September 29, 2010

Mythbusters: Ruling With A Steel Fist

Grant Imahara posted this via Twitpic:
"Why yes, that IS a giant steel fist!"

Why yes, that IS a giant steel fist! #fromset #Mythbusters on Twitpic

I have no idea what they're trying to prove, but I'm there.

(The new season starts next week!)

My Day Of Jubilee

I love many things about Gmail, but the whole threaded conversation thing...


Science Asks: Can You Really Die Of Embarrassment?

Here is the male equivalent of that emergency gas mask/bra:















PHOTO: Darren Garnick, Boston Herald



Unlike its sister invention, this item is still just a prototype, ostensibly because it makes a much less awesome prank gift.

September 28, 2010

Floored

As I fully expected, George & Company didn't finish everything today...  but they did make real progress.  For the first time since February, we have an intact kitchen floor!

Even I Know When To Knock It Off With The Imprinted Promotional Gear

So, about ten years ago, this poor fellow actually believed a Morning Zoo prank, and actually thought that "93 Rock: The Quad City Rocker" was going to be pay six figures to any guy who tattooed the station logo onto his forehead.  (Maybe I'm being sexist, but let's face it, this is completely a guy thing.)

Now he's gone and become Internet famous because of this truly unfortunate mug shot.  To add insult to injury, the call letters of the radio station have since changed.  Also the format.  Oopsie.























BONUS POINTS: His stepson has a matching tattoo.

September 27, 2010

The Secret's Out

Umm...  not saying I know from personal experience or anything, but I would like to assure the author of this interview that cerealmarshmallows.com is totally legitimate.

Also, now is a good time to order because they get kind of gummy in the summer humidity.  Or so I hear.

Hell Or High Water

The scaffold is gone.  Okay, it's not gone gone, but it's folded up in my entryway, ready to be hauled off tomorrow.  The kitchen floor is cleared of tools and debris.  A large roll of vinyl flooring lies there, taunting me.

George says they'll be all done with the interior tomorrow, "hell or high water."  The last time he said that, he shot himself with the nail gun...  and I frankly have trouble imagining that they'll finish the kitchen floor, the closet door, the trim in the kitchen and the dining room, the bathroom floor and walls, plus the reinstallation of the toilet and vanity all in one day.  (Yes, the toilet is still sitting in the upstairs hallway, nestled in its giant Rubbermaid shell like a po-mo Botticelli Venus.)

So I won't make any plans to sleep in Wednesday morning just yet.  But maybe...  just maybe...  this thing is finally wrapping up.

September 26, 2010

Ben Who? Second Most Likely Gives Props To The Third-Stringer

Homestead's own Charlie Batch just helmed a thorough bombardment of the Buccaneers' sad little vessel; the Steelers won 38-13.  38-13, people.

It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marshmallow World





















From the official website of the company that makes Peeps...  proof that while SMLTS is "crazy" about Peeps, some people are really actually crazy about Peeps.

Blue Laws: The SMLTS Sunday Supplement

Because there's nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than channel one's inner Butthead.  

After the jump...  undies that just might save your life, Elmo have awkward conversation with Elmo's friend Mr. George, hilarious candidate is hilarious...

September 24, 2010

Friday Linkdump




Evidence Found Of Prehistoric, Non-Sucky Pittsburgh Pirates

Footage of the 1960 World Series--all film of which was thought to have been lost--has been found in Bing Crosby's wine cellar.  Isn't it always the last place you look?

SMLTS IS NOT MAKING VERY OBVIOUS JOKES INVOLVING THE FOLLOWING, SO YOU OWE US A BIG THANK YOU, MISTER:
Judge Crater
Judge O'Kicki
Jimmy Hoffa

We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can't cope with is therefore your own problem.

After a Herculean effort on the part of the technical staff, DUQ is now sending out frequency-modulated goodness from our new digs on Forbes Avenue.  Still enjoying that fresh-off-the-lot new radio station smell!   

September 23, 2010

Timmy The Intern Strikes Again

He's doing billboard layouts for an outdoor advertising company.

Break Out The Lucha Libre Gear And Climb Up To The Roof (ie, Typical Thursday)

If you're visible from the USX tower between 11AM and 1PM today, you could be part of the next Pittsburgh Gigapanorama.  Of course, CMU will then own your immortal soul, but, hey... at least you'll be able to look at it online next month!

