Category Archives: Random

Bad, human! Bad!

“Reading comment sections on the Internet is like digging to the bottom of your refrigerator’s vegetable drawer to investigate a foul smell: You honestly don’t want to look because — although you never know exactly what you’ll find there — you’re 100 percent sure you’re going to be totally disgusted by it.”

That sentence I wrote for my October column in Pittsburgh Magazine is CHURCH. It is TRUTH. It is GOSPEL.


With that said, I read some comments and I really regret it, but I’m going to write about it and you’re going to read this and you’re either going to agree with me, or you’re going to go to bed tonight with a nagging feeling in your brain that you’re not being a good and decent member of the HUMAN RACE.

The headline is “Peduto joins mayors urging Obama to welcome more Syrian refugees.”

Do you know what Syria is like right now? It is HELL. The closest thing to actual hell. And at no fault of their own, the Syrian people have found themselves in grave danger. Their human lives in danger. Their children’s HUMAN lives in danger.

Look at your kid, who at no doing of their own but rather PURE LUCK, was born into safety. Look at your niece or nephew who will sleep tonight, safely. Fed. Comfortable. Educated. Living a life.

Imagine instead your child is in grave danger every day. Life is hell. Bombs are falling. There is no safety. There is no comfort. There is no school. There is hell and fear and pain and tears. IMAGINE IT.

And rather than stay there and face the death and hellfire, you will take a chance on a raft. You’ll put your kid on that raft out to the unpredictable sea because THAT is less of a risk than staying in your home.

Your child in America, like mine, probably gets a bit testy when his daily routine fluctuates. Imagine taking your child away from home and WALKING and WALKING and WAITING for days and days without shelter and minimal food. Imagine the fear, the crying, and your complete inability to comfort that level of life-upheaval for a child.

Be a human and imagine that please.


Your heart hurts. Like my Syrian heart hurts. My grandfather was born on the boat from Syria. He came to America with his many brothers and sisters. I am a moderate-conservative, Christian Arab-American, and you have ZERO idea what that actually means so for the love of Nutella do not email me and accuse me of supporting or not supporting anything that you hold dear to your heart.

Four million Syrians are on the run. HALF OF THEM ARE CHILDREN.

Read that again. Look in your kids’ eyes. Then read that again.

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See that face?

Here’s what one commenter named called him and others like him, who he DOES NOT WANT TO COME TO PITTSBURGH …



“Nasty refugees.”

Another commenter?


It’s Jihad.

These people aren’t fleeing death! They’re coming to us for holy war!

Camps like this are where hundreds of thousands of Syrian children are being raised. Doesn't stop them having fun. #syria #refugees #lebanon

A photo posted by Liz Sly (@lizslywp) on

You can read the comments from some Pittsburghers yourself, but here’s an awful snippet of a few. Brace yourselves.

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Oh, Jim Kramer, whoever you are at PNC, you are not a bad conservative republican. You are what we call a bad human being.

We are simply talking about America doing what America did to become America: bring in immigrants. Let them build a life here. Let them find safety here. Let them contribute here. Who knows what these children will grow up to be. Doctors? Journalists? Veterinarians? Robotics experts? Entrepreneurs? Philanthropists?

But I can pretty much guarantee they will not grow up to be jihadists.

Stop thinking with your politically poisoned brain and start thinking with your love-capable heart.

Peduto isn’t asking for half-a-million refugees to come to Pittsburgh. He’s asking Obama to increase the number of refugees he’ll bring into ALL of America, a number that currently stands at an embarrassingly low 10,000.

“Plenty of bridges they can live below.”


Some of the Syrian refugee children I met: these two were swinging in their shack in Al-Minya, near Tripoli. #refugees

A photo posted by Liz Sly (@lizslywp) on

“It amazed me at the level of desperation these families are at.”

Did that commenter REALLY write that unironically? How unfeeling can you be? And that’s coming from a person who has been called a “heartless wench.”

The level of desperation THESE FAMILIES are at?! As an INSULT?!

