May 31, 2010

In The News Today...! The PG ran an actual honest-to-goodness in-depth article about Pittsburgh Public Media (The Good Guys)!

The station has been in a real bind because we haven't been able to communicate to the public about Pittsburgh Public Media and its need for donations. (Ironic, huh?) (Yes, this IS ironic, Alanis, wherever your whiny Canadian butt is lurking these days...)

There are all sorts of FCC restrictions on on-air fundraising. Generally speaking, as a public radio station, you can't ask for funds for another organization. (There are some exceptions, such as the pledge drives during which we offered a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank as a premium. Because the station made the actual donation, that was OK--we weren't a pass-through for individual donations.)

There's also a potential conflict of interest if the station being sold can act on behalf of a potential buyer.

So while we're true believers in PPM, we can't open up the mic at 90.5 and ask for donations to PPM. Word of mouth is hugely important. That's why I keep posting about the situation on my otherwise delightfully gravitas-free blog.

Hopefully, the word's getting out now. Keep passing it on!

May 30, 2010

DAAAANCE With Animala! Again!

My distinctively-bearded friend Mike informed me that there is a sequel in the offing to fantastic faux B-movie The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Come August 17, we will be able to enjoy the glory of The Lost Skeleton Returns Again.

Just think what it could mean... to the field of Science!

Just Hit The Clearance Table At Macy's Like Everyone Else

OK, actually I can't begrudge anyone the opportunity to make a few bucks from a well-marketed old idea.

(I used to send up my protective force field by wearing my high school ring backwards so it looked like a solid band.)

A Shiny New Week

Notes on the coming week...

*Hey! It's going to be stormy on Memorial Day! Thanks, Nature.

*"Hell's Kitchen" is back on Tuesday night. I have great respect for the actual Gordon Ramsay, who is by most accounts a hell of a chef and actually very supportive to his staff (in a shouty drill-sergeant way, but still...). I am highly entertained by the Hell's Kitchen cartoon version--Mecha-Ramsay, if you will--who mainly stomps around shooting flame from his mouth. Squee! Also, duck!

*The Belmont Stakes will be run on Saturday. Yeah, I will be watching. Yeah, I know, no Triple Crown winner again. Sorry Mom.

*You can buy a quilted vest with the Belmont Stakes logo. Which totes makes sense for a race that is run in friggin' June.

*There is no new "Treme" because of Memorial Day weekend. Sigh.

*To our Gulf Coast readers, please know that the CEO of BP is very, very sorry for spilling oil on your tablecloth. And your wetlands and beaches and birds and whatnot. He is frantically dabbing at your lapel with a linen napkin and will be happy to pay your dry cleaning bill.

Weekend DUQ News Roundup

Ignore the no-duh headline ("Duquesne Considering Sale of DUQ") and read this story in the Beaver County Times. Once again, SaveDUQ has interesting things to add to the discussion (see comments).

Really wonderful letters to the editor have made it to the PG in the last few days. Mary Barr wrote beautifully in defense and celebration of jazz. On Saturday, two letters ran in support of the station and its jazz programming, one from former DUQ volunteer and eternally interesting dude* Clark Gardner and one from Enid and Errol Miller.

*Srsly, Clark is awesome. Buy him a coffee sometime and you'll hear stories.

May 29, 2010

It's Memorial Day Weekend

...and the old, weird America is back, baby! I give you upstate New York's finest, The Felice Brothers.

May 28, 2010

(Insert Creative Post Title Here)

La Blog was on duty for Morning Edition this morning, so you'll understand that the wittier brain lobes are already gone for the holiday weekend.

The pledge drive wrapped up a few short hours ago, and thanks to the very best listening public in the whole dang country, it was awesome.

Lots of battles to come, but for now... Thank you, Pittsburgh.

Much love (always) from the Bluff (for now).

May 26, 2010

"We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air... we shall never surrender."

