Thursday, December 15, 2011

O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree!

Yes, Virginia, there is a Christmas tree made of beer cans, and it's at Percy Street Barbecue. The 8-foot tall wonder is made of over 400 beer cans, most of them from PSB's "Six Pack Program." Like a lot of bottle shops/take-away beer places in Philly, PSB offers a discount on mix-a-six packs. There, buy five cans of beer, and the sixth is free.

I'll admit, I've only been to Percy Street Barbecue once, and it was for a cocktail reception, so I haven't yet eaten a proper meal there. But the feedback I've seen on it has been mostly positive—and hell, it's Michael Solomonov, so how could it possibly be anything less than "pretty good"? So this makes me really want to go throw down some barbecue, crack a can of beer, and celebrate the good feelings of the season.

Photo by Drea Rane, via Profile PR

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Who's Next?

There are so many angles, so many tragedies to the Penn State scandal. First and foremost is, of course, the unknown number of young men whose lives have been (okay, fine, allegedly) irreparably damaged by one sicko, and a group of people who ignorantly or recklessly let him take advantage of his position. There's the downfall of arguably the greatest icon in higher education, let alone college sports. There's the collateral damage—currently players and assistant coaches who had nothing to do with any of this but who will not be able to just focus on football for the rest of the season (and for the coaches, who will all but certainly be gone, through no fault of their own, at the end of the season). And, especially for us alumni, there's the dragging of a great University's name—and everything it has held itself out to be—through the mud.

At the risk of committing a crass, "too soon" violation, one of the ways I got through a borderline existential crisis today was by thinking about, with Joe's impending—and now official—departure from dear old State, who would be next. Because Pennsylvania State University—and the Nittany Lions football team—will go on. Must go on. Joe Paterno may have built the idea of "Success with Honor," and arguably (probably) failed to meet the high expectations that he himself helped build for PSU.

For years, when many were waiting for JoePa's retirement (or passing) to excise him from the sidelines, names were bandied about as to who would succeed him. Well, it'll soon be a question that has to be answered. Perhaps because I wanted to think about something other than the negative negative negative. So who should be the next Penn State coach? Thinking about the circumstances as they are now, there's one clear choice.

Al Golden.

His name has been kicked around for the Penn State coaching job for a couple years now, and he's now got to be the clear front-runner.

As a Penn State alum, I refuse to believe that the "Success with Honor" idea is dead, even if we now think that Joe Paterno himself didn't live up to it. Too many people have carried it as a philosophy embodied at Penn State, especially former players. So while some people think that anyone who has any connection to Paterno should be off-limits, I feel quite the opposite. Penn State was Camelot, and the next coach should be someone who believed in that ideal and has the burn to restore it to that place. And the only way I think that will happen, given the circus that the next coach is walking into, is if the coach is someone who has a connection to and love for Penn State, and all that that name embodies. (Not embodied, embodies.)

Golden is a former Nittany Lion captain. He was an on- and off-field player-leader. So I hope he has a deep enough feeling for PSU to want to return it to Camelot status. By all accounts, Golden has impeccable character; and, he built Temple into a winning football program. Not great, but winning. If he could deliver a winning record at Temple, what could he accomplish with the facilities, tradition, and alumni backing of Penn State? He knew he was taking on a challenge by taking the job at Miami; but with the impending NCAA sanctions against "The U," rumor and reasonable suspicion is that he'd be looking to make a switch. The Penn State job would certainly be a challenge given the circumstances, but the odds are the new coach—whomever it is—will have a long leash and the opportunity to build a program from scratch, with the support of a brand new University president and a brand new athletic director. That kind of opportunity doesn't come around often, and I for one would love to see one of our own take it.

