Monday, March 31, 2008


Bela's eyes are wide open, and sadly, mine are not. But this isn't about me, it's about a puppy. A wee beagle puppy that Miss Kitty picked out of a litter of eight who will soon come home with us. I think we are picking her up on April 12, when Bela will be eight & 1/2 weeks old. She was born Feb 13 to a mother who had been knocked up by a fellow beagle while supposedly hunting rabbits. Oh, you crazy kids!
Edit: The breeder called this morning and instructed a desire for me to pick Bela up this week. She's placed an ad for the puppies in the local newspaper and doesn't want any mix up where Bela got sold to another owner.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

St. Anthony's Chapel

Peeking out from beneath a thin veil of mouldering linen is the skull of St. Theodore, entombed, as it were, at St. Anthony's Chapel in the Troy Hill section of Pittsburgh.
Miss Kitty and I ventured to St. Anthony's after a wonderful lunch at Atria's (after a typically disappointing visit to the Warhol Museum...I already have a rant written about that place, I need only to find which notebook it's hidden in). Troy Hill is a neighborhood in steady decline, perched on a ridiculously steep incline above the Allegheny River on the North Side of the City. The streets are peppered equally with bars and churches on alternating corners, as is typical of former steelworker/blue collar enclaves. Along with the row houses, watering holes, and houses of the holy there are the people who cling to this hillside with its intemperance and piety and blue collar roots as deep as the river valley below. How can you not admire that? The North Catholic HS proudly displays a weathered and faded banner proclaiming their girl's basketball team state champs...1988.
We took in the surroundings as we wended our way down the narrow streets to St. Anthony's, which we spotted the spire to a block or more before we had to make our final turn. If the lore of Catholic relics is to be believed, St. Anthony's has a collection of nearly 5,000 first rate relics, a figured surpassed only by the Vatican. By first rate I mean they are original splinters from the cross (or the actual bones of a saint, or thorn from crown of thorns). A second-rate relic has merely been touched to the first rate relic, and a third touched to a second rate relic, etc. I have to admit that I wildly speculated on this rating system, before I actually researched it and discovered that my nonsense was actually correct. The lesson to be learned here is to never hesitate to posit a crank theory because you just never know.
Some fellow gawkers were there to do actual church stuff like pray, so maybe they weren't gawkers but, you know, religious. Either way, Miss Kitty and I had to stop ourselves from giggling because...How fucking much mojo do these people need to believe in whatever it is that they believe in? We counted five skulls on display. Five. I don't know about you, and whether or not you'd be considered saintly enough for someone to cut off your head, deflesh it, and sell it to someone seeking relics for their church, but if my corpse or skeleton was going to be pieced apart, I'd rather a medical school did it. Well, truth be told, I want a Viking funeral, a raft set on fire in the Monongahela River, but surprisingly I'm having a hard time getting anyone to agree to that. The only thing that I can contribute to the spectacle is my body on fire, so I need volunteers to carry out the ceremony, and risk imprisonment for abuse of a corpse. Is that too much to ask?
After our self-guided tour of the chapel, Miss Kitty and visited the gift shop across the street. Naturally I had to buy something. I mean, mojo is mojo regardless of what you think. Miss Kitty bought a St. Francis medal for Bela's collar, even though we haven't picked the puppy up yet. Soon, very soon. She's pikced out, just not picked up. As soon as she can leave momma'll be nothing but puddles and piles until we get her trained.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The View From Cheney's Bunker

Like all great men of action (Hitler, Stalin, the Penguin) United States second in command, Dick Cheney, has a bunker. I was fortunate enough to be invited to tour Vice President Cheney's hidden lair along with such tv notables as; Martha Stewart and Henrietta Pussycat (King Friday was summarily snubbed for his lack of support for the war in Iraq) .
Here's what happened once our blindfolds and chain shackles were removed and we were led inside the reinforced stronghold:

Henrietta Pussycat: Meow meow has a furball!

Cheney: Watch it Pussycat, or I'll release the ferrets.

