Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Wish That I Could Live It All Again

It's time to wrap things up. Farewell, 2012.

Top 5 Albums Of 2012:
  1. Class Clown Spots A UFO - Guided By Voices
  2. Clockwork Angels - Rush
  3. Reign Of Terror - Sleigh Bells
  4. I Bet On Sky - Dinosaur Jr.
  5. WILD FLAG - Wild Flag
Top 5 Singles Of 2012
  1. 'Default' - Django Django
  2. 'Don't Pretend You Didn't Know' - Dinosaur Jr. 
  3. 'Simple Song' - The Shins
  4. 'Dark Star' - Polica
  5. 'Closer' - Tegan And Sara
Thanks to 91.3 WYEP, I have enough music to present these lists. Virtually the entire list of singles, except The Shins, came from listening to my new favorite radio station. 

Best Movie: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The other movie I saw this year was The Avengers, and the first chapter of The Hobbit has just about blown it out of the water. Also notable is that much earlier this year I saw The Big Lebowski and Raiders Of The Lost Ark on the big screen, thanks to the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. 

Best Concert: Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg
Again, one of two shows I saw this year, the other being the Beatles tribute band The Fab Four at the Carnegie Hall in Homestead. Both excellent shows in their own way; but for the implausibility, Marky and the boys take it. 

Best Railfan Event: Nickel Plate Road 765 visiting Pittsburgh
Steam, in large-and-in-charge mainline action, is hard to come by in this day and age. A very large thank you to Norfolk Southern for bringing back a steam program to celebrate their 30th anniversary as a company. 

Top 5 Restaurants Of 2012
  1. Lesvos Gyros
  2. Cambod-ican Kitchen
  3. Clem's BBQ
  4. Messina's Pizza
  5. Emiliano's Restaurant & Bar
Ok, I cheated slightly. I've known about Clem's and Messina's for years now, and have eaten at both in years prior as well. But the chance to eat at either doesn't come very often in this day and age, and so I'm including both here due to recent and delicious trips to each. 

Top 5 Bars
  1. Dee's Cafe
  2. Jack's 
  3. St. James' Place
  4. Lava Lounge
  5. Bar 11
Dee's keeps its top spot for its jukebox, Jack's is still a classic, St. James' is nice and out of the way, Lava Lounge is different, and Bar 11 has to be seen to be believed.

Top 5 Months Of Posts
  1. December (17)
  2. August (14)
  3. July (11)
  4. October (6)
  5. November (4)
Top 5 Months Of Traffic
  1. August (289)
  2. July (195)
  3. December (164)
  4. October (123)
  5. September (84)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Can't Get The Pawprints Out Of The Henhouse Now

That's a new one on me. I am so glad Ok Go has a sense of humor; they're one of the most fun bands around. And putting them together with the Muppets to do the Muppet Show theme is just hilariously brilliant. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Sun When There Is None

This is obviously a fan-made video, but it's unambiguously strange. That said, I would totally get that jigsaw puzzle and the comic book. And the Pez dispensers. Also maybe the velvet paintings at the end. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No One Told You When To Run

From Wikipedia. 
I am endlessly - and bizarrely - fascinated by the Manx Triskelion. Depicted on the flag of the Isle of Man. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Well, He Looked At Me And I Damn Near Died

I'm not going to the bar this week. I feel like that would be too tragic.

Not as in dying-in-a-ball-of-flame tragic, but rather the circumstance of hanging out at the bar by myself over the week before Christmas. (I feel like 'pathetic' would be the more technically appropriate word to describe the situation; but screw that, I want to use 'tragic' anyway.) What kind of schmuck would do something like that?

*raises hand*


Last year I popped down to Jack's, on the South Side, the week before Christmas. There was quite a crowd for a Wednesday evening, and said crowd was having quite a good time, dancing and making (appropriately enough) merry, etc. I had planned to come down for one of my typical acts of jukebox terrorism, but I wasn't at all prepared for this. The bouncer must have known what I was going to do, as he cautioned me not to mess up the mood as I approached the jukebox. I had no idea what the hell to play, so I put something danceable by Blondie on, finished my beer, and booked it.

That said, anytime from the 26th to the 30th is fair game. We'll see.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Was Down On A Frown When The Messenger Brought Me A Letter

Some random stuff I've found. Enjoy!

Check out Jackson Pollock, by Miltos Manetas. This is an online app that lets you create paint-splatter art that resembles Pollock's style. Really cool stuff.

