Khan Movie Night?


KHAN!OK, Star Wars, Batman, and Indiana Jones nights have gone well.  I’d eventually like to do a Back to the Future day long event or series too.  I’m wondering how many people would be into a Khan movie night?

Ricardo Montalban first appeared as Khan in the Start Trek original series‘  Space Seed episode.  He reprized his role 15 years later in the movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

Khan is a favorite in the Star Trek universe, and I thought it might jump-start an interest in the Star Trek series, or at least the movie Fanboys.

Space Seed - Khan & Kirk

"It has been said that social occasions are only warfare concealed." - Khan

I was just going to wait for an afternoon or evening by myself to pop these in… but then thought, why not make it another movie night?  I think we can watch Space Seed thanks to Netflix, and I have the movie on Blu-ray.

Khan’s just a badass, and the eugenics wars are a really gripping concept.  I also thought it would be fun to see all of the contrasts between the TV show from the 60s and the movie from the 80s and how the actors, characters, & designs changed over time.

Would you dig it?

Ricardo Montalban Khan Star Trek 2

"No, Kirk. The game's not over. To the last I will grapple with thee!"

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Dark Knight Rises Trailer #2


So, it’s finally online with decent quality.  It popped up all weekend from poorly shot cell phone videos coupled with audio that sounded like a garbled speaker-blowing mess.  It was quickly taken down each time it popped up.

Warner Brothers must have had an army of geek-zombies patrolling the web, or one hell of a search-bot going.  They stuck down with the fury of an angry deity and swiftly removed any infractions.

It’s official & super high quality at Apple’s site, but it’s also elsewhere with a quick Google.

The Dark Knight Rises

Will Bane break the bat once & for all?

It was awesome to be a part of filming at Heinz Field that day for “Magnus Rex”, I owe many thanks to the people from BeInAMovie.com.  Bethany & I had a wonderful time.  I know my friend Erin & cousin Melynda were also elsewhere in the crowd in attendance that day.  Erin even got a badass Gotham Rogues T-shirt.  A lot of people snuck in cell phones & cameras that day.  I apparently naively did as we were instructed & didn’t bring anything like that for fear of being kicked out.

It was awesome that a Batman movie was filming in Pittsburgh.  I’m obviously a big Batman fan, so I couldn’t pass up the chance to attend.  It was a long hot day to be sitting in winter coats.  I can’t wait until this hits theaters!

Maybe when the Bluray comes out and we can pause it 8 bajillion times, we’ll be able to pick ourselves out.

Check out: Batman Movie Night

You love me, you really love me!


Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

So, this thing happened…

CBS Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

There was blogging, there was voting.  There was certainly some goofiness.  I still haven’t been contacted by anyone at CBS.  I know other bloggers have.  Just so they know, the contact form on my blog works quite well.  There was something about prizes, but the rules detailing how one could claim a prize are gone.  I really thought I had no chance of winning, as there are so many cool blogs out there.  I’m not sure what kind of bragging rights this gives me.  Do I get a T-shirt or stickers or something?  “Hey, I’m annoying and goofy on the internet!”

It’s good to know that I’m the people’s choice, and not the editor’s choice.  I blog for the people, not for the editors.  I bet I won begrudgingly.  Ha ha.  They were probably all like “Oh crap, not that one!”.  I have to say thank you to whoever nominated me, and thank you for all my friends & family (& readers – who most likely fall into one of the aforementioned groups) who voted!

Here are the results…

Dining and Entertainment

Local Affairs

Sports

Health, Fitness and Medical

Lifestyle and Family

Everything Else

I call shenanigans on Only In Pittsburgh & Beyond Willpower not winning at least one “choice” in their respective categories.  It’s also odd that some of the people’s choice & editor’s choice were the same thing…  Why not spread the love?  I will go all mushy on you now, & say that everyone wins here, because we all got some exposure & hopefully traffic to our blogs that we might not have had before.  I’ve even added a few of these to my WordPress reader/feed.  Go check out all the blogs and their descriptions, and see if there’s something that piques your interest!

Some of the ones I dig:

Hopefully we all say “yinz” without noticing and with pride.  Thanks CBS & Pittsburgh!  And, of course, thanks to these guys & gals for letting me know what’s up!

