June 30, 2010

You Know What The Legislative Process Needs? More Acronyms!

Look, we get spoiled around here.  Giant libraries all over the place, free concerts in the park, public transit, diverse neighborhoods, multiple cupcake bakeries...  all of the ingredients of a world-class city are right here in the Burgh!  (We even got vandalized during the G-20, just like prominent Canadian metropolis Toronto.)

Because I grew up in the, uh, more agrarian part of the state--the number of barns painted "CHEW MAIL POUCH TOBACCO" well exceeded the number of stores that sold books--I tend not to take any of it for granted.    

So here's a cause that's very close to my heart...  extending public radio service to underserved parts of the state.  Depending upon what happens to the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP) in the budgeting process, Congress could be extremely helpful to the effort.  Read up on it here, and consider contacting your Legislative American.

Never forget that "broadcasting" also means "sowing seeds"...

Amazon Buys Woot, Adds $0.45 Eraser To Order For Free Super Saver Shipping

Woot CEO Matt Rutledge announced the development in one of the more amusing press release thingys to come down the pike as of late... 
They’re not looking to have their folks come in and run Woot unless we ask them to, which incidentally you can do by turning off the bathroom lights and saying the word “Kindle” three times; a helpful Amazon employee will appear in the mirror.

Sounds encouraging...  but if Woot starts selling nothing but K-Cups, you'll know what happened.


Apologies for missing my now customary liveblog of Hell's Kitchen last night--sorry, kids.  (I have a note from my personal physician, Dr. Ian Galackewicz, excusing me from the two-hour posting marathon thanks to a combination of renovation fatigue and a migraine.)

Anyway...  two of the most annoying people were eliminated.  If you want to hear more from Salvatore and Siobhan, they're both interviewed here

Somewhere in America, Siobhan is probably still whining about how her sandwich was soooo much better than Fran's.

I Think I Can Speak For The Geeks On This One

OK, I myself am not a comic book person.  But I did really really love my Wonder Woman roller skates, so I feel entitled to weigh in on this important issue.

Wonder Woman should not wear leggings and a jean jacket.   Unless she's fighting crime in a shopping mall in 1980s New Jersey.  (Or possibly the less-fashionable parts of the South Side on a weekend night.)

Also, it has to be noted that the new getup gives her a very strong resemblance to the late Michael Jackson.  Seriously, go look at the link and tell me I'm wrong!

Can I Buy It And Formally Name It "The Kaufmann's Building"?

(But only if the roof doesn't need work...  I mean, let's not get silly.)

Yes, the Kaufmann's building is on the market.  I actually didn't realize that the May Company still owned the building, but apparently so.  Macy's is planning to keep leasing back its space, apparently in the hopes that 1) this internet shopping thing will fade away and 2) everyone will develop a sudden, intense longing for Martha Stewart chili pots. 

This serves mainly to remind me afresh how much I miss Kaufmann's.  I choose to believe in parallel universes because that means there's a possibility that the Kaufmann's bakery is still operational in some other, clearly more just, reality.  (Sorry, the "Arcade Bakery" doesn't cut it.  Gather 'round your old Auntie, and she shall tell you of days of yore, when you could readily purchase a chocolate eclair made with actual pastry cream rather than canned vanilla pudding.) 

I also miss Horne's, and the Horne's bakery.  But that's another post.

Not Entirely Sure This Is Satire

Pirates Sign Guy Who Successfully Jogged Across Street

June 28, 2010

More Reasons That Home Depot Should LOVE Me

Perhaps you know--or even are--a guy.  And if so, you perhaps have noticed that guys, on the whole, don't care much about certain aspects of aesthectics.

This paint job is so eye-poppingly bad that men notice it, and are kind of embarassed.

For the record, this was perpetrated by The Kludge Family, NOT ME!!!!

Mom says it's like Minnie Pearl and Thomas Kinkade had a love nest.  She is correct.

Yes, they painted the glass transom over the front door.  Yes, we will be removing that.

The late sports director at WDUQ, Sean Doherty, used to call Heinz Field "The Mustard Palace" owing to the effect of the very, very, very yellow seats.  I think of my living room as The Mustard Gatehouse:
(Really, it's at least that appalling in person.)

Happily, the bruise-colored paint in the second floor bathroom was damaged beyond repair in the leak.  So you're spared that trauma :^)

If You Don't Agree With That You're A Pretentious Martian From Venus

Bruce Finally got around to watching my boys tear it up at Glastonbury '09...  and I had to post the great (late, immortal) Joe Strummer's recommendation letter.  I love this thing--I've had a printout of it on my desk since it started making the rounds last year.

Editorial Comment

The Post Gazette has just put up a nice FAQ about their editorial submission guidelines. 

Actually, Panicking Might Be In Order

Of course, I had to post The Hitchhikers' Guide To The Daleks.  (Thanks, BoingBoing!)

The voice over is a special delight to those of us who know and love the original radio HHGTTG!

Beavis Is Just Alright

The home improvement saga continues...  after a one-day hiatus, the roof is being worked on a little bit today, at least while the rain holds off.  The guys will mainly be hanging drywall.  Other than a weensy drip at the standpipe, the tarp kept the rain out of the non-completed portion of the roof yesterday.

By the way, shingles are really darn heavy.  I had occasion to move the packages a few times this weekend, and I'm absolutely in awe that these guys actually lug those things up a ladder.

I'm a bit sorry that I have to miss the floor show today.  I never quite get over the entertainment value of hearing someone yell "HEY BEAVIS, GET UP HERE!".  That's George's second-in-command, a nice young fellow who happily is more inclined to build things than set them on fire (heh heh heh, FIRE)

I imagine the Dumpster will be going soon, which will make everyone happy.  Other than the metal picker incident and someone moving the chair with the CAUTION tape, there haven't been many actual problems.  Some drunk teenage bimbo launched a bottle into it last night, shouting some slurred profanity which was probably meant to be intimidating; at least she managed to hit her target.  (After she left, I checked to make sure she hadn't left broken glass on the road.) 

Once the roof's up, it's going to feel like smooth sailing.  Once everything's done and we can sleep to a normal hour again, it will be sheer bliss.

I suppose it's probably bad luck to say this, but...  at least we're running out of things that can leak!

