Mike Budai

Mike Budai is an amazing artist and Pittsburgh native, to boot. I can’t even tell you the first time that I heard of him or saw his artwork, I think it might have been on the cover of the Pittsburgh City Paper…maybe for the Arts Festival? Either way, that Arts Festival was the first time I got to purchase a little piece of Mike Budai goodness, which was this shirt:

Mike BudaiI absolutely love this shirt. It was already sooooo soft when I bought it and it’s only gotten better. I remember seeing it in the booth at the Arts Fesitval and jumping up and down like a little kid, screaming at my husband to stop so I could buy this, haha. Oh, good times. From what I remember, it was really reasonably priced, too. It’s held up pretty well as far as the printing goes. The only thing is that I now have a few small holes in the front from opening beer bottles with it. Oops, sorry, Mike.




Mike Budai

My third encounter with Budai’s work was the PAPA tournement held in Carnegie. Seriously, this guy does shirts for pinball, how can you not love him!? I actually had no idea that he was doing the shirts for this until I went to buy one. Mine is not this one, however, the one that I got is a dark brown with two hamster-like creatures on the back playing with a pinball. It’s adorable.








Mike BudaiThen, last but not least, I found him on Myspace. Hooray. So now, I can keep up with all of the awesomeness that is Mike Budai. The pic on the left is the current background on my work desktop, it makes me happy.

Seriously, check this guy out and support your local art scene, Pittsburgh-ers!!!

Mike Budai’s Myspace


The BBook of Geek by Brian Briggs

BBook of Geek

Brian Briggs is a god amongst geeks and this book is the BBible.

I’ve been a fan of Briggs’ website, BBspot.com, for about three years now and it’s been a great source of time-wasting for me, as well as an educational venture.

I’m only moderately geeky. Most of his fans make me look like a noob.

About the author: “Brian Briggs grew up on a farm outside of the small town of Milan, Michigan–not exactly fertile land for geek creation. Brian overcame his environment by spending the money he earned on the farm on a Color Computer 2. After getting an Electrical Engineering degree (can’t spell geek without EE) from the University of Michigan, he worked for a small industrial computer company for ten years. In January 2000 he started posting stories he had written on some free Web space. Quickly overrunning his bandwidth quota, he convinced his wife he needed his own domain and BBspot.com was born. In January 2003, Brian “quit his day job” and started doing BBspot full time. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his lovely wife, two wonderful children, and a life-sized, talking Darth Vader.”

You may not consider yourself “geeky enough” to read this book, but do it anyway. I didn’t think I was geeky enough and ended up lol-ing my way though it,  and picking out certain things to read to my also moderately geeky husband (especially the section on LEGOs).

It’s definitely a well rounded book, covering topics like TV, movies, the Internet, software, hardware, science, gaming, and literature. From D&D to WoW, from Gates to Jobs, from  The Twilight Zone to Firefly, this book will keep you laughing and remind you of all those years of terrible technology. I am so very thankful I wasn’t born until the 80’s.

This book is a delightful mix of truth and fallacy, much like Briggs’ website. See: “BBelievers”. Each entry in this book contains a blurb of the topic, a list of “facts”, and a hilariously funny picture featuring Briggs.

If you want to know what kind of geek Briggs is, you need only to see the props in these pics: a plush Cthulhu doll, a swiss army knife (classic!), plenty of LEGOs, a Rubik’s Cube,  a transistor radio, a Dremel (srsly!), and even a aluminum foil lightning bolt for LARPing!

I need to say that this guy has a serious collection of t-shirts. I’m jealous.

I was pleasantly surprised with some of the topics, like Rube Goldberg machines, manga, and Metropolis, but was also surprised at some of the things not included.

Really? No Magic the Gathering? REALLY!?
Also, no They Might Be Giants, which I found really surprising being as Briggs is a fan.

All in all I thought this book was great. It’s funny, it’s sentimental, and hey, you just might learn something.

Probably not though, don’t trust anything you hear from that Brian Briggs guy. Plus, he’s a Red Wings fan.

Honestly though, if you have an ounce of geek in you, and we all do, check out this book. Or buy it for a geeky loved one. It’s cheaper than this, and they’ll still love you for it.

The BBook of Geek
Buy now!

Erin McKeown – Live in Pittsburgh

Me and Erin McKeownThere is nothing better than live music. It’s as simple as that. I had my first live encounter with Erin McKeown at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville, PA on March 20, 2009…the first day of spring, appropriately. She played solo, dressed all in white, and exuded more emotion and charisma than you think would be possible coming from someone so small! Don’t let that small stature fool you, this girl’s got some stage presence.

She came out on stage and went directly into “Aspera”, the first track off of We Will Become Like Birds. Who needs to waste any time, huh? The hook off of this song is based on ad astera per aspera, a Latin phrase for “to the stars through difficulties”.

