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Monday, February 28, 2011

WUMF: February Edition

We are finally inching towards Spring, which amazingly we've had a week where it was 60 degrees, followed by six to ten inches of snow, followed by 60 degrees. This can only mean locusts and boils are coming, folks.  I admit I’ve been working on this post for over two weeks. Actually, it’s been more like I spent fifteen minutes and slacked for the rest of the two weeks. In any case, here’s a smattering of WUMF for ya.

1. The Lesser Man Project: Week OHHELLIDON’TKNOW
I haven’t given on update on this in a long while but here’s the lowdown. Still sticking to the game plan but there were days of weakness and I did indulge in the “Cake in the Break Room” practice. This is where I started my downward spiral before. I managed to curb that habit, real quick. I’ve been eating fish at least once a week. Yeah, it’s breaded but sooooo good.

Having gotten over a bad couple of weeks of reoccurring stomach flu, I managed to not gain any weight back, which is good. But, then again, I’ve been hovering around the 20 lbs. mark for a month now, which is bad. With the weather getting nicer, here, It’s in the high 60s and still February the chances for more exercise increased but the opportunities are less because I’m losing an hour in drive time which puts me at not getting home until almost 6pm some days. I’ll need to find more excuses to get into the pool this summer, if just to do circles to help clean it.

2. Happy Time, Peggy!
After eight years I have finally freed myself of the biggest albatross around my neck. I worded my Facebook status to sound as if I had become single or ended a bad relationship, which I have. Just not with my wife, that is. Granted, my wife was involved but it’s more complicated than that.

Right around the time I started thinking about buying a house I was sort of strong armed into doing something I had resisted for seven years. I managed to get buy in life with not having a credit card. I used my check card for everything and if I didn’t have the cash, I didn’t buy it. But in order to establish a good credit standing I needed to have a card. So, I got one. My then fiancée had one. Then I went and purchased something and put it on the card. Then my fiancée did. Soon, I had two cards and she had three. Every time I’d amass a little bit of debt, I’d see another offer for a card that could transfer a balance and not hit me with a finance charge if I paid it off in time. So, I’d card jump and then my fiancée, turned wife would piggy back. Then we found ourselves with a considerable amount of card debt. Then we bought a house, then a car, then had a kid, then another car, then Christmases and vacations followed.

The point is there was always this looming debt that stared me in the face. Now, with the help of some strict spending habits and the shirt shops, I have managed to whittle down that debt into nothing. I still have a mortgage and a car payment and my monthly utility bills but there is no huge stone of debt hanging over my head. As the credit card companies get whacked with regulations, only to come back and figure out new ways to weasel more charges out of you, it’s nice to know I don’t have to play that game, anymore. Now, I can start working on that other pile of debt I have. Parental loans. I owe my Dad some money for the balloon payment on my car. After I hit the five year financing wall, I had a considerable amount still left to pay off and he was nice enough to grab it. Unfortunately, I stopped giving him checks because I had to focus on the other stuff but I’m ready to resume giving him money. I also owe a small bit to my Father-in-law because he fronted the down payment on this year’s vacation house. I could give that to him, easily but he gets funny about it, so I might pay him out of our tax return. That way he won’t think we’re going to go broke from it.

3. WE WILL: Not Compete
The Suckos are back in Spring Training, going for that Grape Fruit League pennant. The stark comparison is the news that Albert Pujols wanted $300 million over 10 years. Can you imagine McCutcheon or Alvarez asking for a ten year commitment for $300 million dollars? Can you imagine Bob Nutting giving more than a tenth of that for the same amount of time? They certainly wouldn’t have put up near the amount that Jose Bautista, former Pirate, is getting from the Blue Jays.

I say it’s time to institute a limit on payrolls. The players union would never go for a salary cap, so don’t think I’m not talking about one. Yes, it would curb the Yankees spending. I’m talking about a limit on how little a player can be paid. That would force the organization to have fund a minimum amount into their players payroll and have to start using that slush fund of revenue sharing from the bigger market teams to do it.

Naysayers will point to the 2010 World Series as proof that you don’t need to have a big bankroll to win a championship. Fine. I’ll accept that you can win on talent grown, not bought. However, the Giants and the Texans were forced to compete to get to that level. The Pirates are not forced to compete as long as the profits outweigh the infrastructure. And if Nutting plans on waiting until the wheels fall off to sell at a profit then let’s beat him to the pass and initiate a hostile takeover of the team. Green Bay pretty much owns the Packers and they just won the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh’s the kind of town that could handle that kind of thing. But if Nutting claims that everything is above board, then open the books and let someone take a look.

The most current news is that Frank Coonley said that they could not, at present, sustain a $70 million payroll and that they could not without a significant rise in attendance. Everyone jumped on this and said, “He’s blaming the fans! They won’t spend money because we refuse to come out and support a crappy product! Eff him and eff Nutting, too.” Well, that’s not what he’s saying… exactly. He’s saying that given the current climate, the club could not put $70 million towards payroll. He’s also saying that in order to get that kind of money, attendance would have to increase. It’s a non issue. The fans are never going to come back just to increase the payroll. They will have to win a pennant in order for attendance to rise that much. He’s not blaming the fans as much as he’s putting the weight of the future of them paying for talent on their shoulders and he’s flat out saying that it isn’t a possibility. So, they either keep floundering and attendance continues to drop or the find the right combination of raw talent that will elevate them into a winning season.

Personally, there is no chance in hell they will ever be able to pay for talent to come here without getting at least one high profile player. Then again, no high profile player would come here. The only scenario I can paint is that the team finally starts to lose money so Nutting bails, still getting a huge profit. The new owners will preferably be willing to spend some money up front and secure a top name player with the promise that they will help bring up and comers around and attract more high profile players. Small incremental steps that will probably cause there to be a few instances of losing money yet fans will believe that the front office is trying, in earnest, to turn the ship around and will come back out. That drives up attendance and payroll and we can start winning again.

4.  Jobby Job.
The new job is going well. I’ve finally taken a huge step into the world of process flow diagrams and learned Visio. It’s like a snake eating its own tail or at the least like playing Sudoku. Once you think you’ve got it all figured out you find yourself having to go back and tweak an early step. For someone who used to spend his time doing the crossword puzzles in ink, as a rule, it sucks.

Now, I’ve gone into some kind of quasi overlay of how to set access levels and tag knowledge with permissions. The finished product gave me a headache and made me wonder if there was a sailboat hidden in the picture. If anything, I wanted to quit smoking and give a complete stranger $50. I don’t even smoke.

5.  Sport or Skills Competition?
As a part of that whole job thing, I am forced to sit in a lot of traffic to and from work.  With one hand on the wheel and one on the dial I am constantly looking for something to keep my mind from psychically blowing up the cars in front of me.  One of those things is usually, The Fan, which is the local sports talk radio station.  The great thing about it is that they do discuss Pittsburgh sports.  The bad thing is that they bait people into debates which drives up ratings and gets people to call in and text.  Something that plays into their numbers, I'm sure.  Anyway, the afternoon show fired a direct shot at Southwestern Pennsylvania, specifically my old homestead of Fayette Nam.   They claimed NASCAR was not a sport.

After switching to a substation for power because of the blackout from too many lights going on with the phones, they took callers who could try and defend the claim, that it is.   Sad to say, not a one was able to convince the hosts, or me for that matter that NASCAR was, indeed, a sport. 

The callers said, "They are the most gracious of people when it comes to their fans." 

So?  That says nothing for athletics or sports.

"They are the biggest attraction for people."

Again, so?

Look, it you want to make the claim then say that the drivers are the most athletically skilled persons, using hand to eye coordination and agility to navigate and make quick decisions.  That would be something along the lines of a positive claim.  Frankly, I have to agree that NASCAR is not a sport, in the definition of what I feel a sport is.  It is a skills competition.  Darts are skills competition.  Golf is a skills competition.  Any activity that does not require some kind of cardio activity is not a true sport.  Olympic Diving... skills competition.  Bowling... skills competition.   Curling... waste of time.

Can drivers burn a lot of calories?  Sure.  There is a lot of tension and muscle flexing that goes on inside the car.  But there is no workout on the level of say a sprint to the warning track to catch a fly ball or a breakaway in hockey.  That's not to say that drivers and golfers are not athletes but when you can count John Daly in your ranks, then you have to think about whether or not it's really a sport. 

That’s all for this edition of WUMF. Be well.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finley's Fighters Help Raise Money and Awareness


Usually, I try to keep it light and funny.  Or, I like to be angry.   But even that is the persona of Mongo, not of myself, the author/designer.  It's a character.  A brand.   But, I'm also a friend, a father, and a big softie when it comes to kids.

So, I'm going to get a little serious for a moment.  I need to ask you a favor. I need you to reach back into that memory bank of yours and remember what it was like to be four.  What did you experience?  I mean that from a visual standpoint.   So, let's put on our thinking caps and look back at our lives, picking out some high points, along the way.  Back when life was fresh and new and full of wonder.

I turned four years old in 1979.  

From that point on, I experienced the following in no particular order.

  • Seeing The Star Wars Trilogy (Episodes IV-VI) in the theatre for the first time.  (Technically, Star Wars was released in 1977 but I saw the re-release in 79.)
  • Seeing two of my teams win their respective championship titles.
  • Seeing the beach.
  • Seeing Disney World.
  • Seeing fireworks on the fourth of July.
  • Seeing my own birthday cake with four candles.
  • Seeing Saturday Morning Cartoons, when they were good.
  • Seeing the Christmas Tree with tons of presents underneath it on Christmas Morning.

Now, let's look at what I've seen since I turned four.
  • All the Indiana Jones movies, E.T., Ghostbusters, and Jurassic Park
  • The sights and sounds (good and bad) of the 80s through Miami Vice and MTV.
  • The evolution of video games.
  • The Internet
  • All the things a adolescent sees and some they shouldn't as they approach adulthood. ;)
  • High School and College graduation.
  • My first car.
  • My bride walking down the aisle.
  • My child being born, taking her first steps and writing her own name.
  • My child's first experience with all the things I've already mentioned.

You get the idea, right?  
The point is that we are a very visually influenced culture and a lot of our experiences are shaped and remembered by the images burned into our minds.  But what if we didn't have those images.  What if we never got to see the fireworks or the movies we loved growing up?

That's the reality for a friend of mine when it comes to her daughter, Finley.  Finley has a rare form of Leber's Congenital Amaurosis.  It is caused by the mutation of a gene called RDH12.   She is four years old and losing her sight to this condition.  She has a very great chance of missing out on all the visuals we have take for granted because our own sight is a given.

But instead of wallowing in self pity, my friend Jen and her husband Matt have taken to making a difference in Finley's life as well as those who come after her.  As much as they want to find a cure for their own daughter, they want to raise awareness and moneys towards research to help anyone with LCA.  Finley's Fighters was established to do just that.  Through donations and getting the word out they are making that difference.  They are also offering some pretty neat shirts to help.

Now, I am in the unique position to help because, for one, I am an old friend of Jen's.  I am also a t-shirt designer and have some contacts in that business who are always willing to send up the Tee Bat Signal, as I call it.   So, I'm here, not to sell my own stuff but, to point you in the direction of some great shirts created just for Finley's Fighters.

Along with selling shirts with the Finley's Fighters logo, you can also purchase custom made Braille shirts.  The shirts are handmade with black or silver, lead free Precosia rhinestones for girls, and fabric paint for guys.  You can chose from just about any color shirt and also what you want them to say.  Below is a small sampling of some of their work along with size and price information.

Custom Shirts are priced as follows
Adult shirts (long/short sleeve from Small to XL) are $15
Kids (long/short sleeve from Onesies to 10-12) are $10
PayPal accepted. 

Besides shirts they also sell coffee and travel mugs as well as other products with the Finley’s Fighters logo on them.

Because the shirts are custom made, you are getting a worthwhile product that contributes to a good cause.  Also, you're getting a shirt that can be personalized and not just another "work out" or "painting" shirt.  It tells a story.  It tells Finley's story.  It makes a connection.  It's for a good cause.  Think of the four year old who may never see the things we got to see growing up.

Let's help Work To Knockout Blindness!

If you want to see more about Finley and other ways to help, I suggest checking out Finley's Fighters website

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beauty and the Beast: 20 Years Later

As a parent, I am obligated to have a hand in influencing my child in a positive way. I try to make sure she is learning how to make good decisions and acting properly. As a role model, I am an abject failure.

However, as a parent I am also allowed certain indulgences in choosing what influences her. I admit, allowing her to watch The Family Guy until the age of two was probably not the best choice, but she learned a lot of great words, including dumb ass and douche bag. But we rectified that situation and spent the next year watching primarily Sprout and PBS Kids.

Those days are gone, though. My daughter traded in Barney and Kipper for Jurassic Park and Scooby Doo. Well, it all started with Ghostbusters, actually. We sort of progressed to Jurassic Park from there since she loves dinosaurs. Now, that’s not to say that she doesn’t get to watch kid friendly fare. On the contrary, that’s where the indulgences come to light. I get to introduce her to all the stuff I loved growing up and try not to admit I love. I introduced her to Toy Story and Shrek and Charlie Brown and Dr. Seuss and she loves all them. So, this past weekend we stopped by the video store to see about picking up some more childhood favorites for her to experience, while giving me the chance to relive the magic as well. I picked up Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. I had great hopes of watching one of them when we got home, she opted to watch Godzilla. She saw the cover in the store and thought, “OOH, Giant Dinosaur!”

It’s actually hard to believe that Beauty and the Beast is 20 years old. I was a junior in high school and was too busy trying, and failing, to be cool so going to see it in the theater was out of the question. No, I was going to see Pet Semetary Two and Alive and Batman Returns and stuff like that. I didn’t actually get to see it until it was on Home Video in those huge, white clam shell cases. Walking out of a video store with those big things was a definite sign you were carrying a kid’s movie out of the store.

But, from the standpoint of someone who had a love of film, a lot can be said for my motivations to see it. OK, that’s a crock. It’s Disney. It’s a cartoon. I was a theatre geek. Let’s not generalize things with glossy euphemisms.

Flash forward 20 years and 80 pounds later and there I am sitting in my living room with my wife and my three year old, in our pajamas watching the film on DVD. And I can say that I forgot how good a film it is.

It’s going to be hard to introduce these older films to my kid when she grows up a bit. After all, she’s so used to CGI and 3D and realistic animation techniques and it’s hard to back pedal to the old 2D style of movies, hand drawn by real people… possibly in Korea (I keed I keed). But the film really is a piece of art as it is cinema. It falls right into that Disney Renaissance that started with The Little Mermaid and ran right into the ground after Hercules or Mulan. It all pretty much fell apart after 1995, when Toy Story came out.

But when you think about the total package that comes with those early 90s Disney films you have to remember that the animation was just a part of the overall process. There were more pieces than just drawing people moving place to place. Even the early introduction of CGI into the mix only enhanced the animation techniques but the artistry was second to none in terms of content. Factor into that the music and story and you had a formula for success.

There was no new ground being tread upon in terms of story. It stuck to the rails of the French tale of a girl forced to live with a hideous beast in return for the safety of her father. As she learns to love the beast he learns to love her and a spell is broken, revealing him to be a prince. What does get updated is the supporting characters, in true Disney fashion. Jerry Orbach, Davd Ogden Stiers and Angela Lansbury provide a great offensive line of characters as the staff of the castle as portrayed by transformed household objects.

The songs alone make the film a award worthy one but it’s the whole package of story, characters, art, and music that make the film one of the best in the catalogue. Don’t believe me. Just watch the opening prologue and tell me that it isn’t one of the best pieces of music and narrative in film.

And it doesn’t stop there. It goes right into a big opening number, just like a stage musical from Broadway of the past. It has such a throwback appeal to it. It reminds you of sitting in the audience and watching the orchestra cue up and go into the overture, followed by the rise of the curtain and the milling about of characters as the lead goes into their opening song which introduces you to the plot.

The characters are a bit stock in nature, but they keep in line with the Broadway convention which is what the film is going for. It was natural to adapt the film for the stage because of this.

But what really impresses me about the film is how well it holds up against time and technology. First of all, it’s 20 years old and still plays very well, in part to its overall story and script but also because of its timeless style of being a throwback to Broadway, in itself. It was retro when it was new.

And as far as the animation it stands alongside films like Toy Story and Shrek just fine. Now, you cannot deny that PIXAR produces a good product. I love their films and I tend to forget I’m watching a computer generated film after a bit. Usually, I will watch the new ones with that trained eye of, “Wow, they made that happen” or “Look how real that appears” but eventually, I forget and just get sucked into the story, which is good. But I never forget that they are on the forefront of tech in terms of animation and their track record shows how good they are at both sides of the coin; story and style. I think they are 11 for 11 as far as hits are concerned with only one film that has a sequel or two… something will change in the next couple years as Cars 2 and Monsters, Inc. 2 hit theaters. That was one of the problems I had with Disney. It had a tendency to be at a dead horse with sequels, usually of a lesser quality arriving direct to video. It was a marketing machine but the introduction of CGI and 3D animation made spelled doom for the traditional Disney film. It wouldn’t be until 2009’s The Princess and the Frog that the old Disney magic would be seen, again.

But of course, all of this is frivolous chit chat to my daughter. She could care less about the fact that it’s 2D vs. 3D or 1991 vs. 2011. She watches for about five minutes and then moves on to something else. Then she comes back and then moves on to something else. Pure kid. Meanwhile, I’m sucked in as I always am and my wife, who would rather be reading one of her vampire, demon, Twilight, True Blood, whatever books was actually engaged in watching for the entire two hours.

In a few years, my kid will be on to other things and my ability to influence her cultural upbringing will be gone. My only hope is that the foundation has been laid and she’ll be able to discern shiny crap from good product. She’s already got one battle won. She sees the newer Scooby Doo cartoons on Cartoon Network and thinks them totally inferior to the 1970s ones that can be found On Demand. My job is done here.

And they lived happily ever after.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Caught Without Makeup vs. Know Your Facts Deathmatch in 3D

OK. Let’s take a quick moment for a reality check. I want everyone out there to take and raise their hand up to eye level. Now, looking directly into your palm I want you to take and use as much force as possible to drive that palm into your face. Once the burning and stinging sensation wears off, continue reading.

Feel better? Good.

First off, I am not the greatest looking individual. I’m sort of a cross between Greg Grunberg, Duncan Sheik, and Paul Giamatti’s beard. Now, as much as I am the first to admit that I would not ideally be the first you see in the morning when you roll over in bed, I am confident that I could give a shit what people think about my looks in the long run. And as far as my level of intelligence is concerned, well that’s debatable but I’m pretty sure I could a majority of people’s kiesters in bar trivia or Jeopardy. Still, I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I need to build a huge backstop on my head for all the crap that flies over it, so that it stops and falls in for absorption.

However, when are people going to realize that everything you see in photos or on the Internet or your local 11:00pm news is spun for sensationalism and attention grabbing from the masses? Unless you are looking at a live feed from everyday life you are never going to be given the entire truth about any given situation. Case in point, those tabloid photos of stars without their makeup.

We’ve all seen them while standing in line to purchase our industrial size tub of Chunky Monkey. Right? [crickets] You’re standing there hoisting up your Dugger Family Size package of bacon and waiting for the cashier to get one of the burly guys from the back to load it back into your cart and you catch The Star or The National Enquirer promoting pictures of the awesomely beautiful and flawless complexion of the hottest celebrities caught without any makeup putting them into the reject pile for submissions to PeopleofWalmart.

Oh my, there’s Angelina Jolie without her hair done or Sofia Vergara without makeup. Oh my, they look like normal people. EEEEK! Get that hand up again.

Nine times out of ten the person that took those pictures handed their editor, or whoever they submit that stuff to, a pile of pictures taken in succession from that few minutes of time. Then the person making the decision will rifle through the selections looking for one that captures the worst possible angle and pose. They could be jogging and everything and out of breath, giving them the appearance of being worn and tired. The person’s head could be cocked in such a way that their skin pulls a bit. Their eyes could be half opened or in mid blink. Their mouth could be just relaxing after a cough. Hell, that picture could be of someone who just sneezed and all of their facial muscles are pulled and twisted. The point is that they are looking for the worst possible image to support their claim. Meanwhile, if you were to see that person a split second later, they look totally fine.

I realize it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that makeup does account for 50% of the celebrity’s good looks but understand that the media is looking to sell a story, garner readership, and be provocative. They are going to do whatever it takes to make that picture look as bad as possible. In the day and age of waning newspaper subscriptions and competition with Internet News outlets everyone is more than willing to sink to a new low to get a better viewing or ranking.

Don’t believe me? Swing the pendulum the other way and do a search on Magazine Cover PhotoShop Disasters or the like. Remember the hip issue on that cover of W magazine with Demi Moore?

Here’s another pet peeve of mine, the man on the street interview. The Late Night Talk Shows and media outlets do these from time to time to test the common man’s/woman’s knowledge of simple facts. You’ll see this happen whenever those facts get called into question by someone famous or important and should know better.  A prime example would be from Super Bowl XLV, where Christina Aguilera flubbed a line or two from the National Anthem. The bigger travesty of that telecast was letting Fergie attempt to sing Axl Rose, but that’s another story.

After the debacle in Dallas, a local news affiliate went out into the street and asked everyday people if they could recite the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner. Surprisingly, we were shown that a majority of people interviewed were unable to correctly sing or speak the lyrics. How long do you think those segments last? 30 seconds? A minute? How much tape do you think they’ve collected on the subject? How many interviews did they do? Chances are they interviewed a hell of a lot more than they showed in the segment. Then the editor gets a hold of the raw footage and weeds out the boring ones or the majority of ones where people got the words right, focusing on the clips that appear funny or sad, from the perspective of national patriotism. Then they splice together something that would be enjoyable or at least somewhat funny and voila, American Idiots on parade.
Do you really think that the American Idol auditions are solely made up of atrociously bad singers for the first few weeks? No. There are probably a bunch of people that had no talent and nothing that made them stand out as a train wreck that never made it on air. It’s not that they were any better but they didn’t play well to attracting an audience on television. After the first season of American Idol the producers probably realized that for every Kelly Clarkson that sucks in viewers for the whole purpose of the show, there could be ten William Hung types that could suck in more potential viewers just for the spectacle of bad singers. Hell, people even audition just to be train wrecks and camp up their performance to try and get some screen time in the hopes they’ll become famous for being so bad.

We are being deceived at every given turn by the media and it’s all for the sake of ratings and rankings. The more we accept the media at face value the more we are able to be lied to about the more important things that occur. Even the more *cough* legitimate *cough* news sources employ these tactics but we think that they’d be above those practices so we believe them with more blind faith. FACEPALM YOURSELF INTO CLARITY AMERICA! Before it’s too late.  Now, let's get back to former 80s music stars wrestling while bad CGI monsters take over low budget movies!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What In the Hell Happened There?

So, Pittsburgh lost the Super Bowl on Sunday. Let’s face it. Besides the actual game, there were all kinds of fail throughout the entire event.

First off, the weather played havoc with anyone trying to navigate their way around the city. Now, being from Pittsburgh, I am used to driving in the snow and ice. If it’s snowy, I’ll take my time. If it’s icy, I will probably stay home, unless I am at work or already out. However, living in and around this city comes with certain expectations and given circumstances.

When it snows, I expect to add a good 20 minutes to my drive. Whether it be all the people who suddenly go, “Oh my Gawd, yinz are crazy for driving dahn the parkway in the left hand lane. Imma gonna pull over on the burm and wait it aht, n’at.”

The given circumstances are that when it even threatens to snow around here, people will go all bat shit Snowmageddon crazy, stocking up on bread, milk, eggs, and toilet paper in case they get stuck in their house for the morning. Think I’m exaggerating? Try going to Giant Eagle to get one thing whenever there is A: Threat of snow or B: Impending Steelers game.

The other given circumstances are that whenever I finally get onto the parkway, everything will slow down before I reach the Squirrel Hill Tunnels. There are two to three lanes and a lot of on ramps merging commuter traffic into the chute that heads towards the tunnel. It all slows down and everyone jams up the parkway fearing that the tunnel monster will get them.

Now, being in the South, the snowfall is not as much and they aren’t prepared to handle a lot of snow and ice. However, what I cannot understand is why after three years of seeing National news about snowy and icy conditions in states like the Carolinas and Texas, no one has gotten wise and started planning for these kinds of conditions. Maybe they ought to think about getting some real salt or brine and trucks to treat the roads instead of magnesium chloride and sand. Maybe Jerry Jones or the NFL could have seen that perhaps there could be the possibility of snow and planned ahead. Then again, the road conditions were just previews of coming attractions.

I’m sure everyone is aware of what happened before the game started, so I won’t dwell. There were thousands of people standing in line for hours, urinating in line due to no accessible bathrooms. The queuing structure was worse than at the DMV and available gates were closed due to falling ice from the roof. Once again, a little forethought would have been good here. Then people who paid for tickets found out that the seats they paid good money for were deemed unsafe. OK, when exactly did Jerry Jones get the word he’d be hosting the Super Bowl? When did the NFL find out? And, why were these issues not addressed up until game time, forcing thousands to either take temporary seating somewhere else or not at all?
To the NFL’s credit they offered to reimburse the angry ticket holders. To their discredit, they are only reimbursing them for three times the face value. That doesn’t take into account the loss of pay from work, airfare, hotel accommodations, travel, and the fact that most people in those seats did not pay face value. Oh, and they get a free ticket to next year’s Super Bowl. Well, how many of those people were there because they were rooting for a particular team? Who knows if Green Bay or Pittsburgh will be in the Super Bowl next year? This has been updated to include ANY Super Bowl of your choice including round trip airfare.  That's about as good as it will get.  If it were me, I'd wait until either your favorite team or one of the big markets like Indianapolis or New England gets in and then sell them at a premium.

Next we had Christina Aguilera mess up the National Anthem. I can say I’d forgive her because it is a bit nerve racking to think of how many people are watching you. It’s also very hard to sing when you hear the echo of your voice back louder than what’s coming out of your mouth. Still, she kind of flaked and didn’t sound all that great. And, it didn’t help that half the people watching were thinking, “Wow, Cyndi Lauper sounds different, doesn’t she?”

I’ll get to the game in a bit, but I want to point out that the half time show, in my opinion, sucked. Let’s take a look back on the last two Super Bowls Pittsburgh played in. For Super Bowl XL, The Rolling Stones did the half time show. In Super Bowl XLIII, it was Bruce Springsteen. This year, we get the Black Eyed Peas and Usher, with special appearance by Slash. It sounded horrible. Whoever let Fergie attempt to do Sweet Child of Mine should be shot and then shot again. She even tried to do the Axl dance. Hell, she looked more like Axl than sounded like him. It was painful. And shame on Slash for selling out and doing this. In my mind you would have had two better options in this case. One would have been to get those wacky glee kids to do it or get another rock act. I guess it doesn’t bode well for Pittsburgh when you don’t have a rock and roll legend performing the half time show. My thoughts for next year, The Clarks. Hell, the last really great half time show I watched was Prince in Super Bowl XLI.

Now, the saddest part, the game. Whatever your thoughts are about the Steelers’ performance remember that Green Bay was a hell of a team. People will want to string up Ben Roethlisberger or Bruce Arians or even Mike Tomlin, that’s a given. However, look back at the playoffs and you’ll see that we snuck into the Super Bowl on luck. We played a horrible first half against Baltimore and a horrible second half against New York. That kind of luck is not going to cut in the big game.

Ben had a hell of a season, having to come back from being out four games due to the suspension. He then did what he had to do to win the other games. Now, there is usually no one else I’d want to have running a two minute drill with the game on the line, but seriously, relying on him to pull off a win in the last two minutes is no way to play.

Turnovers and penalties killed us and it’s hard to rebound from that. Ben threw one real interception and someone got a piece of his arm on the first one. Mendenhall protected as much as he could have but Clay Matthews hit him in the sweet spot causing the fumble. The defense showed moments of rattling Rodgers. You could see him getting antsy and the defense was getting in his head but they never followed through. If they could have rattled him more, he could have made some mistakes. Some will blame Troy for being a no show. Troy was there and made plays to keep Green Bay from extending the run. He wasn’t his usual Tasmanian Devil self. Shame.

Truth is Green Bay wanted it more. It was their time. Aaron Rodgers is a good quarterback and he’s getting his shot. Ben will get to the Super Bowl again and Pittsburgh will get their seventh Lombardi. This year just wasn’t in the cards. We rode a luck filled train and couldn’t deliver when we needed to.

I was pissed because we keep making the same stupid penalties. I’m not even talking about the helmet to helmet stuff that plagued us in the beginning of the season. I’m talking about offensive penalties that march us backwards five to fifteen yards at a clip. My biggest issue is with Chris Kemoeatu. For the past few weeks he has been responsible for a lot of the penalties. Holding, personal fouls, the works. Someone needs to get on his ass about causing a 15 yard penalty when field position is in short supply. He had one personal foul right in front of the official. WTF?!?!

As fans, we feel a more elevated level of frustration in Pittsburgh. We put way too much emotion and stake into a football game. After the loss I wanted to punch a wall, kick a puppy, draw a mustache on a work of art, burn a couch, and take out my 45 and shoot into the air while screaming “ARRRRRGGHHH!” Point Break style. And we get bent out of shape after the game.

We can’t watch the NFL network or ESPN because we are constantly reminded that the other team won. We go back and replay the scenario in our heads. What if Ben throws to Heath instead of Wallace during that last drive? What if he didn’t under throw Wallace? What if Aaron Smith would have played? We replay and dissect and over analyze and rationalize and bargain and we come up with the same conclusion. Then we start the process over again. We look at the calendar and start crossing off days until training camp. Then we hit rock bottom and begin looking forward to the Pirates. That’s when we really need an intervention. We’re passionate and committed and a little bit insane over our love for our team. When we don’t win we expect the ground to open up and swallow whoever we deem responsible.

This year’s Super Bowl was just a big old cluster frack and the whole season was pretty much the same way. Goodell needs to go or get a reality check. He says the fans want an 18 game season. Do we really? If you take a look at this last season and see how far into the depth chart Pittsburgh and Green Bay had to reach to string together an offense and a defense to play on Super Sunday I think the answer is clear. Hell, half of the Packers were already in the locker room before half time due to injuries. I think we, as fans, want a great season full of excitement but we don’t want to see the practice squad out on the field during the playoffs because everyone is injured. 16 games are fine. The playoff structure is fine. It all works just the way it is. If you want to change something, get that CBA done and get some consensus on the rules and enforce a league wide standard instead of saying “Well, he’s a different type of quarterback, so he needs more protection.” I call B.S. He’s a professional athlete that signed up for this. He should be taken care of just like any other person in his position. What’s good enough for a Brady should be good enough for a Vick or a Roethlisberger.

That’s all I got. Let’s go Steelers. 2011 is a new year.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Twerrible Towel Spins When You Tweet #SteelerNation

Once again proving that low tech and high tech have a place in the universe together, someone has come up with a way to turn Twitter into a more useful tool.

The folks over at have hooked a laptop, an old fan, a hand, and a Terrible Towel together and made something full of win.

If you go to Twitter and tweet anything with the hashtag #SteelerNation, or the lesser accepted #SteelersNation, the magic happens and causes the Terrible Towel to twirl. There’s a lot of math involved, I’m sure, but just trust me, it works.

So, let’s go Steelers and get Tweeting Steeler Faithful!

P.S. Make sure you spell Terrible with a ‘W’ or you won’t get to the right site.

Shredded Tweets