Have you never felt desperation? I pray you never do. It’s a truly awful, awful feeling and I have felt it and I have gone to bed with it and I have woken up with it and if not for the safety net of my parents, me and my family could have been out on the streets.

This is a camp near Kfardebian in Bekaa. There was garbage everywhere. #syria #refugees #lebanon

A photo posted by Liz Sly (@lizslywp) on

Desperation. That environment would make any human feel desperation.

I’m a bit aghast, guys.

This callousness cannot represent Pittsburgh. We must be better. Become better. Think like humans not like political robots who just follow the party path all “beep-boop-Trump-no-like-immigrants-beep-boop-me-no-like-immigrants.”

Knowing another human is desperate must not become the foundation for insults and apathy, or we are no better than those who pledge allegiance to ISIS. Desperation, if we are to retain our humanity, must become the foundation for COMPASSION. That’s what makes us better than those who are causing the havoc in Syria. That’s what rises us above. That’s what changes things for the BETTER.

I wrote something recently, coincidentally, about prejudice in Pittsburgh. Maybe you should read it.

Open your hearts, Burghers. Open them wide to these FAMILIES. I don’t beg this of you as a Syrian; I beg this of you as a human being.

Because as John Fetterman calls it, “the lottery of our birth” is the ABSOLUTE ONLY REASON we aren’t fleeing Syria ourselves.

“Hey, Bear: The David Sisters Story” coming this fall on Lifetime TV

“Bear. Bear. Bear bear bear bear.”

This was my slightly panicked chant as I hied down a wooded trail in Forbes State Park toward three of my four sisters.

“Bear bear bear.”

I wasn’t screaming it. I was just very matter of factly telling them … “Girls? Bear.”

Let me back up.

Instead of heading to a salon for manicures or to a restaurant’s patio for a lazy sunny Sunday brunch, my four sisters and I decided we would spend the day before Labor Day, our designated Girls Day Out, doing something adventurous. Call it our mid-life crises. Call it misguided ambition. Call it epically dumb.

We ruled out biking because only 4/5ths of us were comfortable on a bike. We ruled out kayaking because 2/5 of us don’t “do” water. We ruled out Segways because 5/5 of us didn’t want to look ridiculous when we died. Ziplining? Too high and too screamy. Spelunking? Too suffocating to death-y. That left hiking. We could hike.

So with a shout of “ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!” we headed toward Forbes State Park in Somerset with the goal of taking one of the longer trails up to the highest elevation in the state, Mt. Davis.

My sister Terri had spent a great deal of time recently watching survival reality shows and informed us that we would need to be prepared for bears. She said we would want to take precautions. Whistles. Bear repellent. Kung fu.

We couldn’t find any whistles because every mom in the world knows you don’t ever buy your kid a whistle. None of us even knew where to purchase bear repellent, if that’s a real thing. And the extent of our Kung fu was shouting “hi-ya!”

So instead we hit the trail with a free whistle app on my iPhone, pepper spray, two walking sticks, prayers, stones to smack together to make noise to let the bears know we were coming, and the plan to shout out “Hey, bear!” in regular intervals as Terri had seen contestants do on the survival shows.

Then our eldest sister Stacey told us of her friend who was actually mauled by a bear while on a hike. She managed to scare us just enough that we had conversations on the way to the park about how we would react should we encounter a bear. We all agreed that Tammy would pee her pants and Terri would freeze up like those fainting goats you see on YouTube.

fainting goat

We discussed which actress — or goat — would play us in the TV movie that would be made after they found our bodies in the woods.

Pulling up a map of the trails on Post-Gazette website showed us the newspaper had classified the trail as “Easy — until you see a big bear sitting in the trail up ahead.” Great.

Sufficiently 100% sure we would have a bear encounter, we set off into the trail.

“Hey, bear!”

“Heyyyyy, bear!”

[clacking of stones]

[whistle app sound] [whistle app sound]

“Hey, bearrrrr!”

We reached the fork in the trail that we believed would take us down the difficult trail because the easy trail was for sissy losers and we were empowered Katniss Everdeens if Katniss Everdeen carried pepper spray, a whistle app on her iPhone, and regularly shouted out “Hey, bear!” every 20 seconds like clockwork.

