August 31, 2013

Blood, Toil, Tears, and Sweat

I can't honestly say that, when I was a little girl, I had any expectation that following my heart and my dreams and my principles would eventually lead to my using an open field in West Virginia as the world's most lush and wasp-infested ladies' room*.

But there you go. I stay in broadcasting for the glamour.

As part of a small and arguably insane band of dedicated radio folk, I've spent a lot of time in and around a tiny meat locker of a transmitter site over the last few months. We are covered in scratches and deep bruises from moving our equipment into the new studio space. We know firsthand that derelict 30-year-old tube type transmitters are, and this is a technical term, heavy as a mofo.

(Along the way, I've even applied that graduate-level training in nonprofit administration** to, y'know, nonprofit administration.)

I am deliriously happy to say that WYZR 88.1 FM went on air today at 1:15 in the afternoon.

I could tell you it happened because of months of hard work, physical and mental, on the part of a few stubbornly idealistic souls.

I could tell you it happened because so many things that had no business falling into place fell into place.

I could tell you that some of us were scarred for life by all of those Churchill speeches and Profiles In Courage and also the lyrics to "Under The Gun," and were thus doomed to do the right thing even when it is, mathematically, the least easy thing to do in all the world.

All of this is true.

What really put this station on the air was something much stronger and more inescapable.


Love of jazz. Love of the medium of radio. Love of this community. Love of an extraordinary work family who found each other a few clicks over on the FM dial and stuck together through Hell... and, as it turned out, back. 

For this, a few bruises and some spilled blood and some decidedly undignified pit stops are worth it.

*Of course, since my grandparents had a country club membership, I was very familiar with ladies' rooms infested with WASP lushes. Owing to the popularity of Giorgio perfume among the blue rinse set at the time, the smell was worse.

**Oh, right, I graduated! Good lord, it's been a while since I updated this blog, huh?

February 3, 2013

Still Here...

Guys, I miss you more than you could possibly know. The time will come again when I'm writing on a regular basis. (Well, I'm writing A LOT, just not... you know, FUN writing.) Between getting ready for launching 88.1FM, my work with PubMusic, and--oh, by the way--finishing up my Master's this spring... I am officially out of hours in the day. You know how people say that, and what they mean is "OMG I totally had to stay until 6 tonight!" Yeah. Screw those people.

Anyway... I'm working on a policy memo, needed to find this article, and this happened.

All I can say is: Clearly, Google knows me well.

That, and I thought of you.

December 18, 2012

Christmas Stories

Pittsburgh Dad's getting into the Christmas spirit, yinz guys...

And I have to share this inspired mashup of two films that are wonderful for completely different, indeed opposite, reasons...

December 17, 2012

When Last We Met On Remember WENN

Here are some things that happened over the last month:

1) Hey, I finished another semester of grad school! In about four months, I will receive advance certification as a real honest-to-goodness adult. Everybody, do me the kindness of failing to report this obvious clerical error.

Oddly enough, the one textbook I kept for future reference was the one containing the weird baby-throwing-ogre story. Not because of that. But I'm grateful that I'll have proof that I didn't imagine it.

2) Oh, and then there's the small detail of the radio station. You know? Jazz, back on the air in Pittsburgh! Coffee mugs TBA!

As of last Friday, transfer papers have been filed with the FCC. So... we're rolling here. It really is happening, and soon. Want to help? Yay! This is why I like you. Not only will your contribution to Pittsburgh Public Media go directly toward the license purchase and construction of incredibly basic but incredibly well-loved studio space, it'll be tax-deductible! Hie thee to the PPM website!

3) "Life" has pretty much been on hold. Between items 1. and 2., most of my waking hours have been pretty thoroughly occupied. During a good week, I also clean my clothing. On a stellar day, I cook a meal rather than getting fried chicken from Donatelli's. On the upside, I've had an excuse to eat a whole lot of fried chicken over the last few months. Man, I love fried chicken.

4) Stupid reality killed the glorious, bizarre, gorgeous game Glitch. We'll always have Cebarkul.

5) My cell phone contract FINALLY came up for renewal, which meant I could finally replace my old phone.

I don't think you understand.

By "old phone," I don't mean some slightly outmoded whiz-bang deal that would have rendered us all speechless if it dropped out of a hole in the space-time continuum and landed in 1987.

Okaaaaaay, upon further consideration, yes it would. But still: It is a crappy old phone. See?

Yeah, that's a Cingular SIM card.
I'm not what you'd call an "early adopter."

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Hinges!

The above photos were taken with my new-to-me iPhone. (Meta as always, here at the SMLTS Ranch!) It is a vast improvement over its predecessor, starting with the fact that it reliably receives incoming calls. Plus, I can now spread hilarious Grumpy Cat memes while "on-the-go." Needless to say, I'm busy working on my update of Future Shock.

Another thing that would have blown our minds in 1987:
Memes. What a lost opportunity. Two words: Ollie North. 

