Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Dentist

I had to call and cancel my dentist appointment this morning.
That may have been a mistake. It was just a cleaning and check up, but you know how it goes...

They are going to try to squeeze me in sometime in the morning on February 10, 2011. I'm supposed to brush and floss regularly in the mean time.

I'll see what I can do.

Does this mean I have to go out and purchase a new toothbrush? Do they even sell them at the store? I thought the only place you could get one is in the drawer in Dr. Ted's office, right next to the mini dispenser of floss and the stickers.

I guess I could just pretend that I have an emergency - then they would have to take me, right? Aaahh! I need to come in right now! Fire up the spinning toothbrush and that saliva sucking tube thing! It's been six months since my last visit!

No wonder 4 out of 5 dentists recommend keeping an appointment once you've scheduled it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Posts Update III

The Replacements
When I turned the furnace on for the first time this year nothing much happened. The pilot lit and that's about it. After some troubleshooting (not by me), it turned out that we needed a new gas valve. It is now back to normal.

Then the battery for our new digital camera was recalled. Apparently there was a chance that it could short out, overheat and melt, "posing a potential hazard to consumers." But this was the easiest of the replacements so far. I was sent a new one for free, complete with packaging to return the old one. For free.

Not Working Out
An oversight in my decision to dispose of the weight bench was realized last week after our first substantial snowfall of the season. When I came inside from shoveling, there was no weight bench on which to hang my wet coat, scarf, hat and gloves. Luckily, we still have the treadmill. It works just as well.

Lawn Care
Since the last update I have found a Nokia cell phone battery and a bag of Doritos on my lawn. The battery was cracked and the bag was empty. I'm still waiting for something useful to show up.

4-9-18-51-54 Powerball 10
The winning numbers for October 19th's record setting $340 million Powerball jackpot were 7, 21, 43, 44 and 49, and the Powerball was 29. You didn't win. These people did. You are one dollar (or more) lighter. Kind of like I said...

Friday, December 2, 2005

Three-Oh

It's official. I'm 30 years old. But what does that really mean?

I don't know.

It isn't like I woke up this morning and felt any different than any other day. I guess 30 has been creeping up on me for a while.

My hair is thinning out on top and getting thicker everywhere else. I get a 5 o'clock shadow at about 8:30 am. I can hurt myself by just getting out of bed or walking up the stairs the wrong way, and it takes twice as long to recover from every injury. And I would look silly in the latest trendy outfits if I cared to ever try them on.

But worst of all (and I never thought it would happen this soon), I can't stand to listen to today's popular rock music. I just don't appreciate someone screaming into a microphone. What are they so angry about? And why are they wearing so much eye makeup? Is that what my music sounds like to people older than me?

Oh, well. I'm getting old. I knew that someday I would get to this point.

There are many people who have done amazing things and had great success in their lives before they turned 30. Alexander Graham Bell. Tiger Woods. Ryan Seacrest. But I never wanted any international attention or critical acclaim.

I really only hoped for one thing by my 30th birthday, and I can tell you that I got my wish.

I'm still around.

And isn't that enough?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an appointment with a man about a red sports car. Or is that supposed to be when I turn 40? Or 50? Somebody help me out here...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Operation: Black Friday

I woke before dawn this morning. The turkey and stuffing from yesterday's Thanksgiving feast were still stirring. But I was ready. The sales were just getting underway.

I was not the mastermind of this mission. That responsibility fell to the team member with much, much more experience. I am usually still asleep for a majority of this process, but not today.

We arrived at the first location a few minutes after 0600 hours. Everything went as planned. We moved on to the next objective without hesitation, securing a prime parking spot upon arrival. You can't plan for that. It was a bonus.

We forged ahead. Soon the trunk was filled with bags and boxes, the spoils of a job well done.

I knew that I wouldn't get much of the glory for the success of this mission. I was the wheelman. The transporter of purchased merchandise. The holder of a spot in line. But it was worth the effort to see the plan unfold and just be a part of it.

We arrived back at the HQ just after noon. We ate waffles and sorted receipts. We napped. We reveled in the triumph of the morning. I think the mastermind started planning for next year.

But not me. I needed to get my rest. I did more before 9:00 am than I care to do all day.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

I Was Stabbed!!

By my salad! Who decided it would be a good idea to put sharp vegetables in there?

Was I supposed to eat all of those exotic greens? After bleeding profusely from my lips and gums? I like my iceberg lettuce, thank you. Maybe a little bit of romaine if I am feeling wild. You can keep the thorns.

I'm not sure when this idea of weird leaves in salads made it all the way down to the un-trendiest of restaurants (my salad was from a local bar & grill). But I don't like it. You get less edible contents for more money. And the nouveau salads aren't exactly delicious, either.

Frisee, the thorny weed? Radicchio, the bitter leaf? Those purple soggy things? They all taste terrible. And the newest idea is to serve dandelions in certain mixes. Are you kidding me? I spend a good bit of effort trying to eradicate those things from my yard. And now you want me to eat them? I don't think so.

But I do have an idea. Next spring I will skip the lawn fertilizer. I'll let the dandelions and other weeds grow alongside my mouth-watering mix of zoysia, fine fescue and perennial rye grasses. Then I'll charge $8.95 and you can graze in my yard all you want. Very trendy. You'll get the same junk they put in your salad at a restaurant, but it will be so fresh!

Just make sure you bring your favorite dressing. And a band-aid for your mouth.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Purple Tape

It's local election time, and things are getting very interesting in my Borough. I'm not talking about the politics of the whole thing. Instead, there is a real life soap opera going on.

Beverly Coon is a school board member up for re-election in my district. Dr. Ronald Grimm is the school superintendent in a neighboring district. For the past two years, they have been in a romantic relationship together. Things changed, however, when Dr. Grimm decided that he wanted to get back together with his estranged wife. This is where the daytime drama stuff comes in.

Ms. Coon is now free on $100,000 bond, awaiting her trial. Dr. Grimm spent 7 days in the hospital recovering from burns on his hands, arms, and face. He will be wearing burn recovery pressure sleeves for the next year. It seems that she was not thrilled about his plan to reconcile with his wife.

She is accused of setting his bed on fire after feeding him drug-laced lady locks that put him to sleep. You know, attempted murder. Other than that, she has been formally charged with arson, reckless endangerment, risking a catastrophe, criminal mischief, and stalking. Here is a picture of Ms. Coon on the way to the preliminary hearing.

No word yet on whether she will also be charged with having ridiculous blonde highlights after age 45.

For some reason, the two candidates with whom she shares front-yard political signs have decided to distance themselves from her. They have gone around to all of their purple signs with white text and strategically placed strips of purple tape over Ms. Coon's name. Remember when the only tape you had to worry about with elected officials was the red kind?

From a political standpoint, I guess you could say that she will do anything for what she wants. And her name will still be on the ballot, despite the pending trial and purple tape. I wonder how many votes she will get.

