Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Big change, folks

Check me out at jondodd.wordpress.com.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Rox win a thriller

Wow, after going from Pirate games to this--I suddenly remember why I love October. What a game.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

David Bazan

Two great covers:


"The Man in Me," Bob Dylan


"Hallelujah," Leonard Cohen

Plus one of my favorite Pedro songs:


"Preists and Paramedics"

Monday, September 24, 2007

Root, root, root

The Steelers are 3-0, the Pirates 15th season of misery is almost at and end (and yes, this is a good thing with the way they're playing right now), the baseball playoff picture is falling into place, and the Pens drop the puck for real October 5th. I'd say it's a good time to be a Pittsburgher and a sports fan.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm still going to root for the Steelers in SoCal, and while the allure of LT might make me root for a Chargers-Steelers playoff match-up, I could never turn my back on the black and gold. I figure if I'm still a Pirate fan, I don't think my loyalty should really be questioned. But there's a difference in my mind between your team and teams you root for. And then there are some you just don't. Example: I'm stoked the Indians won the AL Central, but I could never don Cardinal Red in St. Louis no matter how long I lived there, or do the Tomahawk Chop in Atlanta or wear a Yankees cap anywhere, ever. But would I buy a Grady Sizemore t-shirt at the Jake? Sure. Would I love watching Chase Utley and Ryan Howard bash in Philly? You bet. So I'm figuring I'll pick up an LA cap or Russell Martin tee at Dodger Stadium sometime next spring, but that doesn't mean I won't be at every game the Buccos play there in my black and gold booing the home team--because I will. Do I wish I could see a Ducks-Pens game, sure, and is there any question which team I'd be pulling for? Of course not. It's all silliness to even question such things. No matter how much Big Ben gets on my nerves (or local news coverage of the Steelers), or whatever, he will never be Tom Brady and Pittsburgh will always be my home team.

In my head I'm pretty sure I have a pretty good idea of teams I would never in a million years root for (whether that's because of a specific defeat, player, image or whatever), and teams I could care about if given the chance (mainly because I currently hold no ill will, or I like their uniform colors or the way they're building their farm system or something). And here it is:

Never In A Million Years
St. Louis Cardinals
Atlanta Braves
New England Patriots
New York Yankees, Rangers
Dallas Cowboys, Stars
Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Sabres
Detroit Red Wings
Colorado Avalanche
Denver Broncos
Philadelphia [ed.] Flyers, Eagles
Washington Capitals
San Francisco Giants
Oakland Raiders
Ottawa Senators
Pretty much any NBA team

Eh, Why Not?
Cleveland Indians
Milwaukee Brewers
Minnesota Twins
Colorado Rockies
LA Dodgers
Anaheim Angels, Ducks
Vancouver Canucks
San Diego Padres, Chargers
New York Mets
Philadelphia Phillies
Boston Red Sox... I think

Feel free to add your own nevers and why-nots, and include explanations if you so choose. Be sure to vote in the poll to the right (and if you answer "somebody else," say who below). And no matter where you live, go black and gold.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

An important question??



At THE crucial point of the game. Just unbelievable.

This really is the reason why sites like this, and this really, exist, and why I have zero respect for ESPN. Thank you, Internet, for intelligent sports journalism.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Small world?

I know stuff like this happens to people all the time, and it seems like more and more people are spending time in China so it's not that big of a deal I guess, but it still sort of blows my mind. Two girls I liked in high school (of say, five) have China ties. One I dated briefly and is living there now (with her husband) and the other I really wanted to date and has been to China twice, once with ELIC even!! (She's married, too, by the way.) It seems really weird to think back to when I knew Kayla and Amanda (when I was a sophomore/junior in high school) and that we would end up in the same country on the other side of the globe at different times. It makes me think maybe John Stuart's six-degree thing is possible, but mainly it just makes my head hurt.

It's all that thing I try to explain to people sometimes: I like big things to be big, and small things to be small, and it scares me when they aren't. OK that's enough randomness for a while.

Doddi California

I want to fill you all in on some details of my sooncoming relocation, if you don't know this stuff already. I'm taking a job with the English Language Institute/China, the company that sent me to Beijing as a teacher in 2005-2006. I'm not going back to China, though, instead to California. Specifically, San Dimas, home of a famous Circle K where some strange things once were afoot.

San Dimas is also home to ELIC's North American headquarters and is, for some reference, about 45 minutes east of downtown LA, an hour from the beach, 2 minutes from the mountains, and 25 minutes north of Anaheim/Disneyland. (A year pass will be purchased.) My job title will be "Communications Typographer." My primary responsibility will be newsletter layout and I start October 15th.

Oh, this is cool. Here's the skinny on 19773 (my new zip) from ZipSkinny, via Chris. Also, go ahead and compare your Zip to San Dimas, or Moon Township (15108) or Beaver Falls (15010) or wherever. Lots of interesting stuff there.

But, just so you know, I'll only be living in San Dimas for about a year (maybe less) until all of ELIC relocates to Fort Collins, Colorado, which means I too will be moving--again--sometime next summer, most likely.

I'm trying to approach this big step in my adult life with proper preparation and thought, which means I've been reading up on surviving earthquakes, how far I'll be from Google/Apple/Pixar (the answer: 7 hours) and when Blade Runner is showing in LA theaters in advance of The Final Cut DVD release in December (the answer, I think, is starting October 5. First movie I'll see in California? I think yes.)

Which leads me to my question: What are some must-see/read/listen to LA/California films/books/albums I should get to know before or after my Westward trek?

I'll start the list and you all can help me put something complete together.

Films:
Chinatown
L.A. Confidential
The Big Lebowski

Music:
The Beach Boys
Weezer
Red Hot Chili Peppers

Books:
The Grapes of Wrath (not LA specifically, but the book I think of when I think California)
Shoot... I need help with books.

While we talk must-sees, be praying that I can find a church home in LA, and somewhere to live. My buddy Ryan has graciously provided me with a bed/couch until Thanksgiving-ish, but I'll need lots more than a pillow leaving home, Providence and friends and family behind. Somehow I'll survive without the Steelers (I left before and they won the Super Bowl), but Wednesday nights at the Stuarts, dinners at Sweet Basil and staying above mom and dad's garage will be harder.

I'll have lots more to say on lots of stuff soon. But for now, good night.

Confession



I'm watching through season 2 of The Office again and it's official: Jim and Pam have reached the heyday of Arms 404 Clark and Lana status for me. Which makes me wonder, am I ready for an adult relationship?? Because I haven't felt like this for a long time.

...

Oh wow.

(Season 4 of The Office premiers Thursday, September 27th at 9:00 on NBC.)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'll never say Jeter's o-ver-rated again

(As long as ESPN gives Freddy just as much man-love.)

Basically I stand corrected on everything I've ever said about Derek Jeter. In 146 games and 592 at-bats in 2007, Jeter has scored 93 runs and has 187 hits, 33 doubles, 3 triples, 11 HRs, 67 RsBI, 54 BBs, 89 Ks and 13 stolen bases to go with 8 caught stealings. He has a .316 BA, .386 OBP, .438 SLG and an .823 OPS.

Which makes Jeter just as good of a player as our own Freddy Sanchez. In 140 games and 576 at-bats, Freddy has 76 runs, 178 hits, 42 doubles, 3 triples, 11 HRs, 78 RsBI, 31 BBs, 70 Ks, and 0 stolen bases in 1 attempt. He has a .309 BA, .348 OBP, .450 SLG and a .798 OPS.

Jeter gets the edge in World Series rings admittedly and has a slight edge in OPS thanks to those extra walks, but that's crazy how similar those lines are. Thanks, DK, for the heads up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Giving it up

The decision's no longer in my hands. It's in His.

