Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Inkwell has run dry...

It is with a touch of sadness to report that this will be the final official blog post for the Moonlight Scribbler.

The blog hasn't been updated in months, and with my spending more time posting stuff to Facebook and getting more feedback about the stuff I post, and generally ust not having the time nor the inclination to update it regularly,  it seemed right to put a bowtie on this thing and wrap it up.  The Scribbler has never been about clicks and comments, it was about having a place to do the occasional brain dump of accumulated crap that lodges into my head and won't leave on its own.

Declaring the end of the Moonlight Scribbler now is kind of like a doctor pronouncing a patient dead long after the body and bones have returned to the earth from which they sprung.  It was only a matter of time I guess.  The Moonlight Scribbler was the latest in a series of brain dumps going back to my days at CCAC in the mid '90s.

 The only difference being that unlike the other projects: "Just Another Lovely Day in Paradise"; and its shorter and admittedly inferior cousin, "Just Another Lovely Day in Paradise Part 2", which were saved to floppy disks and were either lost, copied over, or the disks just failed over time, the Moonlight Scribbler was posted online where it will remain at least as long as Google is still in business, and still owns Blogger.  Although Google does have this habit of shedding businesses that either don't make money, or they just don't want to play with anymore. So this collection is ultimately at the mercy of teh Goog.

As far as I'm concerned, the blog will stay up, like a old cabin out in the middle of a field, its owner only coming around to make sure that the roof hasn't caved in and the wildlife haven't taken up residence inside.  It is my little outpost on the Internet, my little plot of digital real estate that I call my own. There's a lot of good stuff written here.  196 posts going back to 2006.  Some of it, my best writing. It could even become part of a portfolio should I ever need to look for a job writing columns, or even grist for the mill for another writing project that may come down the road.

Notice that I say that this is the last OFFICIAL post to the Scribbler.  If some extraordinary life event comes up or some earth shattering apocalypse arrives, I reserve the right to reopen the blog and start doing brain dumps again.  But until that fateful event happens, it's safe to say that the Moonlight Scribbler has had its last post.  To those who read this blog, I'm still scratching my head at what possessed you to waste your valuable time doing so.  But aaaaaaaanyway, thanks for reading and leaving comments. It was fun.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Bucs vs A's For All The Marbles. Make It Happen.

With my renewed faith in the Pirates, you know what i'd love to see as a dream World Series matchup? Although from a business perspective, Bud Selig would rather put his head in a wood chipper than have to witness this?  A Pirates vs Oakland A's World Series.  The Battle of the "Have-Nots-Who-Don't-Give-A-Damn."

I used to go to a lot of Oakland A's games when I was stationed in NAS Alameda.  A five minute bus ride and a ten minute BART ride would get me from the base on the island to the Coliseum for a nice night out at the ballyard.  And this was about the time that Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were just getting hot.  The A's always took care of the Navy providing cheap tickets to the local bases, and that plus the fact that the A's and the Pirates are very similar in terms of being ball clubs that had to make due with little money, and classic underdogs made me a casual follower of the Oakland A's.

The difference being that the Pirates were able to get their shiny new ballpark, while Oakland still toils in that 46 year old cookie cutter stadium that they have the misfortune of sharing with the Raiders. And while the Coliseum wasn't a bad place to watch the game back in the 80's.  The last of the multi-purpose monstrosities has had to put up with Mt. Davis, the ugly abomination of added seating demanded by former Raiders owner Al Davis as a condition of bringing the Raiders back to Oakland. The effect replaced the scenic view of the Oakland hills with a constant reminder of the continual suckage of the Raiders and the folly of their deceased and somewhat senile owner.  