That trail we took down into an open rocky area ended up being a logging trail of some sort and we realized it after crawling through two sets of fallen trees and thousands of poison ivy plants while still shouting out “Hey, bear!”

After one and a half hours of being lost in the sun, we found our way back to that fork in the road and used GPS to realize we missed the turn to the difficult train way back at the beginning and would instead continue on the “easy” trail.

We were thankful to be walking in the shade of the tree canopy at this point, but at the same time, those trees could be hiding bears and we were more aware of it than ever.

“Hey, bear!”

I led the pack with Terri, both of us holding walking sticks. Both of us taking turns shouting “Hey, bear!” while behind us we could hear Marcia clacking her rocks together with an occasional “Hey, bear!” thrown in.

It was serene, save for the din of our scaredy pants caravan of middle-aged rock-clacking, whistling, “Hey, bear!”-shouting sissies.

We walked and chatted and laughed and “Hey, bear”-ed.

Then Terri hesitated. Stopped. Looked to her right into the forest. Her eyes became big and terrified. I don’t remember what words she used but I’m 90% sure they were, “WELL WE ARE GOING TO DIE NOW.”

I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t look where she was looking because why look at the shark’s teeth right before you feel them rip into your flesh? Instead, I grabbed my walking stick in both hands and held it straight out in front of my body like a dancing Fred Astaire holding a cane, and I literally high-knee-jogged back toward my three other sisters who were huddled together at a stop.

This is basically what I looked like but with terror on my face:


I looked like the receptionist at the Ministry of Silly Walks.

I neared them, calling out, “Bear bear bear bear bear bear.” I didn’t care about Terri. I left her in my dust. I just needed to outrun her and let her try to outrun the bear. I would give a stirring eulogy about her bravery at her closed-casket funeral to make up for my selfishness.

Watching my approaching high-stepping, walking-stick hoisting self run toward her, Stacey looked scared while mouthing, “DON’T RUN. STOP RUNNING.” Which, screw that, lady. Fight or flight, baby, and this girl FLYS.

Marcia’s face was immediately ashen. She didn’t so much look like she saw a ghost as she looked like she WAS a ghost. She began frantically banging her stones together fast enough to light tinder on fire, while screaming, “Hey bear!” at the top of her lungs over and over again, like a horrible broken record.

Tammy may have been fumbling for the safety release on her pepper spray, filming a goodbye message to her children, or peeing. I didn’t check.

When I reached my sisters, I turned back to see that a goat would definitely be playing Terri in the movie.

fainting goat

She was frozen to the spot only steps from where she had been, now doubled over clutching her chest. But we saw no bear. She breathlessly said, “My chest is pounding and all my muscles are cramped up!”

“What did you see, goat?!?”

“A rustling.”

“ARE YOU KIDDING US, GOAT?! We are of the age where actual cardiac events could do us in and you freak out over a rustling!?”

Marcia, the hypochondriac of the group, voted we turn around and go back to the car in case the rustling was indeed a bear. She was overruled because ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE, KATNISS!

We marched on.

“Hey, bear!”

The trail turned right into a much more narrow, darker trail. We hesitated. I asked, “We have to go in THERE?”


We started in.

“Hey, bear!”

[clacking rocks]

“Hey, bearrrrr!”

The trail began to ascend steeply.

Up and up.

“Hey, bearrrrr!”


The trail became rocky.


“Hey bear.”


Up and up.



[rock clack]



That’s right. We were so worn out from fear, getting lost in a sea of poison ivy, our bear scare, and ascending the steep trail, that we had turned into Brick from The Middle.

We couldn’t even muster “Hey, bear.” We were just letting out an occasional whoop, and I’m not sure if it was to let the bears know we were coming so they better scoot, or to let the bears know our exact location with pinpoint accuracy so they could come and put us out of our misery.


Up and up and up.



Marcia tossed her rocks to the ground.

