Monthly Archives: January 2014

In which I get to the bottom of this river monster shit.

It all started with a tweet from a reader asking if I’d ever heard of Monongy.

I was like, you mean being faithful to one person? Yep.


But, no, I seriously hadn’t heard of Monongy, so I started hunting, only to discover that this rumored river monster was nothing more than a promotional cryptid  cooked up to advertise the “Search for Monongy” swim race. Some clever person added it to the Monongahela River Wiki and suddenly everyone thinks it’s church.

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All of that, not true.

Let me remind you that former Pirate Chico Lind’s Wiki once said he won a Latin Grammy for a bachata hit about onions. NOT LYING.

Anyway, Monongy never existed, was never really rumored to exist, and you’ll find no mention in any newspaper of any such stories from the 1900s of its rumored existence. Believe me; I spent hours hunting. Some kind soul went into Wiki yesterday and edited that ridiculousness out of the Monongahela River entry.

Shit. Gotten to the bottom of.


But that made me wonder about the true lore (is that an oxymoron? YOU’RE AN OXYMORON.) about the Pittsburgh river monster. So I went hunting. And hunting. I spent hours tracking down the origins of the Pittsburgh river monster lore.

I started with Kennywood, asking their spokesperson Jeff Filicko if the Monongahela Monster ride was named so because of the lore.

The answer? No.

The Monongahela Monster came from the ride manufacturer Eyerly. “Monster” was the generic factory name for that ride type in the 4-seat model. Idlewild still has the “Spider” which was made by the same company and is the 2-seat model for that ride type. Just about any amusement park ride that isn’t a coaster has a generic name used in industry circles. They get a fancier  themed name by the park to fit whatever they need. Calling it the “Monongahela Monster” just offered an obvious Pittsburgh twist and fun alliteration, especially with our location right along the Mon.

Shit. Gotten to the bottom of.

nicki dismissed

So I kept digging and digging, and found references to massive turtles, gargantuan sea serpents, TWO-HEADED DEER-SWALLOWING LAND/SEA BEHEMOTHS…

… and it all began with the Native Americans and a monster they named Ogua.


That’s probably the sound it makes when it’s hungry.

I wrote about the lore for Pittsburgh Magazine. A snippet:

Other accounts refer to the water-dwelling Ogua as more “serpentine” in nature but with short legs that allowed it to move terribly fast on land, where it hunted prey . . . that it swallowed whole. There’s one shady Internet report that states the creature had two heads. I’ve discounted that on account of a 20-foot deer-eating turtle sounding much more believable. Now, it’s possible that Native Americans invented the Ogua in an attempt to scare their young from getting too close to the river’s edge, where they could have fallen in. I mean, what’s more terrifying than being swallowed whole by a monster? NOTHING.

Go have a read. 

And don’t ever let me hear the name Monongy again.


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I met Neal Huntington. He’s scared of me, I think.

Pittsburgh, this is half not a real post/half a real post.

This first part is a post to ask you that if you get paid in the next few weeks, could you go to the ATM, get $5 or $10 bucks out, stick it in a baggie in your freezer, and then when I ask you for it in early February when I try to raise $10,000 for Make Room for Kids, you’ll give it to me and the Mario Lemieux Foundation? (Hiya, Mario. I love you. Will you marry me?)

Hell, send me a picture of your $5 in the freezer. I’ll post every single damn one of them. We’re being crazy ambitious this year and we’re going to need every single cent. I promise these kids need it. Group hug.


So last night was the Pittsburgh Magazine Pittsburgher(s) of the Year party, honoring the Pirates.

It was held at the Casino, included real actual outdoor and indoor fireworks (Pittsburgh, YEAH!) and was very fancy. Wine, shrimp, crab legs, grape leaves, stinky cheeses. Someone make a chart that shows the relationship of cheese stinkiness to cheese fanciness.

Wait. I’ll do it.


There you go. I just gave myself an A-plus for that.

And a gold star.

And a no-homework pass.

I’m very self-congratulatory.

It was a great event. I got to chat with Rick Sebak about getting drunk on margaritas.

I got to be the sole attendee drinking IC Light from the bottle.

I got to meet some readers, one of whom is a nun and I was like, “Tsk. Does God know you’re reading my potty language?”

