Pittsburgh to me; “Slow down.”


So this morning when trying to get to church, we had an adventure.  We cross the city to go there, because it feels like home when we do make it, and it is where I grew up going.  Generally, it’s not a bad drive on a Sunday morning.

This morning, we left a little later than we like to because… we have two small children.

I knew that there was some sort of work in the Fort Pitt Tunnel this weekend, so I decided to take the Liberty Tubes instead.  Why?  No respectful yinzer takes the posted detour, and it was going west when I wanted to go east.

No work in the tubes, or even on the Liberty Bridge… except when we got to the ramp for the Blvd. of the Allies and we couldn’t go towards Monroeville.

Up Bigelow Blvd. to Craig St. through Oakland to try to get to Forbes Ave. and get on the Parkway in Squirrel Hill, and we ran into this along the way:

Lady Pittsburgh

Lady Pittsburgh

I have no idea what this was.  She was oblivious to the world around her, happily rolling down the middle of the street on her scooter with absolutely no regard for safety or traffic laws.  She eventually got on to the sidewalk, but she was rolling along at about a ½ mile per hour when I pulled up behind her.  All I could do was start a “What the…” phrase that I couldn’t finish with children in the car and laugh.  We laughed for the rest of the ride to church, and we weren’t done with the obstacles.

Apparently, Forbes was closed off right after the CMU campus for a race today.  Out & around to the Edgewood/Swissvale on-ramp to the parkway it was.

Seriously though, I know I’m not a resident of Pittsburgh proper, but I am a resident of Allegheny County.  Can we pass some sort of local ordinance that you can’t work on or around two major through-ways to the city at the same damn time?

We got there, and were only a little bit late.  The universe was testing my patience today.  I hope I passed.

 

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go! 🎸🎤🎧🎵🎶


OK, so it’s been a while since I’ve been productively making music & actively writing songs.  Apparently the bug never goes away.  I have been thinking about doing punk rock-ish kids songs for a while.  (The Sablowskis beat me to it!)

Yeah, there is the AiXeLsyD reunion gig coming up… whenever that is, and it doesn’t seem like Ernie and the Berts was all that long ago.

I saw a contest online last week and it sparked me to get my ass quickly in gear. Music Go Round in Monroeville is holding a guitar giveaway, and I have been mentally drooling all over Eastwood Guitars online for quite some time. The Side Jack is pretty awesome!

It would be really cool if you could help me win this axe by clicking “like” on this post: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=698216686929723&permPage=1

It may help to follow or like the Music Go Round Monroeville, PA Facebook page too.  It has to be on that post on their page, no “likes” here or on my link(s) to it on my Facebook profile count.  Voting is only open this week, they pick a winner on the 27th!

As far as the song goes, I threw it together in under an hour with a downloaded app for the tablet, using crappy headphones, the built-in mic on the tablet, and my acoustic guitar down in the basement.  I think it shows.  But, I still think it’s a hooky tune with some potential.  I may have to recruit a few of the usual suspects or even some unusual ones to help me complete the process.

Molly is absolutely terrified of the Chick-fil-A cow.  My guess is that other kids are too. Seems like we can find a whole lot more to relate to with some feet-tapping tunes!

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go

Chick-fil-A-Go-Go

Free Swag From Guitar Center!


So, did you read the last post about the Guitalele & Guitar Center’s price match guarantee?  The whole thing is pretty awesome, especially if you’re a musician and you actively purchase gear.  It’s worth checking out, so click that link.

Once you’ve read that, this will make sense:

The gig bag & the stand are a perfect fit!  Thanks again to Luke for the excellent customer service, and to YaJagoff for sparking it!

Guitar Center does me a solid, and I didn’t even initiate it.


On the Saturday before Christmas, we were headed to a family gathering & gift exchange.  On the way, we stopped at Guitar Center in Monroeville so I could pick up a book of Christmas Carols that I had seen at the Guitar Center in Robinson.  I didn’t find the same book, but was pleased with two that I did find.

Guitalele GL1

Guitalele GL1 (Photo credit: matsuyuki)

Usually, I’m the one who lollygags in guitar stores, but the wife has taken up the ukulele, and over the past few years she’s the one that lingers near the ever-growing uke section at music stores.  In Monroeville’s Guitar Center, the ukes were right by the music books, so we both started looking.  Bethany was the first to spot our newest acquisition… The Yamaha GL1 “Guitalele“.  We both were fascinated by it, and I played with it a little as she asked “Do you want this as an early Birthday present?”

