Are You Serving #Cookies or #Dookies? Click to not break your guests’ hearts.


Nothing kills holiday cheer faster than when someone offers you Christmas cookies; you gleefully accept and are presented with a tray covered in little jelly-filled things, lemon bars, and crap with nuts or coconuts all over it.

“Cookies” implies deliciousness, like chocolate chip, Hershey’s Kiss or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cookies, peanut butter cookies (fork-pressed cross-hatches with no chunks of nuts), Rice Krispies treats (in any iteration including chocolate and peanut butter shenanigans), Christmas wreaths, or even lady-locks or lady-fingers (or whatever you call them).  I’ll even give you buckeyes.

“Cookies” does not include anything with jelly in the middle, anything with nuts on or in it, lemon squares, Fig Newtons, anything with coconut shavings or flavoring.  These are (in a term coined by my friend Saurav I believe) in fact “Dookies.”

Cookies vs. Dookies

Sugar cookies and shortbread are barely passable as cookies. (Sorry, Eat n’ Park.)

Pizelles can be tricky.  Some of them are delicious, and some taste like what I imagine licking the inside of a dumpster in August would be like.  If you use a spice called annis that sounds almost like anus, you get what you deserve.

Chocolate covered pretzels, Oreos, peanut butter crackers, etc. are acceptable.

Red licorice is OK, black licorice is not.

Thumbprints can be tricky too.  If they have chocolate icing, usually only the icing is edible.  The rest is tasteless powder formed into a cup of lies.

Do we need someone to make a flow chart?  Are you getting this?  Don’t ruin someone’s Christmas by offering cookies when you’re presenting dookies.

Please, sort it out in the comments.

Merry Christmas 2013!


So, I haven’t blogged much over the last year or so.  The new job has me out & around… not near a desk with time on my hands to save a draft & come back to it later.  I also have less time to monkey around on the internet as it’s mostly taken up by our sweet little girl once I am home.  Speaking of home, that’s new too.  We finally bought a house and are no longer renters!

Check out our little sweet pea in an album on Facebook if you’re interested.  This was the day after moving, and 2 days after Molly turned six months old.  Photos by Kristina Serafini.  This was the one we chose for the Christmas card this year:

Stationery Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Hopefully I can adapt how I blog, maybe use the android app… to get my thoughts out there. Maybe it’ll be shorter less link-filled stuff. Maybe not. Maybe I can do drafts with the phone and edit/post/link/add media later.

The house is taking some time to get set up, but eventually I’ll have all my toys in a room that will make blogging and computer time easier.  I also have a nice workbench now so I should be able to monkey with my guitars more often.  I have some ideas to put into play.

This has been a crazy year.  New job, new baby, new house.  What’s next?

How have things been for everyone out there in WordPress land?

In the spirit of Christmas, check out this post, and join in:

Horrible Christmas Presents…


So if you’re looking for a Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa or Festivus gift… You may not want to go with these, unless you’re trying to give some kind of hint that you don’t like the recipient. I’ve heard them advertised on the radio lately, and they’re both just ridiculous.

Go nuts over Fresh Balls!

Go nuts over Fresh Balls!

Fresh Balls – “So Fresh. So Dry.” | It is what it sounds like. Some kind of deodorant, lotion, or talc for application to your apparently sweaty coin purse.  Maybe I’m not active or sweaty enough, but I’ve never considered this a real problem.  They advertise buying it for someone as a gift.  Who’s damp smelly package are you close to on a regular basis?  I have some good friends, and I’ve thankfully never smelled their family jewels.  If I ever do smell someone’s nether-regions, I’ll be sure to tell them about Fresh Balls.

✔ Badass colors ✔ Badass patterns ✔ Badass warranty

✔ Badass colors ✔ Badass patterns ✔ Badass warranty

Seats of Anarchy – “Custom toilet seats for hard asses.” | I love some good terrible wordplay, but the name is almost as atrocious as the idea. I’ve never watched Sons of Anarchy, but do they poop a lot?  If they did, I could see the point to this then.  If your man cave is your bathroom… maybe this would be appropriate?  Someone better get their Copyright and/or Trademark lawyers on this pretty quickly.  Nothing says badass like a camouflage toilet seat, or one with barbed wire.  Guarantee that all your guests will hover!  “Designer” toilet seats for manly men and bikers…  It sounds like a crappy idea.  Get it?  Crappy?  Toilet seat?  Ugh.

