budgie

14 Oct

man oh man, when I lived in Allentown, PA, it was difficult to find good radio stations. I mean there were a shit-ton of commercial stations but not much else. I did find a small college radio station that played decent artists – well, when they had students willing to broadcast. unfortunately, more often than not there weren’t students playing music so this semi-pro DJ would come in to spin tunes and he always played budgie. over and over. budgie.

you’d be jamming out to obscure ’80s punk or ’70s glam and all of the sudden the kid DJ would be like ‘well that’s it for my shift and I don’t think anyone showed up to take the overnight, sooooo … what’s his name is on his way and he’ll play you songs all weekend long.’

there would be static for 20 minutes and then what’s his name opens the mic breathing heavily and saying ‘hey everyone! got the call they needed a fill-in! well I brought all my budgie CDs so let’s get right to it!’

and then at least 18 hours of budgie. I mean it was cool for a few hours. but it was just wall-to-wall budgie. sometimes he’d mix it up and play budgie covers. or budgie doing covers. he’d seek requests and then go to ‘commercial break,’ only to return laughing and saying ‘well I just got a request for ‘anything but budgie!”

and then he played more budgie.

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1990 coaching fashions, courtesy of NHL Pro Set

5 Jan

Rick Ley

I’ve been collecting hockey cards off and on for nearly 25 years. I still purchase a few boxes and random packs but honestly at this point the thrill of finding a valuable rookie card is often overshadowed by finding older, out-of-style cards.

So I’ve told most of my family members who frequent secondhand stores to scan the shelves for cheap hockey cards and, lucky for me, here are some awesome examples of cards I received this year for Christmas.

These cards are from the 1990-91 NHL Pro Set (series two) and feature NHL head coaches.

My personal favorite is Bob Murdoch, screaming rather vehemently at someone off camera to his left. Murdoch was obviously a standout in the NHL’s ‘big glasses and a red tie era.’ He also won the 1989-90 Jack Adams Award as coach of the Winnipeg Jets.

Bob Murdoch

I’m giving honorable mention for the big glasses and a red tie getup to the Hartford Whaler’s Rick Ley (top, left) and runner-up honors to the Philadelphia Flyers’ Paul Holmgren:

Paul Holmgren

Rick Dudley, then head coach of the Buffalo Sabres, looks absolutely chill in his photo. And why wouldn’t he? The back of the card indicates that he finished third in the previous year’s Jack Adams Award voting. I imagine hipsters of today, whether they know it or not, owe much of their fashionable inspiration to Mr. Dudley.

Rick Dudley

And there’s three-time Jack Adams award winner Pat Burns, pictured here coaching the Habs, proving classy never goes out of style:

Pat Burns

Auld Lang Syne & adios 2011

29 Dec

So yeah, it’s the ubiquitous end-of-the-year blog post. I’d forego writing this entry, except I had an opportunity to see and do some things that I’ve always wanted this year:

World Junior Championships

Jack Campbell

I’ve dreamt of attending the U20 games for more than a decade now. So when Buffalo came up as the host city I scrambled to get tickets and a hotel room.

Unfortunately my stay was short and I didn’t get to see a medal game, but I did get to see the United States and Jack Campbell shutout Germany. Plus earlier in the day I got to see Slovakia play Switzerland – Nino Niederreiter had a pretty goal and I was excited to see Benjamin Conz play in his final year of eligibility.

@trashyleesuh and I also took a trip to Niagara Falls but neither of us have a passport so we couldn’t enter Canada. Overall it was a great experience. Buffalo has a nice downtown area and everyone was friendly. I hung out in the beer tent outside of HSBC, which I thought was an excellent arena with plenty of great seats and concessions. I also hung out in front of the TSN broadcast booth, but I never got to see Bob McKenzie.

Grand Canyon & Las Vegas

Grand Canyon

leesuh and I like to take annual vacations somewhere new and, at the time, we were big fans of gambling. So in the spring we flew to Las Vegas for a five-day, four-night stay at Treasure Island. leesuh didn’t have much luck on the slot machines but I finally got the nerve to play table games, namely blackjack, and won back most of the money I spent on machines and beer. I also did well on a few horse bets, even though I hardly knew how to bet on horses at the time.

Overall Vegas was cool, but we both felt old and out-of-place. I liked the dive bars and casinos off the strip and I caught up with a high school friend whom I haven’t seen in nearly two decades. But after the third day we were both burnt out. Everything in Vegas has a wonderful facade but everything there is also really shallow. The place is basically a huge McMansion in the desert, with slot machines and whores.

Hoover Dam

The bright spot of the vacation was a day-trip to the Grand Canyon. We spent a few hours at the South Rim and were both amazed. Yeah I know it’s cliche but holy shit, you gotta see the place to believe it. We decided that if we ever go back, we’ll spend much more time at the canyon and much less money on the Vegas strip.

We also got to see the Hoover Dam, which is anything but shallow.

Fallingwater & Kentuck Knob 

Kentuck Knob

After Vegas, we spent a weekend exploring Western Pennsylvania, where we live. We thought it was somewhat ironic that we were traveling west yet had never seen Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater or Kentuck Knob, which is pretty much right in our own back yard. The day we visited was very cold and brisk but we enjoyed Fallingwater and our tour guide was a real pleasure. The food at the little cafe was also quite pleasant, I’d probably go back just for another meal.

The real surprise however was the lesser known Kentuck Knob, originally commissioned by the Hagan family and now owned by Lord Palumbo. While the house itself is nice enough, the outdoors surrounding it have been transformed into a gallery of art objects by its current owner. I was pretty damn excited to see an actual piece of the Berlin Wall and there were many other great pieces too.

