Insert Coin to Play: Pinball Life

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!

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Metal Monday: Dethlehem Two-fer!

Well, it’s the very first Metal Monday here on That Girl With A Blog and boy do we have a treat for you! Pittsburgh’s very own Dethlehem has released their second full length album, The Ghorusalem Codex, Volume 2: Of Magick & Tyranny, the long awaited sequel to their 2009 debut, The Ghorusalem Codex, Volume I: Enthroned Upon A Spire.

“But, what makes this a two-fer!?”, you ask. And the answer to that question is the fact that I saw them spouting this stuff live on Friday. Kickass.

As for Dethlehem, self-described as “epic, medieval, fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons metal”, they’re a riot. What sets them apart from other bands in this vein is their tongue-in-cheek approach. Imagine Gwar, but funny. To catch you up on the story so far, from the band’s Myspace:

Dethlehem formed in the greatest respect to the centuries old story of the Three-Wise-Demons. The story takes place long ago before the first cataclysm, in the well known village of Dethlehem, in the land of Ghorusalem. History says that a baby with great, evil powers was born to a virgin goblin whore. After the birth, the infant first brought plague to the village of Dethlehem. Not soon after, ancient flying serpents were awakened from their hibernation deep in the earth’s crust. They soon ruled the land, only to abide by the unholy one’s word. Soon, the Three-Wise-Demons: Galatan, Kullinia, and Brigalathis visited the baby boy and revealed to him just how much evil he could control. They named him, Yagolith.

Yagolith, king of all that is evil, harnessed his powers for the most evil purposes. With his ability to shape shift into a dragon, he became quite knowledgable, and his hunger for treasure grew and grew.

For hundreds of years, Yagolith went unchallenged. Until a Legion of Warriors traveled the lands to battle him under a cursed sky…

Long story short, and not to give too many spoilers (you can download this album for free here to get the full story), the formidable band of archaic men kick some goblin-dragon shapeshifter and demon ass. Hey, if they hadn’t, there wouldn’t have been a Volume 2, right? You could’ve figured that one out on your own.

And that leaves us where The Ghorusalem Codex, Volume 2: Of Magick & Tyranny begins. After vanquishing the malevolent Yagolith, the gang, comprised of Lord Bonecrush, Overlord Brom, Bovice, Davidcus the Black, and Hildor, return to find their beloved Dethlehem in ruins. They embark on a quest amidst sand, dirt, and sky to seek their revenge.

I must admit that it’s actually a pretty damn good story! I find myself getting what is probably far more into this album than I should be. All except for the pee-soaked goblin. I could do without the scent of urine. I guess it’s adds to the charm, though, eh? I do also find myself missing the epic guitar solos of Volume 1 (but they brought it back a little in their live show!), but it leaves more room for this yarn to be spun and more adventures to be had. Also, in comparison of their first effort, they’ve gone for a slightly more melodic approach versus their prior thrash metal status, which I particularly prefer. Oh, there’s still growling and such, but the new sound paints a much more vivid story. This is certainly a band of very talented men doing what they do best and having a little fun while they’re at it. That much fun is bound to be infectious, and it sure is.

Alright, now I do know how this ends, but you’re just going to have to listen to the album for yourself to find out. I can tell you that it involves a kick ass fight scene and some portals. Can’t go wrong with portals, right?

To be honest here, I always find it a little harder to do a review for a local band. The Pittsburgh music scene is alive and well and who am I to knock someone down a peg? Thankfully, Dethlehem has made this one very easy for me. I like this album, a lot, and want to know what’s fucked up?

It’s even better live.

Myself and The Husband went to go see them at their CD release show at The Smiling Moose Friday night. I should add that I haven’t been to The Moose since July of 2009, for what I think is a pretty good reason, but this was a pretty kickass way to break that streak. It actually wasn’t the first time that we’d seen them, but it was indeed the first time that we’d seen them in a proper venue. For starters, the place was beyond packed (sold-out, actually, if I’m thinking correctly) and you simply couldn’t beat the energy, despite the fact that it was “late as tits” (Lord Bonecrush).

There were pirates, wenches, medieval knights, and inflatable 20-sided die. I don’t think you can really beat that. They opened with the beginning of the new album, talk-y bits and all, went into a few old tracks and did their classic, rousing rendition of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose”, which was shockingly good. Overlord Brom is a beast on the drums, managing to play them impeccably well, IN A HELMET. Seriously, just check these guys out already. This was definitely a well spent Friday night in Pittsburgh. These guys totally get an A for effort. When it comes to Dethlehem, you can be assured that nothing you ever hear will be half-assed. Check out more on their site, Facebook, or Twitter.

