Monday, February 28, 2011


Last night I went to play basketball at my friend Scott's church with a bunch of guys he knows from church and Geneva College.  It's a weekly game on Sunday nights that has become a staple to my week.  I told a few people where I was going when I bolted out of church to head to Mars last night and they commented on how far I was going, which is about a 40 minute drive.  Why would I drive so far just to play basketball?

Basketball has been my favorite sport since I was in elementary school because it's always been that release.  It's the constant grind that intrigues me.  It isn't like soccer or football in that one or two plays can have immense impact on the outcome of a game.  To win a basketball game, you have to beat your opponent the entire time.  Sure, you'll lose some points on a lot of defensive trips, but because there is so much scoring in basketball it's all about who can do it more over the whole time.  In hockey, a few bad bounces can lose a game for a team who may have outplayed their opponent.  In baseball, a few bad pitches can change a pitcher's game from a no-hitter to a 5-run loss.  These things don't happen in basketball.

Sundays aren't just basketball, though.  They're a release.  Sunday is my sabbath.  I do no work and no worrying on Sundays.  Basketball is a way to release the frustrations of the work week and to get re-energized for the week ahead.

The game is so much about rhythm and momentum, just like life.  Some nights you can't miss a shot and everything is going your way.  Some nights you feel like no shots are going your way and you just keep turning the ball over.  The same goes in basketball and life to get out of those ruts.  You just have to fight.  You get your nose in there, box out the people trying to beat you, and you get that rebound.  Then you go back up and try to score again and again until you do.  Sometimes the good nights come along without trying and sometimes you have to work hard to win.

In the end, it's just a game, and that's what I love about it.  In that moment, all that matters in life is taking the ball and scoring no matter what.  There's no school, no job, no relationships, nothing but you, the ball, and 9 other guys trying to do the same thing.  You can forget about the world for a few hours and emerge feeling accomplished, whether you won or lost.

We all go back to our lives at the end of the night knowing that we'll all be back again next week with the same goal: winning.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Blog Spotlight: eatPGH

I want to start a semi-regular spotlight on the many blogs that I keep up with. Many of my friends are entertaining and talented, so I read a lot of my friends' blogs about everything from Trader Joe's to running (even though I don't run, per say).

An activity that I do partake in, though, is eating. Waiting tables and watching food shows like Top Chef has given me a deep appreciation for good food. Whether that food is gourmet like on TV or your standard burger done right, I love it all!

The girls at eatPGH feel the same way, which is what's drawn me to their writing! My friend, Laura Zorch, is one of the four main contributors to this blog started a couple years ago. Born out of a love for eating out and cooking in, these ladies have been writing about recipes and restaurants all over Pittsburgh.

They have no agenda besides informing Pittsburgh of what they enjoy, so you know that what you see is what you get on this page. When they say that the salmon at Willow is amazing, believe it. Or when they tell you that Burgh'ers in Harmony is worth the hour-long drive, then plan for a long evening out.

Check it out. Snoop around. The restaurants are divided by geographic location, so it's easy to navigate and find some spots in your neighborhood. I particularly enjoy the 99 Things to Eat in Pittsburgh Before You Die post.

Monday, February 21, 2011


There's something naturally beautiful about snow.  One of the most unbelievably peaceful moments is in the evening after a fresh, deep snowfall when the only thing that can be heard is the sound of fresh flakes landing on their brothers and sisters upon the ground.  The silence and stillness engulfs the scene and makes you feel like there is no one remaining in the world. Encountering another human in an evening like this feels like you have both survived a natural disaster where the entire world has become frozen in time.

Moving out of my parents' house again when I started graduate school was a natural step and I was excited to be back in the city, but the quiet scene of a suburban snowfall is one that I miss dearly.  I remember one time two winters ago when I looked out of my bedroom window and only saw snow where there was once grass and asphalt.  You could not determine where the yard ended and the road began at our normally-busy intersection.  What set apart my parents' scene from others were the street lights hitting the ground faintly, creating light amidst otherwise pitch black; illuminating the white ground in a heavenly shine.  It was a sea of white with no inhabitants to be seen.