6) I FIXED MY OWN FURNACE! (With a little tech support from a friend...) Yeah, hand me a screwdriver and some emery cloth, and THERE SHALL BE HEAT! I am still disappointed that emery cloth turns out to be pretty much exactly like sandpaper. Shouldn't it be some sort of delightfully spongy-yet-gritty structure? Is there anything else you Metal Shop people were hiding from those of us over in Wood Shop? Were those stupid sugar scoops you made in class actually some sort of awesome ninja weapon? The mind reels.

Anyway, yes, I am feeling all empowered and self-reliant and stuff. Also: warm.

November 22, 2012

Turkey Day

What the ever-living hell is this?

Because it is a major holiday and thus time to celebrate, I am standing in my kitchen at 8:30 in the morning wrestling with a corpse. Because I have this strange aversion to jail, it is not one of my enemies'. No, it is a bird, a nice-sized turkey, an unfortunate victim of hellacious factory farming practices; it lived and was slaughtered only to end up being sold for 37 cents a pound as a loss leader in a Penn Hills grocery store.

The turkey also has a deeply strange plastic structure embedded into its recently-thawed flesh.

It makes you think about life and mortality and the ethics of how we feed ourselves as a species.

It also makes you think, what the ever-living hell is this?

I wrestle with the plastic thing for a while... manage to get it off of the leg bones... slosh raw turkey juice all over the front of my stove. WOW is this thing tucked in deep. I can't cut it out without spoiling the smooth upper surface of the bird, but... will it make everything taste like plastic? I scrub up and head for the laptop.

I Google, based on my best guess, "plastic turkey lifter." One of the results I get clues me in to my next search term, "plastic leg binder." I realize that I have just searched for "plastic leg binder," and wonder how many watch lists I have just landed myself on.

Anyway. Evidently, the plastic thing is oven safe, if having a harshing effect upon my mellow.

I nestle the bird in the roaster. As I stuff the cavity with aromatics, I try to create a little barrier between the flesh and the plastic. The celery will save my family from BPA? Look, it's before 9 and I'm covered in turkey goop: Rationality is not my strong suit right this moment.

Finally... herb butter. Just in time to see the Macy's parade kick off, the bird goes in the oven.

I love Thanksgiving.

November 18, 2012

Don't They Know It's The End of the Word?


So, you guys? You know that South Park episode where Cartman won't stop saying "hella"? That's been stuck in my head. Not the episode. The word. Which is hella annoying. I am busily trying to convince the world that I am a grownup, to whom you should entrust very serious sorts of things, and all I can think is how hella tired I am.

Because I am.


So, in this time of crazy exciting beginnings (BECAUSE RADIO STATION), I would like to take note of a few endings.

One. The semester is winding down. Funny how you have this normal kind of pace, then you get to midterms, and then--much like the amazingly awful grade Z superhero film Catman--it all reaches a crescendo and then BAM!DRAMA!OVER. Roll credits.

I've registered for spring term. My (gulp) graduation application is on my desktop. Be frightened, evildoers of the world, one more semester, and I will be a Master. Which I think means I'll scare the crap out of The Doctor.

Two. Hostess going belly up. I would like to point out, on the record, that Tastykake makes better cupcakes anyway.

Three. Now this one hurts.

Glitch is just about the most wonderful, most bizarre MMO going. It is gentle-hearted and dirty-minded (oh man, just talk to the wood trees if you don't believe me). It is beautiful, and too smart for the room.

Our little world, Ur, will end on December 9, 2012. (ALL OF THE MAYAN JOKES HAVE BEEN MADE ALREADY, BUT THANK YOU, THAT WAS HILARIOUS.)

Happily, there's still some time to enjoy the game*** and the wonderful community that developed within it. When I finally hit the wall every day, when I cannot possibly do anything requiring logic or syntax, I am taking the time to roam around in a world inhabited by textspeak-spouting butterflies, paranoid bubble trees, and pirate barnacles. It all kind of makes sense in context. Sort of.

 A full set of Philosopher Dolls, hanging out at my home bar.
Be warned: The Ayn Rand doll does not believe in sharing.

OK, Glitch is absolutely preposterous. Yet, I kind of like it.

*You should totally buy Catman** from your local dodgy bootleg DVD provider, because it is so deliriously awful that sarcastic robots will automatically spawn inside your house when you start the movie. 
**Though you should probably avoid Catman II, which involves a worm-eating scene and nowhere near enough of a budget for said scene to have been special effects.
***Closed to new subs now, but I have a couple of invites. Anyone who knows me in real life... shoot me a message if you want in on the end of the world. 

November 9, 2012

In Which I Briefly Address The Reasons For This Blog's Recent Lack Of Updates

I know, I know: There has been a remarkable paucity of snark 'round these parts lately. Where, you ask, where are the in-depth meditations on hilariously ill-considered pieces of dollar store merchandise? The completely random pieces of food writing? The gratuitous Hitchhikers' Guide references shoehorned into literally any topic including shoehorns?

I swear, I really do have a good excuse.

Jazz radio is coming back to Pittsburgh. 

You know, radio. That funny box with the dials on it that you might not have used so much in the last year and a half?

Jazz? Coming back. Tony Mowod? Coming back.

The spirit? Never left.