[An aside: We don't know whether the current assistant coaches on the staff, Mike McQueary aside, did or did not know anything. If not, and I suspect most or all of them knew nothing of the horrific events described in the Sandusky indictment, one of the sad aspects of this story will be the house-cleaning, necessary though it may be, of men who also buy into the Penn State-Camelot ideal. Assuming that they were entirely innocent, as I must at the moment, I hope guys like Tom Bradley find a place to land on their feet. It's just one of the many collateral-damage elements of this devastating ordeal.]

Image Credit: drocpsu

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

We Are ...

Shocked. Dumbfounded. Distraught. Angry. Hurt.

You pick it, all of us who bleed blue and white are feeling it right now. And the Penn St-haters are crowing. On Twitter. On Facebook. On comment threads. Everyone's coming out of the wordwork to bash Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier—and "Penn State."

I'm not going to defend Paterno, Spanier, Mike McQueary, Tim Curley, or Gary Schultz. (Do I actually have to mention I wouldn't defend Jerry Sandusky? No? Good. I thought that would be pretty obvious.) In some cases—Paterno and Spanier—I doubt we'll ever know what they did or did not know. But that won't stop the judging, and maybe that's okay. Perhaps as much fault could lie for what they should have known.

But despite being the University President, Graham Spanier is not Penn State. Despite being the University's paramount icon and having his name etched on the main library, Joe Paterno is not Penn State. Penn State is something different, but common, to the millions of people who have walked its campus and called themselves Lions.

For me, Penn State is hundreds of Four Diamonds families who inspire thousands of students and alumni to do more, ever more. It's learning more on the south side of College Ave. than the north side. (For the non-Penn Staters, College Ave. divides the main downtown of State College, on the south, from the University campus, on the north.) And it's friendships with some of the finest people walking this earth—people whose names you'll never read in the paper, but who do great things in the arts, business, and their communities. People I'm proud to know, who I met in a place that I am proud to call my alma mater.

If heads roll for this scandal—and they will—it is because they have failed not only in their moral and, arguably, legal obligations, but also in their duty to uphold the high honor of dear old State.

For the glory of old State,
For her founders strong and great,
For the future that we wait,
Raise the song, raise the song.

Sing our love and loyalty,
Sing our hopes that, bright and free,
Rest, O Mother dear, with thee,
All with thee, all with thee.

When we stood at childhood's gate,
Shapeless in the hands of fate,
Thou didst mold us, dear old State,
Dear old State, dear old State.

May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name,
May our lives but swell thy fame,
Dear old State, dear old State.

We are.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Metal Monday

Gotta go with a cut from the new Anthrax album, set for release tomorrow.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Metal Monday

Saturday would have been Dimebag Darrell's 45th birthday, making this week's selection a no-brainer.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Beautiful Game, Beautiful Heartbreak

After Abby Wambach's marvelous header saved the Lady Nats' World Cup lives last weekend, almost everyone I knew—myself included—believed that this World Cup belonged to a team of destiny, a team of indomitable will.

We were all right. We just had the team wrong.

Disappointing (to an American supporter) outcome notwithstanding, Sunday's Women's World Cup final showed everything that is great about soccer. It's a game of sustained tension, where the lack of goals is what makes it exciting—because at any moment, something remarkable can happen. Something exhilarating when it goes your way, something devastating when it goes against you. In no other sport—with the arguable exception of hockey—can fortunes change so dramatically so quickly. No other sport delivers the thrill ride, the joy, the heartbreak quite like soccer.

(And, oh by the way, it's a sport where the women's game is as fast and as physical—if not moreso—than the men's game. Unless you're Brazilian, diving has no place in the women's game.)

When we look back at this Women's World Cup in a few years, the real disappointment will not be that the American women fell short. If there's a disappointment, and hopefully there won't be ... but if there is one, it will be if what the American—and Japanese, and French, and German, and Swedish—women did over the last couple weeks failed to inspire a sustained American interest in soccer. Those of us who bang the drum for the sport simply do not grasp what keeps it from breaking through. Perhaps it's the lack of a storyline.