And Happy Metal Monday! Stay tuned for the next installment with another Pittsburgh band, River Runs Scarlet!

“Kiss From A Rose”

Steven Smith in Music Unexpected 3: On the Road with Less Than Jake

So, Steven Smith, formerly of “Steven’s Untitled Rock Show” on Fuse is doing a whole “Music Unexpected” thing, and it’s pretty cool. It’s relatively new, but he’s already gone behind the scenes with A Great Big Pile of Leaves and Less Than Jake, plus, he’s spent a day with Goom Radio in New Jersey.

From what I hear, there’s more fun stuff to come, but in the meantime, check out his quality hangout time with Less Than Jake at their Philly show at the Trocadero! (I know, a Pittsburgh show would have been better…this might also be my crazy hockey fan-dom talking.) It’s pretty rad! (And yes, I still love LTJ, despite that whole TV/EP situation.)

I think they made it farrrr too easy on him! What kind of roadie actually gets to “watch” the show when they’re done!? They’re too busy making sure things run smoothly. That’s kinda what roadies do.

Other than that, though…pretty good stuff! Stay tuned for more fun things from “Music Unexpected”!

Oh No, It’s Spring (or, Welcome to My Quarter Life Crisis)

***WARNING: THIS POST IS FUELED BY EARLY MORNING CAFFEINE.***

Okay, so this situation is not solely limited to my 25th year, but that magic number seems to have made it a little bit worse.

Spring is upon us my friends, and with spring comes my insatiable urge to travel (and listen to ska), or simply to get the fuck out of Pittsburgh. I mean, I like Pittsburgh, I really do, but sometimes you just need a change of scenery. Also, it’s not helping that all of my friends are moving to Key West and I looooooove Key West. I love booze, sunsets, and chickens. I just wish it wasn’t so stinking hot and/or didn’t have such giant bugs. I also wish that I could live there without a job, because that would be sweet. I don’t want to go outside in the daytime, dammit. I think I would melt…Wicked Witch style. What’s funny about this is the one thing I’m not worried about: hurricanes. Really. I am all about the hurricane party. Hell, we tried to have a hurricane party in Pittsburgh when Ivan came through. The first floor started to flood, so we went to the second floor, drank beer, and watched Finding Nemo. Really, not that worried. Key West is prepared for this kinda shit.

Wow, okay, so this is going to be the most random blog post, but I love the guy who works at the Cool Beans in my building. I seriously walked in there, told him that I didn’t know what I wanted, but that I wanted it to be “hot, sweet, and far too caffeinated…and big. Really, really big”. I am halfway through this concoction and I feel like I’m going to explode. GOOD MORNING!!!

Okay, so back to this spring/quarter life crisis thing. See, I grew up in a town where people never leave. It’s kind of ridiculous. Also, there’s this whole job thing. What is it about 25? Why do you all of a sudden feel like you need to know what you’re doing with your life RIGHT NOW? My job right now is pretty sweet, but it’s really not what I envision doing with my life. Also, I work for a giant boys club. Now, it’s not that I am saddened about my lack of man-junk, it’s just that I know that there is no room for growth here. It’s one of those things…what the hell’s that AA saying? Something about changing the things that you can and accepting the things you cannot? This is a “cannot” and I’m okay with that. I am super awesome at being an office wench, though. And what city ever doesn’t have offices? Any kind of offices really. I’ll make your coffee and order your supplies and generally make your office kick ass. That’s what I do.

Even when my computer dies, as it did on Friday, I will do everything in my power to make it better. I spent two days trying to get my information from my old hard drive to no avail. It was incredibly frustrating and currently I’m using a computer that I’m pretty sure was built in 1986. Know how many USB ports there are on this bad boy? Two. That’s right, two. I had to unplug my keyboard to upload the meager amount of music that I had on my MP3 player. I just went from around 40GB of music to…4GB. FOUR! Thank god it was all of my “essential albums”, so I have a good mix of great songs. Still, I kind of want to dropkick a baby.

Well anyway, to try to sate this crazy desire for something different, I’ve pierced my septum, cut off all of my hair, and gotten glasses. WHAT ELSE CAN I DOOOOO!?

What to do, what to do.

Holy shit, coffee.

