Friday, December 19, 2008
This year has been a bit of a challenge for me. This time last year, I lost my oldest and last remaining brother, Darwin. With his passing, there are no more close relatives living in my branch of the family tree. Joining Darwin in what I pray will be Heaven, are: my mother; father; both sets of grandparents; my lone sister and my other two brothers. Sprinkle in a few cousins and a niece or nephew or two, and it can be said that it's a mite lonely in my part of the family. Our family's not a tight knit bunch, I haven't seen the rest of the brood since Darwin's Memorial Service on New Year's Day, and to be honest, not seeing them doesn't cause me much grief at all. As a result I have the Little House in the Ghetto all to myself, which is not a bad thing in that I can wander from room to room in my underwear and yell and engage in my occasional acts of insanity without bothering anyone. I can also use the bathroom without closing the door, even though I still do so out of habit. Living alone is no big deal for me. I'm used to being by myself, as I have mentioned repeatedly in this blog.
But maintaining this house on my income alone has presented a significant challenge, one that even though Darwin constantly reminded me more times than I'd rather count, I still was not quite prepared for. I refuse to rent the place out to tenants because living where I live, and having to put up with the charity cases Darwin tended to bring in to provide income for maintenance, I refuse to go that route. My brother, God rest his soul, was always trying to help out his fellow man but admittedly he was a soft touch for any hard luck story, real or contrived, that came along. As a result, we've had any number of strays and cast-offs end up here, and more than a few of them took advantage of Darwin's good heart and Christian charity. I, however, am not that good of a Christian, and instead of having to deal with the flotsam and jetsam of Homewood after they get into the house, I'm just not bothering to open up to them at all.
After not having internet service for the first three months of the year, In March, I finally got Comcast or as I tend to refer to them, Crapcast, to provide me internet access and I have to admit that barring a couple of small outages, the service has been more than I expected. Reasonable in price, faster than DSL in most cases and not requiring me to dial in have made me a happy boy as far as my access to teh intertubes goes.
The Penguins got the whole town in a uproar when they took the Detroit Red Wings to 6 games before succumbing in the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm one of the few black folks who gets hockey, so I was definitely watching every game on the edge of my seat rooting for the Flightless Waterfowl to top off what was a rather improbable season. I usually don't get too geeked up about hockey until the playoffs, so we still have a ways to go yet until the Pens can make another historic run for Lord Stanley's Jug.
As great as the Pen's season was, the Pirates once again found new and exciting ways to lose baseball games, tying the major league record for consecutive losing seasons at 16 dating back to 1993. New on and off field management failed in bringing the Same 'ol Bucs out of the death spiral that is the New Pirate Generation. It's a shame that at least for the foreseeable future, there will be Pittsburgh kids who will have spent the vast majority of their young lives never having seen their hometown baseball team come close to winning more games than they lose. At least they'll have pierogie races, fireworks, bobbleheads and all you can eat snackies in America's Greatest Ballpark to distract them. Hmmm, I wonder how those two pitchers from India are doing?? Maybe when the Buccos are well on their way to making Major League history, they'll bring those two up to put some more fannies in seats.
I'm not going to talk about the election because we all know who won. (In case you've been camped out in the Inner Regions of Outer Mongolia or studying Amazonian tribes in a South American rain forest, I'll give you a clue...He's Black!!!!) There's probably still a few good 'ol boys somewhere in these United States that can't wrap their heads around the fact that an African-American Senator from Chicago, born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and a Kansan mother was swept into office by a clear overwhelming majority in a presidential election with the largest turnout in US history. I think it's pretty safe to say that all those who fought and died for civil rights in this country are dancing a jig to beat the band up in heaven. I know I never thought I'd see this day. But now that Barack Obama is going to be the one who we will be referring to as " Mr. President" come approximately 12:05 pm EST, January 20th 2009. I hope that those of us who elected him into office will be patient enough to give the man time to effect the change he spoke of on the campaign trail and also understand that some of what he promised, may not happen in the first hundred, two hundred or even three hundred days. That's why a Presidential term goes for 4 years. Turning this country around is like steering a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. You start turning the rudder to change course, it takes a while for the ship to respond. And then once the ship starts to respond, the rudder needs to be adjusted slowly and gradually so that the ship doesn't overshoot it's intended course. A seasoned helmsman knows just how much rudder is needed, how quickly the ship will respond and how much opposite rudder is needed to center the ship on its new course without having the vessel zig-zagging all over the ocean.
That's the way it is with a country this size. Change has to happen slowly, gradually, and with just enough braking and correction administered to turn the nation to a new course. In the case of the USA, turning the country's rudder will cause the direction of the country to turn, not in seconds or minutes as on an aircraft carrier, but in months and years. And Obama and his cabinet will have to know when to apply that opposite rudder to recenter the country, but there are rough seas ahead for Mr. Obama and his crew and it's always harder to stay on course when the seas are high and waves are crashing over the bow. Sorry for the nautical references, but remember, I was in the Navy. Nevertheless, as long as we are patient enough to give the man a chance, accept that he will make mistakes and be willing to work with him and not against him, this country called the United States of America can and will come through the toughest times. We're not as fragile as we think we are. I'd like to think that Americans are made of stern stuff.
In closing, this has been an interesting year for me, and I have a feeling that 2009 will be a make or break year in my life. Happy Holidays from the Little House in the Ghetto and may your 2009 be a damn sight better than your 2008.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
The last couple seasons in Everyone's Favorite Little High School Football League have seen some unusual instances in which teams that normally don't figure in the annual playoff chase have made significant progress in that area and in one case ended up hoisting the hardware. Case in point. In 2006, the Oliver Bears who had not won a City Championship since the end of World War II, ended up being winning that same title and being the first City League team other than Perry to win a PIAA playoff game in their classification. In 2007 Allderdice and Carrick, two programs that one would not associate with dominance in the City League made the playoffs and both programs took advantage of a rare absence of Perry from the post season drama. While the Raiders appearance in the playoffs was a brief one, the 'Dice ended up on the big stage at Heinz Field and took the Brashear Bulls to the limit before succumbing 14-13 in an all too rare occurrence: a City Championship game that was actually close and entertaining for all four quarters. And of course the winners of that game, the Brashear Bulls finally got the monkey off their backs last year by winning their first City Title in football since 1988.
This 2008 season has also had its Cinderella moment. In a late season push aided by a fairly easy end schedule and a slip-up by another playoff contender, The Langley Mustangs have found themselves in what is for them, a most unusual situation. For the first time in 20 years, the Mustangs have found themselves in the City League playoffs. The Ponies won three of their last four games also beating the other team tied for the last playoff spot, Carrick in what was the most important game of the season for Langley. All they needed coming into the final weekend of the regular season was for Carrick to lose to Schenley, and they would live to play another week. Well, the football gods heard the Mustangs plea and answered in their favor. Carrick lost to Schenley 41-12, and though Langley lost to Perry 28-22, the Mustangs advance to the playoffs due to their beating Carrick 29-14 in week 8.