But now there's one to build on: Redemption. In six months, the Lady Nats will descend on Vancouver, Canada, for the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. Eight teams will vie for two spots in the London 2012 Games. I don't know what the U.S. women's roster will look like for Olympic qualifying—that's a subject for people much more soccer-savvy than I to discuss—but I do know they should feel like they're on a mission. And so should we, as fans.

Will the U.S. claim Olympic Gold in London? It's far from assured, maybe even unlikely with the likes of France, Germany, Brazil, and, yes, the non-fluke World Cup champs Japan all sure to be in the mix. But I hope the U.S. Women's National Team takes us on a ride that comes even close to what the last couple weeks have been like.

Who knows? Maybe their quest for redemption can get this whole soccer thing to catch on even more than a victory Sunday might have done.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Metal Monday

Too much DOOPing this weekend, and off to a bit of a late start today. In honor of the new, BYOB form for the Sons of Ben tailgates:

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Time Tomorrow ...

I'll hopefully have done this at least a couple times.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

JG Domestic to Offer Sunday Supper

With all the prix fixe dinner options available in the city, it's easy to hear about a new one and just say, "Oh, yay. Another one to add to the pile." But when that new one is from Philadelphia's Culinary Emperor Iron Chef, Jose Garces, you have to take note.

Garces's Cira Center outpost, JG Domestic, will be offering Sunday Supper starting April 3. For $35 per person, you'll get a family-style meal featuring organic chicken (buttermilk fried or herb roasted), baked mac & cheese, roasted garlic and turnip mashed potatoes, and more. Plus, growlers of Victory will be available to wash it all down.

In other words: NOM.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Today's Edition of Awesome

Photo by Mark Weiss, via W3 Public Relations

I was thisclose to using Dio's "Holy Diver" as today's Metal Monday selection, but opted against it because I couldn't find an HQ version of the video in my two minutes hours and hours of searching. Fortunately, though, RJD earns a mention here today (at least indirectly), because of an awesome press release that hit my inbox a short while ago.

The Asian Elephant Art & Conservation Project and the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund are teaming up "to create one-of-a-kind guitars painted by the project's elephants in Thailand to raise money and awareness for both organizations." The guitars (donated by ESP) will be auctioned off, and AEACP and Stand Up and Shout will split the proceeds. This just oozes awesome.

Metal Monday

Friday, February 25, 2011

Moan-a Lisa

Three observations ... or questions:
  1. We can now officially, finally say steampunk is dead, right?

  2. Is it just me, or does this sound like every song off A Fever You Can't Sweat Out?

  3. Nonetheless, am I the only one who finds this to be a total earworm and Panic! At the Disco at wonderful guilty pleasure?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Young Man's Quest for Celibacy ...

... or, "What College Guys Will Do to Win a Bet."

Coffee People

So I suspect that 5 Hour Energy commercials are supposed to be annoying, but this one especially irks me. For most coffee people I know—myself included—morning coffee is about the waiting, the making, the fussing. It's the ritual, the routine. Maybe most of my coffee cohorts and I are the exception rather than the rule; but it seems that, contrary to popular belief, for us, coffee is not about the caffeine. At least, not primarily about the caffeine.

This ad would be like telling a beer person, "Why fuss with that beer? You have to wait for the head to set, drink it slowly ... To hell with that. Do this shot of Vlad. It'll get you drunk without all the hassle." Yeah. And by "Yeah," I mean "No."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

YB 2.0

It's been nearly two years since we started using this Blogger domain to track our ill-fated project to visit 52 Philadelphia bars in 52 weeks. It didn't work out so well because, well, maybe we're not good at sticking to themes ... or schedules. Plus, with other life commitments (read: work, bills, general life responsibility) preventing us from just being barflies—and other blogging commitments preventing us from writing about just being barflies—that adventure was pretty much doomed from the start. C'est la vie.

But now we're back, but without the attempt at a routine. Just writing what we want to write, when we want to write it can.