The future of the A's in Oakland seems dicey.  There are plans to build a stadium Downtown in Jack London Square, as well as move the team down south to San Jose. The latter plan being held up due to the protestations of the San Francisco Giants, who claim San Jose as part of their territory and say that the A's moving there would affect their team's attendance.  I call 'Bulls**t' on that.  But for the sake of all the low-buck teams in baseball, I hope that the A's can find a way to stay in Oakland.  They are a proud franchise who has persevered in spite of the odds against them by the inequity of Major League Baseball.  And I for one, would love to see my two favorite teams battle it out for a World Series title. Just to throw up two middle fingers to Bud Selig and the big money teams.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

33 Years Ago Today...

33 years ago today, a Navy recruiter, ( I remember he was a 2nd class, can't remember the rating, think he was a snipe) came to my house at 6:30 am, to drag my young dumb ass to the AFEES station, (They weren't called MEPS back then) in the Federal Building in Downtown Pittsburgh.  I remember the tears in my mother's eyes as we drove away.  Most people don't know that I actually joined the Navy after my junior year in high school. I went in a year later on Delayed Entry, exactly three months to the day after I graduated from Allderdice High School.

For the next ten hours, I was poked, prodded, signed enough paperwork to kill of a decent sized Amazonian rain forest, told to hurry up and wait countless times, told to bend over, turn my head and cough, hurried up and waited some more, ate a truly forgettable box lunch, hurried up and waited some more, and eventually was herded into a small room with the flags of all the armed services with a bunch of other freaked out recruits going to all the services and I swore an oath to protect the Constitution of these United States.  I was bussed to the airport with the other guys I was going with, and I was assigned my first Navy duty. An officer gave me the personnel records of all the guys who were with me and told me to guard them with my life.

I was scared shitless, and kept looking down at the precious papers firmly clutched in my hands all the way from Pittsburgh to Chicago.  We landed in Chicago early that evening, and on the way up to the base, all of us were laughing and shooting the shit just like all young goofballs with more bravado than brains, but as soon as we saw that fence with the barbed wire and the 'Property of US Government' signs, you could have heard a pin drop.  We were herded off the bus by what were actually other recruits on service week, but we thought they were real petty officers, they were screaming at us like were whale shit at the bottom of the Marianas Trench.  We were marched to Receiving Division, given a wrinkled up old raincoat, a scratchy blanket, a padlock, a ditty bag, and we sat in a large room waiting until the rest of the cattle arrived.

After the room was full, we were yelled at, told to dispose of any contraband we brought with us, told to remember our seven digit billet number: 09-10-056 was mine.  And we had our first drug test, the CC's telling us not to piss in their shit stalls. We were threatened with all manner of nasty punishments if we lied about whether we took drugs.  Finally after more yelling and screaming, they finally put us to bed, only to be woken up a couple hours later with the traditional garbage can being rolled down the middle of the berthing. A bunch of bedraggled recruits were mustered on the 'grinder' and marched the length and breadth of RTC GLAKES to get our taste of Navy chow, a designer haircut, a five minute call home, and more poking, prodding, and hurrying up and waiting. Eventually we were issued uniforms and assigned to out divisions. I spent my 18th birthday crying my eyes out in my bunk with 79 other guys in Company 280, 21st Division, RTC GLAKES. I ended up being transferred to 24th Div, Co 939 Triple Threat company because as a result of an audition, the higher ups found out that I can sing, more or less. Eight weeks, countless inspections, PT's, mashings, three days in IT due to gear adrift, and 29 flags later, I and my company passed in review in a drill hall in front of enough brass to make a spittoon. I and the other members of the Bluejackets Choir had the privilege to sing before Bob Hope, who reportedly loved it.