At first, I said no and went to hang it back up, but flipped over the price tag and saw that it was $99.99.  She gave me the “just get it” look, so we both new I just landed an early birthday present.  I do enjoy the wife’s ukulele, but the GCEA tuning did always mess with me.  Now I can play the ukulele without having to play the ukulele.  Although, if tuned “properly” the guitalele should be ADGCEA.  Of course, I dropped it to E because I didn’t like pretending it was a guitar with a capo on the 5th fret.  Although, I may have to get thicker strings or just suck it up & put it back in the A tuning.  They’re sort of like rubber-bands at this point.

Well, that’s just the first part of the story.  The second part stems from some interactions on Twitter.  I’ll try to post it all here as it happened, thanks to @YaJagoff and Luke from Guitar Center.

A simple question.  I gave the easy, flippant, and predictable answer.  Rock musicians are supposed to rail against the establishment and big business, right?  Well, Guitar Center proves to be awesome here…

These are the links I sent to Luke at Yourvoice@guitarcenter.com:

I only half-jokingly asked “Any chance I could get a gig bag or stand for free?”  I mean, it never hurts to ask, right?

I was met with a response saying I was getting both of them for free!  We discussed shipping details & the right size gig bag in a few more email exchanges… but they’re now on the way to me via UPS.

I’ve written to companies before, but I’ve never had any of them seek me out on a social media platform in a conversation that wasn’t even addressed to them.  It’s pretty cool that Guitar Center believes in their price guarantee so much that they actively go after any perceived detraction.  It’s also cool that they’ll not only go up against brick-and-mortar stores, but online retailers too.

That being said, the “little guys” could argue that they have no way to compete.  They can’t buy in quantities & therefore probably not at such a low price… so there’s no way they can pass on such savings.  Free enterprise, supply & demand, competition, it’s all very interesting & a continually evolving battle.

At any rate, I win out here… with a free gig bag & stand.  So, thanks to Ya Jagoff!!! & Luke for helping to set the whole thing into motion!  I’ll post some photos of the gig bag & stand as soon as I have them.

So, does the Guitalele count as a guitar in my “13 Guitars in 2013” goal?

Do(ugh)nut Despot Docility


Well, Krispy Kreme wrote back.  No doubt they believe that I’m absolutely undeniably insane at this point, but they thankfully decided to humor me anyway.  Here’s what I sent them…

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 2012
Subject: Re: Case #1099627
To: krispykreme@casupport.com

Aloha Lyndon,

Thank you for your swift reply!  Hopefully Krispy Kreme is able to rebound to the Pittsburgh area, and stay a little longer this time.  It’s curious that you blamed the franchisees for wanting to get into other business ventures, yet I read an article on CFO.com from 2005, detailing corporate buybacks.  I’m not sure, but was that around the time when Krispy Kreme left the area?

I have used the store locator at KrispyKreme.com to determine that the Krispy Kreme closest to me is all the way down in Washington County.  This is too far away from me to take a chance on making a run hoping to get hot fresh donuts.

I’d like to resubmit my earlier message, with unanswered questions highlighted, and perhaps I’ll add some more that have cropped up after that.  I hope that you (or someone at Krispy Kreme) has the time someday to come up with some responses.

Greetings Doughnut Despots,

I’m writing to ask you what happened.  Occasionally I get an email reminding me to visit a Krispy Kreme, and I think to myself “yeah, that’s a good idea.”  Sadly, there are no Krispy Kremes around any more.  I remember the stir of excitement when you first came to the area many years ago.  I believe it was even a news story… “Pittsburgh is getting Krispy Kreme!”  The fervor for hot fresh donuts was palpable.  The neon sign beckoning me in for a visit worked on several occasions when I wasn’t even craving donuts.  I’d generally come in to buy a Boston cream donut & an iced tea or chocolate milk… all because of that glowing invitation.  I always loved the retro decor, the smell, and the ability to see the magical doughnut making process.  You quickly dispatched with local competition.  Dunkin Donuts most decidedly took a hit, and you wiped out some of the local weird places like Donut Connetcion and Mister Donut.