June 27, 2010

Been There, Done That, Bought The T-Shirt

Want to keep jazz on the air at 90.5 FM?  So does Pittsburgh Public Media.

You can buy one of their sharp new t-shirts at Wild Card in stylish Lawrenceville (home of all the newest, chicest roofs).  Ten smackers.  A bargain, my peeps!  Supplies are limited, so get your rhythmically-shakin' tail feather down there ASAP!

World Cup Update

Archimedes out to Socrates, Socrates back to Archimedes, Archimedes out to Heraclitus, he beats Hegel.  Heraclitus a little flick, here he comes on the far post, Socrates is there, Socrates heads it in! Socrates has scored! The Greeks are going mad, the Greeks are going mad. Socrates scores, got a beautiful cross from Archimedes. The Germans are disputing it. Hegel is arguing that the reality is merely an a priori adjunct of non-naturalistic ethics, Kant via the categorical imperative is holding that ontologically it exists only in the imagination, and Marx is claiming it was offside.

Proof That Some Men Can Actually Pull Off A Ruffly Shirt

Sad news today... Pete Quaife, the bassist of The Kinks, has died at 66.

You must watch this awesome live performance (really, it's LIVE, not lip-synced in person) of "You Really Got Me", posted to YouTube by someone who could have edited out the Casey Kasem bits.

"All Day And All Of The Night", from Shindig:

Now that is how rocking out is done.

June 26, 2010

A Roof Above Our Heads

It's early.  I penned up the cats in our bedroom, but I let The Man Of The House sleep.  No reason for everybody to be up. 

The crew got here at about 6:45 this morning, and they'll be roofing until it gets too hot to manage the shingles without the risk of damaging them.  The guys themselves seem impervious to heat.  (Me, I need my water bottle to get from work to the bus stop in the evening.  I truly don't know how they do it.)

They should wrap up the back part of the roof today, so there's light at the end of the tunnel.  We're sticking it out, through all the early mornings and the equipment piled in the kitchen.  It'll be a long time before I have to go through this again--as George said, the roof should last well into my old age, especially considering the amount of new wood we've had to put up there.

(Of course, after the last six months, old age feels somewhat imminent...)

The finished part of the roof looks fantastic.  It's a light grey, which I chose less because of aesthetics and more in order to reflect as much heat as possible.  That the color should go nicely with the house is basically a bonus.

Inside the house, part of the kitchen and all of the dining room drywall has been hung.  It's even better than the lath, which had a certain Ma & Pa Kettle charm about it.  I can hardly contain my excitement at the prospect of an intact floor.

The Dumpster doesn't quite overfloweth,  but it's getting pretty full of stuff.  Old shingles, old slates, rotted wood, some little bit of framing that's clearly new but must not have met George's standards...  some trash from neighbors, too.  I can't get too bitter about that, since we have been taking up an awful lot of parking space.  Sure, dump your old dirty carpet, o denizens of Lawrenceville.  Fine by me.

The garbage men bitched and moaned mightily yesterday when they came by...  and then had absolutely no problem getting the truck past the Dumpster.  They didn't even have to slow down.  But they got in some good grousing about how totally impossible it would be, so I guess they were happy in the end.

It's probably a good thing that I had no idea what I was getting into with this place.  Still, I'm glad I threw my cap over the wall and committed myself to homeownership. So too, I expect, are the tradesmen of Pittsburgh...

June 25, 2010

I Don't Know Either

“I’m still talking to people, still pulling together information, and—I really mean this—who knows where it might go?”

The if-it-ain't-broke-break-it crowd appears to be at it again.

Useful Information

By the way, Tagalongs--the Girl Scout cookies with the layer of peanut butter--contain peanuts.

If You Need Oil

Our recent acquisition of a Fry Daddy was well-timed, what with the kitchen being all torn up.  (Hot food, no pans...  woot!) 

Of course, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a family in possession of a deep fryer must be in want of things to fry.  We've done the obvious fries and onion rings, dabbled in crab cakes, and even tried a Tagalong.  (Pretty good, actually, thanks for asking.)

What next?  We thought of a Cadbury Egg, but there was only one left and FSM knows I needed a fondant fix after all of the renovation tsuris.  But next year...  probably.  These good folks tested it, and apparently it works! 

(Just for the record, I don't shill products for compensation of any kind on this blog...  All mentions of brand names are for informational purposes or stylistic choice.  I'm not in the pocket of Big Small Appliance, or indeed the Girl Scouts.)   

The Marbles Player From My Area Is Superior To The Marbles Player From Your Area

(With apologies to The Onion.)

The winner of the National Marbles Tournament is Bloomfield's Penelope Bauer.  (Represent, Penelope!)

Who knew that Allegheny County was such a marbles powerhouse?  Thirty-seven of the 87 champions were from hereabouts.  Quarterbacks and marbles champs, we raise 'em good.

June 24, 2010

(Skipping) The Needle And The Damage Done

According to the California Department of Public Health, that state is experiencing its worst pertussis outbreak in 50 years.  Five babies under three months (that is, too young to be vaccinated and therefore completely dependent on herd immunity) have died this year already.

Choosing to skip vaccination puts everyone at risk--it's like sneezing on the salad bar, and should be every bit as socially unacceptable.  Ignore the purveyors of snake oil (even if it is organic, fair trade, shade-grown snake oil).  Vaccines save livesThey won't give your child autism.  Pathogens, however, kill.

The needle still pinches though.  I'll grant that.

June 23, 2010

There Is A Limit To The Aphrodisiac Qualities Of Power

Weirdly, Ed Rendell is in the center of a sex scandal.  And it's not, um, of a Spitzeresque nature.

All parties deny, and I frankly have trouble believing that anyone was unable to contain her lust for Ed Rendell.

June 22, 2010

Liveblogging Hell's Kitchen Season 7 Week 4, Part 2

*Nilka is pissed, about which I can't blame her.  Fran seems genuinely sorry.

*Gordon's going all Escoffier on their butts, requiring them to make dishes based on the 5 classic mother sauces.  Amazingly, they name the sauces correctly and seem to know how to make them.  This challenge would not have gone well last season.

*Chicken is not equal to duck.

*Hey, when Gordon is pissed, does he go stomping at the Savoy?  HA!