Now all of these fresh new faces making their way into the City playoffs brings a smile to Your City League Advocate's face because this shows that some sort of parity is making its way into District 8. For the longest time, people have complained that Perry was using their magnet school status to poach the best players from all over the City to play for the Commodores. Now that no longer seems to be the case. Perry while still very much a threat, is not as dominant as in previous years. Also, the influx of new coaches into the league has brought some fresh ideas into City playbooks. Since 2000, all but one school in the City has turned over their coaching ranks. These new coaches are starting to attract kids into coming out for football. The Advocate has seen more passing in the league, teams are playing more complicated offenses. A lot of the same old City League is going the way of the Edsel, and that can only be a good thing down the road as the League seeks to close the gap between itself and the rest of the state.
Brashear ended the regular season by losing their only game of the season 29-14 to Wheeling Central Catholic giving the Maroon Kinghts a 3-0 sweep of the City League. They will go on to play the 4-4 Langley Mustangs in the second semifinal at the George.
Perry and Schenley ended their seasons with wins against Langley and Carrick, respectively and will face each other in the first semifinal tonight.
Last weekend continued to give everyone in the pick 'em fits. The Advocate was only kept from a perfect 5-0 by Peabody's win over Oliver, which was only correctly picked by Falcons_01, but he as well as coach99, and THSFan got burned when they predicted Brashear over Wheeling CC. The Advocate was the only one who got that right.
CLA and Falcons_01 4-1 16pts
coach99 and THSFan 3-2 12pts
CLA 34-9 136 pts
Falcons_01 33-10 132pts
THSfan 32-11 128pts
coach99 29-14 116pts
Thursday October 30 7pm
Perry vs Schenley. This game should be very entertaining. A nice crowd is expected. Perry beat the Spartans 30-16 in week 2, but as they say, the Spartans have come a long way. Both teams have done well against City competition, Perry winning 6 league games in a row and Schenley winning 5. Both teams can put up big numbers Schenley 27ppg - Perry 24ppg. The Advocate thinks that both teams will light up the scoreboard tonight, but he's banking on Perry to get to the championship game.
Perry by 7
Friday October 31 7pm
Brashear vs. Langley. The Mustangs should have no problem getting up for this game. This night erases 20 years of frustration for Langley, and the Advocate thinks that we have not heard the last of these Mustangs. Brashear is coming off a meaningless loss. The Advocate thinks that this loss should not affect Brashear's ability to win this game. As much as the Advocate would love to see Langley pull off the upset of a lifetime, it won't happen. Brashear by 14.
Both of these "week 10" games are optional picks, but if the pick 'em field wants to submit picks, they will count in the standings.
Peabody at South Allegheny SA by 10
Oliver at Belle Vernon BV by 14
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The invitations for the City League Playoffs have all but been formalized. Three teams have received the gilt-edged, raised letter ducats while two teams are left to fight it out for the last one. Brashear, Perry, and Schenley are at the tuxedo shop getting fitted for their sure to be horrifically colored penguin suits while Carrick and Langley still have to hope for a little outside help.
1. Brashear 8-0
2. Perry 6-1
3. Schenley 5-2
4. Carrick 4-3
4. Langley 4-3
6. Westinghouse 2-5
6. Oliver 2-5
8. Peabody 1-6
9. Allderdice 0-7
Your City League Advocate was wondering what had gotten into the water over in Sheraden, and moreover, could the Advocate get a little some-some?? The Langley Mustangs, long a doormat for the City League had won two straight games and were to face the Carrick Raiders last Friday night with playoff implications on the line. Your City League Advocate predicted that this game could be a trap game for the Raiders because had they won, they could have coasted into the playoffs and left the Ponies in the dust. Langley had little to lose and had to win out in order to get into the playoffs.
Well, what did the Advocate see when perusing the newspaper while eating his morning Cherrios?? Only that his prediction came true and that the Mustangs knocked off the Raiders 29-14 on the strength of four TD's scored by Joey Bell. This startling development was sure to have caused much consternation up off Browns Hill Road because this propells the Raiders and Mustangs into a tie for the fourth and final spot in the City League. What's more, Langley now owns the head to head tiebreaker against Carrick. And as long as the Horsies can seal the deal Friday night, there's nothing that The Tribe can do to keep them out of the playoffs. BUT...and there's a big BUT, Langley's next and final game of the season is against the 6-1 Perry Commodores, who were able to salvage a little respect for the City in non-conference action being the only team thus far to win against non-City opponents by defeating the DuBois Beavers out of District 9 27-21.
So, here's the situation. Pay attention, there will be a quiz afterward. If Langley beats Perry, they will move into fourth place at 5-3 and go to the playoffs and it won't matter what Carrick does against Schenley because the Raiders lost the head to head against the Mustangs. If Langley loses, they'll drop to 4-4 and must hope that Carrick loses against Schenley. If Carrick can beat Schenley and Langley loses, then the Raiders will take third place from the Spartans due to the head to head tiebreaker going into the Raiders favor and Langley is out...Got all that??? Don't make the Advocate repeat it again!!!
In other City League news, The 1st place Brashear Bulls are the first team to finish the City portion of their schedule and will travel to Wheeling, West-By-Gawd Virginia to take on the Maroon Knights of Wheeling Central Catholic. The Knights have already beaten two City squads this season by a combined score of 76-39, but this is the first time they have faced Brashear, and this game will be DaBulls' toughest challenge this season having beaten everyone in the City League by an average of 28 points/game. The Herd finished off the Oliver Bears 33-14 to finish 8-0 and their 19th straight league win.
The Schenleystein Spartans maintained their 3rd place slot by sending the Advocate's Dragons down to their 7th straight defeat this season 46-18. And finally, Westinghouse took the measure of the Peabody Highlanders to win their first game in a month and a half, 26-12.
The Langley, Perry, and Westinghouse wins decimated the Pick 'em field this week. The entire field picked Carrick and got scalped for their efforts. The Advocate was the only one to get the Perry game right and THSFan had faith in the 'House.