I personally can't vote for Ms. Coon. Her behavior goes against everything I believe in. I feel very strongly that people shouldn't just go around ruining perfectly good lady locks. I'm anti-desecration of pastries. Other than that, there's the list of criminal charges. And the pure jealous evil. And the hair.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Big Changes

As you may have noticed, there have been some big changes this week! The sinkerbeam blog has moved here, under the sinkerbeam.com umbrella. We have also created a new blog for the baby that is hosted here as well. The new addresses are as follows:

the sinkerbeam blog - http://blog.sinkerbeam.com

sinkerbaby blog - http://kidstuff.sinkerbeam.com

Please update your bookmarks/links when you get a chance.

Also, there are a few more links included in the sidebar of each blog. And syndication is now available for the sinkerbeam blog. You can subscribe to my feed with any news reader or add it to your My Yahoo! page and the headlines will automatically update with any new posts.

Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 14, 2005

4-9-18-51-54 Powerball 10

Did you get your ticket yet? Pool some cash with a bunch of people and send someone down to the 7-Eleven? The Powerball is up to $300,000,000 you know. After taking the cash option and subtracting the taxes, you've got yourself about $75 million. Or, if you're like most people, you're out a dollar and you have a worthless stub of paper with some numbers on it.

Every time the jackpot gets up into the bunch-of-millions, people who would never play the lottery decide that it might be a good time to start. They also have conversations about what they would do with that much money.

One person would buy a new house. Another would give a million bucks to everyone they know. Someone else would put it in the bank and live off the interest. All good ideas. But then the subject of work comes up, and some people get ridiculous.

I think I would go back to work after awhile," they say.

"I'd get bored and need something to do."

Please. Maybe you should take some of that money and buy a little imagination. There are plenty of things to do out there, and going to your work should not be one of them. Let me give you a few ideas. Turn on the PlayStation. Take a nap. Plant a vegetable garden. Study the African tree frog. There are 300 million more ideas out there and work shouldn't be one of them.

As of now, you go to work to make money. If you won the Powerball jackpot, you'd have all the money you could handle. You wouldn't need to make any more money, and there would be no reason to go to work. Right? You can't possibly like work that much.

But let's get back to reality. Your odds of actually winning the jackpot are 1 in 146,107,962. You have a better chance of getting struck by lightning while being attacked by a shark. Sure, someone is going to win. But that someone is not you. Have you seen the people who have won in the past? With the greasy hair and the crazy eyes?

Just take your dollar down to the 7-Eleven and buy a candy bar. How about a snickers. It will give you the extra energy you need to go to work. You can pretend that you won the Powerball but you "need something to do."

Monday, October 3, 2005

"Pear Butter '04"

What does a glass jar of "Pear Butter '04" do when it falls 5 feet from its pantry shelf and hits the carpet? The plush, shaggy, relatively new carpet?

It breaks with a low thud and splashes its Pear Buttery goodness everywhere. Even at 12:30 in the morning.

The first thing I did when I saw the fallen jar was wonder to myself if we had any bread in the house. It seemed like a waste to just clean up the spill and throw away the Pear Butter remains. Unfortunately, we did not have any bread.

Next, I broke for the paper towel roll, knowing that I had very little time before gravity pulled the spill into the dark reaches of the carpet backing. Anything reaching that deep would be smelled (if not seen) for generations to come. I was trying to work fast to get the big piles up when I sliced my finger on a shard of what remained of the glass jar.

As I started to bleed, I realized that if I was not careful I would soon be cleaning up two types of liquid from my carpet. I wasn't sure if the Pear Butter was going to stain my rug, but I was pretty sure about the blood. I've watched CSI.

I proceeded more carefully, finishing the chunk removal phase and moving on to the chemical spray phase (aka the dabbing phase). Using up three-quarters of a roll of paper towels, two-hundred fifty thousand dabs, a band-aid, and about an hour, everything was back to how it was before. You can't even tell where the "Pear Butter '04" had come to rest on my carpet.

Go ahead and look next time you visit. Just don't ask for any Pear Butter. There isn't any left. And we don't have any bread anyway.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Stooges Roofing, Inc.

Normal construction workers like to get up early. They like to start work the moment the job site is illuminated by the sunrise. The guys putting a new roof on my neighbor's house aren't normal construction workers.

I think they are Moe, Larry and Curley reincarnated as roofers.

On Monday they started the job. Sort of. Three guys showed up in two unmarked late-model trucks to have a look around. They climbed up on the roof and walked around a bit (it is not a very big roof). Then they left.

On Tuesday they rolled in at about 9:45am. Not exactly the crack of dawn. They proceeded to rip off most of the front side shingles and tack down some new underlayment cloth. Then they left. It was before noon.

This morning's arrival time was closer to 10am. They were ready to do some actual work but had forgotten something, and they sent Larry to retrieve it. He showed up over an hour later. It turns out he got lost on the way back - he was looking at the job sheet and searching for Elm Street. There is no Elm Street in my town. The homeowner's last name is Elm. He is an idiot.

Today did turn out to be a productive day, though. They got about half of the roof's shingles attached. They also narrowly missed hitting the homeowner in the head with a box that was thrown off of the roof. She yelled something at them, and then Moe yelled back that maybe she "should stay inside." She isn't the only one.

Curley readjusted the ladder when he was trying to carry a bundle of shingles up to the roof, only to get screamed at because it was "already perfect" and now the two Stooges on the roof might be stuck up there. Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk. The homeowner unplugged the air compressor for the nail gun (accidently, I think) and it took them half an hour to figure it out. Larry tripped over the new gutters that were staged in the middle of the yard and landed right on his back. Like I said, it turned out to be a productive day.

I'm just waiting for an anvil to fall out of the sky and hit one of them on the head.

All in all, though, I don't think I'd mind joining this team. They seem like they have some fun (minus the nose twisting and eye poking), they get up late, they go home early. Sounds like my kind of thing.

Just call me Shemp. I'll be over at about 10:00 tomorrow morning. Where are we going again?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The End Of The Album

When is the last time you bought an album? I'm not even talking about one made out of actual vinyl. I just mean a collection of songs by a band on a single archive of media. Better yet, when is the last time you listened to an album the whole way through? Without clicking next?

It used to be that an album was the only way you could get music (or so I've heard - I'm not all that old). Then you could buy a single of a released song complete with b-side. Now you can just buy one song at a time. Any song. And for as little as 88¢.

There goes the album.

The funny thing is that you can tell your iPod to show the album art of the song you are listening to, even though you would never even think about actually buying the whole thing. Artists don't even need to put out an entire album anymore. We're living in a single-oriented world. And I am a single-oriented girl. Or whatever.

But I still love the album. It's a collection of songs in the order that the musician intended for you to listen to them. Sadly, we will probably not see many more great ones in our lifetime. There is no need or incentive to put any effort into album making.

So, to eulogize the end of the album as we know it, I submit my top 5 albums of all time.

5) Foo Fighters
One By One




4) The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band




3) U2
Achtung Baby




2) Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness




1) Pink Floyd
The Wall



(click on the album covers for more information)

I'm sure after seeing my picks that you want to argue with me, or you at least have some of your own to share. Go ahead. Stop downloading that song for a second and post your favorites. Join me in celebrating the album.