*Cornish hen is not equal to pigeon.

*Eeew, the pigeon is bleeding heavily.  Eeeew. 

*Sea bass is not equal to halibut.

*Who loses?  The Red Team.  They have to clean and prep both kitchens.  The men+Autumn are off on a double-decker bus to go to a pub.  They all suck at darts, except Autumn.  Back at the kitchen, Siobhan is incredibly allergic to all cleaning products (which explains the hair)(ha)(get off my lawn).  She breaks out in hives.  I miss The Hives.  Wait, where was I?  Oh, yeah, Siobhan is dying or something.  Scott continues to stink up the kitchen with his arrogant ineptitude, and it's only prep.

*Oh boy, it's kids' night at Hell's Kitchen!  The kids all look so exci--  um, ready to go home.  Siobhan doesn't know she is supposed to make the spaghetti, or how to make spaghetti.  (Step 1: Boil the water!)  Salvatore tries putting more rice in almost-done risotto.  This ends badly.  Jason undercooks chicken, throws it back in the oven, and seems to think this will go unnoticed.  Scott undercooks Wellingtons, sending them to the pass on the theory that they were undercooked but not too undercooked.  Gordon throws the Red Team out of the kitchen.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the Red Team is about to lose.  Again.  Please put Scott out of our misery, Chef.

*The Red side is caught up beautifully...  because Gordon & the sous chefs did all the rest of the cooking.  The team returns to clean up ("the one thing you're good at!").  Scott holds forth at length about his own brilliance in relation to his to his teammates; he is alone is his opinion. 

*On the block: Scott (YAY) and... Fran puts herself up, but nominates Siobhan upon request for an alternate.  Scott volunteers his own name as the best chef on the team; he is again alone in his opinion...  despite his oft- and vigorously-stated status as the only one on the team with fine dining experience.  If the others happen to harvest some Rocky Mountain Oysters off this guy, I can't blame them.

*On the block: Fran, Scott, Siobhan.  Gordon gets the hell rid of Scott... "I cannot take it anymore!"  Neither can we, Gordo.  Thank you.

*Oooh, he's not finished...  Benjamin gets shuffled to the Red Team, and is expected to run it.  We'll see.

Liveblogging Hell's Kitchen Season 7, Week 4 PART 1

*SURELY, nobody really thought they were going to be slaughtering pigs, right?  Wow, catching greased pigs labeled with cuts of meat...  meta!  And kinda disturbing.  But, bacon.

*What's yuckier than blood sausages?  Exploded blood sausages.  Gordon apparently agrees with Nilka's judgment of the prune and blood sausage dish; his bite hits the trash can.  The pork loin fares better.  Bacon and slaw...  weird presentation, but... bacon.  Pork tenderloin with apple (mmm) looks and apparently is good.  Another pork loin does well; Maria CANNOT stop talking about her soup...  and cut to commercial, with the "score" tied.  Shocking.  Never happens. 

*Y'know, it's this far into the show and the Red Team hasn't been called "Hell's Bitches" yet.

*...and we're back!  Maria gets called out for her soup, which contains but does not focus on ham hock.  So the women lose again, and will be scrubbing the pigs.  The men plus Autumn will be going to the spa.  Blue Hair Guy thinks the spa is threatening his sexuality or... something.

*Mmm, barbecue!  If Gordon doesn't want the fried chicken, I do!  Looks nom.

*NOOOO, customer lady, don't tell Salvatore he's cute.

*The hush puppies?  ROOOAAAAW!

*The Red Team fights amongst itself.  Autumn can't be missing this crowd.  Also, she's having a grand ol' time bringing badly-cooked food back to the kitchen.  I'm rather enjoying it too.

*Mecha-Ramsay smashes an undercooked burger but good.

*And now the second seating!  The Red Team does not seem to be comprised of inherently gifted waitstaff.  Blue Hair Guy rocks the appetizer station.  Salvatore stops talking altogether.  The Red Team took one table's order twice; Maria is having another bad day at bible camp.  Autumn screwed up the ribs.  Ooh, Maria screwed up another order, taking down the wrong apps on the ticket.  Jason tries to argue about how one operates the deep fryer.

*The Red Team loses; Fran gets to nominate two people to go home.  Maria's on the block, as is... Nilka?  Really now?  And of course, we cut to commercial.

*Gordon is incredulous that Scott hasn't been nominated, and calls him up with the other two.  Then sends Nilka back safely.  Yay!  Maria is getting weepy and jabbery again.  Scott says blahblahblah I'm sooo dedicated and hardworking.  It's MARIA!  Go away and blubber at me no more!  Gordon not pleased at Nilka's having been thrown under the bus.  Fran, rightly, feels like an ass.

And You Thought The Power Center Was Impressive

Today's Post-Gazette features community suggestions for reusing the Civic Arena (er, Mellon Arena).  I rather like this one from Glenn Baggley of Observatory Hill:

Let's give it to Duquesne University in exchange for the WDUQ license. Duquesne (or any other of the city's schools seeking expansion) would need to put in partitions and replace every third seat with two post-mounted desk surfaces converting the seats for lecture hall use. Think how many lecture halls, class rooms and meeting rooms would fit inside the Igloo. The ice surface and basketball court could be preserved. By properly designing partitions, keep enough sports arena seating to accommodate the crowd sizes for college basketball, hockey and music/stage performances without threatening the new arena.

Aw, Dude... Just... No...

... on the drums, from the great State of New Jersey...

The Mighty, Mighty...

Colonel Sanders!!!!!

June 21, 2010

Lawyers: Sense Of Humor :: Joan Rivers: Joan Rivers' Original Face

ThinkGeek has been warned off of marketing its canned unicorn meat as "The new white meat" by the National Pork Board.

This despite the facts that:
1) This "product" was an April Fools' gag and
2) Unicorns don't exist.  (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!)

The Cease & Desist letter is here.  There's a marvelous geek feeding frenzy in the comments.  Enjoy.

(Thanks to The Man Of The House for passing along the link! <3)

One Can Only Assume That She's A Chef In The Boudoir

The awful Sandra Lee's awful "lasagna" has been put to the test by the New York Times.  Don't miss the comments section.