Earth Survives Vigorous Rainstorm, Civilization Still On The Decline

  • Hey, have you heard it rained last night?  Would you like to see every downed tree in Allegheny County?  Bask in the promise of citizen journalism with this KDKA slideshow

  • John Cleese is not actually Basil Fawlty.  He is still the (silly) walking embodiment of awesome, and can continue to be my TV boyfriend.  As long as Jon Stewart is OK with sharing.


  • From the "Wait, that hadn't happened yet?" files...  Blockbuster has filed for bankruptcy.  The chain is more than $900 million in debt, which could balloon to $180 billion in late fees if they don't turn in their legal papers by 10AM tomorrow. 


September 22, 2010

Five Songs: Autumnal Equinox Edition

Five Songs is an occasional SMLTS feature consisting of thematically-grouped lists of five songs.  They're not necessarily the very best or most representative. They're just ones I like and feel like writing about.  This is not a scientific poll, a critical argument, or anything that takes much work.  THIS IS A LAZY STRUCTURAL GIMMICK.  Nevertheless, you will probably have your own High Fidelity-style arguments with all of these lists.  Go on with your bad self.

Today, September 22, is the official end of summer and beginning of Fall 2010.  Autumn...  it's...  well.  I'm deeply ambivalent about the fall.

Things I Love About Fall:
1) Blanket weather!  I love, love, love the feeling of snuggling against the cold. 
2) The cats get social again, mainly because they wish to siphon body heat from the larger mammals.
3) Food returns--it's cool enough to heat up the kitchen, everybody has an appetite again, and it's...
4) Harvest time! 

Things I Hate About Fall:
1) Watching Everything Die

Let's get this whole "Oooh, but the trees look soo pretty!" thing out of the way right now.  Around here, the leaves pretty much just turn yellowish-brown and drop off.  Sure, the odd sugar maple bursts into firey red.  Love that.  But, for the most part...  ick. 

Plus the leaves get slippy when it rains.

Then the days get shorter and shorter.  

But... I can't imagine living in a place without distinct seasons.  There's something deeply human about watching the life cycle in action, honoring our inherent mortality, taking stock.  Autumn is the simplest and best metaphor.  And it's inspired some really great music...  

"Try To Remember"
Try to remember the kind of September/When you were a tender and callow fellow... 
Exhibit A in SMLTS's unimpeachable legal argument as to why you should never trust anyone who dislikes musicals.  


I think this is the reverse of a mosquito ringtone...  you have to have some life experience before you really hear this song.  An anthem for life's survivors, who know firsthand that truly loving anything or anyone is a prerequisite for emotional pain...  and that the bargain is completely worth it.  Without a hurt/the heart is hollow, indeed. 



BONUS POINTS: Hey, Jerry Orbach!

Really, we could just stop the list right here.  But Five Songs is a lazy enough concept without bailing after the first entry!

"Indian Summer"
Lyrics, schmiricks...  this is so very much more powerful as an instrumental than with the kind of eh lyrics.  Here's an especially lovely performance from Coleman Hawkins.  





I kind of want to be staring wistfully at a scotch and soda now.  Hmm..  Pardon me a moment, will you?


...And we're back!  Moving right along, we have:

"Misadventures of the Campaign Kids"
Fall=election time (work with me here), and to be sure that seems an improbable field to plow for lyrical content.  Enter King of Prussia, a very cool little band from, wait for it.... Athens, Georgia.   


In SMLTS's misspent youth, this was the dream...  the pure joy of being young and one of the little masters of the universe found on every political campaign.  (Then I got a taste of how things really work and fled screaming to the quieter waters of radio.  I shall have to tell you how that worked out sometime.)  (SPOILER ALERT: Good decision, though the "quiet" bit didn't pan out.)


The only full-length version on YouTube has hideously distorted sound, so you should just listen via Sad Steve.  

BONUS POINTS: Gratuitous Tony Danza reference.



"September Song"
Just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not magnificent.

BONUS POINTS: Pittsburgh's own Mr. B! 


"Early Autumn"
When SMLTS grows up, SMLTS wants to write lyrics like Johnny Mercer.

BONUS POINTS: Jo Stafford was also "Darlene Edwards"...  For. The. Win.!


September 21, 2010

Settling In

I'm happy to report that I'm back to using bankers' boxes solely for storage--our chairs arrived!

The first thing I did this morning was set up my radio.  I had somehow managed to pack the power cord with something else, but I found it after much rummaging.

What I didn't find, rummage though I might, was the network cable for my computer.  So I made my way back to our old building.

