Archive for November, 2008

I haven’t been here for a few days, since I’ve been busy being thankful for my parents coming to visit.  They were excited about the planned weird warm Thanksgiving weather and brought all short sleeve shirts, but they obligingly brought just enough chill with them to make me feel good.  It sort of feels like early fall here now, and a lot of leaves turned straight from green to dead and are in my driveway.  I’ve been pretty thankful for the fun of crunching through them.  I’ve also been thankful that my parents weren’t averse to a holiday-long Pittsburgh History Series marathon.

Anyway.  Things are sort of getting back to normal here – saw the folks off this morning and I’m thinking of what to do with the rest of my holiday season.  I’m looking for ways to donate a little time, food, and money here to thank Austin for putting up with me all this time, since this is the last “winter” I’ll spend here.  As for next year:

How do you want to join in?

Oh, and if you’re wondering about some of the things I’ll be thankful for next year, read here.


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1.  Front-page news at the Post-Gazette today includes this riveting story about two guys in California who sold a “device” to try to fool drug tests – they have been brought down by a federal court in Pittsburgh.  I wasn’t clear on how these dudes ended up on the radar of the Western Pennsylvania Federal District Court, until I recalled this fantastically entertaining episode from 2006 – the rubber penis in the GetGo microwave caper.  That was fun, wasn’t it?  If I recall correctly, I was stuck in traffic that day on the Parkway West when they thought it was an actual human body part and they were cordoning off the area and so forth.  I think we should learn more about this fascinating chapter in Pittsburgh history, yes?

Part of the settlement agreement reached with the couple who committed the act involved replacement of the microwave – so anyone concerned about the McKeesport GetGo microwave still having traces of human urine or hot fake penis device needn’t worry.

Also, this was apparently a story of international interest, as this article from the UK wryly demonstrates.  Okay look, if we’re worried about Pittsburgh’s image around the world, we should definitely focus less on what percentage of ‘Burghers smoke cigarettes and more on keeping our rubber penis tales under wraps.

2.  Cat is in rare form today, laying down some tough love for cheaters and cheatees.  Do you think the source of her secret power is in her eyeliner?

3.  Good morning, Mr. Grumpy-Pants.  So, Mr. Seate apparently didn’t like PittGirl.  Fine, not everyone has to like everyone else.  And since her archives are unavailable, I am unable to verify that she did or did not refer to Mr. Seate in conjunction with any excretory organs, but experience suggests that she probably did, and it was probably hilarious.  Guess he didn’t get the joke.  But what’s awesome about this column is the total lack of self-awareness.  He asserts that the purpose of blogging is to “mock” real journalists like himself and that blogs are pointless.  So what are we to make of this:

Several local blogs have shut down in recent months, including mine, which was as inane and self-indulgent as they come.

Thanks, Captain Pointless.

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Ever since I spotted this article about the Pittsburgh Regional Indicators Project, I’ve been nerdily perusing the project website, PittsburghToday.org.  The Post-Gazette article is kinda rough in their handling of the data, proclaiming PGH unhealthy and lacking in diversity, but if you actually look at the nicely color-coded bar graphs for the fantastic array of key indicators, it’s easy to see that Pittsburgh is right at home with other regional cities.  For example, the PG makes much of our smoking problem:

Health is a major issue. Pittsburgh has more smokers (22.2 percent of the population) than all but three other cities.

But the smoking rate in the ‘Burgh is but 1.8% higher than the regional average, 5.8% higher than the lowest city studied, Minneapolis-St. Paul (okay, ouch), and 4.1% lower than the highest city, Detroit (nyah, nyah).  And homes in PGH are actually still appreciating in value – nyah again.

If you are a big nerd like me and love charts and graphs and laughing at Detroit, you will get a great deal of joy out of this project.  Categories and subcategories of demographics, arts and entertainment, education, crime, housing, health care, transportation – this will keep you busy for days.  Yes, you may thank me.

Oh, and some reassurance for those of you who may be dreading a transportation strike.  We had a 3-day bus stoppage out here last month, and traffic was lousy but when I actually got to work I was pleasantly surprised.  No one was able to come to my workplace to seek services, so I got to spend the days surfing the internet and playing with my BlackBerry.  Sure, that could theoretically get boring, and theoretically I sympathize with those who actually use public transportation, but seriously, the “days off” were nice.  Enjoy!