If she tries to pass off a Campbell's-Tomato-Soup-and-cottage-cheese dish as lasagna in Bloomfield, she will be disappeared by a bunch of little old ladies with heavy rolling pins and the forearms to show they know how to wield them.

At Least You Could Defend Yourself With Slap Bracelets

For about five minutes in the early 90s, the cool thing to collect was POGs...  I more or less missed that myself, but it seemed like everyone's little brother was obsessed with them.  They were basically little poker chips with different pictures on them.  Only now, reading the Wikipedia article, do I see that there was some sort of game one could play with them.  Huh.

Your new POG du jour...  Silly Bandz.  They're rubber bracelets that are shaped somewhat unusually.  Will they become the opposite of cool by the time the kinder get back to school in the fall, or will the trend collapse right after all the parents have bought scads--er, scadz--of them for stocking stuffers?

Parks & Wreck

I like this article on the mindbending quality of using a faux documentary as a narrative device for long-lived shows like "The Office" and "Parks and Recreation"...  not only is it an interesting think piece, it also gains a great deal of credibility with me for admitting how godawful "Parks and Recreation" is. 

That's right, I admit it publicly.  "Parks & Recreation" is not funny, and its completely unearned reputation for hilarity baffles me*.  While we're at it, let's just trash any chance I have of getting in with the cool kids...  I never liked "Kid A", kombucha is disgusting, and Western medicine in general and vaccines in particular are awesome.

Elvis is dead, Paul is alive, and the emperor has no freaking clothes.

*In contrast to comedy's devil incarnate, Seth Rogen.  He has a schtick that is amusing as far as you can stomach the lovable-hipster-loser thing.  However much I want to smack the crap out of him--which is A LOT--he does actually execute a joke properly, which is to say he does funny things that make people laugh.  The making-me-want-to-smack-him is merely a bonus. 

The Secret Shame Of Smarties

OK, "shame" is probably overstating it...  but the story of how Smarties are two completely different candies here and in Britain (and how our Smarties are like British "Fizzers") is a surprisingly intrigue-filled tale. 

(This link leads to a really fun blog called "The Bewildered Brit", which consists largely of observations on the quirks of American culture AND candy...  it will be soaking up a lot of my spare time when I acquire some of that precious commodity.)

June 20, 2010

This. Is An Ex. Gutter.

Nobody can say I'm not doing my bit to keep the American economy on the track to recovery.

Well, my poor dear house is getting a whole new roof (including some replacement wood), new gutters, plus fresh siding on the dormer.  We're also having the chimneys properly capped (the Kludge Family had used--get ready for this--paving stones).

Unfortunately, we took on a bit of water during the brief but incredibly heavy storms last night.  Once again, we went on a mad dash through the house to find plastic vessels to catch the drips.  This morning when the crew came by, they spotted the problem pretty quickly--the main roof was tarped beautifully, but the rain came in along where the box gutter had been removed.  (Or what was passing as a box gutter.  It was really more of a heavily-painted piece of tinfoil.)

The past several days have settled into a new routine...  we rise early (not I'm-working-Morning-Edition early, but still well before I am constitutionally equipped to rise cheerfully).  I get ready, herd the cats into my bedroom, and wait.  George and his guys show up, usually around 7, and soon large chunks of the largest purchase I am ever likely to make start hitting the Dumpster. 

After a while, George comes in with pictures of the most recently discovered piece of half-assed maintenance perpetrated by previous owners.  We go to look at the rotted box gutter or the drainpipe that is composed of disparate widths of pipe.  He apologizes again for being the bearer of bad news.  I tell him to fix it, remembering fondly my $8000 tax credit and my freedom from debt. 

You are officially in for interesting times when your contractor says "You're in a Money Pit situation here".

It's all worth it, of course.  I sometimes pat the walls of my house and tell it that we're going to make it all better.  (I also sometimes hug the doorway in my office, because I feel sorry for my poor doomed building.  Don't worry, I wait until nobody's watching and then I never tell anyone.)

I keep thinking of how beautiful it will be to have a sound, professionally-installed roof.  To have all my walls up again.  To have bathroom flooring.  Also to sleep in until 7:15, but seeing as George gets up at 4:30 to start a full day of manual labor in the hot sun, I feel kind of guilty indulging my self-pity.

It still beats renting.  I may not have the ready cash I did a month ago, but I have my very own home.  (I still grin like an idiot when I realize afresh that I have a library.)

Someday this work will be all done, and it will be quiet again.  The neighbors will stop being pissy about the Dumpster.  My roof will work properly, which means we'll not notice it. 

It's amazing what you have to go through to achieve boring old normality. 

Respect The Chair

The parking chair is nothing more or less than a neighbor's request for a small favor. 

It is also further proof that everyone and everything but me has a Facebook page.

More Community Support For WDUQ

There are two wonderful letters in the Post-Gazette today from two Pittsburgh legends--Bill Hillgrove and Spider Rondinelli.

June 18, 2010

Have You Heard About This? Have You Seen This?

Leno is crashing and burning.  And the universe is just a little bit of a fairer place today. 

Oh Come On

Not only do I believe that several lucky people walked on the moon, I also believe that Paul McCartney is very much alive.

Sigh, the internet disagrees.

There's a documen-- no, let's say film--called "Paul McCartney Really Is Dead".  It purports to be based on audio tapes mailed to the filmmakers in 2005.  The tapes purport to be George Harrison blowing the lid off the whole "coverup".  There is a whole lot of purporting going on.

My favorite part of this flavor of the Paul Is Dead conspiracy is that it requires you to believe that Heather Mills caused the supposed car crash, and that she has kept her true identity secret with the help of a boatload of plastic surgery.  Also, this means she is pretending to be roughly 25 years younger than she is.  (But you can continue to believe that she's a glorified extortionist, which is maybe the one component of this story that rings true.)

I'm really hoping this is more of a Blair Witch thing, or better yet a grand hoax in the manner of Clifford Irving.  Surely, nobody could be gullible enough to take some anonymously-mailed tapes at face value, right?

Wait.  Internet.  Never mind. 

To The Moon, Andy

One of my very favorite (and very few) summer TV favorites returns Monday.  History Detectives begins its eighth season with a segment about the secret art exhibit on the moon.