The Barnes Foundation 

Barnes Foundation

Early in 2011 I watched a documentary called “The Art of the Steal” about the closing of the original Barnes Foundation. If you haven’t seen it – or even if you have – I’ll spare you the synopsis. But it was one of the most moving documentaries I’ve ever seen and as soon as the credits rolled I began googling how to get tickets to the museum. Luckily I was able to get passes for the weekend of my birthday, one of the few remaining weekends open to the public. The museum was overwhelming, with paintings, metal objects and furniture displayed nearly floor to ceiling. It housed original work from a who’s who of influential painters and I was absolutely elated to see it before it closed.

We also scored rooms at the Wayne Hotel, which was historic and beautiful and set in a great little suburban section of Philadelphia. Plus we got to see leesuh’s brother and fiance before they moved to England to live and work.

Wild, Wonderful West Virginia 

Pipestem, WV

West Virginia is one of my favorite places on Earth. I simply love the state. I went to graduate school at West Virginia University in the late ’90s and would explore various areas on the weekends and breaks. It’s honestly one of the most beautiful places in the world, in my opinion. So I’ve made it an almost-annual tradition to go back each year and explore something new.

This year I got to see three new places: North Bend State Park (Cairo, WV), Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park (Parkersburg, WV) and Pipestem Resort State Park (Pipestem, WV). We also took side trips through the small towns of Thomas and Salem, and once again I was able to see the now defunct Pennsboro Speedway.

RIP Pennsboro Speedway

First goals, milestones & the Geno show December 17, 2011 at CEC

18 Dec

So last night I went to the Pens game with my good friend Ham Slap. I didn’t know what to expect with the recent injuries to the team and many people joked beforehand that Buffalo was essentially facing the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton baby Penguins. If you missed it, here’s what went down: 

Jason Williams: first NHL goal, third star

Simon Despres: first NHL goal, second star

Evgeni Malkin: hat trick and two assists, first star

We also saw Carl Sneep put up his first NHL point in his first NHL game; Marc-Andre Fleury’s 200th career win in net; Pascal Dupuis’ 300th career NHL point; and Brooks Orpik’s 100th career NHL point.

What a night! I can remember seeing some milestones in the ’90s at the Civic Arena but I was much younger then and didn’t fully appreciate them. At that time, I never bothered to wonder what my team would look like without Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis and Tom Barrasso. And while last night’s game wasn’t any more important than any other regular season game, I’ll always remember it fondly. After the turmoil of 2007 when Pittsburgh nearly lost this team to Kansas City, I’m glad to see promising young players getting their name on the scoring sheet at CEC for the first time.

p.s. here is Geno’s first star interview:

As for me and my family we will live amongst ‘the crazies’

18 Nov

I really like downtown Pittsburgh, I like it a lot. In fact I’d like to buy a home nearby. People say, “watch out for the crazies!” But I like crazy eccentric interesting people. I really do.

I grew up in rural America and didn’t really care for it. In 1991 I moved to Pittsburgh to attend college and, after graduating, ended up moving to several rural areas to advance my career. And just like my hometown, I didn’t especially like those places either.

So it was a life-changing experience in 2008 when I reconnected with @trashyleesuh and got a job in downtown Pittsburgh. I felt like I was back where I belong. The skyline, unique architecture and cute buildings, public transportation (late buses), panhandlers, street preachers … all of the things I missed so much were now right outside of my office window.

Three+ years later and we’re looking for a house to buy, her and I. A new neighborhood to explore, a community to join. I’m tempted to drive across a bridge or ‘up the parkway’ to a quiet suburban neighborhood and buy a cute little home beside cute little neighbors. But I’m also reminded of the beautiful chaos that I first found living downtown. And I really hope that I cannot only live amongst that chaos, but become an active part of it.

Growing up, my grandmother had a magnet attached to her refrigerator that said, “As for me and my family we will serve the lord.” I never found Jesus but I did find a place on Earth that I love.

Hazy shade of crazy

22 Jul

stumbled upon turntable.fm today thanks to a twitter friend and can’t walk away from it. for all the talk about social media sites i find that most of them lack conversation, so i’m really digging this place where i can play music, listen to other people play music and chat about it. if you’re a member, check out my room!

The dashboard melted but we still have the radio

21 Jul

It’s hot as hell and I haven’t updated this blog in weeks. I really don’t have much to say, but to keep this thing recent here are a few thoughts:

1) Every winter when it snows, I see my redneck Facebook friends post about ‘there goes Al Gore’s global warming theory!’ And right about this time of year I wonder if they have air conditioning in their mobile homes ’cause it’s fucking hot, hot, hot!

2) This whole debt ceiling thing, I have no idea what everyone’s talking about. The left seems to be pissed at President Obama for not having more balls and the right, well seem pissed off with their elected officials about not having more balls. Just goes to show that no matter who you vote for you never really win, IMO. The downside to having a two-party system is that every topic will be viewed in black-and-white. Unfortunately ‘shades of grey’ and any semblance of tolerance seem to be a foreign idea.

3) Things were so much better back when … I recently went to see ‘Midnight in Paris’ with my lovely partner leesuh. Was a great film and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. One of the subjects it dealt with was glorifying the past as being so much better than the present. I often get upset when I hear people talk about ‘the glory days.’ Are things really that bad right now? My immigrant forefathers worked like hell on a farm countless hours per day for little if any pay. I’m sure if they were alive today they’d be amused that the only thing I need to deal with on a nightly basis is traffic and which restaurant I’m going to dine at.

4) Robert Smith from the Cure is still one of my favorite people in the world. I heard this song today on the radio and fell in love with that band all over again …

 

 

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