Monthly Archives: March 2012

Burgh Baby and Andrew Stockey … sitting in a tree.

Burgh Baby sort of sets the standard for other “mom blogs” in the city.  A touch of Pittsburgh, a touch of awesome recipes, and a whole lot of humor, photography, and Alexis THE Burgh Baby who is not a baby anymore. Here’s a guest post by Michelle in which she talks about Andrew Stockey of WTAE and all about how she really got his goat one time. Raised his hackles. Irked his undies. Some of those might be incorrect idioms. In fact, maybe idiom is the wrong word. But I’m at the beach. I don’t Google at the beach unless I’m Googling “How do you say ‘bring me all the margaritas’ in Spanish?”

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A wise man once said “Everything .. and I do mean everything … lives on the web.”

Which is why I try not to say anything about anyone that I wouldn’t say to his or her face.  You just never know when they might find what you said and decide to call you out on it.

For the record, he waited two years to call me out on it.

TWO YEARS.

Andrew Stockey deleted the tweet in which he asked me how his nose was doing that fateful day a full two years later. There was something about bears and a cave and OF COURSE I remember because how often does a local news anchor bust you for implying his posture was a bit … um … off? I should have screen capped that tweet and framed it so I could teach future generations a lesson or two or ten.

Despite the fact that it had been two years, I knew exactly what Stockey was talking about. I have posted over 60,000 tweets, but the one about his nose was somehow vaguely memorable. Maybe because most of my tweets about local news people are about how I hate Wendy Bell for looking so damn good all of the time? HOW DOES SHE DO IT?

When Stockey called me out, I pried my foot out of my mouth and tweeted an acknowledgement. I figured that would be the end of it.

Nope. He replied.

I’ll let you make your own jokes about his reply. I can’t because of that whole foot-stuck-in-mouth situation I perpetually have going on.

Stockey wasn’t done publicly giving me grief.

I haven’t figured out how to let other people have the last word when I have been busted for being an idiot, so I replied one last time. And so did Stockey.


So I think the lesson here is that if you see Andrew Stockey walking around with a bear hanging out of his cave, you should tell him.

Oh, and don’t talk about local news people on Twitter. They WILL see it. Apparently.


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Shortcuts by Goob

I’ve known Goob, as he is called, virtually for several years now and finally met him in the flesh at last year’s PodCamp Meet ‘n Greet at Alphalab. You can find him on twitter at @Goob and hopefully you can get to know him and he’ll fold back the curtain for you that he keeps over himself to some extent.  He’s such a great writer, so I thought to share that with the rest of Pittsburgh. Here he is talking about shortcuts in Pittsburgh in a way only he can. It’s a must read story. Also, I’m going to get more of those gosh darn shortcuts out of him!

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I am not a Pittsburgh native; I have only lived here for twenty-two years, and there are yet many things about this place that are still somewhat wondrous.

If I may offer you an example: shortcuts.

I am convinced it takes about five years to really start to get an understanding of how to get around in this city. At first, there are tricks: drive downhill and hope to hit a river you recognize. Was there something over the top of that hill? Aim for it. Stay on Forbes, because even though you’re nearly going backwards, you know where it goes and where it goes will lead you home. Eventually, gaps get filled in and locations become familiar and sometimes even the street names make sense.

After all of that, there comes a moment when you’ll take a shortcut. You may be lost, or exhausted, or late, or simply tired of the long line of red lights before you. You will say to yourself, “people keep turning down that side street. I wonder why?” And you will follow them, only to find yourself someplace else, someplace better than where you were, and getting there was easiest of all. You will know a secret, and you will look for more.

I have found several. They are blissful, transportive routes: city streets that melt away into woods for a quarter mile, setting you down gently in the sleepy corner of a quiet neighborhood, cozy streets, the smug satisfaction of avoiding all that traffic, that odd sense of dislocation: “how in the world did I end up here?”

I can’t tell you what any of them are, of course. That would ruin it for the folks that depend on such things. I can’t, for example, tell you about the utility of using Jefferson for getting to Udipi Cafe (sorry, Alec). And it would be unreasonable of me to mention the footbridge tucked away in the middle of Shadyside, a momentary echo of South Graham Street (sorry, Pamela). Too much attention would ruin those places. So I can’t tell you about shortcuts.

I can tell you about bricks.