I hadn't been back since the movers had cleared out our old office.  It's always a shock going back to see your vacated apartment or your late grandma's house after the estate sale or what have you.  But it all looked so...  bare, and cold, and different.  Counterintuitively, it looked small with all the furniture and dividers gone.  It was like the scary bits of It's A Wonderful Life, like I'd never been born or had decided to go to school in DC after all.  I got a bit lightheaded for a moment.

Sure enough, there it was.  The network cable.  I scooped it up, said a quiet goodbye to the room, and then my water bottle fell.  The carpet was soaked.  "Somehow," I said to myself, "that seems about right."

I left.  The past is maybe not so much a foreign country as an abandoned building.

September 20, 2010

Some Are Gone, And Some Remain

Big day!  We're mostly moved over to the new studios.  And sure, my head's throbbing and I want to go to sleep rightnow, but it was still a good day.

First of all, let me say this: Professional movers rock.

















I dread moving.  Packrat homebodies are like that.  "Packrat Homebodies" will be the name of my side project band.  (Yes, it's been a long day.  Why do you ask?)  But this hasn't been half bad.  Professional movers.  Don't leave home without them.

We had most of the contents of our office moved in by midafternoon.  Weirdly, while we have our files and most of our furniture, we apparently get our chairs tomorrow.  Today's news you can use: bankers' boxes make pretty good benches in a pinch.

I'm mostly unpacked.  Late in the day, I even found my phone (cleverly hidden in the box I'd labeled "PHONE HERE").

I have to say, it feels really good to finally be in the new place.  It's been tough leaving the old building, and to be sure there were a few wistful moments this morning...  but once the team started to reassemble, the unfamiliar space quickly warmed up.  

Not for the first time, I found myself thinking: I am the luckiest woman on the planet.

September 19, 2010

AAAARRRRRRR!!!!!!

Avast, mateys...  'tis Talk Like A Pirate Day!

Arrrrrrrr ye ready to set sail, or arrrr ye a scurvy dog?

September 18, 2010

Five Songs: Pining Away

If there's one thing enjoyed by music lovers and lazy bloggers alike, it's a list.  Today, SMLTS launches an occasional feature which will consist of thematically-grouped lists of five songs.  They're not necessarily the very best or most representative. They're just ones I like and feel like writing about.  This is not a scientific poll, a critical argument, or anything that takes much work.  THIS IS A LAZY STRUCTURAL GIMMICK.  Nevertheless, you will probably have your own High Fidelity-style arguments with all of these lists.  Go on with your bad self.


This week...  the awkwardness of finding the moment to break the ice...  the omnipresent fear of rejection...  the stench of desperation...  ah, love!  It's a wonder the species manages to perpetuate itself.  Here are five songs about boarding the ol' metaphorical Thunderbolt.  Why, yes, that is what the kids are calling it these days.

"Sneaky Feelings"
Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True, 1977
THE CLIFF'S NOTES: The Bard of Inconvenient Human Tendencies on the exquisite pain and awkwardness of romantic yearning. 
BEST LINE: "I get you in my dreams/You should hear the things that you say/It's not that it's so much fun/But it's safer that way."
BONUS POINTS: A short, sweet ode to lust...  is clearly asking to become a kitty video on YouTube.  The hell, Internet?


Cute kitties, though!

"Wonderful Life"
The Felice Brothers, The Felice Brothers, 2008
THE CLIFF'S NOTES: I know, I know, will she ever knock it off with The Felice Brothers posts?  No time soon!  The whole album is as if Music From Big Pink had a love child with Bob Dylan, who had in the meantime decided that he wanted to enunciate again. 
BEST LINE: Full of nonstop win, but the chorus is undeniable:  "Throw your arms around me/Let's keep this quiet/Hear our hearts in the distance/Like cannon fire"
Slightly cheesy video here (the sound kinda sucks on the live versions floating around):



This clip ALSO contains a cat!  The Tubes are crawling with 'em.  


"When You Walk In The Room"
I was debating which version to go with... The Searchers did the better-remembered version, but Jackie DeShannon actually wrote it...  and then I found this clip, and the false start on the lip-synching won me over.  (Why that kind of thing's kind of great on Shindig! and extrasuperlame when the latest pop tart gets busted doing it, I don't know.  Probably because it's endearing if and only if you can actually sing.) 

BEST LINE: "I close my eyes for a second and pretend it's me you want/Meanwhile I try to act so nonchalant" (Also, all-time winner, Best Use Of The Word "Nonchalant" In A Pop Song.)