No, really.  It's true!   There's a little tiny Warhol up there, shining down on us every night.  (Sure, it looks kind of like...  um, little Andy.  But that's how our boy rolled.)

My Favorite Techno Release Of The Year

I almost certainly wouldn't give a damn about the actual content, but this hybrid CD/vinyl single is freaking awesome and I love it and it makes me want to go watch High Fidelity and actually hook up my turntable.

/end music geekery


The "Uh Oh Spaghetti-Os" joke has been made a few times since this story hit.

Thank You.

(Although this one may be my favorite, because it completely misses the obvious joke, going for an "Mmm Mmm Good" variation on the theme.)


From the Vatican, a recommendation that the faithful watch...  um...  The Blues Brothers.

Which explains Benedict XVI's recent statement on his less-than-thorough response to abuse allegations:

No I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.

Sadly, This Reminded Me That I Watched "Mega Snake" Thanks To This Guy

The History Channel will be running a series called "Stan Lee's Superhumans", in which the beloved comic book artist* will host segments about people with real-life unusual abilities.  (Unfortunately, real-life abilities tend to be stuff like being very bendy.  Can't we evolve in an more interesting fashion?  Get with it, fellow sapiens!)

Decent writeup here with excellent geek fight in the comments.

*I'll admit to a moment of sheer terror, wondering if I was supposed to say "graphic novel".  Because boy does it piss off geeks when you get that one wrong...

June 17, 2010

Leona Helmsley Alive, Well, Working For BP

Oh, come on, are you people even trying to pass as human anymore?

FIRE! Hehheheheh!

Geeks are very talented at finding new ways and reasons to set stuff aflame (see Mythbusters).  This is highly entertaining, and also why we can't have nice things.

Anyway, some guys at Wired decided that hackysack was missing something, and that something was, indeed, the flaming kiss of Prometheus.  I'm inclined to agree.

Those snobs on the copy desk used to make fun of us for being Phish-loving, patchouli-smelling hippies. But now we’re Phish-loving, patchouli-smelling hippies on fire.

Ra-di-o. Uh huh. Yip. Yip. Yip Yip Yip Yip Yip.

Further commentary on the subject, courtesy of today's Sesame Street Twitter feed.

We're Not Bored

Here's the latest article on Pittsburgh Public Media and the DUQ sale, this time from the City Paper. 

They do a pretty tidy job of explaining why it's so difficult to do fundraising to save a radio station...  when you can't use the radio station to do so.

(Also, for the record, 30 comments on an obscure blog is indeed a groundswell.)

There's also another article about the foundations, in which they are unusually frank and frankly more than a bit ominous in tone. 

June 15, 2010

Hell's Kitchen Season 7, Week 3 PART 2

*Gordon gently tells Salvatore to sack up.

*Choosing ingredients on this show is...  a crapshoot!  Ha!  The Man Of The House immediately IDs twelve-sided dice.
(Geek :^)  )

*The women totally choke, choosing beets, shallots, mango, ham, turnips, and... duck.  Okay, that could actually work.

*The duck actually looks yummy.  I was expecting some sort of roasted root veg thing as a side, but maybe that's passe.

*...aaaand the women lose again.  Sigh.  On the other hand, the men get to go skydiving.  Between the two, give me the scrub bucket any day.
*Oooh, it's an awesome wind-tunnel thing.  I had wondered how they got insurance for skydiving; that explains it.  I totally want to do that!  It's like the fizzy bubble room in the good Willy Wonka movie, without the pesky blender blades on the ceiling.

*Maria has that volleyball-champ-at-Bible-camp look.  Now she's weeping.  Maybe she's upset about Touchdown Jesus.

*A chef's table in Hell's Kitchen.  aah.

*Crab *still* does not equal lobster.

*Nilka rocked out on the meat station.  Yay, Nilka!  You appear to be the only person who can cook beef this service.


*I have to say, these guys are kicking the butts of recent seasons' contestants.  They've been routinely finishing services.  Wow.  "I'm amazed how good you were"--yeah, aren't we all?

*Yay, Salvatore throws obnoxious Scott under the bus.  So sick of that guy.

*Autumn may not be the warmest creature, but "soulless"?

*Aaaand we have our first team shakeup of the season.   Woohoo!

Hell's Kitchen Season 7, Week 3 PART 1


*So Gordon literally raised his own soccer team.

*Wooo, made it to Week 3 before a serious burn!  No ambulance, though.  Robert may have used up all the medical drama last season.

*Salvatore makes an ill-advised attempt to hide his failure to note a diner's doneness preference on the ticket.  This displeases Mecha-Ramsay.   Salvatore tries to bail, but JP talks him down, for now at least.

*Fran's inevitable meltdown has begun apace! All of her meat is cooked incorrectly.  She pretends not to be burned, and gets pissy with her teammates for expressing concern.  Autumn turns her in.  Eww, that's an ugly burn, actually.

*Jamie's "flavor profile is always spot-on"...  if you seek a "burnt" flavor profile.  Appropriately, she is toast.

Apparently, They Really Mean It This Time

After a recent false alarm, it looks like someone is actually putting Bonomo's Turkish Taffy back into production.  The resurrected sweet will start shipping next month.

Spread the word, make the Boomers in your life happy!

World Cup Update, Volume 2

What could possibly be more entertaining than high-stakes soccer? 

Watching cool water come to a boil?  Watching boiling water cool?  Waiting for Godot?  Picking lint out of your hairbrush?  Waiting for a pimple to develop so you can have the satisfaction of squeezing it?

Well, certainly, all of those.  But how about soccer played in a stadium full of vaguely-obscenely-named noisemakers that, collectively, sound like an infestation of cicadas?

God, I hate soccer.

Charlie Sheen's Car Stolen, Left In Ravine



Touchdown Jesus KO'd

So, there's this massive plastic Jesus outside of Cincinnati...  or should I say, there was this massive plastic Jesus outside of Cincinnati.  (You may remember hearing about Touchdown Jesus a few years back.)  (Christ, everyone has a Facebook page except me!)

Touchdown Jesus was struck by lightning last night, causing the statue to be converted to holy smoke. 

Cincinnati.com has since pulled its wonderful headline (although it's still in the url, heh) "Jesus Statue Destroyed By Act Of God".