A while back, I was in the market for bricks, as were friends of mine (who had access to a truck). Bricks are expensive, more so than you’d think, and buying a lot of bricks from a home improvement store is a soul-less, tiring experience. I had noticed while noodling along Second Avenue (sorry, Derrick) that, in between Mobile and Tullymet, there was a brick yard. It was dust and stone, stacks of bricks and heaps of bricks and granite and other things, with a propped up sheet of plywood with a phone number on it. It took me four tries to remember in time to slow down enough to memorize the number, but I got it eventually. On the other end of the phone was a nice fellow who cheerfully told us to come on down and bring the truck: the bricks were for sale, and a quarter a piece, and we had to load them ourselves.

So we showed up one sunny Saturday morning, me and my friends and their six year old son, pulling into a deserted brickyard with no sight or sound of anyone. He called to us from the roof, saying he was fixing the old place up, that he’d be right down. We waited until he joined us there in the yard, and asked us what we wanted.

A patio, we said. Maybe a fire pit. “Well, these bricks,” he said, “they come from houses, but they’d be good patio bricks. The other bricks,” he said, patting a stack, “these are fire bricks, and they’ll handle anything you’d want to burn in ’em.” We asked about the long yellow bricks in the corner, and he frowned. “I wouldn’t use those,” he said. “Kiln brick from the mills. Lots of bad metals in those.”

We set to work, stacking brick from the loose piles into a pair of careful layers in the truck. He told us stories about where the bricks and stone came from, how local high school football players would come to his yard to stack brick for free because Jerry Rice used to stack brick, how he had come to own the old building, all run down at the side of a road few stopped on, living a life of DIY next to a yard of anonymous rocks. That afternoon, in the hot sun and dust, picking up brick and putting down brick, three extraordinary things happened.

We were working away, and a gaunt fellow with a mop of dark hair approached us from the street, cradling bottles of water. He walked right up to us in the brick yard, beaming, holding out the plastic bottles, labels free of all English except for “FINE MINERAL WATER” across the front in light white type. “You are working hard,” he said in a thick Slavic accent, “and good workers should have good water.” He grinned at us when we thanked him, and ambled off again, walking in the side of the road off toward Hazelwood. The water was from the gas station next door. It tasted pretty good.

We were working away, when we discovered we ran out of bricks from the piles we were sorting, those good, deep, earthy bricks that hold well in your hand. We called up to him on the roof again, and he clambered down again, this time to pull himself up into a cab of a giant yellow excavator, complete with caterpillar tracks. “Mind your boy, now,” he said, and turned the key. The boy’s eyes went wide indeed when the little plate on top of the exhaust flipped open and diesel smoke coughed up and away as the big old engine growled to life. He carefully brought the excavator over to a large mound of earth, and started to swipe at it with the bucket on the end of the arm, some great cat of a machine, pawing at the pile. After some minutes he was done, having uncovered seams of brick in the dirt. We went in for those bricks like they were veins of ore, laughing, and I will never forget the sheer look of wonder that can be put on a child’s face by massive construction equipment.

The third thing came as we were finishing up, making sure the bricks were well set in the bed of the trick, settling up with money laid out on a stack of bricks, another brick on top of it to keep it from scattering in the breeze. He sized us up; he said, “you guys want to see something?” He said: “come with me.”

He brought us toward the building, his building, his home. It had been there for nearly a hundred years, he said. Before that, it had been on the other side of the tracks; they had moved it on jacks when the mills came in, he said. He led us out of the bright sun and into the dim room behind the screen door, and it was full or everything. Furniture, boxes, lamps, pictures, shelves, things that go on shelves. “I don’t live down here,” he said. “All of this stuff came with the place. I’m still trying to sort it all out.” He told us to keep coming in, deeper into the mountain of things, and he told us, “this place used to be a speakeasy, too.”

And turning the corner, we found the bar. Fourteen feet of solid mahogany bar and paneling behind it that covered the wall all the way to the ceiling. A full length brass rail for resting weary boots. The trim work from a time when men carved such things with pride. A patina of a thousand cigars tempering the finish, under the thin film of dust that kept the luster down. “It needs some work,” he said. He said it with affection. And we were lucky to stumble on that quiet secret, that day, learning a little history and seeing a small wonder in the timeworn building next to an unassuming brickyard on a desolate stretch of a road anyone only ever uses to get to someplace else.

It’s different, now. If you drive along that stretch, you’ll find the gas station is closed and slowly folding in on itself. The plywood sign with the phone number is gone, too, replaced with the simple placards of a real estate agent. I do not know what the story is; I do not know if he is still there, if any of the wonderful things on that first floor are still there, how much it’s all on offer for, how much someone will eventually decide it’s worth. So you can drive by it all, and maybe keep going. You may want to keep your eyes open for something.

