Andrew Malcolm's immigrant parents repeatedly stressed the importance of active participation in a democracy. Early lessons included learning the alphabetical list of states by watching televised roll calls of national political conventions. That childhood exposure led to a lifelong fascination with politics, including 40-plus years of covering them and a brief stint practicing them as press secretary to Laura Bush in 1999-2000. A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Malcolm served on the Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four.
The Pittsburgh team is champion of something called the National Hockey League, which really should be called the International Hockey League since it's got teams in both the U.S. and Canada.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are named for a bird unable to fly that doesn't live anywhere near that city. After losing ignominiously in 2008, this year the Pens won something called the Stanley Cup.
Winning that trophy is a very big deal — in Canada, whose teams have been unable to capture North America's oldest professional sports trophy since seven years back into the last century when a club from somewhere in Quebec sneaked passed the Los Angeles Gretzkys, four games to one.
The city of Pittsburgh was founded in the early 1800s by Pennsylvanians who weren't strong enough to make it all the way to Ohio or were rejected at that border.
After nearly moving to Kansas City or back to Canada because they too wanted a new arena, this past year the Pittsburgh hockey team hired enough Canadians and Russians to defeat Detroit's Canadians and Scandinavians in the cup finals that so many people missed on TV.