CLA and THSFan 3-2 12 points
coach99 and falcons_01 2-3 8 points
CLA 30-8 120pts
THSFan 29-9 116pts
Falcons_01 29-9 116pts
coach99 26-12 104pts
Thursday October 23
6:00pm Perry vs. Langley. For the Mustangs, it's simple. Win and they're in. Lose and hope for a Carrick loss, otherwise back home to the West End. Perry's already wrapped up second place, but the Advocate doubts that they will rest their starters for the playoffs. That's not Perry's way. They'll want to have plenty of momentum for the post-season. Langley's wins except for Carrick have come against the bottom half of the league, but the Mustangs should have no problem getting up for this game. Still, even with the incentive of reaching the playoffs for the first time in many years, The Advocate doubts that the Mustangs have the firepower to beat the One Stars. In his heart, the Advocate is pulling for the Ponies, but his head tells him that the Commodores are the better team. Perry by 10
Friday October 24
3:30pm Allderdice vs. Westinghouse. There's nothing left for these two teams to play for except pride. The 'House wants to win its second game in a row and third overall this season, and the 'Dice just wants to get rid of the zero. This has been a supreme disappointment for the Advocate's Dragons this season. He knew that the Green Hats lost a lot due to graduation, but after watching a couple games this season, he had no idea how bad this team was. Hopefully Coach Schmidt can get the 'Dice off snake eyes and back onto Lucky 7's next season, but the Advocate just does not see his Dragons getting it done against the Big Bads. House by 3
7:30pm Oliver vs. Peabody. Both teams had playoff aspirations at the beginning of the season, but 3 straight opening losses for the Highlanders and 5 straight losses after a 2-1 start for the Bears doomed both these teams to the bottom half of the table. Despite this game being in the prime time spot, don't expect much a crowd to see this one. The Advocate sees DaBears pulling this one out. Oliver by 7
7:30pm Brashear at Wheeling Central. This will be the toughest game Brashear has had since the stomping they took at the hands of Erie Cathedral Prep in the first round of the PIAA's last season. They should give Wheeling a pretty good run for their money. Winning this game will give DaBulls plenty of momentum for the City playoffs as well as a taste of what's to come should they win City. Although the Advocate would think that Wheeling Central would not stand much of a chance against Erie Prep. Still, he has to pick a winner and he must go with Wheeling. Wheeling by 10
Saturday October 25
12:00pm Carrick vs Schenley. By now, the Raiders must be playing the "Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda" game. "If we woulda beat Langley, we wouldn't need Perry to handle our business." " We shoulda saw this for the trap game like the Advocate predicted, otherwise, we'd be playing for third place instead of having our fate decided by someone else", "We coulda been sitting pretty, but we blew it, and now we have to sweat the load." Fortunately for the Raiders, by the time Carrick plays Schenley, they will have already known their fate, as Langley will have decided it two days prior. The question is: will Carrick be able to get past this distraction and focus enough on Schenley to get the win they need? Because they can get third place if they win and Langley loses. If they lose and Langley wins or loses, the Raiders are out. Schenley has incentive to win because they don't want to drop to 4th place and play Brashear in the first round of the playoffs. Schenley has won three straight league games, while Carrick has lost 2 of their last 3. The Advocate has to go with the team with the hot hand and that is Schenley Schenley by 7
No bonus game this week.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
1. Brashear 6-0
2. Perry 5-1
3. Schenley 4-2
4. Carrick 3-2
5. Oliver 2-3
5. Langley 2-3
7. Peabody 1-4
7. Westinghouse 1-4
9. Allderdice 0-5
Brashear remains atop the league with a perfect 6-0 record winning their 17th straight City League game by defeating 4th seeded Carrick 21-6. Brashear's Henri Chapman ran for two TD's and James Reed scored a TD late in the game. This was an ugly affair with 10 penalties, 10 turnovers between the two squads and 9 punts. Carrick was able to keep Brashear to its lowest scoring total all season. The Advocate is not really all that impressed with Brashear. They do tend to start slowly, and they are not a very disciplined squad. It's only because teams have not been able to make them pay in these early moments of the games, that they are undefeated. They have weapons, but they are not what I would call an impressive team compared to the rest of the area. Most likely, they will repeat as City Champs, but just like last year and in past years, The Advocate would not be surprised if they are handily defeated in the first round of the PIAA's. Brashear will next take on the 1-4 Peabody Highlanders
The Perry Commodores remain one game behind DaBulls at 5-1 with a 47-20 win over the Advocate's winless Dragons. The One Stars will next take on Westinghouse.
Schenleystein won its second game in a row and stays a game ahead of Carrick for third place at 4-2 by winning 28-8 over Peabody. The Spartans will take Rt 70 into Wheeling West-by-Gawd Virginia to take on Wheeling Central Catholic who manhandled the Oliver Bears in a game that the Advocate completely over looked. You see, The Advocate thought that Oliver had an open date, and didn't bother to make a prediction, or list it in the preview. Imagine his surprise whe he found out that DaBears actually did have a game, and it was against Wheeling CC. DeVaughn copeland threw for one TD in the 34-13 loss. Oliver still has a chance to make it to the playoffs, if they can beat Carrick on Saturday and can win out. A win by DaBears will tie both teams up at 3-3 and give Oliver the critical head-to-head matchup in the tiebreaker. Winning out could be a tougher task with Brashear on the horizon. Carrick has a slightly easier road with Langley and Schenley next up on their schedule.
Due to the Advocate's faux pas re: Oliver-Wheeling CC, he gave all participants in the pick 'em a free win. Considering the matchup, it was just as well. Falcons_01 was the only one with a clean sheet this week going 5-0 w/ the freebie, the rest of the field got busted for following the Advocate when he chose the 'House to beat Langley, and ended up 4-1 on the week.
THSFan won the bonus game with 34pts.
Week 6 results:
Falcons_01 5-0 20pts
CLA, coach99, and THSFan 4-1 16 pts.
Falcons_01 23-5 92 pts
CLA 22-6 88 pts
THSfan 21-7 84pts
coach99 20-8 80pts
Friday October 10
3:30pm Perry vs Westinghouse: Perry should mercy rule the Big Bads in the first half just like old times. Perry by 35
7:30pm Langley vs Allderdice: Allderdice posted its highest point total this season in garbage time against Perry. Maybe, just maybe this might motivate the Dragons enough to beat the Mustangs and extinguish what little playoff hopes they have. Still...The Advocate has not lost going against his alma mater this season, and he's riding the Ponies Langley by 6
Saturday October 11
1:00pm Schenley at Wheeling Central Catholic: This game won't hurt the Spartans in the standings unless one of their go to guys gets injured. The Advocate is hoping that Schenley will present a more challenging opponent for Wheeling CC, but he does not think that the Spartans will break the City League's winless streak against non D8 opponents this season. Wheeling by 14
3:30pm Brashear vs Peabody: It's hard getting excited for a game like this. Peabody was supposed to be a force in the City this season, but it didn't pan out for the Kilties. Another mercy rule special Brashear by 35
7:00pm Oliver vs. Carrick: the most intriguing matchup in a weekend of very unattractive football. Oliver can play spoiler and help their own cause if they win this game, and they have just enough tools to do it. But the Advocate likes this Raider squad. Carrick by 10
Bonus Game : South Fayette at Cornell 24pts
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
1. Brashear 4-0
2. Carrick 3-1
2. Perry 3-1
4. Oliver 2-2
4. Schenley 2-2
6. Westinghouse 1-2
6. Langley 1-2
8. Peabody 0-3
8. Allderdice 0-3
The Brashear Bulls overcame a slow first quarter to steamroll The Advocate's Dragons 41-6. Both teams handled the football like they didn't want it, The 'Dice gave the football away four times, Brashear coughed it up twice, but QB Henri Chapman ran for two TD's and passed for two more to lead the scoring.