HP: Meow is terrified of ferrets, meow meow.

Martha Stewart: Oh Dick, your sense of humor is still as expansive as a bulging blocked artery and as incisive as a scalpel used to perform triple by-pass surgery on a Grinchesque heart.

C: Heh, heh, heh glad you appreciate my dark genius, Martha.

JfromP: Is that a gold toilet seat? Who paid for all of this?

C: I'm not taking questions today.

MS: I see that you coordinated from the Martha Stewart palette of colors, originally marketed through discount chain K-Mart but now available in a wider array of meticulously crafted designer colors and sold exclusively through home improvement behemoth, Lowes.

C: Pussycat! That Chippendale escritoire is not a scratching post! Damn. Lynn thought that it would be a good PR move for me to host some notable females and a nobody in my elusive crisis command center, but I see now that I should've stuck by the advice I received from the Nixon portrait and just met Barbara Walters and Miss Piggy at Outback for a late lunch.

At this point Cheney pushed a black button on the otherwise fioli yew wall (even I could appreciate that it clashed, and Martha visibly cringed while sneaking a nip of Grey Goose from a vintage sterling silver flask engraved with the initials ZF) and the Secret Service descended upon us like frat boys on free pizza.

So, for thirty seconds we three were allowed a rare glimpse inside the inner world of Vice President Dick Cheney. What did I take away from the experience? A commemorative decorative bicentennial ashtray with a snake dangling from an apple tree that read, 'Go Fuck Yourself'. It may not have been a bicentennial momento, but I slipped it in my pocket the second we got there nonetheless. I didn't figure Cheney'd be able to bear up under Henrietta's 'meows meows' for long. And I was right.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Top Chef 4.3

Look at Padma. Look at her! Do we have cloning yet? I was watching a show, or maybe just asleep and dreaming, where some science type people were growing pig hearts in petrie dishes. I went to school with a girl named Petrie.
Ahem, I'm even more disjointed than usual today.
Well, I have to say that last night's episode of TC threw me for a loop. How many crazies do they have in this batch of cheftestants? We've got Andrew, who seems to have some talent as a cookie, but this guy appears to cling to his sanity by the barest of unraveling threads. It's like he's the sword of Damacles dangling over his own fate. I just don't see how this guy is going to be able to hold it together, especially as the competition heats up.
Then there's Spike, and his hat, and his grandiosity. I can't quite decide yet if he's suffering from youthful ego and exuberance or if he's completely delusional about his world view and his place in it. I do know that so far he's been very mediocre in his dishes and possibly lacks the skill to bring more to the table (yes, bad puns will abound).
But last night brought us a new crazy: Erik. A word to Erik...don't say 'screw you' to the guest chef judging the quickfire challenge. Dude! Criticism should be taken graciously, and if not graciously then with a sigh and a quick nod of the head. To do otherwise indicates that you're too insecure of your abilities as a chef and can't take advice or instruction. Not good, not good. Which, of course, panned out when Erik got the boot during the elimination challenge for his corndogs.
I'm not a fan of corndogs, they give me heartburn. I love hotdogs, though. Especially Brighton Hotdog Shoppe 'dogs with chili and cheese and a side of chili cheese fries. Miss Kitty and I ate there with the kids last week and (nameless party) accidentally stabbed me with a fork while I was reaching for some fries that weren't mine. I'm fine. Just a minor cut. All unintentional and a misunderstanding, at least that's what their lawyer told my lawyer.
As for the good of the episode - Richard is for real. He understands exactly what is demanded of him in this competition and he's exploited that knowledge gloriously. His reconstructed taco with a jicama shell was brilliant in the quickfire and won him deserved immunity. I'm going to make an early prediction that he's going to make it to the final four. He's made so few missteps so far (although in fairness, his awful paella was more than a misstep), and the judges have shown in the past that they're much more willing to be forgiving of a mistake if you've shown previously that you can perform (and why, I believe Valerie was sent packing last week instead of Stephanie).
Speaking, parenthetically at least, of Stephanie, she won the elimination challenge - AGAIN! That's twice in three weeks, with a fruit dish, no less! But it's not really a simple mixed fruit crumble. I just watched the vlog 'The Wong Way To Cook' with former TCer LeeAnn Wong and I got a whole new appreciation from exactly what Stephanie created. I hate basil, but that's because it gets over used in marinara sauce...less is more, people. But in a cold fruit dish I could see where it would refreshing and heighten the fruitiness of the fruit.
Anyway, I should wrap this up because I have to get a shower and return something to the library (lest the blue hairs hunt me down and extract a quarter from me). So, my final thought on last night's show involves Nikki. Nikki, girl, how do you ruin mac & cheese with velveeta? How? Even if you make it before hand and reheat it, there's the simplest trick in the world that you use: You make TWICE as much cheese sauce as usual because the elbows are going to suck up the sauce. I know this because I make baked mac & cheese all the time. It's a favorite of both Miss Kitty and Riechter Von Sanchez. How you managed to fuck up mac & cheese is really beyond the pale.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mezza Luna