So, what have you seen lately what would make a horrible holiday present?  Anything as bad as (or worse than) these?

A Christmas Story in Dormont


A Christmas Story

Image via Wikipedia

So, last night we went to the Hollywood Theater in Dormont to see A Christmas Story.  It was a joint venture with In Person Productions, and they brought Ian Patrella (Randy) to the theater for a meet n’ greet & commentary.  It was a great time, despite a few little quirks in the evening.

The Hollywood itself is a cool little theater, the first time my wife & I had gone there, we saw Inglourious Basterds, and we sat in the balcony.  It was very cool to see that movie in a little local theater.  Although we didn’t, we could walk there.  Ha ha.  It’s a great thing to have in your neighborhood.

Last night, there was a decidedly different atmosphere.  Of course, Christmas decorations and attire were everywhere… it was quite festive.  We arrived and were ushered in, and moved on to the concession stand.  We decided on just a large Coke to share, and were greeted warmly & quickly, although the woman made sure to note that we had several scary movies coming up in December.  Ha ha.  Do I look scary, or like a horror fan?  Maybe it’s the facial hair.

We got inside & chose some seats on the floor, near the middle in the back.  There were quite a lot of people there already when we arrived, and many more flocked in behind us.

Before the movie, Mr. Bending form In Person Productions introduced a representative for local EMT’s, as they were benefiting from a Red Ryder B.B. Gun raffle, and then introduced Ian Patrella and a gave a little talk about how the evening was going to run.

Then, they trotted out Dormont’s mayor, Tom Lloyd, to present a key to the city to Mr. Patrella.  Mayor Lloyd is a bit of a hot-button issue ’round Dormont if you’ve been paying attention to the news.  I know Mr. Lloyd has been pushing for revitalization of small businesses in Dormont… or at least that’s what his bio says, but there’s also been a quite public pissing contest (for lack of a better term) between the Mayor & the Police Chief, or maybe even two at this point.  I know it has to do with GPS units in local police cars, who can use what door to go in & out of the municipal building, and who has the power to cancel parking and/or other traffic citations… and I think even who the fines should go to, if they’re local or state violations.  Also, apparently who has the biggest cojones.  My bet’s on Mr Lloyd’s, as they’re probably dragging on the floor at this point.  Pardon my vulgarity, but really… I’ve gotten way to many impeach the mayor post cards in the mail, and too many letters to the editor in the local quarterly newsletter to take either side seriously at this point.

Speaking of point… I’m leading into the fact that Mr. Lloyd presenting a key to the city to Mr. Patrella may have not been a great decision at this point in time.  The mayor was visibly physically in distress, and I know you’re not supposed to discriminate on age, but I found myself wondering aloud how he’s able to carry out official duties.

Also… upon presentation of the key to Mr. Patrella, he proceeded to tell him that he’s never seen the movie.  Yes, we’re talking about A Christmas Story.  Yes, Mayor Lloyd looks about 347 years old.  Yes, they run A Christmas Story for 24 hours every Christmas on TBS or TNT or whatever channel.  Yes, he actually told the actor from the movie that he’d never seen the movie.  It was all very odd.  Then, he very conspicuously ambled up the aisle after presenting the key… taking his 4-5 person entourage with him.  So, apparently he couldn’t spare a few hours to watch the movie now?  I found the whole ordeal quite disrespectful to Ian, In Person Productions, and the Hollywood Theater.  Perhaps he has political or social ties to the FOHT, but they ought to reconsider letting him embarrass the city in the future.

Ian Patrella (Randy from A Christmas Story) & Me

Ian Patrella & Me

Mr. Patrella was going to provide commentary during the film, but they apparently had mic or PA issues, and he wasn’t able to really shout over the film.  I hope they got the issues resolved for the rest of the showings this weekend.  I did really appreciate the Q&A at the beginning of the evening.  Ian is a great public speaker & Q&A guy, & seemed to be genuinely having a great time.  He’s currently giving tours at the house used for the outdoor scenes which is now an A Christmas Story themed museum.  He was very cool at the meet & greet after the movie, and took the time to pause with me for a photo and sign my DVD.  I hope to make the road-trip out there some time soon!  You can also win an all-inclusive package trip by reenacting a scene from the film at AChristmasStoryScene.com!