The next game for DaBulls is Thursday Night against Westinghouse, who got shut out by the Carrick Raiders 20-0 as the Tribe's defense held the Big Bad Bulldogs to -26 total yards on offense. (8 yds passing, -34 yds rushing) Sam Banks and Cedric Pace lead the Raiders with 3 yd TD runs and Bruce Thornton caught a 26 yd TD pass from Morgan Lewis.
Carrick goes to 3-1 and a second place tie with Perry after losing to the Commodores last week. Speaking of the One Stars, Greg McGhee threw for 101 yds and 2 TDs ran over Peabody 35-6. Peabody drops into the City League dungeon with fellow inmate Allderdice, and those two will square off on Friday afternoon in a jailyard brawl.
Schenleystein and Oliver are tied for the last playoff spot at 2-2 after the Spartans edged Da Bears 22-20. The Greeks pulled out the win on a 4 yd TD run and conversion by Bill Graham with 2:37 left in the game. Finally, the Langley Mustangs acquitted themselves well on their road trip to Phillip Barbour High School in West Virginia only losing to the host Colts 29-26.
As badly as the pick 'em field wet the bed last week, they redeemed themselves this week. Everyone except for coach99 went 5-0 this week, coach figuring that Schenley was going to take Oliver.
After week 4.
CLA 5-0 20pts
Falcons_01 5-0 20pts
THSFan 5-0 20pts
mal_8ball 5-0 10pts*
coach99 4-1 16pts
Rochester beat W. Beaver 41-7 so the Advocate wins the tiebreaker with 45pts.
CLA 13-5 52pts
Falcons_01 13-5 52pts
Coach99 12-6 48pts
THSFan 12-6 48pts
mal_8ball 12-6 28pts*
Thursday, Sept 25
3:30pm Westinghouse vs Brashear. Brashear by 30
Friday Sept 26
3:30pm Peabody vs Allderdice Two 0-3 teams gut it out. In some cases, games between winless teams are the best ones, because neither one wants to lose to a team as bad as they are. The difference between Peabody and Allderdice is the Highlanders can score points and the Dragons can't. The Kilties scored over 30 points in two of their first three games, Allderdice hasn't scored more than 12 points in a game all season and have scored only 12 points in league play thus far. What kills the Highlanders is they can't play defense. They've given up 30, 34, and 35 points respectively in their three losses. The 'Dice may be able to break out of their scoring slump against Peabody, but expect the Kilts to put up a few points themselves. The Advocate goes with Peabody. Highlanders by 7
7:30pm Perry vs. Oliver The traditional Battle of the North Side kicks off tonight. Perry is back in a familiar position...in playoff contention with a three game winning streak. DaBears are a game behind and can move into a tie w/the One Stars and the all important head-to head advantage with a win. Perry has a pretty easy schedule coming up and can get a nice head of steam going into their playoff run. The Advocate will take Perry in a wild affair, with lots of yellow on the carpet. Commodores by 14
7:00pm Carrick at Sharon. The Raiders take a break from City League action and travel 76 miles up the Turnpike to Sharon, PA to battle the Sharon High Tigers. The Tigers are 4-0 in their conference in D10, and have given up only 23 points all season. The City League has played Sharon on multiple occasions and hasn't beaten them yet. As Cinderella as the Carrick Raiders are this season, The Advocate doesn't see them taking out the Tigers on their home field. Sharon by 14
Saturday Sept 27
12:00pm Schenley at Langley. The Ponies have played well the last couple weeks winning against Peabody, and losing gamely against Barbour W.Va. Schenley is in the throes of a playoff chase and need a win to eastablish momentum. The Advocate thinks they can get that win, but this Langley squad has had a taste of confidence and may find out they like it. Schenley by 7.
Tiebreaker Central Catholic at Woodland Hills 32pts.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Your City League Advocate is still a touch woozy a full four days after yet another wildly successful Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake held last Saturday in an undisclosed location. Funny, The Advocate used to be able to bounce right back into the saddle after the annual weekend of revelry, raw, naked hedonism (with the emphasis of naked) and the mass consumption of highly alcoholic beverages of unknown composition and even more unknown lethality. But this year the Advocate was laid up in bed for at least 48 hours and finally got the pink elephants to stop doing the can-can on the ceiling last night. Maybe being 46 isn't all its cracked up to be.
This year's Bacchanal went off rather smoothly, with no interference from the local law enforcement community. The revenues generated from the various event sponsorships went a long way towards paying off the local constabulary to look the other way. (No officer, you are not seeing that topless woman playing a peculiar form of footsy with that monkey!) That and also having a few photographs of the local councilmembers in compromising positions with ladies and/or gentlemen and/or animals that are clearly not those to whom they pledged to have and to hold, in sickness and health, and until death do they part. (Thank you. Photoshop!)
The Most Lethal Alcoholic Concoction was contested by a hearty field of extremely volatile and yet quite tasty drinks, The perennial winner, Satan's Lemonade, was challenged by a newcomer known only as Red Death. The creator of this heady brew was very reluctant to share the ingredients of the mix, but proved its potency by pouring a gallon of it into one of the stretch Hummers and driving it into the next town, damn near poisoning everyone at the party with its exhaust. But neither Satan's Lemonade nor Red Death could hold a candle to an inspiring and frisky little creation known simply as Liquid Sin. The volunteer tasters still have not come out of hospital yet. The local HazMat team is still cleaning up the area after a cup of the stuff was spilled on the ground and killed every animal and half the humans within a 50 yd radius.
Another crazy got a hold of the anti-tank weapons and yet again cooked off a round, but this time, there were no cheerleaders nor a llama to terrorize, but we'll have to explain to that farmer how his barn got leveled, and his cows are clearly showing signs of PTSD. The Advocate has never seen cows give chocolate milk before, and that farmer's chickens are laying eggs that are anything but egg-shaped.
The highlight of the weekend was the annual "Catch The Virgin" contest sponsored by Cialis. Would this be the fifth year in a row that the designated virgin would elude her captors and retain her virtue?? You may remember one "Mad Mike" Muchacho, last year's early favorite to break the streak who was schooled by a particularly evasive maiden that gave him a slip that ruined the rest of the day for him? Well, our boy Mike trained and trained and trained and came to the event tanned, rested and incredibly fit. He showed off the results of this intensive regimen by catching the virgin in an event record of 5.3 seconds, shattering the old record by a full 15 minutes. Sadly, Mike got so excited about finally breaking the streak and setting a new course record that he was unable to...shall we say...follow up. Even after liberal doses of the sponsors product, Mad Mike just wasn't able to finish the second part of the contest, and was so disqualified. Poor Mike.
