That Girl With A Blog











One of my personal faves from last year.

In case you forgot about my insatiable love for pinball (or Mike Budai, or Brian Holderman, for that matter), well…I love it.

Usually sometime around my birthday, PAPA comes to town. This ends up with me playing pinball and drinking margaritas. Two of my favorite things in life. Well, this year, my birthday comes a little early with Insert Coin to Play: Pinball Life at Wildcard in Pittsburgh. Starting this Friday, it’s a great way to kick off the summer pinball season here in the ‘Burgh. Check it out:

Announcing their presence with an explosion of sound, lights, and design, pinball machines are a unique part of pop culture that combine gaming, skill, and art into one colorful package. To celebrate the machine’s presence as both art and an inspiration to artists, Wildcard is proud to present Insert Coin to Play: Pinball Life from July 15 to August 21.

Pinball Life is timed to coincide with the Professional & Amateur Pinball Association (PAPA) World Championships (August 11-14), held each year in Scott Township. This group show includes original work from local and national artists and also features vintage backplates of old games (on loan from PAPA).

In addition to the vintage pinball machines at Wildcard and a third on loan, Pinball Life includes the debut of the new Lawrenceville-themed pinball machine, featuring art by local artist Andy Scott. In addition, Wildcard will be hosting its annual Wildcard Pinball Classic on Friday, July 22. The competition will feature four tournaments on four separate machines, as well as a playoff
for a grand prize. Free to enter. In addition, 50% of the proceeds from the show and tournament will go to local bicycle advocacy group Bike Pittsburgh (www.bike-pgh.org/).

A complete list of artists follows:
– Dan Burfield works with sculptural and metal elements (www.notionpotion.com)
– Andy Scott draws and paints on different mediums (www.aplace-forall.blogspot.com)
– Cryss Stephens photographs pinball machines in extreme close-ups
(www.csstriker.deviantart.com)
– Elizabeth Klevens creates pieces out of metal and glass (www.elizabethklevens.com)
– Doug Cooper uses charcoal and other paints to create murals and video pieces
(www.andrew.cmu.edu/user/dcooper/)
– Brian Holderman is an illustrator/artist whose custom pinball machine appeared in the
Funland exhibit at the Warhol (www.bholderman.com)
– Rafael Colon uses sneakers and skateboards as his artistic medium (www.brolicdesigns.com)
– Mike Budai’s illustrations appeared on a custom pinball machine in the Funland exhibit at the
Warhol (www.crayondracula.blogspot.com)

Insert Coin to Play: Pinball Life runs from Friday, July 15 through Sunday, August 21.

I know what Iiiiiiiiii’ll be doing Friday night! And for the next month! Hooray for pinball season!



{October 15, 2009}   CJ’s Bistro – Carnegie, PA

So another new business has opened in Carnegie! That’s always such an exciting time. In the lot that used to be Pizza Hut on Washington Avenue, now sits CJ’s Bistro.

Honestly, this place is so new and so small, I have no pictures for you, no website, no anything!

From the outside, it looks much the same, and even on the inside as well. It looks just like the dilapidated Pizza Hut that once was, down to the very same recycled, mismatched booths, tables, and chairs on the inside. It’s not uncomfortable really, it’s just…odd. The layout is just so strange and for the lack of a better term, lame. This place really has nothing to draw you in aesthetically…

…but the food is fucking spectacular!!!

Holy shit. We went there last night with Casey. They have a rather large menu actually, but it’s specifically broken down into breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with the times that those choices are available. It was a bummer that they didn’t have the full menu (there’s a scrumptious looking Italian press sandwich on the lunch menu), but I got the chicken parm, a salad, and roasted red potatoes. Adam got the pork chops, a salad, and the mixed vegetables. And Casey got the pistachio encrusted bass, a salad and roasted red potatoes. We also got the quesadillas for an appetizer and the creme brulee for dessert.

Everything was spectacular! The quesadillas were simple, just cheese but it came with fresh pico, sour cream, and lettuce. The boys dinners looked great, but my chicken parm kicked some serious ass. Just the right amount of seasonings and fantastic sauce. Not too thin, either! Usually, I’m rather wary of other people’s sauce. The roasted red potatoes were perfect, and slathered in some sort of cheesy sauce. I’m totally not that into cheese, but these were spectacular!

