Tag Archives: Football

Sunday Salon/Currently … First Weekend of Fall

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Currently …
Just finished watching the Eagles vs. Steelers and we’re quite happy in this house tonight, thanks to our hometown team’s win. It’s not easy being a Philly fan in these parts (especially when it comes to hockey) and I tend to root for the Steelers … when they’re not playing or in direct competition with my Eagles, that is.

No books finished last week, but I’m hoping to finish one tonight. I have deadlines this week for three freelance reviews.


My audiobook this week has been This Old Man by Roger Angell, who just turned 96 and is still writing great pieces for The New Yorker like the one he published this week (“My Eighteenth Presidential Election and the Most Important“). His essay “This Old Man” is one I’ve read at least twice, which is what made me interested in this collection of New Yorker pieces and other writings of Angell’s.

Finished Week 2 of Couch to 5K this morning!  I thought I’d change things up a little by trying a different park and it was a challenge — definitely more hills than I expected. (I know, I know … this is Pittsburgh. Hills are everywhere.) Total distance was 1.95 miles, with .71 of those running. People tell me my pace is good (12:31 per mile) so I’ll take it.  I’ve been reading a lot of running blogs since this a whole new world for me.

Maybe I needed some sort of mental break after 99 Days of Summer Blogging because my productivity here has nearly screeched to a big halt. I think it has more to do with being a very busy couple of weeks at work; after spending my days immersed in words, I’ve found myself needing a breather. I feel my mojo coming back, which is good.

Related to blogging, I was certain my life was complete without yet another social media whirligig, but apparently Litsy became available as an Android app this week and all the cool kids seem to be playing.  So, I’ve caved and now I’m MelissaF in case you want to follow whatever I’ll be doing over there.

Have a great week!

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Another NFL Fumble on Domestic Violence

Purple Ribbon

Once again, the NFL has fumbled the issue of domestic violence.

This time, Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay is the latest athlete who is shining a spotlight on an issue that impacts 20 people every minute — but make no mistake, not for the same reasons as other players.

The NFL has fined William Gay $5,797 for a uniform violation. His crime? Wearing purple cleats to honor his mother Carolyn, who was killed in a domestic violence incident when William was seven years old.

In case we’ve forgotten, this is the same NFL whose commissioner, Roger Goodell, stated just over a year ago that his own “disciplinary decision [in the Ray Rice incident] led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families. I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I didn’t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better. And we will.”  

Despite the “No More” commercials, which include William Gay, some of us are still questioning the NFL’s sincerity, commitment, and understanding of this issue. We only need to look to October itself, long known for being the most ridiculous month in the NFL.

With every player’s shoelace, every sportscaster’s tie, and every stadium’s field blitzed in every possible hue of pink and fuchsia to commemorate October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the NFL’s actions ignore that October also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What  we don’t see — and what I’m convinced we will never see, at least while Roger Goodell reigns as commissioner — is any speck of purple during October.  It seems as if the NFL would like to pretend that domestic violence would just go the hell away already.

Don’t we all.

Which is exactly why it is downright ridiculous and hypocritical for the NFL to fine William Gay for his efforts to call attention to victims of domestic violence — and, as his personal story illustrates, the lasting impact on the 1 in 15 children who are exposed to intimate partner violence each year.

Were his shoes intentionally worn to cause a stir?  Maybe.  Was it a uniform violation? OK, yeah. But here’s the thing: you can’t say you’re going to do more about domestic violence, then not do all that much (from a public perspective, anyway) and then penalize a player for demonstrating his support in a modest way — especially when you’re doing the same thing by emblazoning everything in sight with a headache-inducing hue of pink for another equally worthy cause. That shows a lack of basic common sense at its best and a complete disrespect for the victims of domestic violence and their families at its worst.

The NFL needs to take another good, hard look at what it purports to stand for. If nothing else, the League should look to William Gay as an example and use October — and every month — to do even more meaningful work toward helping victims, raising awareness and becoming a true partner in helping to end the epidemic of domestic violence. (I’ve blogged previously about concrete ways they can do just that.)