The only rules are that no greatest hits or compilation albums are eligible for the list.

Goodbye album. It has been a fun ride. Rock on.

Monday, September 5, 2005

Posts Update II

Rabbit Stew
Toby has been given a stay of execution. Since PayPal had shut down their account, Toby's keepers have decided to sell a book instead. If 100,000 copies are sold by Thanksgiving Day, 2006, the bunny's life will be spared. Here is the Press Release about the change. Yes, the guys' names are James and Brian. No, I do not have anything to do with this.

$205,938,439.00
Things are back to normal in baseball. Since my comparison, the Yankees have improved dramatically and are only 3 games back in the AL East (and at the top of the Wild Card race in the American League). The Pirates are 32 games behind the NL Central leader. 32. And they are tied for the worst record in the NL. Boo. Oh, and about those 3 head-to-head games in June? The Buccos got swept in Yankee Stadium.

Episode III - Attack of the Marketing
I still have not seen the film. It comes out on DVD on November 1, so maybe I will watch it from the comfort of my own home. I have, however, eaten the "Choose the Dark Side" M&M's. They are silly.

The Replacements
Happily, I have no recent replacements to report. Since I have been asked repeatedly, I may (at some point) relate the entire story about the fuel pump in the Corsica.

Lawn Care
Appropriately enough, a 40 oz. bottle of Iron City Beer showed up on my neighbor's side yard the day after this post. He did not put it there. I'm sure the bottle's owners were trying to hit my lawn, but I guess consuming that much "Premium Lager" can throw off your aim.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lawn Care

I don't smoke. I don't drink. I don't own a dog. And I haven't sold lemonade to neighborhood folks in about 17 years. But you would never know it from all of the evidence on my front lawn.

When I cut the grass I usually have to stop multiple times to pick up debris. In the past few years I have found many things in my yard, including but not limited to: cigarette butts, a working lighter, a chewed up cigar, beer cans & beer bottles (empty & full), the packaging of an entire McDonald's Happy Meal, a "Lemonade - 25 cents" sign, half a lemon, plastic spoons & cups, a 7 of diamonds, love notes, class notes, batteries, a mortgage payment stub (not mine), roof shingles, and a white undershirt. Oh, yes. And dog poop. Lots of it.

I don't know how all this stuff ends up in my yard. Does the wind just end at my front lawn? Does the stop sign on the corner let drivers pause to throw junk out their car windows? Do people walking by just hate me? Or is someone planting evidence to frame the characters in the Dogs Playing Poker paintings?

Whatever the reason, about once a week in the non-winter months, there I am. Not smoking but with a back pocket full of butts. Not drinking but with a recycle bin full of Budweiser cans. And don't get me started about the other uses for a gardening shovel.

I mean, one of the thousand reasons I don't have a dog is that I don't want to clean up after it. But judging from some of the other stuff I've found out there, maybe it isn't the dogs that I should be worried about. Lemonade, anyone?

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Sportsburgh

It has been quite a week for sports in Pittsburgh. All three major sports seasons are starting to overlap, and the city is buzzing with excitement.

The Penguins won the NHL draft lottery and used the first pick to select future Hall of Famer Sidney Crosby. He is supposed to be the next Mario Lemieux. How appropriate.

Even though he is going to save the team and bring multiple Stanley Cups to the city, very few people around here even know what he looks like. Here is a picture of young Sidney. Please don't run him over in your mad dash to the season ticket counter or on the way to get your #87 jersey.

The Steelers have started training camp, the first stop on the road to Super Bowl XL. That stands for "40" in football numerals. The crazy fans in this football town always look forward to this symbolic opening of the season, and this year expectations are as grand as usual. 16-0. One for the thumb. I think I saw some people tailgating at Heinz Field already.

The Pirates snuck past last Sunday's trade deadline, managing to give away only one decent player to a division rival in exchange for some guy you never heard of that was pretty good two years ago. They have officially given up on this season and are calling up players from the minor leagues. So why is everyone excited? They have unveiled the All-Star Game logo for next year. That's why. Can you say Home Run Derby into the Allegheny River?

Not to be outdone by our professional sports, the Bassmaster Classic was held in Pittsburgh last week, too. What, you say? Bass in the three rivers? I've never caught one and I don't know of anyone who has. Carp, sure. There are carp as big (and ugly) as a Toyota Prius in there. But very few bass. Case in point - the winner of the event actually had the lowest three day total weight ever, setting a Bassmaster Classic record for futility. And these were the best fisherman minds in the country.

What did they expect? Even the fish were busy paying attention to all of the sports excitement that was going on in Pittsburgh. Maybe if the so-called "Bassmasters" had used pieces of kolbassi dipped in Iron City Beer as bait they might have had better results. Go Pens! Go Steelers! Go Pirates (next year).

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Not Working Out

It took me a while to drag my weight bench out to the curb for garbage pick up. It wasn't really that heavy. Just awkward. It has a big pulley system that sticks up at one end and a leg curl bar that is attached to a hinge at the other. I narrowly missed both cars, the garage door, and the stop sign in my front yard on the way out. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I got a better workout carrying it out to the trash than I ever did using it for its intended purpose. That's why it is sitting out there.

It was time for the weight bench to stop taking up space in my basement. I have finally realized that I will probably never lift weights again in my life. I'm just not a workout guy.

When I was younger I tried to fool myself into thinking that I could get a chiseled shape using the aforementioned bench and accompanying round heavy things, and that THIS time I would stick with it longer that two weeks. It never worked. There was always something else to do. School. Movies. Dessert. Sleep. All of these things were more exciting and less repetitive.

Earlier today I watched Lance Armstrong win his 7th consecutive Tour de France. This is a man who beat cancer, then came back to dominate his sport at the highest level. Incredible.

I, however, am typing this blog, watching tv, and eating Chex Mix. Mmm. I like the triangle cheese crackers.

So maybe my final decision about the weight bench is Lance's fault. Instead of being an inspiration, he has made me realize that world domination through fitness isn't in my future. I don't have any realistic workout goals. Being healthy is one thing. Weight bench usage is something different.

But I'm not the only one. We have some garbage pickers who come through our neighborhood - guys who drive around late at night before trash pickup and take things that people have put on the curb. Usually they grab big things - desks, doors, a bag of stuffed animals, etc. One man's garbage is another man's Sunday night activity.

So these two pickers stopped out front of my house just a bit ago. They discussed my weight bench for a few minutes, then got back in their rusty truck and drove off without it. Why did they leave the bench in my front yard? Maybe it was too awkward. Maybe there wasn't enough space left beside the rest of the junk they had already acquired.

Or maybe they decided that they would never really use it. Good for them. It took me 15 years to come to the same conclusion.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

All New

As you have probably noticed, the blog has a new look. I've also redesigned, renamed and relocated my website so that we could close our old dial-up account. I even got a real domain name.
The site is now located at:

www.sinkerbeam.com

The new site has some additional photos and a link back to this blog. Visit if you like.