I can't tell you how much it has meant to everyone at DUQ to see the community response to this pledge drive, and to the situation surrounding the sale.

As furious as I am to see the total disregard certain parties display for the amazing jazz community in this town (not to mention the little matter of 100 years of *history*)... as absolutely sick as it makes me to think that people with a total disregard for what we've built here could just wipe this place off the dial...We're in for the fight. We will continue to make our case--and the numbers are on our side--that this station serves its community, and the community supports it with funds as well as enthusiasm. I can't guarantee we'll come through this thing. But I can promise you that everyone here is going to do everything within our power to keep this service alive.

At some point, the compulsion to make pet theories come to life at the expense of reality has to stop. It was NOT OK to wipe out the Lower Hill to put up the Civic Arena. It was NOT OK to wipe out the pedestrian grid in East Liberty.

And I say it stops here. This station is not a blank piece of real estate located at 90.5FM. It's a community. A living, breathing, functioning community.

If we make it through--and it's an "if", no doubt about it--it will be because people not only care, but act. You're part of something unique and worth saving if you make a pledge or write a letter to the editor or talk to a friend about what's going on. And remember, Pittsburgh Public Media is the group that wants to preserve the service... and continue the tradition of growth and progress of which 90.5 has been justly proud.

If we fail, we will at least have spent precious years doing something truly worthwhile.

I have no intention of failing.

May 25, 2010

From The Front

The drive's going very well indeed, by the way.

Other than the disgusting garlic-cherry doughnut.

New Discoveries In Doughnut Science

If you ever have a chance to eat a cherry doughnut that has been sitting next to an everything bagel for a few hours... pass it up.


To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.

--Douglas Adams

The Desire To Build Does Not A Vacant Lot Make

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

--Douglas Adams

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

--the great, sadly late, Douglas Adams

(Haven't been posting much lately, what with trying to save my little corner of the world.)

Marking the ninth anniversary of Adams' death (doesn't even seem possible) (both the "dead" and the "nine years" elements of this proposition), enjoy this set of Towel Day tributes on Flickr.

(I also like that Towel Day is celebrated a few days later than the actual anniversary... what a perfect way to honor the Great Procrastinator.)

May 22, 2010

A Tip O' The Hat To The Mystery Man

I don't know who this guy* is, but he* is an observant person.

(*I'm assuming the "guy" part from the recent post in which the writer's father calls him "son"...)

May 21, 2010

The Good Guys Are Here

Expect plenty more on the subject, but suffice it to say that if you value what goes on at WDUQ, these guys are the ones you're cheering for. If you can throw them a couple of bucks, that would be more appreciated than you'll ever know. Tell your friends.

Friend PPM on Facebook, if you must use Facebook. I'll grant you a dispensation.

News, Jazz, and NPR has a home at 90.5FM. Pittsburgh Public Media is fighting the good fight to maintain the amazing progress the station has made... and to grow and evolve with the times.

The fight is just beginning. It's time to band together to make sure Pittsburgh doesn't lose this healthy, thriving, constantly evolving institution.

Thirty Years Of Dot Munching

Can't let this go unmentioned... thanks to today's Google Doodle, I am now aware that PacMan is marking its thirtieth anniversary.

Anyone looking for a belated birthday gift for yrs. truly need look no further!

May 19, 2010

The Man Of The House REALLY Wants One Of These

If there is a more gloriously geeky sentence than this, I have not yet encountered it:
"Several of my friends are encouraging me to make and sell these as steampunk jewelry. That might end up being the only way I can afford new servos for the robot."

Reading The Tea Leaves

What do the foundations wish to achieve by stalling negotiations in the sale of WDUQ?

Clues here.

Is It The Feast Of Crispian Again Already? I Haven't Even Started My Shopping!

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!'

May 18, 2010

Joe Negri Is A Mensch!

I'm happy to confirm that during the upcoming WDUQ pledge drive, you can choose Joe Negri's "Dream Dancing" as a premium (at or above the $100 membership level). Joe is not just a Pittsburgh icon, but an awesomely nice guy and by the way one heckuva guitar player.