She only played two songs, “”Rhode Island Is Famous For You” and “Coucou”, from her newest album, Sing You Sinners. She did, however, play quite a few songs from her album, Lafeyette, due out this fall. It’s refreshing to see an artist excited for a new album. Usually they’ll play one or two new songs to give you a taste, then get back to all the songs that you know and love. Erin McKeown doesn’t give a shit about you. She’s gonna get up there and play what she wants to play! (And we love her for it!)

She did bust out a few of the classics for long-time fans, though, including, “Cosmopolitans”, “Cinematic”, “The Little Cowboy”, “Blackbirds”, and “La Petit Mort”.

What’s awesome is that she rocked them all, old and new. She did the usual band/audience banter and told a few tales of her adventures in Pittsburgh. This is usually where I get disinterested and go smoke, but McKeown can definitely engage an audience. She told stories of heartache and love and laughter and family. A particular favorite of mine was a story she told regarding an interview earlier that day on WYEP, she’s doing the normal Q&A deal when she’s asked, “Will you ever do a holiday album?” Her simple answer: “No”. She’d rather do a Labor Day album, or Memorial Day. It’ll be “about picnics”.

And this another good reason why I love Erin McKeown. She’s so down to Earth. Hell, she’s her own merch girl! She’s the epitome of the “if it’s gonna get done right, better do it myself” mentality. And seriously, I want an Erin McKeown album about picnics.

The only thing that got me down about this show was the venue. The Thunderbird, well, it kinda sucks. The service was great, staff was friendly, but it’s incredibly small and awkwardly laid out. Thankfully, the owners must know this because there were flat screens in every room.

We did get to meet her after the show and she’s just so incredibly sweet, and so short, haha. I am a merch whore, so I bought two CDs and a t-shirt. All in all it was like $40? Not too bad for all that.

I would definitely go see her again. I’d like to maybe see her with a band, since I’ve now seen her solo, but I can vouch that her solo act is stellar. If you haven’t heard of this woman, check her out! Check her out, now!!!

Erin McKeown’s Website

Dead Like Me

Dead Like MeDead Like Me is a hilarious comedy starring Ellen Muth as George, the newly dead 18 year old who is having a little trouble coming to terms with being a grim reaper, Mandy Patinkin as Rube, the boss of it all, Callum Blue as Mason, the awfully cute degenerate, and Jasmine Guy as Roxy, the frisky meter maid. The show ran from 2003-2004 on Showtime.

It’s a contemporary tale of grim reapers, but not as we know them. In this version, they don’t actually wear cloaks and carry scythes, they work as meter maids and temp agents and construction workers and teachers and customer service representatives. They’re everywhere! Also, when they take your soul, they empty your pockets and squat in your apartment. Well, you don’t need those things and who knew that grim reapers don’t get paid!? When it comes to the practical side of things, the reaping of the souls and the escorting in the afterlife, well yeah, they still do that. They just do it with a little more style and flair.

I guess I should start at the beginning. I actually just started this series myself. I’ve only watched the pilot and the first disc of the season, so I won’t even be able to spoil much for you! How ’bout them apples!?

George, the protagonist and narrator,  is your typical, unenthusiastic, unmotivated 18 year old living at home with her family including her mother, Joy, her father, Clancy, and her little sister Reggie. After dropping out of college, George then begins working at Happy Time Temporary Services. This is where we meet Delores Herbig, as in her big brown eyes! *vomit* That lady is too happy for ANYONE to bear. On her lunch break that very first, fateful day, George is hit by a toilet seat plummeting toward Earth from the MIR Space Station. Suckass way to die, huh? Hence the nickname, Toilet Seat Girl.

The bummer for George though, is that shortly after death, she is informed that not only will she not be going to the great, big, shiny afterlife; she’s going to be a grim reaper. A grim reaper in the “External Influence Department”, aka accidents, suicides, and homicides. Understandably, George has some issues with this. For this grim reaper gig, each day, George is given a post-it with someone’s name, location, and ETD (estimated time of death). She accompanies Mason on a few assignments, which are never a letdown in the comedy department, then she is finally released to do some assignments on her own.

George’s first “assignment” is just a little girl on a train. Who the hell would WANT to take the soul of a little girl!? It is just kinda wrong…and especially for a first assignment. So, needless to say, George doesn’t do it…at first. Apparently in Dead Like Me world, if a soul is not taken when the body dies, it rots in there. If the person’s body is still alive, the soul withers and dies inside it, thus making terrible people. If this is true, there have been some seriously slacking grim reapers in the world. It would have nice to have someone to blame for all the assholes in this world, though. Secondly, if the body dies and the soul is not removed, you’re basically alive, trapped inside a dead shell of a body. Super creepy. So at this point, George gets her first lecture from Rube on why you NEED to take the souls of these people.

