections for Prime Minister over the last few years! (That’s only a slight exaggeration.) I think most people want Israel to have peace agreements with as many countries (and including the Palestinians) as possible. Until that happens, though, I think it's fair to be skeptical (and there are probably other words you could use here) of the Saudi Arabian government.

Now that I wrote about America’s relationship with Israel, I wanna really, really, really wanna zigazig ah.

Actually, I wanna really, really, really discuss this this September 2, 2020 opinion article titled "Many Orthodox Jews support President Trump. I'm one of them - here's why" by Mishpacha Magazine editor Binyamin Rose published in Washington Jewish Week. Here are some quotes from the article:

We feel an affinity to the president’s cadre of Orthodox Jewish advisers, including Jared Kushner. Jared’s father, Charlie, was my high school classmate at the Jewish Educational Center in Elizabeth, NJ. The Kushners wore their commitment to Jewish causes and Israel on their sleeves.

It’s nice that Rose has a personal connection to the Kushners. It’s funny that he didn’t mention that Kushner pleaded guilty to 16 counts of tax evasion, one count of retaliating against a federal witness and one count of lying to the Federal Election Commission. And that one count of retaliating against a federal witness is quite a story. Kushner hired a prostitute to seduce his brother-in-law, videotaped it, and then sent the videotape to his sister to attempt to intimidate her from testifying before a grand jury. So Kushner served time in federal prison, but since he’s committed to Jewish causes and Israel, everything is okay? As for Jared Kusher, the only reason that he has such a prominent role in the Trump administration is because he married Ivanka Trump. I would say that he’s a real life Tom Wambsgans, but as pointed out in this amazing Last Week Tonight segment, he has plenty of responsibilities. (This video is not safe for work.)

If Kushner wasn't married to Ivanka and showed up at the White House with his resume and asked to be responsible for Middle East peace negotiations, on the coronavirus task force, as well as the other items he does, he would be laughed away. Back to the article.

Recent events have only solidified Trump’s standing despite the coronavirus pandemic, which most Orthodox Jews view as primarily a health issue and not one that politicians can solve. Biden can critique Trump from the basement of his Wilmington, Del., home all he wants, but he can’t prove retroactively that he would have done better.

I’ll give Rose the benefit of the doubt that this was published in early September before the revelation that Trump told Bob Woodward that he was downplaying the severity of the virus to avoid panic. We all know that Trump tries to avoid panic at all costs. Remember all of the gang members and terrorists that were part of the Central American migrants ready to invade our southern border? He definitely tried to downplay that, right? Rose is correct that we can’t prove that Biden would have done better during the pandemic. But how could he have done worse? Biden never said that the virus would simply go away. Biden also never said that the virus "affects virtually nobody" under 18. Again, I'm not going to write that Trump lied, but um...

Aside from catching COVID-19, the two outbreaks Orthodox Jews fear most are a breakdown of law and order, and rising anti-Semitism. To an extent, the two dovetail.

American Orthodox Jewish voters are concentrated in and around major cities, where Jewish institutions have spent millions of dollars since 9/11 on security upgrades. We have watched in dread as this summer’s legitimate demonstrations against police brutality against Black Americans quickly gave way to rioting and looting, with big-city mayors looking the other way.

While the vast majority of the protests haven’t resulted in rioting and looting, let’s go with Rose’s point. So the way to improve law and order and rising anti-Semitism that has happened during the Trump presidency is to, re-elect Trump?

Yes, political dialogue has descended to gutter level. Trump bears his share of the blame for that. Judaism has laws for kosher speech, just as it has for kosher food. Jewish law forbids the use of derogatory nicknames. We’d like to see the president eliminate the name-calling from his political lexicon.
Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Can I stop laughing now? Trump has been president for nearly four years. What makes you think he’s going to stop name-calling? He was just on Fox and Friends on Monday suggesting that Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman Adam Schiff (who he called "Shifty Schiff") made up Ruth Bader Ginsburg's deathbed statement that "my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." His political lexicon isn't changing.