But I can’t tell you about shortcuts.


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Random n’at – Woy Edition

Oh, hello there! I’m Woy – Ginny’s butler and caretaker of all things technical here on That’s Church.

In the spirit of her blog, and also because I tried a couple versions of different posts and they all sucked, I’ve decided to do a Random n’ At – Woy edition.

1. Long before I was Ginny’s digital butler and shepherded her through the wilderness of being anonymous, I was a bit of a dork. (WAS? There. I did that for you.) Quite a bit of a dork, actually. Maybe that’s why Gin and I hit it off so easily – kindred dork spirits. Dorkrits? Yeah, sure. That works.

Since she’s published so many photos of herself during those years, all celebrating those awkward years and for a good cause, I felt like I should share one of my own.

Behold – exhibit A:

I mean, look at this f-ing kid. Let’s start with the jacket. THE JACKET. My mother (God rest her soul) must have located the Legendary Lost Closet of Polyester. Or found some unwitting drapes to carve up into something resembling a blazer. Combined with the turtleneck, someone could easily design a Leisure Suit Larry – Toddler Edition game around me.

Oh, man. The haircut. First, let me just say I wish my hair was that same Village of the Damned color. There’s now less of it and a different color. All I can think of when I see my haircut is Prince Valium from Spaceballs.

Granted, I’m no Jim J. Bullock. Who is though, really?

Let’s not forget about the smile. Am I slightly amused at the photographer or am I thinking about how I’m going to cut somebody? Knock over a casino? Or get back to playing with my digital calculator. Yeah, that was among my favorite toys when I was a kid.

DORK.

2. I have a couple stories that I can share related to Ginny that would make good blog material. One quick anecdote relates to the early days during one of our clandestine lunch meetings in her anonymous days. At this point, almost two years after working with her, I still didn’t know her last name.

We would meet about three or four times a year, usually at Six Penn. On my way to one of those meetings in the summer, I was driving down Penn when I saw my wife and some of her coworkers. I slowed down, rolled down the window, and said hi. Probably five or ten seconds of quick “Hi!” and “how are you?”.

After pulling away, one of her coworkers turned to her and said, “So what’s Mike doing downtown?”

She said, matter of factly, “He’s having lunch with a woman I’ve never met and whose real name we don’t know.”

It was at that point Ginny and I kind of decided that would be a good idea to get us and our significant others together for dinner. We’ve all been friends ever since.

3. This season, I’m joining Ginny as her co-pilot on the Pirates bandwagon. For those that may know me and my sports tastes, this is a pretty significant development. I’ve made no secret that I have believed this franchise to be incredibly inept and mockworthy.

(PUT ON HYPOCRITE HAT) But… the summer is long, I enjoy sports, and there’s a hell of a long gap between playoff hockey and opening day of the NFL season. I think those sons of bitches gave me just enough hope last season the full weight and power of my fandom in hopes they will clear that .500 bar.

Besides, Ginny is serving margaritas… let it be known I CAN be bought. I’ll be the sauced guy betting on the outcome of individual at-bats in the upper sections.

4. Jane Orie, everyone’s favorite barbie doll that got left too close to the radiator, saw her trial go to jury today. I wonder if they let you wear trenchcoats in the clink?

5. I like to share links on Twitter that I find amusing, ridiculous, or just plain wrong. If you want some cotton candy for your brain every so often, feel free to follow me on Twitter.

Here’s one that is just all kinds of wrong: tweet something as someone else. Or at least look like you did. (http://lemmetweetthatforyou.com/)

Who’s up for having some fun with @janepitt?


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Six Things About PittGirl

While I’m away, I’ve asked some awesome writers to guest post. Today we have my sister Tina Fey AKA Marcia AKA Morticia AKA Supervillain’s Mom. I plan to rebut this post upon my return. Also:

Mwah-hahaha!

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When Ginny first asked me if I’d write a blog post for her while she was off sunning herself in Cancun (bitch), my first reaction was to say no.  She told me it had to be about Pittsburgh.  I haven’t lived in Pittsburgh for 22 years and no one wants to read about why I miss Pittsburgh.  Except my mother.  When I told my mother that I was guest posting for Ginny, she immediately said, “You should write about why you miss Pittsburgh.”

My mother likes to read really boring things.

Anyway, I decided that I’d offer my insight into the one thing in Pittsburgh that I know anything about:  The Fort Pitt Tunnel.