Miss Kitty and I bottled our latest batch of wine today, a mezza luna red that's semi dry with hints of oak and raspberry. We tasted it and I have to say that unless this impudent bad girl mellows a bit more, we've got a kick ass red suitable to serve at pig roasts or with bear sausage.
Yes, yes, I'm aware that it will mellow over time and just need to be patient, but dang. Though I must admit, I'm pleased with the alcohol content in this batch of wine over the last batch. The last one, a barolo, was a bit on the light side, coming in at 12%, while this one is 13.5%, which in my opinion lends itself to a cleaner taste, much more refreshing on the palate, and a better accompaniment to a meal.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No Crows For Me

There was an item in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about an unusual number of crows inhabiting Allegheny Cemetery over the winter. Of course Miss Kitty and I had to go and check out this claim. We did run across a large flock of them that flew over head, but I didn't get any shots of them, and birds are notoriously difficult subjects to work with.
Still, we wandered around the expansive grounds of the graveyard, cold day though it was. Somewhere during this it occurred to me: We don't take death as seriously now as we once did. By 'we' I mean Americans, and by 'seriously' I mean eternal rest. Looking at the ornate monuments at first I thought, Wow, they had more money than sense. But then I thought, Ok, they had money and they wanted to make a statement with some of it. I would never do this because I have nothing to say - and if you read this blog you know how painfully true that is - and yet I love the silent stoicism of these sculpted monuments. Especially when they're blanketed in snow. A static image unmoved, literally frozen, backdropped by a sky nearly as dark gray as the granite pedestals.
Oh, you know, it all lends itself to flights of fancy, meandering thought, while wandering around the bone yard weighing what came before, is no more, and won't be back again.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Miss Kitty and I are leaving for the Big Apple, Gotham, the city that never sleeps, New York, New York, a place so nice they had to name it twice tomorrow morning, pre-dawn. Of course I'm already packed. Wrinkles be damned! I'm taking one pair of nonjeans to wear when we go to the theater, otherwise it'll be tattered denim goodness for me.
I've got three cameras ready to go. Well, one of them is Richter Von Sanchez's Nikon, but ever since he got that digital camera he doesn't pay any attention to that old 35mm SLR anyway. I've not been happy with my own forays into the digital photography age. Miss Kitty has the digital camera, one that I got and then passed on to her. I just don't like the lack of depth, something that I think you can richly get on film. The other thing I don't like is that mistakes are less interesting on digital. With film every mistake has the potential to be great! Even if not great, at least a source of humility. Only children can provide that sort of dichotomy and Miss Kitty wants a puppy, not a baby. Plus, my babies are almost grown men, and I can't regress at this stage in my life. Think of me as a worm who has been cocooned for decades, and now is ready to emerge and be a gypsy moth, wreaking havoc and destruction...
I don't know where I'm going with that analogy so I'll leave it hanging like a hinky looking skin tag.
Anyway, we're off to NYC! Yippee!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Top Chef

