Thursday, September 28, 2006


I screwed up.

I wrote up a quick entry about a day in Pittsburgh the exchange students had, but I forgot to publish it - so it's just been added two posts down or so.

So scroll down or click the link to hear about the Big Day of Fun in Pittsburgh!

Also - when talking about the baseball game, I neglected to mention the cool Bobble-head collectible they handed out at the game.

So here it is, seen proudly sitting on my windowledge.

Nothing new here

Had the day off today to get some study for my exam tomorrow. Well, it's now three o'clock in the morning, and I can tell you I've done about a half hour of work so far. So where has my day gone? Well - I've probably spent about three hours playing NCAA on the PS2 (it's a college football game) with my suitemates (we've got a little tourney going), and a good two hours of my day went into going to a batting cage; so I got a feel for the difficulty those baseball players have in hitting those balls that are thrown at such speeds.

Rather than go too much into it, I'll promise to upload full impressions and pictures of it over the next few days, but for now, I'm just letting you know that I've uploaded the Gran Canaria Holiday Montage onto my YouTube account - most of you are probably sick of it after seeing the long tenure it enjoyed on mine and a few other Bebo pages, but it's here anyways, with slightly higher resolution, and much better sound than before.

That's all for now, blog-fans! Expect another big entry sometime after Friday - I've much to report on that I'm holding off until I can give it the attention it deserves.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bawdy Buccaneers and Christ Allusions

I have a load of other things I could, and should be doing right now, but instead I've decided to tell you lucky people about a baseball game I recently attended.

Don't you feel special?

So then!

After our Big Day of Fun in Pittsburgh, me and Tom went to the rather splendid PNC Park to see the Pittsburgh Pirates face off against the New York Mets. Tickets for the game were but $5(!), and transport to and from the game was included (!!), which is a ridiculously good deal, no?

Our journey began with the ultimate American artefact: the big yellow school-bus o' death!

We boarded this sunshine-coloured behemoth and looked around for safety harnesses as we noted how springy the seats were, and how many solid things there were to be bounced off! No sooner had we determined that a single pothole would mean certain death for anyone with a neck not made of rubber, we were presented with a piece of paper and a pencil. It was a waiver agreement! The cheeky so-and-sos were fully aware of the peril in which our lives were, and their solution was to have us sign our souls away (luckily I had sold mine away for less back in '94, but that's a story for another blog)!

I'm sure many of you will be disappointed to hear that we arrived safe and sound, and were free to marvel at the beauty of PNC Park (opened in 2001, sits 38,496 fans, built in a way to take advantage of the Pittsburgh Skyline, considered by many as the "best stadium in baseball", fact fans).

Here's a pic Tom took (with his phone) a few days previous;


Not bad, eh?

We got there maybe two hours before the game started, which was odd - so we wandered around this Stadium as though it was a shopping mall - going in and out of the merchandise shops, looking at the ridiculously overpriced foodstuffs on offer, and generally taking in the spectacle of American Culture in action! I got thirsty and went to buy a Pepsi (because there's no Coke in the whole stadium - grumble), then saw that it was $4, and my thirst disappeared! It was miraculous! (I can see how Jesus could peramble about in the desert for forty days without water now - I didn't want to part with $4, let alone everything I stand for)

In a rather bizarre turn of events, it seems that one of the Robert Morris (that's my school - try and keep up) maintenance workers (I think he's a gardener) is singing the national anthem at this Professional Baseball Game! So he does! And the RMU crowd, naturally, go nuts for him. Me and Tom are a little perplexed at first, but we forget about it once the game starts.

This is my first game, whereas Tom is a seasoned veteran (he was at a game a few weeks beforehand), so he is on hand to explain the very basic rules. I complain for the first half hour about how slow the game is, how bored the players seem, and how retarded the crowd are. Everybody sits around, drinks beer, and talks to each other, only occasionally cheering or clapping or singing once the Stadium PA system comes on and encourages some action.

(This is a shot from my seat) The players don't seem too bothered about what they're doing, and after they hit the ball, they barely jog towards the next base, invariably getting eliminated, only to shrug and continue jogging, but now towards the comfy player bench, where they can have a seat, scratch their genitals and chew tobacco.

Tom maintains that I'll get into the game once I can see past these oddities - I consider sport a celebration of human excellence, and these guys on the field are too laid-back and lardy for my liking. After it's explained to me that these guys play 3 games in three nights, then take a break for one night, followed by another three nights of games, I become much more forgiving towards their treating the game like a job.

