Fun in Western PA

If you guys were wondering where I was the last week, I was celebrating my birthday. And Thanksgiving. Where was I? In Pittsburgh because my sister just moved there and my mom and I needed to get her settled and all that. And I had fun. I got a lot of pictures.

For starters, I went to the John Heinz History Center, mainly because it was on the same street as the hotel I was staying at. I’d say the highlight was their Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, where they immortalize greats of Pittsburgh and the region at large, such as Franco Harris:

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Mario Lemieux:

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And even Joe Paterno (although nowadays, I don’t think anyone thinks of him as “Joe Pa” anymore):

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Also, there were these things that I thought were awesome:

It wasn’t just the sports (although the sports is what drew me there). There were also more historical tidbits, like the history of Heinz ketchup. And learning something I didn’t know before: The Lewis and Clark trail started in Pittsburgh. And the Rooney family (AKA the people that own the Steelers) recreated the trail 200 years later.

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In addition to that, I also managed to go out to the West End Neighborhood and got a great view of the city.img_0272

Other things I did is head to the famous Primanti Bros. for a sandwich after I heard it was stacked with fries and coleslaw (it was amazing), and shopping at some of the great markets in the Strip District.

As for my final thoughts on Pittsburgh, I’d say that it’s a pretty cool city. I can see myself living there, mainly because it’s probably a bigger sports town than Philadelphia. I’d attribute that to Pittsburgh having a history of their teams being consistently good, or at least when one team is bad, another team is just amazing to distract from the sucking.

And after seeing all of Pennsylvania, I can safely say that the way you picture the state is pretty accurate. The two big cities aren’t as bustling as other big cities, Pittsburgh gives a blue collar feel, Philly seems pretty homey, and in between the east and the west is a lot of farmland. You’d like it. I certainly do.

So, that’s how how I spent my birthday and Thanksgiving. Thank you for all the wishes, by the way. I got them while I was in the car.

 

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Wrath Update

Hello there. So, I got back from another contest I entered Wrath into. This time, it’s the New York Screenplay Contest. And I can now say that I have won the Empire Award in the Fantasy film category. Looking at the website, I can say that’s a big deal because I won 2nd prize in that category, which is a pretty big deal. This comes only a few months after I was a category finalist in the action-adventure category in the Las Vegas International Screenwriting Competition.

You’re probably asking why I have accolades in two different genres. One reason is because of the categories some of the contests have to offer while submitting; some contests have more categories than others. The second, and more accurate if you ask me, the reason is because I suck at coming up with genres for my work. Most times, I don’t try to think of genres when I write down my ideas, and even then I wouldn’t say I specialize in any one genre. I mean, Wrath features angels and demons, and the main character has a battle axe that can shoot fire and ignite on command as his weapon. Does that sound like fantasy to you? To me it does. I’m not even well versed to talk about things like high fantasy vs. low fantasy, so I’m not going to go into that because I can’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about.

As for talking this much about a second place finish, I guess I can because I beat out so many people; 1,000 screenplays entered according to the people running this thing. So, I guess you could say this is like winning a silver medal in the Olympics. However, as a competitor, you start to wonder when you’ll get that win and be on top of the mountain. It’s like a Buffalo Bills fan wondering if the early 90s should be remembered by them losing four straight Super Bowls or winning four straight AFC Championships.

So, I guess the big question is if I get a certificate, which means I have to fork over 25 dollars along with a frame for the thing, or spend 125 plus shipping for their Art Glass trophy. A handmade 16-inch solid glass trophy that I need to find a place for and put in a place where I won’t end up breaking it because I’m not what you’d call “super clean” or “super organized”.

But in all seriousness, I’m pretty happy with this result. It always feels good to achieve something. And if you’re interested in the story, feel free to buy a copy of Wrath on Amazon.

Drexel GNN

Finally, I get the chance to do this blog post.

I was able to go to the Drexel Global Night of Networking, or Drexel GNN. It’s something Drexel does every year and it’s to help Drexel alums from different majors and graduating years connect with each other, and they hold these all over the country (and in some parts of the world) on one single night. I went to the event they held in Philadelphia. I met some people, I had some great conversations, and I even made some new LinkedIn connections out of it. I guess that means the night was kind of a success.