I’m kidding.  I don’t know anything about tunnels or bridges or the Pirates.  I do own a Pirates baseball cap, and every time I wear it in Texas I half expect someone to blow my head off with a concealed handgun.

In reality, the one Pittsburgh-related thing I know anything about is your fearless leader: PittGirl.  Or as we call her in our family, PittGirl.

We’re not a very clever family.

I thought I’d share with you a few things you probably don’t know about PittGirl.  Maybe demystify her a little bit for you.

  1. When she was pregnant with her first child, she Pringle’d her way to high blood pressure.   

We were at the beach for our annual family vacation, and we all watched in awe as she Hoover’d can after can after can of Pringles. She made all kinds of statements that made us realize that she had no self-awareness whatsoever.  Statements like, “I can’t believe I haven’t been hungry at all this week,” and, “My shorts are feeling tighter, which is weird because I have no appetite,” and, “The scale says I gained 20 pounds this week, but I don’t know how that could have happened because I barely ate a meal.”

Every single one of those statements was made with a mouthful of Pringles.

None of us had the heart to tell her that we could actually identify the flavor of Pringles (sour cream) she was eating the very moment that her ankles lost their inherent boniness and became fleshy, water-retaining cankles.

She was so buoyant from the salt and retained water that she could not have sunk in the ocean if our entire family sat on her.  (I might have the science wrong on that.  I know fat doesn’t sink in The Dead Sea, but I’m just assuming something bloated with salt and water would not sink in the ocean. )

Anyway, she was a whale.  She wore a black swimsuit so she looked like a tan Orca.

Note to Ginny:  You’re totally sexy and not at all salt-filled now.

  1. She has peed in a peanut can.

Back in the day when seatbelts were routinely cut out of cars because they snagged pantyhose, our family was taking a trip to Florida.  The station wagon was pimped out.  There were suitcases across the floor so that the hump was no longer a hump and instead was now the center of a very comfy bed.  The entire back of the station wagon was made into a giant sleeping area.

It was glorious.  Deadly, but glorious.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a road trip with six females, but six females will never have to pee at the same time.  If my dad stopped the car every time one of us had to pee, we would probably still be driving to Florida.

Unfortunately for Ginny, she had to pee at a time when no one else had to pee, so Dad was not stopping the car.  She had two options: hold it or find something to pee in.  As luck would have it, we had an empty peanut can available, so Ginny crouched in the back of the wagon and peed in the peanut can.

This event gave birth to a song that our whole family still sings to this day.  It goes like this: “Ginny peed in a peanut can.  Ginny peed in a peanut can.  Ginny peed in a peanut can.”  Join in when you know the words!

In fact, if you happen to see her in public, she’d love it if you sang it to her.

This was the same road trip where Ginny insisted she saw a giant, pink elephant on the side of the road, but we think that she was probably just hallucinating from being filled up to her brain with urine.

(Just as a note, she’s entirely a toilet pee-er now.)

  1. In her household which consists of two drivers, one of whom is her husband who grew up in Mexico where the only posted driving rule is “Don’t run over it unless you’re sure it’s already dead,” she is not the safer driver.  

Proof #1.   Until one year ago, she did not know you aren’t allowed to change lanes in the middle of an intersection and would frequently use the intersection for that very purpose.

Proof #2.  She once rear-ended a stopped vehicle because the heel of one of her infamous do-me boots got stuck beneath the gas pedal and she couldn’t stop her car.

Proof #3.  When she was 17 years old, she pinned my knees between two cars because she couldn’t figure out forward and reverse.

My advice here is never get in the car with her and never walk near her car if she is sitting in the driver’s seat, even if the car isn’t running.  In fact, I’d suggest the same thing if you ever see her on a riding lawn mower.  Or playing with Hot Wheels.

This is good advice.  You should really write it down.

  1. In her teens, she fancied herself to be quite the artist.

However, she only drew eyes.  And they were everywhere.  She’d draw eye after eye after eye and hang them up on the wall next to our bunk-bed.  If she ever drew a face, she never mastered it because all I ever saw was eyes.  Staring, judging eyes.

If you need an eye drawn for any reason, she’s your artist.  Especially if you want the eye to look a little bit possessed.

So basically if you’re in the market for evil eyes that you can use for your voodoo or witchcraft or to just plain scare the ever-loving crap out of someone, she’s who you need to see.

(I wish I had saved one of her drawings to show you, but they were all burned on account of the belief that they were summoning forth demons from hell.)