About 5 innings in, without realising, I get a sudden surge of enthusiasm for the Buccos. Cheering, clapping and cursing to convey my approval or disapproval as appropriate. Not sure why, but I just 'got' it. So let's look at some more of the oddities about this national pastime. Before the game started, an announcement was made, reminding us that "Baseball is a family pastime, and any inappropriate language or behaviour may lead to fans being expelled from the Stadium". Yikes!

Mascots were of course, present and doing their thing, running and dancing about the place like the jesters that they are. Another interesting activity of these Mascots; they got bazookas, put rolled up T-shirts and hot-dogs into 'em, and shot em into the crowd! The same thing was done with a large slingshot - which I thought was pretty cool. There was a camera crew going around asking baseball-related questions and giving away prizes; one woman even had the opportunity to trade her prize for "What's in this box", prompting the entire stadium, myself included, to begin chanting "The box! The box!"

What else? They played music between plays, and showed videos when in.troducing the batters.
I probably should've mentioned the Computer-Generated cartoon that played before the game showing two war Galleons (one representing each team) duking it out before the Pirates eventually sunk those dirty Mets.

The game finished in quasi-spectacular fashion: the teams were tied at the bottom of the ninth(the final inning), two of our guys were struck out, and we had one last chance to finish the game and go home - our final hitter got balled onto the next base, so a fourth hitter stepped up. He hit the ball, our boy ran home, and we won 2-1. (It was exciting, trust me!)

All I learned from the experience is that Americans have short attention spans and will happily pay for overpriced foodstuffs at major sporting events.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Dear Blog.

I finally got around to consuming the ultimate artefact of American culture; the "Peanut-Butter and Jelly sandwich". It wasn't that bad, but in the thirty seconds since I've finished it, my stomach is starting to churn, and I'm very, very thirsty all of a sudden.

Blasted Americans with their salty snacks! I don't think I'll try that again.

Next week: Chicken in a biscuit!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Big Gay Day of Fun in Pittsburgh!

Being an exchange student, the school are constantly going out of their way to "make Robert Morris a home away from home", which basically involves treating us like Kings!

Well, Kings that get the occasional free meal and a trip to Pittsburgh...

They took us for an example of "Fine American Dining", which was....

An Italian Restaurant!

Following this fine feed, we went up the Duquesne Incline. What is it you ask? Let's see what Wikipedia has to say on the matter...

"The Incline's original purpose was to take cargo up and down Mt Washington in the late
1800s. It then became available for passenger use to workers on Mt. Washington who tired of walking up footpaths to the top ... as time went on, more roads could be built up Mt. Washington, and most inclines were closed. In the 1940s, only the Monongahela Incline and the Duquesne Incline were left."

Glad that's cleared up, eh? Basically, you sit in a little carriaige, and it goes up an insanely steep hill by means of a few flimsy looking cables, while those who are afraid of heights crap their pants and pray to their respective gods.

At the top, there was a lousy gift-shop and a World War 1 Monument, none of which I feel are worth publishing pictures of. There was a nice view of the city of Pittsburgh, however, which gave rise to rather splendid pics like this one.

However, I did succumb to tempation and spend $0.51 on a machine that mashes a penny into this shape - but I got ripped off! Claire's penny was cleaner when she put it in, and the machine actually managed to hit the right spot... Here's what I mean.

See the two shiny penneys? Then the crappy one that's been completely missed by the machine? Guess which one is mine?

We didn't really venture any further into the city, and returned back to the campus, so me and Tom could go and indulge in some manly-man-pastimes; go to a Baseball game!
(watch this space!)

Friday, September 15, 2006

"We eat ham and jam and spam alot"

Thursday the 14th I went to see Monty Python's Spamalot in the Benedum theatre, Pittsburgh.

Purdy, no?

Despite having seen and enjoyed Flying Circus on a few occasions, I never bothered to watch any of the Python films. Seeing as Spamalot follows the basic story arc of the film Knights of the Holy Grail, I figured this was as good an excuse as any to watch the DVD that had been ripped to my computer some months ago. Without getting too much into it - I enjoyed the film, but there were a few jokes that dragged on just a little too long, and a few gags that missed. As much as I appreciated the ending; a parody on the movie-making-maxim; "end on something worthwhile", I was disappointed by it - it just seems unfinished!