This place just adds something special to everything and it’s all just so fresh. The guys had their homemade honey lime dressing (while I copped out and had ranch), apparently it was delicious. Their mixed vegetables include green and red peppers, onions, and zucchini. A far cry from the carrots, corn, and green beans that you find in most standard mixed vegetables. And even the salads…just your basic dinner salads, but when they’re that fresh, it really makes a difference.

The creme brulee was magnificent, and plenty enough to split with three people! The custard part was the perfect consistency…just sturdy enough, not too runny. And so, so very rich.

The service was great. It’s also not like they were busy, but our waitress was attentive without hovering over us, drinks were filled promptly, and the price! Perfect! For three people, including an appetizer and dessert, it was just over $40! You really can’t beat that, especially considering everything else.

This is one place that I can seriously say that I’m excited about. It’s always nice to see new businesses in the neighborhood, especially ones that you can see thriving. My only reccomendations for them would be the spruce the place up a little. And perhaps, allow BYOB. For the brief time that Carnegie had a Nicaraguan restaurant, they were BYOB, so perhaps CJ’s could, too. And hell, at least it’s easier than getting a liquor license. On the other hand, I kinda want to have the place all to myself, you know? Another little hidden gem of Carnegie. Some place that looks like a complete shit hole outside, but you know the secret of all the delicious goodness waiting for you inside.

Through the past few years, Talotta’s has been my not-so-hidden gem of Carnegie, but the quality has dropped and the prices have risen. I could easily see CJ’s becoming my new, local, good food staple.

And you know what? I did decide that I don’t give a shit what the place looks like. A!

And since I had no images for you…have this:



Budai's Pinball MachineWell, once again, the PAPA Tournament has come and gone and I find myself with an intense longing for pinball and bad carpeting.

I did terrible this year, as I always do, but I had loads and loads of fun. I sunk more tokens into that machine on the left than I though humanly possible. I was kinda bummed that we had to use tokens this year. I came with rolls of quarters in tow for this, dammit. I could have put them in my fists and punched bitches. It was amazing to see this machine in real life though. Pictures do not do justice to the “hippy-dippy” ness of it. And yes, those girls have ice cream. I don’t know why this pleases me so much, but it does.

Bumper ActionThe sheer amount of patience required for this would make me go insane. Upon meeting Mike Budai, it seems that my brain died. I had so many questions regarding the building of this, and I seemed to have forgotten them all. Also, might have been all that tequila consumed before we got there. Goddamn birthday margaritas. What did I expect? From what I remember, he found this machine in working order, and art-ed it up. It seems like it would be so intimidating, with the sheer amount of space to fill in addition to the limitations provided by bumpers and flippers and whatnot. It turned out so super awesome, though, and I think I won the most on that one. I could have imagined that, however.

Me and Mike Budai!<- Hey! That’s me and Mike Budai! Look at that. I got some sweet merch and lotsa pictures. I swear, if it wasn’t for said merch and sweet pics, I may not have actually believed that Friday happened. At this point, I was stuttering and sweating and trying not to sound like a ‘tard. I think I failed. And just so you know, Mike Budai has a kickass stern face. See all those pinball machines in the background? Imagine that, but sooooo many more. It’s amazing the amount of pinball machines they can fit in this place. And seriously, they had both Joust AND Dig Dug. What more can you ask for. Well, I could politely request that they were in working order, but it was nice to be able to just gaze longingly at them. And perhaps drool a little. Not enough to damage the goods, I promise.

Brian Holderman's Machine

This machine was super sweet, too. You know, I’ve seen Brian Holderman’s work before and enjoyed it, but never really knew who did it. So now, it’s nice to be able to put a name with an image. I think he did a shirt for the Arts Festival this spring? I could be totally wrong on that one, though. If you click on that picture there, it’ll take you to his website, full of fun, cutesy, creepy little things. And some more pinball love. I feel like I’m so out of touch with Pittsburgh anymore, but that’s a whole other blog, I suppose. Long story short: It’s awesome to see so many talented people coming out of the woodwork these days. And to see so many of them working together. And dear god, I love this style. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a Pittsburgh art scene!