It is safe to say that Your City League Advocate's Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake was another huge success, now if the Advocate can just figure out how to get the cats to stop doing Marx Brothers impressions. He wonders if there's anymore of that Liquid Sin laying around????
1. Brashear 3-0, 3-0
2. Carrick 2-1, 2-1
2 Oliver 2-1, 2-1
2 Perry 2-1, 2-1
5. Westinghouse 1-1, 1-1
6. Langley 1-2, 1-2
6. Schenley 1-2, 1-2
8. Peabody 0-2, 0-2
9. Allderdice 0-3, 0-3
Let's get to the football...another interesting week in the Pittsburgh City League. Last week Westinghouse broke out of its slump, and now the Revenge of the Bottom Feeders continues with what has so far become the upset of the season. The Langley Mustangs defeated the Peabody Highlanders 35-32 in overtime, sending the West End Kids out of the dungeon and into the fresh air that is mid-pack in the City League. The Ponies earned the win with two TD passes by Jesse Bell. The first was a 21 yd strike to Stephon Faye on the last play of regulation, and the game winner came on the first play of overtime, a 10 yd toss to Tyrone Smith. Bell also helped his own cause by rushing for 118 yds on 12 carries. Brother Joey Bell also ran for over 100 yds toting the ball 114 yds on 29 carries. Pierre Carr scored 4 TDs for the Kilties in the losing effort.
Peabody has given up 69 points in their two games thus far and have scored 66 points. The Mustangs last won in the City League back on October 14, 2005 against Brashear. Their next game takes them 120 miles down 79 South into West-By-Gawd Virginia to take on Phillip Barbour High School. The Highlanders will try to muster a win against the resurgent Perry Commodores, who thrust themselves into the thick of the frontrunners by their edging of the Carrick Raiders 14-6. A significant win in that both teams are tied for second, but Perry owns the tiebreaker for playoff implications. The One Stars broke open the 6-6 tie in the 4th quarter on a 23 yd TD pass by Greg McGhee to Rayfiq Cromwell. Next stop for the new and much improved Raiders will be a Saturday afternoon tilt against Westinghouse who hopefully wasn't basking in the glow of their recent over the Oliver Bears. Speaking of the Bruins, they easily handled the Advocate's Dragons 20-0, sending the Green Hats into the cellar for the first time since 2003. Not much to say about this debacle, other than the 'Dice needs to get its stuff in one sock if they want to even have a sniff at a playoff berth. But the schedule makers aren't kind to the Dragons this week, because at 0-3 they'll have to go against the undefeated Brashear Bulls who remain the lone undefeated team in the City League by demolishing the Schenleystein Spartans 36-12. DaBulls got 2TD's from WR Taji Linning, a 33yd fumble return for TD by Mike Barron, a 31 yd TD run by James Reed and a 24yd interception return by Manesseh Garner.
The Pick 'Em field was rocked by the turn of events of last weekend with Falcons_01 going 3-1 and the rest of the field doing no better than 2-2. Everybody got smoked on the Peabody-Langley game. The Oliver and Brashear games were picked predictably by all comers, and Falcons was the only one who wasn't impressed by Carrick.
Falcons_01 3-1 12pts
CLA 2-2 8pts
Coach99 2-2 8pts
THSfan 2-2 8pts
mal_8ball 2-2 8pts*
* picks not submitted in time, proxy selection and half points awarded.
CLA 8-5 32pts
Coach99 8-5 32pts
Falcons_01 8-5 32pts
THSfan 7-6 28pts
mal_8ball 7-6 20pts
Thursday September 18th
6:00pm Brashear at Allderdice. The Advocate's debating whether he should subject himself to this mess. Brashear by 20.
Friday September 19th
3:30pm Oliver vs Schenleystein. The Advocate's still not quite sure who the real Oliver Bears are. The ones who destroyed Langley, or the ones who got schooled by the 'House. DaBears had the easiest opening schedule in the City, and they split against perennial bottom feeders, but they dominated a team that WAS presumably supposed to contend for a playoff spot in the 'Dice. Schenley has lost two in a row. This game could contend for the Advocate's Game of the Week honors. The Advocate will go with Oliver by the thinnest of margins Oliver by 8
7:30pm Peabody vs Perry. The Highlanders score a lot and give up a lot. The Commodores aren't quite the terror of the past eight years, but they do seem to have some of their swagger back. We'll see. Perry by 10
7:30pm Langley vs Phillip Barbour W.VA. The Advocate could not find out much about Phillip Barnour beyond that their nickname is the Colts, so we'll have two teams with horsey mascots. According to the Barbour Intermountain newspaper, the Colts are currently 2-1 on the season, having won their last two games in a row. Not a whole lot to go on. Langley will be their guest for Homecoming, so you gotta figure the Colts will be fired up to show the out of towners up. The Advocate will go with Phillip Barbour simply because of the history of City League squads in these out of state games and the potential hostile crowd factor. Barbour by 14
Saturday September 20th
12:00pm Carrick vs Westinghouse. Can the Big Bads make it 2 in a row against a frontrunning team? They've had a full week to prep for the Raiders. Carrick is looking to bounce back from an emotional loss. They cannot afford to look past the Bulldogs. The Advocate thinks that the Tribe has too many weapons for the 'House to contain. Carrick by 10
Rochester vs. Western Beaver
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
1. Brashear 2-0, 2-0
2. Carrick 2-0, 2-0
3. Oliver 1-1, 1-1
4. Perry 1-1, 1-1
5. Schenley 1-1, 1-1
6. Westinghouse 1-1, 1-1
7. Peabody 0-1, 0-1
8. Allderdice 0-1, 0-2
9. Langley 0-2, 0-2
The Perry Commodores used three touchdowns and a 138 yd rushing performance by QB Greg McGhee to put themselves level in the League with a 30-16 dismantling of the Schenleystein Spartans. The game was tied at hafltime 16-16 when McGhee broke the game open with two scores to put the game away. The One Stars will next be playing on the Advocate's Birthday September 13th at noon against the undefeated Carrick Raiders...yes, that sounds strange to the Advocate's ears also. But from what the Advocate saw last night on the turf at the George when the Raiders took apart his Dragons, this Tribe squad is a dangerous team indeed.