Fast forward to Sept 9, 1986.  After: 2 ships; 2 deployments (A World Cruise and a WestPac); 4 bases; 19 ports of call in 13 countries; 1 emergency leave; 2 tattoos; 2 Shellback initiations (1 receiving, 1 giving); countless shorter at-sea periods( shakedown cruises, sea trials, indy ops off the USSR, etc); and more than a few beers drunk in some places of questionable repute and a few activities I will not discuss because this is Facebook, I walked out the East Gate of NAS Alameda, California,  DD214, and about a grand in travel pay, leave rats and a bunch of memories in hand. I was set on doing 20, but due to a lot of immaturity that still needed to be addressed, I settled on just doing 6 years.  If I knew then what I know now, I would have become more mature and did what it took to pull myself up to go for 20 years. I have no regrets, I'd do it all over again, if my body would let me do so. I had a helluva lot of fun, and worked my ass off. Other than going to college in the '90s, my Navy tour was the defining time of my life, which I guess is kind of sad in a way that the greatest and most formative time of my life was a period almost 30 years ago, and I haven't done much since then to eclipse it.  But that's my fault, and I own my issues, which are many and varied. That's my story, for better or worse, and I'm sticking to it.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

The effects of a City League/WPIAL merger.

There has been talk over the years about the Pittsburgh City League and the WPIAL merging, and I covered this subject in a previous blog post:


The problem with a merger is that depending on the sport, we have a 'haves' vs 'have nots' situation. 

In most sports, you won't have to worry about Allderdice competing because they have the most well rounded athletic program in the City. If there was a WPIAL-like athletic program in the City League, it would be Allderdice.   Football is the biggest concern for all City schools, but other than football, the 'Dice can hang with a lot of WPIAL programs in other sports. 

And by hanging, I mean this early in the game, they can win against mid and low level high schools, and won't crap the bed against the NA's, Centrals, Lebos, and USC's, and eventually, with time, will make the playoffs. When it was announced that Allderdice would compete in the WPIAL in sports like swimming, tennis, cross country, etc, you could hear the Dice coaches of those sports screaming for joy from ten miles away, because they'd be wanting to do this for the past 25-30 years.  You could also hear the coaches of those sports from other City schools shouting for joy because Allderdice had dominated those sports for 25-30 years, and finally their schools would get a chance to win a City title.  

Carrick and Brashear would also adapt to the WPIAL relatively well to a lesser extent than Allderdice.  The big worry would be schools like Obama, Perry and Westinghouse.  Perry would have problems in the WPIAL in football at first, but because they can and will play anyone, they'd be the first of the City schools to show quick improvement, and most likely the first City League team to make the WPIAL playoffs in football. Perry is also respectable in hoops, but other sports, they'd get crushed. Westinghouse is up and down in hoops, bad in football and almost non existent in everything else. Obama is competitive in hoops, swimming, and soccer, and nonexistent in everything else, except when they compete as USO/U-Prep in football.

Along with Perry, U-Prep is the most promising football program in the City and would take their lumps in the WPIAL, but they and Perry will improve faster than any other City squad.  

Unfortunately a full City/WPIAL merger would be an all or nothing affair.   Everything would have to go over, and in sports like tennis, swimming, cross country, etc, schools like Perry, Obama, and the 'House would either not offer those sports, and just concentrate on football and hoops, or try to put teams together, and spend years before they get wins.  

I am still very much in favor of a merger, because, frankly, the ship has sailed on the City League. It's on borrowed time, life support, whatever euphemism you want to use.  The gap between the WPIAL and the City in most sports will continue to get wider.  The league will not improve sitting on its own little island.  It is only a matter of time.  As much as it'll pain fans of the City League to have to watch almost 100 years of tradition go away, unless a HUGE number of people move back into Pittsburgh from the suburbs and bring their athletic kids with them and put those kids into all the City schools and not just the 'good' ones, the City League as we know it will be gone in a few years.  And that is sad.  Because there are good kids and coaches trying hard to bring a little recognition and respect to the League.  

Saturday, July 06, 2013

2013 Pgh City League Football Schedule is out...

The 2013 City League Football Schedule is out. The Link to the PDF is:  http://www.pps.k12.pa.us/Page/1427

But as usual, I'll type it out.

