Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Housekeeping

Here we are in the height of the holiday season with mild temperatures, an 8-3 Steelers team, a "healthy" Sidney Crosby, and TomKat sightings all over the place (including one of my favorites, Meat & Potatoes)!


Speaking of Meat and Potatoes, I was surprised to find a well-written and accurate Meat and Potatoes review in Pittsburgh Magazine that was strikingly similar to my July review of the same restaurant. It seems that the critic,Valentina may have used my idea and took it several steps further. Considering that I am not a professional food critic (my reviews are narratives, not criticisms), I would expect her to elaborate and expand to the level that she did. But might I point ahhhht that I referred to Meat and Potatoes as a "plushly modern speakeasy"; and in her tagline, Valentina calls it a "modern-day Pittsburgh speakeasy," thus avoiding plagiarism (three or more words in a row). Imitation is the best flattery, and perhaps I was on to something this summer.

In other news, I am officially committed to Spotify. I've had a Spotify Premium ($9.99 which allows me to listen on any laptop and on any smartphone) subscription since it came stateside in July. So what is it? Well, it's an online music database that takes the best of iTunes, XM, and Pandora and combines those aspects into one fantastic user-friendly resource. In the world of "on demand," Spotify allows me to listen to whatever I want, whenever I want. And that's lovely. But what I want to know is: where was Spotify when I spent $1K on iTunes? I mean, I'm not bitter or anything... Anyway, this past month, I have been listening to a variety of artists which were all just a search bar away: Morcheeba, Jay-Z, MIKA, Madonna, Ray LaMontagne, Mat Kearney, State Radio, Adele, and Gym Class Heroes. Even though the words "random" and "eclectic" are overused, I believe that they desrcibe my current musical taste aptly.

Here's my favorite MIKA song, "Happy Ending," in case anyone needs a little "pick-me-upper." If this doesn't work... try a sugar-free Red Bull and some cardio.


Honestly, November went really quickly. When I crossed off the "30th" on the calendar today, I tried to recollect which moment was the month's best. I mean Thanksgiving was nice and everything, and I love my family and friends and all, but without a doubt, the highlight of November was the Jay-Z and Kanye West Watch The Throne concert. From start to finish, their performances (both duo and solo) entertained and enthralled me. As usual, this of course got me off track and thinking about all of the concerts that I've seen since my first one at age 4 (John Denver at the Civic Arena if anyone is curious). Clearly not every concert even comes close to "incredible," and many concerts fall just short of "incredible;" but that's another blog post for another time. I will say this: to get to the "incredible" status in my book, I believe that the show must be an expertly blended combination of greatness with the following factors working perfectly (or near perfectly) in harmony: the special effects (or appropriate lack thereof), the venue, the performance and the company. JCD, a brilliant guy (and resource) with whom I work, reaffirmed my ranking system with his claim that the best concert experience he's ever had was Ben Folds (Metropol, 2002), "It was just Ben Folds and his piano... small venue... perfect." But back to Watch the Throne... my ranking of the most incredible concert experiences has always been an evolving list, and this particular show has easily worked its way into the top five. Nevertheless, I feel that The Steel Trap is the appropriate forum on which to publish this [current] list!

HGB's Top Ten Incredible Concerts of All Time (1984-present)* 

10. Dave Matthews Band (Star Lake Amphitheater, 1998)
9. CSNY (Civic Arena, 2001)
8. Bob Schneider (Rosebud, 2001)
7. Blue Oyster Cult (State Theater, 2007)
6. Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Post-Gazette Pavilion, 2000)
5. Jay-Z and Kayne West (Consol Energy Center, 2011)
4. NKOTB (The Palace of Auburn Hills, 2008)
3. U2 (Civic Arena, 2000)
2. CSNY (Civic Arena, 2000)
1. Dave Matthews Band with Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Scott Stadium, 2001)

So what if November slipped right by me? With the tree up, the presents wrapped, and the stockings hung on the chimney with care, it's very clear that I am in the holiday spirit! As for December's calendar, I'm looking forward a few holiday-related gatherings with friends and family, tree selecting and decorating with PSB (Griswold-style), quality time with my college roommate EMP, a mini-reunion with SAA, the Sheldon Calvary Camp 75th Anniversary Celebration, Bill Burr live, an Everything But The Book Club meeting, Christmas Eve (candlelight ceremony at St. Peter's in UT), Christmas Day (PSB's homemade cinnamon rolls, stocking stuffer explosions, racing MAB dahn the stairs... you know, the usual), and New Year's Eve.