Thanks Peeps!

Thanks Peeps!

CBSPittsburgh.com’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

CBSPittsburgh.com’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

Celebrity Endorsement?


Sally Wiggin ❹

Sally Wiggin ❹

None can argue with the awesomeness of local celebrity, WATE-TV‘s own Sally Wiggin.  If you do argue, I’ll fight you.  Sally is awesome, in fact… she’s so awesome, that her hair has it’s own Twitter account.  You can find Sally on Wikipedia, Twitter, & Facebook (a few times)(There’s even a page called “Sally Wiggin Out” on Facebook.)  She’s a phenomenon.

Since Andrew Stockey is on Facebook all the time (he’s on Twitter too) , I was feeling goofy & decided to try & goad him into making a donation to the Pittsburgh Food Allergy Walk by invoking the name Sally Wiggin, as she’s the “Local Honorary Media Chair”…

Not gonna let Sally Wiggin get all attention for the Food Allergy Walk, are you? Care to make a donation...?

Not gonna let Sally Wiggin get all attention...

Somehow, Sally must have interpreted this as me asking her personally for a donation, as this appeared on my wall a few days later…

I did as you asked. Can't wait to meet you and Bethany at the walk.

I did as you asked. Can't wait to meet you and Bethany at the walk.

And she did!  You can see that Sarah Wiggin has generally made a contribution to my food allergy walk donation page: http://wwwofoodallergywalk.org/aixelsyd13

(This also humorously qualifies her for a limited run “king krab orange” T-shirt from Ernie of Ernie and the Berts – planning on giving her one at the walk, wonder if she’ll wear it?)

I’m not far from getting my name in the “top fundraisers” list on the Pittsburgh walk page.  Those people are still getting donations too… so keep ’em coming!

This post is to celebrate the generosity of Sally Wiggin, and to try and get other local celebrities and organizations to step up & donate… for a chance to be awesome like Sally.  (I have also received some initial contact from Chick-fil-A, Qdoba, & Giant Eagle… though no donations as of yet.)

You can also donate to my wife, Bethany… she’s not quite as “aggressive” as I am in collecting donations.  You can listen to this while you dig out your credit card…

Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011 …?


So, I’m checking out my WordPress stats (it’s like an addiction now), and I see this link:

blogger.cbslocal.com/most-valuable-blogger/score/27/1/

I clicked it, and it was asking for a login.  Huh?  I did a quick Google search and found this:  Pittsburgh’s Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011

It reads…

After much deliberation and careful consideration of many nominees, CBS Pittsburgh has narrowed the field of Finalists down for this year’s MVB. Voting for finalists is open now through September 9th. Let your voice be heard – vote now!

I’m in the list!  So, to whoever nominated me, thanks! You forgot to include “obviously insane” in the description:

The topics are enjoyable to read & are written in a way that is highly entertaining, while containing favorable opinions & insight.

VOTE FOR MY ASS!

Vote for me! Please?

I’m in the Dining/Entertainment category.  They have a badge up there, and they say to use it, so I will.  And, here’s where I’ll beg for your votes.  It looks like you can vote once a day in each category.  Apparently, you have from now to Sept. 9th to vote.  So, please… be obnoxious with your voting!  Vote daily for yours truly, and spread the word!

I have to warn you, if I win it’s just going to encourage more goofiness.  Fast food joints will most likely not be amused.

Also… in all seriousness, I was looking through the other nominees.  Use this as an opportunity to check out some other cool local blogs!  I see Only In Pgh is up, & I love that blog.  No one nominated Secret Agent L?  None of the blogs listed on UrbanSpoon Pittsburgh are up against me in the dining category?  There are a bunch of cool ones there!

Twitter has opened me up to the wonderful world of bloggers out there, both near & far.

Finalists Have Been Announced! Go Vote!

You dropped this...

Check out the contest, vote for your favorites, and tell me in the comments below which blogs I should be following & why.  (After you vote for me, of course.)

Thanks again to the nominator (whoever you are) and to any potential voters!

AllergyEats | Defining allergy-friendly restaurant survey results


So, a while ago I posted asking for you to help out Paul from Allergy Eats with defining “allergy-friendly” as it pertains to a restaurant.  I also took the time to post my own thoughts before I sent them on to be tabulated.