I'll also keep a link in this column for future use ---------------->

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Replacements

The past two weeks have been interesting. Since I last posted I have been to the beach and back. I have also been dealing with replacements.

For me, replacements are new items that have no new benefits or features. They are just substitutes for objects that no longer work. They add nothing. They only fix the status quo and make you pay for being able to do the same things as you could before. Here is a list of my recent replacements.
  • Clothes Iron - The old one could only take so many falls from atop its ironing board perch. It started to leak water constantly, even in the upright position. We got a new one.
  • Water Heater - I came back from the beach and turned the temperature on the old water heater from “vacation” back up to “warm.” It started hissing at me and proceeded to dump 15 gallons of water all over the floor. We got a new one.
  • Fuel Pump in the Corsica - There has been some controversy about this one. There is a chance that the car ran out of gas and ruined the old fuel pump. There is also a chance that the pump went on its own (the car has almost 82k miles on it). I'm going with the natural causes, even if it is just to make me feel better. Regardless of the blame, we got a new one.
You see? I have no more benefits than I did before. My ironing, showering, and driving are the same. The money is gone, but I really have nothing to show for it.

As if that wasn't enough replacing for two weeks' time, the story gets better. When we came upstairs from mopping up after the old water heater, we started sifting through our vacation backlog of mail. One of the letters was from DSW. It shared with us the following information:

As you may have read or seen in local or national media reports, DSW was the victim of a significant theft of customer data.

...we have now verified that your credit card was among the customer information that was stolen."

Don't tell me - I need to get a replacement credit card. Sure, why not. I just wish that all of the replacements were as sorry for their respective inconveniences as DSW claims to be.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Sweating With The Oldies

Some of the drama! Very little of the pageantry! The 10th semiannual Summer Senior Olympic Games are being held in Pittsburgh through June 18th.

Apparently there aren't enough old people roaming around town in the late springtime, so we've decided to invite about 10,400 more. And not just regular elderlies. Izzy Mandelbaum types. They'll be sauntering through all of the usual Summer Olympic events (in fact, if you've never seen an 85 year-old woman throw a shot put you should click here).

But the fun doesn't stop with track & field and swimming. There are also scheduled events in racquetball, horseshoes, and, of course, shuffleboard. Followed by personal accounts of The Great Depression, a visit to the lottery ticket booth, and shopping at Kohl's with the senior discount.

These games claim to be more about promoting fitness and a healthy lifestyle than the competition itself. But I was watching the news the other day and some lady on the defending champion softball team was talking trash about winning the title again. As she yelled into the reporter's microphone, she pointed at the camera like some professional wrestler. I'm not sure that she was concentrating on the fitness aspect.

I don't mean to make too much fun of the athletes. They are the best in the U.S. at their sports, and they are in better shape than I am. In the 100+ age group, Sam Pate won a bowling gold medal when he finished his third game with a strike and 6 straight spares. A Senior Olympic gold in bowling is one of my goals when I am 103 years old, too. Right after "being alive" and "still able to eat solid foods."

I actually consider myself an honorary old person. Let's look at the facts - I am semi-retired, relatively curmudgeonly, and I drive a powder blue Chevy Corsica. I'm just not quite old enough, yet. But I'm working on it. Day by day. I am already in training to take part in the 2027 Senior Games (in my first year of eligibility).

But for now I might as well cash in on the estimated $30 million that is expected to be brought into the Pittsburgh area because of the Olympiad. I'm heading downtown tomorrow with a trunk full of hearing aid batteries and few pair of black socks that will hopefully be sold for a profit by 3:00 or 3:30 pm. Just in time for dinner.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

A Wasted Hour

I got some digital pictures printed at Ritz yesterday. The process takes one hour. It is relatively pointless to try to go home and come back, since that would take a majority of the 60 minutes. So I wandered around the South Hills Village Mall. It went something like this...

Minutes 0 - 6: I walk down to the Cingular store. Our one year cell phone contract with AT&T is up, and since they merged with Cingular I wanted to see if we would be better off switching to a new plan. You know, with the "Rollover" minutes that you hear so much about. In short the answer is no.

Minute 7: I am stopped by a guy at the T-Mobile kiosk who is trying to talk to me about my cell phone plan. His "deal" is more expensive and has less included minutes than I am getting now. I tell him that I just signed a contract and I have a whole year to go. He quickly gets disinterested in talking to me, which was the point.

Minutes 8-15: GameStop is my next, well, stop. I figure that I can waste a bunch of time playing the video games they have set up in the front of the store. Unfortunately, both demo consoles are broken. A kid pushes past me and starts banging on the controller of one of the demo units, and I quickly understand why neither is working properly.

Minutes 16-17: I get back to walking since PlayStation 2 games in their boxes aren't all that exciting. As I pass Abercrombie & Fitch, I decide that I could take steps to become more stylish.
Step 1 - Throw away my iron and ironing board.
Step 2 - Start a savings account to purchase jeans.
Step 3 - Figure out why the music is so loud in there.

Minutes 18-20: Food Court time. There is always a guy standing outside the Asian fast food place with samples. I try some saucy chicken on a toothpick. I turn my baseball cap around and come back from the other direction. He offers another taste. Yummy.

Minutes 21-32: A stop in the Yankee Candle store is usually fun for me. I like to smell candles. But today I am the only customer in the store, and the guy working there is a little too into his job. He explains the limited edition scents and the layout of the store, and then he keeps talking. About candles. He finally leaves me alone, but I overdo it on the smells. Raspberry Cream puts me over the top and I start to get nauseous.

Minutes 33-38: I recover from the candle store on a mall bench.

Minutes 39-46: Gap. Straight to the men's clearance section in the back left corner of the store. Nothing is interesting today unless you have a 28" waist. I do not.

Minutes 47-54: I decide to just walk around until I find a store that I want to visit. I do 3 laps without stopping anywhere.

Minutes 55-59: Since all of my ideas are used up, I walk back down near Ritz and have a seat. This happens to be right by the children's play area, and I witness a little girl attempting to climb up the slide. She catches her foot on the top and rides down on her face. Her subsequent screaming annoys the businessman sitting opposite me, and he starts talking louder on his hands-free cell phone contraption. This makes it easier to eavesdrop on his conversation about the big client meeting (and what an idiot some guy named Steve made out of himself).

Minute 60: It is finally time to get my pictures. They are just coming out of the back when I get to the counter.

What a waste of an hour. The only things I have to show for it are some decent printed photos and a couple of toothpicks. And a Yankee Candle catalog. Don't laugh - it has a scratch & sniff page.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Episode III: Attack of the Marketing

The final installment of the epic Star Wars series is debuting right now across the country. This movie, Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is supposed to tie together all the loose ends of the double trilogy and tell us how the geeky little pod racer pilot becomes the dark Lord of the Sith.

I was into the first 3 Star Wars films. They told a great sci-fi adventure story, and even though they were a bit cheesy, they were at least fun to watch. But I'm concerned about how things are going. In the 4th movie we had to deal with Jar Jar Binks. And I swear the acting got worse as we moved to the 5th film. If that was possible.