And here's some Derek Webb for the night:

I repent of my pursuit of America’s dream
I repent of living like I deserve anything
Of my house, my fence, my kids, my wife
In our suburb where we’re safe and white
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent of parading my liberty
I repent of paying for what I get for free
And for the way I believe that I am living right
By trading sins for others that are easier to hide
I am wrong and of these things I repent

I repent of judging by a law that even I can’t keep
Of wearing righteousness like a disguise
To see through the planks of my own eyes

I repent of trading truth for false unity
I repent of confusing peace and idolatry
By caring more of what they think than what I know of what we need
By domesticating you until you look just like me
I am wrong and of these things I repent

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Groceries

I seriously have no idea how to shop for myself. I went to Giant Eagle last night and came home with:

2 cartons of Arizona Iced Green Tea (mmmm)
1 half gallon of 2% milk
1 carton of low-fat yogurt
1 case of Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper
Hotel Rwanda
Strictly Ballroom/Moulin Rouge!/Romeo + Juliet box set (...that movie section in Giant Eagle kills me)

And that was it. I need groceries and I buy drinks, yogurt and movies. Ugh.

In my defense, I also bought s'more stuff for our youth group bonfire tonight, and it took me about 20 minutes to find marshmallows which drove me crazy. Speaking of, tonight's our Fall Semester Youth Group Kick-Off Extravaganza. We're building an awesome bonfire, there'll be food and crazy games, and our talented musicians are plugging in outside for a jam session that will rock Phillips Lane all the way to Clever (Eric's autoharp included). Should be sa-weet.

Before that though I have a phone call with California.

Monday, September 10, 2007

I was wrong

The Pirates scored a lot of runs tonight but didn't need them.

I really liked 3:10 to Yuma.

My brother Scott started his week as a Science Journalism Fellow at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, and is blogging about it here. Very interesting stuff.

And I'm a week late on this, but John Piper talks about a momentous anniversary in the history of Protestant Christianity in China and about its future. Thanks, Sam, for the heads up.

Westerns, 3:10 to Yuma and Jack Wilson



After all that Pirate talk, I changed my plans for tonight. Instead of seeing the legendary showdown that will be Tony Armas vs. Carlos Villanueva, I'll be seeing Christian Bale and Russell Crowe square off in James Mangold's remake of 3:10 to Yuma. Mangold previously directed 2005's Walk the Line, the biopic of the life of Johnny Cash, and I was mostly underwhelmed by that film. While Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon put in great, great performances as Cash and his long-time love June Carter, I just didn't find Johnny Cash's life story nearly as interesting as his music--which I love. I don't know if I can blame that on the director, and even if I can that might have no bearing at all on the movie I'm seeing tonight, which is getting some critical praise--though coincidentally both Walk the Line and 3:10 to Yuma have 83%s on Rotten Tomatoes. We'll see if my reaction is similar, as well.

Anyway, Westerns. I'll admit I haven't seen many (Unforgiven is my favorite of what I have seen), but I'm trying to watch more. I bought Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy (starring Clint Eastwood) earlier this summer but haven't had time to watch them for whatever reason... yet. Last night though, I watched John Ford's classic The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. It was one of Ford's last films (Stagecoach is the only other of his I've seen) and arguably, from what I've read, one of his best. The film had a different scope and feel than many Westerns, almost all of the action taking place in the town of Shinbone, and with one of the main themes being the transition of the West from the rule of the gun to the rule of the law. The film stars Jimmy Stewart and John Wayne and I can't think of two more legendary actors sharing the big screen (sorry Bale and Crowe). Stewart is Ransom Stoddard, an East Coast attorney just come to Shinbone hoping to practice law. The Duke is Tom Doniphon, a rough-and-tumble cowboy who insists Stoddard settle his score with uber-bad guy Liberty Valance (superbly played by Lee Marvin) with a gun rather than words. In addition to exploring the "end of the West" the film deals with ideas of truth, fiction, legend and what makes a man.

Like anime (another genre I love), Westerns have their quirks (over-the-top character acting, for example, or just not very good acting) and often show blatant racism, and Liberty Valance has both, but it redeems itself. Characters like the Marshall and the Newspaperman/Town Drunk look less like caricatures and become real characters by the end of the film and Stoddard's treatment of the only black person in Shinbone, Pompey, show that the Western is certainly capable of overcoming these tendencies (see, Unforgiven) and Ford successfully does so. Like I said, I'm no expert on the Western, just a fan, so feel free to correct me or agree with me, either way.

One diversion back to the Buccos, Jack Wilson was named the NL Player of the Week for his hot hitting. He has been on fire since the trade deadline passed with him still wearing black and gold, and not trading him may end up being one of Dave Littlefield's best moves. Wilson has raised his OPS all the way to .765, which for a slick-fielding shortstop like Jack Flash is phenomenal (for comparison in his 201-hit career year of 2004, it was .794--his second-best OPS season was last year's .686). This means one of two things: We can keep him, because Jack has a ton of value (way more than this guy, for example) or a good GM can trade him this off-season (selling high for once) and net what could be a great return--much better, at least, than Craig Monroe or whomever it was DL was insisting on.

Even though I won't be at PNC Park tonight, go Bucs. And I'll let you know my thoughts on 3:10.

New Pirates GM: Jon Dodd

Adrian and Brandon think I ought to apply for the now-vacant Pirates General Manager position (as I am looking for work in the Pittsburgh area, of course), and I just might. Above all else the Pirates need an evaluator of talent in their GM role, and I suppose my success in Fantasy Baseball does speak for itself. I could argue in the last few years I've drafted Chase Utley, Hanley Ramirez, Russ Martin, Justin Morneau, Jason Bay and Victor Martinez. Quite a formidable line-up. The Pirates hitters they've drafted include Brad Eldred and Chris Duffy (who are for all intents and purposes out of baseball) plus Ronny Paulino, Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit (terrible, fourth outfielder, and Mr. Glass).

I've pulled off a few nifty trades, too: Chone Figgins from Piper for pennies last year (if I remember right). K-Rod from Dre last year, and then Josh Beckett and Fausto Carmona for slugger Adam Dunn from Dre this year. Adding those guys to a pitchers Gorzo, Snell, Maholm and Capps looks pretty slick.

But my biggest qualification has to be my ability to develop pitchers. In Jake Peavy's second year on my club he's turned into a top-10 pitcher. I'll admit I let Dan Haren go too soon, but I knew two years ago that he would be the pitcher he is today. And to continue to point out that I'm moderately good at something prefaced by the word "fantasy," I'll say I'm pretty happy that I passed on Poo-Holes this year to take Johan Santana no. 1 overall (although that A-Rod guy would've been a good choice, too). And, be it Takashi Saito, Brad Lidge, Huston Street, Joe Nathan or J.J. Putz, I have a knack for knowing which set-up man has the stuff to be the next big closer.

Unfortunately it is called "Fantasy Baseball" for a reason, but I haven't a doubt that my Yahoo skills would translate into the "real baseball" world. If it's alright with you guys, Dre, Piper and Zeke, I will be using you as my references, and when Bob Nutting calls, just say something along the lines of "Jon Dodd dominates us year in and year out. He'll do the same with the NL Central."

...OK, now that I'm done with my trash talking that may or may not be legit (since I currently sit in second place behind Matt Wright and only tied for first with Dre last year... but that was preceded by a championship in 2005--yeah, nevermind, the trash-talking's legit) I am pretty stoked to return to PNC Park tonight for my first Pirate game in ages. Partially I haven't gone because I've been busy, but there's also been that hesitance to totally root (root, root) for the home team since rooting for the Pirates has previously meant supporting Dave Littlefield and the general buffoonery that goes on in the Pirates front office. With changes happening, I can at least hope it will get better.

Tony Armas starts tonight against the Brewers, so we'll need to score a lot. But hey, with Littlefield gone anything can happen.