Twenty of so hours later, and I'm sitting in a rather impressive theatre in Pittsburgh, feeling inappropriately dressed compared to everyone else who has shown up sporting a suit or dress of some description. The seats were alright - we were up on the balcony, and more or less all the way to the right.


The show opens with the orchestra 'screwing up', and the conductor shooting the (I think it was a) trumpeteer. He survives the first shot and continues to make a hilarious, feeble sound with his instrument, only to be shot again, quelling the racket to rapturous laughter and applause from the audience.

The best jokes are the ones that variate the most from the movie, and the show excells when it strays further from its source material. The story elements have been claned up to make the entire affair more coherent, and the scenes no longer feel like a collection of skits. The best bits from the film are by and large present and correct, and the 'special effects' very imaginatively pulled off. There are many, many scenes that are complete non-sequiturs, (such as the opening scene) and towards the end of the play especially, characters lose all respect for the fourth wall, addressing the audience and making self-referential jokes at every possible opportunity.

The songs are hilarious, and there's enough there to please most people; and even when the songs are slow and soppy, writer Eric Idle had the decency to throw plenty of funny lyrics in to make them worthwhile listening.

The ending is completely different to the film, and dare I say it, original! It's funny, it makes sense, (well, kindof), and a guaranteed crowd-pleaser! I really don't understand why I'm not putting in spoilers, considering that it'll probably never make its way to Ireland, but I'm sure the legions of Python fans in the UK will have to be sated...

In summing up, I'd like to quote my German-buddy Tom;
"I'm glad I saw the film first, because if I saw the musical first and then watched the film, I'd have been very disappointed"
Well said, Tom!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Go Colonials!

Welcome back to another thrilling (not to mention lengthy) instalment of ‘Sully does America’ (well, the United States maybe).
So what’s new since my last post? Well, other than a bit of dicking around with the HTML template, I've been reshuffling my classes at school, so I now get Mondays AND Fridays (not to mention Thursdays!) off, so I should get some more travelling done over the coming weeks.

Last Saturday the Robert Morris Colonials played their first homegame against the Duquesne University team. My first live American Football game (I had watched the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Miami Dolphins the Monday beforehand)! So how'd it go?

It was quite a spectacle.

The Midfield area

The first thing I noticed, is that there was a lot going on as I approached the on-campus stadium. In the car park, there were fans participating in the pre-game ritual of 'Tailgating', which is showing up a few hours before the game, going into the car-park and setting up a barbeque or some kind of cooking apparatus, then drinking beers and eating and having a gay old time before kick-off is even considered! There were some elaborate constructions involving RVs and patio-furniture, all of which I failed to photograph - but I promise I'll be there next time to document this holy practice.

As soon as I was outside the stadium, I noticed the ticket kiosk (where a free ticket awaited me, thanks to my RMU-ID card), and a few food tents set up to the sides by the entrances. Seeing as I was running late, I went straight into the entrance, and was instantly bombarded with people offering me various Colonial-related paraphernalia, programmes, posters, calendars, and even a Colonial - branded plastic water-bottle. This stuff was free! I couldn’t believe the amount of support behind what I would later find out was a pretty crappy college football team.

After making my way through the tunnel of free stuff, I found myself to the back of the bleachers, and was stunned by the amount of people there in support of both home and away teams. I made my way to the bleachers where the Joanna and Claire were keeping my spot, and didn’t say much to them as I took in the amount of stuff going on. There were cheerleaders frolicking and jumping around right in front of me, to the right there was a dance team shaking their booties in support of the hometeam, a rather impressive band were playing some jazzy songs over the cacophony of cheering and general chatter. There was an announcer who made countless advertisements on behalf of the sponsors of the Colonials in the schmaltzy voice that only an American can truly pull off. All this was happening as cameramen were scurrying around, both from the RMU TV station and the local Pittsburgh network, trying to get the best positions to shoot what they need. There was also a mascot, who was possibly the most entertaining part of the whole affair.

Is it wrong that I want to make a

When it was time for the hometeam to make their dramatic entrance, the band played some triumphant music to welcome our heroes. Fifty-something players poured onto the field. That was one team! Then fifty-something other players poured onto the team. Their combatants! On top of that there were about five officials, probably more. So I watched in a stupor as the football players jumped around like drug-crazed rock stars, throwing their fists in the air and eliciting huge cheers from the assembled crowd. All the clichés are correct and present - the chest-on-chest bouncing - the helmet-grab-and-head butt manoeuvre, and all of the usual screaming and whatnot.