Just like Snowpocalypse last year, I didn't expect the amount of snow we were granted with tonight.  Snowfall is even more impressive when it comes without warning (to me), so I was in awe every time I peered out our windows to greet the downpour.  I didn't get the best snapshot but you get the idea of the stillness on our inactive street.  What a beautiful scene!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Concert Anticipation

In the last 5 days I've been to 4 concerts. Tonight I add to the total. First I saw two friends' bands, Sleep Experiments and Whiskey Holler on Wednesday and Thursday. Then I saw Hellogoodbye on Saturday and Titus Andronicus on Sunday. Tonight is the crown jewel: Jimmy Eat World. All of these shows were fantastic in their own ways, being in a variety of venues (library, dive bar, ex-church, college ballroom, dance club, respectively) and featuring a variety of tunes and fans. Tonight, though, the anticipation is immense.

Jimmy Eat World is one of my all time favorites and they are still blowing it up after all these years. I first saw them in 2002 at Metropol (now Club Zoo) with some friends from Blade Runners when I was a junior in high school. They blew my mind. Energy, musicianship, songwriting; it was all emotionally moving. Fans were in love with what they saw on stage. Five years later I saw them at the Carnegie Library Music Hall in Homestead, which is arguably the coolest venue in Pittsburgh. They still had it down and were killing it on stage. There was a wide range of favorites played from almost every album dating back to 1999. But they stuck with what worked, which was the hits from Bleed American.

Tonight, the anticipation is high. After seeing four very different and very good bands this week, it all climaxes with one of the best. It's how you feel when you're about to run out for the opening tip of a basketball game. The butterflies are there, but you can't help jumping all over the room with excitement. I already saw the set lists from the last few shows, which has killed the mystery, but the fact is that even without the element of surprise Jimmy will still blow me away. I never get to shows early (except for the Avett Brothers), but I'll be there 30 minutes before the openers hit the stage because I don't want to miss a lick from David Bazan, either. I simply cannot wait to hear that first riff!

What makes you so excited that you bounce off the walls in anticipation?

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I feel left behind on the food-blog front, so I thought I'd give you all the simplest recipe I know and can do well: haluski!

Haluski is a traditional eastern European dish with a few cheap main ingredients: cabbage, noodles, and butter (plus onions, usually). I like to make it for the potluck dinner night at church because it's simple, doesn't take long, and can be healthy depending on how much butter is used.

one medium green cabbage
one medium white onion
one bag of egg noodles, 12-16 oz
butter, to taste
minced garlic

Today's optional ingredients:
1/2-1 green pepper

Boil 3 quarters of water to start
Add noodles and cook to desired firmness

Quarter and chop cabbage, preferably into a 1"x1" size
Chop onion (and other veggies) into small pieces
Saute cabbage and vegetables separately using butter, vegetable oil, or olive oil (preferred)
Add garlic and other spices to taste (or after combining everything)

Drain noodles and return to pot
Add sauteed cabbage and vegetables to noodles
Add spices again, to taste
Add butter, to taste (approximately 1/2 stick)

Mix and enjoy!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Female Lead Singers

Lately I've been really into indie bands with female vocalists. I used to strongly prefer male vocalists, but bands like Gold Motel, Turning Violet Violet (Philly) Big Hurry, and Sleep Experiments (the latter two from Pittsburgh) have been tugging at my heart strings lately. There is a certain combination of sensuality, compassion, and emotion that naturally shines through on female vocals. And, let's be honest, females have much prettier voices than the nicest male vocalist.

The girls in these and other bands add a sense of innocent fun to the mix. The tracks give that light-hearted, soft, beautiful feeling when these ladies sing with their heart. Having these women leading the charge makes you feel lot less like it's a boy's club that they're a part of. Without them, these bands wouldn't exist. The strength in hearing their words coming from their mouths instead of a male vocalist gives you that "independent woman" sense that Beyonce brought along, only in a more behind-the-scenes "I don't need to say I'm an independent woman to be independent" sort of way.