"I've Got You Under My Skin"
The Four Seasons version is so overplayed that it's easy to reflexively brace yourself for high-pitched squealing when you so much as see the title...  Now, would SMLTS do that to you?  No!  SMLTS would most certainly encourage you to enjoy some romantic fatalism (and acrobatic rhymes) from the pen of Mr. Cole Porter.  

No screeching guys in matching tuxes, I promise.  Have some Ella.  You'll feel better.




"Leave A Tender Moment Alone"
THE CLIFF'S NOTES: Okay, shut up, I like Billy Joel.  You know, back when he was writing catchy pop songs instead of driving into houses and marrying fetuses.  Anyway...
THESIS STATEMENT: "Even though I'm in love/Sometimes I get so afraid/I'll say something so wrong/Just to have something to say."

Please enjoy Muppet Baby Billy Joel, and remember: Even though he wore that shirt in public, he married Christie Brinkley.




(Do I salvage some cool points from the Toots Thielemans appearance?  No?  Sigh.)



LAGNIAPPE
A slightly off-theme addition to make it an even half-dozen
"All I Needed Was You"
The massively freakin' underrated Little Steven singing one of many songs which he wrote and then punted to Southside Johnny.
THIS IS ACTUALLY A REALLY SWEET SONG, DESPITE BEGINNING WITH THE FOLLOWING LINE: "Outside the church bells toll/For this wasteland we call home/There's nowhere left to hide or run to."
WEIRDLY CURRENT LYRIC FOR A 15-YEAR-OLD SONG "And now I've seen a thousand dreams die/In the oil fields, in the coal mines/No need to wonder why/Nobody's satisfied lately"



We'll leave the last word to one Julius H. Marx:
(and a duck)


Things I Never Thought I'd Write

Al D'Amato can actually be...  kind of freakin' awesome.  (The good part starts at 5:00.)

I'm going to go rock silently in a corner now, for clearly the Apocalypse is nigh.

September 17, 2010

Today's News From CrazyLand

So, remember how we were all freaking out because that poor woman suffered horrific chemical burns because some total stranger threw acid on her face?  Turns out she pulled the ol' Ashley Todd.

Unfortunately, she didn't simply cause injury to herself, because the copycat attack in Arizona was apparently legit.

September 16, 2010

Because I Don't Believe The Universe Is Totally Random...

Here is a CNN article about what to do if you accidentally cut off a finger or pop out your eyeball.  Please do not take this as a cue to go sever your finger or pop out your eyeball.

Shining Arena On A Hill

It's official: The Civic Arena's days are numbered

I'm conflicted about the whole question of what should happen to the building.  It's awfully interesting as an intellectual proposition--what do preservationists do when an artifact of ill-advised redevelopment is, itself, up for demolition?

On one hand, I like the idea of restoring a street grid to the area, but on the other, I know that what I really want to do is put the Hill back the way it was before it was torn down for the Arena.  It's like putting Neosporin on an amputated arm.

Setting aside the legacy of what was displaced by its construction, the Civic Arena is a distinctive landmark on its own merits...  but if it stands, what do we do with it?  It seems like there should be some practical use for the building, but every idea I've read has either been overoptimistic (I don't for a minute believe it could become a thriving pedestrian mall--take a look at Station Square) or woefully disproportionate in potential benefits versus the cost of maintaining the structure (public ice skating is nice and all, but how many rinks does one city need?).

It's a completely unique architectural design...  but it doesn't work.  Literally.  I was lucky enough to be there a couple of times when they opened the roof.  That was...  a while back.  Here is our amazing, unique, retractable roof that doesn't retract.  Surely, this is the architectural equivalent of a radio ventriliquist...

I don't know.  If anyone has a good idea for reusing the place, they'd better pipe up but quick. 

Hawkeye > Martha

So...  Martha Stewart's effective takeover of The Hallmark Channel isn't going well at all.  Afternoon repeats of new installments of The Martha Stewart Show are down 77% compared to the M*A*S*H reruns that aired in that time slot last year. 

We caught a few minutes of the reincarnated "Whatever," and it was...  just a chat show.  No Martha-skewering.  We do not love Alexis for her charm, we love her for being a snarky and deeply damaged individual.  And by "love her", we mean "would clearly never want to meet her in real life, for she would judge our shoes harshly."

The Double-Crossing Of A Pair Of Heels

Fall is here, sandal season is fading fast, and that means blisters are in bloom at Castle Secondmost.