Trump’s diatribes have emboldened far-right extremists and white nationalists.
But wait, you just said that rising anti-Semitism was the biggest concern besides COVID-19!

At the same time, Democratic progressives have ramped up their anti-Israel rhetoric, supporting the BDS movement under the banner of free speech. Both parties are guilty of fomenting anti-Semitism. But for an Orthodox Jew, what’s the bigger present threat? A far-right extremist in a distant rural town, or a looter in a Jewish neighborhood?
This makes no sense. Does Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embolden people to loot in Jewish neighborhoods? I’ve never once heard that correlation.

By the way, there were at least two far-right extremists in the last few years in Pittsburgh and Poway (just outside San Diego). Those aren’t distant rural towns. And just from personal experiences, Jewish agencies have spent millions of dollars on security upgrades since the Tree of Life synagogue shooting rather than since 9/11.

This is out of order, but one final quote from Rose.

We also support government funding of secular studies curriculums within parochial schools, as many Western countries do. 

If that’s your #1 election issue, I guess you’re going to vote for Trump. I mean, almost all school funding occurs on the local or state level, but go with Trump over Biden here. By the way, you know what else is a pressing item for Jews and all Americans? Healthcare. Trump's entire healthcare plan has been to abolish Obamacare, so much so that his administration is currently waiting to argue this in front of the Supreme Court. How many times over the last 3.5+ years has Trump said that he would have a new, better healthcare plan? It's late September, and there's still no plan or proposal.

Finally, please listen to Trump’s phone call with various leaders, rabbis, and Holocaust survivors (who he meets “on the campaign trail often”). I’d love to see a list of who exactly was on this call. Oh, and when and where exactly is Trump meeting all of these Holocaust survivors? Is it before or after his speeches at airport hangers? Anyway, while it seems like the premise of this call was to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and wish people a Happy New Year, the vast majority of the nearly 15 minutes of the video consists of Trump talking about himself and encouraging everyone listening to vote for him. A "may you be inscribed in the book of life" statement would have been nice. At around the 9:30 mark, he says, “If we don’t win, Israel is in big trouble.” Once again, he’s downplaying panic, right? He also complained that he only got 25% of the Jewish vote in 2016 even though “I have a son-in-law and a daughter who are Jewish” and grandchildren that are Jewish. Yes, when most people vote for president, the religion of the candidate’s family members is the deciding factor. I think he really feels like he should get more votes from American Jews simply for this reason.

At the end of the call, Trump says that “we love your country also.” Aren’t the people on this call American? American Jews certainly have a connection to Israel, but the United States is our country.

If you made it all the way through this post, thank you. Look, I know that this post isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, especially because I can’t imagine that there are any undecided voters at this point. I’m just trying to share that Israel will be just fine without Trump, and America will be better without him too.

Shana Tova, and may you be inscribed in the Book of Life!

(Photo of Trump and MBS from Getty. Photo of Biden and Harris by Anthony Lanzilote of Bloomberg.)

UPDATE: It was only a few hours after this post that I saw this story which states "After phone calls with Jewish lawmakers, Trump has muttered that Jews "are only in it for themselves" and "stick together" in an ethnic allegiance that exceeds other loyalties, officials said." Maybe this isn't true, but this certainly sounds like something he would say, right?

Friday, September 18, 2020

Happy 5781

Happy Rosh Hashanah to those of you who are celebrating! The Jewish new year begins Friday night and things are going to be a little different this year. Instead of being at synagogue or having meals with friends, I'll be watching a live-stream of services at home and eating with my family like I have every night for the last 6 months. One thing remains the same though. A Rosh Hashanah post with various videos to welcome the year!

First up is Blossom, I mean Amy Farrah Fowler, I mean Mayim Bialik giving a nice overview of Rosh Hashanah.

The Maccabeats are back again this year, and perhaps they have emerged victorious in their battle (in my mind) with fellow a capella group, Six13. I don't see a Rosh Hashanah video from Six 13 this year, so advantage Maccabeats!