Now we all have to deal with the money machine that Star Wars has become. I understand selling action figures from the movie. But I think the marketing deals are taking away from the aura of the film.

Chewbacca in the sound studio doing voice overs for cell phone ring tones? Darth Vader staring down the creepy Burger King? Why? Is it all about the money? I don't recall any M&M's a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And I'm pretty sure that Yoda doesn't need to use the Force to snag himself some Diet Pepsi. It's kind of sad. These characters are getting a little too familiar.

What's next? The Skywalker family on the Maury Povich show? Mr. Vader, I have the DNA results right here. You ARE the father.

All this being said, I will probably go see the movie anyway. I do want to see how everything comes together. And I'm just waiting for that moment when Anakin first puts on the robotic black costume and becomes the evil Lord Vader. But I hope that James Earl Jones' voice doesn't then ruin the mystique of the character and tell me how much money I can save by switching my phone service to Verizon.

Friday, May 6, 2005

$205,938,439.00

It won't get you as much as you might think. $205,938,439.00 is the payroll of the New York Yankees this year. It is the highest in Major League Baseball.

By comparison, the Pittsburgh Pirates payroll is $38,133,000.00 for 2005. I'll save you the effort and let you know that the Pirates are spending 18.5% of what the Yankees are spending for players this year. Half of the Buccos are making less than $1 million. Half of the Yankees are making more than the highest paid Pirate. If you are curious about other MLB teams and players, this site lists them all.

So how do these numbers translate to on-field activities? That is why I'm posting at this particular moment. As of this morning, the Pirates are tied for 4th place in the NL Central. The mighty Yankee$ are tied for last place in the AL East. You don't have to be a baseball fan (or a sports fan at all) to realize that last place isn't good. If you think that the comparison isn't fair since I am talking about different divisions, we'll try it a different way. The Pirates are 11-16. The Yankees are 11-18.

This is not to say that the Bucs are playing well, or even that they could beat the Yankees in a head-to-head match up (which we will get to see June 14-16). Both of the teams in question stink right now. But you would think that $205,938,439.00 might get you a little more production.

The only thing that it gets is a different reaction. Now that the Yankees are playing poorly, everyone is going crazy - shaking up the lineup and talking about firing the Manger and/or the GM. The Pirates have been horrible for 12 straight years. For just $38 million, losing is expected. They only get a reaction when they actually win.

Even this early in the season it looks like the Pirates are well on their way to another losing season. But even if Pirates fans can't watch the Bucs win, we can at least watch the Yankees lose. Maybe we can be content with a better return on investment.

And knowing that an extra $167.8 million might not get us any better results.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Posts Update I

That is a Roman numeral I in the title. I'm using the SuperBowl method to keep track of the updates. Here is the latest news, starting with the earliest posts. (I'll only list those entries with new info to report).

Vikings Acquire Rubberband Man
During the offseason, the Vikings traded Randy Moss and his huge head of hair to the Oakland Raiders. Thankfully, he has gone back to wearing braids.

He Is Playing Basketball
Christ the King lost in the semi-finals of the New York City AA playoffs to Xaverian. He just couldn't pull off a miracle against a very talented team. (Xaverian went on to win the City and State AA titles).

Penguins Are Driving Me Crazy
My mother found the 32nd penguin - actually it is the shadow of a penguin. If you need to know where it is, check the comments section. The information was confirmed by Maria Smith at Arhaus.

I disagree with this sneakiness. Now I will REALLY never buy any of their furniture.

An Unwelcome Visitor
There have been no other rodents roaming around in our house. Either our visitor was on a solo mission or the others caught a glimpse of the sheer volume of traps set up for them and got the heck out before they met the same fate.

The Sound Of Silence
I still have not found my lost mp3 player and I still have not purchased a new one. I did, however, add 2 tapes to the center console for the particularly long rides home. There is still too much talking on the radio.

No Checks in the Mail
This method is working out great so far, but I did run out of stamps the other day after sending in my estimated local income tax for the first quarter of 2005. Apparently they need you to mail in that little form that shows your work when you figure out 1% of your income because it has to be on file, blah, blah, blah. That's OK, though. They'll make it up to me with their "Omit if you owe less than a dollar" rule at the end of the year.

Non Habeas Corpus
I have both shaved and finished The DaVinci Code since not being required for Jury Duty.

Rabbit Stew
With about 2 months to go, Toby's owner has $28,372.15 towards his goal of $50k. You'd better go buy a t-shirt or a coffee mug now. Remember, only YOU can save Toby.

Don't Cut My Hair
Lucca's moved down the hill and across Rt. 51 without telling me. And the good stylist is pregnant again. Oh, well. I finally caved and went to SuperCuts before my trip to Jersey, and everything came out fine. Fine enough for 15 minutes and less than 15 bucks, anyway.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Like A Real Blog

We took a ferry from Jersey into NYC last night, and for once I'm going to use this page like a real blog. You know, when people actually chronicle what they are doing like it's an online journal. I'm even going to add some pictures.


The Statue of Liberty


The Tip of Manhattan


The Manhattan Bridge

OK, that's enough of that. Stay tuned for more random commentaries and an update on past topics.

Friday, April 8, 2005

Don't Cut My Hair

I have bad hair. It has been bad my whole life, and there isn't much I can do about it. My hair grows unevenly and sticks up wherever it wants unless I force it down with extra super hold products and a stern talking-to.

It logically follows that my hair is also hard to cut. It needs to be helped out by the barber or my bad hair is made worse. I have to have someone who knows what they are doing. But I am also cheap. All of these factors do not mix well together.

My mother used to cut my hair when I was younger and that was just fine with me. But my first try as a grown-up was Philip Pelusi in downtown Pittsburgh. I worked nearby and it was very convenient to go there on my lunch break. Unfortunately it was very expensive (see "I am cheap") and my company soon moved out of downtown.

My next try was the ever popular SuperCuts. The first time I visited I actually got a good haircut for half the price of the first place. That luck would not last, however, since their company policy is to not have appointments. You just get whatever stylist happens to be available. My second cut looked like I caught the business end of a weed-whacker with the top of my head. But subsequent visits brought somewhat better results, and the price was right for me.

Then someone burned the place to the ground. And that began the legacy of how my bad hair has had a bad effect on any place that has agreed to cut it.

Since the smoke and water damage had shut down the SuperCuts until it (and some of the adjoining businesses) could be completely gutted and rebuilt, I had to search for someplace new.

A few people referred me to Mimi's, a small independent salon with only a few employees. The location was pretty hard to get in and out of, but I got an ok haircut for a reasonable price. Can you guess what happened next? Upon hearing that she was being let go, one of the stylists went crazy. She broke things, spilled expensive products all over the salon and stabbed leather haircut chairs with metal haircut scissors. In the next few weeks Mimi's went out of business and the building went up for sale. It is still empty.