I get teased a lot about the sheer number of shoes I own, but the uncomfortable fact is that you just don't know what a shoe will do to your foot until you've had a good long walk in it.  I have a whole bunch of shoes that are great for short trips, but will shred my feet during a morning commute.  When I finally find a pair that causes minimum carnage, I run it into the ground.

Finding that magical pair of shoes is an annual adventure.  And until Cinderella finds her sensible shoe, she's got to deal with raw, bleeding heels. 

I've become a really big fan of the hydrocolloid bandages made specifically for blisters.  A number of companies make them--I've had good experiences with Band-Aid's Advanced Healing Bandages, Dr. Scholl's Blister Treatment Sterile Cushions, and CVS' store brand.  I think the Dr. Scholl's version is marginally more durable, but they're all infinitely better at protecting your blisters (and staying attached!) than conventional bandages. 

They're all more or less the same thing--a cushiony bandage with one completely-adhesive side.  It's more than a little disconcerting to put sticky stuff directly on a wound, but it's surprisingly comfortable.  The extra-neat thing is that they provide a moist barrier so your skin can heal in peace.   

None of these are cheap--a package of 6-8 bandages will run around $4.  They're meant to be left on for several days, even during bathing, so it's not quite as spendy as it sounds.  And the whole "having the ability to walk" thing is worth the splurge.

The Thrill You Get When You Get Your Picture On A Slideshow On Rollingstone.com

Jerry's is officially one of the best record stores in these United States (as if we didn't know already).

Somehow, Packing The Office Seems Kind Of OK Now

I figured out pretty early on that I'd make a lousy astronaut, mainly becuase I'm claustrophobic, afraid of heights, deathly afraid of flying, and also sucky at higher math.  Maybe it's for the best that I didn't know that the pressurized gloves worn on spacewalks often cause astronauts to lose their fingernails.  (Some have their fingernails removed ahead of time.  Oooooowwwwwwwww.)

Closer to Earth, though much father off the ground than I ever want to be, here is a helmet-cam video of a tech climbing a broadcast tower.  A 1768-foot-tall tower. 

September 15, 2010

Victory!!!

Look what The Man Of The House tracked down!




















How sweet is that?  Awwww <3

Had to dive right in!  We're starting here:

























Smells fantastic, looks pretty darn good too!

















UPDATE:  Ooooh, is that good stuff.  Wonderful warm, spicy, molasses-ey richness.  Mmmm.  Served it warm with vanilla ice cream and a smidgen of butterscotch sauce.  

September 14, 2010

Surprise! Happy Birthday!

No, really, surprise.  Professionally troubled Amy Winehouse has officially made it to 27.

Why does that number sound so familiar...  hmmm...

Never Mind The Bollards

Production of the Upstairs, Downstairs sequel is rolling right along.  The cast has been filming exterior shots of 165 Eaton Place (the role immortalized by 65 Eaton Place and some electrical tape).  Can you see some pictures?  Why, yes, yes you can!  Even more of them?  Sure!

Whatever "bollards" are, they were repainted for filming.  In case you were wondering.

Well, everything looks good.  Fingers crossed!!!

September 13, 2010

Limbo

Home Is Where The Floor Isn't
George is supposed to be back tomorrow (late-ish, so we can sleep normally!).  Let's hope so.  We're so close to being done, but it's been a while since the crew has been here.

So.  Close.  They can probably wrap everything up in three or four days of work.  Now it's just a matter of getting them to show up for three or four more days.  Contractor Standard Time will be the death of me, I'm telling you.  

The new kitchen ceiling fan sits by the scaffolding, awaiting installation.  We were going to replace the fan (the only proper lighting in the kitchen, mind you) simply because The Kludge Family's innovations in wiring had made turning on the light a multi-step process.  Flip on the wall switch, fumble in the dark until you find the remote, point the remote at the fan, press the big flat button, hope.

As it turns out, it's a good thing we already had a new fan on deck, because as of this morning, you flip on the switch, press the flat button, and the only light in the room comes from the little red light on the remote.

George had installed a fixture in the closet several weeks ago, so this morning I fed the cats by closetlight.  I served the evening's pot roast in a similarly atmospheric manner.

Stuck Between Stations
The big move is underway at work.  (Again, this is because of the long-planned demolition of the Des Places building; again, I swear I don't have any news about where things are with the sale.)