  1. No one in our family can sing, but her singing is life-threatening.

If you ever have the opportunity to listen to her sing, I highly suggest you turn down that opportunity.

I’m sure her hearing issues are the cause of her inability to carry a tune, but her singing is really a sound that’s akin to a hyena being skinned alive or a dying howler monkey or a hyena being skinned alive as it eats a dying howler monkey.

So, you know, really bad.  Like ear-drum-hemorrhaging bad.

If you listen to her sing, you will bleed out through your ears.

You’ve been warned.

  1. And lastly — the one she’s probably most embarrassed about — she really does rock her Hittsburgh gear to the fullest.  

And it’s kind of gross.

Now, before you get all defensive that I’m picking on your PittGirl, you should know that in my family we make fun of each other because we love each other.  My dad and I are frequently made fun of for our big giant heads.  We make fun of my mom because she cannot eat corn without getting it on her forehead — even if she’s eating it with a spoon.  We make fun of Ta-Ta for her ridiculous boobs.  We make fun of Pens Fan and Princess Aurora because when they get stressed out, they get this hideous rash on their fingers that makes it look like they’ve been letting sewer rats gnaw on their hands.  We call it “rat finger.”

I told you we weren’t clever.

In spite of all that, my mother will get mad at me if I don’t say at least one genuinely positive thing about Ginny, so I leave you with this: In our family of six women, she is the only one capable of putting on makeup without looking like Whore Barbie.

Happy, Mom?


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Pre-vacation Random n’at

1. My vacation is a REAL vacation, meaning I’ll be sunning myself somewhere sandy. It’s not one of those staycations in light of the fact that I don’t believe in staycations.

It’s against my sun-worship religion.

2. Hines Ward did the best thing — the right thing, and retired a Steeler. It didn’t matter where he went, I couldn’t see him having any sort of contributory career with another team. Think Franco Harris. Only failier.

Good on ya, Hines! It’s always better to retire in the black and gold, than to retire and try to claim you’re still black and gold despite wearing red and gold for the last 16 games of your career.

3. The new Christian Bale movie has put out a casting call, so if you missed out on starring with Batman last summer, you can star with Batman THIS SPRING because Batman [fingerhearts] Pittsburgh.

So what do you need to be?

  • A tattoo artist.
  • An African-American baby.

EFFERS. I’m neither of those. When is the casting call for big-haired Arab deafies?! Because I got that shit in the bag.

4. So the Jane Orie retrial is underway. YAY!

In her first trial, she claimed a certain campaign office did not exist. It was then discovered that IT DID EXIST. So in this trial Jane Orie is claiming she DOES NOT RECALL it ever existing.

Brilliant!

Also note that Jane Orie claims she did not have any part in forging documents, but that in her first trial she insisted she wrote to Jamie Pavlot several handwritten notes, i.e. the forged notes in question. She even had her attorney mock Jamie about never having seen the notes. So what she’s saying, in this trial, is she indeed wrote several notes that a Secret Service agent testified were added years after the documents were written, but that she didn’t FORGE them. Or something.

The reason that makes no sense is because lies rarely make sense.

I have a sick gut feeling that Jane Orie is going to get off free on these charges and that is putrid.

Also, one of her character witnesses was Cyril Wecht. What? He doesn’t have it in for Zappala. Not at all! LOOK! PIG! FLYING! To hell! Where it’s frozen!

5. The Pioneer Woman, who my sister Tina Fey hates with fire of a jillion exploding Death Stars, has a nice post up about the Primanti’s sandwich.

This will not sway Tina Fey’s Death Star hate.

6. One of the things I talked about in my interview with 90.5 was Pittsburgh’s poor air quality. Good news. It’s getting better!

My mom, the asthmatic, will be thrilled.

7. Headline: “Twins, 10. Pirates, 0.”

Me: “LALALALA! I CAN’T HEAR YOU!”

8. Don’t forget to get your Jagoffs Make me Stabby and I Brake for Tunnels shirts from Fresh Factory! I got mine and they are RIDICULOUSLY soft and perfect. Here is my boobage in the tunnel one:

Oh, yeah. I got me my hairs cut!

9. And if you want to make me happy while I’m away, why not make some SICK KIDS happy by purchasing some games for Make Room for Kids via the Wish List on Amazon!

10. Bob Nutting did a good thing for Baldwin High School. He’s clearly trying to buy our affections with good deeds.

11. Tomorrow begins seven days of guest posts, the first from my sister Tina Fey.

It’s a winner, chicken dinner.


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