Look, I'm no chef, no expert, just a foodie in the kitchen tormenting my family with open faced burgers served on sour dough bread smothered in sauteed veggies and served with a side of pasta salad doused in a reduced vinagrette. What can I say, I have to be kept busy because idle hands are the devil's playground or whatever. As a total aside, I don't believe in the concept of an actual satan at all. Evil is all human doing, not some outside force. Meanwhile, I'm totally open to the concept that an expanding universe represents God and a black hole represents not-God. That at least makes sense, and doesn't force me to believe in unsubstatiated mythology for poo-poo sake. You know, people who poo-poo ideas that they don't share and their personal faith is so weak that they can't ponder anything outside of their narrow scope of heaven and ETERNAL HELL FIRE.
Season 4 of Bravo's top rated cable cooking competition, Top Chef, debuted last night. It was a mixed bag as far as an introduction to the chefs might go. Andrew seems crazy, shaking in rage at Richard, Ryan didn't seem to be able to comprehend certain things, Stephanie won the elimination challenge, but other than that, everyone other that the lesbians (Lisa, and the couple of Zoi and Jennifer) are a blur. Nimma got booted, and deservedly so, for over salting shrimp scampi - I was unaware that you salted that dish at all - but I wouldn't have minded if the guy from New Zealand had been sent packing either. Sure, he's sweet enough and all, but he's got a lazy eye or something. I don't blame him for that, we all have our physical faults and foibles. But I don't find that appealing at all in men. In women, yes. In men it spells serial killer, or worse, president.
The most exciting thing about the entire show was the preview for next week's episode. The anger! The swearing! The seemingly beer-fueled outbursts of insecurity! Oh, the humanity! Which neatly brings us full circle to my religion rant, so I'll end here.
Until next week when we see how the hype panned out.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

BtVS Season 8 issue #12

For loyal readers of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic, Season 8, you'll know that in last month's issue, #11, Buffy addressed Satsu's love for her and how this placed Satsu in danger... not to mention that Buffy is, uh, straight.
Well, guess who isn't all straight after all? Initially I thought, what in the hell is Buffy doing? Did she learn nothing from her time with Spike? Spike who loved Buffy beyond all reason and Buffy who didn't return his feelings. Buffy who couldn't love Riley enough. Buffy who probably only will ever love Angel. That Buffy. That Buffy who is all nuded up with Satsu in the sack. I have to say that I figured that if Buffy ever, EVER crossed over into lesbionic goodness with another slayer it would be with Faith. Call me a dreamer, call me a delusional Fuffy -shipper, but doesn't a pairing between Buffy and Faith make perfect sense? Doesn't it?
Maybe it doesn't. Given what we know of Satsu's adoration of Buffy I suppose it makes perfect sense that Buffy, in classic egotistically Buffy mode, would inevitably respond to the attention. I'm not being critical of Buffy, everyone at that age is still hyper-self aware/self obsessed. Sure, Buffy is willing to sacrifice her life to save all of humanity from unspeakable horror and suffering, but that doesn't mean that she's immune to the Big Head that comes when someone blindly loves you.

I could be way off base, but ever since Buffy realized that it was Satsu who woke her from the Sleeping Beauty-esque spell that Amy had cast on her with that 'true love kiss', she's pointedly spent more time with Satsu, singling her out as her 'favorite' amongst all of the other slayers. Clearly Buffy has manipulated the situation to this sextastic outcome. It couldn't have happened any other way. I don't believe that it's something that 'just happened'. I mean, how was this not an inevitable outcome? Had Buffy been sincere about what she said to Satsu in issue #11 at some point since the cinnamon lip balmed kiss of issue #2 (or #3, I don't remember and I don't feel like looking it up this instant) she would have distanced herself, become more professional, not more personal. But Buffy did become more personal.

No matter what turn Buffy's sexuality takes after this encounter with Satsu, I don't believe that it can be argued that on some level Buffy didn't steer the situation, whether consciously or unconsciously. It's got Buffy's fingerprints all over it.