In regards to the night itself, it was held at the rooftop bar of a restaurant in Center City, and it was pretty posh if I’d say so myself. They even had hors d’oeuvres. And honestly, I think that was what got me through that night because that was kind of the one place I’d probably not be if I had my way. It’s just something about going to a bar where you know absolutely nobody and seeing so many strangers that’s just overwhelming. At the very least, I met somebody from my major.

A few months ago, I talked about going to an alumni meetup for the people in my major. Honestly, I like meetups like that more. It’s a lot more subdued, I actually know people who are there, and I had a lot more fun because it was just a social mixer with a laptop that had Spotify and a ping pong table. I like a setup like this. It makes me feel less overwhelmed and I can be able to have a lot more fun. Also, I can better approach people and start the conversations as opposed to having people come to me to start a conversation because being at a bar will make me feel like approaching people is the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest while reciting the digits of pi.

Did I enjoy the Drexel GNN? Yes. Will I go to the Drexel GNN next year? If I can, sure. Here’s hoping that I don’t feel like a stranger in a bar that makes me realize I’d hate going into a bar.

Back To Football

At last, at long last, football is back. It’s back in many ways. The NFL is returning, but more importantly, college football and high school football are back as well. As a result, my weekends are going to have a lot more time in front of the TV. Granted, the fact that the Premier League is here too may mean that some games and the pregame show College Gameday may not be on my radar because I have to choose what to watch and my mom will tell me to pick something, but either way, football is back, and I’m happy.

Now let’s talk about the teams I’m following. First, my college team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. I’ve been a fan since I was introduced to them by Mr. George and Mrs. Polovick in middle school, and I haven’t really looked back since. I even have the school’s fight song and alma mater on my phone (yes, the Ohio State Marching Band has stuff for sale on the iTunes store). As for the team on the field, I think we have a good chance to go all the way to the College Football Playoff, which should be a given any season. The only thing I have to say is that our non-conference slate is really week aside from Oklahoma and I’ll admit the Big Ten isn’t as easy as it seems with Penn State and Michigan on the schedule and the fact that the Big Ten title game could very well have a really good Wisconsin team. But that’s kind of the beauty of college football: the unpredictability. And if we get into the playoff…here’s hoping that the Buckeye Battle Cry plays instead of getting curb stomped in a shootout. It’s gonna be a fun season.

And for high school, it’s my alma mater, the La Quinta Blackhawks. While La Quinta, California may not be anywhere near the high school hotbeds of Texas, Florida, or Western Pennsylvania, I always get excited to see how my alma mater does on the field. Every Saturday, one of the first things I do is go on to KESQ’s website and watch their Best Local Sports Show to see how the Blackhawks did, along with the other schools in the Coachella Valey, particularly my dad’s Indio Rajahs. I really hope they find out a way to stream games in that little part of Souhern California, because I swear to God I will tune in any chance I get, time difference be damned.

Are you ready for some football? I know I am.

Time With Family

I am now on my vacation. While my internet activity will probably be slower than usual (key word being “probably” since I have something else I want to post in the coming days), but what I can write about is what I’ve done. And I was able to go to the Virginia countryside for my family reunion my family had this past weekend. And I can tell you that I had a lot of fun. I was able to hang out with some relatives. And I had to have some REALLY GREAT FOOD.

I’m talking fried chicken,

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Amazing corn on the cob,

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Killer fried fish,

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And even some great burgers, though they were assembled upside down.

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And those are just the pictures I have. I have some family pictures, but I don’t feel really all that comfortable posting pictures of my aunt and my grandmother, which is why I’m holding off from some pictures. As for the food, it was a great spread, with mac and cheese, corn pudding, and a killer roasted pig my uncle does every year for this reunion. It’s absolutely amazing. And that’s not all of the food, but those were the highlights for me.

I think the best thing about the family reunion is that I was able to get away from it all. I had no cell phone service so I couldn’t know what was going on in the world, and I had no problem at all with that in the slightest (insert crack at millennials here). I think the reason that I can say that is because I’m probably a more simple guy. Just talking to relatives and talking about why boiled pig’s feet are much better than fried pig’s feet is probably what you could call the “little things that make life worth living.”But the bigger thing is that I could have no distractions whatsoever, no worries, just chilling with some of my favorite people in the world. Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase. Hakuna Matata. That’s what I felt this past weekend.