Fri August 30, 2013  
Erie Cathedral Prep at Perry
Brashear at Slippery Rock
Allderdice at Martins Ferry (OH)
Carrick at Grove City

Sat August 31, 2013
Westinghouse at Buckeye Local (OH)
U-Prep at Erie Central Tech

Thurs Sept 5
Perry at Brashear

Fri Sept 6
Allderdice at Brooke (WV)
Chestnut Ridge at Carrick
Westinghouse at Wheeling Central (WV)

Thurs Sept 12
Allderdice vs Perry

Friday Sept 13
Westinghouse vs Brashear
Carrick vs U-Prep

Thurs Sept 19
U-Prep vs Brashear

Fri Sept 20
Carrick vs Perry
Allderdice vs Westinghouse

Fri Sept 27
Ft. Hill (MD) at Carrick
Brashear at Erie Strong Vincent
Westinghouse at TBA

Sat Sept 28
Allderdice at Linsley (WV)
Perry at TBA

Thursday Oct 3
Carrick at Brashear

Friday Oct 4
Perry vs Westinghouse
Allderdice vs U-Prep

Thursday Oct 10
Allderdice vs Carrick

Friday Oct 11
Brashear vs Perry
Westinghouse vs U-Prep

Thursday Oct 17
U-Prep vs Perry

Friday Oct 18
Westinghouse vs Carrick
Brashear vs Allderdice

Thursday Oct 24
Playoff Game #1 (2 vs 3)

Friday Oct 25
Playoff Game #2  (1 vs 4)

Saturday Nov 2
City Championship  1:00pm

PIAA Regionals begin Fri Nov 8.

Once again, no OOC games shown for U-Prep, Maybe they're getting a late start on trying to find non league opponents again.  They ended up playing a very good Catholic school out of Rochester, NY last year, totally out of the blue.  

Week 1 for 2013  is a mirror image of last year, with ECP and Slippery Rock making appearances at the George against Perry and Brashear, respectively.  'Dice, 'House and Carrick on the road.  Once again, the usual suspects from West-By-Gawd Virginia: Linsly, Wheeling Central, and Brooke are back on the schedule, the Bruins haven't played a City team in a few years. Carrick takes on Ft.Hill (MD) at home for the third year in a row for the Sentinels' annual beatdown of the Raiders.  

I'm guessing with the craziness that's happened in Steubenville, the 'House won't be heading out there this year, hence the TBA designation.  Perry also hasn't announced a week 5 opponent.  Last year, they took on Liberty Christian out of Virginia, and it didn't end well for the One Stars. But knowing that Perry will play anyone, anywhere, don't be surprised if the Commodores find a nice team to go against.  Remember, boys and girls, Perry scrimmages against NA and Central every year, so they fear no one.  

This will be the second year that Allderdice, Obama, Carrick and Brashear will play in the WPIAL for selected sports. The City League will retain a full City schedule with championships and PIAA representation for: football, basketball, wrestling, cross country(less Allderdice), track and field, and volleyball.  Brashear and Carrick will play in the WPIAL in baseball, softball, and boys and girls soccer. Obama will play in the WPIAL in boys and girls swimming, boys and girls soccer, and Allderdice will play WPIAL schedules in: B&G Soccer; B&G Swimming; B&G Tennis; Golf; B&G Cross Country; Baseball; and Softball.  The first year pretty much went as expected with the City teams struggling to compete against WPIAL opposition. Most cases, the City schools were around the middle to lower half of their respective WPIAL sections. The Advocate wasn't expecting much in the first year, and it will take a while before the City schools are able to be respectable.  

Still no news that The Advocate has heard about a pending City/WPIAL merger. If it's going to happen, it should go down at the earliest in 2014 when the PIAA enrollment classifications are adjusted.  The Advocate has thought that allowing Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick, and Obama to have associate WPIAL membership in a few sports was to be a trial run testing the feasibility of such a merger, although there was no official word from the league that this was to be the case. The Advocate still thinks that it will eventually happen, with when being the only mystery. 

