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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Listen to Your Parents When It Comes To Food.

Long, long ago in a Foodland far, far away my Mother stood at the deli counter picking up lunch meat. I was a young lad, not yet possessing a discerning palate. I immediately saw something I deemed to be good and told my mom that, “I want it.” At such a young age; outside of pizza, ice cream and PB&J I had very little experience in the culinary specialties available to the general public. Still, I was convinced that what I wanted was going to be the most incredible, tastiest treat I’d ever had.

It was deviled crab. I hated it. It went into the freezer and died a slow death over the next few months.

From that experience, I realized that perhaps my parents possessed a worldly wisdom that trumped any genius from Harvard or MIT. When it came to knowing what I would and wouldn’t like, they were Einstein, Freud, and Watson (The Computer) all rolled into one.

As a parent, myself, I am constantly thrust into the middle of the battle of the, “I want” syndrome that all children experience. They see something, they want it, they don’t understand that we know they won’t like it and we ultimately give it to them to save our own sanity. Three minutes later, they want something else and whatever it was that you just gave them might as well be a big steaming pile of crap.

Case in point. Often, when I pick up my child from preschool, I reward good behavior with a small shake from McDonald’s. They last month or two, whenever we go, my daughter sees ads for the Mango Pineapple Smoothie and immediately wants them. I tell her no and she continually asks for that instead of a chocolate shake.

I know. I should be happy that she wants something that isn’t as bad for her but I know that she will not like Mango. She’s never tasted Mango. She doesn’t even like applesauce. So, why waste three dollars on something she will not like and then have to endure the deluge of the, “Can I have a shake, now, instead?” requests after she realizes what I already know?

McDonald’s made it easier, this week, by offering the smoothies for a quarter. Finally, I can prove my point to a four year old. Believe me, these arguments are epic in nature and usually persist into hour long sessions based around one word.


We rolled into the drive through and I bought two. I figured, “Why not? It’s only a quarter.” I pulled into a parking space and gave her the usual talk about holding it right and not making a mess. She started drinking it as I got my straw unwrapped.

“How is it?” I asked.

“Good.” She said.

“So, you like it?”


I took a sip of the smoothie and immediately winced. Under my breath I uttered, “Oh my God, that’s horrible.” I can see why it’s only a quarter. I tried not to say it too loud because my kid was still sipping away in the backseat.

By now, I knew she had to have been lying. When we got home she asked me to put it into the freezer. That’s how I knew. Still, I gave her credit because she realized I was right but wasn’t about to give me the satisfaction of knowing it.

Somewhere, a half eaten deviled crab is laughing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

WUMF: July Edition (Now with more Pittsburgh n'at!)

What’s up my friends. It’s that time again, time for another edition of WUMF.   This time, it's all Burgh.

U2 in the Burgh
A lot of friends and coworkers have fallen victim to the dreaded Chinese disease, Dragon Ass. As I drove home from work yesterday I passed the giant monstrosity that took up the bulk of the view of Heinz Field from the Fort Pitt Bridge. I did not attend the concert.

I haven’t gone to a concert since the Stretch the Summer concert back in 200..whatever. It was back when B-94 was around for the second time and all I remember was that Macy Gray would not stop singing. We left before Third Eye Blind came on stage because it was already 10 pm.

It’s not that I’m even that big of a fan of U2. I think I stopped following them after they did that song for Batman Forever. I actually liked that song, too. It was just a horrid movie. Pretty much, post 1993 was the end of my concern for what Bono and company did. My favorite songs are still “The Wanderer” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” I guess they are still awesome live, compared to most artists these days. I just don’t care enough to drop a couple hundred dollars for tickets.

Jerry Meals Says It’s Safe
After 19 innings and around six hours of baseball, the Pirates lost a game in Atlanta on a horribly blown call at the plate. Yes, the Buccos are relevant. Yes, they are playing the best baseball they have every played in 19 years. Yes, the call was wrong. That does not change my view that this organization needs new ownership.

However, that was a crap call and has started the trend on twitter, #JerryMealsSaysItsSafe. I’ve already been having fun with it. And, have a shirt already up for sale calling out that horrible play.

Here is the video of the call.

You can see McHenry tag him before he gets anywhere near the plate. Then, after he’s standing there, the runner tags the plate again as Meals calls him safe. Just to be sure.