When we finally reached the clearing where the observation tower stood, we were gross and sweaty and no longer caring about all the bugs we accidentally swallowed or that we were probably covered in poison ivy oil and would probably wake up in three days looking like burnt baked potatoes.

But this was it. The end.

More steps upward. Up and up we climbed to the top to find breathtaking 360 degree views from the highest point in Pennsylvania. We forgot about the bears, the trail, the hike, the bugs, the sun. We had done it. Eat your heart out, Katniss. We don’t need you to volunteer as tribute. We got this.


We descended the tower ready to head home and share with our sure-to-be-impressed husbands and children how we had conquered Mt. Davis with bravery and determination and only a very little bit of pants pee. We had sought adventure and found it and hear us roar!

Then we saw the sign at the head of a narrow trail that snaked deep into the woods again. “Parking Lot. One mile.”


“Where are my rocks?”

“Who has the pepper spray?”

“Hey, bear!”


In which I read 197 ridiculous comments about deer so you don’t have to.

First, I’m very angry with myself.

I went back to read my last post about the flu virus where I was talking about how you simultaneously fear and want to French-kiss death, and I didn’t say, “Like if Ryan Gosling was portraying Hannibal Lecter.”

For shame. Flu virus just sucked the good writing out of me for a while.

Moving on, let’s talk about all those bonkers people in Mt. Lebanon who are still collectively losing their elite elitist shit over the deer cull AKA OPERATION BAMBI EXECUTION.

Not only did someone spray urine on the deer bait, but the residents are also sitting at their computer keyboards just …



The Post Gazette published an article that the first deer had been culled, and yes, Mt. Lebanon residents on both sides of the issue went BALLISTIC in the comments. I mean, by their nature, comment sections are train wrecks. Add animal-killing to the mix and glory glory hallelujah happens. And if you think these people won’t find a way to work abortion or the holocaust into the comments, you are very very wrong (I’m not posting the holocaust stuff because no).

Here’s Beth, who warns your next life might find you ruled by pigs.


Here’s Francis, realizing the next logical step is to CULL THE HUMAN HERD.


Donna needs to take the scotch tape off of her caps lock key.

Capture3Francis fed the deer and then indicated they were frolicking. And then Mike is all, “TELL ME HOW THEY FROLIC, DAMN IT, FRANCIS.”


Dan is sick. SICK.Capture5

Sandy is up on the grassy knoll calling out the MONEY HUNGRY KILLERS. (If Money Hungry Killers isn’t a goth rock band name, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.) And then Donna shows up again all THE KARMA BOOMERANG IS GOING TO KILL ALL OF THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR CHILDREN.

Donna might need to get a grip. Capture6

Here’s Pitts Burgh thinking about throwing dead dear in the Elite Elitist Gardeners’ gardens.

Hey! Tulips are living things too!Capture7

Mike ironically gets the mic drop. Derp. Capture8


Abortion. Of course. Capture10

Oh, God. Now Todd has gone and done it.


Oh, Alan.


P.S. Ryan Gosling wants you to donate $5 to sick children. He told me so in my fever dream.

One last push and NEW GIVEAWAYS

I’ve spent the last eight days fighting through the fog of the flu virus, and let me tell you, that virus is a huge jerkface. You’re scared you’re dying, and at the exact same time you’re afraid you WON’T die, because at some point, death stops being something to be afraid of and starts being something you would kiss with tongue.

On the fifth day of The Death and Dying Sickness, the doctor walked into the exam room to see me after hearing my symptoms from the nurse and said, “I’m not even going to ask if you got the flu shot because I know the answer.”


I’m mostly better and that means one last push to raise this final $2,500 for Make Room for Kids at the Mario Lemieux Foundation so we can outfit the dialysis and infusion units at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh with gaming, and take care of four new cancer unit rooms as well. We’ll also be updating and doing maintenance on every unit we’ve already outfitted in the last five years of the program. Transplant, cancer, frequent flyers, and more. Since I got the flu, some new giveaways have come in!

Let’s have a look.