Bob Nutting: "Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce the new Pirates GM, Jon Dodd."
Me: "Segways and iPhones for everyone!"

Friday, September 7, 2007

FINALLY

The headline I've been waiting to see: Littlefield fired, so says the P-G.

In completely un-related (yet possibly as equally amazing) news, take a look at this kid, via Digg. Maybe I should give up my obsession with bald baby heads and hope for more like this?



UPDATE: Here's Bob Nutting's letter to we Buccos fans. A jubilant day, indeed.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Two headlines, two franchises

I can't take credit for catching this first (that'd be Pat from WHYGAVS), but I will point it out to all of you who might be interested:

Pirates Notebook: Tracy wants young starters to go distance
vs.
MLB Notebook: Buchholz in bullpen after historic no-hitter

One of these two franchises is the best team in baseball, one is the worst. Guess which one is the Red Sox and which one's the Pirates? If you're not sure, click the links and figure out for yourselves how to treat young pitchers.

In other less depressing Pittsburgh sports news, the Pens unveil their new Rbk Edge unis later today. Follow the story here and here.

Oh and I hear that's not the only thing being introduced today. Wo ai ni, Apple...

Wo ai ni?

Monday, September 3, 2007

There is a surpassing worth

So... I'm tired. My mind, body and soul are tired, and finally I'm starting to realize it's a lot more than sleep I need. What I definitely don't need is to watch another movie or listen to more music. I do enough of those things. I don't need more "hang out time" with this friend or that. I don't need to debate this or to think more about that and I certainly don't need a break from work or "real life" to serve myself and my own selfish desires.

Paul tells me that there is a surpassing worth: Knowing Christ and the power of His resurrection. I need to know Jesus so much more than I need sleep or comforts or relevance. Right now I need time in the Word and time in prayer. I need to immerse myself in His words of truth and merely in Him and forget about everything else around me, everything that's distracting me from my one and only purpose: To worship and give glory to the Holy, Good and Triune God. Let me explain further.

I'm realizing that so often I want (and seek after, and pursue) all the trappings of "church" and "worship" and "relationship" without the substance. Without Christ. I'm a white-washed tomb and I love the whiteness of my tomb and I love to talk about how white it is and why it's white and what the whiteness means. That's what I do. I talk about how nice my tomb is, its purpose and its calling and what its worth is to the tombstones around it, while all the while I'm dead inside.

For a baser example: Pretend that I go everywhere wearing a Beatles t-shirt. I love the Beatles, I talk incessantly about the genius of their music and song-writing and the impact they've had on rock and roll music and on my own life. All the while John Lennon is staying on my couch and wants to be my best friend. But, rather than thanking John for the music he's made and the things his songs have meant to me personally, let alone sharing a cup of coffee with him or seeing the symphony together or actually trying to form a meaningful relationship, the only thing I'll say to him is to ask him to clean my toilet after I've failed to flush yet again. And oh, John Lennon is actually my dad. For my entire life he's given me the roof over my head, the food I eat and the shirt on my back in addition to The White Album and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I talk about the Church and its Mission and the Kingdom and my Calling, but I don't talk to Jesus. I forget that it's for His Glory and not for my enjoyment that He has given us the good things in this world. I forget that it's for His Glory and not for my safety and comfort that He hung on a tree. I forget that He is alive and loves me and wants to make me new. In fact, He already has.

But most of all it seems I forget that while He lovingly, graciously and freely gives me all things, He wants me to desire only Himself.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

Philippians 3:7-8

Sunday, September 2, 2007

What I've been listening to:


This past week in the world of what I've been listening to, Wilco and Arcade Fire dominated when it came down to it. I just purchased Neon Bible from iTunes so that explains why I'm into Arcade Fire right now, and I've been listening to as much Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and A Ghost Is Born as I can, both spectacular albums I haven't spent enough time with. Jamie lent me the new Caedmon's Call album, Overdressed, so that has had some play time, too, but not a ton. And I listened to the Gorillaz' Demon Days album once through earlier today after I heard Feel Good, Inc. on the radio. Cool song, cool album. And that's the update. Let me know what you've been listening to and/or what I should be listening to, and you should be listening to Wilco and Arcade Fire.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Left turns in Beijing really are this crazy

This is just amazing. One commenter nailed it: This guy gives Batgirl a run for her LEGO money.

(Link via Joann)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Must-reads for anyone following the Pirates CEO search

Known to any and every on-line Pirate junkie, the blogger/amateur scout Wilbur T. Miller is the cream of the Internet crop when it comes to Bucco baseball. WTM turns in another gem in this two-part series (one and two) on why Bob Nutting musn't be fooled by the Pirates good play of late. He argues convincingly that the Pirates are neither good nor young, and that (wrap your head around this) if/when Dave Littlefield is fired, he will leave the Pirates in worse shape than when he inherited them. (Links via Bucs Dugout.)

As far as who might be the one firing DL, John Perrotto from the Beaver County Times suggests Tony LaCava as someone Nutting needs to talk to. Finding an evaluator of talent has to be our no. 1 priority.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ryan Lang

I talked to my best bud who lives in LA tonight for a glorious hour and a half. Ryan is my friend from China (you can see us together in Beijing to the left) who's originally from Minnesota and now works for ELIC in California, if that makes any sense. We talked about Disneyland, Starbucks coffee, CTF friends, getting together again, and tried to sum up basically a year of our lives. It was equally as daunting as it was great. One of the best thing about friends is that they don't care when you don't call them back for days or weeks at a time (this is for Jason and the Wilseys and Matt Stewart, too) and not only that... they still want to talk to you when you finally do.

I am blessed with some truly wonderful friends--for sure--even though I don't call any of you back.

(Here are a couple more pictures of Ryan, for fun, one more appropriate than the other.)





Oh, Ryan... and oh, Thailand! (You might not want to enlarge that second one.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Leopard to the future?

I've had fun exploring all the dazzling new features the next phase of Mac's OS X, "Leopard," will introduce this October.

And then Digg led me to this today, a blogger speculating that Leopard may abandon the "Aqua" theme OS X has held since it's inception (or at least begin to phase it out) in favor a space/time travel theme, as seen in the new (and amazing) Time Machine application, which you can see in the Leopard tour I linked to above, or below:



If using a Mac for the first time doesn't already blow you away, then Leopard ought to change that. It looks just amazing, introducing even more intuitive and user-friendly features that expose Vista for what it is--a cheap imitation and blatant rip-off of what Mac's been doing well for years--and is about to do even better.

Pretty cool stuff, huh?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Ice Bowl

If at all possible, I will be here to kick off 2-0-0-8. Go Pens.

Thanks, Pensblog for the heads up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pittsburgh & Kovacevik

Some of you might know that I'm an avid reader and fan of Pirates P-G beat writer Dejan Kovacevik. I read everything he puts out, and I often take for granted the outstanding insight he provides into my favorite baseball team and (and I think this is where most of you should take interest) my favorite city. Dejan speaks of Pittsburgh the way I hope I speak of Pittsburgh, with the realization that Pittsburgh is a flawed yet unique and beautiful place to live that Pittsburghers should be proud to call home.

Part of my nightly routine before I go off to bed is to read the P-G's Pirates coverage (mostly written by DK) that's published every night at midnight. (Fun fact: In China, it was my pre-lunch routine at noon.) I just finished his weeknightly Q+A (which is only found on the Internet) and wanted to point you all to it, because Dejan has a lot to say about cities and Pittsburgh and perspective this evening, all of which I found very interesting. He continyes tonight with a series of "Things That Make Pittsburgh Great" that he includes each weeknight when the Pirates are on the road (which sounds terribly confusing, I'm sure, to a non-baseball fan) and tonight the Bucs won in Denver.

Thing No. 53 that makes Pittsburgh great: We are a terribly insecure people.