Did I mention that I am SHOUTING FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS with excitement about December's movie lineup? Not only is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo finally coming ahhhhht, but Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is coming ahhhht as well! Seriously? I have been waiting for these movies for so long that the anticipation is nearly similar to Christmas 1987 when I didn't think that I would survive while waiting to find ahhhhht if Santa had brought me a Pogo Bal and the Barbie Corvette. So that's what JTP and I are doing for Christmas (in addition to our every-holiday-who-can-give-the-best-card-to-each-other-contest of course): dinner and movies!

As always, thank you for reading! 
Helloooo December!
-HGB

*I will discuss any of these shows at length with just about anybody. Say the word. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The One Who Brings Ahhhht The Best In Me (And Us)

On her 30th birthday in August, I gave a brief toast in honor of SAA. This wasn’t planned, but I’ve somehow been fortunate enough to have the gift of toasting by the seat of my pants. Simply stated, my intent was to honor SAA and wish her a year full of the happiness and adventures that she deserves. With this Henry Ford quote to anchor the toast, it was easy to express my sentiments: “My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me.” And it’s true… SAA brings ahhhhht a part of me (and us) that I love.


Now I am not claiming that my toasts have the power to bring happiness and adventures upon the honorees; but in this instance, I suppose that my words were at the very least, prophetic. Happiness and adventures are on the horizon for SAA as a bittersweet moment is on the horizon for those of us whom love SAA dearly.

#1 spot = Bossa Nova
This weekend, while most of us will be spending time our families, preparing for the first day of buck season, waiting in lines for Black Friday deals, and/or decorating our homes for the holidays; SAA will be closing the doors to 1224 Mimosa Way and heading dahn south to Florida for a fresh start. While this move will impact all of us whom have called that place "home," our feelings regarding the loss of that memorably infamous space in comparison to how we feel about the loss of our friend's frequent presence. 


If these walls could talk...
Truthfully, I am proud of SAA. It isn’t easy to leave behind a group of friends as wonderful as we are. Yes, that sounds awfully boastful, but it’s not a secret that when we are together we are a force. Similarly, it isn’t easy to leave behind a wonderful family (SAA’s family is a closely-knitted quilt of warmth and love).  Yet, she is accepting the challenge of starting anew; and in doing so, she is getting a few steps closer to self-actualization and learning more about herself that she wouldn't be able to do here with us.




What will I miss the most? Perhaps it’s the way she needs me. When she has something from IKEA that needs put together, I’m it (apparently I have a knack for interpreting Swedish pictorial directions). When she needs someone to tell her that people in 2011 don’t use Times New Roman font anymore, I’m it. When she needs someone to hang twinkle lights artistically in her backyard, I’m it. When she needs the courage to pack up her ex’s belongings and take them to Goodwill, I’m it. When she needs help turning a bar into a dance club, I’m it.

Notice the twinkle lights...
But no… perhaps it’s the way that I have come to need her that I will miss the most. When I need a partner in crime, she’s it. When I need someone to remind me of my better qualities, she’s it. When I need someone to land me a gig in a commercial, she’s it. And when I need someone to help me turn a bar into a dance club, she’s it.

Keri Hilson is on! 
Interestingly, SAA and I weren't always the best of friends. We met in high school when I was in 10th grade… but we weren’t on each other’s radar until we were on the set of our spring musical, Godspell; and even then, we were "friendly" more than we were friends. Hindsight is 20/20, and I would like to think that the shared spiritual experience of Godspell laid the foundation for our friendship; but neither of us made much of an effort to build upon that unique platform until twelve years later.  


UHS Prom 1997
Honestly, I think our lack of closeness was the very factor that kept us from getting close (if that makes sense). We assumed that we didn't see eye to eye on nearly everything, and thus we assumed that we would never be more than "friendly." However, a fateful trip to Seven Springs Resort for New Year’s Eve ’08-’09 revealed the inevitable. One might conclude that it was a simple twist of fate that unraveled a simple truth about the two of us: we did have similar perspectives, and we were destined to be the great friends all along.



The timing was everything because we both happened to be single; and more importantly, we both had a similar resolve to “live life to the fullest” for the new year of 2009. I had been off of the market for too long, and SAA was a market maven. We were dedicated to being full-fledged hedonists, and we accepted the consequences together and in stride. She got a kick ahhhht of telling people that we hadn't always gotten along; and I got a kick ahhhht of listening to her tell the story. And that’s the way it worked. It was a give and take of laughter, valet parking, first dates, late night McDonald’s, dance offs, and shared clothing; all set against the backdrop of our beloved ‘Burgh.
  