–NEW! This Sidney Crosby autographed jersey complete with certificate of authenticity:


–NEW! The Pirates came through and sent me an entire box of goodies, enough to split between two winners. I’ll probably run out and buy two cool Pirates bags to put the stuff in. There are bobbleheads, hats, shirts, ice cream bowls, sock monkeys and more!


– NEW! Captain Bill Wichrowski’s (from Deadliest Catch) people reached out to me to offer me some stuff to give away. They’re sending it from his store in Florida today, and as soon as I get it, I’ll post a picture. The Captain is also a graduate of my alma mater, Norwin.

– Dave DiCello did as promised and donated his profits for a week to the fund, coming in at $1,000! One huge chunk of the pie, from one single person’s good heart. What an awesome Burgher. Still up for grabs is this donated 24 x 36 metal print.


Pirates Home Opener tickets. Two tickets in section 116, Row Z, seats 1/2 for the Pirates Home Opener, the best most hopeful day of baseball prior to any ball played in October. Here’s your view:


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– The Penguins Foundation/Mario Lemieux Foundation Charity Gift Bag:

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With four fantastic bobbleheads, a Rick Tocchet-autographed puck and lots of other cool items. — The Penguins gave me a prize-pack to give away that includes …

  • Two lower-level tickets to the April 1 Pens/Flyers game at the CONSOL (Section 120 Row S)
  • A Kris Letang game-used hockey stick
  • An autographed Hornqvist jersey
  • And a Sidney Crosby-autographed 8 x 10 photo

So many great things you can win just by commenting or donating! Go here to comment to win, or if sick children move your heart and you want to help us give them a bit of distraction from their fears, pains, and treatments, then click on that Donate button up there and send that Karma Boomerang out into the world full of goodness and love.

May it return to you quickly.

Group hug!

Wouldst sir or madam desire some lower-level Pens/Flyers tickets?

We are buzzing along here quite nicely, raising funds for Make Room for Kids so that we can give some much-needed gaming to sick children in the dialysis, infusion, and cancer units at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, as well as to update the gaming we’ve already provided for a bunch of other units at the hospital.

As I write this, we’re only $1,250 from the halfway mark.

As I promised you, MORE GIVEAWAYS …

Let’s recap what we already have to give away to celebrate this phase of Make Room For Kids! YOU DO NOT HAVE TO DONATE TO WIN. Anyone who donates via the “Donate” button under the thermometer on the left side there is automatically entered to win, and anyone who comments on the original post here is also entered to win, so make sure you comment with a real email address that I can reach you at should you win. However, I sure would appreciate any amount you could throw in the pot to help the sick kids. 

Pirates Home Opener tickets


And now I can tell you where those tickets are: section 116, Row Z, seats 1/2

Which puts you right here about:

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You almost can’t handle it. But there’s more!

The Penguins Foundation/Mario Lemieux Foundation Charity Gift Bag that I bought with my own money because I love you all very much and I want you to have these things:

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Yes, that’s a Bortuzzo-autographed puck. Bortuzzo who was just traded away today. Let’s call it a collector’s item. Also four fantastic bobbleheads, a Rick Tocchet-autographed puck and lots of other cool items.

But wait! There’s more!

– The Penguins are giving me a prize-pack to give away that includes …

  • Two lower-level tickets to the April 1 Pens/Flyers game at the CONSOL (Section 120 Row S)
  • A Kris Letang game-used hockey stick
  • An autographed Hornqvist jersey
  • And a Sidney Crosby-autographed 8 x 10 photo

And that’s not all!

– This INSANE 24 x 36 metal print from Pittsburgh photographer Dave DiCello. Look at it. You can own it!


But wait! There’s more!

– And finally, I’m still waiting to hear back from the Pirates. I think they’re hiding from me. I will be relentless and hopefully succeed in getting a gift bag from them too.

There’s also one other option for giving! Until Friday of this week, the incredibly generous Dave DiCello is donating 100% of his photography profits to Make Room For Kids. Go here to purchase some gifts for yourself or your loved ones and know that you’re also helping sick kids at the same time.

Or go here to comment.

Or click on that Donate button up there and spread some goodwill and positive karma.

Group hug for sick kids.