We always want to know what everyone thinks of, and we always are surprised when they like us, they really like us.

A history buff might suggest that has to do with our polluted industrial past. After all, who could brag about a place that was immersed in darkness in mid-afternoon?

Someone else might say that the mass exodus of jobs in the late 1970s and early 1980s, one of the greatest in American history, contributed. After all, how happy could anyone be with a place that was being virtually abandoned?

Whatever it is, it most surely applies.

Eve Picker, a loft developer in the Downtown and Strip areas, hails from New Zealand. Way before it became cool -- or profitable -- she was buying up vacant buildings and converting them into residential properties. And, as I recall from the one conversation I ever had with her, she was doing so with a sense of bemusement that so few people here seemed to appreciate what he had or, potentially, could have. As she put it, it took an outsider to come in and show us. There is a lot of that going on.

The Uruguayan guy who designed the convention center was inspired by the flow of the Three Sisters bridges, a view he glimpsed from driving atop the Fort Duquesne Bridge. Might someone here have noticed that?

The travel writers around the country who come here and glow about the place point out things in a way some of us never could see or, in some cases, never have taken the time to see.

It is a somewhat endearing trait, in a way, that we care what others think about us. But it also illustrates plainly that we do not think enough of ourselves.

Visiting San Francisco last week and now here in Denver, these are two places where you can ask anybody about these cities, and they will do everything but sing and dance in describing them.

We need to do more of that. No rose-colored glasses are needed, either.

If you don't have any interest in baseball or in specifically a pretty bad baseball team, that's fine, but I hope you (by, perhaps, spending a few days following his Pirates coverage) can appreciate the seriousness in which Dejan does his work and reports on a city and its baseball team, and I'm glad his thoughts and observations are a part of my daily reading.

On another note, it made me exceedingly proud tonight (as the group I traveled with to Sweden gathered at my house to look back and look forwards) to hear Arianna, who has started blogging here, cite Russ' thoughts, from his blog here, in our conversation. (It wasn't only through hyperlinks, I had used what Russ wrote here to initiate some conversation in youth group a couple of weeks back.) I try to take my life, conversations and connections on this Internet seriously and use them, not for viral videos and forwarded e-mails, but for a conversation that we otherwise could never have. It really made me proud and happy. I've never specifically realized or thought out all of the things I try to pass on to the younger generation as I work at my church, specifically, but some of these things I've been blogging about tonight vaguely (like place, stories, community and conversations) are certainly some of those things.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Hush Sound at the Rex, tonight

I don't go to many concerts, and this will be my first time at the Rex (on Carson Street, the South Side). So I'm stoked.

We're seeing The Hush Sound, an indie rock quartet (Bob, Greta, Darren and Chris) from Chicago who've toured with such bands as Jack's Mannequin and Straylight Run. Tonight they'll be with Hello Stranger and I'll be with Adam, Andrew, Jamie, Jessie, ArGu and ArGar. I don't have anything particularly interesting to say other than that, just thought I'd share my excitement.

Some randomness:
- I played Scrabble earlier tonight (Sunday). Some words I used: jig, fig, zed, easy, quo... and I can't remember any other cool ones. But there were more. (Aren't words awesome?)
- Today's my sister Stacy's birthday. So, happy birthday, Stac! It's also Ryan's birthday. I don't think you read my blog, but happy birthday to you, too, bud.
- The Pirates have scored more runs so far in August than any other team in baseball. That's just sort of ridiculous.
- Leopard looks absolutely disgusting. Take the tour sitting down, and then get a Mac.
- Sam and Eee are having a girl!! Her name is Emma, and here's the baby blog.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

We still have lots of work to do

I've started tracking this blog's stats (using BlogPatrol), as in how many people are, and, as much as I can gather, who is visiting my blog (or at least how). The most interesting things for me to see have been what OS' and what web browsers you folks are using to view and enjoy Doddfodder. Here are the crucials:

Of the last 14 visitors I've had, ten of you are using Windows XP, one Windows Vista and only three Mac OSX. That's not very good, folks.

This is even more shocking: Firefox vs. Internet Explorer is tied at seven, with IE7 beating out IE6 four to three (and no Safari views at all). I can understand the OS thing, as many of you are using family PCs at home or don't have the money for a Mac laptop or desktop or whatever your silly excuse might be for still using a Windows-based machine. But this web browser thing is inexcusable, as in, why/how/WHY?!? is anyone not using Mozilla Firefox?

Do you like tab browsing? Of course you do. Sweet add-ons. Yup. Design and aesthetics and functionality. Cleanliness, speed, accuracy, reliability, pop-up freedom, friendship, and Google search bars? Firefox invented these things. Really, it did (all of them). And that's just the beginning. Please please give it a try--for your own sake and the sake of my blog-stats. I promise you that your Internet Explorer will never be missed.

Also, thank you Jme, the Wilseys and Yahoo search for referring me over the last 24 hours. Hopefully I can return the favor.

And finally, I'll refer back to myself, just for one last reminder of why I'm a Mac/Firefox/truth/beauty/goodness kind-of guy:

The Paperclip.


And one more time: GET FIREFOX.

Friday, August 17, 2007

The Dark Knight, more pics

There are some great new stills floating around the web right now, and they might not be up for too long (also, here). Some almost border on spoiler-ish, so if you're not into that sort of thing, stay away. But, if you're into this sort of thing...



Then by all means, click away. And, if you still haven't seen the teaser trailor with the Joker's laugh at the end, then here you go:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Photos from Matthew's house

2724 (Kurt's house)

In related news (as Matthew is now a Christian-school teacher), I found this interesting: Annapolis Area Christian School (where I have some connections a few different ways) is starting a football program, a rarity for Christian schools (from my experience), this fall. They already have a pretty impressive lineup of academics and athletics, so uh, good for them.

WALL-E

Thanks to Boyle, I re-watched the WALL-E trailor, and was stoked to realize the music they play during the WALL-E segment is the same music that serves as one of the musical themes in Terry Gilliam's 1985 movie Brazil, which I've watched for the first time since I saw Ratatouille, and thus couldn't have recognized it in theaters. The musical themes in Brazil add so much to the movie (actually, I think Gilliam said he was inspired by hearing a particular song to make the entire movie) and it was a good choice by the Pixar folks to borrow this piece of score. (I really don't have to say how excited I am for WALL-E, do I?) I also heard that WALL-E will be completely without conventional dialogue, with only the robot noises you hear WALL-E use at the end to say his "name." Wow.

In other nerdnotes, I've had my movie collection alphabetized for a bit now, but decided yesterday to take it one step farther: I'm alphabetizing by director. I'm trying to get to know my movies better and this ought to be a good way. It's not like my collection is all that substantial, so it's not a huge undertaking or anything, but it should help me get to know at least the names of some of the lesser-known movie-makers whose films I'm proud to own.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Apple store

I'm in Shadyside blogging on one of the new iMacs (officially my next computer) and I just played with the iPhone.

...My heart's racing. It's just spectacular...

I'm here because Andrew's buying a MacBook, which is pretty rad. Always good to have another Mac friend.

Alright, back to the iPhone...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sweden, in pictures

OK, so I realize this is sort lame, but I've been sort of lazy and have only uploaded my Sweden photos into Facebook (because it has the only uploader program that seems to work on my computer). I much prefer Picasa but Picasa's uploader goes gaga on my Mac.

Speaking of Macs, has everyone seen this??? I can distinctly remember the first time I walked into an Apple store feeling like I had entered an alien spacecraft or some sort of retail store from the future with the message: Here you are, earthling, this is a computer. The new iMac is like that for me... although to be honest I'm so used to the graceful designs and intuitive features Apple provides, I almost feel like I need to use a Dell again for a while just so I can appreciate my MacBook like I once did.