The Dragons showed how young and inexperienced they were this season by coughing up the ball six times, four by interception, two by fumble. The Raider defense limited the 'Dice to 6 points scored on an Evan Merida run from 13 yds out. That was all the Green Hats could put together for offense as Carrick outgained Allderdice 241-157, held a 12-4 advantage in first downs and Ryan Roeper connected with Bruce Thornton on a 53 yd pass. Roeper went 6 for 21 for 107 yds in passing. Sam Banks scored two rushing TDs for the Raiders and he Bruce Thornton administered the coup de grace with a 58 yd interception return to slay the Dragons 28-6. Personally, the Dragons really did look raw, They have a QB that has a nice arm, but he's still a sophomore and not quite in touch with his receivers yet. The coaches did use 6-6 tight end Will Clarke on a sporadic basis as a pass catcher, but he didn't figure significantly in the overall Allderdice offensive scheme. 'Dice's defense was largely able to stuff the Carrick run as evidenced that most of Carrick's scoring came from turnovers and big pass and run plays. The Dragons have a bit of a running game, but beyond the one TD, did not factor much in the outcome. The Dragons will next face the Oliver Bears on Friday the 12th at 3:30pm.
DaBears were part of the lone upset in City League action this past weekend falling to the Westinghouse Bulldogs 24-6. The Big Bads climbed out of the City doghouse on the performance of quarterback Darrell Cosby who threw for 117yds and two TD's and also ran for one score to seal the win. The next action for the Bulldogs is on September 20th when they face Carrick.
The top ranked and undefeated Brashear Bulls broke open a scoreless game in the second quarter with a 42 point explosion in both the second and third quarters to put the Langley Mustangs away 48-14. Junior RB Bruce Patterson provided the brunt of DaBulls offense rushing for 120 yds on 16 carries and scoring 4 touchdowns all within the 15 yard line. Quarterback Henri Chapman completed 9 of 14 passes for 154 yds and passed for two touchdowns to Manasseh Garner of 28 and 13 yds respectively. Next up for the Herd is a 7:30 Friday night main stage game against Schenleystein while the Langley Mustangs prepare to face Peabody this Thursday night.
The weekend's results threw the pick 'em into a tizzy with the entire field being sacked by the Oliver loss to the 'House. Only one of the 5 competitors got the Schenley game right. 2 of 5 picked the 'Dice and got stomped and all five correctly picked Brashear.
Week 2 Results
CLA 2-2 8pts
Coach99 2-2 8pts
Falcons_01 2-2 8pts
mal_ 8ball 2-2 4pts*
THSfan 1-3 4pts
THSfan wins the tiebreaker with 27pts
* picks not submitted, so proxy picks were made on the basis of rhe consensus and correct picks worth 4pts instead of 2.
CLA 6-3 24 pts
Coach99 6-3 24pts
Falcons_01 5-4 20 pts
THSFan 5-4 20pts
mal_8ball 5-4 16pts.
Thrusday September 11
6:00pm Peabody at Langley, The Highlanders will be a little rusty because of their layoff, but what better way to shake off the rust than by facing a team that has scored 16 points in two games. The Advocate figures this one should be mildly watchable for a quarter, but Peabody will prevail. Highlanders by 15
Friday September 12
3:30pm Oliver at Allderdice. The Dragons open the 'home' portion of their schedule against the Bears. Both teams reeling against beatable opponents although Carrick by the Advocate's estimation is an early contender for the playoffs, and who knows where the 'House will end up. Oliver has the advantage with the quarterback and is a little older than the Dragons. The 'Dice has had a tougher opening schedule. The Advocate predicts that this game will be close, but he feels that the Bears have just enough to squeak by. Bears by 3.
7:30pm Schenleystein at Brashear. The Spartans could make this game interesting in the early going. Even Langley was able to hold DaBulls off the board for a quarter, but Brashear has the best o-line in the City and could even make life difficult for a mid-pack WPIAL AA or AAA team. Bulls by 14
Saturday September 13
12:00pm Perry at Carrick. It would figure that the Advocate's Game of the Week would fall on his birthday, but the Advocate will not be available to witness the game as he has his own festivities to preside over. Both teams can put up points. Both teams can run the ball. The Raider's Ray Seskey is the real deal. The Advocate will go out on a limb and predict that Carrick will pull out the win. Raiders by 10
Week 3 tiebreaker: Aliquippa vs Beaver Falls The Advocate picks 30pts
Next week, Your City League Advocate will provide extensive coverage of his annual Birthday Bacchanal and Clam Bake to be held on the 13th of September in an undisclosed location.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Carrick and Peabody provided the sole decent football game of the weekend by putting on a wild and wooly affair and when the dust had settled over the George, The Tribe had pulled out a 35-30 win over the Highlanders. Ray Seskey led Carrick with a 146 yd rushing performance and a 77 yd kickoff return for a touchdown. Bruce Thorton scored 2 TD's of an 85 yd kickoff return and 10 yd reception for the Raiders while Pierre Carr showed his talent for blazing speed scoring TDs on an 40 yd run from scrimmage and an 80 yd pass reception.
The rest of the weekend was standard City League with much stompage of the bottom feeders of the loop. Langley lost their 21st straight game going back to 2005 with a 40-2 loss to the Oliver Bears. DaBears were paced by Martise Smith who ran over, under, through, and around the Langley defense to the tune of 251 yds and 3 TDs. Upsher Ferguson scored on a 24 yd TD pass from DeVaughn Copeland. Oliver also scored on a run of 42 yds by David Marshall and Copeland helped his own cause by chipping in a 25yd TD run.
The Westinghouse Bulldogs opened the Monte Robinson era the same way they closed the eras of the last three head coaches who tried valiantly to resurrect the once vaunted football program, with a 34-0 thumping at the hands of the Schenleystein Spartans. The East Liberty/Shadyside/Oakland/HillDistrict Transplants were led by Jerome Matthews and Jerome Pollard who scored 2 TDs each along with a fumble recovered in the endzone to put the Dawgs in the pound early.
The Advocate's Allderdice Dragons went off the reservation for the third year in a row opening out in the shadow of the Thunderbolt at West Mifflin, and for the third year in a row the Dragons came back home looking like what happens when the Advocate tried to ride the Thunderbolt, The Racer, The Jack Rabbit and the Steel Phantom one after the other without a break between, after stuffing his face with corn dogs, potato patch fries and funnel cakes. In short, the Green Hats threw up all over themselves in a 56-12 Technicolor upchuck by the West Mifflin Titans. The Dragons scored their points on two TD passes of 89 and 16 yds to Kendron Jones. Well, if one game can be relied on for any kind of reference, it looks like the 'Dice may have a quarterback this season.
In the first week of the revived City League pick 'em, Everybody lost on Carrick-Peabody with the consensus going with the Highlanders. The Advocate, coach99, and THSFan swept the rest of the games to go 4-1 on the week, while Falcons01 and mal_8ball picked Perry to beat Brashear, which they didn't.