Need recipes and ideas of things to do from home during Rosh Hashanah? This may be the video for you!

And here's "Donald Trump" wishing everyone a Happy New Year! The voice is spot on and made me chuckle. 

Finally, the perfect Rosh Hashanah video for my Spanish-speaking friends. I mean, unfortunately, I don't speak Spanish, so I'm just assuming that it's the perfect video.

Happy New Year! While some may say next year in Jerusalem, I'll say next year out of the house!

You can also check out my previous Rosh Hashanah posts including some fun videos by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Done With The NFL

Imagine being so passionate about something that you created and operated a website about this topic for 23 years. 23! I mean, what websites can you think of from around 1997 that are still active today? Anyway, you spent countless hours establishing content, searching for videos, and moderating a message board for like-minded fans. Welcome to McMillen and Wife's Pittsburgh Steelers website! I only recently discovered this gem with nearly 50 years of videos and descriptions of Steelers games. It really is a fun place to explore, particularly if you want to watch complete Steelers games from the last few decades. The site also includes pictures of McMillen and his wife and various family members wearing Steelers gear. Basically, it's safe to assume that McMillen and wife are passionate Steelers fans. Well, until Monday. 

Did McMillen decide that he finally had enough of non-guaranteed contracts for players? NFL players have the shortest careers of any of the big four American sports leagues in part because of the high injury rates including head injuries. Was McMillen fed up with NFL players getting arrested (and sometimes suspended) for domestic violence, yet still being allowed to play again? You know, I'll let McMillen explain for himself.

Yes, it's the over-politicization of football which is why McMillen is done and not coming back. I'm sure that McMillen is tired of Presidents and former Presidents attending Super Bowls and even conducting the coin toss to start these games. Maybe he doesn't like Super Bowl-winning teams visiting the White House. Perhaps he's tired of military members and veterans being honored during every game. You know, it's possible that McMillen is absolutely distraught about the NFL and the Steelers raising awareness and funds for cancer, autism, veterans, and other causes. That's too political for McMillen. I mean cancer is terrible. I don't want to think about cancer when all I want to see is if the Steelers can beat the Browns. He probably also hated seeing Ryan Shazier on TV during Steelers games at various points over the last few years. He's fortunate to walk again. Why get reminded about that when all that you wanted was a reprieve from the realities of life?

It's not any of these things though, is it? It's about players trying to have a voice and creating awareness and change. I mentioned a few years ago that one of my fantasy football leagues ended because, as a veteran, one of the members didn't like the protest by some players against the flag. However, as we've seen even more clearly over the last few months, it's not really about the flag. Imagine being so upset about the Steelers holding a banner that says Steelers Against Racism that you can't watch the NFL anymore. Too political. 

Is McMillen so distraught about the Steelers having stickers on their helmets in memory of Antwon Rose II, that he refuses to watch TJ Watt, Bud Dupree, and the Steelers' pass rush? I don't want to get into the Rose case too much, because I'll admit that I don't know as much about it as I should. However, our country was founded with a judicial system and the right to a fair trial. Even if someone is presumed guilty of a crime, even a heinous crime, that doesn't give the police the authority to shoot an unarmed suspect.

I'm sure that McMillen has his reasons for not wanting to watch the Steelers or the NFL anymore. It could be a variety of all of this. Maybe it's as simple as realizing that he spent too much time on football and wants to enjoy quiet by doing jigsaw puzzles of scenic landscapes instead. That's not political and definitely provides a reprieve from the realities of life. In that case, good for him. 

Assuming that McMillen isn't watching the NFL anymore because of what he views as politics, he's not alone. If you're on Twitter and Facebook, you'll see plenty of posts criticizing the players. Apparently, as Mike Pence showed us, peaceful protests are fine and encouraged as long as they don't interrupt sporting events or are political.