I had to move on yet again. This time I thought I try somewhere convenient. Lucca's was located in a new shopping area close to our house and was only a minute walk away from the new supermarket that we frequented. My first haircut was amazing. But that stylist went on maternity leave and I had to search for another.

Well, I've been through 3 since then and I could probably have done a better job myself with a Flowbee. But the first stylist is finally back from having the baby. It may be months before she has an opening for an appointment, but I have decided that I will wait however long it takes to have her cut my hair.

That is until I walked past the salon yesterday. It is gone. Only an empty building and an "Available" sign mark where my hair used to be cut.

I can't say that I'm surprised. My hair and I knew it was just a matter of time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rabbit Stew

Since we just celebrated Easter, I think it is appropriate to tell a bunny tale. One that is unfolding as you read this. It is the story of Toby.

Toby is a rabbit. A little one with big floppy ears and light brown fur. He's very cute.



Unfortunately, Toby's future is in jeopardy.

Toby will be butchered and eaten on June 30, 2005, if his owner does not receive $50,000.

I'm not kidding. The guy already has over $20k towards saving Toby. The money can come from donations or merchandise purchases via his online store.

As you can imagine, everyone has an opinion on this one. Toby's owner has already dealt with many of the issues you are thinking about right now. A rabbits' rights group (seriously) has persuaded PayPal to shut down his account. Many people have threatened bodily harm. To the human. Others have called him a genius. You should know that the site and what it describes are legal. People around the world eat rabbits every day.

Whatever you think, you should check out the website. www.savetoby.com. There you can get the whole story of the rabbit along with a photo gallery.

Make sure you browse the Recipes page, too. You know, just in case the $50k goal is not met. What if he doesn't make enough money because he can't get donations through PayPal? Can we blame the rabbits' rights group for the Hassenpfeffer?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Non Habeas Corpus

I am supposed to be in court today. Well, at the courthouse anyway. On jury duty. So why am I watching The Price is Right and typing this blog instead?

I've been looking forward to serving the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County by Order of the Honorable Joseph M. James, President Judge, for some time now. I got my summons a month ago and have been planning how to get out of being chosen for a jury since then. It isn't the whole experience that I was looking to avoid - I had been called to jury duty before and I knew the deal. Being in the jury pool is one thing. I just didn't want to get picked to actually serve during a case. Would you want to decide the fate of people like the Lemkes?

I was going to enjoy the early ride into town, reliving my days of being a regular on the T. I was ready to turn off my cell phone for hours at a time and have lunch with my friend, Jason, who works nearby. The DaVinci Code has been staring at me from its perch beside the computer for quite some time now, and I was figuring on getting at least halfway through it. At the end of the day (or at 4:30 pm, whichever came first) I would proudly gather my $9.00 stipend. After paying for lunch and the trolley ride home, I'd arrive back at my car being down a couple bucks for the day, but who wouldn't pay that small sum to take place in the privilege of jury service?

Not that I would ever actually have to serve on a jury. My plan was always to enjoy the experience but not get picked to do anything. I didn't want to be involved in dispensing any justice, and I didn't want to have to spend more than one day doing the whole courthouse thing. No, I was going to do everything in my power to not be chosen to serve. I had even grown a beard to crank up the crazy factor. And I was practicing yelling "Guilty! Guilty!" and pointing at the accused if I was ever called up for voir dire (personal questioning). But all of this planning was in vain.

I called the jury hotline last night and was given the devastating news. Only jurors with last names starting with L - for Larry through Z - for Zach were needed. My last name is E - for Expendable.

Oh well. No T ride. No lunch with Jason. No Latin terms being thrown around by lawyer and judge types. And book reading has been held off indefinitely. I really was looking forward to getting out of serving on a jury. But the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County beat me to it.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Bleeding Black & Gold

Nothing tests the father/son bond quite like a lawsuit.

The story goes something like this. Herb Lemke owns two personal seat licenses (PSLs) for seats inside Heinz Field. These licenses allow the owner to purchase Steelers season tickets for those particular seats. Herb's son, Dan, reportedly paid almost $2,000 to acquire the two PSLs from his dear old dad. You know, keep them in the family. Herb accepted the cash but did not give the licenses to his son. Instead, he is attempting to sell them to someone else for more money.

So Dan is taking his dad to court. He wants a judge to order his father to hand over the licenses, and he also wants reimbursed the money required to file the suit. That ought to make for some lively Easter conversation.

Happy Easter. Sorry, Dan, but you don’t have the seat licenses to sit at the adult table.”

“That’s nice, dad. Maybe for about $2,000 I could
secure two seats – one for me and one for my lawyer."

"Please pass the ham.”

I'm not sure I would believe this story if it happened anywhere else. But this is Pittsburgh, where the fans bleed black & gold. Especially Steelers fans, whose collective sanity is questioned by the nation on a weekly basis during the cold months. Maybe some of the fans really are nutty, but I don't think it is because of the sports teams. I think it is genetic. I would imagine that the genes that make a father not honor a couple thousand dollar agreement with his kid are the same ones that make a son bring a lawsuit against his dad.

To be fair, the PSLs aren't for any shabby nosebleed seats. They are in section 142 of Heinz Field.



Remember, also, that the waiting list for Steelers tickets is somewhere around 10 years long. And that's for seats in a building across the river. Bring your own binoculars.

Still, you would think that these two could have had a conversation to work out some sort of agreement before lawyers were allowed to get involved. I guess that for the Lemkes, black & gold blood is not thicker than water.

Did everyone on that side of the table get their subpoenas? C’mon, keep passing. The food is getting cold.”

Thursday, March 3, 2005

No Checks In The Mail

I've decided to cut back on my funding of the United States Postal Service. Some might point to my personal experience with my mail carrier (unpredictable delivery times, random pick up of outgoing mail, walking through the yard when I took the time to shovel snow from the walkway) as the cause. But that is only some of the reason.

I have been able to check my bank balances online since we remortgaged a couple years ago. One day while looking at my account I saw an "Online Bill Pay" button. I clicked on it and haven't looked back. As of January 1st, 2005, all of my monthly bills are paid online (notice that I have waited 2 months to post on this topic). They aren't paid automatically - I still have to key in the amounts and due dates - so it isn't like the bank is just debiting my account in a free money frenzy. But it is very easy and convenient.

I no longer have to go through each bill and write a check and send it out a week in advance. And I don't have to lick an envelope. I hate that taste. And let's all remember what happened to George Costanza's fiancee, Susan.

I'm also saving money. My cash stays in my account longer since the debits are exactly on the due date. So my interest is building up. You would be amazed how much you can make with that
.00012 percent accruing for an extra couple of days. OK, not much. But stamps cost 37 cents. Each. With an average of 10 bills per month, that is at least a $44.40 decline in my annual contribution to the USPS.

Add to that the fact that I am refusing to send out any more cards via snail mail. Hallmark has gotten big enough. E-cards are the way to go, and they are free to send. And they're animated. Much cooler.