CLA 4-1 16pts
coach99 4-1 16pts
THSfan 4-1 16 pts
Falcons01 3-2 12pts
mal_8ball 3-2 12pts.
The Advocate won the tiebreaker predicting 34 points scored in the North Hills-Mt. Lebo game with that final total being 20.
This week's matchups:
Thursday Sept 4
6:00pm Perry(0-1) vs Schenleystein (1-0)
The Commodores need to right the ship this week, they came off a very disheartening loss to a bitter rival. How will this loss affect them? This early in the season, who knows?? Schenleystein opened with an easy win, Perry may be down but they are still light years ahead of the 'House. The Advocate can't decide whether this game or the 'Dice-Carrick game would qualify as his Game of the Week, because both of these matchups stand the best chance being even remotely watchable after the first quarter, which is a major determining factor in choosing the Advocate's Game of the Week. The Advocate will go with the Greeks in a squeaker. Schenleystein by 6
Friday Sept 5
3:30pm Oliver(1-0) vs Westinghouse (0-1)
The Advocate is reaching for an ice pick to gouge out his eyes in an effort to avoid watching the carnage. Bears by 25
7:30pm Carrick (1-0) vs Allderdice (0-1)
We know that after one game, Carrick can pile on the points. What do we know about Allderdice? Nothing except that maybe it's time for Dandy Don to stop scheduling West Mifflin for the first game of the season. This is the City League opener for the Dragons and the thumping they took at the hands of the Titans doesn't tell the Advocate a lot about how this team will do against competition that's a closer to their level. Carrick has a legit scoring threat in Ray Seskey. The Advocate has to go with his head over his heart and predict that the Raiders will defeat the Dragons. Carrick by 7
Saturday Sept 6
12:00pm Brashear (1-0) vs Langley (0-1)
This game should be considered cruel and unusual punishment on the Langley players and also the fans who'll subject themselves to watching this disaster. Bulls by 35
Falcons01 and mal8_ball, this is the closest you guys will ever get to a freebie on this or any other pick 'em on the PSB. You blow this one, there's no hope for you.
Peabody is off until September 11th.
Hampton at West Allegheny. Just pick the total points, not the winner
Monday, September 01, 2008
If there was a way I could include a streaming link to Earth, Wind and Fire's hit "September", and not run afoul of the RIAA, I would do so, because my favorite month of the year has arriv-ed!! Yes kiddies, I'm a September baby, and September is here! Oh joy, Oh rapture!!!
If it hasn't been made abundantly clear, yes, September is a very important month for me. Many significant events, all of which life changing to one degree or another occurred during the 9th month of the year. Almost all of those events occurred during the period of September 10th to the 20th. Chronologically, let's go through them one at a time.
September 10th is important because that was the day that I went into the service. Those who know me know that I was not the best student in high school. Despite attending what was traditionally considered the best high school in the City of Pittsburgh, Taylor Allderdice, I was woefully immature, spectacularly unprepared for college life and even if I had all my shit in one sock, my folks didn't have the cash to fork over to send my lazy ass on to college, which had this happened would have been one of the greatest wastes of time and money since Prohibition.
So unlike a lot of my college bound schoolmates who were putting out college applications left and right and hoping to get into the school of their choice, and knowing that my attempt to do the college thing would end in a disaster of biblical proportions, I enlisted in the Navy under the Navy's Delayed Entry Program. This program allowed eligible people to enlist in the Navy 12 months prior to going off to boot camp. I was in non-paid status of the Naval Reserve during my senior year in high school and that year would count for pay purposes once I started boot camp. That meant that I had a few more bucks in the paycheck from the get-go, which given my proclivity to spend like a...wait for it...drunken sailor, was a small godsend.
I had no regrets about doing this because frankly, going into the service was my best and only viable option. Even back in the '70s, the prospects for young black males weren't all that good and not being ready for any type of post high school education meant that would have had to find a job, so I figured, why don't I join the Navy, get some education, toughen myself up and get out of the ghetto for a while, so three months to the day after the graduation at 6:30am, the morning of Wednesday September 10, 1980, the recruiter came to my house to pick me up and start me on my first major life adventure. I was driven down to the Federal Building downtown and spent about 11 hours being hustled from room to room, signing a small mountain of paperwork, being poked, prodded, told to bend over and cough numerous times and then I was shuffled into a room with about a dozen other guys. I was told to raise my right hand and swear that I would support and defend the constitution of the United States. At that point, I was a sailor.
I and my induction group were then put on a bus, schlepped out to the airport, and put on a flight to Chicago. An couple hours later, we landed at O'Hare, were put on another bus and sent 35 miles north to the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I can remember everyone laughing, and talking crap and joking around on the way up to the base, but once we saw those high barb-wired topped fences with the "Property of the US Government" signs on them, you could hear a pin drop. We entered through the gate and then a couple of guys wearing dungarees, guard belts, and dark blue shirts with funny looking insignia on the collars came on the bus and in no uncertain terms told us to get of their bus quick, fast and in a hurry. We clambered off the bus and lined up on the footprints painted on the asphalt, and marched looking like a bunch of Soviet-era dissidents condemned to the gulag, to what was called "Receiving Division"
There we were issued raincoats, ditty bags full of cleaning supplies, and some other stuff and made to sit a large room, until everyone else that was expected to be arriving showed up. I was assigned a seven digit number that I remember to this day: 056-09-10. I was told never to forget that number and to spit it out on command. A few hours later some petty officers came in, screamed at us for a while, told us what to expect, collected all our UA or unauthorized gear from us, and marched us to a small barracks with a couple dozen bunk beds. It was about 1 am when we finally turned in, and just as we had finally got to sleep, the lights came on, a garbage can was thrown down the middle of the bunkroom and we were woken up rather roughly and told to get our asses down to the grinder(parade ground) as soon as possible. What followed was a blur as within the space of a few hours we had been: fed; given haircuts; told to write a letter home saying that we had arrived safely; finished more paperwork; been issued ID cards and dogtags; and marched all over the base at least a couple times. Those first few days left little time to rest or reflect on why the hell we decided to put ourselves through this crap. There was always someplace to go, something to do, stuff being constantly drilled into our heads. But to be honest, I didn't mind it. I actually felt quite alive. This was something I wanted to do.
Eventually, we got our uniforms issued, were assigned into a company and a barracks and settled down into the regular routine. Lots of running around, marching, schoolwork to master, PT to sweat through. It was a big head game, but I didn't mind it. I felt like I was doing something productive. Boot camp challenged me in ways that high school never could. It was not always easy. I ralphed more than a few times after some of the PT runs. I had problems getting my bunk and lockers ready for inspections, and I did miss home, but I was proud of what I had done, and I knew there was a change in me when I passed in review for graduation eight weeks later. I was in the best shape of my life, I looked good in the uniform, and I thought I was going places.