If the MLB suspends Meals for this, I hope he doesn’t consider a career change. I’d hate to see him working for the TSA. “Go ahead, that gun looks safe to me.”

More on the Buccos
I need to reiterate my position about the Pirates.  I was a die hard fan most of my life.  I used to love going to games at Three Rivers.  Yes, I kind of turned my back on the club after they spiraled into less than adequacy, but it's because of the ownership.  I refuse to put money in Nutting's pocket.  It's not about a dislike for the team.   Yes, I still twitch when I hear the name Sid Bream.  But, I generally like the ball club.  I just hate the owners.

I’m glad the team is winning and I think they have the right coach, finally. But, let’s not kid ourselves. If they make it to the post season, they are going to need more than a smoking bullpen to beat teams like the Brewers and the Phillies. If they do not secure a bat or two before the trade deadline, and frankly, I don’t see how they can do it without giving up some great players or major cash. There are other teams out there willing to drop a few million for a rental player to carry them through the post season. Pittsburgh is still not thinking in those terms and maybe that is a good thing. I have always admonished the Yankees for buying the best players instead of growing them, but these two clubs are on either end of the spectrum when it comes to running things.

My only grievance with this season is that it gives undue validation to Nutting’s style of ownership. Remember back in the beginning of the year when they said that the ability to spend money relies on attendance. Well, you guys put out a decent product and the fans came back, selling out the ballpark on more than one occasion. Now, it’s time to keep up your end of the bargain.

Even More Buccos
I’m currently in competition with another Pittsburgh T-Shirt Designer for favorite Pirates shirt on  My Raise It! shirt is going up against The Fresh Factory’s We Are Family shirt. I say, awesome for me just to be mentioned on a Pittsburgh blog and to be up against The Fresh Factory. So, go over here and vote for your favorite… which is mine, right? >:(

Have a great month, see you in 31.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Hugo Weaving Effect

I noticed this last week when Captain America came out in theaters.  Hugo Weaving has been a part of virtually every major blockbuster franchise in the last two decades.  Granted, Hugo does a lot of stage work and has done mostly small films which gets him little publicity but since 1999 he's been taking part in a lot of blockbuster movies.

Starting in 1999, he played Agent Smith in The Matrix and its sequels. His delivery of lines like, “Mister Anderson, we’ve missed you.” is so creepy cool it makes me feel like I just got molested by a very congenial and proper pedophile. I almost want to apologize to him for it.

Then he went on to play Elrond in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well as reprising the role for both parts of The Hobbit set to come out in 2012.

He's also the voice of Megatron in the Transformers trilogy.

Now, he's The Red Skull in Captain America and possibly The Avengers.  Couple that with the fact that he played V in V for Vendetta and you've got the comic book films as well as the summer popcorn flicks.   He's like a Geek God. Weaving is basically the Will Smith/Harrison Ford of the 21st century.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pittsbugh Sports Just Don't Make Sense Right Now

I think the heat has been getting to the city of Pittsburgh. Here it is almost the end of July and the following has occurred.
  • Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot are now both playing for the Philadelphia Flyers.
  • Ben Roethlisberger is getting married.
  • Training Camp may or may not happen for the Steelers, let alone every other team.
  • Hines Ward has been stopped by police, not once, but twice in vehicle related incidents, with the latter resulting in his being arrested for DUI.
  • The Pirates were just in first place of the NL Central after losing 18 straight seasons. (They are now a 1/2 game back I believe.)

The world just doesn’t make sense anymore.

I want my Penguins and former Penguins to be playing only in Pittsburgh.
I want my quarterback in the middle of a sexual harassment investigation.
I want my Steelers at St. Vincent and Casey Hampton to be near the PUP list status.
I want my Star Receiver to be smiling for the TV, not a mug shot.
And I want my Battling Buccos to be in the basement so I can feel good about Nutting and Co.’s inability to manage a baseball team in the hopes that someone with real experience and desire to win buys the team.

Is that too much to ask?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Honestly, It's Not My Bag, Baby!

Last Fall, I had an unfortunate infestation of ants in my home. They poured out of the wall, underneath the baseboards and marched across the hardwood floors of my living and made a condo out of my laptop bag. I immediately took said bag and tossed it on our enclosed back porch. Then, I attended to the source of the problem, setting traps and spraying the gap between the baseboard and floor. Unfortunately, since I am a lazy f**k, I never got around to fumigating my bag, which had now become a retirement community for stinkbugs as well.