June 14, 2010

Rowsdower Saves Us And Saves All The World

What with all the excitement, I missed the fulfillment of one of my dearest wishes...  the DVD release of my absolute favorite episode of MST3K, The Final Sacrifice.

Our copy is on its way.  WOOHOO!

The Quicker, Yet Still Sadly Inadequate, Picker-Upper

I'm beginning to suspect that the previous owners of my house, that Royal Family of the Epic Kludge, may now be spearheading the cleanup in the Gulf.

The latest line of defense?  Paper towels.*  Oh, luxurious, absorbent, top-of-the-line paper towels, to be sure...  but paper towels.

*This link takes you to a very informative story on the Mother Jones website.  There is a fairly graphic picture of a decomposing dolphin towards the end of the text, so be warned.

The Butter Rum Flavor Was Luscious

Yeah, in hindsight, the chocolate-flavored baby formula was probably a bad idea.

You can hardly even make out its shape. Light just falls into it.

You will be pleased to know that Disaster Area can paint its stunt ship now.

June 13, 2010

World Cup Update

They still haven't figured out that, unless you can spike it and do an endzone dance, it's not a "football".

June 12, 2010

That'll Show 'Em?

From the PG website:
Supporters of Giant Eagle workers negotiating for a new contract showed that support in a unique way this morning by shopping en masse in the supermarket's location in Shadyside
Union members and representatives of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network then went into the store to hold a "shop-in," where they urged store management to increase worker pay, while also shopping.
"We want our share, and we want to share in the success of Giant Eagle," explained UFCW Local 23 president Tony Helfer.

Fight the power, my brothers and sisters.

June 10, 2010

This Is My City

There's a very articulate letter in Current this week from Peter King.  Lots of good stuff here.

This is not Abilene or Peoria — it is Pittsburgh. This is a local market that has been well-served by a local station for 60 years. Public radio should be about preserving the regional character of the markets it serves. The rush to copy successful formats in other cities is depressingly reminiscent of the herd mentality that has made commercial radio so homogenous.
 Damn skippy!

(If you agree, why not go visit the Pittsburgh Public Media website?  Off with you now!)

I'm Thinking Of Opening "Bonnie & Clyde's Cupcakery"

Feel like a summery ice cream treat?  Get in touch with The Nicely Bros. Distribution Company!

(Don't try these guys.  They're very, very dead.  Probably not real hospitable, either.)

As Long As They Don't Breed Small, Yappy Dogs, Fine By Me

Funny column in The New York Times today suggesting that we delegate the ceremonial duties of head of state to an American Royal Family, so as to free up more of the President's time to govern.

Small-minded critics will offer petty objections, complaining that it is undemocratic or inequitable to have royalty. Hmm. Considering that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans own financial wealth six times greater than the financial wealth of the entire bottom 80 percent, well, we already have an aristocracy.

Critics may also protest the expense of royalty. But we could save on housing by having royals stay in the castles at Disneyland and Disney World. In any case, think of royalty as an investment that could bring in billions of dollars in tourist revenue.

If we choose well and adopt royals who are prone to scandal, we might also give a much-needed boost to the newspaper industry. A particularly fecund couple might offer the prospect of regular royal weddings, with sales of enough commemorative kitsch to balance the federal budget.

June 9, 2010

The Tackiness, Much Like The Light On The Luxor, Can Be Seen From Space

So there's this mob-themed attraction opening in Las Vegas.  The Las Vegas Mob Experience is "a highly interactive, immersive experience anchored by a collection of over 1,000 authentic artifacts once belonging to the famous organized crime figures who helped create the Las Vegas we know today".

No judgmental neb-noses here!  "The Las Vegas Mob Experience neither glorifies nor vilifies the Mob, it simply presents a historically accurate view of what guests will decide are either a group of ruthless gangsters or ordinary individuals who lived extraordinary lives."

Brought to you by Murder, Inc.
No, really.  Murder Inc., LLC. 

It gets better!  They have competition.  Great, can we expect a turf battle?  The Bonanno Wars all over again!  

Hell's Kitchen Season 7, Week 2

Mecha-Ramsay had plenty of reasons to spit fire and stomp villagers this week, as the latest crop of donkeys managed to mess up eggs, mashed potatoes, and salted water.

*Why do people go on this show without having the whole risotto-making thing DOWN?

*I have never looked at a tattoo and thought, "Hey, that is so awesome!  That is the best possible look for this person."  After many years, I have finally worked myself up to "Well, as long as they're happy...", but Mikey's stupid frickin' ginormous "Hell's Kitchen" ab tat is making me feel OK about embracing my gut response ("Yuck.  What an idiot.").  (Of course, if you have a tattoo, Dear Reader, yours is totally awesome and is the best possible look for you.)

*I am totally OK with non-native English speakers' natural accents.  The whole exaggerating-it-to-pick-up-chicks thing is really grating, Salvatore.  I have known actual Italian people from Italy who speak English with lighter accents.

*With Mikey gone, Siobhan is the current holder of the Ill-Advised Coif Award.

*Also, get off my lawn.

June 8, 2010

The End Of The Beginning

Foundations withdraw from WDUQ-FM option
Tuesday, June 08, 2010
A group of four local foundations that purchased a 60-day option on public radio station WDUQ-FM has said it will not pursue any further action when the option period ends on July 2.
Duquesne University has put the station up for sale. The university rejected an initial bid from Pittsburgh Public Media, the local nonprofit group that is trying to buy and preserve the jazz, news and NPR format.
The foundations decided to purchase the 60-day "no-action" period to keep the staton from being sold to a higher bidder. At the same time, a second bid from PPM was tabled until the 60-day waiting period ends.
The group includes the PIttsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, the Richard King Mellon Foundation and a fourth anonymous funder. The foundations were interested in exploring how to preserve and improve in-depth reporting on issues that are important to the community. They viewed WDUQ as a potential part of an innovative community platform that would preserve high quality journalism in the region.
"We're pulling out of the option, but we're not giving up our interest and support for a quality public radio station that delivers the NPR programming and what we would hope would be enhanced news and information that the community could really respond to," said Doug Root, a spokesman for The Heinz Endowments, which issued yesterday's announcement of the withdrawal.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Go Read This Right Now

Tony Norman has one of the most eloquent columns I've read yet on the DUQ sale in today's PG.