If I could say something about this, it’s that you should probably spend some time with your family and you should ESPECIALLY go to a family reunion at least once in your life if you get a chance and if your family holds one. It’s a lot of fun, and you won’t regret it for a minute.

And with this post being finished, I’m going to go back to enjoying my vacation.

 

 

 

Oysters. They’re awesome.

This is pretty late, but hey, better late than never, right?

Anyway, this weekend I went to the Milford Oyster Festival in Milford, Connecticut. This is a pretty cool little thing for a little New England town. There’s a carnival for the kids, there’s live music, and there’s food. Oh you better believe there’s food. First off, there’s the things the whole thing is named for. The oysters I had were pretty damn good. What happens is that you have some oysters from all over the east coast (especially the New England area) and they’re shucked and served on the half shell, which is what I think is the way they’re served at restaurants.  They also had a booth if you just wanted a quick dozen of oysters and don’t care about stuff like the way the look…and the only thing you care about is how they feel in your stomach.

The other things they had were fried seafood, lobster rolls, burgers and hot dogs, soda, water, beer, and what’s now become my go to when it comes to fairs…FRIED DOUGH!

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Yes, fried dough. And the way I get it is with tomato sauce and Parmesaen cheese, so wat you have is like a pull apart pizza, except I guess the whole thing would be one big crust. Trust me, it tastes better than I’m describing it, and you can also get it with cinnamon and sugar, which is the other big way I’ve seen it offered.

For me, the big thing I enjoyed was the oyster shucking contests. This was a contest to see who could be the quickest to shuck two dozen oysters. A race to turn this:

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Into something ready to eat that looks like this:

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Judging was done by looking by how clean the whole thing was and a whole bunch of things I’m not well versed in because I don’t even eat oysters that much. I also was a timer for one of the shuckers during one of the heats (and I had to make a trade for a green stopwatch because green is my favorite color):

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There was also an oyster eating contest, where it was a race to see who could be the first to eat a dozen oysters. And while Joey Chestnut wasn’t there, the mayor of Milford was. Aside from that, I also got to see a demonstration of police dogs and all the things they do, from detecting drugs to clearing obstacles that could cause any other dog to tread away, to chasing criminals and showing how they will not let go once they have their teeth locked in. If you’re a criminal and you have a police dog chasing you, may God have mercy on your soul.

The Milford Oyster Festival is a fun thing I’ve been going to for a few years now. And I’ll think I’ll keep going to it for as long as I have the opportunity to live in Connecticut.

End Of The Road

This past Tuesday, my screenplay Wrath was named one of the top 6 screenplays for the action adventure category of the Las Vegas International Screenwriting competition. And yesterday, the category winners were announced that would go on to be in the running for the top 5 overall feature screenplays to compete to be the overall winner.

And the winner of the action adventure screenplay is…not me. That honor went to a screenplay called The Devil’s Gun. I didn’t make one of the two runners-up positions either, which went to the screenplays Black and Blue and Devil’s Valley Justice. 

The one thing that was noted was that in each and every one of the categories, the difference between top and bottom was separated by only a few points. In the action adventure category I was in, the difference between number one and number six was 3.5 points on a 100 point scale. That means, for example, that if the winner got 100 points, the #6 winner got 96.5 points. But that’s just an example. I have no idea what the actual scores are and I just wanted to give an idea of how close the scoring is. And while I have no idea what the winning scripts are about, I have no doubts that they are incredibly good.

So, what does that mean for me? Well, I feel pretty good about my performance in this competition now that it’s all over for me. I went a lot further than I thought I would. And what does this mean for Wrath? Well, I’m going to finally get a chance to look at it and see if I can apply some feedback that I received from another contest to fine-tune Wrath, though my thoughts on that endeavor could be another blog post entirely.

Anyway, I would like to sincerely thank every single person who has congratulated me and supported me throughout this entire contest. It feels great to have people who think the stuff I write is really good.

And now, I return to working on other projects.