They can start by forgiving William Gay’s $5,797 fine outright or donating the full amount (and then some, because that amount is pennies to the NFL) to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Unlike the NFL, which also holds a nonprofit designation, WC&S will most certainly put those funds to better use than the League will. Consider it an employer contribution in honor of William Gay’s advocacy and volunteer work with WC&S.

Either way, the NFL has a chance to use this incident as a way to put their money, their mouths and their ridiculous policies towards furthering a cause they claim to care so much about.

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sunday salon: currently

The Sunday Salon

Currently: In my usual weekend spot on the deck with a Mason jar of water, the Sunday paper and my current read (Belief Is It’s Own Kind of Truth, Maybe by my friend, Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela). Nothing on the agenda today except reading, preparing a few blog posts for the week ahead, finishing a book review, getting caught up on the two online courses I’m taking, and potentially watching Steelers football on TV tonight.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a gorgeous summer’s day. (Well, aside from being at the beach, that is, but that’s not where we’re at.)

Reading: I was between books earlier this week, not quite sure what I was in the mood for next, and decided to try something unusual for me – finishing an entire issue of The New Yorker. To my surprise, I actually did. I tend to read the magazine piecemeal: an article here, a short story there, and pretty soon I have piles of them around the house with those insert cards bookmarking my spot.

The New Yorker - July 6 and 13 “Five Hostages,” an article in the July 6 and 13 issue, deserves a mention because it was so compelling and heartbreaking. Those families … I simply cannot imagine the anguish they went through, and to not be able to tell anyone that their child was a hostage in Syria while they personally were negotiating with ISIS. The focus of the piece (which I had to read over several days and in brief intervals because it was so emotionally intense) is how the abandonment they felt led them to join forces with each other and David Bradley, the owner of the media company that owns The Atlantic. He took an active, personal interest in bringing the hostages home, as Lawrence Wright has written in this incredible piece of journalism.

Incidentally, if you haven’t listened to the July 21 interview with New Yorker editor David Remnick on WNYC’s podcast “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin,” it is well worth the 48 minutes. Very insightful and entertaining, as most of the episodes on this podcast are. (This one is quickly becoming one of my favorites.)

Oh, and if you are a listener of “Here’s the Thing,” what the hell was that interview with Paul Simon earlier this week? Holy shit. I’ve never heard an interview where the subject sounded so miserable. Seriously, Paul Simon came across as a total ass, and I say that as a fan of his – although slightly less of one now. Uncomfortable to listen to doesn’t describe that.

Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe

As mentioned, on Friday I started reading Pittsburgh author Lori Jakiela’s new memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe. She had me from her first sentence: “When my real mother dies, I go looking for another one.”  Belief is described as part adoption narrative and part meditation on family, motherhood, and what it means to make authentic connections. So far, 43 pages into this, it delivers.

Listening To: In the car, my listening is still primarily podcasts, which I can’t get enough of. I’m also listening to the audio book of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, which is so incredibly good. I have this on my Kindle and I can’t believe I’ve never read this one, but that’s what The Classics Club is for. (This is one of my selections, mainly because it has been on my TBR forever.)

Counting: Speaking of TBRs, have you guys done that quiz/calculator thing that’s making the rounds on Facebook about how long it will take you to read your entire TBR pile?  My results are depressing as hell. With 1,870 books on my “want-to-read” Goodreads list (yes, really) the TBR calculator informs me that reading all 1,870 books will take me 26 years and 8 months and I’ll finish on March 29, 2042 when I am 73 years old.

It lies: I’ll only be 72 on that date, with 73 looming a few days later. But, hey, what’s a year when it is going to take me 26 of them to read all the books I want – without adding a single thing to said want-to-read list?

Learning: Because a coworker mentioned how much she is enjoying MOOCs (massive online open courses), I decided to see what they are all about. Needless to say, I’m completely hooked on them, too. I told my mom that I was registered for a total of five online courses between now and throughout the fall, and she asked how I possibly found the time for five classes.  (She knows the answer to that: I’m the world’s worst when it comes to cleaning my house, as I have no interest in that crap.)

