Category Archives: Random

“Good night, kids, sleep tight, don’t let the demons bite.”


I am freaked out by the thought of demons.

Or angry ghosts.

Hell, a HAPPY ghost could tap me on the shoulder in my house and say, “You’re gorgeous. Have a great day today! Really get out there and seize everything this day has to offer you!” and I would punch that ghost so hard in the throat, it would die again.

Who knows what’s real? What’s imagined? What’s a figment of our fearful imaginations?

I’m easily freaked out by the paranormal, as you know if you’ve been reading my drivel at all for the last eight and a half years. I went on a few dates in college with a minister’s son (we PKs stick together and smoke crack together and hit the strip clubs together. Just kidding, Dad.). He told me a story of his father trying to rid a house of a demon. It was a subtle demon, I guess. Moving a particular ceiling tile each night. Things like that. To this day though, that story, true or not, sticks with me.

I was 100% convinced as a teenager, thanks to my father’s excellent child-rearing, that if I ever touched an Ouija Board, I would summon a demon who would make my head spin and my puke reach previously unrecorded levels of velocity.

I still haven’t ever touched an Ouija Board, and just don’t talk to me about demons. Or ghosts. Or anything I can’t see and feel and punch in the throat if called upon to do so.

So, color me flabbergasted (which is, I think, I nice shade of puce) that ex-county commissioner Bob Cranmer is claiming the house he lived in since 1988 is haunted.

And not just haunted.

PISSED OFF DEMONS HAUNTED. (Although, as I think about it, demons are probably, by their very nature, just generally pissed off at all times.)


Check THIS out, Wendy Bell:

It began happening shortly after he, his wife and their four kids bought the house in 1988.

What seemed to be bumps in the night, turned into something more. They began seeing a dark pillar that moved through the house with a repulsive, acrid smell.

“As I called it, a stench,” says Cranmer. “It was a combination of like a burning sulfur or rubber.” 

Burning sulfur. Hmmm. Okay. A smell. That’s not too threatening. I’m sure my son has released farts that could be classified under the “burning sulfur” set of smells. No biggie. Let’s move on.

Cranmer says the presence began attacking he and his family.

Wait. WUT?

“It would scratch us at night, bite us,” Cranmer said. “I woke up in the middle of the night, I was completely turned around in bed – my feet were on the pillows, I was under the covers and my head was at the foot of the bed. Things like that on a consistently on a daily basis.”

Clocks would stop, art work would routinely be turned upside down, crucifixes bent, rosary beads shattered and worse.

“This entire house was marked with a blood-type substance that would be on the walls and the ceiling,” Cranmer said.

On the direction of then-Bishop Donald Wuerl, exorcists and priests assisted the Cranmers to rid the spirit, which became more resistant over time.

“This thing did not want to give up,” said Cranmer. “It was a relentless back and forth battle. Where it would prevail, there were several rooms in the house that we could no longer use. But in the end, the power of the Lord prevailed.”

Cranmer says he and his family still have the scars — physical and emotional.

Two of his children were treated in Western Psych for trauma.

But though wounded, he says their faith is now unshakable.

Now he’s written this book – “The Demon of Brownsville Road.”

Readers, we are not going to get into the religious aspects of this. AT ALL. And if you try to start a religious fight in the comments, I will find you and I will throat punch you, because in case you can’t tell, the sub-topic of this post is how much I enjoy throat-punching.

What we are going to talk about is this:


Assuming everything you’re saying is true, you had a demon in your home. Scratching your family. Wounding your children. Sending YOUR CHILDREN TO THE PSYCH WARD. Flipping you around in your beds. Filling your house with a pillar of stench. Scarring your bodies.  Biting your family. Painting your house with blood.


You continued to live there?

I mean, okay, maybe you don’t leave because of the smell. Chalk it up to Indian food farts, which are, in my experience, the worst of the farts.

Maybe you explain away the fact that you were flipped around in bed as just a really restless night of sleep.

But the day you wake up and your walls are painted in blood and your children are scratched and bitten and crying and scared, well, sir, that’s the day you move out. That’s the day you say, “Pack it up. We’re going to Grammy’s house until this thing is gone.”

You don’t stick around for years, or months, or even days. If I suspected for one SECOND that a demon was in my house, I would have exited like the frickin’ Road Runner, leaving behind a circular cloud of dust and nothing more.

“This thing did not want to give up,” said Cranmer. “It was a relentless back and forth battle. Where it would prevail, there were several rooms in the house that we could no longer use.”

Again, WUT?!?!

You don’t just close the door to certain rooms and says, “Kids. What did I tell you about playing in the demon’s room?! Don’t come crying to me when you wake up covered in blood and scratches and your pee comes out burning of sulfur.”

You don’t wait until you have TO TREAT YOUR CHILDREN IN A MENTAL INSTITUTION before saying, “Demon, we outta here. Have a nice death.”

I’m flabbergasted and stunned and all of the words that mean flabbergasted and stunned.

If my father made me live in a house with a demon, I’d have throat-punched him and made a run for it.

Respectfully of course, Dad.

Meep meep.