In the meantime I had begun taking my wife’s laptop bag to work. She never used it for anything, but it wasn’t exactly the most manly thing in the world. It was a Vera Bradley, solid color, quilted laptop bag. I didn’t have a lot of options. I knew my work was not going to replace my bag and I didn’t feel like buying a new one for a work laptop. I simply just kept using my wife’s and stowed it out of sight for the duration of my stay with my former employer.

Flash forward to this week. I get up and proceed to get for work at my current job, which is an hour drive away. I go out into our living room and see that one of my cats has knocked over my new, company issued laptop bag, possibly to lay on it, as they always do. Then, I realized the horror. One of my other cats has decided to piss all over it, leaving a puddle of urine laying there.

I cleaned it off best I could, using Lysol wipes and hot water. I simply did not have time to tear apart the entire house, waking my wife and daughter at 6:00 AM in order to find a replacement. Besides, after I used the wipes on the bag, it seemed to be OK. That was, until I was driving home and the smell really hit me. I couldn’t take it back to work in that condition.

That night, my wife suggested taking her bag to work, like I had before. I was a little leery. When you’ve worked at the same company for nearly ten years and you do something like bringing a purse to work. They kind of give you the benefit of the doubt if you’ve never done it before. When you’ve been at a company for only six months and do something like that, your coworkers don’t understand your life the same way. Everyone at my old job knew the tale of my cat causing us to have to replace the floor in our basement so this was simply par for the course. At the new job, they don’t know this and will generate their own opinions.

Needless to say, I took my wife’s bag. I knew it was probably a bad move and I should have really considered, putting it in my desk drawer, out of sight. Unfortunately, I had an all day meeting and simply did not have the opportunity to do this.

About ten minutes into the meeting, of which I am sharing my laptop screen on the projector, I receive an IM.

“Where did you get the pretty laptop bag?”

Fortunately, I had moved all of my email and IM screens to my laptop and only extended my windows desktop to the projector. This message was only visible to me. Well, me and the three other people with which my coworker decided to share. Suddenly, the incident took on a life of its own as more people, including my boss and my boss’ boss, were chiming in about my lovely bag.

During a break, I was able to come out and try some damage control, to no avail. People were laughing. I wasn’t sure why. Then I found out. We have nine large flat screen monitors hanging throughout the cube farm which displays stats and various other bits of information for the department. The slide show rotates through different screens and eventually, I noticed what everyone was laughing about. Tucked in between two of the slides was a picture of two or my coworkers modeling the bag in rather funny poses with the title of “The Companion Bag” above the words “MyLastName & CO.”, essentially making this an advertisement.

I couldn’t help but laugh because while it was making fun of me for bringing my wife’s bag, it also put their manhood on the line to have been photographed modeling it. Needless to say, it was all in good fun and if I can’t laugh at myself, I shouldn’t laugh at others. I gave them a “Well Played” and then went back into my meeting. Of course, I had to share and explain the incident, reiterating that my cat caused the situation.

I made sure that I found a suitable replacement for the next day, while I wait until my regular bad dries after being washed. It just goes to show that if I had ever expressed doubts about coming here, they made me feel welcome, even at my own expense.

Bravo, crew.
Now, I must disown my cat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'll Never Cook Again

This declaration was made after my daughter’s birthday party this past weekend.

It’s not that I cook, now. I know. And even if I did I could hear the naysayers… saying nay…

- nay saying…

- naying?

- bitching at me and my wife for not cooking four only child’s birthday. Well, nay away. Here’s why it was a blessing to not have to cook.

For the past three years we have been having cookouts for my kid’s birthday. It’s the day after Independence Day which usually means it doubles as the official holiday cookout or gets moved to a nearby weekend to avoid the work week. Usually, we do the usual grilling fare, and I spend four hours grilling up food as well as taking care of things like wayward children, filling up coolers, etc. Normally, my wife and I do not get to enjoy the party.

This year was especially daunting as we tried to offset the scheduling conflicts of family and friends by moving it to the week after the fourth. That gave us extra time to clean, shop, etc. Still, we both looked at each other and wanted to cry.