Since this blog post was made, the Advocate received a tip that U-Prep has a road game on August 31 against Erie Central Tech.  If any other games are scheduled, the Advocate will update this post as and when. Thanks to upnorth at the PSB for the tip. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sailors...gotta love 'em.

Back in the day, people used to wonder why sailors cut up so much when they got into a liberty port. Here's my explanation:

Take a bunch of America's finest young men and women with raging hormones, little if any common sense, most of whom have never been off their block much less outside of their state, who don't have a clue about which end is up, send them off to a God-forsaken base in Northern Iliinois for eight weeks. Deny them even the simplest pleasures that civilians take for granted, like a radio, or nudie magazines. Yell at them constantly, run them ragged, teach them a crash course in an entirely new language and vocabulary, and make them wear funky uniforms with a confusing litany of insignia. 

Then send them to another God-forsaken base somewhere in these United States where they will learn just enough about their job to be dangerous, stuff them on board a ship that's cramped, smelly, packed to the gills with guns, missiles, planes and other fun toys designed to blow stuff up and kill people, pay them less than minimum wage, put them out to sea and work them 12-20 hours a day for seven days a week for seven and eight months at a time. 

Tell them that despite the presence of the opposite sex being on board, they are only allowed to look, but don't touch. Repeat the whole shipboard thing about 4 or 5 times in ten years, and then expect them to act like Rebecca of frickin' Sunnybrook Farm once they finally hit the beach? Really???

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wanting to Believe in the Buccos...

     As of today, the local professional base ball club are 17 games over .500.  People are starting to wonder whether the club are for real, can they keep up this torrid pace and finally kill the monkey that has been on their backs since 1993, which is almost old enough to get drunk on the SahSide and end up facedown in a pool of its own puke in a alley off Carson St at three AM.

     I recently have upgraded my outlook on the Pirates from 'Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop' to 'Cautiously Optimistic.'  I remember the grand collapse last season when in the space of a mere 40+ days, our Buccos went from the Belle of the Ball to the awkward socially inept nerdy chick standing next to the bean dip looking like a lost puppy, (not that there's a damn thing wrong with nerdy chicks, I tend to like women who are smarter than me, which is pretty much 90% of the female popiulation. ;-).)

    I want to believe, I really do.  But 20 years of watching this team find new and exciting ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory have made me cynical and hardened to accept the inevitable truth that if there is a way that the Pirates could screw up something as simple as a pub crawl on the SahSide, they can and they will, much less figure out a way to win 35 of their next 85 games.  I swore that I would never darken the threshold of PNC Park again until the Pirates had a winning season, and have largely kept that promise.

    Recently, my Legion Post was the recipient of a large number of FREE tickets to the Pirate's game on the 4th of July against the Phillies. It wasn't costing me anything, so I decided to go.  I'll be soaking up the sun (Don't know why, being black, I have an OEM tan.)  watching the Pirates playing their cross-state rivals and hoping for a win.  I'm off that day, better to be at the ballpark enjoying the National Pastime, instead off my usual off-day routine of sleeping all day and spending the rest of my time on teh Facebook. Yes, you heard me, Facebook fam, I will be out in teh public, surrounded by other people and hating every minute of it, because I want to believe.  I want to see the Pirates emerge from their 20 year long strange trip.
     So if you're in the vicinity of the Nor'Side at America's Greatest Ball Park on the 4th of July and see a clueless black guy with earbuds stuffed in his ears and totally cool new bi-focals, that'll be me. Come on up and say 'HI', I don't bite (normally), I have had all my shots, and I do know how to act in public despite being a hopeless recluse. I may even buy yinz a beer, but not at PNC Park, cause I'm not paying $8 for watery American suds.   I want to believe, Buccos.  I'm still 'Cautiously Optimistic', but I'll be willing to risk breaking significant body parts to jump on the Bucco Bandwagon.