Now, don't worry about the Post Office. I'm sure they will be kept busy delivering credit card applications, grocery store ads and the PennySaver. They just won't get to be in the middle of my bill payment process anymore.

So go ahead and start paying your bills online, too. The only thing you'll have to worry about is what to do with your extra time and money. Maybe the cash you save can go towards your high-speed internet bill.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Sound Of Silence

When I got to my car the other day to head home from work, I realized that my MP3 player was not attached to my bag in its usual spot. I searched around for it with no luck. Thinking that it couldn't have gotten far (being that it is an inanimate object and only takes one AA battery), I assumed that I left it at work somewhere and that I would just pick it up the following day. Little did I know that the drive home would be a journey back through time.

I pulled out onto Liberty Avenue and reached down to turn on the radio. They play music on there, too, right? Well, sometimes. I flipped through the 7 presets and found that 6 of the stations were broadcasting commercials or people talking. The other one was playing a song that I have never heard by some guys that sounded very angry about something. I wasn't angry. I was going HOME from work, remember.

I kept flipping, hoping that the commercials would cease and a song would come on. Or that some DJ would run out of breath and put on some music. You see, I like to sing along in the car. And drum on the steering wheel. And play a little air guitar when the mood hits me. But I cannot justify getting that excited about the American Equity Mortgage :30 second spot. The future may belong to me, but that is just not sing-along material.

Then it finally happened. Styx. Right there in my speakers. I heard the piano intro to "Come Sail Away" and got excited. This is a good one for the car. Nice ramp up. Guitar solo. I was ready. And then the singing started. "I'mmmm sailiiiiiiing awaaaayyyyy...."

Into the Liberty Tunnel.

You may be able to get cell phone reception in there, but no radio waves come through after about the first 50 feet. As Dennis DeYoung's voice gave way to some pretty loud static (I had turned up the volume in anticipation of the song), I decided that the radio thing wasn't meant to be.

Some quick thinking and some slow traffic gave me another idea. I had a tape in the center console from long, long ago. You know, an audio cassette tape. From the analog music era. I fished it out and popped it into the slot in the dash. It was a Smashing Pumpkins dub that my friend Jason had recorded for me during my college days. Thank goodness it was still around.

I remembered most of the lyrics, but when I wanted to get to the next song I ran into a problem. We're talking 2 technologies ago - going backwards from mp3 to CD to tape. There is no NEXT button on a tape player. Just fast forward and reverse. So I held in FF for a bit. Then I pressed PLAY. Still the same song. FF again. PLAY. Not enough. FF. PLAY. Closer. FF. PLAY. Oops. Too far. This was getting stupid.

I decided that maybe I should listen to the whole songs from now on when using this archaic technology. Which may be for awhile. When I returned to work yesterday the MP3 player was still missing. I don't know if I can handle too much more of this.

I tried listening to the sound of silence on the way home last night. Not Simon & Garfunkel. Actual silence. It didn't work, though. I think I would rather listen to that same cassette that is in my car over and over again. Which is good, because I can't find any others anywhere.

I need to get a new MP3 player. But if it takes as long for me to pick one out as it did to settle on my new TV, I may get to know those Smashing Pumpkins songs really well. How many times can you play a cassette until it wears out and breaks? I'll let you know.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Iced Over

The NHL season has officially been cancelled. I just got through watching the commissioner of the league at a press conference. It went something like this - blah, blah, salary cap, blah, blah, linkage, blah, blah, tragedy. This is the first time a North American sport will lose an entire season because of a labor dispute. It's kind of sad.

Not that anyone is paying attention. Those who were interested saw this coming for a few months now. The fans have already been finding other things to do, and they are figuring out that instead of taking a family of 4 to a Penguins game they can purchase a Cadillac Escalade.

The labor dispute that caused the loss of the season boils down to how much millionaire owners are willing to pay millionaire players. Basically. But I'm not worried about those two groups. I'm concerned for the things on the periphery of the sport.

Will NHL analysts like Barry Melrose and Darren Pang be able to pay their mortgages when they have nothing to talk about? Will the 2004-2005 spot on the Stanley Cup be kept blank? Does Mike Lange have a bunch of bad local commercials lined up for him to voice over? And how is the crazy IC Light vendor from Mellon Arena taking this news? There are only so many tractor pulls and stars-on-ice shows that come to town.

But most importantly, will the mullet fall out of popularity? I'm not sure this hairstyle can withstand the absence of an entire season of its heroes in the spotlight. Will we start to see fans with Lemieux jerseys on their backs and cornrows on their heads?

Boy, I hope not.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

An Unwelcome Visitor

There are some reactions you can't plan. You just don't know what you will do when presented with a situation that you haven't seen before. For example, what would you do if a mouse ran across your family room while you were watching tv?

My wife jumped up and stood on the couch. I thought that only happened in the movies or in a comic book. But that was her reaction. Right up on the cushions. And she didn't put her feet on the floor until the next morning.

I chased our rodent invader downstairs into the basement, where we proceeded to play a game of flashlight hide-and-seek until he darted behind the pile of boxes and disappeared. We have never had any animals inside the house before. Water, yes. Gallons. But animals? They usually stay outside and dig up the lawn. I searched for signs that our new visitor had moved in permanently, but I found nothing. No wood shavings, no droppings, no little yellow shoes or little white gloves. I was convinced that the mouse had just wandered in, and none of his animated friends had followed. Even so, my wife could think of nothing worse than having this thing in our home. We're not running a rodent motel.

The next morning, my wife went shopping. She came back with an arsenal of anti-mouse weapons the likes of which had never been seen. We could have eradicated the entire population of mice on the eastern seaboard with the collection of snap traps, sticky pads and poisons that she purchased.

I didn't think we needed to use all of armaments at the same time, so I selected a few of them and got out the Jif. My favorite was an update to the classic wooden snap mouse trap. It was plastic, and it kind of looked like an oversized bag clip. You know, the thing that keeps your Cheetos fresh. We (I) baited the traps and set them in places where we had seen the little guy running.

I woke up the next morning and it was done. No more fuzzy visitor. Well, he was still there, but his interest in peanut butter had gotten him inescapably stuck in the bag clip. My wife didn't want to know any details. Just that the mouse had checked out.

She is still in the process of cleaning everything we own with anti-bacterial Lysol. "It is gross to think about a live rodent walking around in our house," she said. While she couldn't help jumping onto the couch when she first saw it, my wife has since been able to decide on her reaction to the whole situation.

We're moving. We have to. There was a mouse in our house.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

Penguins Are Driving Me Crazy

Not Mr. Lemieux's penguins. The actual flightless bird ones. I'll explain.

For some reason a company named Arhaus decided to send me a catalog featuring their overpriced furniture. I should have just thrown away this junk mail, along with the 3 credit card applications that shared my mailbox space with it. But I made the mistake of leafing through the pages instead. While looking at pieces of furniture that I will never own, I noticed a lot of penguins hanging around the stuff. Here is an example.



Penguins are interesting creatures, don't get me wrong. I can see how they could be used to advertise tuxedos or submarines or even a hockey team. But furniture? This is a frigid, wet, flightless bird. How cold do you have to set the thermostat at your house for penguins to drop by?