Thank god for credit cards because I have a feeling I’m going to be purchasing last minute tickets to Key West. At least for a few days. 🙂

In the meantime, have some Less Than Jake, the soundtrack to summer traveling and impatient people:

“History of a Boring Town”

AAAAAAAAAAND: Just finished my giant cup of overly caffeinated goodness. My head might explode.

YouTube, you have failed me…

Pittsburgh Penguins…for not providing the video I so desperately need.

Did anyone else watch the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadians game last night?

Please tell me you got to witness the drunken hilarity of Bob Errey.

First, he writes “ass” on the screen while trying to describe Kunitz’s assist record during the second period break. Then, later in the third, he proceeds to make that Hannibal Lecter noise (you know what I’m talkin’ about) while describing old school hockey masks.

Oh, that would have been internet glory. I love you, drunk Bob Errey.

Anyway, have some videos!

In case you didn’t know “that noise”:

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand…getting stoned with dinosaurs!

YOU’RE WELCOME INTERNET!

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:

Boycott Ticketmaster

Boycott Ticketmaster!!!So it’s been quite a while since I’ve actually purchased concert tickets…or tickets to anything for that matter, online. I always just got them at the door. What the fuck did I miss!? When we went to see Mike Doughty last Thursday, I went to the Ticketmaster website to see how much they were. Only $16! How affordable! Especially for a concert that I want to see so badly! Wrong. Oh so very, very wrong. $9 of charges per ticket. That’s more than half the fucking ticket price!

This is beyond ridiculous. Thankfully, I’ve found some other resources for concert tickets in the Pittsburgh area:

Dave’s Music Mine
Mr. Small’s Funhouse
Club Cafe
Garfield Artworks
The Rex
31st St. Pub
…and possibly more, those are just the one’s currently listed on their website.

The Exchange
Has tickets to most of the venues listed above, plus possibly more.

The Benedum
I know you =can buy tickets directly through their box office, as I did when we saw Tori Amos last year. I think you can do this with Heinz Hall as well.

The shame of it is, it’s not Ticketmaster’s fault that they’re a monopoly…it’s the fault of the venues and their exclusive contracts. Ticketmaster also gets no part of ticket sales, so here come the charges!

Service Charge – For the general service they provide.
Building Facility Charge – Determined by the venue, still raked in by Ticketmaster.
Processing Charge – ‘Cause we all know how expensive it is to send an email.
Shipping/E-Ticket/Will Call – Just because they can!

Often these fees are 30% to even 50% of the actual ticket price. What the fuck, Ticketmaster? And they get away with this by giving away million dollar sign-on bonuses to large venues. And it’s not even just music! Ticketmaster is the primary ticket seller for TWENTY SEVEN of thirty NHL teams and TWENTY EIGHT of thirty NBA teams. At least the MLB has gone with competitor, Tickets.com. From now on, I’m going to try my best to not support this monopoly any longer, or their subsidiaries:

Ticketmaster Ventures, Inc.
Ticketmaster Corp.
TMC Realty Holdings, Inc.
Ticketmaster Publications, Inc.
Ticketmaster Travel Corp.
TM/Video International, Inc.
Ticketmaster Advertising, Inc.
TMC Consultants, Inc.
Ticketmaster Tell Ltd.
Ticketmaster-Direct, Inc.
Cinema Acquisition Corp.
Ticketmaster Cinema Group, Ltd.
TM Movie Tix Holdings, Inc.
TM Marketing, Inc.
Ticketmaster Merchandising Corp.
Ticketmaster-Golf, Inc.
MFG Management Corp.
TM Flowers
TM National Flora LLC.

Instead, I’ll be going with the competitors:

LM Loyalty Management
Neighborhood Box Office
NEXT Ticketing
Prologue Systems
Tickets.com, Inc.

Further steps can also be taken. Urge your favorite artists/sports teams to not use Ticketmaster, along with your local venues. The less people who use them, the less power they’ll have to overcharge the masses.

In addition to monopolizing the ticket market and charging these ridiculous fees, Ticketmaster also has no regard for customer privacy. Directly from their website:

“By completing this registration form you indicate that you consent to Ticketmaster sharing your email address and other information with those who provide the event, and that you consent to those who provide the event using your information to contact you by email or other means to send you marketing or other messages or using or disclosing your information in other ways. By completing this registration form, you also indicate that you consent to Ticketmaster contacting you by email or other means to send you marketing or other messages and using and disclosing the information you submit, as described in the Ticketmaster Privacy.”

Why do we let them get away with shit like this!? Fuck Ticketmaster. I’m going with Tickets.com!