As I mentioned, timing is everything... and SAA's move to Florida is coming at a time in her life that demands change. In order to continue living life to the fullest, "The SAA Show" needs revamped. In order to keep ratings up, she must get a new set, add characters to her cast, and learn new lines. But despite what critics may say, hopefully she will take solace in the notion that all of us are her biggest cheering section (whether we were originally B.F. Quaker Cheerleaders, Lafayette Tiger Cheerleaders or in the Pep Club); and that all of us, no matter where we are or what we are doing, will "tune in" to her [daily] phone calls. 

Speaking of [daily] phone calls... SAA, it's time for you to get a Twitter. You're ready.  


Buena Suerte! Bienvenidos a Miami! Te pones sunscreen! 

XOXO
Love you dearly, 
HGB




Sunday, November 20, 2011

Got Game?

In the Huffington Post this week, there was a memory-inducing slideshow called, "Children's Board Games: Questionable Lessons from Clue, Monopoly, and Where's Waldo." In spirit, it was a fun little piece that included commercials from various board games, and raised the question of whether the lessons learned by playing these games were as positive as they should be.

Here is The Steel Trap's sarcastic response: Truthfully, I suppose it was only a matter of time (eyeroll) before our beloved board games fell into a pit of such harsh scrutiny. Video games have been criticized for years, while board games have flown under the radar (another eyeroll). Why did someone wait until 2011 to point ahhhht that "Clue" was really about covering up a murder and "Guess Who?" was really about racial profiling (exponential eyerolls)? Shame on us for playing board games to use our brains and wit,  to build social skills with our opponents, and to understand that not everyone can win! We were actually learning how to become self-absorbed schmucks (infinite eyerolls)!

Nevertheless, the slideshow got me thinking about some of my favorite games... and ultimately, it got me thinking of which ones I can undoubtedly win. As I get older, I've become more comfortable with recognizing (and even admitting) my idiosyncrasies, quirks, and overall weirdness. This, as you might expect, took years for me to conclude. For some of us, self-actualization takes longer than others. But let's look at this as progress because here I am today, confessing one of the most infamous HGB trademark quirks...

I only play games that I can win. 

It's true. I really honest-to-goodness only play games that I can win. If there is not a chance that I will be competitively in the running for a big "W," then I simply bow ahhhht, and add the game to my list of "spectator sports." I won't even begin to outline how this translates into the workplace. Suffice to say that I've been called a "Type A" personality before... a Leslie Knope of sorts.


That's only partially accurate though; because unlike Leslie Knope, I know my limitations, and I accept them for what they are. Now, that doesn't make me a quitter (except for the one time I threw dahn my Harry Potter Uno cards and stormed ahhhhht of my parents' living room because I couldn't get a grip on the rules... six years ago). However, if I cannot win/compete, then I would rather watch the game than lose the game. And I know (eyeroll) that this is limiting in and of itself. But I would rather be a self-proclaimed "expert" at a few games than be the average "jack of all trades, master at none." Right?! I suppose that is still "Type A," isn't it? Dammit!

So how does this all shake ahhhhht*? Below are the things that I know (and remember) for sure. Inevitably, I left off something, but this is comprehensive enough for everyone to get my point. There are three categories...

Tier 1: These are the games that I will always play. I have demonstrated a proven history of winning. These are the ones of which I will talk smack, run my mouth, and bet on my myself to win... actually, you should bet on me too. I am THAT good.
  • Scattergories
  • Mall Madness
  • Clue
  • Tetris**
  • Apples to Apples
Tier 2: These are the games that I will play for the chance of winning, but really for the fun of it because I have demonstrated a proven history of competing well. In other words, I might not always win, but I sincerely enjoy playing the game. If I am part of a team, I will talk a little smack and slightly run my mouth.
  • Left Center Right
  • Scrabble
  • Sorry! 
  • The Game of Life
  • Trivial Pursuit and/or Jeopardy!
  • Taboo
  • Skee Ball
  • 4 Square
  • Hang Man
  • Operation
  • Beer Pong and/or Flip Cup
  • Candyland
  • Yukon Trail
  • Powder Puff Football
  • Miniature Golf
  • Bocce
  • Leg Wrestling
  • Greased Watermelon
  • Water Polo
  • Children's games like Cootie, Don't Break The Ice!, and/or Mousetrap
  • Darts
  • Never Have I Ever and/or Truth or Dare  (does anyone really win these?) 
  • Release and/or Sardines
  • Go Fish!, Old Maid, and/or Egyptian Rat Screw
  • Ultimate (as in Frisbee)
  • Calvary Camp's Green 8's, The Grinch, and/or Wells Fargo
  • Yahtzee! (Note: this is an anomaly because I have declared that I cannot beat JTP. Who gets 5 Yahtzee's on his first attempt at ever playing the game? ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?)
Tier 3 (the "spectator sports"): These are the games that I will never play. You will meet Jesus, Elvis, and William Shakespeare before you see me step up to whatever figurative plate that these games require. Chances are that I despise the game itself, I know that I have no chance of competing (let alone ever winning), or a combination of both. It would be my luck that in a Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey scenario, I will have to play the grim reaper in one of these games in order to save my soul.
  • Monopoly 
  • Every other video game in the universe
  • Cranium
  • Harry Potter Uno
  • Any sport that involves a blunt object and a ball (i.e. tennis, wiffle ball, softball, billiards, golf, etc.)
  • Any land-based sport that requires using my body to get a ball to a specific target (i.e. basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc.)
  • Tic Tac Toe
  • Corn Hole (this is a recent retirement... the last game I played took the fun ahhhht of life)
  • Chutes and Ladders
  • Every other card game (i.e. Gin, Hearts, Spades, Poker, Blackjack, Bridge, etc.) 
  • Horseshoes 
  • Chess and/or Checkers
  • Calvary Camp's Capture The Flag