But, as I was saying, below are my Facebook photo albums from my week in Sweden--and actually most are just from the two days I spent in Stockholm--with hardly any of the eight people I traveled with. (I guess when I'm with people, I like to be with people. When I'm with buildings, I take pictures.)

Album 1
Album 2
Album 3

UPDATE: Actually, nevermind. You can still check out my Facebook albums if you like, but here they are in Picasa. Saying I hadn't uploaded them made me want to upload them.
Stockholm (Day 1)

In and around TranĂ¥s

Stockholm (Day 2)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Moving

We moved my brother up to his new house on College Hill today (2724 5th Ave. if you're curious, across from the McCracken's). I really meant to take my camera with me and shoot some pictures, but forgot, so that'll have to wait 'til next time I'm there (which I hope is soon). No major work needed on the place; Matthew's been doing some cosmetic stuff (new floors, carpet, paint) though and it's looking really nice. It'll be a great place for him (within walking/biking distance from BCCS) and in a great little community with some great people and a coffee shop and college, both of which I happen to be pretty fond of. I appreciate living at home, for now, and I love a lot of the people around me and the friendships I have here in Moon and at the church especially, but I'm happy Matthew's moved into the place he has and look forward to visiting him there often and seeing his impact on the community there, and what impact it might have on him.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Twenty-five

It's my birthday! Here's what Wikipedia has to say about August 9, a pretty interesting day overall I'd say (Sistine Chapel opens, Jesse Owens wins fourth Gold Medal, second atomic bomb dropped on Japan, Nixon resigns, I'm born). For now, my birth is listed, but that will change quickly. As a present to me, help me keep my name on the Wiki-birth list. Because if you weren't born according to Wikipedia, well, you weren't born.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

8/8/08

Today marks exactly one year until Beijing kicks off the next Summer Olympics. I've been reading a lot about how behind Beijing is on lots of important stuff, like human rights and the environment, and to be completely frank: I'm worried about China. It's going to get a lot of bad press in the next year and beyond because while China has a lot of good things going for it (the food, Zhang Yimou movies, the people) and will always have a big place in my heart, it is not what the West is used to, in a lot of ways.

I experienced a great deal of culture shock visiting Sweden because in my head, there was the USA, and there was the rest of the world, which for me equals China. (I lived there for a year, after all, and it is very much ingrained in my mind.) And Sweden was very different than both the US and China. It was clean, orderly, easy. Nice. China is mostly none of these things. Living there for so long and going with the purpose I did made my China experience very different than what the media and certainly, the athletes, will experience when they spend a month there next August. And like I said, I'm worried for China. The country and the people are all about saving face, and they will lose a lot of face when athletes complain (rightly so) about the pollution and politicians and others complain (rightly so) about so many other things. These Olympics are the most important thing to happen to China (at least the capital city) in a long time. It's a country with a lot of rough recent history, and they're desperately seeking the approval of the globe. They think they belong at the top (and they were for centuries), and this is their chance to show that they are again. I can't say this with any certainty because my scope of experience is limited, but China is far behind South Korea, Japan and the West in lots of areas (and I don't just mean structural and behavioral, I mean societal issues: justice and freedom issues). It made for an exciting place for me to live and explore, but it'll make for a bad place for the Summer Olympics, I'll bet my bottom kuai on.

It's a pipe dream of mine to make it back there next summer (either as a teacher, or who knows, a blogger) but whether I experience Beijing on display in person or not, I promise for the next year I will be paying close attention to the Middle Kingdom and what the world is saying about it.

P.S. I'd like to find a great news feed for all things Beijing Olympics. My first instinct (of course) would be Google, but if anyone has a better suggestion, let me know.

Pittsburgh

I love Facebook. I think it's an amazing site and it's crazy to me that I didn't sign up for it until after I graduated college, because when I was in college Geneva didn't have a Facebook page. The Internet changes so mind-bogglingly quick, it's just craziness. But that's not my point. Facebook has this great app right now called "Where I've Been" where you click on places you've lived in (red), visited (blue) and would like to visit (green). Here's my map:



But that's not my point either. I think that someone should (and I would if I was a bit more Internet savvy) create a "Where I've Been: Pittsburgh" edition with all its neighborhoods and towns and streets, because I think Pittsburgh is one of the most interesting cities or places to explore, anywhere. My family moved to Pittsburgh the summer before I started Kindergarten, and I consider it my home as much as anyone can call a place home. I love it here and though I love to travel, see new places, and may live in new places, Pittsburgh will always, always be where I come home to. But, no matter how much I drive around Pittsburgh and explore, there's always some new place to find. When I go somewhere in Pittsburgh, I seldom go exactly the same way twice, and that's not because I'm a bad driver or bad with directions, it's because that's the beauty of Pittsburgh.

If there ever is an un-planned city, I would have to think Pittsburgh would be it. Even if you wanted to plan a grid of some sort or anything that made sense, how could you? The topography throughly prohibits any such endeavor. And it pretty well prohibits any thorough exploration of the city and it's varied and unique neighborhoods, streets and towns. And there are a lot of them.



This is one of the many reasons I love it here. And these are just inside the city limits, where I've never lived. (Though, over the past year I have spent a lot more time exploring the city than I have in years past... I can thank Sam and Jo especially for that one.)

I have lived in Chippewa Township and in Beaver Falls on College Hill (both up in Beaver County), Moon Township, Franklin Park and in Wexford. My church where I've gone for years and now work is in Robinson. And despite this, or because of this, it's truly amazing to me that I can drive around the north and west suburbs (and Beaver County) and find so many places that have so much meaning to me. The place we sometimes got ice cream after little league games. The elementary school I went to. The other one I went to. The highway where I looked enviously at black Jettas when I was a kid starting to think about driving (I ended up with a blue one of course). The dentist office I've gone to since I was 8. This place where this happened. Or this time with these people or this person. It goes on and on and I realize this isn't unique to me and Pittsburgh. But in another way, it is.

If you're not from Pittsburgh or have never been here, it's probably hard to imagine or understand how Pittsburghers give and receive directions. Turn right where the store used to be, follow it to the end of the road, turn left, follow the road to the right down the hill, at the 6-way intersection take the 3rd right that goes back up the hill, and we're just past the old fire house that you can't see from the road. And once you get there that way, you can't go the same way back.

Most of you are from Pittsburgh and I'm preaching to the choir here... most of you probably understand it better than I do because your parents are from here, too, and your grandparents, and Pittsburgh and the rivers and streets and bridges and hills are more ingrained in your life than they'll ever be in mine. And that's awesome. But I'm thankful that I call Pittsburgh home, and while I can wish that Pittsburgh was like Chicago or DC or New York and had a great subway system or like Denver or somewhere that was a grid or like anywhere that I could actually ride my bike somewhere (that's on me for living in the suburbs) for now, me and my Jetta are used to the hills and winding shortcuts and confusing road signs and orange barrels that make up Pittsburgh, and all the crazy intersections and guesses and surprises that you need to encounter to make it from Point A to Point B.

As long as A and B are both in Western PA.

Quick! Name these two former Pirates



HINT: Both played a part in ending my childhood, and one is now baseball's Home Run King. 756 came earlier tonight, and so there that is.

I went through this stint in college where I wrote fairly often of my dislike for Bonds in The Cabinet, and it's still there. I wish I had some of those old articles to link to now, but to be honest with ya, at this point my frustration has moved from outsiders (Bonds, the NY Yankees, Tony La Russa) to squarely on the shoulders of the management of my Pittsburgh Baseball Club. I don't care a whole lot that Bonds has now hit more homers than any other ML baseball player ever (including 176 as a Pirate), many of which he hit juiced. What I care much more about is that it's been 15 years (yup, since 1992--as in, see players pictured above) since there was meaningful baseball in Pittsburgh past August and into September and (gulp) October.