Anyway, I’ll be spending some time today trying to wrap up what I can of Weeks 3, 4, 5, and 6 of “Literature and the Country House,” my first course and one that is being offered through the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK. When I announced to The Facebook that I was doing this, more than a few thought I was actually spending six weeks in England taking this course in person. I wish. Instead, I’m on my deck in Pittsburgh dusting off the English part of my English/Communications degree while reading poetry and excerpts from “Hamlet” and other classics. I’m more than a little behind, but that’s the beauty of MOOCs. Besides being free, they tend to move at one’s own pace.

My second course, “Childhood in the Digital Age,” started this past Monday with The Open University. That’s a bit shorter (only four weeks) and seems like it will be easier to keep up with. This one has some connections with my job, in a sense, so there are practical and personal reasons for participating in this.

Watching: Probably the Steelers vs. Vikings game tonight because … Steelers football, baby! Whoooo!

Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

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The Sunday Salon: Bookin’ It Through Fall

The Sunday Salon

We’re kickin’ off the first official day of football season, which in this house is akin to a national holiday.  NFL GameDay Morning started us off promptly at 9 a.m., and we’re watching the Steelers-Browns with the sound muted while listening to the Eagles-Jaguars game on SiriusXM. I’m bedecked in my black and yellow; The Husband is in his Eagles’ jersey. Here in the ‘Burgh, it’s a gorgeous Sunday weather-wise and the start of football season also marks, for me, the unofficial beginning of fall. I love this season.

Maybe it’s just me, but fall always seems to herald the best book events – both in-person and reading challenges in in the book blogging world. I swore off challenges almost three years ago now, but every once in awhile I can’t resist joining one or two … or three. Here are just a few bookish events, challenges, and readalongs that I hope you’ll join me in participating in:

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014  shortlist will be announced this Tuesday, September 9 and I’m eagerly anticipating which of the 13 books move forward. I’d love to see History of the Rain by Niall Williams make it to this next round and win the whole thing, because I loved it so much. ‘Course, it’s the only one of the Booker longlist mentions that I’ve read, so that makes it my personal favorite.

Orfeo by Richard Powers is in my TBR pile beside the bed and I’d hoped to have gotten to that – and several others – by this point too, but that hasn’t happened. This longlist looks really good this year.


The Sparrow Readalong
Throughout September, Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity is hosting a readalong of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.  I’ve had this on my Goodreads “to-read” list forever and on my actual bookshelf for several years. I’m looking forward to participating in this.

RIP 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX
If it’s September, it’s time for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, one of the best reading challenges in the blogosphere. And I say that as someone who isn’t usually a devotee of the mystery, suspense, horror, thriller, gothic, dark fantasy, supernatural types of reads that R.I.P. focuses on. I love this challenge hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings (his introduction to this annual challenge, now in it’s 9th (!!!) year, is always a fun read in and of itself).



There are several R.I.P. IX levels and I’m planning to participate at Peril the Second (Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P. categories) and Peril of the Short Story (which is self-explanatory … to read short stories that fit the categories). 

A More Diverse Universe 2014

A More Diverse Universe
Between September 14-27, Aarti from BookLust is hosting A More Diverse Universe to encourage reading at least one book written by a person of color.  Aarti writes, “None of us lives in a monochromatic world, and yet the fact that terrifying hate crimes still occur makes it clear that we do not fully understand or trust each other.  And maybe part of the reason is because the media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.  So please – participate.  You may just discover a character or an author or a setting or a story that will completely change your life.”

This is not hard to do. Aarti makes this easy, giving links to book suggestions right on the #Diversiverse introductory sign-up post.

How about you? Are you looking forward to or participating in any of these events this September? If so, what are you reading?




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The Sunday Salon: January Reading Wrap-Up

The Sunday Salon

January 31 near Pittsburgh, PA

This week has seemed like a month, and this month has seemed like a freakin’ year. I am no fan of February (hate, hate, hate that damn month), but am glad to drop-kick this January to the dirty snow-crusted curb.
~ my Facebook status on Friday.

Wasn’t January just about the longest month EVER? Ugh. Even I’m getting tired of my complaining about the weather. It’s gotten to the point of being ridiculous. And, as our friendly groundhog just informed us, we’ve got six more weeks of this shit to put up with.

One of the only good things about January was the reading I did. I read 5 books (with 3 of those being audio books). I also read 6 magazines, which included several issues of The New Yorker, Creative Nonfiction, and The Writer. There were also 3 books that I abandoned.

