Wednesday, June 27, 2007

No Frills, No Thrills

A week ago, I was looking forward to a return visit to the site of last year's vacation, the city of Long Beach in the state of California. As I recall, I loved it and hated it, depending on whether there was anything that my host(s) had planned for a particular day. I didn't want to stay, but I didn't mind the thought of returning for a visit someday, either.

Our family was invited to a special occasion scheduled for next month: a fancy wedding at a luxury resort on the coast at Laguna Beach. This is so special an occasion, that I figured there was no way we would NOT go. My mistake. We can't afford to fly ourselves out there, and our host(s) don't have money to spare for our fare, either. So we're going to miss it.

The main reason that I was certain we would be visiting sunny southern California again is that my wife was looking into air fares. The cheapest deal we could get for the family would be through JetBlue, the inexpensive no-frills airline that is celebrating its first anniversary at the Pittsburgh hub this week. I have never flown before, so I have no firm ideas about what airline is better than others. To me, cheapest is best. The wife was cooking up some scheme where it would be cheaper to drive to D.C., park the car, and fly from Dulles to Long Beach Airport than to just use Pittsburgh International. If I'm trying to save money (for myself or for someone else) then why am I driving five hours to another city to catch a plane? (Hint: She never pays for gas, so she doesn't consider fuel costs.)

After nearly convincing me that this would be a good idea, she announced that she was actually making plans for next year's vacation. No wedding in Cali for us this year. Damn. I was mentally preparing for it, even telling my boss that I would need to take a week off. I hate missing the special event, but at least I get to save some money.

Disappointment caught up with me in the form of a dream early this morning. In the dream, I was really and truly going to California! Actually, it turned out that I was already there, in Long Beach; I just happened to have not left my neighborhood here in Allegheny County, which was somehow in Long Beach now. The idea was to take a small plane from Long Beach to the big airport in Los Angeles (LAX), then fly in a big jet to...where? Pittsburgh? That never became clear. In any event, we were almost ready to leave and head for the airport, when I looked out my window to see a small plane coming in for a landing. It seems that the Long Beach airport was located not far from my house. This small plane -- which I recognized as the one that would be carrying us from Long Beach to LA -- flew too low and looked like it wasn't going to clear the neighbor's house. Somehow the wings missed the structure but the back end of the plane got wedged between the two houses just up from mine, causing our next door neighbor's house to be ripped from its foundations. Otherwise it remained intact as the plane stopped right there.

No one had ever seen its like before! Property was rendered useless, and people's lives were endangered! Naturally, all I could think of doing was pulling out my reservations, calling the airline, and demanding that they not make any trouble for me when I demand a full refund on the tickets because MY PLANE JUST WIPED OUT THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR! ONLY IT AIN'T MY PLANE NOW 'CAUSE IT AIN'T FLYIN' TODAY!

Yeah, like you wouldn't think of doing the same thing under the circumstances.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Communist Propaganda

The Pittsburgh Psychosis-Gazette ran a rather bland editorial bitching about how long it takes to get passports. This one sentence caught my eye:

The primary function of the United States government is and always has been to provide services to the public.
Whoa! These editorial writers were obviously brought up on the opposite side of the Iron Curtain from where I grew up. The U.S. government is basically responsible for providing liberty to its citizens, and generally staying the hell out of our business. It has only become a provider of services over the years because of the influence of left wing assholes like the sort who write for the PG. I remember writing to my district's Congressman when I was a kid (at the behest of a school teacher who was trying to educate us about civics and government) and getting back free booklets about the flag, the Constitution, and the structure of government. That was cool! Just write a letter and get free books with colorful illustrations!

As I grew older and matured in my way of thinking, I learned that those cool books were not free. They cost me nothing more than a stamp, sheet of paper, and envelope -- but someone, somewhere, had to pay for them. Call this person "The American Taxpayer".

Others grew up looking at the government as a great bounty. These are the people who want the government to provide them with social services, health care, breakfast, you name it. They want the government to do it all, because it would be "free". They are the kind of people who are eroding our freedoms in this country.

Perhaps the Psychosis-Gazette editors would like the government to provide everyone with a free copy of the newspaper.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Welcome Burgh Blog Readers!