*Some years ago, I had a boss who used the expression, "shake ahhhhht" at least twice in every staff meeting. She was an authentic Pittsburgh gal, and I always appreciated how she seamlessly blended Pittsburghese into the professional setting.

**This is of course when I am against your average opponent. I am not trying to play Tetris next to the guy who invented it or anything. Let's get real.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Steel Trap Gets Married

Yes, it's true! The Steel Trap (that would be me, HGB) is getting married to JTP on June 16, 2012, which is exactly seven months from today! If anyone else ahhhhht there is planning a wedding, you know that it's not an easy task (although it is rather enjoyable). Quite frankly, I recently realized that getting "married" on facebook would be much more cost effective.

Fill in the blank!
Nevertheless, I have found some really fabulous vendors (all of whom are worth the money); and I would like to share my findings with yinz (in case you are opting for a real wedding, as opposed to a facebook union):


Event Stylist: Nancy Mundy of Poshy Events, Pittsburgh, PA

Event Venue: The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA

Catering: Parkhurst Dining Services, Pittsburgh, PA

Desserts (no, this is NOT a cookie table):
Bridal Attire:
Maid-of-Honor Attire:
Stationary (save-the-dates, invitations, programs, thank-you's, etc.): Jenny Wren Designs

Florist: Jerry at Hepatica Florist, Pittsburgh, PA

Photography: MichaelWill Photography, Pittsburgh, PA

Music: DJ Ill, Pittsburgh, PA (Check ahhhht some of his stuff here!)


Tuxes: Ptak's, Uniontown, PA

Slideshow: LG3 Entertainment, Pittsburgh, PA

Aisle Runner: The Original Runner Company, Montclair, NJ

Gift Registry: Macy's, Ross Park Mall, Pittsburgh, PA

After the wedding, I will post more details and plenty of pictures. There are just some things that I don't want to reveal before our big fat Warhol wedding!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Ugly Christmas"

I have to mention my perplexing encounter with a wall of ugly Christmas clothing in Gabriel Brothers today. When I say "wall," I mean a floor to ceiling menagerie of everything from faux fur collared sweaters to bedazzled sweaters to sweaters with decorative buttons dahn the front n'at. In the middle of this rancid display was the diamond cubic zirconium in the rough: ugly Christmas denim!!! 

$9.99 (turtleneck not included)
This twist on heinous holiday fashion adds a whole new dimension that might prompt Levi Strauss to roll over in his grave. I doubt that when he invented denim, he intended for it to be cut into the pattern of a scoop-neck, floor-length tunic and then embroidered with snowflakes and Santa Claus. And it's not just any old Santa Claus. This particular version of Santa is holding balloons! My friend KDJ surmised that Santa must be celebrating the Lord's birthday. In that case, he should also have a cake too... Right?!?  Oh wait, it's 2011. He should have cupcakes. 

Within the past ten years, the "Ugly Christmas" Phenomenon (yes, I just came up with that on my own), has become a legitimate seasonal tradition. With "Ugly Christmas" sweater parties and designated "Ugly Christmas Sweater Day" at work, it seems that clothing companies would benefit from continuing to design and manufacture these frivolous crimes of fashion for years to come. One particular website, aptly called Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, offers "the biggest selection of Ugly Christmas Sweaters at the best prices!" Another one called The Sweater Store is "based in Minnesota, where Ugly Christmas Sweaters once roamed the prairies and Holiday party circuits unfettered." Based on these two resources alone, it's clear that this growing trend isn't going anywhere anytime soon. 