Well, now Paul has posted his summary & survey results to the still mysterious government body.  I enjoyed reading the results, so I thought I’d share:

AllergyEats | Blog Logo

AllergyEats Blog

The AllergyEats Blog | How do we define an allergy-friendly restaurant? A look at the survey results

It’s great to see the results, and I can’t wait to see where & how they’re put to use.  It’s also great that all of our comments were passed along with the report, so rest assured that your voice has been heard thanks to Paul.  Hopefully it lays groundwork for more gub’ment organizations to follow by example!  (Although, we need to push from a consumer level too.)

My take on the results… it looks like we’re all looking for everyone in the restaurant from kitchen to wait staff to managers to be trained in food allergies and cross-contamination and possibly even certified… which seems like a no-brainer.  Even if that’s all we get, it’s a great start.

Employee answering phone needs to be knowledgeable: 1

Apparently, I’m the only one who wants the person answering the phone to know what they’re talking about.  Ha ha.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to define shellfish on the phone, or ask if they have any only to get there after being told no… and they totally do.  Perhaps it’s shame on me for not asking to talk to a manager…  but the person answering the phone ought to be knowledgeable enough to hand-off such questions, so I stand by my statement.

Cross contamination: (42 responses)

Understands and avoids cross-contamination:  21

Separate and cleaned prep areas and cookware:  20

Should wash hands:  1

Who said they should wash their hands?  Seriously?  I hope they’re doing that anyway… and that they don’t really need those signs in the restroom as a reminder.

Treats ALL allergies the same, not just the Big 8: 1

Apparently I’m the lone theorist there.  Really?  Well, I’m in the Top 8 category, so I guess… yo hell with the rest of you!  Ha ha.

No nuts strewn about the restaurant: 1

This one agitates me.  If it’s part of the restaurant’s shtick/ambiance/personality… then just give it up.  I like being able to walk into Five Guys and grab a tray of peanuts.  I don’t expect (or want) to dine at Long John Silvers or Red Lobster any time soon.

Specific allergen menus available in-house (not just online): 13

Allergen symbol list on menus: 12

Online food allergy menu: 4

All excellent points.  I’ve blogged about the need for menu symbols before.  Let’s get this done, people!

Ability to print out all ingredients for customer / show labels to customer if necessary: 11

Great idea.  A representative from Bob Evans once emailed me a chart detailing where everything was cooked in the kitchen & what surfaces would be safe with my shellfish allergy while they has a seasonal Shrimp stir-fry dish.  How cool is that?

At any rate, read the Blog at AllergyEats, and leave some feedback whether you participated in the original survey or not… it’s still valuable.  I’d also appreciate any comments here.  I’m sure the peanut thing will get some people riled up.  Ha ha.

 

Defining Allergy-Friendly


AllergyEats.com

AllergyEats.com

So, quite a task has been put to the food allergy community by Allergy Eats:  Define what it means to for a restaurant to be “allergy-friendly”.

You may have seen it in a recent re-posting by me, or on your own.  I urge you to form your own response and send it to contact@allergyeats.com.  I figured that I’d use this blog to sort out my thoughts before I sent them on to Paul at Allergy Eats.  I don’t exactly how I’ve morphed in to a food allergy advocate of sorts, but I feel that it’s important to help out any way that I can, and encourage others to keep up work that moves us all in the right direction.  There are already some great comments on the blog, and I’m sure he’s got an inbox full of suggestions already… but it’s important to keep them coming so this can be looked at from multiple angles.

AllergyEats T-shirtI like bulleted lists for some reason, so that’s how I’ll try to organize my thoughts:

  • The restaurant has to have a policy that reaches to ALL levels. Too many times restaurants claim to have god allergy practices, but it doesn’t trickle down to the wait staff, the cooks, or anyone past management.  Having a policy is great, but it needs to be understood and respected through all levels.  I feel comfort in a place when the waitress has the manager or even the chef come out to discuss allergy & cross-contamination issues with me.  Training, some sort of certification, and re-training annually or semi-annually would be excellent.
  • Changing current thinking. This is a good one…  Today at Boston Market, I noticed a sign on top of the cash register that read something to the effect of “If you have food allergies, please talk to the manager before placing your order.”  It’s great they’re recognizing the fact that there are food allergies out there, but… the cash register is at the end of the counter, and only reached well after you place your order.  Also, I’d hope that someone with food allergies would already have a heightened awareness when going anywhere to eat.  (If not, please read this.) More thought needs to be put into place, not just “CYA” measures.
  • They have to exude reassurance. A poster is great.  An “allergy-friendly” menu is great.  A sign at the cash register or on your table or on the salad bar is great… but not enough.  In with the training on all levels, the sever (or whoever answers the phone) must bee confident with the answers that you want to hear.  No “I don’t think” or “not really” or “I’m not sure so you’d just better not order that” will do.  Have the right answers.  Know why.  Understand the severity.  Knowledge of the kitchen and where everything is cooked should be a must for servers and managers.  Nuts can’t just be “picked off”.  There’s no such thing as “oh a little won’t hurt” with butter.  The fryer doesn’t “get hot enough to kill anything you’re allergic to”.  It’s unsettling fr someone with food allergies to dine out.  Making them feel safe is a must for “friendliness”.
    • On a related note… especially the person answering your phone.  When dining out of town, I try to call ahead (or get my wife to call ahead for me).  My favorite response ever was an Amish place in Ohio where I asked if they had shellfish (“like shrimp or crab or oysters” I said)… the girl went on to say “No, we have oysters, but they’re in soup, and there’s shrimp… but it’s not in a shell.”  Needless to say, we didn’t go there.
  • All allergies are equal. It’s great to see “nut free” options, or “gluten-free” menus, but let’s treat all allergies with the same respect to cross contamination.  The top 8 are; Milk, Egg, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, Soy, & Wheat.  But, there are others too!  I know of people with severe allergies to peppers, and have heard of corn allergies.  These people need to feel safe too!  Current government regulations don’t regulate the labeling of any allergens other than the top 8, so that’s all that people seem to pay attention to.  Special attention needs to be given to all kinds of allergies, not just one allergen or group of singled-out allergens.
  • Know what you’re serving. Are their anchovies in the Italian dressing or Worcester sauce?  Is this fried in peanut oil?  The server shouldn’t necessarily need to know off hand, but this information should be able to be provided upon request. Having it in written form would be tremendous.  (We could go into other special dietary needs here too… not an allergy, but I have an aunt with Diverticulitus who needs to know if there are seeds or nuts that may be ground up and hidden in things like dressing or soups or bread.) Listing all this on a website would be excellent.
  • Separate locations & utensils for allergy-free meal preparation. Cross-contamination is huge.  I don’t worry about a mutant lobster crawling into my mouth by itself… but I do worry (immensely) that some scallop juice might be on the grill where my steak was cooked… or that someone who just made a shrimp cocktail didn’t wash their hands before making my salad.  I’d love to know that the place where I’m dining has a fish or shellfish only fryer, separate grill spaces for different kinds of meat (even a vegetarian/vegan section would be cool), even separate cutting boards, prep areas, knives, and other utensils.
    • Keep the nuts off the salad bar… near their own station.
    • Hey Subway, don’t put the “seafood” sub stuff right next to the other lunchmeat, and don’t cut those subs with the same knife you use for all the other subs!
  • Ability to accommodate the unusual. Say someone has an inhalation allergy to peanuts…  Can you seat them somewhere so that the people at the next table are able to order some peanut-encrusted dessert without throwing them into an anaphylactic fit?  Can you do this without rolling your eyes, sighing, and making it a big deal?
  • Special markers/identifiers. I saw a commenter note this in the comments on the Allergy Eats blog post, and it’s absolutely brilliant.  Something ought to be a literal red flag… in the system, on an order ticket, on the check, on even the plate itself.  Everyone knows that orange-rimmed coffee pots mean decaf.  Why not red for allergies?  Or get crazy & assign a color to each of the top 8 & one for “other” allergies?  Did I read that Legal Sea Foods does double-plating or something to that effect?  It’s genius.  I’d like to extend the symbols idea to the menu too… why not have some sort of system with easily recognized food allergy icons?

That’s my take for now, but there are already many other great suggestions in the comments section over at Allergy EatsPlease, take the time to send yours to contact@allergyeats.com before Feb. 2nd!