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I admit I had pretty high hopes for Pittsburgh.  I think Jeff Goldblum is fairly funny, and I actually like the musical around which this mockumentary centers, The Music Man.  I can sing a lot of the songs still.  And no, I won’t sing them now – ask me after beer.

This movie about Goldblum staging the musical in his hometown to help get his Canadian fiancée a green card, filled with clever cameos, struck a bit of a false note, however.  The apparent underlying theme that a production at the Benedum Center needs to be rescued by a bunch of Hollywood “real stars” kind of sucks, and unlike many flicks in the mockumentary genre, this one isn’t that funny.  Ileana Douglas made me laugh, Moby made me throw things at the TV.

For the ex-pats:  some good bridge action, the Benedum, and erasing all the ill will I have toward the actual film itself, Kennywood near the end.  Might not be a bad idea to skip straight to that part.

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1.  Game Day in Central Texas always brings up the same question:  Bikinis or Legends?  Those are our Steeler bar choices, and it’s an issue that always demands serious consideration.  Bikinis Bar and Grill is considered by our sliver of the Steeler Nation to be the place to watch the game – the rowdiest fans show up there, and they have a whole faux living room area set up for the game.  The wait staff consists of women in bikini tops, jeans shorts, and cowboy boots, and I think navel piercings and tattoos are part of the required costume as well, because they all have them.  However, these aren’t the pert blondes that work at Hooters – these hollow-eyed gals probably got rejected by Hooters, then Twin Peaks, then Applebee’s, then Whataburger before they came to deliver surly, half-dressed service at Bikinis.  Furthermore, the PF’s haven’t seen a winning game at Bikinis.  But when we watch with the PF’s at Legends, a more sedate sports bar in a Holiday Inn in the ‘burbs, the boys always manage to win.

2.  Last night was good.  The Ben looked good.  Every time our #1 rated defense looked like they had some Bengal rusher licked, then he somehow broke free and ran for 7 more yards, I flung invective at the projection TV screen, but I always apologized. 

And how unbelievable was The Troy’s game-ending interception?  Not the interception itself but that defiant run after – no one can get that man down.  He’s a rock.  As for TJ Houshmanzadeh (did I spell that right?  Do I care?) who tried to pull The Troy down by his hair – you’ll get yours big guy.  Just wait over there with Larry Johnson.

3.  Speaking of The Troy:  This is awesome.  I can’t think of anyone more deserving to carry on The Mean Joe’s legacy of tear-jerking Super Bowl commercials.  Wait, did I say tear-jerking?  Just kidding, I don’t cry at commercials.  Ha ha!  Who would cry at a commercial?

I also love that if you scroll down, the Steelers Notebook has a brief report about Bengals WR Chad Ochowhatever, in which they call him by his actual, normal name.  Keep fighting the power of stupid, Post-Gazette!  Raise your hand if you can’t wait for Chad to get traded to another team who make him wear number 93 or something.

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The amazing photo above of fans watching the Pirates win the 1960 World Series from high in the Tower of Power (er, Cathedral of Learning) is from Google’s newly hosted archive of pretty much every photo ever taken for LIFE magazine.  Included among them are many breathtaking photographs of Pittsburgh.  Everything I want to say about the beauty, pathos, strength, wit, and history of the city is in there.

It’s hard to be annoyed at the way Google is eating so many media when they’re using their power for such good.

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But, PittGirl, how am I supposed to be just like you when I grow up now?

It was The Burgh Blog that sparked my interest in writing about the city I love so very much, in making it funny and sweet and most of all making other people think about seeing Pittsburgh the way I do.  I have gotten enjoyment each day (some weekends excepted of course) from reading PittGirl’s wry and generous musings, and I wanted to pass the smile on my face on to someone else, and that’s why I’m here.

Those of us who read her blog know that she always planned to end her run when her shield of anonymity was broken – one can only assume that the privacy that was precious to her was violated, and that is scary and tragic.  Because some person or people could not leave her well enough alone, we’ll all laugh a little less.

It bothers me too, since I am compelled to anonymity by my job (or at least, the one I’ll have when I get home), that this one private aspect of an otherwise widely public figure couldn’t be respected.  Fortunately, I’m not nearly so smart or funny or hot as PittGirl, so I can only hope that no one will particularly care.  Makes me glad I picked a photo for About Moi that makes me look fat (though vanity demands that I point out that it’s totally an optical illusion!).

The point is, PittGirl will be severely missed, especially by those of us outside the city limits and thus limited in the fabulous commentary we get to hear about that epicenter of crazy that is Pittsburgh.  Goodbye, girl.

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