Look, I'm not going to pretend that I understand what many players are going through. As a white male, I don't have the same fear and experiences that others have. Maybe you believe that the media is blowing things out of proportion. That it's just a few bad apples. I know that nothing I'm going to write here is going to change your mind. However, read what retired Pittsburgh Steeler Ramon Foster wrote just after the death of George Floyd. Listen to the incredible actor Giancarlo Esposito in the 30:00 to 37:00 mark of this interview. So when the Steelers hold up a banner or when NBA, MLB, and even NHL games are postponed in protest, it's hard to think that it's just isolated incidents. It's players saying enough is enough, and that change is needed in this country.

So if players standing arm-in-arm before kick-off, staying in the locker room during the national anthem, or even kneeling during the anthem is so political that you can't watch Patrick Mahomes throw touchdown passes, celebrate a Steelers win, or even feel awful for Steelers offensive lineman Zach Banner needing surgery and ending his season because it adds to your stress, keep working on those jigsaw puzzles.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Is Joe Biden An Iron Man?

You may have seen that Joe Biden visited the Flight 93 Memorial on Friday to commemorate the 19th anniversary of 9-11. He also stopped by Shanksville's volunteer fire department, and according to WTAE (and others), the last time Biden was there, "he joked that he'd bring some beer when he returned." Therefore, he brought "two six-packs of Bud Light and Iron City, along with a Bundt cake and pastries for the crew."

I don't know the size of the fire department, but I'm not sure that 12 bottles of beer is enough. Anyway, Joe Biden (or more likely his staff) deserves credit for bringing a local beer. While Biden said, "I keep my promises" in reference to the beer, perhaps he should have said that "You can't keep an Iron Man down."

If you think that this blog post was simply an excuse to share this 30+ year-old Iron City commercial, I say, how dare you!! (And then I'd say, you're right.)

Photo by Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Luigi Turns 3

It seems like only three years ago that our youngest son Luigi (not his real name) entered the world. Actually, it was three years this past weekend. So all of the stereotypes of a third child is true. For our first child (The Moose), we got a mobile and another musical contraption for the crib. We were super conscious of cleanliness, especially if we ate out. The diaper bag was filled with everything that we might possibly need and much, much more. Meanwhile, Luigi never had anything attached to the crib. Much of his wardrobe consists of clothing that his brothers wore. And I think we apply the 5-second rule if he drops food on the floor. Well, maybe it's closer to the 15-second rule.

The school year starts today with all five of us at home. My wife can't be interrupted for her job, so she's basically locked away in a room. I'll make sure that The Moose and Pedro Tulo are online and doing what they're supposed to be doing for 4th grade and 1st grade. I also need to do some work during this time, though based on the last few weeks, I already know that I'll do much of my work early in the morning and after the kids go to sleep. I guess I'll try to sleep at some point. Anyway, I joke that while Luigi will be home with us, he'll just fend for himself. I'm only partially joking though as I fully expect that there will be plenty of times when I just hand him some cars or toys and let him entertain himself. Third kid!

Luigi is adorable and incredibly sweet. He has a smile and laugh that makes you melt. I'm biased in writing that he's cute, but he is, and I think he knows it. He's also spoiled. He generally gets what he wants but often has meltdowns when he doesn't. The meltdowns are usually over silly things too. Like opening his applesauce when he wanted to open it. Much of the time, it's when his brothers are using a toy or something that he wants. I'll admit that I just let him go all out during many of these meltdowns. He usually stops after 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 minutes or so. I feel like it's my responsibility to let him know that he can have what he wants but within reason. And if he's being unreasonable, I'm going to let him be mad. Of course, he's 3, so he doesn't think he's ever in the wrong.

What else can I write about Luigi? He has no interest in starting potty training. He also hasn't had a nap since he last attended preschool in early March. For most of the summer, he's gone to sleep after 9:00PM, but won't wake up until around 9:00AM. A few weeks ago, he woke up at 6:00AM or so and didn't fall back asleep. At dinner, he was exhausted and put his head down on my lap. 