So what was so perplexing (besides Santa's balloons)? Well, I cannot help but wonder if the original irony behind "Ugly Christmas" is slowly fading away as it becomes more mainstream and acceptable to spend significant money on these items. With the alternative option being to raid your relatives' closets and attics or to spend a couple of bucks at your local thrift store, you are either spending no money or supporting a non-profit. We've seen many items shift from being ironic to being mainstream, specifically with trucker hats (thank you Ashton Kutcher), t-shirts with sayings on the front, skinny jeans, Members Only jackets*, and even the Volkswagon Bug. 


How do you test this "theory" of mine? It's easiest with clothing. If the item in question shows up on the racks of Urban Outfitters and has a price tag that reflects a cost that's ten times higher than what you would pay at Gabe's or a thrift store, then the item is in a position to lose its irony. If the hipsters start buying the item and wearing it in public year round, then all irony is officially lost. 

Do I think that people are going to start wearing ugly Christmas clothing and/or the aforementioned (and pictured) denim jumper to regular parties or on days other than the designated "Ugly Christmas Sweater Day?" That remains to be seen, but the cynical part of me is going to bet on the affirmative. Let's be real. Scrunchies came back. Fanny packs are next. Fortunately, as it stands, the only people wearing ugly Christmas gear are teachers**, party-goers, and Dale Doback

Step Brothers (2008)


*Might I add that my father, JDB wore his gray Members Only jacket for so long that it came back into style, while he had it on. Twenty years later folks, twenty years!


$49.99 www.rustyzipper.com 

**I wore my grandmother's sweater vest to work on "Ugly Christmas Sweater Day" one time, and a twelve-year-old explained to me that it wasn't ugly enough. It has a polar bear and snowflakes on the front. And it's a sweater vest. Did I mention that it's a sweater vest? Yeah, it's a sweater vest. With a polar bear and snowflakes on the front. Tough crowd, those tweens. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Everything But The Book (Club)

Everything But The Book (Club) just wrapped another meeting this week, and we discussed (among many other topics) One Amazing Thing by Chintra Divakaruni. Usually we we discuss the book, we all give our overall opinions, and then we delve deeper into specifics. Overall, we liked the book; however, one comment resonated throughout our discussion: we felt like the ending cheated readers. What exactly does this mean? Well, Divakaruni creates a disastrous premise (literally speaking, of course) of which readers inevitably desire a conclusion for some of the more memorable characters. It was as if we were watching Lost... you know, the ABC show which after watching, you were more confused than you were after the previous episode and nothing had been resolved.


Told in an adapted Canterbury Tales format, the bulk of One Amazing Thing consists of various stories as supplied by its diverse characters, all of whom are connected by their travel plans to India and by the fact that they are trapped within earthquake wreckage. Each character takes a turn telling a story of one amazing thing from their lives as a way to keep their minds preoccupied. Two of these stories were particularly enjoyable for us: Jiang's (Chapter 6) and Mathali's (Chapter 9). We weren't too fond of either of the Pritchetts' stories; and also, we felt that Mrs. Pritchett's baking storyline was underdeveloped. Divakaruni could have taken it a few steps further. 


In "A Conversation With Chintra Divakaruni," she's asked, "What message would you like readers to take from One Amazing Thing?" She replies with, "I want everyone to realize that we have at least one amazing thing in our lives. I want my readers to search through their lives and find their own amazing thing, and to appreciate it- and their unique, wonder-filled lives" (page 225). I haven't reflected yet on this fully, but it's certainly on my mind. Although I would like to think that the best is yet to come; if I happened upon a perilous situation like the characters in this book, and I had to share one story about one amazing thing, I should hope that I would be able to come up with something...  


Up next (third week of December) is The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in preparation for  Leonardo DiCaprio's depiction of this iconic American character in the latest film version, which is set for release in late 2012. Sure we are a year early, but it builds anticipation, right? And, I think we were a little overdo for a "classic." 




Lastly, for your amusement, here's a list of topics as discussed by Everything But The Book (Club) at our last meeting:
  • The concept of being the last texter, and whether or not we are annoyed when people text, "K" as their last text. Is it necessary? We never decided, but we did laugh about it. Come on, you all know someone who uses "K" (or you use it yourself)! I know that I am a huge "K" user. Just yesterday, SAA got on my case because I didn't put an exclamation point after it. 
  • The Steel City Ukuleles (of which SWP is a member) will be playing a gig at the Wilkins School Community Center on December 2 from 7-9 p.m. during the Holiday Gift Shop Opening Night Party.  
  • Our "freebie" lists* (as referenced in my last book club post)!
ESD's Freebie List: Dick LeBeau, Ashton Kutcher, Timothy Olyphant, Bono, and Robin Williams
MPF's Freebie List: Brad Pitt, Alex Skarsgard, Tom Welling, and Mario Lemieux
JRW's Freebie List: Christian Bale, Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Josh Hartnett, and Will Ferrell
SWP's Freebie List: Brad Pitt, Ryan Reynolds, Jon Hamm, and Clive Owen
MBK's Freebie List: Clint Eastwood, Sean Connery, Robert Redford, Dr. Travis Stork, Matthew Morrison, and Daniel Craig
DSL's Freebie List: Alex Skarsgard, Brad Pitt, Derek Hough, Stephen Moyer, Blair Underwood, and Joe Manganiello
HGB's Freebie List: Alex Skarsgard, Matt Bomer, Christian Bale, David Boreanaz, Johnny Depp, Anderson Cooper, Vince Vaughn, and Josh Lucas