Bonds can hit 756 more for all I care if the Pirates could just be good again.

Music makes me happy

On my play-list tonight:

The Beta Band
Beck
Chili Peppers
Dylan
Lou Reed

What music makes you happy?

Sunday, August 5, 2007

A China story

I lived a whole year over there, and every so often I look back at all the stuff I wrote and remember some of it (because it feels pretty far away most of the time). Here's one of my favorite stories, as I told it here:

First, some background, then the punch line.

Big Purple class has been learning about going to the market and how to bargain (albeit simply) in English. For example, the student will tell me, “I want to buy apples,” to which I reply “that’ll be 5 yuan” to which they say, “No, no, no. How about 3 yuan?” Simple enough, right?

Next background: Foreigners have big, ugly noses. This is a well-known fact in China. In fact, even my nose is big and ugly—which I suppose it is compared to most Chinese noses, as they run pretty small and cute. This doesn’t bug me all that much (really at all), but when my students are kind enough to point this out to me (that my nose is big and ugly), I tickle them or give them some sort of hard time. After all, that’s my job. One of the other things I do is cut them off at the pass by asking them questions about my nose: if my nose is beautiful, if they like my nose, etc. I do this in Chinese so they know they can’t talk about my nose right in front of my nose, because, hey, I ting de dong (understand). Or I just do it to get a laugh out of them, which it does. Today, however, one of them got a good laugh out of me.

I was goofing around with some girls from Big Purple on the playground. They’d ask me to say things in Chinese and would laugh hysterically when I said them. So I said in Chinese, “You know, I can speak a little Chinese?” “We know,” they said, and kept on laughing. We continued chatting and eventually, I asked this one girl Cocoa a question. “Cocoa, is my nose beautiful?”

To which she replied, in English, “No, no, no. How about 3 yuan.”

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sylar is the new Spock



And he's from Pittsburgh. Here's an interview.

The new Trek movie, set for a Christmas 2008 release, is being directed by J.J. Abrams (of LOST fame) and will tell the story of a young Kirk and Spock, just starting off at Star Fleet Academy. Kirk has yet to be cast, though Matt Damon has been rumored. I think that'd be a great choice, but supposedly Abrams is looking "younger." Whatev. As for my opinion on Sylar as Spock--it's awesome he's from Pittsburgh, but I wasn't super impressed with Zachary Quinto's performance on Heroes. He pulls off creepy, but more often, I thought, he over-acted. Maybe I'm just still down on the whole show since the finale failed to live up to my "save the world" expectations. There are reasons why I'll watch Heroes next season (Hiro mostly) but I suppose now I can watch it to see the next Spock.

Live long, Zach, and kudos.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Movies I've watched in the past few days...

Transformers (Bay, 2007)
Brazil (Gilliam, 1985)
Letters from Iwo Jima (Eastwood, 2006)
Mystic River (Eastwood, 2003)
North By Northwest (Hitchcock, 1959)
Sin City (Miller/Rodriguez, 2005)
Wag The Dog (Levinson, 1997)

The only one I wouldn't highly recommend is Transformers, which I still might recommend depending on who you are. (And a few of those, certainly, aren't for kids.) Next up for my viewing enjoyment (though not for a few days, unfortunately): Hot Fuzz, which I am pretty stoked to see. I really will try to review a few of these I just saw, and I still have a draft saved of my thoughts on Zodiac, which is another great movie. (I really need to write more, or at least finish what I start.)

Stealing some thunder here, Chris linked to this nifty little tool for picking a presidential candidate to pull for, and Jason linked to this spoiler-filled discussion thread on the Harry Potter ending, which, by the way, I thought was perfect. Book 7 surpassed all the others, in my opinion, and J.K. Rowling did herself well. Check out the link only if you're done reading or if you've never read at all, because I think it may make you want to.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Now this is cool...



Yup, that's Heath Ledger as the Joker and Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes.

And here's The Dark Knight teaser trailer, all part of a sweet viral campaign. I have complete faith in Chris Nolan that this movie will rock. I'm tired of movies letting me down (Transformers would be a good example) and I am looking forward to TDK like none other. I know Heath Ledger doesn't seem like the obvious choice to play the Crown Prince of Crime, but a look at this ought to make you feel better. And if you're still doubting, watch Batman Begins again, take comfort in the fact that Aaron Eckhart is playing Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two Face, and find something to do until July 18, 2008. It'll be worth the wait.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sweden

I'm off to the land of squishy red gummy fish, meatballs and a famous chef. Myself, eight high-schoolers and another leader (Lord-willing, if we get her passport troubles squared away) will fly out tomorrow morning for Chicago, then on to Frankfurt, Stockholm, and finally to the tiny town of Tranas in south-central Sweden.

We'll be gone for eight days working with MTW missionaries, running a VBS, helping with sports camps, delivering newspapers, attending youth meetings and painting a scoreboard for a new baseball field they're building.

Pray for us, for me as the leader responsible for keeping all those kids in one piece, and pray for Sweden. I'll admit I don't know a lot about the culture or country, but I'll know a lot more in a week. While we're there we'll be keeping a blog I hope to update a bunch. I'll be posting there for the time being. Or here.

I'm also starting (finally) to put some photos online. Check out what I have so far. I promise it'll get a lot bigger soon.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Derek Webb

I finally downloaded The Ringing Bell, and through listen one "This Too Shall Be Made Right" stood out both musically and lyrically. Check it out on your own (and the rest of the tracks) and definitely don't hesitate to pick up the newest release by one of the best artists around making music for the glory of God.

I didn't intend for this to be a review of any sorts, more just a personal comment, but I still don't think this album matches the brilliance of his solo debut She Must and Shall Go Free (as I would say about all of his follow-ups), and (for better or for worse) his Caedmon's stuff will always have a fond place in my heart... but, he's definitely putting together a solid discography. If you don't know Derek Webb. Do. His songs tend not to immediately blow you away, but they stick with you. Spend time with all his CDs... he has some important stuff to say.

UPDATE: I'm through listen two, and I'd also recommend "The End" and "A Love That's Stronger Than Our Fear."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"The Freak Show" season

For whatever reason, after the famed Pirates division-winning teams of my youth fizzled and left for greener pastures, so did my interest in baseball--for a few years. The 1997 season, dubbed "The Freak Show" by announcer Greg Brown, brought back my fevered interest in the Bucs. (I suppose it's easier to justify being a fair-weather fan at age 14--though only slightly.) That was the year of Kevin Young, Al Martin, Jose Guillen, Cordova and Rincon's combined no-hitter, and, my favorite Pirate that year, Smilin' Joe Randa. Our payroll was only $9 million, and I can remember when Jon Lieber struck out Albert Belle, the $10 million man, three times in a game. It was the last year we actually made a deadline deal to help us in the short-term. It was the year that almost .500 almost secured us a division title. And it's being wonderfully remembered by P-G writer Paul Meyer.

Check out the story so far here, here, and here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Short order

Via Slate, the legend of the "short cappuccino" lives! This seems to explain things for me; I had heard that Starbucks actually lost money on the short cappuccino, which apparently isn't true. Instead, they just don't make as much.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

9 back

40-48. Can the Pirates make up 9 games on the first-place Brewers in the second half? Doubtful.

Was going 5-2 against the Cubs and Brewers over this past week impressive and a big step in the right direction? Absolutely.

If you care at all about Pirates baseball, I agree with Bob Smizik: Who Bob Nutting hires to replace resigning CEO Kevin McClatchy will most likely determine how long my kids will have to wait to see another winning baseball team in Pittsburgh.

"We'll know by who he hires if he understands that owning the Pirates is more than a business deal, it's a sacred trust with the fans of this region. If he hires a man steeped in baseball experience, Nutting is on the right track. If he hires, for example, a bean counter from one of his other companies, we'll know the Pirates are doomed."