My favorite, and biggest crush in music, is Emily Moore, who also plays for the band fun.. Check her Myspace. My favorite track is "Tough Luck". Jack is sweet and Ginger's lookin' mighty fine...

Who is your favorite band with a female lead vocalist?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


My inspiration has been drained lately. Sitting in front of a computer with or without a guitar, I find myself struggling to create beauty. Observations run rampant through my blogs and songwriting has become a memory. The spark has been absent, in my opinion. My writing has been based on fact and not invention.

School has drained me. School and the job search. I don't feel exhausted like I expected, but I certainly do not spend an extra minute to channel my creativity and take advantage of my free time like I have in the past. I have to force myself to pick up the guitar. Reading for pleasure has fallen far, far away, even on my lunch breaks.

It's time to get out the big guns. Time to stop in every used bookstore I can find until I locate the first piece of fiction that got me excited to write; Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The language, the interweaving story, the tongue-in-cheek satire. This is what writing is all about!

Time for me to get it, read it, and remember what's important about writing. Academic papers will get you grades. Creative writing will channel emotion.

What or who is your biggest inspiration?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Some Monday Thoughts

I haven't written anything in here for a week, so I thought it was time. Maybe I'll elaborate on these things soon, but here's what's on my mind today.

Life has been a series of to-do lists lately, without an end very near. This mostly happens because I have to do weekly responses for readings in three classes every week, so once the weekend ends it is back to the grind. I don't worry about grades much anymore because I feel like I have as much of an understanding of higher education as Pitt will teach me in the classroom, so it's just a matter of applying the new knowledge to what I already know and writing papers about it. It's not that I'm some master of higher education knowledge, it's just that the work is so neverending right now that I can't afford to dwell very much.

What have you been learning lately?

Job Searching
Most of my learning about the world is coming from work and the job search. I've been stressing about resumes and cover letters so much that it's making it seem like it doesn't matter whether I can actually excel at a job or not. It's more a matter of convincing someone through written and spoken word that I can do it. Applying and interviewing for jobs is an odd skill that we all must master in order to land that first job. I don't like playing "the game" and try to stick to my genuine guns when I apply, so hopefully that will get me as far as I need to go.

What's been your favorite job so far?

The Steelers lost the Super Bowl last night. This would have been a demoralizing event a few years ago when my happiness was dictated by the success of my favorite teams, but fortunately I've found some other meaning in life so things have carried on. Or maybe it's because the Steelers have six Super Bowls, so I can live with a loss here and there. Now it's time to build up my hopes for Pitt basketball just in time to have my soul crushed in March, again.

What team determines your happiness/sadness most?

Today I stumbled upon a few sets of tunes I haven't listened to in a while. Nine Black Alps are a British band I listened to when I DJed for WPTS a few years ago. Your standard British alt-rock quartet (I think?) that plays some dirty rock and roll. I rediscovered my love for Matt Pond PA and The Shins as homework-music, too. New Strokes album next month, which should be worth looking forward to.

Listen to an album today that you haven't spun in a while!

I've been negative about a lot of things lately, so God's challenged me to knock it off. This world isn't about me and what I want. I'm here to bring people together to worship God and thank Him for Jesus Christ, but I've let my selfish thoughts get in the way. Time to act like I'm following God's lead, not just saying it.

Has God been telling you anything that you didn't want to hear?

Carpe Diem
Three months until graduation. No idea where I'll end up, but I'm excited to find out. Chances are I'll stay in Pittsburgh, but incredible opportunities in Boston, Portland, Seattle, or Philadelphia could pull me in a new direction. No matter where I end up, I need to take advantage of the days I have in Pittsburgh. I've been talking with my friend, Alicia, who is graduating from Boston College this semester, and we agree that we need to do exciting things in our respective towns before a possible departure, or at least life change. It's been refreshing to make sure I do something out-of-the-ordinary and take advantage of Pittsburgh while I'm here.

Give me ideas for cool things to do in Pittsburgh before I leave. (You know, a Pittsburgh bucket list)