It's A Two Cruller Day

So, I voted this morning. Found the new polling place (kind of a haul, but not quite as bad as it looked on the map). Ran the gauntlet of poll workers. I always feel sorry for poll workers... especially on a rainy morning like this. I did my share of that back in the antediluvian era. Does anyone actually vote based on pieces of lit they get at the entrance? Probably not. But a candidate can't possibly be seen not staffing the polling places with willing minions.

I even remembered to bring my photo ID and voter registration card. I was voter #16. Glad to see that my neighborhood isn't populated with too many early risers.

Then I decided to catch the 86B back into town. I'm very glad that I got to a bus shelter, because it started pouring rain. A 54C and a 64 passed, then nothing. I probably should have walked back up to Liberty to get an 86A or a 77, but oh well...

Finally got Downtown. Walked to Market Square. Noticed some extra police. Eventually noticed the bomb squad. Thought "eh", and continued my journey to Dunkin' Donuts. Neither rain nor sleet nor (probably) abandoned backpacks will stop the sacramental Election Day doughnuts.

The buses were all backed up thanks to the bomb scare, so I just walked back to work.

I grabbed two crullers, 'cause it's my birthday and that's OK.

(UPDATE: It was, in fact, an abandoned backpack. Can I call 'em or what?)

You Know I Love A Horse Race

I have absolutely, positively no idea how the Senate primary is going to break. This is interesting, though.

Don't Go Out On A Limb Here...

From this morning's PG website (likely to be updated, so I'm copying and pasting the text as it is right now):
Police check package left on bus Downtown
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Police this morning cordoned off an area around a Port Authority bus at Market Street and Fifth Avenue, Downtown.
Someone apparently left something on the bus.

May 17, 2010

I Still Miss The Lever Machines

In further civic-mindedness... if you have moved since the last election, Allegheny County has a handy online tool to look up the location of your polling place.

My new polling place is located approximately halfway between my house and Mars (the planet or the town, take your pick). But I shall trek there nonetheless.

My Day Of Jubilee

I found a source for Mexican Coca-Cola. You know, the kind made with sugar.

This post would be tagged "servicey", except I'm not telling you where it is. Evidently, I kid you not, the government can bust retailers for selling it.

The Lovers, The Dreamers, And Me

There are some cultural experiences that are deeply responsible for my worldview... staying up really late to watch Johnny Carson and David Letterman, reading Spy, seeing these guys at every possible opportunity, and tuning in to a certain faint signal of civility from my bedroom in the middle of nowhere. And the Muppets. The Muppet Show, Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas, the original Muppet movies.... and a little show called Sesame Street. Pre-Elmo, natch.

I say with no irony whatsoever that a big chunk of what is good about me was nurtured by Jim Henson's Muppets. Sure, above all, the Muppets were funny. But the characters were great because of their understanding of life as a big adventure and of the value of friendship. They were quirky, highly individual personalities who neatly embodied universal feelings and experiences.

Even, maybe especially, in adulthood, Henson's creations are relatable. (I know I often identify with Kermit... you know when everything just goes to hell around him and he turns into a flailing mass of green, yelping felt?)

Twenty years (!!!) after his still-infuriatingly-premature death, a loving tribute to Jim Henson has been posted over at Wired.

If you've never seen the clip of Big Bird singing at the memorial service... yeah, um, wait until you can be left in peace to sob loudly with a box of Kleenex at your disposal.

You Have No Power Over Me

May 31 is "Quit Facebook Day", a major holiday I can really get behind.

The Week Ahead

Posting will be very catch-as-catch-can this week and next week. (I'm going to be a bit busy.)

In #servicey, remember that tomorrow, in addition to being my birthday, is also primary day here in Pennsylvania. Especially since there's an honest-to-goodness contested Senate race, you should drag your citizentastic butt down to your polling place.