No games for a couple of days for the All-Star break. Check out the Pirates "first-half" stats here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Review: Ratatouille



I saw Ratatouille last night, and Brad Bird/Pixar didn't disappoint. Great, beautiful movie, and in the spirit of Amadeus and it's presentation of the music of Mozart, I truly feel like I've gained an appreciation of food and specifically culinary Paris, all because of a rat named Remy and a director named Brad. Building off of his previous Pixar film, Bird again tackles the idea of being "incredible." In The Incredibles he told us that there are indeed special/gifted/incredible/great people in the world, and this time he defined it a bit more, saying that while not everyone is great, greatness can come from anywhere. (Pay attention to the food critic's speech at the end, because he says exactly that.) I could tell you a lot of reasons why I liked this movie (the voice acting of Peter O'Toole and Brad Garrett, for example), but rather, I'll just tell you to go see it for yourself, and be prepared for a treat.

Rotten Tomatoes
IMDb

P.S.
I'll be at the Pittsburgh Project this week. And... only two weeks til we leave for Sweden! A heads up for those of you who read my blog more than we actually talk: I'm not going to be studying at Pitt in the fall like I'd originally planned. Some stuff came up/happened, and basically that along with a lasting sense of uncertainty about the whole thing made me decide not to start back at school right now. I got asked to return to China, and I declined (again, for right now), but that made me really start to think more about my ministry here at the church, in the youth group, and about the relationships I've built since I started in November. It's been such an answer to prayer for me personally and a real privilege to be a part of the lives of some great, great kids. I would've kept working at the church even if I had started classes, but I'm wondering if this or something similar might be a part of a long-term call. College ministry, perhaps? Or seminary. But, most of all I know this is what God is calling me to do right now, and I'm satisfied. Along those lines Jim Eliot's quote has been floating around my head: "Wherever you are, be all there." I look forward to building on the solid foundation I have now at the youth group (by being "all there") and look forward to the Lord's plans for this next year. He's affirmed to me again that they are indeed His plans, and when I do hear His call for me to go, I'm ready to say, "Here I am."

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Protest!

The planned fan protest at tonight's Pirate game is gaining a little attention, which is a very good thing. it's obvious the Pirates don't like it, and whether or not I think it's a perfect protest (I would've walked out after the 1st out of the 4th inning... 1-4, 14 years... plus TV cameras would have to catch it mid-inning), it's something. And that's a lot.

I won't be at the game tonight, but here are the quick reasons why I would walk out if I was:

14 (sure to be 15) years of losing. No commitment. No accountability.

...

Actually that's about everything right there, but I'll try and flesh it out, in broad terms. The Pirates are a joke of a franchise and they're playing a meaner joke on Pirate fans: the dumbing down of baseball in Pittsburgh so that 70 wins, bobbleheads and fireworks is what we'll be given year in and year out. We might get lucky and break .500 here in the next couple of years, but we very well may not. And that's a joke if there ever was one. The problem runs all the way from the top down. Owners "McNutting" couldn't care less, despite Nutting's falsehoods about a commitment to winning (his commitment is solely to the bottom line). Littlefield is the worst GM in sports and should never have held on to his job this long. Ed Creech/DL's drafting strategy is spineless at best. And Tracy is a passionless manager who still thinks he's coaching the Dodgers (who he never coached all that well) and was not the right man for the job, in my opinion. Our farm system is a wasteland. Our international scouting is microscopic... I could go on. There are problems with the on-the-field product as well (base-running and run production to name two) but they're not why I would be protesting tonight. The team has its flaws, but the organization's flaws are the reasons to be angry.

Pirates' management has no idea how to put together a winning baseball team, or at least is unwilling to, or they just don't care to. Drastic change is needed. Which is why tonight's protest is long overdue.

Let's hope it doesn't fall on deaf (and dumb) ears.

Check out lots of protest news and links at iratefans.com. And definitely read this for a thoughtful response that sums up the feelings of most Pirate fans.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Now showing at PNC Park...

I don't watch the Sopranos, but I get the feeling that if I did, this would be amazing:

Sunday, June 10, 2007

NYC

I spent the weekend in NYC with my brothers and Geneva friends Chris, Zeke, Mrs. Zeke, Dre, and Jasons O'Neill and Panella. I am now exhausted and will sleep.

UPDATE: Pictures here.

Friday, June 8, 2007

What's wrong with the Pirates?


I keep hearing this question, as if people haven't noticed the last 14 years of Pirates baseball and this is some sort of new development. Well, I've been paying attention for a while now, and what's happening this year is for certain nothing new. So, as we began by asking, what's wrong with the Buccos? Short answer: The Pirates are the worst-run organization in professional sports, hands-down, from the owner to the general manager and his staff to the coaches. And, because of all that, and in regards to this year's struggles, they don't have all that many players who are good at baseball. Sure we have a few: Jason Bay (who's great at baseball), Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Ian Snell (who's probably the most fun-to-watch Pirate in years), Tom Gorzelanny, Matt Capps, and some other serviceable folk, but (and I'm blaming this on Dave Littlefield), we don't have enough.

The latest and worst example of this ineptitude is Oliver Perez, who's pitching like an ace again for the New York Mets. We traded him, basically as a throw-in, for part-time outfielder Xavier Nady. At the time the trade didn't look all that smart but now it looks downright stupid, because Perez has rediscovered his 2004 form, striking out batters and dominating. We couldn't fix what ailed Ollie (actually, we broke him in the first place), the Mets could fix him it seems, and to sum it up, we made a series of bad baseball moves and decisions and gave away an ace because of it.

And then there's what happened today. The Pirates, with the fourth pick in the 2007 entry draft, take a college reliever. For a team like the Pirates that refuses to spend any money (and really, we're just about the only team that still doesn't), building from within, from our own system, is absolutely a must, which makes the first-year player draft probably the most important day of the year for the Pirates future. (And by the way, our system is awful.) We will never (save a Mark Cuban purchase of the team) spend money with the big boys, but it's inexcusable that we refuse to spend money with the Reds, Brewers, Royals and teams from similar markets. And we did that today. We over-drafted on a college pitcher projected at best to be a closer and passed on a potential franchise catcher and loads of other more talented position players and pitchers, because we wouldn't (not couldn't) sign those better players. That, or the people responsible for drafting are actually just stupid. And I suppose it could just as easily be the latter.

I'm upset. I'm disappointed. But I'm not surprised. As I said, the Pirates are the worst-run franchise in professional sports. The ownership has no commitment to winning and the GM and scouting director are completely clueless or just gutless. Either way the Pirates are bad now, and they look to be indefinitely if the makeup of the front office remains the same.

I hate to be a downer, especially after a fine win like today's. Snell pitched seven strong, as he always seems to now (if not 8) and Capps pitched a great two innings for the win, thanks to Bay's eight-inning blast. We'll continue to have wins like this, maybe 70-some a year. One of these years we'll get lucky and win 82. But the main thing this weekend's trek to Yankee Stadium (to see the Rocket's return to the Bronx, by the way) will remind me is that the Pirates are a long way away from being a good baseball team and way farther from being a good baseball organization.

But, I won't let all that dampen my enthusiasm about my Buccos. Or I'll try not to. As I said, I'm seeing Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium with a bunch of my buddies and both of my brothers and I'll be there in my Jason Bay black and gold t-shirt, cheering for the good guys and loathing the Evil Empire in person. A lot of Pirate fans are under the impression that the best thing we can do now is not give the current ownership group one more penny by going to games. I'm not sure if I'm willing to go that far, because watching, rooting for and following the Pirates (even in their current pitiful state) is one of my all-time favorite things to do.

