June 29, 2012

Today's Moment of High Culture

Guys, I think we can just pack it in now. Civilization has clearly done its thing.

On second thought, we cannot rest until this becomes a real game.

The SMLTS Linkdump: Putting The Fry In Friday Edition

A nation sharpens its Claude-Rains-in-Casablanca impressions.

I know "I want to go to there" is sort of over now. However, I want to go to there.

They blanded me with science: Genetic explanation for the pure suck that is the mass-market tomato.

Even if you don't play the instrument, if you're musically inclined, I highly recommend reading the weekly newsletter from the former owner of Pittsburgh Guitars. The latest installment is a bit of a DNA test on a ubiquitous pop classic... "Venus," meet your mama:

And finally, here's a very special treat for the Muppet geeks out there (via io9)...

Pitt Students Certifiably Smartyr

The ONE night I turn off the TV at 11:56 or so, this happens...

June 28, 2012

But He Doesn't Look A Day Over 86

In a just world, this would be a national holiday. Happy birthday, Mel Brooks!

June 27, 2012

Classic Overreactions: The Jazz Panic of 1922

clipping via the Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University

The Vigilance Society "has no desire to abolish dancing, but seeks to awaken the public conscience to the present danger and future consequences of jazz music." Oh sure, laugh. But do you have any idea how many people have had sex since 1922? Totally Paul Whiteman's fault.

Sheet music cover...
or police lineup in the making?

No, No, A Thousand Times No

Just try this sort of thing in Pittsburgh, where people still are heard to declare that they're going to Kaufmann's or Revco... Big Ben has been officially renamed Elizabeth Tower. The Nation of SMLTS refuses to diplomatically recognize this change, partially because the name "Elizabeth Tower" needs to be reserved for the sharp, loquacious female lead in a Sorkin drama to be named later, and partially because it is a crime against humanity to mess with the impeccable comic rhythm of the following:

Welcome To The Team

So, you may have noticed that the announcer on that Joe Negri clip I posted a few days ago was himself a very familiar presence?

It is a pleasure and an honor to pass along the news that the newest addition to The Pittsburgh Jazz Channel's host roster is none other than Bill Hillgrove, whose taste in both music and football teams is impeccable.

Tune in to Bill's show every Saturday on PGHJazzChannel.net starting July 7.

Check out the article in today's PG here.

June 25, 2012

Attention, Donkeys And Muppets

As I look forward to unwinding this evening with my trash TV of choice--amusingly shouty Hell's Kitchen Gordon Ramsay followed by good-cop-to-sonofabitch-Joe-Bastianich Masterchef Gordon Ramsay--I would like to take the opportunity to share some observations I've made based on less-than-optimal dining experiences in several local restaurants.

  • Sure, it's nice serving celery with wings. Said celery should not, however, be served sitting in a pool of water. Mad ups for washing it, though.
  • Personally, I don't like putting anything on a plate that can't be eaten, so I wouldn't use a mango shell to decorate a plate of chicken. But that's OK... different strokes and all that. Unequivocally not OK is leaving the produce label on the mango shell. (Sherlockian genius that I am, I venture that there was no danger of this garnish being served in a pool of water.)
  • A medium burger has some pink in the middle.
  • When inquiring whether refills/dessert/condiments are required, ask each diner. I know, it's crazy but TOTES TRUE! More than one person might have run out of iced tea at the same table!
  • While it is completely normal and acceptable to prep elements of a dish ahead of time, there is a proper holding temperature for, say, precooked bacon. This temperature does not happen to be the same as the ambient temperature in the kitchen.

Everybody Loves Limbo

I am far from the first person to notice that it's far easier from a sanity-preservation standpoint to be overwhelmed than to be waiting for someone else to act. (You don't believe this when you're in the middle of being overwhelmed, naturally.) But there it is. Just try to shut off the mental hamster wheels when you're, oh, waiting for a permit to clear or a client to give a go/no go or anything like that where you truly have no control over the next step.

Hurry up and wait. Water torture. Getting the chorus of The Waiting stuck in your head even though it is completely the opposite of apropos to the situation at hand. BAD CONSUMER OF POP CULTURE!, you scold yourself, for you get both punchy and pedantic when peeved. Also alliterative. Also, you start speaking of yourself in the third person.

Does everyone have the assignment of writing a concrete ending for "The Lady or the Tiger" at some point in their education? I suppose so. Mine involved a third door and Samsonite luggage. I may have some deflection issues.

Preferred Forms Of Address

Hey, you're online! (SPOILER ALERT.) Therefore, you have likely heard that Facebook profiles now default to showing the @facebook.com email addresses that nobody anywhere uses ever.

Look, I am second to none in my enjoyment of a good rage-lather about the latest anti-autonomy move on the part of Facebook. But... um... honestly? I've never operated under the assumption that people use accurate contact information on their profiles. In the rare occasions I've needed to email a FB friend whose address I didn't already have, I've shot them a private message to get their preferred email.

Anyway, it's easy enough to fix (click the link in the first 'graph for instructions). And for once, Facebook did something that makes it more difficult for random people to get all up in your business. The official SMLTS position is, in short: Meh.

June 21, 2012

May The Road Rise Up To Meet You

Wishing a great adventure to a valued SMLTS reader...

June 20, 2012

Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory Of The Coming Of The Tours

The Pennsylvania legislature has reached a budget agreement. While the precise impact of this upon education and human services and suchlike remains unclear, its effect on the Barnett household cannot be understated: It appears that PCN will be free to carry the Gettysburg battlefield walks the first week in July.

