Some Monday Shorts

There was a break in the bleak weather and a small break in the workload at work, so we spent the weekend doing weekend things instead of surfing the web and finding some dork topic to spout off on. Instead, I have some short thoughts on things that are not worth a whole article.


Recently, Pittsburgh has joined a socioeconomic and culinary trend that has been sweeping through the neighborhoods of the intellectually less gifted. I refer, of course, to the foofy cupcake shop. Now, I am never one to critcize those who are willing to spend stupid amounts of either time or money in the pursuit of culinary delights. My problem with the foofy cupcake is not with the theory, but the practice. If I am going to pay $2.50 for a small confectionary pastry, it better have more going for it than half a pound of butter creme on top.

In Pittsburgh, there are two new local instantiations of this new way to separate those with too much money from some of their cash. I have tried the one in Shadyside that is of higher repute, at least among the people I know. What I have to say is, if you want to spend $2.50 on cake and butter creme, I suggest you go by your local Giant Eagle and pick up some butter creme Gobs. Not only is the cake better, so is the butter creme. We tried three or four different kinds of cakes. They were uniformly dry, crumbly, tasteless, and generally lacked anything to recommend them except for the fact that they each cost as much as two and a half songs from iTunes.

And, lest you think I’m just being a grump, even the Pittsburgh Post Gazette agrees with me. You have to feel bad for anyone who apsires to make fancy food and gets dumped on by the Post Gazette.

Note: my friend Francisco (or it could have been Ray) came up with the term “yupcake.” I could never think of something that funny on my own.

Grade Inflation

We went to our first PSO concert in a while. It was very enjoyable. However, the show did point out a strange behavior of the PSO audience. This particular night, the young piano soloist gave what appeared to be a spirited performance of a concerto by Robert Schumann. I am generally bored by Schumann, and the performance here was not strong enough to shake me of my convictions. The band itself didn’t seem all that excited by it either. But, reaching the end of the piece, the audience members sprang up roaring their approval, eventually making the soloist walk out four or five times.

This ritual standing ovation has always puzzled me. I think it is fine to express appreciation for a performance that is particularly momentous. But to stand up at the end of every show and make a big show out of giving a standing O for even pedestrian performances of the odd warhorse seems to me to just cheapen to the whole enterprise.

Of course, when I stood up after the Sibelius Fifth Symphony that ended the concert, the woman sitting behind me huffed a bit about how she liked the piano player better.

First Ride

Took my first bike ride of the year this weekend. It’s been too cold or wet or busy before now. After fifteen years of this I’ve finally learned the core lesson of the early season ride. Anyone, no matter how old or feeble, can use their legs to drive a bike at 15-17mph on a flat road with favorable wind. But don’t be fooled. The second you hit that little rise, you will not feel as good as you did last year. So if you want to avoid that sick dizzy feeling that you can get from working too hard, just suck it up and take the hills slowly.

With this lesson, I successfully avoided feeling like I had to puke for an hour after the ride.

Parking Denied

Streets with parallel parking on them make drivers dumber. I have proof. How often has this happened to you?

You are creeping up the road looking for parking. You see a spot near the curb. You line yourself up to back into said spot. Just at that moment, the mental midget in the car behind you decides that he needs to creep up your tailpipe so that the whole line of cars can make progress. The result is that you can’t park and you have to spend the next fifteen hours driving in circles looking for parking. What the hell?

Ad Sense

The people who program the nationally broadcast advertising time slots for sports events at the major networks seem to me to lack a reliable sense of time. Apparently, they think that three in the afternoon is actually in the middle of the night when the kiddies have all gone to bed. I say this because all through the football season I had to endure promos for the horror and crime fiction shows on CBS and NBC, flipping the TV off if the child was in the room.

Then, this weekend, the Pens were on TV. I haven’t seen the Pens since they got good, so I watched a bit. Lo and behold, a promo for some movie that tells the touching story of how Spartan warriors disembowel their enemies came over the wire in between periods. Speaking of Spartans, just few minutes later, there was an extended ad for God of War, showing everyone’s favorite pale Spartan doing those God of War things. I guess blood in the afternoon is the new thing for the kids who like to watch sports.

Good show TV networks. Well played.


Speaking of God of War, I caved, so it’s time for my nightly ritual slicing and dicing of faceless enemies. More thoughts on God of War later this week.