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The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 7 and Counting

Who you callin’ Pumkinhead?


Commentary Yinzerism/Pittsburgh Advocacy

I Love The Steelers Throwback Unis (Am I Alone?)

bumbles 1As you probably know by now, I’m a big, big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, raised during the glory years of the 1970s, when I would watch the greatest team in the history of football with my grandmother, tall glasses of ginger ale (mine was just ginger ale, at least), and a bag of Ruffles potato chips (no pierogies for me: Mum-Mum didn’t cook much, and she certainly wouldn’t have cooked immigrant food). There are a million stories like mine in Westsylvania, kids who were, if not wired at conception for Steelers fanaticism, cetainly programmed in vitro to respond to all things black and gold with an elevated pulse, heightened respiration, and occasional bouts of Tourettes-like Suishamresponses to underwhelming performances, unreasonable suspicion of head coaches’ mental acuity, and inexplicable affection for back-up quarterbacks.

This isn’t funny at all.

I talk about the Steelers as “we,” not “they.” I cried in front of my friends when the Steelers outplayed the Chargers in the 1994 AFC Championship only to lose on the last play of the game. I own about six Terrible Towels.  I have even been known, on occasion, to drink Iron City Beer.  On purpose–though this isn’t as impressive as it sounds, as cheap beer goes it beats the hell out of trendy PBR.

But I digress–It never fails to surprise me, each time the team dusts off it’s “throwback” uniforms, how much antipathy rises from the faithful.  Steelers fans are deeply sentimental, until they aren’t–and it’s tough to guess when or over what–or whom–they will turn cold.  They are Lloydknowledgeable–a Pittsburgh Nana is apt to know more about the virtues of zone blitzes and mixed coverages than most high school coaches in weird places like Iowa,  New England, or Richmond, Virginia.  They are passionate, opinionated, and stubborn, but the distaste for these uniforms is overwhelming.  I understand that the regular uniforms are among the most iconic in professional sports, but there’s no call for all the “bumblebee” and “jailbreak” cracks.

Anyone out there agree with me?  Anyone besides me like the stripes?


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Remember: Sunday Night Is I Dare You To Make A Pizza Night

The Make a Pizza Night Post will appear Sunday around 7pm–at which point this sentence will turn into a link

Make a pizza.  Post a link on the Pizza Post that will appear on this blog Sunday Night.  It’s a double dog dare–you can’t refuse.  If you must, shortcuts are allowed: pre-made crusts, sauce from a jar, whatever it takes.  Hell, send out or heat a frozen cardboard pie.  I’m going to make this easy for you…here’s a crust recipe, with a sauce recipe to follow this evening.

Perfect Pizza Crust

You can make this up to a day ahead of time, or any time up to 2 hours before you’re ready to eat.  The longer it has to rise, the more subtle and tasty it will be.

1. Put 1 Cup of very warm water in large, heavy bowl.  Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, honey, or even plain old sugar if that’s all you’ve got, and a tablespoon of flour–we like pastry flour or 00 Semolina, but use whatever rocks your world.  Mix it up to form a pasty broth.

2. When the water has cooled (but remains warm–ideally around 100-105 degrees F, the temp you’d use for a baby bottle–above 114 degrees you risk killing your yeast) add 2.5 teaspoons of dry yeast, mix that in until it dissolves, and set it aside for 5-10 minutes.  It will get a little foamy–that’s little baby yeast growing up. While it proofs, get the rest of your ingredients ready.

3. Add 1.5 cups for flour, 2 tablespoons of olive oil  (or some sort of fat, like softened but not melted butter, or even vegetable oil–but if you use a solid, make sure it gets mixed in), and 2 teaspoons (or I heaping teaspoon) of salt.  Chemically, you need the salt, but erring on the side of caution is preferable to too much).  Mix this mess together with a fork until it’s a sticky ball, adding more flour (a little bit at a time) as needed.

4. When it’s relatively solid, spread a little flour on a flat, clean surface and start kneading.  Press the dough ball flat, fold it in half, turn it one quarter turn, fold it again, squeeze it flat, and keep going like that for 10 minutes, until you’ve incorporated enough flour to make the dough “silky”–pliant and smooth, but not sticky.  If the dough becomes difficult to work, let it sit for five minutes then continue. If you get too much flour and the dough feels flaky, add water a few drops–literally– at a time.

5. Put a tablespoon of oil in that large bowl, throw the ball of dough in on top, and swirl the dough around until it’s coated, then cover the whole deal with a damp towel and sit it in a warm, draft-free place to rise until double.  An hour is probably about right, but once it’s done one rise you can put it in the fridge or just leave it on the counter over night and it will be even better.  The proportions I gave you should be enough for one really big pizza, or a pair of 12-14″ pies, depending upon how thick you like your crust.

6. Preheat your oven to it’s hottest temperature.  Some people use the “self clean” setting, but if you’re like me your oven locks on that setting and burns your pie to ash.  I can get 575 out of my vintage hotpoint gas stove–but a good brick oven place is cooking your pie at upwards of 800, so don’t be shy.

7. Get your pizza flat.  The best way to do it is by stretching it, working around the edge, or tossing it.  I’m terrible at that , so I sort of push it out with my fingers from the center to the edge of the the floured surface I’m working on ( you can also squeese it out directly on the pan you’re using).  A rolling pin is an option I use when I’m cooking several pizzas in a row, for guests, but squeezing the dough changes the texture a little–and purists will regard the use of a rolling pin as sacrilege.  Stretching, if you can do it, is preferable.