My post-boot camp career had its ups and downs. I didn't get into the Data Systems Technician school that I was assigned to attend because I could not make it through the preliminary Basic Electricity and Electronics course. I always did better in a traditonal instructor/student environment, and I could not adjust to the self-taught system BE&E used. I ended up having to be reassigned to Mess Management School in San Diego. It wasn't what I wanted to do, being a cook and the parents weren't too thrilled, but better to go to the fleet with an A school diploma in my pocket rather than as an undesignated striker having to earn a rating the hard way. Besides, six weeks in San Diego after freezing my ass off in Great Lakes, plus the fact that there were women on base in San Diego??? What's not to love about that???
To compress it all, in summer of 1981, I graduated from MS school, volunteered for service on the USS Carl Vinson, which was being built in Newport News, VA. After she made her maiden World Cruise in 1983, I left that ship and literally walked across the pier to my new ship, the USS California. The California was not nearly as great an adventure as the Carl Vinson. I clashed with a lot of my crewmates, didn't quite fit in, and on September 9, 1986, I walked out of the East Gate of NAS Alameda, with honorable discharge in hand, happy to be done with that ship, but still wishing that I could have stayed in the Navy. I wanted to stay in 20 years. But the crap I had to put up with on the California, while much of it was self-imposed, had soured me on a naval career. Now thinking about it in hindsight, I could have done much more to improve my lot on the ship and in the Navy. I had a lot of issues that affected my ability to fully succeed. Most of those problems, I still have today. But I look and think often upon those days with a certain fond rememberance. Even the bad times, weren't really so bad, and they served to play a major part in making me what I am today. I made new friends, seen places most people couldn't find on a map. Had a lot of fun and learned a lot about myself. And so, September 10th will always be an important day for me.
September 13th of course is my birthday. I actually wished that I was born in 1963 instead of 1962, because that would insured that I would have been born on Friday the 13th. Now that's a conversation starter. This year I'll be 46 years old. I've seen a lot over the years. Most of it good, but a few potholes in the road to keep me honest. I cried in my bunk my first birthday in boot camp, but I've never been a big birthday party guy. I've only had a couple parties in my life, and would rather spend my birthday either by myself or with my friend Denise.
Speaking of Denise, September 20th is significant for me because that is her birthday.
Finally, September is most well known for the my second major life changing experience...my return to school or The Relentless Pursuit of Higher Education.
In 1992 after six years out of the service, basically knocking around doing dead end chimp work, I got it into my head that I finally needed to go back to school. As a Christian who occasionally feels that God is talking to him, I felt that He was telling me that he wanted me to continue my education. Through a tenant of mine, I got the name of one George Carter who was a counselor at the Community College of Allegheny County. Little did I know how much of an influence this man would be in my college years.
I made an appointment to see Mr. Carter at his office in Boyce Campus in Monroeville. I walked into his cramped little rabbit hutch office overflowing with books, papers, and other bric-a-brac. We shook hands and introduced ourselves, and after a minute of small talk, he pulled out a application for admission and said to me in a voice that would leave no uncertainty of his position, "Now we have the small talk out of the way, let's get down to business." He wasn't forcing me, but something told me that I wasn't leaving this man's office without signing that application. I had only come in to ask some questions, and maybe to set my mind at ease. Mr. Carter had other things in mind. He was one who had a burning desire to see that any student especially black males in particular got a chance to succeed, and would do anything to make sure that would happen. After about an hour in his office, I had filled out the app for admission, and for financial aid, and had registered for my first two summer classes. I owe a great debt to Mr. Carter. He did a lot for me while I was in school. He encouraged me when the pressure tried to get to me. When I wasn't able to pay for my books at the time I needed them, he pulled strings with the bookstore to get me the books I needed for class until my grant money came in to pay him back. He even showed up when I graduated from Robert Morris in 2000.
I have to admit, that I wasn't sure that I was ready to get back into school. I was 30 years old at the time, and going to school with kids a dozen years younger. Would I be able to keep up? Well, after those first two classes in the summer, I found that the answer to that question was an unqualified YES!!! I took to it like a fish to water. My mind was totally and completely re-energized. It felt like the switch connected to my brain that somehow got turned off in middle and high school was found once again and snapped back on. I was absorbing this stuff like a sponge. I had discovered a gift for writing that had never manifested itself before. Other than the service, I had never felt so alive. I looked forward to going to class. I wanted to get the whole college experience. I felt almost like an 18 year old again. I signed up to join clubs, I got involved in the intramural sports and the collegiate bowling team. When I fulfilled the academic requirement after 12 credits, I joined the local Phi Theta Kappa chapter and threw myself into their activities, racking up all sorts of awards and honors and eventually becoming chapter president. In 1995, I graduated from CCAC with the Male Student of the Year Award for 94-95.
I was published in the National Dean's List; Who's Who Amongst Students in American Junior Colleges; more certificates of merit and honors than I knew what to do with. Those were great years. But because like I always did, I planned things as I went along instead of making a plan on paper and sticking to it, I ended up with an associate's degree that wasn't strong enough to transfer to any of the major colleges in Pittsburgh. So I had to decide whether I should try to get enough credits to at least transfer one year at Pitt, until I had come across the counselor types from then-Robert Morris College occupying a table in Boyce's front hall and trying desperately to get someone to notice them. Something told me to talk to them and see what they had to offer. I went to the registrar and requested a copy of my transcript which by then had close to 80 credits on it. I gave it to the RMC people and my jaw hit the carpet when they looked it over and started checking off course after eligible course of study. After they were done, they told me that could take the maximum number of 69 credits from my transcript. I then asked them about tuition, which at the time was extremely reasonable, and then the clincher was that they had transportation between downtown and the Moon campus free for students and I asked them "Where do I sign up???" The application and admission process could not have been smoother, I was admitted within three days of submitting the application and began classes in September of '97. Once there, I did the same routine I did at CCAC. I jumped into my classwork, joined clubs, got as involved on campus as a commuter student could and got involved in the local Phi Beta Lambda chapter. I chose a major that interested me more than one that was marketable (notice a trend here???) and in 2000 finished up my studies with a 3.07 GPA, and a degree that I enjoyed studying for, but would not get me a decent job. And as a result, I'm doing the same shit work I was doing before I started the 7 and a half year ordeal. But you know what, I still learned a hell of a lot about myself, and my capabilities. Yes, the whole thing ended up being a paper chase. I could have done things better, and emerged with a marketable degree that would have gotten me a decent job. But I have found that my education did help me in my outside interests. Working as my church's treasurer for four years for example. Rebuilding my American Legion Post's management system. Stuff that I could not have done if I hadn't gone back to school. And I would not have been able to succeed at school had I not learned about myself in the Navy. And it all happened in the month of September--My month.