Then, George boycotts. Rube slips post-its under her door and she decides that if she doesn’t take them, it doesn’t count. If there is no skin-to-post-it contact, she’s in the clear.

If only that were the case.

I won’t get too far into it, as to not spoil anything for you, but chaos ensues and then they end up with a back log of souls to take and it’s pretty fucking funny to watch Mandy Patinkin apologizing to the casualties of faulty exercise equipment.

Definitely check this show out. It’s funny and macabre and charming all at the same time.

Dead Like Me

Rant: Just one of those days…

RageEver notice how sometimes everything that can go wrong, does?

Those are shitty days.

No, not just shitty days, those are the ever-lasting Gobstoppers of shitty days. Layers upon layers of brightly colored, shiny, candy shit.

Everyone has their issues, I know, but we are all the sweet little centers of our own sweet little universes. All those fuck ups and shitty days eventually become just bits of cosmic debris in our shiny happy universes, but when these days happen, it’s like a flaming asteroid of shit is just hurdling toward you at 1,000,000,000 miles per hour. Ever seen Dead Like Me? I should review that, it’s a good show.

Well, if you have, instead of calling me Toilet Seat Girl, you may now refer to me as Shit Asteroid Girl.

Thanks in advance.

Butch Walker – Sycamore Meadows

Butch WalkerBefore I even begin this, please know that I am terribly biased on this album. I’ve been a big fan of Walker since the Marv 3 days…and well, I simply don’t know what to make of this album. This album brings to mind Letters, my least favorite album of his. I like glam Butch Walker. I want eyeliner and glitter and scissor kicks and too much hair wax. I want glam motherfucking rock and roll. The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and the Let’s Go Out Tonights restored my faith in him after Letters, so I’m hoping that after this album, he goes back to that. Honestly, I like the man better with a band. His solo stuff just isn’t my bag I guess.

Anyway, onto the album: First of all, the title. Really, Butch, really? It sounds like a bad teen drama on Fox.

What is this country thing going on? He started it in “Rich People Die Unhappy” on The Rise and Fall, and he continues the trend on this album with “Going Back/Going Home” and even “3 Kids in Brooklyn”. It does have a certain classic rock charm reminiscent of Tom Petty and Bob Dylan, especially with the harmonica in “A Song For the Metalheads”. I don’t mind it, it’s just not what I think of when I think of Butch Walker. I guess it’s a good thing that he’s venturing onto other avenues and experimenting, but I think this album will alienate a lot of people who have followed him from the Marvelous 3 days. I mean, every artist changes and grows, and that’s a good thing. But c’mon, at least pop a throw-back track in there. Something to make the old fans rock out and think of where they were the first time they heard the Hey! album.

This is a pretty stereotypical breakup album.  “Here Comes The…”, “Ships In A Bottle”,  and “Passed Your Place, Saw Your Car” are tales of loss, grief, and loneliness. Every album needs a good ballad, and Walker can certainly deliver in that sense.

I think if I was going through a terrible breakup, or was a 16 year old cutter, I would appreciate this album more. Walker is still an amazing lyricist and musician, that I can’t deny, I just don’t like the direction that this album’s going in. It’s just too goddamn depressing for me.

Also, I might just be pissed off that he condones Katy Perry making music. That’s just wrong. I’m sorry Butch, C.

Butch Walker’s Website

Lily Allen – It’s Not Me, It’s You

Lily AllenWhen Lily Allen first came onto the American scene with her viral, Myspace fame, she was a breath of fresh air from all the same old shit that we’d been hearing for ages. Her debut album, Alright, Still was fun and campy and, hell, a girl could dance to it. Plus, just her! The bold, recycled prom dresses, Chucks, and that Cockney accent that makes her ever-so-adorable. It covered everything from stoner little brothers to sadly inadequate lovers. Allen stays in that same frame, but just does it a little better this time around.

This album, It’s Not Me, It’s You, covers everything from drugs to sex to fame and everything in between. She’s definitely taken on a more adult vibe, but never fear, all that sarcasm and wit is still there.

Although that sarcasm and wit is still there, she does cover some serious issues, including the dark side of drug use in “Everyone’s At It”, a non-existent youth in “22”,  broken family relationships in “Back To the Start”, and of course, the perils of fame in “The Fear”.

For those tracks, though, she definitely picks up the mood with lazy lovers in “Not Fair”, persistent jackasses in “Never Gonna Happen”, ignorance in “Fuck You”, and a Joan Osborne-esque take on god in, “Him”.

“Chinese” is a song all it’s own. This is a new one for Allen. No snide remarks about penis size, no pot references, no talk of hookers. And it’s GOOD! Who DOESN’T want to order Chinese and watch TV?! I guess she doesn’t need those big Cockney lady-balls to make good music.

All in all, this album, I dig. A

Lily Allen’s Website