Here’s what I read: (links take you to my full review):

Next to Love

 Next to Love, by Ellen Feldman (audio, read by Abby Craden)

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted

 Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made the Mary Tyler Moore Show a Classic, by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong (audio, read by Amy Landon) 

Kayak Morning

 Kayak Morning: Reflections on Love, Grief, and Small Boats, by Roger Rosenblatt

Mating Calls

 Mating Calls: The Problem with Lexie and No. Seven, by Jessica Anya Blau

Pandora's Lunchbox

 Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, by Melanie Warner (audio, read by Ann Marie Lee)

Definitely a variety, which makes it hard to play favorites for the month. I enjoyed most of these for various reasons (although “enjoyed” probably isn’t the right word for Pandora’s Lunchbox, which was eye-opening.) Kayak Morning was the only one that I found difficult to get through, because of the slightly rambling and disjointed nature of the narrative.

The True Secret of WritingI’m starting February with three books. I’m really enjoying Natalie Goldberg’s The True Secret of Writing, which would seem to be a pretentious title if it was anyone but Natalie Goldberg. (And, to be fair, she does have her critics, as anyone does.) Obviously, there isn’t a magical true secret to writing – but in this book, Goldberg gives her reader the benefit of her wisdom as learned through leading “True Secret” writing retreats with small groups of writers and by showing her reader how to combine one’s writing with walking and meditation. It’s very rooted in the practices of Zen. I’m absolutely loving this. 

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

Maile Meloy is an author I’ve been curious about for awhile; I’ve checked her short story collection Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (love that title!) out of the library several times, only to return it unread. I finally started it yesterday and liked the first story, “Travis, B.” about how, for whatever reasons, sometimes the distance between two people can be more than we’re emotionally or physically able to overcome. Meloy says so much in just a few pages with this one, and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Looking for MeMy audio book this week is Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman, whom I feel I owe an apology to. Because this is a book that, despite being praised by almost every blogger, I had been dismissing as fluff. I greatly underestimated this one. But, I checked it out of the library anyway and when I had a 40 minute wait for the car wash yesterday, I put in the first CD … and I was hooked from the first few lines. I’ll be listening to this during my commute to and from work this week (and I suspect I might be reading some of the print book, as well).

I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done during the Super Bowl. My boy has been hard at work creating some kind of competitive game for us to rank and score the commercials, so we’ll be participating in that.

Happy Sunday – and happy February!

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The Sunday Salon: Randomness N’at


The Sunday SalonWeatherwise, this is a perfect rainy day for sitting on the couch and doing next to nothing. And that’s exactly how the day has gone. I’ve putzed around on Facebook, read the first section of the newspaper, gotten a shower, reheated pizza for lunch, and written this post. That’s it.

I am the epitome of lazy today.

I am listening to: the Eagles-Redskins game on The Husband’s iPhone. Actually, the Husband is listening to it – I just happen to be in the same room.

We are watching: the Steelers-Lions game on TV (or, should we say, the Killer Bees vs. the Lions. Those throwback uniforms of our Steelers! OMG, they are atrocious.)

I am reading: a few books at once. Sorta.

Andrew CarnegieAlas, I haven’t made much more progess with David Nasaw’s Andrew Carnegie since my last Salon post. The audiobook was due back to the library before I finished it and I’ve had a hard time picking up the book itself. At almost 900 pages, it’s not exactly one you curl up in bed with or toss in your purse. I’m on hold for the e-book and the audio again at the library, so perhaps I just may need to wait until one of those comes in before resuming this again.

The Reason I JumpI keep getting distracted by new books. (I work in a library.) The latest, which I picked up on Friday and started reading during my lunch hour, is The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida. This is relatively short, only 135 pages.

The Devil in the White CityMy current audiobook is: The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, by Erik Larson. This has been sitting on my TBR shelves forever. So far, at page 113, my verdict is that it’s one of those books that I thought I would like better than I actually am. I mean, I do like it (the foreshadowing is great) but the narrative has a lot more details about the architecture and the planning of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago than I expected. It does seem that this is necessary for the reader to understand the actual murder plot (that’s not a spoiler).