Then, you pulled out like an occupying force ordered home.  There’s hardly a trace of Krispy Kreme left in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  I’ve noticed a lot of area locations like Greensburg, Pleasant Hills, and Monroeville are now Chick-fil-A restaurants, and a still-empty Krispy Kreme building sits as a shell of sadness in Robinson Township.  I remember the “remodeling / be back soon” sign hung for years before someone just gave up.  I mean, I absolutely love all the full service Chick-fil-A locations, but I also like hot fresh donuts every once in a while.  You used to be in several Sheetz locations, but now I think they mostly receive their donuts from somewhere else.  Plus, they’re not exactly hot n’ fresh there.

Remaining on your email list has become simply receiving an occasional taunt for something I can’t have.  Perhaps I should unsubscribe?

Dunkin Donuts seems to be making a rebound, and I must confess that I find their Boston cream (Boston creme?) offering to be a much fuller, larger, and more satisfying confectionery treat.  But, they don’t lure me in with a hot fresh free delicious donut, and I can’t watch them being made.  (Is it doughnut, or donut?) There’s also a killer “mom n’ pop” donut shop that’s a bit of a hike for me, but worth the trip… Big Daddy’s Donuts.

The truth is… I miss you, Krispy Kreme.  Do you have plans to come back to the area with hot fresh goodness?  Are you going to make me drive all the way to Washington county to get a doughnut & take a chance on the hot light being on?  Why did all of the area locations shut down?  Were you muscled out by local donut barons?  Did too many yinzers line up for free doughnuts and not actually buy anything?  Did Sheetz want too much too soon?  Did people go on diets or realize that too many donuts are a bad thing?  Was you plan all along to wipe out local donut shops and leave the area starved of donuts because of the high geographical rate of diabetes, thus ensuring better health for the population of the Pittsburgh area?  I need (and feel that I deserve) some answers, my friends.  What happened?  Please don’t brush me off with the standard, “it’s not you, it’s us.”  I need some concrete reasons.

Thank you for your time, I hope you’re doing well.  I’m sure you’re as hot n’ fresh as always… just not for me.

Hungrily Yours,
-Waldo Lunar

Well, there it is.  And here are more that I have thought of since…

  • Why do you spell Krispy Kreme with K’s?  Why not Crispy Creme or even Crispy Cream?
  • What’s the difference between Cream and Creme?
  • Why don’t you call a Boston Cream doughnut Boston Creme?  Why is it Custard-filled?  Is the Custard just pudding?
  • Is it “donut” or “doughnut”?
  • Why spell “doughnut” in long form, yet blatantly disregard spelling in Krispy Kreme?
  • What’s your favorite doughnut?

Thank you once again for your time & assistance in satisfying my inquisitive nature.

Aloha,
-Waldo Lunar

Here’s what they sent back…

From: <krispykreme@casupport.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 15, 2012
Subject: Case #1099627
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Lunar,

Thank you for your email regarding your questions about Krispy Kreme. We appreciate the opportunity to assist you. I have provided the answers to the questions that you have asked, I hope you find this information helpful.

– Why do you spell Krispy Kreme with K’s?  Why not Crispy Creme or even Crispy Cream? Krispy Kreme is spelled with the K’s simply to be different and stand out.

   – What’s the difference between Cream and Creme? There is no difference between the two words, “cream” is the American pronunciation and “crème” is the French pronunciation.

   – Why don’t you call a Boston Cream doughnut Boston Creme?  Why is it Custard-filled?  Is the Custard just pudding? It’s just the spelling we used for that doughnut. It can be filled with chocolate frosting, creamy vanilla, or custard filling. The custard filling is the same as the Bavarian crème filled, it’s just a different name.

   – Is it “donut” or “doughnut”? Either way is fine, “donut” is just the shortened form of “doughnut”.

   – Why spell “doughnut” in long form, yet blatantly disregard spelling in Krispy Kreme? Again, you can spell “doughnut” either way you would like. We just choose to spell it the old-fashioned way.

   – What’s your favorite doughnut? My favorite is the Original Glazed doughnut.

Pertaining to the inquiry of the 2005 article that you have provided us, we have no privy to this information here at Krispy Kreme Customer experience. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause you.

Best regards,

Lyndon Palmer
Krispy Kreme Customer Experience
www.krispykreme.com

Insanity.  Absolute insanity.  But, they did answer all of my questions.  Well, all of the new ones anyway.  They artfully dodged the highlighted paragraph o’ questions for a second time.  Should I send a follow-up?  Maybe I will drive to Washington to get a doughnut one of these days.

English: Krispy Kreme delivery truck.

Unless I can get them to deliver...