P.S. If you chuckled at any point during this post, you owe me five dollars and you can pay it via the donate button up there under the thermometer. Every penny goes to the Mario Lemieux Foundation fund this year’s Make Room for Kids efforts at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

P.P.S. This book better have pictures of blood spattered walls.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 10.25.35 AM

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.


Merry Christmas, you guys.

Merry Christmas, Pittsburgh!

Celebrate what you’re going to celebrate, love who you love, do some good, be a good neighbor, be real, be you, be happy.

Print this out and stick it in your stack of Christmas cards; they’ll all feel inferior.

Because yelling out “BOOYAH! My Christmas card just punched yours right in the nose!” is the true meaning of Christmas.


Group hug!

Believing in Braddock

(photo from Superior Motors Kickstarter page)

Famed Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa is good at a lot of things, but one thing he’s really good at is taking risks.

Pricey cutting-edge “I have no idea what any of these ingredients even are” cuisine in East Liberty? Success.

Showing up at Pittsburgh Magazine‘s Best Restaurants Party with boxes of grocery store bread and butter? Success. Even though for a solid hour people were walking around all OMG KEVIN SOUSA BROUGHT BREAD AND BUTTER. HE MUST BE DOWN TO HIS LAST FIVE CASH DOLLAH BILLZ.

Hot dogs? Success.

Barbecue and fried chicken? Success.

And then he decided to move his family to Braddock and everyone was like, “Kevin Sousa is a couple sausagemeats short of an encornets farcis, if you knowwhaddamean.”

Braddock has become a darling to Levi Strauss, to Kevin Sousa, and to actor David Conrad — you recall when I sat down with David to interview him about St. Nick’s Church, my first question was  why the heck he moved to Braddock — because sometimes you have to just take a second to confirm that people haven’t lost every single one of their sanity-maintaining marbles.

David and Kevin and Mayor Fetterman believe in Braddock and its chances to experience its own renaissance. Fetterman believes in it enough to fight for UPMC’s nonprofit status. David believes in it enough to hang a hat there. Kevin believes in it enough to plan to open a new 3,000 square-foot community restaurant in Braddock — a restaurant with its very own farm, art gallery, performance venue, apiary, and trainee housing.

It is hugely ambitious and clearly risky. He’s hoping to raise $250,000 via Kickstarter to make it happen.

He’s sitting at $92,000 raised with 17 days to go to raise the rest.

If you believe in Braddock too, click here to help.

Random n’at

PittGirl Pirates

1. The other night, while listening to my son read his book-report book aloud (if I don’t make him read it aloud, he’ll skip chunks of pages at a time on account of laziness), he got to a part where one kid calls another kid a jackass. The look of pure joy on his face as he, without getting yelled at, uttered the word jackass three times … well, that’s the true meaning of Christmas.

I’m kidding, Dad. I know what the true meaning of Christmas is.

PRESENTS! DIAMONDS! CASH DOLLAH BILLZ! [makes it rain on the strippers]

And my phone will be ringing in three, two–

2. The winner of the Yinzer Gift Guide giveaway was notified and has accepted the prize. Shop the guide here!

3. It drives me insane — PURPLE MINION INSANE — when people refer to the Roberto Clemente Bridge as the Sixth Street Bridge, so I wrote about it for Pittsburgh Magazine, hoping to convince these lazy butts to stop being such jerkfaces:

This is not Snoop Lion Doggy Dogg Hedgehog Owl changing his name every time he moves his bowels. This is not the year of our Lord changing its name every 365 days. This is an iconic bridge whose name was changed once more than a decade ago. At this point, if you’re still calling it the Sixth Street Bridge, you’re just stubbornly refusing to put forth the same effort you do when writing the correct year on a check in early January.

Have a read.

4. Barebones Productions has to be having a hell of a time advertising this play in the local media:


“Things are starting to look up for recovering alcoholic Jackie and his girlfriend Veronica…until Jackie spots another man’s hat in their apartment and embarks on a sublimely incompetent quest for vengeance.”

I’m a big Patrick Jordan fan.

Can’t wait to see it. Tickets here. 

5. Check these out:

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 9.33.36 AM


I kinda love ‘em. Gonna do a giveaway of them soon.

(Not a paid ad.)

6. Interactive map of Pittsburgh’s lost inclines! Historygasm.

7. Community Human Services Holiday Gift Card drive is underway. It’s so easy to just buy a few gift cards for those in our city who need them the most. Check it out here. 

I’m going to try to get my butt to the Hough’s party again this year. 

8. Just me, putting a bug in your ear that in early February I’ll be begging you for some of your dollars to donate to the next phase of Make Room for Kids with the Mario Lemieux Foundation and local Microsoft folks. We are going to be outfitting two units at CHP with gaming and other tech distractions … the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) and the Trauma Unit. More soon on that. Just do me a favor and set a few bucks aside for it. LOVE YOU!

9. Shut up! Fallingwater has a satellite holiday gift store downtown for the holiday shopping season!

I’m so there.

10. Ten of the funniest Mike Tomlin memes from his Thanksgiving day dance partay.

I like this one too:


11. Let’s check in with Jeff Reed on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2013-12-02 at 9.51.13 AM Still amazing.

12. Has anyone heard from Shaun Suisham lately? Did he get the trash I left for him on his lawn?




Not at all.




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