The other interesting part of the evening was a little troll that sat behind us during the film, mouthing off how incredibly bored he was not only at the pre-film ceremonies, but during the actual film viewing itself.  He continued to ramble & talk about totally unrelated things.  After a while, my wife had enough, turned around, and asked him to please be quiet.  He mumbled inaudibly as he was scolded by the woman he was with and giggled-at by the couple they were with.  Then the big shot said “I asked ‘what is she gonna make me?'”  Yes.  This was a grown man.  I was turning to look as he asked “Is he gonna make me?  I raised up slightly in my seat, as he slouched in his.  He didn’t say one more word for the entire duration of the film.  Apparently I do look scary.  We saw the little guy afterward, and he was just under 5 feet tall.  Apparently he had something that he though he needed to prove, then decided it wasn’t that important.  I’d love to know out of a theater full of people, why people like this seem to gravitate towards wherever I’m sitting.

All in all though, the idea & the execution of the evening was great as far as the Hollywood, In Person Productions, & Mr. Patrella went.  I’d like to catch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation there later in December.  I also cant wait to see who In Person brings around in the future.  I shot off an email when we got home to let the Hollywood & In Person Productions know what a great time we had, and Mr. Bendig from In Person wrote back very quickly, with another message to follow.  I look forward to some of the movies and personalities that they’re looking to bring to the Hollywood.  (Did somebody say… Monster Squad?)

So, what are you thankful for?


OK, I do a lot of goofy stuff here on the blog.  I tend to rant about things, as this forum lends itself easily to that.  Hopefully those of you that know me IRL know I’m not always a grumbly curmudgeon.  I use ranting as humor, not as a way of life.

Tonight as this posts, we’ll be cleaning up the clutter, we’ve already chopped the bread for stuffing, and we’re probably prepping the turkey… but let’s not forget what’s important this time of year; It’s a great time to take stock of things, and be thankful for all that we have.  You can thank a higher power, karma, yourself, or other people in your life who have helped or influenced you.  When I think about it, I have a lot of things to be thankful for.  As you get ready for the holiday crunch, anticipated gatherings, getting the place clean or packing the car for a road trip… think about what you’re thankful for.  Pardon my foray into the mushy.

A wife that puts up with my shenanigans.  We can be goofy together, and it makes life fun.  We have different points of view on pretty much everything, so we’re always (OK, most of the time) looking at things from more than one perspective.  She supports my Batman and Star Wars obsessions, and I hate to say I’ve learned to like Glee.  That’s how we roll.

A big family.  I’m an only child, but I’m always surrounded by & get along well with my extended family… now extended to my wife’s family since they’re all also close-knit.  I’m thankful that things like Facebook exist to keep us all in contact.  I’m not a phone person, but I can do FB to keep tabs on the fam.  I’m thankful that when we get together at Grandma’s this year, we’ll be throwing dinner rolls across the dining room at each other, and discussing wildly inappropriate things at the dinner table.

A band that is pretty ridiculous.  It’s cool to have a band that’s relaxed, and seems to get things done.  I have fun playing, and I hope people have fun listening and watching.  For me, it’s a creative outlet that can’t be matched.  To have the opportunity to write stuff, gig out, and now to get an “actual” album pressed & produced is a big deal to me.  When I say relaxed, I don’t meant to convey that a lot of effort doesn’t go into what we do… it’s just that we don’t stress about it.  It’s difficult to find a group of people on compatible levels of taste, work ethic, stage presence, talent, and most of all personality.  I think we have this one right.

Friends for the long-haul.  I know a lot of cool people.  I’ve met them through camp, church, rocking out with various bands, jobs, and all even these things that we used to call “message boards” back in the 1900’s.  There are friends I see often, some I see less so, but I think we’re all solid on where we stand, no matter the time interval that passes between hanging out & catching up.  You know who you are.

That’s just a few of the plethora of things I have to be thankful for… without even getting into material possessions, and resisting the urge to be a smart-ass.

Maybe I’ll add some more in the comments or another blog later.

What are you thankful for?  (Real sentiments and smart-assedness encouraged.)

And now, the stuffing…

And now, the stuffing…

AllergyEats interview with CEO of FAAN…


I’ve been meaning to reblog this for a a few days, but it’s been a hell of a week.  I haven’t posted any food allergy propaganda in a while, so I figured it may be time.