Downfall from Do(ugh)nut Domination


I’ve been getting emails from Krispy Kreme reminding me to come buy & eat some doughnuts.  The only problem is that there aren’t any Krispy Kremes around where I can go buy said doughnuts.  Much like Quiznos, they seem to have parted ways with our area.  I decided to write to them and see what happened.

From: Waldo Lunar <world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012
Subject: So, what happened?
To: JBryant@krispykreme.com; hotlight@krispykreme.com; contact@krispykreme.com; lwatson@krispykreme.com; webmaster@krispykreme.com; jmorgan@krispykreme.com; friends@krispykreme.com; krispykreme@casupport.com

Greetings Doughnut Despots,

I’m writing to ask you what happened.  Occasionally I get an email reminding me to visit a Krispy Kreme, and I think to myself “yeah, that’s a good idea.”  Sadly, there are no Krispy Kremes around any more.  I remember the stir of excitement when you first came to the area many years ago.  I believe it was even a news story… “Pittsburgh is getting Krispy Kreme!”  The fervor for hot fresh donuts was palpable.  The neon sign beckoning me in for a visit worked on several occasions when I wasn’t even craving donuts.  I’d generally come in to buy a Boston cream donut & an iced tea or chocolate milk… all because of that glowing invitation.  I always loved the retro decor, the smell, and the ability to see the magical doughnut making process.  You quickly dispatched with local competition.  Dunkin Donuts most decidedly took a hit, and you wiped out some of the local weird places like Donut Connetcion and Mister Donut.

Then, you pulled out like an occupying force ordered home.  There’s hardly a trace of Krispy Kreme left in Southwestern Pennsylvania.  I’ve noticed a lot of area locations like Greensburg, Pleasant Hills, and Monroeville are now Chick-fil-A restaurants, and a still-empty Krispy Kreme building sits as a shell of sadness in Robinson Township.  I remember the “remodeling / be back soon” sign hung for years before someone just gave up.  I mean, I absolutely love all the full service Chick-fil-A locations, but I also like hot fresh donuts every once in a while.  You used to be in several Sheetz locations, but now I think they mostly receive their donuts from somewhere else.  Plus, they’re not exactly hot n’ fresh there.

Remaining on your email list has become simply receiving an occasional taunt for something I can’t have.  Perhaps I should unsubscribe?

Dunkin Donuts seems to be making a rebound, and I must confess that I find their Boston cream (Boston creme?) offering to be a much fuller, larger, and more satisfying confectionery treat.  But, they don’t lure me in with a hot fresh free delicious donut, and I can’t watch them being made.  (Is it doughnut, or donut?)  There’s also a killer “mom n’ pop” donut shop that’s a bit of a hike for me, but worth the trip… Big Daddy’s Donuts.

The truth is… I miss you, Krispy Kreme.  Do you have plans to come back to the area with hot fresh goodness?  Are you going to make me drive all the way to Washington county to get a doughnut & take a chance on the hot light being on?  Why did all of the area locations shut down?  Were you muscled out by local donut barons?  Did too many yinzers line up for free doughnuts and not actually buy anything?  Did Sheetz want too much too soon?  Did people go on diets or realize that too many donuts are a bad thing?  Was you plan all along to wipe out local donut shops and leave the area starved of donuts because of the high geographical rate of diabetes, thus ensuring better health for the population of the Pittsburgh area?  I need (and feel that I deserve) some answers, my friends.  What happened?  Please don’t brush me off with the standard, “it’s not you, it’s us.”  I need some concrete reasons.

Thank you for your time, I hope you’re doing well.  I’m sure you’re as hot n’ fresh as always… just not for me.

Hungrily Yours,
-Waldo Lunar

I also had a Twitter exchange of sorts, but it was all DM’s on their end…

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169099779022921729

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169100223275208704

They said:

@krispykreme | Please send us your email address and we’ll contact you.

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169127252334878722

They said:

@krispykreme | Thanks again for passing along your email address. You can also email us hotlight@krispykreme.com.

Then I DM’ed

@W_a_L_D | Thank you! Rock n’ roll! Looking forward to a reply.

And tweeted…

https://twitter.com/#!/W_a_L_D/status/169135815472070656

Heh.

Eventually, I received an emailed reply…

From: <krispykreme@casupport.com>
Date: Mon, Feb 13, 2012
Subject: Case #1099627
To: world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com

Dear Mr. Lunar,

Thank you for your email regarding wanting a Krispy Kreme in the southwestern Pennsylvania area. We appreciate the opportunity to assist you. We, here at Krispy Kreme, always love to hear from our customers and it is great to hear that you enjoy our products!  We would like to take this time to thank you for taking the time to share your comments.