In Pittsburgh, no institution has done more to nurture an appreciation for jazz after its renaissance ended here than WDUQ-FM (90.5). It isn't an overstatement to say if it wasn't for DUQ, much of Pittsburgh's extraordinary history as a jazz capital would have circled the memory hole a long time ago.

June 7, 2010

Please Bring Back My Snarky People

OK, so Fine Living Network (or, as it preferred to be known, "KFC") is now The Cooking Channel.  The Cooking Channel exists mainly to rerun Julia Child and Galloping Gourmet shows (yay!), and to provide employment to Mo Rocca, who clearly has possession of some video involving cable executives, a goat, and a case of ShamWow!s.

The downside of this is that FLN was home to my beloved "Whatever, Martha".  And if I don't get to watch understandably-nuts Alexis Stewart and her inexplicably well-adjusted sidekick Jennifer Koppelmann-Hutt make fun of old Martha Stewart segments ever again, I will be extra sad. 

I will have to resort to glue-gunning pine cones to a hamster cage then ridiculing myself for having so done.

Hallmark will be picking up a new show with Alexis and Jennifer in the fall.  Doesn't look like this is a return of "Whatever, Martha", but who knows?  (More disturbingly, Hallmark is going to be, like, MarthaNet from 12:30-4PM daily.)

(UPDATE: OK, looks like Hallmark *will* pick up "Whatever".  DO IT NOWWWWWWWWW!!!)


Phil Davis: How much is "wow"?
Bob Wallace: It's right in between, uh, "ouch" and "boing."
Phil Davis: Wow!

Constructive Summer

Bright and early as promised, George the contractor showed up at the house this morning, crew in tow. The one guy looks A LOT like my friend Steve. I mean, so much so that I practically expect him to come in the door with a dish of vegan mock-chicken salad.

I took George on a quick walkthrough, and I pointed out the new water damage. He got up on the roof, and came down a few minutes later bearing bad news and digital photos. While there are lots of shingles attached to my roof, they are placed in exciting new directions and angles which, while possibly meritorious as modern art, are ill-suited to keeping rain out of my house.

(George's wording was more succinct and involved a lot more use of my favorite word rhyming with muck. George really, really hates bad contractors. You know how Gordon Ramsay gets when someone sends out raw chicken? Yeah. That kind of hate.)

So, it turns out that the stuff the previous owners were supposed to fix after the inspection didn't get fixed--or, almost worse, was sort of fixed in a half-assed way. There were a bunch of places where they had installed shingles curving around the chimneys rather than proper flashing. Apparently, they didn't do anything to fix the bits you can't see from inside, and the bits that kind of looked like they were duct-taped were... um, kind of duct-taped.

Since there's no point in putting up fresh drywall until the roof's taken care of, this whole thing is going to take a bit longer than anticipated. They're going ahead with the demo work today, and then we'll move on to the roof. Then we'll get our walls back. Ideally. We live in hope.

I sat in the living room this morning and watched plaster fall from my poor kitchen ceiling. As the dust billowed, I turned to Mom and smiled ruefully.

"I'm trying to decide if it's a Cary Grant or a Jack Benny morning." There was a quick rain of plaster chunks. "I'm thinking Jack Benny."

I set off for work, and was greeted by the noise of yet more tearing-down. They're ripping up the street behind my office.

Like it or not, we're gonna build something this summer.

June 6, 2010

Home Improvements We Endeavor To Remove

Well, with luck, tomorrow morning our contractor starts work repairing our water damage from the February storm (not to mention the new leak we sprouted a few days ago) (yes, I'm VERY happy his company does roofing, too).

Happily, this necessary work also gives us the chance to start rectifying some of the more egregious attempts at home improvement perpetrated by previous owners of my house.

This is probably my favorite... if it looks like that wallpaper border is backlit, that's because it is.

Yes, they actually pasted a wallpaper border over the empty space in front of the window.

This is almost too fantastic to destroy... it's like an installation piece expressing the shoot-first-ask-questions-later mentality.

Or it's just tacky and horrible. Yep. Down it comes!

Mertle Loose In The City

For anyone viewing this on a mobile device (or unwilling to squint), the text is:

Russian Tortoise
Does Not Answer To The Name "Mertle" (Ed.--can you blame him?)
Missing From A Yard Near Penn & Main
Last Seen May 25

If found please call 412-310-2270
and maybe give him a piece of lettuce
he's probably hungry

World's Longest Feast Of Crispian Continues

Pittsburgh Public Media now offers the option to make your pledge to PPM contingent on the sale. So if Little Ed Pembrook (or some other nefarious character) swoops in, you don't part with a dime.

Of course, dropping a little something in the collection plate now would be mighty kind of you.

Things I DID See Coming

Gizmodo isn't invited to / is banned from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference keynote on Monday.

I really don't blame Apple... but dang, that's been my favorite liveblog for these things!

June 5, 2010

Actual, Not Made Up, Unfortunate Color Commentator Quote Of The Day:

"Nick Zito's Fly Down..."

(Fly Down is a horse, you deviant.)

Anyway, Fly Down came in a close second to 13-1 Drosselmeyer in the Belmont Stakes. First Dude... how's that lose-y, third-place-y thing workin' out fer ya?

It Was Twelve Years Ago Today

Twelve years ago this very day, I was lost.

Unfamiliar with Uptown, I was stumbling around an endless series of red brick buildings clutching a Xeroxed map for dear life. I actually came close to giving up.

But I didn't. Eventually, I found the particular red brick building I was looking for. I made it to the fifth floor, probably a little bit late. Over the next few hours, I took some phone calls. I put some faces to the voices I knew so well. I was home.

Over the next twelve years, wonderful things happened in that little brick building. We lived through extraordinary times together. We now live through interesting times together. Poor old DesPlaces Hall is in the process of being demolished even while we continue to work in its top two floors--the asbestos mitigation crews have been hard at work on floors 1-3 for a couple of weeks now.

I'm feeling more than a bit wistful today.

(Lightening the mood, I received a telemarketing call from the University today. I gently and politely told the poor work study kid on the other end of the line that I couldn't give anything more just now.)

June 4, 2010

Be Sure To Follow The Care Instructions When Doing Laundry

Especially when those instructions include the phrase "Remove iPad before washing".

