Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Just some observations about David Gregory and Meet The Press ... an open email to NBC

Once upon a time I was a consistent Meet The Press viewer when Tim Russert was at the helm. I never required that any host be in lock step with my point of view, but rather that they had a clear and unbiased view of what are considered the requisites of good journalism. Finding a qualified replacement for Mr. Russert was certainly not an easy job, and I believe you have failed completely in that endeavor.

David Gregory is a pitiful excuse for a journalist when you consider that NBC was the network that gave us John Cameron Swayze, Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, John Chancellor, Frank McGee, Tom Brokaw, and Roger Mudd. And considering that John Cameron Swayze's journalism credentials were a bit thin, the respect he garnered far outweighs anything that Mr. Gregory has achieved ... or could ever hope to. Taking into account the other journalism greats that the other networks have given us like John Charles Daly, Howard K. Smith, Harry Reasoner, Walter Cronkite, Bob Schieffer, Peter Jennings, Frank Reynolds, Barbara Walters, and so forth, your attempted inclusion of Mr. Gregory in that exemplary group of journalists is not just futile, it's embarrassing to the point of being reprehensible.

The suggestion on the rumor mill that Chuck Todd is a possible replacement merely perpetuates the fraud. Just like Mr. Gregory, he is a good front man for the 'party' line. Clearly, they both appear to subscribe to the belief that paycheck comes before integrity, in spite of the fact that the audience appears to prefer it the other way around. As it is, Meet The Press is fast becoming 'Meet The Press with David Gregory and Senator John McCain.' Does that suggest to anyone at NBC that just maybe the program and its pathetic host have become shrills for the political right in general and the GOP in particular? Does anyone at NBC realize that "FOX News" does a much better job of that? How about making any reasonable connection between current program content and loss of audience?

Any effort to return Meet The Press to anything approaching its former glory and respectability will likely include someone like Rachel Maddow, or someone with her credibility. Of course, the upshot of that is that Sen. McCain would likely refuse to appear with anyone who would dare to question his perfect grasp of everything anyone needs to know about the American Government and the American People. As is becoming perfectly clear by the loss of audience, apparently the viewing public does not share the Senator's enthusiasm for his self-declared perfection. For my money, being able to tune into Meet The Press without the Senator's visage of hate, racism, and self-centered and self-serving WASP misogyny would be an absolute delight. After all, the Senator's opinions have been supplied ad infinitum and ad nauseum by the likes of Meet The Press. Don't you suppose there just might be other opinions out there that are worth sharing ... or is it your intent to rename the show "The Senator John McCain Show - No Press Needed?"

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Love for a child ....

"There's a picture on my kitchen wallLooks like Jesus and His friends involvedThere's a party getting started in the yardAnd there's a couple getting steamy in the car, parked in the driveWas I too young to see this with my eyes?
And by the pool that night, apparentlyThe chemicals weren't mixed properlyYou hit your head and then forgot your nameThen you woke up at the bottom by the drainAnd now your altitude and memory's a shame
What about taking this empty cup and filling it upWith a little bit more of innocence, I haven't had enoughIt's probably because when you're youngIt's okay to be easily ignoredI'd like to believe it was all about love for a child +
When the house was left in shamblesWho was there to handle all the broken bits of glassWas it mom who put my dad out on his ass or the other way around?Well, I'm far too old to care about that now
What about taking this empty cup and filling it upWith a little bit more of innocence, I haven't had enoughIt's probably because when you're youngIt's okay to be easily ignoredI'd like to believe it was all about love for a child
It's kinda nice to work the floor since the divorceI've been enjoying both my Christmases and my birthday cakesAnd taking drugs and making love at far too young an ageAnd they never checked to see my gradesWhat a fool I'd be to start complaining now
What about taking this empty cup and filling it upWith a little bit more of innocence, I haven't had enoughIt's probably because when you're youngIt's okay to be easily ignoredI'd love to believe it was all about love for a childIt was all about love"

Monday, July 1, 2013

... about Pittsburgh's diverse neighborhoods!

I don't know about the rest of the country, but the attempt to point out the importance of preserving culture to people from the Greater Pittsburgh Area is laughable. Probably due mostly to the roots of the steel industry in the area, immigrants of all sorts have come at various times in large numbers in search of the jobs steel had made possible. (Original iron furnaces from 1815 can be found in the area.)  Along with those immigrants came their various cultures that reflected their native countries, social practices, and religions.

Pittsburgh had many diverse neighborhoods which retain an identification with the nationalities that brought them into being – the Hill district, Polish Hill, Dutchtown (Deutschtown), the Strip District, Old Allegheny, etc. - and at the same time reflect the merging and integration of the many pockets of immigrants that make up the area. Pittsburgh was a major 'stop' on the Underground Railroad located not too far from Avery College established in 1849 to provide Classical education to Negroes. The entire area looks forward every year to the many Arts Festivals, International Villages, Food Festivals, and so forth where the particulars of each nationality are celebrated in food, dance, music, art, costume, and custom – did I mention food? Of course, food is the one area where we can meet no matter what our ancestral background, and delight over the diversity of the culinary preferences of other people.