And she was like, “Shut up. I love you.”

Nuns are cool.

Neal Huntington, Bob Nutting, and Frank Coonelly all showed up to accept the award and then stick around and chat with attendees. I just happened to be standing near Neal Huntington when he found himself alone and THAT WOULDN’T LAST because it’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s …

SUPER AWKWARD BLOGGER GIRL! [awkward kung fu moves]

Remember how embarrassing I was when I met Mario Lemieux? Why fix what ain’t broke?

Neal: “Hello.”

Me: “I LOVE YOU. I do. I love the Pirates. I am their biggest fan and supporter and I love you and can I touch your arm and your silky hair will you marry me you are the best [sports butt slap] you have better hair then Jeff Jimerson I can’t believe I just said that don’t tell Jeff how do you feel about pigeons can I hug you I love the Pirates will you marry me I am a really really big fan can I get a picture with you can it be a selfie okay great will you marry me?”

Neal: [scared smile]


The end.

[swishes cape and runs off in dramatic fashion]

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Imitation = flattery

Jolly Roger waving in the wind? Check.

City of Champions? Check.

Gold P? Check.

Home of the Pirates? Check

Pittsburg? Check

Pittsburgh? NO!

Check out this photo from reader Zack of the baseball stadium in South Pittsburg, Tennessee:


Not only that, check out their school mascot:


I think we found our next sister city, Mayor Peduto.

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Long overdue Random n’at


1. [taps microphone] Is this thing on?

Whew! It’s been a hell of a January. I mean, it was New Year’s Eve, I blinked at midnight and BOOM. January 17.

I’m still here. Still writing. Still wishing Portland to suck it.

Lots to cover, so get your clicky finger ready.

2. Russell Crowe is reportedly returning to the Burgh to film a new movie. As you recall, when Mr. Crowe last filmed in Pittsburgh, he loved it so much he would take miles and miles of bike rides through the city.

Stalk-o-meter calibrated to “Stun and Throw Your Body In Front of His Bike Forcing Him to Render Aid Unto You While Speaking With an Adorable Aussie Accent.”

Amanda Seyfried and Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul will co-star.

I’ve never seen a single episode of Breaking Bad and it’s very rude how judgy you’re looking at me right now.

3. Fourteen minutes of goalies flipping out. 

Hee. Apparently these guys missed the first part of the “carry a big stick” saying.

4. David Conrad. Still loves Pittsburgh. 

“I love how sweet my homeland is. Sweet eyes. Sweet beer. Sweet hills and valleys stuffed with trees. Walking out of the airport and into a summer night, breathing in the green, sodden air for the first time in months…it’s practically pornographic. I want to drink it, lap it. I want it on me.  I love her, love her Pittsburgh.”

5. National Geographic Traveller. Still loves Pittsburgh.

(h/t PopCity)

6. Speaking of dinosaurs, did I tell you that I finally met my self-united husband Matt Lamanna? He is awesome, adorable, smart, and we are best friends forever.

I’ll be writing that story up for the magazine soon. It’s a good one.

7. Bill Cowher claimed to 93.7 The Fan that all NFL coaches try to steal signals, not just Bill Belichick, who he says simply got overly arrogant by filming it.

Colin Dunlap has feels about this.

8. Is this the best episode of Pittsburgh Dad ever?

Joe DeNardo gets the Chuck Norris treatment. Genius.

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9. Thanks to Fukuda (NOT pronounced “f–k you da”) for finding these sweatshirts at Walgreens.


Gotta love that at no point from design to production to delivery to store stocking did anyone notice that independent was misspelled.

Also, someone oughta tell the sweatshirt designer that that bell is in Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh.

[golf clap]

10.  Luke Ravenstahl, NOT “Taking Care of Business” anymore.

Mr. Peduto said his name will not be “printed, painted or engraved on any long-term city property.”

“City property should not be used to campaign for political office,” he said in a statement issued with the order on Thursday. “The City’s physical assets are owned by the taxpayers. Under my administration, these assets will be marked only with basic identifying information and the City seal.”

You guys. We MAY actually have a real mayor.



Somewhere, Luke Ravenstahl wakes up:


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