8. You know your oven.  If it’s not really hot, you may want to pre-cook the crust for about 4 minutes before adding the toppings–especially if you put your pizza in a pan with an edge (like a cookie sheet).  Throw on your toppings and go to town–remember if you use a lot of watery veggies that they can make the pizza runny.  Avoid this by laying the veggies on top of the cheese and other toppings.

9. Cook until the cheese is bubbly and just beginning to brown on top.

Photo I Like sheer awesomeness

The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 6 and Counting

I hope you’re enjoying these as much as I am.  I can’t get over how truly creepy some of the scary images–like this one–are.  If you tried to Trick or Treat around a sub-division dressed like this today some knob would call for a SWAT team, I’m sure of it.


Photo I Took

Sunday Evening is Pizza Night–I Dare You to Make a Pizza

The Make a Pizza Night Post will appear Sunday around 7pm–at which point this sentence will turn into a link

The Steelers play a late game on Sunday, so we’re making pizza from scratch.  I dare you to join me.  I double dog dare you.  Nobody says no to a double dog dare!  Make a pizza and post a link in the comments section of the PIZZA POST which will appear on this blog around 7pm on Sunday, October 26.  Plenty of time to go shopping.  Now, if you just can’t do it, no matter how much you want to, no matter how long it’s been your dream–I understand.  Send out for a pizza, or cook up a frozen pizza, snap a picture, post it on the web–your blog, your facebook page, twitter, tumblr, stumblr, mumblr, tattoo it on aunt sally’s…oh, you get the idea.

It’s this easy.

SAM_0488 SAM_0491

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Jill Sobule on Halloween Costumes

I can’t say that I agree with my favorite folk singer, Jill Sobule, on this one–I’m all in favor of folks (especially women)(especially women who aren’t my daughters) dressing up sexy. I’ve been trying for years to get my wife to rock something hot on halloween, but no dice–she’s got all this pesky dignity and nagging self-esteem.

Living in a university town, the “weekend” (now Wednesday night through Sunday) around Halloween is always an “oh brave new world” type of visual experience. Still…

The thing about “sexy halloween costumes” is that the concept can go horribly wrong in what seems like a blink of the eye.

sexy halloween

And in the other side of the  “careful what you wish for” department…click here at your own risk especially if you’re inclined towards feminism.  I know a couple of angry vegetarians who will ridicule me just for posting the link, but these are funny from the right perspective.

But for the sake of gender equity and fairness to oppositely oriented folks, as well as those who favor a relatively balanced mix of sex and violence….

Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 5 (corrected edition)

Sorry for the false alarm.  Let’s try this again…

Junk Family Reunion

spooky pin up 1


The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 5 and Counting (originally screwed up bonus edition)

Whoops.  First try at this post came out blank–I guess the tech is beyond me.  Here’s a halloween bonus to compensate.

Question: are the stains intentional or is she just a sloppy eater?  This shot is a few  years old, so I’m thinking it’s intentional, and I’m going with the guess that she’s dressed as one of Siegfried & Roy’s white tigers.  The one who ate Roy’s face.  Or was it Siegfried’s?


art Commentary Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Flying Aircraft Carrier: Before Galactica or Helicarriers: USS Macon & Akron

helicarrierFlying aircraft carriers are a hallmark of speculative fiction, appearing in some of the best sci-fi we’ve seen over the years. But long before Tony Stark and Richard Reed led the effort to design S.H.I.E.L.D.s imposing Helicarrier for badass, eye-patched comic book hero Nick Fury, there was another….

And long before super-hot (and badass) eye-patched Captain Franky Cook of the British Air Carrier H.M.S. Manta Base saved Sky Captain and Polly Perkins  from the evil Nazi-esque Dr. Totenkopf’s natsy robot armies of doom, flying aircraft carriers roamed the sky.

mantastation2And as the Cylons might say, while being thwarted once more in their attempt to rid the galaxy of pesky human vermin by the Battlestar Galactica and it’s erstwhile heroes, Apollo, Starbuck, battlestar-galactica-20-things-ships-1Boomer, and their various comrades in their Vipers and Raptors, “All this has happened before, all will happen again.’

Damned straight.  It did happen before, and it happened for real in the form of the airships USS Akron and USS Macon.  These giant zeppelins carried fighter craft in compartments within their superstructure, launched them for reconnaissance and escort work, and g463185recovered them via an ingenuous trapeze-like snare which then replaced them in their nests.  How cool must that have been?  I was totally amazed, when I recently discovered that not one but two of these ships–several times larger than the infamous Hindenburg.


Unfortunately, size was not the only way these ships outdid the nazi Hindenburg. In the end, both Akron and Macon experienced catastrophic crashes. Akron went down off the coast of New Jersey in fierce wind, with 73 dead–making it’s destruction, not the much more famous crash of the Hindenburg (35 dead), the deadliest airship accident in history. Most of Akron’s casualties drowned in the Atlantic ocean.

Less than a year later, and a continent away, the USS Macon fell into the Pacific, but with only 3 casualties since, after the loss of of it’s sister ship, Macon had been outfitted with life jackets. Why isn’t this story better known? It is probably because the Navy had little interest in promoting it’s failures, and both crashes happened off shore, with few witnesses, while the Hindenburg crashed before thousands, in front of the world media, in a dramatic fireball.

What remains is one simple question: What is the deal with one-eyed airship commanders?
saul-tigh_l nick-fury sky_captain_angelina_jolie


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The Twelve Days of Halloween 2014: Day 4 and Counting

Witch Bikewitch broom