By the time I arrived this morning, the front office contained:
one (1) desk, which I think is too big to move
one (1) abstract painting created by Music From India cohost and Renaissance man Harish Saluja, labeled carefully on the frame, ready to move
one (1) telephone, bagged, ready to move

I dodged my way through the maze of bobbing, mover-wielded furniture to get to my office.  It is full of boxes.  Some of the boxes contain nothing but boxes.

The halls are full of empty cartons and discarded furniture, broken odds and ends, obsolete office supplies.  (If you need some adhesive labels for a dotmatrix printer, I have the deal of a lifetime to offer you!)

Keep in mind that 90.5 has been in its current location for about 30 years.  Suffice it to say, we've accumulated some unneeded items in that time.  It may not seem like it, but I swear we've thrown stuff out before.  Honest.

Later in the morning, I ducked down to my new office briefly.  After the Great Aspidistra Robbery of 2010, I needed to mark my territory.  So I stuck little Post-Its to everything I'd taken down there (including the plant) that say "DO NOT THROW OUT!" in large, unfriendly letters.  I'll probably end up on Passive-Aggressive Notes, but that would be unfair.  Someone messed with my plant--they are straight-up aggressive notes.

It's going to be something of a relief to finally get all moved into the new place.  Nearly everything's packed and labeled, and I'm basically stuck in limbo until it's time to unpack.  And as much as I'll miss our old building, I know that everything that made my years there special is coming along for the ride--the amazing staff, the ideals we share, the work we do.

And my plants.

A Heartfelt Thanks From The SMLTS Nation

At some point late last week, some person--a contractor?  a maintenance guy?  who knows?--had the following thought:

"Hey, here is a clearly healthy, recently-watered plant that wasn't on this windowsill before.  The last occupents must have left this when they moved out six months ago.  Well, into the trash with ya!"

But there is a happy ending.  For Mark Nootbaar is not only an awesome reporter, he's also the kind of mensch who will fish your plant out of the trash if some delusional person pitches it out.

Thank you, Mark, for saving our aspidistra.

September 12, 2010

Today At The Pittsburgh Irish Festival

The wearin' o' the green...  side effects may include itching, rash, weeping sores...



















EXTREEEEEEME!  WOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




















(In all seriousness, we had a great time...  the festival gets better every year, and you couldn't find a better venue than The Riverplex!)

Why Do We Park On A Driveway And Drive On The Parkway?

In another one for the "Really Shouldn't Have To Say This" file... don't park on the Parkway West to watch the air show today.

September 9, 2010

Keep The Aspidistra Flying

I'm actually feeling pretty prepared for the big move now.  There has been much shredding, pitching, consolidating and boxing.  My desk is about as clean as it's ever been, and now there's just the matter of where, exactly, it's headed.       

So, a bunch of us hardy radio folk made our way over to the new studios today to figure out where our stuff goes.

The contractors are still wrapping up a few odds and ends, so there was no surprise that there was music playing when we entered.  And I swear this is true: Their boombox was blasting "I Will Survive."  We chose to take it as a good omen.

I dropped off my aspidistra.  The light's actually pretty good from that window.  I think it'll be happy there.

 

September 8, 2010

Gilliam's "Don Quixote" Falls Through...

Again?
Again?
Again.

And It's STILL Less Mind-Melting Than Riding Greyhound

This is what makes the Internet great.

Desert Bus was a minigame within the never-released Sega CD game Penn & Teller's Smoke And Mirrors

And it was, simply, the greatest conceptual joke in gaming history.

A reaction to the furor over violent video games (and when you look at a still from the original Mortal Kombat...  man, were we seriously that upset about red pixels?  Really now?), Desert Bus was a totally peaceful, totally nonviolent game of...  strategy?  Endurance.  Let's go with endurance.

What you did, in Desert Bus, was drive a bus through (SPOILER ALERT!) the desert, from Tucson to LA. The road never changes, although the sky darkens if you play long enough, and there's juuuust enough list to the steering mechanism that you actually have to play.  You can't just tape down a button.  You can't pause the game.  You drive that bus.  For eight hours straight.


If you successfully complete the journey, you earn one point.  (You can go on the return trip if you want to really run up the score and earn TWO points.)

Now, it's already pretty cool that something so incredibly obscure has a life of its own online.  Remember, this was a small element of a piece of software that never saw commercial release.

The really cool thing is that someone took this obscure, funny thing and turned it into an opportunity to improve the world a little bit.  Since 2007, a small group of kind if clinically insane people have played an annual tag-team game of Desert Bus to raise money for Child's Play, an organization that buys toys and games for childrens' hospitals.  The first year, they brought in $22,805.  Last year, they raised $140,449.

Beats a 10K.   

Desert Bus For Hope 2010 hits the road on Friday, November 19.

Drivin' Around

The first day of the big bus route realignment didn't treat the denizens of Castle Secondmost very well at all, with delays in both morning and evening commutes for both Yr. Obdt. Svt. and The Man Of The House.  But so far, things seem to be going much much better today.  TMOTH got to work in nothing flat, and my 8:32 showed up at 8:32! 

I still think the big push to rename routes is odd.  Remember how they were going to get rid of number-letter combinations?  And then they came up with new route names like "P7".  And of course the 87M is totally not a letter/number combination because the "M" is in smaller type than "87".  See?  Profit!

Also... PAT... bubbelahs, you guys have got to hire a 14-year-old boy to vet new route names.  Just saying.

September 6, 2010

Chasing The Wild Pennsylvania Landshark

Seen beside the parking area at Trader Jack's this weekend:

Hey, Everybody-It's Labor Day!

With eternal thanks to Messrs. Komar, Melamid, and Soldier, we celebrate Labor Day with the glory of The World's Most Unwanted Song:



Because SMLTS is weird, SMLTS LOVES this song, owns it on CD, and thinks rapping opera singers are The Future.  Because SMLTS loves its readers, we are inflicting only this brief excerpt of the full, 22-minute opus upon you.

September 4, 2010

This Week: My Boxing Days, The Lobster Phone, And Other Milestones



  • The suspense is over: The city deigned to collect our recycling this week.  Odds of success next week?  Eh, not getting my hopes up.  Also, where are the metal pickers when you actually want them?  






  • And, hard to believe... this week, the 300th SMLTS post came into the world.  Wow.  Whatever the world throws at us, we're bringing the snark here at Castle Secondmost.  We learned at the feet of the masters!



COMING SOON: The SMLTS Guide To How The Lobster Phone Got Its Name!  Preorder the hardcover and audiobook (voiced by William Shatner) on Amazon!  Next summer: How The Lobster Phone Got Its Groove Back.  In 2012, The Lobster Phone At Twilight, With The Vampires And Werewolves And Whatnot.  Which will, actually, cause the world to end.  Sorry about that.  But... +1 Mayans, way to call it!

September 3, 2010

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Note the view count on these "popular clips."(YouTube movies)

We Live In Hope

I love my city, really I do.  But it drives me absolutely bats that while it's illegal to put recyclables in your trash, it's apparently hunky dory for the city to miss about a quarter of the scheduled recycling pickups. 

Let's hope they do better today.  I really don't want to take my cans back inside, some of them for the second week in a row.

September 2, 2010

September Song

I spent a good part of my day dismantling my office.  I labeled the furniture that's coming with us.  I finally took everything off the walls (except the "Keep Calm And Carry On" sign, which I'm leaving on the door; I imagine it will salute smartly as the building comes down around it). 

Our poor doomed little building. I can't count the number of times I've given someone driving directions and had to explain that the building used to be 1330 Locust, before they turned the street (or rather a section of it) into a parking lot. How Pittsburgh is that?  All these years, I've been working on a street that doesn't exist anymore.

It's a quirky little place, with an odd layout that doesn't lend itself easily to much of anything practical.   It's in very rough shape.  Even a raging preservationist like me knows that some buildings have to go.  But it's still a wrench.

I've thrown out a lot of old papers.  One file cabinet yielded an exceptional harvest of superannuated ephemera--an envelope packed full of ticket stubs from the 1996 Whad Ya Know broadcast from Soldiers & Sailors; binders full of information about old premiums; volunteer sign-in sheets dating back several Presidential administrations.  The shredding bin overfloweth. 

I really hated throwing out the sign that had an arrow pointing toward the ceiling, "TO PLEDGE ROOM".  But the joke doesn't work in the new place.  

A couple of years ago, I finally managed to figure out where my family's restaurant was.  Thanks to my great-grandfather's registration in the "old man's draft" (he was 49), I found the address. Turns out, it was just down Locust Street, the street that isn't there anymore, right about where Rockwell Hall is now.  I can see the spot from the roof of the new building.  I imagine my grandmother, younger then than I am now, walking in the same places I walk.  She made it through the Depression and a World War; I guess I can make it through some workplace upheaval and excessive home repairs.

The basketball net from the dollar store, that can go.  The long table won't fit in the new place.  The square table couldn't get out the door if we wanted it to.