So I checked my site stats this morning to see if anybody still reads this thing, since I don't really post much anymore, and I'm like all, "Behold the power of PittGirl!"

That chick is popular.

Killer Earworm

Never, at any time, have I seen an episode of The Sopranos. I don't even get HBO. The only reason that I even know who Tony Soprano is, is that the show is a bona fide cultural phenomenon. Still, I can appreciate this Pittsburgh-themed nugget of Sopranos-inspired joy:



(Thanks to Rinsem for making me aware of that.)

Clever, funny, and inspired. And cursed. I haven't been able to get that damn song out of my head all week. Even worse, from now on, I will forever associate "Don't Stop Believin'" with giant anthropomorphic pierogies. What a sick town we live in.

Anyway, I figured some hair of the dog that bit me might help:

It doesn't.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

PittGirl Paranoia

The other day, I had to leave work early and went into downtown Pittsburgh to catch a bus home. I rarely go downtown anymore; my recent visits have consisted of getting off of one bus, crossing the street, and waiting to board another. As I wait patiently, I get to see a lot of people walking by. Some of them are downright scary. A visitor would think that Pittsburgh is a city of smelly cigarette-smoking semi-human mutations. Occasionally an attractive woman walks by, which makes a nice change from the open zoo atmosphere of the city streets.

Waiting for a bus on Smithfield Street is a lot like spending a night in jail (so I've been told): You have a lot of time to think. When you read blogs, you think a lot about blogs. In downtown Pittsburgh, you think a lot about downtown-based Burghosphere blogs. When the rare attractive woman passed by, my train of thought went something like this:

  • PittGirl from The Burgh Blog claims to work downtown.
  • PittGirl claims to be "hot".
  • PittGirl has used her cell phone to snap pictures of random street scenes and post them on her blog.
  • That hot chick who just walked by while looking into her cell phone but not speaking into it could be PittGirl!
  • "PittGirl" could be stealthily snapping a picture of me picking my nose or something equally socially awkward. I'll drop by The Burgh Blog and see myself above a line of text that says, "That hot chick taking pictures of street people picking their noses? Totally not me."

No wonder some media elitists want to expose and regulate anonymous bloggers. We make one another paranoid! Just imagine how everyone else feels about us.

I must admit, though, that I was beginning to feel an irresistible urge to stop every hot chick with a cell phone and yell, "PittGirl! Take my picture!" To paraphrase Dr. Johnny Fever: It When PittGirl's taking your picture, paranoia is just good thinking.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Quinn Cities

What a pleasant surprise to hear that my favorite not-so-local-anymore radio talk show, Quinn & Rose, is now broadcasting on the station formerly known as The Patriot II in Minnesota's Twin Cities. For those of you in that area who read this blog, let me give you some background.

Jim Quinn is a "radio legend" in Pittsburgh, having worked on air in this market at one station or another since the late 1960s, excepting a couple of brief stints in other markets. He was primarily a disc jockey until 1993, when he took a job as a morning host at a classic rock station and gradually converted his show's format from music to all-talk. After a couple of years, Rose Somma Tennent, a local Christian TV station personality, joined Quinn as co-host (and sometimes conscience) and has been with him ever since.

People who knew Quinn as a liberal hippie 25 years earlier were shocked to hear him spouting conservative political opinions on his new show.

About 3 1/2 years ago, Quinn and Rose moved from the classic rock station to Pittsburgh's then-new all-talk Clear Channel FM affiliate. The new gig promised expansion into new markets via syndication. After establishing a presence at stations in the PA-WV-OH tri-state area, Quinn and Rose were ready for bigger things. A new audience discovered the show on XM satellite radio, and the time was ripe for the show to debut on stations all across America.

And that, my dear Minnesotan friends, is who Jim Quinn is and how he made it to the Twins. Feel free to give him a listen. I will tell you up front that he is not to everyone's tastes. He doesn't give ground to RINOs, and he doesn't go out of his way to be nice to the left. He supports blogs, and his show sounded like the broadcast equivalent of a blog long before weblogs existed. Several years ago he quoted Atomizer from Fraters Libertas during some dustup that the inebriate was having with a lefty blogger over abortion.