Thanks to my interestingly-bearded friend Mike for the tip :^)

(golf clap)

With thanks to The Man Of The House for calling my attention to the glorious, glorious geekery! Students at Carleton College made their campus observatory into R2D2. A moving, beeping, R2D2.

If I Were A Geek Rather Than A Nerd, I Would Know How To Embed The Whole Thing, But You'll Just Have To Click On The Image To Expand

Always Get The Polynesian Sauce

I do so love Chik-Fil-A. If only they would accept the noodly embrace of the FSM, they could sell me delicious chicken on Sundays.

As it is, perhaps it's for the best that these folks are spending their days making gloriously tasty food instead of proselytizing at bus stops or harassing teenage girls at their health providers or whatever the heck else they could be doing instead of making waffle fries as God clearly intended.

It's A Holy Day!

Hey, it's National Free Donut Day! Were they trying not to let me find out?

I will take all the crullers please. Thank you.

Great News If You Love K-Cups

The Amazon Friday Sale is getting really sad. If you want those instant coffee pod things, you are in luck. Otherwise, um... what are your feelings about instant iced tea?

You Have To Love A Bandleader Whose Theme Song Is "Nightmare"

Mike Plaskett and Dale Abraham, co-hosts of Rhythm Sweet & Hot , have a nice primer on the 1930s output of Artie Shaw at the NPR website.

Shaw was a prickly character... he had eight (count'em!) wives, for starters.

Fond of self-sabotage, he disliked performing many of his commercially successful pieces. "I thought that because I was Artie Shaw I could do what I wanted," he once told a reporter, "but all they wanted was 'Begin the Beguine.'"

Well, yes. It was Begin the Beguine. Nothing else has, to date, ever brought the beguine in similar fashion. (Artie Shaw would have HATED that sentence.)

Anyhoo, difficult artist. Go figure. Go read Mike & Dale's article.

Your DUQ Sales News Roundup

Yr. Obdt. Svt. is a wee bit groggy this morning. (Contractor Standard Time is not good for the metabolism.) Expect sparkling commentary later...

Anyway, for now, your assigned reading:

A couple of articles ran in The Courier this week--a wonderful letter to the editor (really more of an op-ed) from the great Tim Stevens, and a one news piece. (The news article did miss a small but important point--the second PPM bid has not been rejected. It cannot be further considered until the infamous 60-day hold expires.)

New PG article this morning. Joe Kelly does the home team proud.

All that rain appears to be doing wonders for the grassroots!

June 3, 2010

Religion, Politics, Tipping, Allergies

You can see certain melees coming a mile down The Tubes...

I saw this article on CNN about the impending peanut ban on airplanes. (I think it's adorable that the U.S. Department of Transportation is even bothering with a comment period when we all know that of course they will ban peanuts.)

And my very first thought was aw crap, here comes the Internet allergy fight. Again.

Then I saw the Editor's Note, which is essentially the long, polite form of "Aw crap, here comes the Internet allergy fight. Again."

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted
in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted.
Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and
personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We
encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we
appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

What happened after this valiant effort at enforcing civility? Yeah. The Internet allergy fight.


June 2, 2010

Might As Well Make It Official...

Assuming that Wikipedia is correct on the point, apparently the call letters WKRP are up for grabs.

Internet Inevitabilities

Did the steampunk iPad have to exist?

Why, yes, yes it did.


(To clarify: This, not this.)

Just stumbled across (and subscribed to) the Sesame Street Twitter feed. It's cute! It's geeky! It's salted with in-jokes for the alleged grownups!

Grover: It is Frank Oz's birthday. I do not know who he is, but I will try to find out. Wait, what do you mean, there is no "try"?

Just Look At It

First thought: Yum.

Second thought: For the love of FSM, don't tell Cory Doctorow.

June 1, 2010

Getting The Old Band Back Together

I'm hugely excited about the upcoming Upstairs, Downstairs sequel. It sounds like they intend to do this thing properly, starting with the involvement of creators Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins.

Very encouraging bits of info here, mainly regarding set design... there seems to be a real understanding of the fact that there are a whole lot of us who know that house and will not be pleased if they mess it up.

(I'm kind of partial to the disappearing card room seen only in The Swedish Tiger... but, yeah, continuity is generally a plus.)

Of course, it's hard to beat this extension to the franchise...

Many Hands Make Light Work

Any day is made better with the addition of some Marx Brothers.

Ford Prefect, You Might Want To Call Home...

OK, apparently there's been a supergeeky rumor rushing its way through the Series Of Tubes that Betelgeuse is about to go nova. (The things I miss when we're in drive. Sheesh.)

This credible-sounding fellow says... possibly. But who knows? But it would look totally friggin' awesome, while not killing us. Which is all I want out of my major cosmic events, personally.

Hell's Kitchen Season 7, Week 1

It is officially summer. Mecha-Ramsay stalks again!

So, what have we learned so far this go-round?

*Tana wears wigs really well. Also, she let the "baby vomit" thing slide. I guess being a teacher and mother of four married to Gordon Ramsay requires one really fucking patient personality.

*Shaking things up, the producers appear to have selected some competent cooks along with the obvious drama bait. (Flaky, chip-on-the-shoulder fortysomething? Check! Hilariously-coiffed hipster dude? Got him! Fumbling, nervously-giggling cannon fodder chick? Present and accounted for, sir!--er, chef!)

*Product placement has started apace (dig those Henckels knives, from Henckels!). The closing credits appear to have contained a spoiler about a future prize for the winning team (Oh! The humanity!).

*Crab ≠ lobster.

*I kind of want the purple-cushioned chairs from the dorm.

*I could never, ever do this show. Not least because of the inevitable sleep deprivation gimmicks.

*"Back in the cage!" Woohoo! JP, my favorite Belgie*, back in la maison!

*Non-fictional, living, non-detective division.

Today's Whinny

Interesting article in the NYT about racing silks.

Evidently, jockeys are pretty much one size (really small).

RIP, Eyeball Bench Lady

Louise Bourgeois, the sculptor who brought us the supremely weird and wonderful accoutrements of Katz Plaza, is dead at 98.

Things I Did Not See Coming



As of right now, this is the most emailed story at the PG website!