*Note: Some of our lists have more than five names. This is because we (mainly me) simply could not choose; AND because we (again, mainly me) didn't want to leave someone ahhhhht in the event that all of our "dreams" came true. I was surprised that there were less athletes on the list... Honorable mentions: George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, and Channing Tatum

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Facebook Status Update Rule #24

A little background if I may...

I joined the facebook community in the fall of 2009, which makes me a two-year veteran of the social media phenomenon. The reasons behind why it took me so long to jump on the bandwagon are irrelevant to this post, but I'll reassure you with this: oppressive relationships = no facebook, no blogs, no fun.

Within one year of joining the fray, I started to notice a change in my patience and/or tolerance for the careless ignorance (and downright socially inappropriate statements) that many of our "friends" habitually demonstrated in their status updates, profile pictures, comments, etc. So in retaliation (I suppose I'll call it that), I started posting my facebook "rules" via my own status updates. And people responded. Whether it was with their simple "likes," or with more thoughtful private messages, people were responding with suggestions, peeves, and supportive commentary.

However, not long after I launched my social media reform campaign, MAB noted that perhaps facebook wasn't the best forum on which to speak my mind. After all, she is a PR major. Enter The Steel Trap.

Twenty-two "Facebook Status Update Rules" later, we are witnessing the crumbling deterioration of one of the most concrete football institutions in the United States; and quite honestly, the most concrete football institution in Pennsylvania. Suffice to say, PSUgate has really gotten to all of us in one way or another. Consequently, the overwhelming response on both facebook and Twitter prompted many thoughts of mine that could have posted. But they weren't. Because nine times ahhhht of ten, I really try to think (and be thoughtful) before I type.

When the word "alleged" is still in play, I have no business condemning the actions of anyone. Sure, I disagree with the alleged acts. I read the 23-page grand jury report, and was distraught. I am an educator and an advocate for children, and I am held to pretty strict guidelines when it comes to reporting abuse. However, one thing I have learned along the way is that I cannot expect people to act according to what I think is decent, righteous, and appropriate (unless it's regarding social media and/or fashion... in that case, sleep with one eye open!). I can just do the best I can, and hope that someone along the line will follow my lead. Also, I am not a PSU fan. Never have been, and never will be. I do think that Mr. Paterno has been exposed as being less of a deity and more of a human in a very short period of time... and that is thought provoking. But does any of this give me the right to say anything judgmental online? Nope.  

With that in mind, here was my final response to PSUgate last night: "I am amazed how people continually update their statuses with ignorance and irrationality. Perhaps there is a status update rule regarding this flawed behavior..."  And in response, PJW sent me this clip: 



Therefore, I feel as if this 24th rule may be my last of this category (everything else is still fair game). Why? Well, Craig Ferguson (@CraigyFerg) has created a three-step process for everyone to use before posting their thoughts on the information superhighway. This idea trumps all of my previous guidelines, and is downright brilliant.

Facebook Status Update Rule #24 (courtesy of Craig Ferguson): Before updating your status, PLEASE ask yourself the following questions: 

  1.  Does this need to be said? 
  2.  Does this need to be said by me? 
  3.  Does this need to be said by me now? 
Everything else should fall into place... 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Word

converstation (noun): a conversation in which you are "posted up" for a prolonged period time about an intense and singular topic.

JTP has been on the phone for like 800 hours. He's at a converstation about PSUgate that just won't end. 

Burger Is The New Black (Part 3)

Since I have burgers on my brain lately, there are two more things that I want to share with you regarding this juicy topic (sorry, I couldn't resist)...