Drunken birthday times!Anyway, back to the birthday festivities! Somehow, we conviced Mike to come to Cantley’s. How that happened, I’m not even sure, but it rocked my evening. We had some celebratory birthday drinks and I talked his ear off. He’s an excellent conversationalist though. Everything from art to music to skating to marriage to peanut butter. Yes ladies, he’s married. After that, the good people that are my friends dragged my drunk ass home and we played silly games until the wee hours of the morning and, somehow, continued drinking. I thought that this was a fabulous idea…until I woke up with a killer hangover at 3pm on Saturday and had to go to my mother’s house for dinner. Mom food is some serious hangover goodness, though. Pizza rolls and chocolate milk, I could not ask for anything more.

Thanks to everyone who made it happen! You guys are awesome!



{August 13, 2009}   PAPA Love!

PAPAI looooooooove pinball. And it just so happens that the PAPA (Professional Amateur Pinball Association) Tournament is in my hometown…and on my birthday.

The glorious people associated with PAPA have transformed an old warehouse into a pinball haven! Oh the sounds of flippers and geekdom. Actually, I knew people that worked in that warehouse years ago…they made those hair net things that go around turkeys. Now, it’s pinball. Who’da guessed?

Budai Pinball Machine

Mike Budai's Pinball Machine

And know what makes it even better this year? MIKE BUDAI MADE A PINBALL MACHINE! It will be there. I might dry hump it a little. He’ll also be there, at least on Saturday morning. I am not the keeper of Mike Budai’s schedule, but I hope to have a run in. His birthday was yesterday…go send him some birthday love here or here.

Here’s the schedule for this years festivities:

August 13 – 11am – 12am
August 14 – 9:30am – 2am
August 15 – 8:30am – 3am. Wow. That’s THIRTEEN AND A HALF hours of hot pinball action. Fuck yeaaaah.
August 16 – 9:30am – 5:30pm

Budai Pinball Print

Mr. Budai will be selling similar prints at the tournament this year!

See the site for actual registration times. I don’t do the whole competitive pinball thing, but I will surely lose my life savings in quarters.

That’s FIFTY FOUR hours of pinball. Oh sweet jeebus, help me. To quote some Fear and Loathing: “…know your dope fiend. Your life may depend on it. You won’t be able to see his eyes because of tea shades, and his pants will be encrusted with semen from constantly jacking off when he can’t find a rape victim.” Except it’s beer and pinball, not semen and rape. The dope would be okay though.



Little Shop of HorrorsThis was the third time that we have seen Stage 62 at our local library and it’s been pretty damn good every time. This time, though, I would have to say is the best.

Stage 62 consistently has good actors, delightfully eccentric for the stage (c’mon, you gotta be!). It was better than the black and white version, not as good as the Rick Moranis version. But in the Stage 62 version, Audrey II actually says, “Om nom nom” while munching on Mr. Mushnik (Leon Zionts), which is a complete WIN!

Seymour (Chris Martin) and Audrey (Cara Walkowiak) were absolutely spectacular. Audrey was perfect actually. From the hair to the pencil skirts to that way that she stands. For all you Little Shop of Horrors fans out there, you know what I’m talking about! Seymour was wonderfully geeky and awkward, as he should have been.

Even Orin (Michael Naccarelli) was pretty good, and those are some big shoes to fill. He could have been a little more…insane (and high), but hey, everyone’s a critic.

Audrey II was sensational! In both voice (Korey White) and puppetry (Ryan McGrogan). It kinda sucks that you HAVE TO lease the puppets for this, but I’m sure it does make it easier on the behind-the-scenes crew.

Chiffon (Brittany Babjack), Crystal (Natalie Hatcher), and Ronnette (Amanda Varceletti) were absolutely fabulous. I would have to say, probably the best vocals in the show, especially for Babjack. Damn, that girl’s got a voice!

This was also the last performance for the historic(ally uncomfortable) seats at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie, PA. The new seats can be enjoyed this fall, in time for All Audrey, All Heart and Titanic: The Musical.

I’m telling you, Stage 62 is a hidden gem of Carnegie and I’m really glad we’ve been introduced to them. Personally, I’m looking forward to Deathtrap, a dark comedy coming this winter.

For upcoming shows, visit:
Carnegie Carnegie or Stage 62



et cetera
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