And, oh –  the fact that H.H. Holmes has Philadelphia ties! He worked at what is now Norristown State! A fun little tidbit.

My new favorite song: It’s a tie between “New” by Paul McCartney and “The Perfect Life,” by Moby (featuring Pittsburgh native Wayne Coyne). 

On the Blog: Obviously, not much lately. I’m averaging a post a week at this point, which … I gotta be honest, feels weird. I don’t like it. This working full-time again thing is still a bit of an adjustment in some ways, and I’ve accepted that fewer posts are probably going to be one of them, at least for awhile. Still, I’d be happier if that was more like 3 times a week or maybe 4. Strangely, my hits and blog traffic is off the freakin’ charts, which I cannot figure out AT ALL.

Around the Book Blogosphere: I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with anyone. Hoping to catch up a bit today. I did see today that Thankfully Reading Weekend is scheduled again for next weekend, so I’ll be participating in that. I have to work Black Friday, but that’s fine.

I Am Thinking: about one of The Husband’s bosses who passed away 9 years ago today. Our lives would be so very different if it wasn’t for this man. Since he passed, there have been a lot of ways – some very uncanny and eerie – that our paths have become even more similar. I know that he would have continued to be a mentor and support system to The Husband. He’s missed … so very much.

I am grateful for: mentors like The Husband’s former boss. And many of mine. And for second chances.

Around the house: We had some major electrical work done on Friday. There was some almost-drama. (Everything and everyone is fine.) That may be a blog post in and of itself.

High of the Week: Having dinner as a family last night at Eat’n Park.

Low of the Week: Two inches of snow on Tuesday. Really, I could have done without that crap.

Family Matters: My in-laws are coming out for Thanksgiving. Yesterday I ordered our entire meal from Whole Foods because there’s no way I’m spending the one day I have off cooking (see: Thankfully Reading Weekend). I truly believe if I factored out the time spent planning, shopping, preparing/cooking, and cleaning up, multiplied by the various food sensitivity/preference factors of six people, that would more than exceed the cost of ordering the dinner. All I will need to do is heat everything up.

The coming week: The kids turn 12 on Friday, so that’s causing much excitement in the house.

I’m keeping an eye on the weather to our west. We’re in an isolated tornado watch because of the storms in Indiana and elsewhere, so if you’re in the path of the storm too, stay safe.


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hail to the chief


Laurel House Gala 2009 (111)

Andy Reid at Laurel House’s 2009 Gala
photo credit: Melissa Firman

Before Andy Reid became coach of the Kansas City Chiefs (but during his time with the Philadelphia Eagles) I had a certain fondness for that part of the Heartland. The details are best left for a different time, but suffice it to say there are at least two non-football-related reasons why.

Still, when my now-new friend Sean Keeler from Fox Sports Kansas City tracked me down here in Pittsburgh via this blog and said he was working on a story about the Reids and their time in Philly, I was initially skeptical. I didn’t want this to be another hatchet article about the family.

I’m still kind of irked that another Kansas City media outlet accepted – then abruptly declined – an editorial piece of mine because I didn’t “go negative enough” with that particular angle. That’s not my style. Besides, old habits die hard and part of me is still the nonprofit PR director I was privileged to be when I knew Andy and Tammy.

Like I said, old habits die hard.

I called Sean anyway. Between his thoughtful, well-researched questions, he listened to me ramble for 20 minutes about the good ol’ days. The result, timed for tonight’s matchup between my hometown Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, is his excellent piece on Fox Sports Kansas City’s website today:

The Andy Reid That Eagles Fans Didn’t Get a Chance to Know is Missed By Those Who Knew Him Best

I don’t claim to have known him or Tammy “best.” Far from it. And although I can hold my own in a cocktail party conversation, I’m hardly a football expert.

But what I do know is what I saw, repeatedly and often, from my nonprofit vantage point.

“The Andy Reid I saw, I saw a guy who would talk to a mom who had just gone in the shelter with her kids after surviving a domestic violence episode and would talk to her kids and say it would be OK … so I think if more Philadelphians got a chance to see that Andy Reid, [the] vitriol and the animosity at the end, it may have been a little bit lessened, I think.” ~ me. 

You can read the whole story here.


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