Most Pittsburghers in the area know when and where to show up for these diverse dietary delights. The Rib festival, the Arts Festival – both downtown and Shadyside, International Village in McKeesport, and a myriad of celebrations by the various churches in the area. (We all have our favorite church where we pick up a lenten meal of Fish or Fish Sandwich, Haluski, Halupki, cole slaw, etc., or our favorite Greek church for grilled lamb, Spanakorizo, moussaka, Souvlaki, gyros, baklava, etc.)

In addition, the contribution of Pittsburgh Musicians to jazz is second to none - if you wanted to hear good jazz you couldn't miss the lower hill. There's the 28 Nationality rooms in the University of Pittsburgh”s Cathedral of Learning – 26 in constant everyday use – which reflect the cultural diversity of the area. Don't forget the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, America's longest-running multicultural song and dance company, a unique ensemble of talented young folk artists dedicated to the performance and preservation of the music, songs, and dances of Eastern Europe and neighboring folk cultures.

Of course, there's a lot more if you're interested, and I suspect everyone in every corner of the nation has similar aspects of community which they celebrate if you take the time to look. (Heck, it wasn't until I visited Dallas at New Years that I discovered the whole world doesn't celebrate the New Year with pork, kielbasa, and sauerkraut as we do in Pittsburgh. But I learned to love me some Black Bean Soup!)   

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pittsburgh Ranked Smartest City in America

Per Pittsburgh Magazine: Pittsburgh Ranked Smartest City in America

According to data on the 100 most populous cities in the U.S., Pittsburgh is the brainiest of the bunch.



Henry Ford once said that failure is simply the opportunity to begin again — this time more intelligently. That observation seems particularly relevant to Pittsburgh’s remarkable post-industrial transformation. For decades after the steel industry’s collapse, Pittsburgh was the butt of jokes (heck, even the rebooted “Arrested Development” hit the ’Burgh with a low blow recently).

While the rest of the world slept on our city, we rebuilt — this time more intelligently.

Now we’re the pound-for-pound smartest city in America, according to data compiled by Motovito. The prolific real-estate website mined data from the following criteria to formulate its rankings:
  • Universities and colleges per person
  • Libraries per person
  • Education level
  • Media per person (newspapers, TV, radio, magazines)
  • Museums per person
  • Public school rank

Pittsburgh topped the list of brainy cities, followed by Orlando; Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; and Honolulu.

You may also find it relevant that Baltimore was 38th on the list. Cleveland? 47th.

We’re an enlightened bunch, but we put in the perspiration, too. Two weeks ago, research firm Scarborough revealed that Pittsburgh has the highest newspaper readership rate in the nation. So take your outdated Pittsburgh jokes and stuff ’em, Ron Howard.

For the full rankings, including the methodology, head to Motovito.

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I'm not exactly clear why you would become a part of a group on Facebook where absolutely everyone thinks the same way you do - a group where the slightest deviation is cause for a verbal attack and verbal abuse.  Recently, I found myself in a political group to which I had become a member by being placed there by the founder of the group without asking,  [Note:  I'm not complaining about that, Although an invitation would have been preferred, I always had the option to leave.] I posted a suggestion that Hilary Clinton was now available on twitter and for those who were interested they could now follow her if they desired.  My suggestion was essentially that this was an option for anyone who hadn't as yet abdicated political responsibility - although my original wording was somewhat less of an indictment. Understand, I don't care whether you support her of not, I was simply suggesting that for those who need more contact and more information, this was a viable option - IMHO!  (...and yes I did say that!)  Don't you know I got a response as if I had attacked someone with a vaginal ultrasound!  It's always interesting when you make a comment directed at no one person in particular, and someone picks that shoe up and tries it on ... and it fits! 
With all due respect to complete disclosure, I do belong to some groups where like minds get together, but it is for the purpose of broadening one's understanding of the central political focus ... and yes, sometimes strong arguments do arise. However, up front we have all agreed that there are areas where we'll have to agree to disagree.  Just for the record, the last post by someone else was a personal attack to which I decided I was not going to respond.  I removed my posts, blocked the attackers and then went to leave the group.  It was at that moment I discovered that I had already been booted - an action which when preceded by a personal attack that you are prevented from answering clearly indicates that kindergarten is in session and you have been kicked out of the school yard by the other children.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner at the Barn in Ligonier

by Carson's Premier Catering; Scottdale, PA  (Premier?  Seriously?)