Check out this article from AllergyEats: An interview with Julia Bradsher, CEO of FAAN

An excerpt that got me a little excited:

Restaurant legislation is starting to get introduced in other states, too.

In Pennsylvania, House Bill 45 would require training programs designed to prepare candidates for certification exams to include training on food allergies, including a video and written materials.

Legislation in PA?  I need to do a little more research and some letter-writing.

While I generally would like to see a consumer-driven allergy-friendly service movement because I feel the “want to” motivation is better than the “have to” motivation, I don’t see legislation like this as a bad thing at all.  More education, information, and training on food allergies can only help everyone involved… and  hopefully over time help food allergy issues to be taken more seriously than they currently are.

While you’re over checking out the AllergyEats site, don’t forget they’re giving away free T-shirts!

 


The Trans-Siberian Orchestra @ Mellon Arena (Review)


You may have read my earlier posts about the seats for Star Wars: In Concert, and how complaining about them eventually translated into two free seats for yesterday afternoon’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra show.

Our seats were in the EI-2 section, row L.  We were ridiculously close to the stage and not so far up & to the side that we couldn’t appreciate the view.  I need to write to Mr. Scalzott again for providing the free tickets and hospitality of the arena.

I’ve got to say, this was an excellent show… and I’d love to go back if I can afford to next time they’re in town.  The TSO really knows how to put on an event.  The Star Wars: In Concert crew could learn a lesson from them in lighting, lasers, fog machines,  floating remote stages, hydraulics, and pyrotechnics.  Actually, they could learn a few lessons.  I can imagine a hybrid of the two that would be absolutely ridiculous.  Maybe I need to write to the TSO, John Williams, and George Lucas.  Ha ha ha.

A few things surprised me about the show…  I had no idea that there were vocals & power-ballady type songs, and that there  was a cohesive story for the most part.  I feel like it kept it entertaining for all types of people.  The narrator & vocalists were awesome.  Sadly my prior knowledge of the TSO consisted of an mp3 with an incorrect ID3 tag, mislabeling “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24” for “Carol of the Bells” (which it arguably is… along with “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”).

I had no idea that Alex Skolnick or the other guys from Savatage were associated with this.  Skolnick wrote articles for just about every guitar magazine that I ever picked up back when I was learning to play & read tab.  They made the show like a metal concert at times… I thought one guy in the front was going to have a heart attack and die when he threw metal with both hands as Alex was molesting the fretboard in front of him.  When the show reached it’s second half, they introduced some stuff from the new album, Night Castle.  I swear they snuck some Sabbath & Metallica riffs in there.  There was even an old-school 80’s-rock drum solo… and I think I loved the fact that old ladies were watching the solo in abject horror as much as I liked the spectacle itself.  They also had a girl playing the electric violin… I saw it more than I heard it… but it was visually pretty cool element, like the spinning keyboard.

I didn’t know that it had heavy religious overtones.  I mean, I knew it was a holiday concert… and I’m certainly not opposed to religious ideals.  I just didn’t know, and found it surprising… especially with tightly clothed women dancing like strippers in front of fire.  I think it’s cool that they can integrate the stuff, maybe some overzealous idiot out there got the message to loosen up a bit.  While they played a medley that included the melody of “Canon in D”, the girls were dancing scantily-clad on the stage… and I asked my wife Bethany if we had to call t “Canon in Double-D”.

Like I mentioned before, it being entertaining to everybody…  I mean everybody.  There were all kinds of people there… classes, ages, stereotypes, whatever group  you want to name, they were there (except maybe race… it was all crackers up in there).  I did see an extraordinarily high amount of mullets though.  I’m talking prize-winning specimens like the comb-over on top/hair down to my ass & the trimmed up top/pony tail in the back.

I can’t say anything negative about the show itself, the seats, or the arena… except (you knew it was coming) that I found the parking rate to be amusing.  By looking on the Arena website, it listed parking in the lot where we parked as $7, but it does note “Event parking rates differ for each Mellon Arena event. Check your event’s information page on this website for specific parking rates”.  The funny part is that it said nothing about parking on the event page other than the fact that no pre-sold parking would be available.  Parking was $15… more than double the normal rate, which is fine, but there was no prior indication.  I paid in mostly $1’s and even some quarters.

I hope the TSO and the Mellon Arena don’t mind if I share some crappy quality cell phone photos…