Browsing Tag

Pittsburgh

Thank You — Ten Years Too Late.

Google can be a real downer.

Sometimes, I like to search for people from my past that I’ve long lost touch with to see how they’re doing. Usually, it’s to satisfy some momentary burst of curiosity inspired by one of the many mental tangents my brain seems to go on. I’ll pass by a piano and wonder what became of my old piano teacher and the music school I used to go to on Saturdays. I’ll write about some lawsuit and wonder whatever happened to some of my law school classmates or former work colleagues. I’ll watch Lebron James throw down a monster dunk and think about some of the guys I used to play basketball with and how we’d feel when one of us would do something like that – on video games we’d play after we were done laying bricks on the basketball court.

Today, I thought of Georgeann Rettberg. I was thinking about why I became a writer in the first place, and she was the first person that I thought of. She was in charge of the Western Pennsylvania Writing Project’s Young Writers Institute in Pittsburgh. The program, which is still around today, looks to teach and develop writing skills in schoolchildren from grades 4 through 12. I attended the summer program, which ran five days-a-week for about six weeks, on two occasions. I don’t remember the dates (the second time was in 1991) but suffice to say I was pretty young at the time and would have rather been out having fun instead of using my brain. My parents, however, thought it was a good way for me improve my verbal skills (my dad had the math part covered) so that I could do well on the SAT and get into a good college.

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Fred Rogers (1928-2003)

Happy 85th birthday, Mr. Rogers! To commemorate this event, I thought I’d post an exercise I did in my RW1 class in Columbia J-School during the fall of 2009. We had to write his obituary as if he had passed the day before, and this ended up being one of my better written pieces that semester (and I produced it in less than 2 hours). It helped that I was clearly inspired. After all, I grew up watching Mr. Rogers and felt a special kinship with him because he was also from Pittsburgh. So long neighbor! We loved you just the way you were!

Written in October 2009:

The iconic cardigan sweaters will stay in the closet. The comfy indoor shoes will gather dust on the floor. No one will come through the front door to sing about what a beautiful day it is in the neighborhood before taking the audience on an educational and self-affirming trip through the Neighborhood of Make Believe. For almost four decades, audiences welcomed Mister Rogers into their living rooms where his positive messages and songs touched the lives of countless children. That soft, yet powerful voice, is no more.

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Pirates Impressed with Crystal, Sign Comedian to Multi-Year Contract

From the Archives: I wrote this satirical piece in March 2008 after the Yankees signed Billy Crystal and played him in a spring training game against the Pirates. I remembered thinking that Crystal could have made Pittsburgh’s active roster. Considering some of the stiffs they’ve had in the last few years (Jeromy Burnitz, Matt Morris, Derek “Operation Shutdown” Bell), Crystal couldn’t have been any worse.

Bradenton, FL. — The Yankees thought they were giving superfan Billy Crystal a nice gift for his 60th birthday. A one-day contract. A uniform with the number “60″ on it. A spot in the lineup as a Designated Hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. However what started out as a one-shot publicity stunt has turned into something much more.

Billy Crystal showed that he belonged in the majors. Unfortunately for him, he showed that he belonged with the Pirates, not the Yankees. Pirates officials were so impressed with Crystal’s performance (0-for-2, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 1 reached base on error, 2 runs scored) that they signed him to a 5 year deal worth $25 million. The Pirates’ first-year manager, John Russell, raved about Crystal. “His plate discipline was extraordinary. I was impressed with the way he grinded out that walk. It was like he knew that our pitchers weren’t going to able to hit the strike zone at all. His bat never even left his shoulder. Clearly, he has a great eye.”

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