We’ve been having issues with our pool. It’s one of those Intex brands one that I inherited from my brother. He bought a new pool and I got that one. The pump/filter that comes with it couldn’t cycle a 50 gallon fish tank properly. The pump barely sucks enough water to get a flow going and the paper filter cartridge suffers from poor design issues as it never fits right, leading to the pump not working properly. So, I had been in the market for a better pump since last year.

One of my old teachers from high school happened to have a Hayward DE pump and filter. It was a couple years old and hadn’t been used for a year. I bought it for $200 along with various parts and fittings over Memorial Day. With a vacation at the beginning of June we didn’t get it set up until the middle of the month. Now, I must say that because I’m an idiot and didn’t have a proper cover, the pool remained exposed to the elements all fall and winter resulting in lots of leaves, bugs and dirt residing in it.

Trying to clean a 16 ft. pool with even a more powerful than needed pump/filter is going to be hard. If I would have just resigned myself to draining and refilling the pool, I would have saved myself two weekends of screwing around with trying to keep the pump working.

Needless to say, I finally got it up and running, properly, on the Fourth of July weekend. That left me with a week to get everything else done. That meant yard needed cut, house needed cleaned and food needed to be bought. It was just too much for us to handle.

My wife made the executive decision at the beginning of the month to just get the party catered. Is that lazy of us? I say no. Is that frivolous of us to spend the money? I say no. Here’s why.

In the scheme of things we would have ended up paying the same amount for all of the food and then cooking it ourselves. Because we were cooking it, we would have lost time that we so desperately needed to run around and pick up supplies, the cake, the balloons, and anything else needed. We’d also find ourselves taking longer to eat as you can only prepare so much food ahead of time, leading to later meal times and less time for enjoying the other stuff.

We went with a local place called Skis and Nick’s. I’ve had their food before and it’s pretty good. We ordered one of their predefined menus which included batter dipped chicken, penne noodles and sauce, a potato, a vegetable, a deli tray, a garden salad, a fruit salad, rolls, buns, and relish tray. At $9.25 + tax, per person it might sound like a lot. However, we also got all of the napkins, plates, utensils, condiments and carryout containers to go with it. Not to mention, they included the use of a hot box to keep the hot items hot. Now, all I had to do was go pick it all up, uncover it and serve.

By the way, the food was delicious. We had leftovers which was great because we were dead tired yesterday and didn’t want to have to worry about dinner. And, we got to visit, eat and enjoy the party, for once. Like I said, we’ll never cook again for parties.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hollywood Hits New Low in Greed

Imagine you are watching your favorite television show on reruns. You loved it when it was originally aired and now, while channel surfing you catch one of your favorite episodes. Somewhere, in the background of one of the scenes, a magazine display shows an advertisement for a movie. The episode is about four years old but the ad for the movie is one that opens this week. If you’re watching digital cable or have a DVR service enabled, you have the ability to rewind the scene and there to the horror of your suspension of disbelief is the cold dark truth; Hollywood will stop at nothing to make money.

This article from the Consumerist compares the same image from the original airing of an episode of How I Met Your Mother from 2007 to a recent rerun with an ad for Zookeeper digitally inserted.

Now, it might seem trivial to be upset over this but consider that How I Met Your Mother is a show, whose premise is built upon the fact that it’s the past, even though it’s the present. OK, before you get out your tops and start spinning them or checking for time skipping nose bleeds, let me explain. The show is told from the point of view of Ted, who is explaining to his kids how he met their mother. The time frame is affixed to the years it takes place during. By inserting this ad, that advances the time frame by four years, you disrupt the dramatic flow. I know. I’m a dork and I need help. Truth is, I don’t watch the show, but this latest attempt at Hollywood product placement within shows is another reason why I think the system is inherently broken beyond repair.

Imagine if this were a rerun of LOST and a poster for an ad for The Hangover 3 appeared on the cover of a magazine on Oceanic Flight 815? It’s jarring. It’s disruptive. And ultimately, it insults the intelligence of the viewer by insisting that we are brainless beings that can be duped by 'Pretty Mediocre photographic fakery', to quote Doc Emmet Brown.

Soon, DVDs will be edited to contain ads for products not available at the time of the movie’s filming. That classic film that you’ve always loved since you were a child could be next. You’ve waited years for it to come out on Blu-Ray only to have it sullied by the Mad Men of Madison Avenue and MGM.

Hollywood. STOP IT! You’ll give Spielberg and Lucas new ideas for re-releasing their movies.

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