It struck me today that the copy of "Desiderata" I had by my desk was kind of a funny thing to post in a radio station--"remember what peace there may be in silence."   But the bulk of it is actually a pretty darn good thing to read right now.

This should immediately be followed by a reading of The National Lampoon's "Deteriorata."


 

September 1, 2010

Life's Regrets

As challenging as this year has been, I've been struck by how little I would change given the chance.  Are there things I wish hadn't happened?  Oh, yes, most certainly.  But there is grief and sadness, and then there is regret.

To me, there is a big definitional divide between "lousy experience" and "regret."  Regret has some inherent agency.  Regret is "I could have...", not "There's nothing I could have done." 

Absolutely anything could happen with the sale of DUQ.  But I do know that even if I found myself out of a job tomorrow, I wouldn't regret for one second having spent so much time and energy doing what I've done for, effectively, my entire adult life.  I could have made more money elsewhere, but I could never have been happier or more sure I was doing something worthwhile.  (Please don't read anything gloomy into this--I honestly have no idea what'll happen.  For all I know, PPM could have a signed contract tomorrow.)  (Don't read anything into that, either.  I seriously, truly don't know.) 

You might think I would regret buying my house, given all of the expense and stress it has caused (and, see above, at such an opportune time).  But I don't.  There hasn't been anything nearly as close to our needs on the market as this place is, and it was absolutely time to leave the apartment.  It has good bones, and as we obliterate the Kludge Family's horrible taste bit by bit, it's cleaning up beautifully.  Can't argue with the location.  Our left-hand neighbors are nice, even if our right-hand neighbor is a bit of a liquid feminine hygiene product.
   
Now, believe me, some seriously bad things have happened to me and mine over the years.  We have been victims of crime, disease, bullying of every kind.  But we couldn't have prevented that stuff.  We're not leave-the-door-unlocked-and-take-half-your-antibiotics-prescription type of people.

So here it is: My biggest actual shoulda-coulda-woulda regret.  Not the thing I most wish hadn't happened, not by a long shot.  But the thing I could have done differently.

You know those cheesy angel Christmas tree toppers the dollar stores carry?  The ones with the plastic cone bodies and cheap doll heads, swathed in cheap satin, packaged in a short plastic tube?  Years ago, G.C. Murphy's had a whole load of them labeled "ANGEL PIG."  Since then, I've seen many sold under the also-amusing mistranslation "ANGEL PIG TAIL", but never again the much funnier "ANGEL PIG." 

I really should have spent the $2 to get my very own Angel Pig. 

Yeah, if there was any doubt, I'm weird.

Obligatory Apple Notes

In no particular order...

1). OK, whew, it's a good sign that the iPod Classic is still available on the Apple website.  I just checked Wikipedia to confirm my memory, and the 160 gig model is, in fact, the same price that my 80 gig was.  Wow.

I'd love a Touch or an iPad, and sure I enjoy having a few emergency episodes of 30 Rock on hand at all times, but I basically need a music player with lots and lots of storage.  I'm weird and acquisitive--and I expect the modern age to be ready to accomodate my need for The Hot Fives, the original cast album of Mame*, and The Two Man Gentleman Band on the same commute if necessary.
*That's right, the good one, with Angela Lansbury.

2) The Shuffle and Nano are adorable.  A Nano would indeed, as Jobs suggests, be an awesome geek watch.  I assume that by merely having typed that, I've caused $3 knockoff watchbands to appear for sale down in the Strip District.  (They say, "HEY BEN, I GOT YOUR NANO RIGHT HERE!")

3).  I don't know why the concept of Apple TV doesn't do anything for me.  It seems to me that those 99 cent rentals would add up very quickly indeed.  And unless they get more broad participation from content providers...  well, meh.

4).  Aw, Steve, my man, you could get damn near anyone to play this event, and you go with Chris Martin?  I'd rather watch Stephen Fry read the phone book.   In fact, I know he would somehow make it into a hilarious, yet erudite, performance.  Have him read it from an iPad.  There's an on-brand moment!  You can keep that in mind for next year.  Just send me an iPad as a consulting fee.

Do Not Screw This Up Or I Will Have To Take A Transatlantic Flight To Punish You

The BBC is doing a pilot based on Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency.

In related news, we still have absolutely no idea how the table behind my desk got moved into the office in first place.  No weird angle works to get it out of the door...  the legs don't come off...  it's physically impossible for it to be where it is.

Or maybe it was hoisted in through the window.  Meh.  I'm going with "physically impossible."