I needed to find out what was going on. In the front flap I found the rules of a contest - count how many penguins are in the catalog and you could win a leather chair. I counted 31. The entry form even gives you a hint and makes it multiple choice. 31 is not a choice.

I recounted. 31. I circled the penguins in red and numbered them so that I could keep track. 31 again.

I can't stand it. I need to know how many penguins are actually in the pages of this catalog. If you would like to look for yourself, download the .pdf from the Arhaus site here.

If you keep coming up with 31, too, then there is nothing I can do for you. If not, you can send in your entry online and maybe win the leather chair. We may never buy their furniture but that is OK - there is no purchase necessary to enter.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Cowher Fired, Maddox Named Starter

At least that is what would happen if was up to the Pittsburgh sports fans. Over the past few days, I have listened to and read about the reactions of the black & gold faithful to the Steelers' first loss in 16 games. Most of the talk concerned 2 main issues.

1) The coaching decision to kick a field goal while down 14 points (effectively killing all momentum for a comeback). Hence the call to fire Bill Cowher.

2) The fact that Big Ben Roethlisberger, the rookie phenom, couldn't throw the ball anywhere near a Steelers player on Sunday. He instead chose to distribute his passes around the New England defense. Hence the suggested demotion of #7 to backup QB, or "most loved sports figure in town" as the position is known in Pittsburgh.

Everyone here knows that Coach Cowher is 1-4 in AFC Championship games (and 0-1 in the big game). When asked about his decision to send Jeff Reed on the field instead of going for the TD on 4th and goal from the 2, he said, "I'd do it again, too." We know. Please refer to the aforementioned 1-4 record in AFC Championship games.

As far as Ben's performance, he admitted in a press conference this week to being fatigued by the long season. That would have been great information to know before the game started. Tommy Maddox was kind of fresh at the time. Heck, even Brian St. Pierre could have stepped up. He played a part in the week 17 win over Buffalo.

But the season is over now and it is time to move on. Or is it? Since they have already decided on the need for a new coach and a new quarterback, the city's sports fans now have to debate Hines crying, the Bus retiring, Snoop Dogg as coach, Big Ben's broken toes, Big Ben's toes not being broken and how everyone in Pittsburgh is apathetic regarding the Super Bowl. It seems the fans here always need to talk about something.

And with hockey on hiatus, it is no use talking about the Penguins.

Friday, January 21, 2005

He Is Playing Basketball

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled on the following headline while looking for some info about the Pitt Basketball team:

#3 Christ The King Holds On Against Xaverian

He is playing basketball now? Good for Him. He seems to have had a little trouble with Xavierian - but He won. Actually, He is undefeated this year. That seems reasonable to me.

I would imagine that the competition on the hardwood is getting tougher, and it is probably difficult to run the offense wearing sandals and the long robes, but come on. His God-given talents are incredible. My only question is about the #3 ranking. Who happens to be holding on to #1 and #2? I'm guessing that it is probably Holy Spirit High and St. Somebody's. But can they possibly beat Him head-to-head?

I just hope that Christ the King gets to play Brockport HS in the NY state basketball playoffs. You know, the Blue Devils. That would be one for the ages.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

[Insert Missed Field Goal Cliché Here]

Of course I watched the Steelers/Jets game. Yes I was feeling sick in the stomach. And the terrible towels did make many a twirl in my family room. I know that I don't actually play for the team, but my body doesn't seem to get that particular message. I do feel somewhat responsible for the interception that occurred between Jets' field goal misses, though, as I called it happening about 2 minutes before it did.

A new week will bring a new game, and luckily the Steelers will be playing in it. If Doug Brien made one of those field goals, the headlines this morning would be quite different. Instead, the NY media had to go through every missed field goal cliché possible. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came up with one telling the Steelers side of things.

"Whew!"

I couldn't have said it better.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Hockey, Where Art Thou?

I am missing the NHL this year. Seriously. I mean, football is nearing the exciting end of its season, and then what? Hockey. But not this year. I am already dreading the void that will appear just after the Super Bowl and before training camp starts for next season. There is the start of the MLB season, when the Pirates will be contenders in the NL Central for about a week. Uhh. Then what? The NFL preseason starts in August...

In the meantime there will be a noticeable lack of the fastest game on ice. No checking. No acrobatic goals. No great saves. No Mike Lange telling Grandma to get in the fast lane (the bingo game is ready to roll). No grown men throwing down their gloves so they can throw punches. None of it.

I'm starting early and trying to replace my hockey. I actually watched the entire 2nd half of an NBA game earlier this evening - it was in HD so I figured I'd give it a try. I just can't get into it. Dunk, foul, lay-up, bad pass, turnover, foul, timeout. Not exactly thrilling. Then a fight broke out! Like hockey! These guys will probably be suspended for a few games, though, unlike the 5 penalty minutes they would get if it really was hockey. Oh, well. Nice try.

I'm not saying that there aren't great athletes playing the game. I just think that I may not be able to appreciate the NBA because I can't identify with the players.

Look at baseball - the post-steroid era ballplayers are just like guys you went to middle school with. In fact, Jack Wilson looks like he is still IN middle school.

In football there are chubby guys with bad knees and tiny guys who wear shoes that don't match. It sounds like a trip to the grocery store or a trolley ride into town.

And in hockey - I know tough and/or crazy dudes from all over the world. I know people with very few vowels in their last names. I know them. I am related to people like this.

I don't know any 7 foot tall bald guys with neck tattoos. And I for sure don't know anyone who can jump up and hang on the rim.

Now, I'm OK with the NCAA and the whole March Madness thing, when people discuss at length the toughness of the Valparaiso team this year (not because they have seen the team play a game, but because they wrote down "Valpo" in the second round of a bracket since it sounds neat). I love the single-elimination tournament aspect of it. The win or go home. It makes games exciting. That and the fact that at least a few of the guys on the court are playing for fun instead of bling. But the Madness only lasts for 3 weeks. Hockey needs replaced for 7 months.

I'm not sure who is to blame for keeping my hockey off the ice. From what I've read, it seems like everyone. But I don't really care. After the 6th of February I will enter the void, and it is not looking like the NBA will be able to have any effect. Even if it is in HD.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Vikings Acquire Rubberband Man

Was anyone watching the NFC playoff game yesterday? When did the Minnesota Vikings acquire the OfficeMax Rubberband Man? They must need office supplies replenished during the games. Or is that just Randy Moss with his cornrows released? You think I'm kidding? Take a look:



Or maybe Randy is passing out paper clips and printer cartriges on his days off. I can't see him wearing a tie, but I guess he really could use some extra cash to pay off his fines to the NFL. But I'll bet the real Rubberband Man could come up with a better touchdown dance.

Saturday, January 1, 2005

It Begins...

A new year brings a new outlet. This blog will be a place for of all my commentaries to live (instead of just hanging around in my head). These posts are for entertainment only, and sarcasm is included at no extra charge.