Yankee Stadium

I'm heading to New York this weekend to visit the House That Ruth Built and see my Buccos welcome Roger Clemens back to the Bronx. This is a big deal for a baseball fan, or anybody really. As much as I hate the Yankees (and I do... I especially despise Derek Jeter), I realize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. When the 60,000 seat "stadium" was built, baseball was a struggling sport and no one thought the Yankees could ever fill it on a consistent basis.

From Wikipedia:

Yankee Stadium was the first three-tiered sports facility in the United States and one of the first baseball parks to be given the lasting title of stadium. Baseball teams typically played in a park or a field. The word stadium deliberately evoked ancient Greece, where a stadium was unit of measure--the length of a footrace; the buildings that housed footraces were called stadiums. Yankee Stadium was one of the first to be deliberately designed as a multi-purpose facility. The field was initially surrounded by a (misshapen) quarter-mile running track, which effectively also served as a warning track for outfielders, a feature now standard on all major league fields. The left and right field bleacher sections were laid out at right angles to each other, and to the third base stands, to be properly positioned for both track-and-field events and football. The large electronic scoreboard in right-center field, featuring both teams' lineups and scores of other baseball games, was the first of its kind.

All of these luxuries came to life during a dark period for baseball. Popularity was very low following the Black Sox scandal a few years earlier. With his ability to transform the game by the might of a swing, the Sultan of Swat attracted more fans than ever to baseball. Combined, it could be argued that Ruth, the Yankees, and Yankee Stadium saved baseball.


We're seeing one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. And I'm seeing the game with a bunch of my buddies and my two brothers. Should be an awesome weekend for sure.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Aaron Hill steals home



That one's great because (surprise!) they take a shot at A-Rod right there at the very end. And then there's this next one shot by a fan. It's the entire at-bat and Hill comes out of nowhere in the last 20 seconds. (You've gotta love video like this... it always reminds me of that near-creepy video of the David Ortiz RBI to beat the Yankees in the Red Sox championship year. That thing gives me the chills, in a good way.)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Michael Crichton says "aliens caused global warming"

I realize this is really old news (2003), but this speech is an interesting read which includes some thoughts on science, belief, SETI, nuclear winter and the climate crisis. I don't know a lot about science, and don't know how much Michael Crichton knows about science, but the man writes interesting books, and as I said: it's an interesting read.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Pittsburgh's own: Sylar



I haven't listened to this yet, so I have no idea if it's interesting or anything, but Heroes actor Zachary Quinto is from Pittsburgh (graduated from CMU, would like to play Spock so I hear, in the forthcoming Star Trek prequel) and he talked to the Post-Gazette. Check it out.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I'm calling it now

It's the middle of LOST's season finale, and I'm sure of one thing: These Jack "flashbacks" are in the future, after Jack is off the island.

11:12 pm. The beard gave it away. Amazing, amazing episode tonight. I can't express right now how much I love LOST. Hurley and the Dharma van. Hurley on the walkie: "Attention Others." Sayid being awesome. The "forward flash." Locke being beyond nuts. Danielle and Alex. Mikhail minus patch. Desmond. Charlie. The exact opposite of the way I felt after Heroes' disappointing finale. Kip Wells beat the Bucs tonight and I couldn't care.

All I can really say is:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Transient

So today I officially became a "transient" student, or so Robert Morris University calls me. In preparation to attend Pitt this fall and ultimately receive my Pennsylvania certificate of teaching or whatever it's called next spring, I have five pre-requisite classes I have to complete (in addition to my graduate work and student teaching, of course): two undergrad education classes, two college math classes and a literature class (...and most likely I will do the five at three different institutions of higher education). The literature class is the first I'll be getting out of the way: an on-line course on "myth" I hastily signed up for today. I've always been fascinated by the idea of the "myth" (particularly how it relates to Creation and General Revelation) as well as mythology, stories and the rest and am somewhat excited to take the class. (The books I got today were Beowulf, The Odyssey and a "re-telling" of Genesis.) Granted I haven't looked in any detail at the books' translators, Genesis is the only one I've already read (though who knows how much it will resemble my ESV translation), and I haven't the slightest idea about the set-up of the class, but, as I re-enter the world of academia for the next 11 months, hopefully this should be a somewhat of an engaging start.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Chicago


In a couple of minutes I'm flying to Chicago for a short two-day trip. Here's my quick agenda (and it will be quick):

Chinatown. Dave McKee. Pirates baseball. Wrigley Field. Sears Tower. Sufjan Stevens. Art museum? Ferris Bueller.

Should be sweet. Go Bucs!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Blah

= How I feel. I've never had allergies before, but I'm assuming this is why I've been feeling crappy all spring.

= The Pittsburgh Pirates. They will never be good again. And this is not the sorry musings of a fairweather fan turned on by their .500 play in April. No, they're in a sorry, sorry state. No offense (none) to complement the decent pitching Littlefield has been maniacally stockpiling during his term as GM. We have two, maybe three, hitting prospects in the entire minor league system to go with our two, maybe three, capable major league hitters. We're awful. And based on management's "commitment" to winning (not firing Creech for assembling for the worst minor league system in baseball, not spending money, holding no one accountable...I'm looking at you Jim Tracy and Jeff Manto, and for giving Littlefield an extension for overseeing the whole debacle), there's no hope of anything changing. Ever. Go Bucs. 15 in a row here we come.

= Going back to school, which = My attitude towards doing anything, as in my future. I'm in the process of signing up for summer classes (at Pitt) and this is, I'm pretty sure, the last day I can, but about 0% of me is actually excited about doing this. Likewise, would I like a real job with a real salary so someday I can buy a house and support a family and do all that sort of normal stuff? Of course. Would I like to go out and get one, or take the steps necessary to acquire said "real" job and "real" life? Not really. And the same goes for a girlfriend. Just no motivation, really. Maybe being 24 is just sort of lame, I decided. And I got this feeling today that maybe that "post-China semi-depression" stuff that's supposed to happen finally is. I looked at a picture of some of my friends in Qinghuandao during our first week in China, and realized, it's been two years since I graduated college. Pretty nearly two years since I flew to LA and on to China to live a really exciting year of my life. How is it even possible that two entire years has gone by? That suddenly I went from 22 and graduating college and going to China to 24 and sitting here writing this...

= My attitude towards eating dinner right now. Part of me knows I'm sort of hungry, but part of me won't be surprised if I just sit here til Heroes.

= Me, writing this mySpace-like post for all to read. Oh well.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Spidey!


I saw Spider-Man 3 Friday night with some folks, and in three words: I loved it. In one sentence: Corny and stupid in all the right places. (And I mean that in a good way. I really do.) It lived up to my expectations because I went in realizing this wasn't going to be Batman Begins and probably not even Spiderman 2. The X-Men series taught me that no comic book series can stay great forever, and when reviews came in that this third installment of Sam Raimi's adaptations wasn't so hot, I expected to be entertained, have a good time, and see some sweet Spidey action. Don't get me wrong, Tobey Maguire's great and he carries this series (and the movie) but Spidey has always been the sort of character that you don't totally take seriously. There's going to be bad dialogue and cheesy moments and the character "depth" will be rather shallow. And I know, too, that that makes comic fans upset. I am not a comic book fan, though I am a fan of comic book movies, and as far as comic book movies go, I say this was a good one.

Things I liked: Topher Grace made a cool villain and addition to the series. The movie tried to make you feel bad for all the bad guys (The Sandman and Harry Osborne, too) and that was some of the cheesiness and unnecessariness, but at least Venom and Sandman looked awesome. Tobey Maguire rocked as emo/punk Spidey (with black suit). As Jason Panella said, you completely expected Peter Parker to start taking mySpace pictures. Loved it. Bryce Dallas Howard was a pretty addition as Gwen Stacy. And Spidey and Mary Jane made out on a web. SO there was that.

In conclusion: Lots of crying. Lots of silliness. Great movie. Gwen Stacy: