Sunday, June 25, 2006

For E-Bone Revisited

I've been trying to think about what to write in this post, which I intended to be up on or around June 12. It's June 25th now, and so it's getting written. I'll be damned if I'm going to fall two weeks behind on this.

In a few weeks (five and one half, to be a bit more precise), twenty-three years will have passed since I was born. Eleven days after that, on August 14th, I will have lived a longer amount of time than a friend of mine. Since his death, over one year has gone by (one year and thirteen days as i write this) and I still find myself thinking about his life on the train ride home on occasion. For some reason, one year after attending his funeral and being one of the last standing at his gravesite as he was brought to where he is at this moment, I cannot quite comprehend the fact that he's not working as a cook at the Creighton Hotel restaurant or with Burlington Coat Factories (which was the last job I know of that he had). Somehow, it doesn't seem real that I will never again run into him at Sheetz late at night. That's probably helped by the fact that Sheetz doesn't exist in Chicago, and I'm not near things that remind me of him, but it still just doesn't sound like something which could be true. I hadn't talked to him for a long time before his death, and so I would expect that it shouldn't really come as a shock, or as something which would confuse me, but there it is. It is perhaps because of the very unique place that he held in my life that I'm still, one year later, thinking about him on the train. Perhaps it's merely because he was someone who I knew, who was my age, and who passed away much too young.

When I was in early high-school, I wasn't one much for that whole actually talking to people thing. Let's call me shy. That appeared to honestly bother Ed. That's the only reason I can think of that he made somewhat of a project out of getting me to commit to signing up for the Drama class and joining the high school musicals. Relentless. His determination to get me to speak out rather than staying put quietly was, I feel, incredibly important to the 9th grade me. He made me listen to CD's that I still play today, and embodied, to a certain extent for at least the time I knew him, a Hunter S. Thompson colored attitude toward living. He lived fast and recklessly, at many times putting those around him in moderate peril (which was hard to come by in Russellton), but never severe, never too much that things would cease to be fun.

I don't know what kind of problems presented themselves in his life. I know very little about what happened back at home after I left for the metropolis of Meadville, and while I occasionally would find him, distance made it hard for me to interact with anyone back home (which has only gotten worse since I've moved out of the state entirely). I don't know what it was that killed him. I've heard rumors, but I won't go into them here. What I know is that my friend is gone, and what remains is an entry on the Let's Go Bowling guestbook, his headstone under a large shady tree in Lakewood Memorial Gardens, and the memories of the hundreds that knew him. I only regret that I did not keep in touch with him, or did not encourage him enough to come to Allegheny when he suggested it (though I don't know that I could see him conforming to that).

And so, once again, a little more than a year after my first post on the subject, I'll once again say that you're missed, E-Bone.

For Edward F. Stecz 1982-2005

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I'm actually pretty sure they contain threads.

When you're a graduate student at Northwestern, you tend to really rake in the cash. Trust me. That's not despair and anger at being convinced to spend 5-or-more years of your life chained to a lab bench you're swimming in. It's cold hard cash. And so you're given another post about possessions I've acquired.

Because when you're pulling in the dough like I am, frivolously throwing down a few Jacksons is the kind of thing that warrants its own blog post.

I recently ordered (but have not yet received) my first three Threadless shirts. This would have happened quite some time ago, but for the fact that the actual shirts I wanted have been out of print for some time, and have not been selected for reprinting. If you're not familiar with the concept, Threadless is a t-shirt store run out of Chicago (though I'm sure that my order will for some reason be shipped from their warehouse at the center of the Earth! or something, just because of my last name) that takes submissions from artists (professional or amateur) and puts them on shirts. Then you buy the shirts. Listen, it's all very complicated, and I'm sure you've got better things to do with your time, like eating beef jerky, so I'll just continue on without further explanation.


A criticism of pickles, which is appropriate, as I've never liked eating pickles, avoid them whenever possible and find the so-named comic strip tedious. Actually, I don't have that much of a problem with the strip, but overstatement is a valuable tool to the blogger.

Zombie Donkey, as I don't have many zombie shirts (the one was my halloween costume last year, and I'm not sure how many people are going to get the "Bach's Arco, Pitcairn" reference anyway, without knowing what Arco or Pitcairn have to do with softball or the Living Dead. They still haven't printed the shirt that's the entire reason I keep going to threadless' catalog anyway.

And yes, sometimes I can be a sucker for things that remind me of childhood. Quit judging me.

I'm going to go to bed now. If you'd like to buy something from there, do me the favor of going through the link on the side there. It makes things cheaper for me. While I realize it's shameless, I also don't care. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

People that are actually somewhat creative.

While I link to Lore Sjöberg's blog on this, something tells me that the few of you that read this don't actually use the links on the side of this deal. Not that people who are actually very well known, were part of a notable internet comedy team and are writers for Wired need a hack such as myself to link to them, but because why not. Because I got a kick out of it, I'll link to it in the actual body of the blog just now. Lore's latest project is up, and is amusing. Go. Enjoy.

New Template

I've noticed in reviewing my posts to make sure they haven't been eaten by some form of Blogger elemental, (Yes. Geek. I know.) it's rather hard to read. Turns out grey on black isn't the best for visibility. I've gone to this template for now, perhaps out of a desire for change, perhaps because I've noticed how much more readable going away from the color scheme I had has made Pat's blog. Let me know how you like it (by you, I mean Rory, Jenna and Hal, so the entire readership of my blog), and what I can do to change it. Grad school has more or less halted my attempts to actually learn how to design a decent page (though now that I don't have to TA anymore, it might be possible), so changes I make will probably be variations on the theme here, but any input would help.

The Helmet Thing

So here's the thing.

When you're a professional athlete, you're going to be at least somewhat of a role model. You don't have to like that, but it's going to happen no matter what you do. Which is why people treat it as such a big deal when someone's caught for putting some alkaloid or another up their nose. Less so if the person is a washed-up "ballplayer" that looks really pathetic and that no one actually has any good memories of. I think you know who I'm talking about here. Kids see you and think that if they act like you, they'll be cool like you. It's not a new phenomenon.

Arguably, Ben Roethlisberger isn't a good role model anyway for seven year olds. But sweet mother, if this guy can't wear a motorcycle helmet. I was one of those that thought that nothing would ever happen to actually necessitate a helmet, because, I think, Ben Roethlisberger is already such a huge part of Pittsburgh lore and because that's not something you tend to think about coming off of a Super Bowl win. Of course, it has come to something, which resulted in the condition that the Chicago Tribune led yesterday with a report on Fatah violence, the NYTimes led with a preview of Bush's visit to Iraq today, and the Post-Gazette led with Roethlisberger in font about triple the size of the other two sites.

I get the impression that, in addition to the disregard for his own safety for the feeling of freedom on the road (and here's where I admit that I'm officially feeling old, as I thought "those damn kids" when I typed that, and felt very wary about the possibility that they might be on my lawn), he doesn't quite get how important it is to the City of Pittsburgh to stay healthy. Economic downturns over the past several years, controversy over the rapidly shrinking youth population, division as is requisite with being one of three centers in Pennsylvania that vote to the left of center (and do so strongly enough that Pennsylvania has gone to the Democratic nominee in 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004) and the one thing that people are going to be able to come together over is sports, hatred of Cleveland being a corrolary. Sure, some are strictly Bucs fans, some are strictly Steelers fans and some are strictly Pens fans. And sure, I laughed aloud typing the last three words of that last sentence, but the Steelers have done what hasn't happened in Pittsburgh since, well, 1992, effectively relaying to a whole new generation of fans what it feels like to be champions.

When the quarterback of the damn team goes around jeopardizing that despite pleads from the team and Terry Bradshaw, incidentally, I don't think his decision to appear nude in Failure to Launch should affect the fact that he's right on this, though it does affect my ability to look at Terry Bradshaw without feeling ill, you shouldn't, probably, continue to do that.

Also, he had no license. Good job. Criticism is permitted, I think, as a result of the fact that he's got a few broken teeth, a jaw that's not having a good time, and as none of the injuries were life threatening. So yes. Of course, everyone's happy that he's going to be ok, and that he's probably going to be able to play next year, but what happened, even if the actual accident wasn't at fault, is not something to be excused lightly.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

For any of you familiar with the Pittsburgh Pirates blogging circuit, you've already come across this. For those of you that were unaware there were people who devote an incredible amount of time to blogging the Pirates, well, here's your in.

So, a few months ago now, an idea was hatched on the forums on the subject of a protest organization that would hold the Pirates ownership and inept management accountable for the continued misery of Bucs fans everywhere. As a result, was started, and has recently been featured by WPXI in Pittsburgh and by a sympathetic note on Deadspin. Get a t-shirt from their eBay store and have a good time.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Three things today.

1) The Pirates. I could take last night's loss (Rockies 5, Pirates 4) and still feel pretty happy with what the team's been doing in the past few days. The Rockies have been doing better so far this year than they were last year (they're 29-30 this year over 59 games, while last year they were 20-39), and I can handle the loss given the level of play before, say, the San Diego series. Today's loss just made me very angry at Oliver Perez. When you give up nine runs in two innings of work in what turns out to be a 16-9 game, that's something that's going to happen though. I understand the guy gets really upset really easily and completely loses it, but allowing this to happen over and over again doesn't seem like the right thing to do.

2) The Pennsylvania House voted to implement a ban on gay and polygamous marriages in the Pennsylvania constitution. In order to be amended to the Pennsylvania constitution, it will have to achieve a majority (of 50) in the Pennsylvania senate, and then do it again in the next session of the General Assembly, and then hope that a majority of the electorate. A few issues.
  • I find it nonsensical that the proposed ban includes both same-sex marriage and polygamist marriage, as they're two separate cases. No, they're not as simple as "Oh, well they're both some sort of weird fetish, so they're the same," as William Saletan attempted to demonstrate. Including polygamy, however, does increase the likely hood that it'll pass, which is the only reason I can think it was included there.

  • I find it unbelievable that this is something we're seriously talking about changing the constitution over. The federal marriage amendment failed earlier in the day, which I think is a plus, as at the very least this should be a states rights issue, but I think I'll have to defer to Lewis Black on this:

    "On our list of national concerns, gay marriage should be on page six, right after 'Are we eating too much garlic as a people?'".

    I, personally, think that marriage by the state between same sex couples should be allowed. No church should ever be forced to conform to a marriage definition they don't agree with, as that's absolutely ludicrous, but if Bill and Ted are 40 year old guys who are in a committed relationship, I find it hard to say "No Bill, you can't have visitation rights when Ted has a heart attack." Whichever church you believe to be the Truth doesn't want gays to get married? That's cool. Your church of choice doesn't have to let gays get married (and shouldn't have to, and won't have to as long as this whole "avoiding political influence in religious customs" thing stays on track). I just can't for the life of me figure out why that means that Bill and Ted, who are not members of your church, but of a church that allows for gay marriage, or not members of a religious denomination at all, should be denied the legal rights afforded to them if Ted was named Tina.

So, while I agree that it's a state's rights issue, I'm sad that Pennsylvania legislators appear to want to go ahead and pass that. It's absurd that we're considering amending even the state Constitution to make sure that dudes that like each other can't enter a committed relationship with the same legal rights as they could if Ted were named Tina. I find it absolutely laughable that the legislators that have been hammering on this for the past few months are trying to pretend this isn't partisan posturing to attempt to reclaim a base of voters or simply to remind voters which team they're for (as I have trouble distinguishing anymore between how people relate to political parties and how people relate to sports teams), or to try to appeal to new voters based on a one issue stand, or, in PA's case, to get people to try to forget about the whole pay raise/unvouchered expenses thing. The President was correct when he said that the constitutional amendment probably wouldn't pass given the fact that the Defense of Marriage Act still exists, and allows states to not recognize out of state marriages despite the "full faith and credit" clause. If I were a backer of said plan to ban gay marriage, I'd feel used at this point, I think, given the zeal with which it was pursued until 2004, at which point it was dropped, only to be picked up again (without the context of the mayor of San Francisco giving marriage licenses out on his own and in the face of the banning of gay marriage in the past two years by everyone) right before 2006's elections.

3) Living in Chicago means I'm around a lot of Chicago sports fans. Cubs fans mostly, as I live on the north side and most NU students who didn't have a team before tend to default to the Cubs. And while most of my feeling bad about things time is spent on myself and the misery of being a Pirates fan, you'd think that this is probably pretty disheartening to most of them. Poor Kerry Wood.

Friday, June 02, 2006


I really don't understand all of the to do surrounding Spelling Bee's recently. Perhaps that's the pain of being in sixth grade and not knowing how to spell "rheumatism" talking, but I just don't get it. Still, the evidence is there that people are somehow enthralled by kids that get on a stage and try to spell words, considering recent cinema, musicals and the fact that kids dressed in white stalling for time, spelling things and winning $42,000 if they can avoid screwing up for longer than anyone else is now worthy of prime time ABC (though, considering the prime time schedule when there aren't hundreds of kids in Polos spelling "euonym", I guess that shouldn't be that surprising).

So out of curiousity, I checked the news last night to find out the final word.

And it angered me.

I, for one, like it when I have no idea how to spell a word that's winning someone a boatload of money. If, in 2004 you'd asked me to spell autochthonous, which means "indigenous", but which I'm going to pretend refers to the Cthulhu mythos, I'd have had no clue where to start, other than a vague notion that it might start with the letter A. If I were asked to spell "chiaroscurist", meaning "A painter who uses light and shade rather than colour to create the illusion of volume," I'd have been lost and confused, uncertain of what to do other than physically attacking whoever decided that that word was needed and should be that complicated. But last night's final word "Ursprache"? Come on now. "Ur-" is a common enough prefix that it should be recognized (as in "Urfaust", the first draft of Goethe's Faust). "Sprache" is one of the first words you learn.

Then again, I minored in German, and she's like fourteen. So that might be why.

Still though, I mean, good for the winner and all, but "Ursprache"? It's not 1984's winner, "luge", which had been in the Olympics for twenty years at that point, but still, I can't help but think that the people who come up with Scripps' list could have done better.