     I went with a group to celebrate Thanksgiving at the Barn in Ligonier with Carson's "Premier" Catering.  Unfortunately, Carson's failed the most important requirement for a buffet:  The items on the buffet line should have a nodding acquaintance with heat ... at least warmth.  The only reason I make any reference to the word 'warmth' is that the room temperature was so cool that indeed anything with a modicum of heat would seem 'warm.'
       I asked for coffee and was served what I can best describe as a tea cup of coffee - I had no idea they made coffee cups so small - in fact, so small that one creamer was almost too much for the cup.  However, I didn't feel so bad when I saw my friends with, for instance, a rocks glass with iced tea in it - not the alcoholic beverage 'iced tea' but just plain ordinary iced tea!
      Back to the buffet line: NO buffet line should EVER be permitted to get that cold if for no other reason than health safety.  Back at the table, I placed some of the linguine against my wrist to see if I was being unreasonable.  I would be surprised if any part of the buffet was over 100ยบ F.  To save time, let me say the entire line was dry where no additional liquid was involved.  That included stuffed breast, white meat turkey, baked fish, dark meat turkey - which I thought was ham from the color, and Brussels sprouts baked within an inch of their life.
       I had taken some linguine noodles - in a white sauce - which I found out later was actually 'clam' sauce - apparently ONE half naked clam dragged through a bucket of cream sauce!  The stuffing came out of the pan like a dry slice, but like the mashed potatoes, was much improved after you added a ladle of gravy. The corn was obviously from a restaurant sized can of corn which was then cooked in a huge amount of butter.
       I went back to try a small serving of the fish and just a taste of the filet mignon.  The fish was cod near as I could tell, and it was very flaky - anything that dry couldn't help but be flaky!  For the filet I asked for a very small taste and I was not disappointed, it was indeed a small taste.  I expected a nice rush of beef flavor, but instead, since the filet had been marinated apparently with Italian Dressing, I experienced nothing that I enjoyed.  You should never have to marinate a choice piece of tenderloin. Especially filet mignon. It is the most tender part of the cow.
       On the plus side, the desserts were outstanding  - particularly the pumpkin cheesecake.  Amazingly, there were two perhaps ten gallon size containers of ice cream with a slotted spoon for your serving convenience sitting on the table - good luck trying to dislodge any ice cream from the solidly frozen bucket with a slotted spoon while trying to hold onto a plate!
       One final note:  I was surprised to see guys in shorts and tee shirts, or dirty, worn and / or torn blue jeans in the mix of customers.   That suggests to me that many who sing the praises of this caterer are not necessarily given to knowledgeable and honest assessment of their product.  Many locals swear by this local caterer.  However, 'local' is not in any way an indication of quality, only a potential recommendation of community support - quality not withstanding.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post Election Rant to a Friend

I'm okay ... just trying to recoup after the elections.  While I have the opportunity, I have to say how glad I am that you kept the political discussion page going.  Initially, I would have thought that we would have been reduced to more social and casual conversations in the aftermath, but then I never expected the bat shit crazies to "have a new birth of freedom," as Lincoln would say.  It's one thing for the Gophers to stand in a burning house and claim they don't smell smoke, but it's quite another to stand in a pile of ashes and say, "What fire?"

But alas, on our side of the aisle we also have a loose spoke or two. After Lincoln's Gettysburg address, the next day the Democratic-leaning Chicago Times observed, "The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat and dishwatery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."  In contrast, the Republican-oriented New York Times was complimentary.  In Massachusetts, the Springfield Republican printed the entire speech, calling it "a perfect gem" that was "deep in feeling, compact in thought and expression, and tasteful and elegant in every word and comma."  I guess I can take some solace in the observation that Lincoln's GOP looked more like today's Democratic party.

I am having some difficulty comprehending the absolute outrage of the GOP members - as if they have every right to lash out at anyone who doesn't perfectly agree with them.  Given the shenanigans from one end of the country to the other to limit access to voting and otherwise limit the number of Democrats who could make it to the polls,  you and I both know that President Obama's margin of victory in both the electoral college and the popular vote - as outstanding as both are  - represents in reality a minimum number of supporters.  Had the election been truly open equally to all, the GOP with have been all but destroyed.

In short, I guess I'm trying to get over the undeniable reality that former President Bush did not 'leave any child behind" ... he practically left entire states behind ... starting with Mississippi!  The last ten days after the election has been for me one jaw-dropping reality after another.  From Poopy-Head to Rush Limbaugh to Bobby Jindal - it's one thing to claim political rhetoric, it's quite another to claim allegiance to fantasy!

I suspect I will be over my bad self shortly.  I certainly have realized that we have a lot more work to do:  supporting a two party system and working to create a 2nd party whose ass is something other than a gorgeous hat, or a "Ticket to Ride" to planet Kolob.