First, is this video, titled Pittsburgh Burger Tour 2011. The premise? Patrick Jordan (@barebones1) and Brad Stephenson (@bstephenson) embark on a fateful trip for Pop City Media to ten local burger joints within the course of one day. It's both entertaining and informative. Personally, I am shocked that I haven't heard of their first stop before now; especially considering that I live in Edgewood, and Braddock is less than ten Pittsburgh minutes away. Check it ahhhht: 


If you are hungry (as I am after watching it), here is a comprehensive list of the places on this tour... places on this tour. Oh wait, you don't know Gilligan's Island? Nevermind. I will stop repeating "places on this tour" to the tune of "a three hour tour... a three hour tour." Is it stuck in your head? Good. Ha! 
Next, there is a great website I haphazardly discovered while cruising dahn the information superhighway called A Hamburger Today, which is a spin-off of Serious Eats. Proceed with caution. It's like crack (metaphorically of course); but instead being loaded with addictive pictures of drugs, it's loaded with addictive pictures of food. I am hooked (and still hungry). But what else is new? 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The New Facebook Timeline

Upon the recommendation of MAB, I followed these instructions, and changed my facebook profile to the new "timeline layout." Admittedly, I felt pretty blind and naive when going through the process,  but the results were a definite aesthetic improvement* to the old profile layout.

Check it ahhhht:


Although this may be a premature opinion, I must say that I am pleased. Apparently, only "developers" can see each others' new timeline layouts; but hopefully everyone will have the opportunity to switch theirs as well sooner than later. The line dahn the middle is the "timeline" so to speak, and the boxes to the left and right of the timeline display bubbles of my facebook activity. Also, on the right-hand side, I can click on various months to view my activity from a specific time period. Overall, it's a more linear way of approaching the profile page. The best feature I have noted thus far is the "View Activity" button, which allows me to view a private log of my activity; and consequently, allows me to edit all activities individually as I see fit.

*Excluding the overly large photo of myself being... well, myself. At the very least, this shot always cracks me up because my uncle, TAG, took it without my knowledge (or my photo release signature), and sent it to me a year later. I suppose he captured a "moment."

Keep Yinz Warm

The weather is getting chilly in the evenings; and most everyone ahhhht there is feeling warm and cozy in their homes each night. I know I have already turned up my heat, I have put the extra blankets on the beds, and I even have my favorite blanket (made from sweatshirt material... genius!) wrapped around me on the couch as I type this. With that in mind, please take a minute to read this article about Keep Yinz Warm, which helps those who don't have the same resources as we do when it comes to feeling "warm and cozy." Jon Jackson, the teenage boy behind this mission collected over 600 blankets last year, and this year he aims for 1000. He's definitely getting one from me!

If you decide to join my fellow Burgers and me in support of this thoughtful mission, you can send your blankets to this address:
Keep Yinz Warm
260 W Cruikshank Rd
Valencia, PA 16059

Friday, November 4, 2011

Burger Is The New Black (Part 2)

In August, I started to explore the Burgh's burger phenomenon in this post. Not too long ago, I went for round 2 at Burgatory, located in the Waterworks Mall (which is in the City of Pittsburgh, even if Fox Chapel claims it for its own... but whatever).

To be honest, I wanted to hate Burgatory. There's been so much buzz about this place; and because I am sometimes "difficult," I walked in with a poor attitude. However, it didn't take long for the warehouse vibe of patio seating (with heaters), a large centralized bar, and well blended wood/brick/cement textures to readjust my attitude.  Furthermore, the interior happens to be award-winning. And you all know that I love a greatly designed space.


It was lunch, and there was a steady crowd when I arrived with my girlfriends for a "sex in the city" kind of get-together. It was exactly as you would have expected... four females in their early thirties in various stages of their lives connected by a love for each other, a lifetime of memories, and an insatiable appetite for dessert...

"Thou Shall Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Shake"
... which is why we ordered one of their Heavenly Shakes for an appetizer. Since we were sharing, and since two of the gals were pregnant, we had to come to a consensus on one of the non-alcoholic options; and yes, we were more than pleased with our selection: Campfire S'Mores. From the toasted marshmallow on top to the creamy whipped cream layer to the graham cracker pieces swirled throughout to the underlying chocolate-y taste, this certainly made us want s'more. To quote SAA, "It's like having the best of a bonfire in my mouth!"

"Honor Thy Burger and Thy Mother"
JLD went with the Custom Creations* option. To "Start It Up," she picked Hormone Free Beef and a Whole Wheat bun. Next, to "Dress It Up," she went with a BBQ rub, Farmhouse Cheddar cheese, and Chipotle Sour Cream. Lastly, to "Drive It Home," she added Fried Egg, Avocado, and Organic Field Greens. Served with warm Sweet and Russet Potato Chips, this was a tasty meal. I know this because she let me sample it.

"Thou Shall Share Thy Burger Love"
I opted for the Filet Sliders (Beef Tenderloin Sliders with Aged Gruyere, Brandied Peppercorn Sauce, Fire Roasted Red Peppers, Organic Greens and Sweet Onion Straws) on the Fingers section of the menu. I liked them; but next time, I will be going with a Custom Creation. 