Tell 'em SMLTS sent you. They will have no idea what you're talking about, but then again why pass up the chance to be inscrutable?

May 16, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Ukuleles

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain pwns.

"No, no, not you, I meant Nosforatu Goldstein"

If you missed it, check out this week's Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me limerick segment... you could read the transcript, but then you'd miss out on some truly great comic timing. Not to mention yet more reasons to avoid effin' Facebook.

May 14, 2010

In Which I Channel Gracie Allen

Everybody's heard about the gold-dispensing ATM by now. But I have a much better idea... an ATM that gives out CANDY!

I'm going to get totally rich!

This Was Not The Kind Of Flying Car I Wanted

In The Future, nasty people will be able to disable your brakes remotely.

This Had Better Not Mess With "Treme"

"Monitoring the situation" is a multisyllabic way to say "uhhhhhhhhh....".

The Orange Guy's Heart Grew Three Sizes That Day

BREAKING!!! Charlie Crist has discovered that it's "fun to tell the truth."

Also fun: Skee Ball. Don't tell Charlie just yet. Too much excitement in one day and all.

Things That Make Me Feel Old

Atlantis' final liftoff is scheduled for this afternoon, one of three remaining Space Shuttle flights.

Thirty years is a long time to depend on one vehicle design. For cripes sake, you wouldn't drive across state in an AMC Gremlin, even a lovingly maintained AMC Gremlin.

Just checked Wikipedia--looks like the Gremlin is one of the things I extinguished with my birth, along with the Triple Crown . (Hopefully my man Calvin Borel will lift that particular curse. C'mon, the horse is called Super Saver. I have an inch-thick, alphabetically-sorted stack of coupon envelopes. Surely, it's FATE!)

The Gremlin is welcome to stay consigned to memory, though. Really.

W.C Fields Had A Point

It's not supposed to pay to be a Good Samaritan. That's pretty much the difference between being a Good Samaritan and being a Kind Of Douchey Samaritan.

"Venus Flytrap" Was Already Taken

From today's TV Q&A:

In response to a question in the April 9 TV Q&A, Diver is not my real name., My program director assigned me Diver the night before I started at 3WS. It actually has been good to keep stalkers out of my back seat and it seems to be a catchy name. I would not have picked it but my PD wanted me to learn to scuba dive and swim with sharks at the zoo for a promotion. I took a couple lessons and decided I liked above water better. He is the same guy who came up with Kenny Woods, Just Sheri and Rinky Dink. At least I am not named after a frog.
-- Bonny Diver, traffic reporter for CBS-owned AM & FM stations in Pittsburgh

May 13, 2010

May 12, 2010

My Second Favorite Use of Zombies

Plants vs. Zombies is of course the bestest thing ever.

Coming in at #2, this awesome transcript of Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me! as broadcast during the zombie apocalypse.

It truly would be exactly like this.

I Thought It Would Be Taller

Check out this insanely huge, detailed picture of Pittsburgh.

This first Pittsburgh Gigapanorama is an interactive, 360-degree portrait of southwest Pennsylvania as seen from the roof of the U. S. Steel Tower. Assembled from over 4000 individual pictures taken on the chilly morning of October 19, 2009, this photograph contains 31.3 gigabytes (10.5 gigapixels) of information, ranking it among the largest digital images ever created.
What you see on-line is a small window onto the overall image, as is the printed Gigabanner which measures 48 inches high by 23 feet long! In truth, if this image could be displayed in its full glory, its dimensions would be 50 feet high by 285 feet long, far bigger than any screen could accommodate!

Speaking of Geeks...

The Ed Sullivan Show of the geek set, Blowing Stuff Up... For Science, is doing another duct tape hour tonight.

Also, Kari has been back from maternity leave the last few episodes.

Your sysadmin won't be wiping the grin off his face until Saturday at the earliest.