The game itself was a mixed bag. There were moments of elation, disappointment, sheer frustration and total boredom. The problem with the game is the stop/start nature of it. There were some spectacular tackles, with guys flying head-over-heels, collisions in mid air, helmets flying across the field and a lot of heavy hits. But that’s when the going was good. The entirety of the third-period was entirely non-eventful, and most of it was spent watching the cheerleaders (and one particular dance-team girl, whose ridiculous ass-shaking kept catching my eye, but that‘s neither here nor there), as they assembled human pyramids and other hugely impressive frivolous constructions of human bodies.

At half time, there was free pizza and cans of soft drink (I availed of four slices of the former, and two of the latter), which was quite cool. The spectators needed a bit of refreshment after sitting out in the sun for so long.

The entire affair took over three hours - three hours spent sitting in the baking sun. By the end of the day, I had a glowing, burnt, red face, save for the pasty-white area around my eyes where I was wearing sunglasses, which provided more than its fair share of laughs, believe you me.

Excuse the amateurish video, the shaky footage is from a digital camera, and I wanted to leave the ambient sounds in rather than throwing some rock music over it. It kinda shows you what I mean by the fact that theres a lot more going on than just a football game, right?

Friday, September 08, 2006

New York? Again?

Greetings all! Allow me to take a break from my homework while I tell you all about my labour-day weekend in New York with Andrea, Gráinne and Shane. Sorry to chronicle more about New York before mentioning Moon Township, but such is life!

Monday morning I flew out to JFK airport, and was able to make my way to Queens more or less effortlessly thanks to New York's rather handy subway system. I met the lads outside a dodgy-donut shop, and we went back to Andrea's place to pose for crappy photographs;

The picture makes the apartment seem more 'cosy' than it should

We hung out for a few hours, before setting off into the pissing rain to take the Staten Island Ferry, so Shane and Grá could get a little closer to the Statue of Liberty.

Visibility was diddly-squat with the terrible weather, so we distracted ourselves by taking pictures of each other taking pictures of each other.


We stayed on Staten Island for about four minutes, just about long enough to take this picture, which doesn't really illustrate just how rainy and windy it was. (Kudos to Shane though, for baring an even ratio of teeth to gums)

You're reading this boring blog entry rather than doing something important with your life - you pillock

We also went to Time Square that night and ate at McDonalds - we would've eaten at TGI Friday's but, the lads were too busy pinching their pennies! Shortly after filling ourselves with some 'food', I took this picture of Shane (he's the hooded, potential sexual deviant to the bottom-centre of the photograph)

Nice how he kinda blends in, eh?

The following day was spent at a mall in Jersey, where I bought the book 'Jarhead' by Anthony Swofford (impressions coming soon, if you're interested), and Viewtiful Joe for the DS (for $20! Twenty Dollars!)

The day after that was filled with yet even more New Yorkage!




Glamour Shots!
Glamour Shots!


The brige in question is, of course, the Brooklyn Bridge - I have a really awful blurry picture of it from afar, so I'd rather show you these ones.

The entire weekend afforded me with a rare opportunity to engage in some high culture with some intellectual heavyweights, as this video ascertains.

As retarded as this may make Gráinne look (sorry Grá - maybe if you started reading the blog sooner...), I assure you that these just happen to be the two stupid things I managed to record (and I instigated the tonguing of the napkin thing, cos a man's gotta pass the time somehow, damnit!).

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Good evening blogfans! Just posting this because it's been a week since my last post, and I don't want anybody worrying about me. I've been pretty busy this past week, getting more into this whole American education system - making new friends and observing the blatant differences between Irish and American culture, getting a feel for this room-sharing thing, and I also squeezed in another trip to New York for the Labour Day weekend, so I'll have a ton of pictures, a video of Gráinne jumping into a puddle, and some impressions and whatnot as soon as I get a chance! Oh, and while I'm at it, I may as well write my impressions of the film Beerfest, seeing as it'll be hitting Irish cinemas sometime soon. Hopefully I'll begin clearing this backlog tomorrow, as this weekend I'll be attending the Pittsburgh Irish Festival.

So how do I justify a post that only mentions what I've been up to without discussing it?

How about another video?