Best of all, he's guaranteed to piss off any Minnesota DFLer who listens for more than ten seconds. What more could you ask for?

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Return Of Captain Calamari And The Seafood Sailors

Gosh, has it really been only eleven months since I reviewed Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest? Yes indeed, it has. There's another Pirates movie out. Let's watch!

Okay. Did you like it? I did. Not at first, though. It plodded along far too slowly, and it seemed to take forever for Captain Jack Sparrow to make his first on-screen appearance. I know that, technically, he's supposed to be dead after the events at the climax of the second film, but it should not have taken that long to resurrect him. It did not take that long for Han Solo to get out of the carbonite in Return of the Jedi. Or perhaps it didn't seem like it. Heck, I was able to escort my young son to the men's room twice without missing anything. Anyway, the action picked up when Captain Jack showed up and didn't slow down until the end.

Observations:

  • Tia Dalma still has the nastiest teeth of anyone on any of the pirate ships. Wow, what a secret she was hiding all that time! The actress who portrays her is quite pretty (in some photos she looks a little like Eartha Kitt), so I was hoping that the lines on her face would disappear and the teeth become immaculate during her BIG scene. Disappointed, I was.
  • Will Turner still seems too soft and effeminate to fit in with the manly scuzzballs who practice their wicked ways at sea. His dad isn't much better. Instead of setting out to sea, the Turner men ought to be sitting down at home reading self-help books. It would be more in line with the nature of their characters.
  • Jack Sparrow. How did Johnny Depp get to be such a great actor? This guy can carry an entire movie. Lucky thing he has a good supporting cast to "bounce" his performance off of. Still, if the entire movie consisted of Jack commanding a whole crew of himself ("Malkovich!"), Depp is the guy who could do it.
  • Poor Elizabeth Swann. In the first film, she was merely an unattainable object of desire for the skeleton crew. In the second, she basically sheds her dignity and plants a kiss on Captain Jack in one of the biggest "What the hell?" scenes I have ever witnessed. In the third episode, she allows herself to become a plaything for Singapore sleazebags as part of the quest to rescue Jack Sparrow. The strip search scene took place mostly off-screen, but there were enough hints to make me wonder if there wasn't some kind of implied violation. Is the life of Captain Jack really worth it, darlin'?
  • Captain Barbossa is the classic "Arrr!" pirate. He was creepy as a villain in the original, yet somehow comes off as rather endearing in this one. I like him better as a good guy.
  • Davy Jones! If every man with woman problems turned out like him, we'd all come with a side of cocktail sauce. Or tartar sauce, if you prefer. It's as if his ex went from thinking "What a catch!" to "He'll be a real catch, all right" when things went pear-shaped. I almost felt sympathy for him.
  • Pintel and Raghetti would work well if spun off into their own cartoon series. They are easily the most cartoonish roles in these movies, with the possible exception of the two arguing guards -- who could play a role as supporting characters in the Adventures of Pintel and Raghetti.
  • Gibbs is a real salt of the earth kind of guy -- sea salt, that is. He's the character I would most like to hang out in a pub with.
  • The uniformed British dudes are pretty one-dimensional. They exist only to give the protagonists something to be united against.
  • The gathering of the Brethren was pretty cool. I would have loved to see some character development for the other pirate lords.

Basically, if you can stomach the slow pacing of the first half-hour or so, you will be rewarded with plenty of humor and action that follows the rediscovery of Jack Sparrow. I quite liked it, and if my crazy son hadn't been so danged jumpy, I would have loved to stay for the end credits. There was a bonus scene. Let's just say that, even if the creators and performers are POTC burned out, there is a doorway to picking up the franchise in another ten years or so.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sweet Memories Of A Day Gone By

Ahhh. The Anchoress's recent visit to a heated (in more ways than one) bookstore reminds me of my 10+ years working at Borders. Specifically, it reminds me of what it was like being one of the few openly Republican individuals on the store's payroll. You want memories? I got memories for you:

  • Back around 1991 or so, some flaky semi-avant garde co-worker hissed at me when she found out I was a Republican. Two days later, she suddenly lashed out at me: "WHY are you a REPUBLICAN?" The questions was apparently rhetorical, as I must have had the mark of the beast on me already, in her eyes, anyway. She went off about racism, sexism, abortion, and a few other keywords without actually trying to turn her tirade into a dialogue. "And don't tell me you like George Bush!" she cried, referring to the then-President. "Okay, I won't," I said, as I stood back and listened to her educate me on his "cronies". That was funny because every president in my lifetime has been surrounded by people who could be labeled "cronies". I was getting a little hot under the collar myself until she informed me that she, as a twelve year old, cried when Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980. I had to beat it because I was on the verge of busting out laughing in her face at the thought of such sheer idiocy. What a nut case.
  • A couple of years later, whilst off duty, I brought a friend of mine into the store to do some shopping. He bought a couple of conservative political books. His cashier was wearing a "Save the rain forest" t-shirt with pictures of cute animals in the jungle. My friend questioned the sentiment of the shirt, and my co-worker came over all self-righteous about it. As we walked back the the car, my friend grumbled a few choice words about the rain forest guy.
  • One time I bought a copy of The American Spectator magazine at work. The cashier who rang me up asked why I was buying this fascist magazine. Later I found out that he, too, was a Republican -- but one who had spent a few too many years inside the beltway, and as a member of the legal profession, to boot.
  • Another ex-lawyer on the store's payroll was decidedly left-wing (he had worked for Ralph Nader at one point). He was never openly confrontational, but he did quietly complain to others when I chose Edwin Meese's autobiography as my recommended staff selection one month. It was well that he should have had such a reaction -- I had him in mind when I chose it! Another time, he pointed out all of the Republican authors on the non-fiction bestseller list and said that it raised "serious doubts about democracy". I'm sure plenty of Democrats would be willing to throw up a "Sieg Heil" behind that notion.
  • When a girl from NYC expressed disappointment about Pataki beating Cuomo in 1994, I couldn't help making a comment about Democrats from New York leaving the United States if they didn't like the election results. Another girl, one from around here, grumpily muttered a non-sequitir about them not being able to afford such a move, unlike Republicans. I later married that girl, so my life today is one big grumpy non-sequitir.
  • When Rush Limbaugh's books were best-sellers, a woman customer (who I thought was kind of hot until she started talking) stopped by the cash register to tell the guy standing there that she couldn't believe that Borders was carrying a Rush Limbaugh book! Why would they do such a thing? The guy, who happened to be an Assistant Manager, shrugged his shoulders and said, "Uh dunno." Great way to stand up for free expression and cater to a wide range of paying customers, dude!
  • Some idiot woman customer once requested my aid in locating a copy of P.J. O'Rourke's Republican Party Reptile. Why was she an idiot? She was sure that Republicans must HATE P.J. O'Rourke because he made fun of them in his book! I tactfully played dumb and agreed with her, whereas I really wanted to laugh in her face.

I could go on and on. Perhaps another time. Perhaps not.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Apropos Of Something

Blog readers who enjoy the Kool-Aid Report know that two very special things near and dear to the heart of that thunderjournal's proprietor, Learned Foot, are a talking monkey named Bobo and the substance that he loves to fling.

I comes as no surprise, then, that a Google search of the words Kool, Aid, and Bobo yields a most interesting seventh entry. Coincidence? I think not.

I can't remember the last time I consumed Kool-Aid, but I do remember treating the family to a giant chocolate chip cookie cake decorated to look like Cookie Monster a few years back. There was more blue-colored frosting than there was cookie. There was probably more blue food coloring in the frosting than there was cookie.

Let's just say that we were dealing with some green diapers over the next few days.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Admiral Turner Makes The Mayor's Mommy Cry

Well, what else are we to make of this remark:

Then there are the Internet blogs.

"Many of them are interesting in the way they portray what I'm doing," he said. "Very negative. And my mom, she reads those all the time. ... It bothers her more than it bothers me."

Politics is a bitch, ain't it?

It seems that the man to whom Admiral Richmond K. Turner refers as the "interim mayor" is visiting Arkansas, where he is being touted as the next Bill Clinton. No way. His wife is way prettier than Hitlery. Luke would never stray.

Or was the comparison in reference to Clinton's political career? Politics...sexual misconduct...it's so hard to tell the difference at times.