There are many reasons why stores close. Generally speaking, the franchisee decides to pursue other business ventures. We have shared your concerns and requests with our operations department for review.

Please be assured that we are working hard to open new stores and continue expanding throughout the United States and Canada. For your convenience, new store locations and details are also available on our website at www.KrispyKreme.com.  The site is regularly updated with information as soon as it becomes available.

Best regards,
Lyndon Palmer
Krispy Kreme Customer Experience
www.krispykreme.com

Krispy Kreme glazed donuts.

Doughnuts or Donuts?

I’m still left wondering if “Donut” is a bastardization, like “Late Nite” instead of “Late Night” or “Drive-Thru” instead of “Drive-Through.  If so, why spell doughnut correctly while blatantly (and borderline offensively) misspelling Crispy and Cream with K’s?  (I mean, add one more K in there…)  While we’re at it, is it Creme or Cream?  Are they the same, or different things?  And, isn’t the filling just pudding or is it custard? 

They declined to comment on the wiping out & eventual rebound of their spelling-handicapped competition.  Perhaps a classy move.  Dunkin’ Donuts never replied to that tweet, either.

HOT NOW

You know you want some doughnuts. Come get them. Eat the free one, then buy some more. It's hot, well... warm, and fresh... and you can see some being made. Man, you're hungry for doughnuts.

I don’t believe that Franchisees simply chose to “pursue other business ventures.”  You don’t quit if you’re making money.  You don’t all dry up if there is demand for your product and you’re selling it at a reasonable price.  I find it funny (odd funny not “ha ha” funny) that a lot of the old Krispy Kreme buildings became Chick-fil-A’s.

In fact, I’m not sure if they answered any of my questions directly.  Should I perhaps write back?

Also, tell me in the comments where you get your donuts!  Am I missing some great local shops?  Who has the best donuts?  What’s your favorite donut?  Is it “donut” or “doughnut”?  Let’s talk all things do(ugh)nuts in the comments!

The Square Guitar | My Galveston B.B. Stone


The square guitar.  People have gone out of their way to tell me how ugly it is at shows.  People have exclaimed their approval and asked where I got such a crazy instrument.  People have just shaken their heads in wonderment or disapproval, sometimes it’s hard to tell which is which.

Galveston B.B. Stone

ERiC AiXeLsyD's Galveston B.B. Stone

Many years ago now (2000 if the date on the photo below from the day I bought it is accurate), I saw it hanging on the wall in a venue where my old band used to play that also doubled as a music store.  I had to have it.  I don’t know why.  It was just absolutely goofy.  I had certainly never seen another one.  Would I again?  Probably not.  It had to be mine.  I ended up trading in a nice “Cimar by Ibanez” Fat-Strat style guitar that I had recently purchased from Music Go Round in Monroeville just to buy the thing.  I paid $75 for the Fat-Strat, and somehow got $125 off of the price of the square guitar in dealing for it.

Galveston - The day I bought it...

Girl? No, guitar! - 12/23/2000 - The Day I bought the Square guitar.

At first, I didn’t know anything about it other than it was a Galveston and it had a “Made in Korea” sticker on the back.  It took me a while to track down that it was a B.B. Stone model, and that there are only about 8 or 12 of the Galveston brand in the US.  B.B. Stone is apparently a Korean blues artist and guitar-builder, and he designed the guitar with Jerker Antoni of Sweden’s Eagle Instruments.  There are 24 pieces worldwide, the ones around the world are branded with the  groovy Eagle headstock.

I did have to replace the original pickups, as it didn’t quite have enough punch.  My friend and musical gear advisor (most likely to his dismay) Dave suggested & helped install some killer GFS pickups.  Now the sound is a little better, and it gives an aural kick in the ears to match the obvious kick in the eyes.

Dancing E.Sure, there are other square guitars… like Bo Diddley’s iconic square guitar, or the George Barris-designed Dragula by Hallmark.  This one is pretty simple though, and for better or worse, it’s become part of my rock n’ roll identity.

I have come across other owners, almost bought a black one a few years back, but didn’t have any extra cash at the time.  There are a few reviews up at Harmony Central.  I’d love to get a hold of the 23 or so other owners out there and get their thoughts on them.