I was worried that he still had food in his mouth, so I asked him about this, he smiled, opened his mouth and said "ahhhh," and then promptly fell asleep. He slept for probably an hour and a half, so he had no interest in sleeping when we tried to put him to bed. We thought that perhaps a change of scenery would help him fall asleep, and this was the result.

When he smiles and/or laughs, you just can't get mad at him. Luigi loves his brothers and Ziggy, and we all love him too. Happy 3rd Birthday, Luigi!

Friday, September 04, 2020

Friday Video - The Rapper

I feel like I know bands and musicians from Pittsburgh. You have The Marcels and The Del-Vikings and Walt Harper and Joe Grushecky and Donnie Iris and Rusted Root and Christina Aguilera and Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller and Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio among others. A recent YaJagoff! podcast featured the band, The Jaggerz, who I somehow had never heard of before.

I learned that The Jaggerz had a major hit in 1970 with the song, The Rapper, which went to #2 on the Billboard Top 100. I had never heard of this song either. What's amazing to me are the other songs and artists on the chart. Simon & Garfunkel's monster smash "Bridge Over Troubled Water"  prevented "The Rapper" from reaching the top spot. However, The Rapper was above Instant Karma by John Lennon, Santana's Evil Ways, Let It Be by The Beatles, and ABC by The Jackson 5. Other artists with songs in the Top 40 include Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Steve Wonder, James Brown, Sly & The Family Stone, The Temptations, and The Supremes. That's quite a list!

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Chadwick, Big John, and Demetreus

Three deaths occurred over the last few days that impacted me and many, many, many others. The first was the passing of actor Chadwick Boseman at only 43 years old from colon cancer. Since my oldest son was born in 2011, I have seen only a handful of non-kids movies in the theater. I also only recently started using streaming services, and even then, I tend to watch shows much more than movies. In addition, I'm one of the only 10 people in America who haven't watched many Marvel movies. I write all this because I've only seen Boseman appear in one film, 42. Still, Boseman played legendary figures in American history in the 20th century in Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall. I challenge you to find any actor who played three such important and diverse people in their career, let alone in just a few years.

Boseman really looked like a baseball player in 42, which isn't easy to do. It's difficult to find actors who can act but also look like professional athletes. Then, to be able to sing and dance like James Brown and to be as stately as Thurgood Marshall. So much talent. And all this doesn't include Black Panther, which is a role that will be remembered for years. Such a tragic loss at such a young age. While there isn't a silver lining in Boseman's death, I'm sure that I'm not the only one looking into getting a colonoscopy because of his passing.

Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 80s and early 90s, when someone talks about basketball, it was about college and more specifically the Big East conference. Sure, everyone knew of the Lakers and Celtics, but I'd much rather watch Pitt play Georgetown or Syracuse or St. John's. Because of my Pitt fandom, I disliked Georgetown. They were the bullies of the conference led by their tall and intimidating coach John Thompson. Here is a list of people more recognizable and known in Washington DC in the 80s and 90s than John Thompson:

No one. Mayor Marion Berry, Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, and Super Bowl Champion John Riggins might have been as well known, but if you're walking down the street, people would recognize John Thompson, simply due to his height, before any of the others. I definitely didn't appreciate Thompson until I moved to Northern Virginia. He doesn't get the credit for being an incredibly intelligent coach but on matters beyond the basketball court too.

Back to the Big East, I loved those Pitt teams during that era. On the 1987-1988 team, Charles Smith was the leading scorer, Jerome Lane was one of the best rebounders in the country and famous for shattering a glass backboard in a nationally televised game, and everyone knew point guard Sean Miller since every game seemed to feature a clip of him as a young child dribbling a basketball for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. However, my favorite player was  Demetreus Gore. I thought he had a cool name, but he also seemed to be the backbone of the team as he could score, pass, play defense, and do anything needed to win. When I did the Best Pittsburgh Sports Blog Tournament a decade ago, I named one of the regions for Gore. He died from a heart attack at only 54.


Photos by Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan via Getty, ESPN's 30 for 30, and Pitt athletics