In short: Merry Christmas in July, Mom :-)

June 18, 2012

Well Played

As we all wish Joe Negri a speedy recovery, I have to pass along this fantastic clip of the Joe Negri Quartet (via my Pittsburgh Jazz Channel colleague Chuck Leavens) from a 1965 installment of the WQED show JazzBeat, featuring Danny Conn on the trumpet.

Fun With Traffic Sources: Regular Edition

I've seen some truly goofy things crop up as search terms in my site traffic. But once you get a hit like this, you seriously consider the possibility that you have accomplished all you could hope to as a blogger:

"show me a flow chart of the process of dehydrating prunes"

Yeah, OK. You asked for it...

June 17, 2012

A Helpful List of Rules To Live By

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged that two adults occupying the same home will have disparate and incompatible ideas about what constitutes a properly loaded dishwasher.
  • The following statement is always, always a lie when issued from the mouth of a Port Authority operator in charge of a full vehicle: "There's another one right behind me." (PROTIP: If you're in a real hurry, just cling to the wheel well when he pulls away.*)
  • The heaviest sleeper in the household should be the person who feeds the cats.
  1. A pint's a pound the world around. Except most of the world uses metric. Dang.
  2. Pi: 3.14; also, Pie > Pi in all measurable ways
  3. Tom Baker > Matt Smith > David Tennant

Thirty days hath September,
April, June, and November.
All the rest have thirty-one
Except February, which doesn't
Sometimes it hath 29
But it's usually 28
Well, isn't somebody
The special snowflake?

(*SuperProTip: Do not do that. Edgar Snyder will point and laugh at you.)


Hey, what do you know? Right there in the Sunday paper, taking up even more column inches than the Peanuts reruns, it's those Pittsburgh Jazz Channel folks!

We have even more stuff up our collective sleeves for Year Two. But more on that... soon. In the meantime, listen online at PGHJazzChannel.net. And your pledge of support would be most welcome--this is very much a grassroots labor of love.

Thanks, and stay tuned...

June 11, 2012

Monday Morning Silliness

This works. Surprisingly well.

(You're probably going to have to crank the volume all the way up. As one does with Blossom Dearie.)

June 9, 2012

Rough Guide To A Lonely Planet

My cell rings. I know it's my bestie, because his line still shows up as "Withheld." It's a long story. 

"I'm at the ocean!"
"No kidding?"
"I decided that since I was all the way over in Valley Forge anyway, I might as well drive to the shore."
"I'm at Ocean City. New Jersey."
"No kidding? My old stomping grounds!"
"You've been here?"
"Yeah, when I was a kid, every summer."
"Any good seafood restaurants here?" (The important question comes first.)
"Well, there was this amazing place called Campbell's Seafood Kitchen, but it closed. I think last year. Oh man... the Crab Imperial. The flounder. Dear God, the flounder."
"Anything on the boardwalk?"
"Two amusement parks, and pretty much all of the greatest hits. I mean, it's a dry town, all family friendly stuff. Mini golf, pizza joints, shopping..." (When, I asked myself, did I become the walking Chamber of Commerce, and where was my commission?)
"Anything I ought to do? Any don't-miss stuff?"
"Well, there's a shipwreck right off shore--"
"Really? Where? What's it called?"
"The Sindia. Actually, it was built at the same shipyard as the Titanic--Harland and Wolff."
"Oooh!" (The sweet spot has been hit.)
"You could still see some of the bow when I was a kid. Not anymore." (Sensing disappointment, I rally.) "But the historical center is well worth seeing, if they're open. It happened right off shore, so there were a bunch of artifacts recovered from the wreck. Stuff was washing up on the beach for decades."
"Okay, cool. I'm going to go track down some food. I'm starving."
"Go have fun! It's a great town to spend a day in!"
"Yeah, thanks--see ya!"

And that, my friends, is how a Pittsburgher gives travel advice: Go to where the good restaurant and the shipwreck used to be.

June 8, 2012

Friday Roundup

  • This blog has had a total of four hits in the last few days from the search terms "character reference letter court" and "character reference letter criminal." Has to be the same person, right? I can only imagine that the intrepid Googler came for the sketchy legal advice and stayed for the Peeps references. So, my advice? Right, right...  um, write what you know!**Some limitations may apply. SMLTS is not responsible for any negative legal repercussions of this advice. Do not self-incriminate. Do not taunt Happy Fun Blog.
  • I'll Have Another... year of jinxing the Triple Crown.
  • Speaking of crowns...  YES, I was geeky enough to get up at an ungodly hour of the morning to watch the Diamond Jubilee ceremonies. (What am I gonna do? Wait for the next one?) And YES, it threw off my sleep schedule for the entire week. But it was completely worth it to watch the Archbishop of Canterbury make a Kinks reference.
  • Check out this amazing picture of Liberty Avenue, 1914.  
  • The novelty wears off after a couple of weeks, I'm told...

  • Cool: You will soon be able to buy Batman merch (the proper Adam West Batman, accept no substitutes). Cold: You still can't get Batman on DVD. I am thinking of clearly labeling my home STATELY CASTLE SECONDMOST.
  • The last two episodes of Mad Men are not the most depressing works of fiction I'm glad I've watched, due to the fact that I have seen Grave of the Fireflies. As we prepare for Sunday's season finale, I'm pulling for that will-they-or-won't-they couple, namely, Pete Campbell and that empty elevator shaft. Or an open window. Or the widely-noted Chekov's Rifle in his office.

Until Sunday... Let's take a moment to remember Lane in better times...
From Season 5, Episode 5, "A Grimy Little Pimp."
The foreshadowing, she is not always subtle.
                                                                                (gif via uproxx)