And the Burghers...
In addition, we also tried the warm and hearty Tony's Chicken Chili (which reminded me of Rosa's Chicken Chili at Fuel and Fuddle... I wonder if Tony and Rosa were once married and she lost the recipe in their divorce?) and the Sunny-Side Salad. Truthfully, the salad was fantastic, but I could have lived without the mountain of wontons that suffocated the yummy greens, sesame seeds, yellow tomatoes, and roasted red peppers.

If you haven't been to this burger spot yet, check it ahhhht. You won't be disappointed. Burgatory's website has a No Wait system, which will give you a heads up about wait time and alerts you via text message.

Burgatory Bar on Urbanspoon

(3 stars, 3/4)

*I do wonder how many Custom Creations are possible (mathematically speaking)? Anyone who had trig class with me in 11th grade knows that I am incapable of creating an equation with which to work this ahhhhht. But with seven categories for customization, and over sixty-five options within those categories, it really seems like the possibilities are endless. Right?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Housekeeping

It's November 1st, and WOW was it obvious at work today... everyone seemed to be hopped up on more sugar than usual and the wastebaskets were littered with nearly every candy wrapper under the sun. People even were eating Milk Duds... which are the worst of the Halloween candies in my opinion. Come on, "dud" is in the name. You don't earn the name "dud" by being a shooting star, do you?

As anticipated, November is shaping up to be a pretty busy month; but I have been proactive in my approach to the holiday season thus far. All of my holiday shopping is complete. Yes, I said it (and I did it!). Every present is ready to be wrapped. Speaking of wrapping, I stopped by Tuesday Morning yesterday and got all of my wrapping supplies. If you haven't been to one yet, you should consider stopping by a Tuesday Morning. This place has the best wrapping paper (thick, premium stuff), gift bags (sturdy with great design and shape), scalloped tissue paper (in every color), gift boxes, etc. I take an unusual level of pride in my gift wrap (and my gift wrapping), so you can trust this recommendation.

On the home front, I have abandoned ABC's Pam Am, but have fallen head over heels for their Wednesday night drama, Revenge. At first I was afraid to admit that I had become hooked after just one episode (not unlike what happened with The OC back in 2003), but then I found out that SAA was hooked as well. Yay! A juicy talking point! Then, I did JTP a favor, and got him hooked. Not wanting to be left ahhhht, EAM had a mini-marathon last week; and consequently, she became hooked. You can watch full episodes on OnDemand, or on ABC dot com.  The lead actress, Emily VanCamp may look familiar if you were an Everwood fan. It's pretty entertaining to see her in a different role. Although she plays another girl-next-door, she's certainly no "Amy Abbot" this time around. The Hamptons are a little different than the mountain town of Everwood, CO. Let me know what you think...

In other business, MAB and I had a photo shoot on the lovely campus of PSU for our holiday card. After I know that everyone on the mailing list has received their cards, I will post pics. I don't want to spoil it; and of course, I want to build suspense.

As always, I am looking forward to Thanksgiving Eve, going and ahhhht on the tahn in UT. Since college, this is one of the most hilarious nights of the year. You get to see people you haven't seen in a year (or in several years); you get to see girls who still won't speak to you after all of this time (they must not read this blog... I am so nice now); you get to enjoy lots of laughs with the people you care about (or forgot you cared about); and you get to save money (that's right... say what you will about the UT, but I can have a great time for less than $10).

Also, the Pitt/WVU Backyard Brawl is coming up, which is always fun. I love to watch the WVU fans get all riled up over this yearly event; and although I am a Pitt fan (and alum), it's always amusing to hear people from Morgantown bash Pittsburgh. As if comparing the actual towns holds any value whatsoever when comparing the actual sports teams. Some of the best times of my college years occurred in Morgantown (like that one time, on the night before a final, which was at 8:00 a.m. back in Pittsburgh...), just as they occurred in Pittsburgh (like that one time...).

Lastly, Thanksgiving is going to be a large scale ESG/LKG family gathering, and I couldn't be happier. This means plenty of fantastic homecooked food (I will fight you for the dark turkey meat) eaten off of almost every Fiestaware color on the market, a Mall Madness reunion tournament with my female cousins, a round of Apples to Apples, a trip to the Laurel (Flea Market with a movie theater) Mall to see a blockbuster, a Potter's lunch (antipasto and a Pabst Blue Ribbon), and a family trip to Gabe's. All are welcome... but remember, only the strong survive dahn in Fayettenam.

As always, thank you for reading!
Helloooo November! 
-HGB