Martha Clearly Doesn't Live With A Geek

Can't say I've been seized with a desire to make pillow coverings out of The Man of the House's old shirts. Partially because geeks are notoriously loathe to part with clothing (or former clothing). Partially because it is an insane idea.

Because Velvet Elvises Aren't Easy To Find These Days

OK, dude makes some good radio... but I think I'll pass...

Check out more Ira Glass folk art at WFMU's blog. There's even a finger puppet. Really. Go look now.

Attention, Internet

The "Andrei, you've lost another submarine?" joke has been made already.

Thank you.

Beyond Wreckiness

Jen from the epic Cake Wrecks blog has just launched a new site called Epbot ("Geekery, Girliness, and General Goofing Off"). Should be worth keeping an eye on!

May 11, 2010

Mach 3 Augurs In

Some people are great artists, or sing beautifully, or are awesome parallel parkers.

Me, I bleed profusely from nicks endured while shaving. And after years of experimenting, I finally hit upon a solution: Guy razors. I figured anything engineered such that you can safely scrape your face with it was likely to treat my legs reasonably kindly.

And it worked! I had a glorious year or so of smooth, non-bleedy legs thanks to the glory of the Gillette Mach 3 disposable razor.

And then, the romance went cold. Suddenly, I was getting about two good shaves out of a new razor. For the first time in a long time, I started nicking myself on a regular basis. I started looking for a new love, wondering all the time what went wrong with what had been so very right.

After asking around and checking around online, I can safely say it's not my imagination. In my own home, the Man of the House (who favors the Mach 3 with replaceable blades) reacted with great relief when I brought it up ("I thought it was just me!"). This guy agrees, and (sigh) this guy, and this guy, among others.

There's even a bit of a conspiracy theory going around that Gillette is undermining its old product to make way for this... er, THIS.

(And remember, this used to seem absurd.)

Whether or not the sudden dive in quality was intentional, I've bought my last Gillette razor. Mach 3, enough with the pain, I'm moving on.

Sass, Hoopy Froods!

Two weeks until it is vitally important to know where your towel is.

OK, I Would Have Used That Feist Song...

Happily, someone put this together so I didn't have to.

I give you the iDalek.

May 10, 2010

Every Episode of "Kitchen Nightmares"

According to Zap2it, this week, "Chef Ramsay tries to help a restaurant owner who has lost his passion for cooking and is in tremendous debt".

Next week, Gordon will be helping a restaurant owner who has excellent food, a firm grasp on reality, and lovely dining facilities but simply lacks the gift of self-promotion.

Ha! Actually, he will be visiting a restaurant owner who has lost his passion for cooking and is in tremendous debt. But there will be a whole lot of badly-bleeped profanity, and if we're lucky a (clear throat) bill collector will show up to liven up the proceedings.

Oh No, Not Again

Why? Dear Flying Spaghetti Monster, why another blog?

Much like everyone who bought The Velvet Underground started a band, everyone who read Spy has a blog. (Also a splotchy temporary tattoo that won't amuse anyone under 30 unless one goes to the trouble of explaining the later stages of the Cold War to someone who would MUCH rather go back to playing Mafia Wars on his/her iPhone.)

And speaking of Mafia Wars--this is the kind of quality segue you can expect on this blog--I just can't justify opening up a Facebook account. Every time I think I'm going to give in to the peer pressure, Facebook cheerfully rolls back privacy settings without warning or broadcasts email addresses or sends your ex-stalker a plane ticket and a Google map of your house. (Just kidding! It's actually a Greyhound ticket. Times are still tough, you know.)

So... Why am I doing this? The drive to create, the need to vent, all the usual reasons. I'm narcissistic enough to think I have pretty good taste, and I'd love to be able to share stuff I find interesting. A blog also gives me a bit of control over what I choose to share publicly, and I do (heart) me some control. Plus, I have some hope that I can help our nation achieve energy security by generating clean, ecofriendly snark.

To start off your week, why not check in on that sprawling Internet classic, the Amazon reviews for Tuscan Whole Milk?