Also interesting is this article: ‘Missing’ woman unknowingly joins search for herself

A collection of pictures from Nickel Plate Roads 765's visit to the city earlier this year. Steam Locomotive Nickel Plate Road 765 Returns to Pittsburgh – August 2012

From the blog English Russia, a tour of my old employer. In Soviet Russia, burger flips you: McDonald's - How It Works

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There Was A Band, They Were Sickening, Arousing Everyone

The above video is for the song 'Shocker In Gloomtown' by the Breeders. But the video is bizarre in that all these guys are peeking through the windows as they play. I just thought it was a weird video until I realized that the dude looking in the window at 54 seconds is Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices. Looking closer, you can tell that the whole group of peeping creepers is actually the classic GBV lineup. 'Shocker In Gloomtown' was originally a GBV song, and apparently the boys from Dayton wanted to see how they were doing.

Also, why are the Deal sisters each short about five guitar strings?

Thought I'd Better Have Another One Just In Case

Just remember, folks; que sera, stays in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

He Didn't Cry On Safari

I just realized how long it's been that I've been messing around with new music. It's been seven years since I first saw the videos for 'C'mon C'mon' and 'Nowhere Again' in the PSNK cafe. I've still been discovering new music since I left college, but not at the same rate. It's taken me almost three years to put this CD together. This is, effectively, the culmination of seven years of my life and my musical tastes. I'm not sure how much it's changed from the first one, really.

New Stuff CD 8

  1. Rollerdisco – Black Moth Super Rainbow
  2. Lowest Part Is Free! - Archers Of Loaf
  3. Safari – The Breeders
  4. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster The People
  5. Two Princes – The Spin Doctors
  6. Tropical Ice-land – The Fiery Furnaces
  7. Black Out Fall Out – Polysics
  8. Sun Of A Gun – Oh Land
  9. Electric Feel – MGMT
  10. Wildcat – Ratatat
  11. Sundrop – The Flying Eyes
  12. Sticky Honey - Juliette & The Licks
  13. Wrong Time Capsule – Deerhoof
  14. The Eton Rifles – The Jam*
  15. Paljon On Koskessa Kivia – Korpiklaani
  16. Keelhauled – Alestorm
  17. Voodoo – Godsmack
  18. Industrial Enemy – Templar**
  19. Comeback Kid – Sleigh Bells
  20. Last Caress – The Misfits
  21. Rebound – Sebadoh
  22. Hold My Life – The Replacements
* Okay, so The Jam were from the 70's. But they straddled the line between punk and post-punk (both era and sound) that they sound so different from their contemporaries. I say they were ahead of their time. I'm surprised they don't have a bigger following.
** My friends Sam Joyce and Joe Cervasi. You're welcome, guys. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Not Just You, The Problem's Mine To Hide

Some photos taken my last year at Penn State, from my third apartment in State College. There are actually three different days/nights represented here, grouped into the first thirteen, the next one at night, and the last three.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Day You Move, I'm Probably Gonna Explode

When I became interested in new music in college, I started making CDs to share what I'd found with people. Not too many people took me up on the offer; but nonetheless, these discs provided me with a soundtrack to my college years. Here's the first one, created in late 2005.

New Stuff CD 1
  1. God Killed The Queen – Louis XIV
  2. Do You Want To – Franz Ferdinand
  3. Cold Hard B**** - Jet
  4. DOA – Foo Fighters
  5. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
  6. Disrepair – The Cycle*
  7. Walking With A Ghost – Tegan & Sara
  8. Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt – We Are Scientists
  9. I Just Wanna Be Loved – AM Radio**
  10. Boulevard Of Broken Dreams – Green Day**
  11. I Want To Be Buried In Your Backyard – Nightmare Of You
  12. Lost At Home – The Sun
  13. Slow Hands – Interpol
  14. Checkmarks – The Academy Is
  15. Stories – Deception Point
  16. Enter Sandman – Metallica
  17. Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
  18. Welcome Home – Coheed & Cambria
  19. C’mon C’mon – The Von Bondies
  20. Alive & Amplified – The Mooney Suzuki
* Local band I saw at the Penn State New Ken Battle of The Bands. They turned into another band called Eightfold after one member left.

** I fucking hate Green Day, and AM Radio doesn't interest me anymore.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Breakfast Where The News Is Read

Anyone who knows me will know that I am a very avid fan of webcomics. I know what I like and I wanted to share a list of my favorites. Many of these I've been reading for years, some almost eight since I picked them up in college.

Currently reading:

Questionable Content is a slice-of-life humor comic that I picked up at the start of my college years, and still read. The attraction lies in the strong characterizations and young-person-savvy humor, for me, even though at first the strip was heavy with indie music references and humor that may seem dated now. Not that I minded at the time; the strip's creator, Jeph Jacques, has inadvertently introduced me to some new bands through mention in the strip and in his newsposts with comics. 

Sam & Fuzzy is an alternative comic that, when I started reading, was a joke-a-day strip, but thanks to some interesting recurring characters and the opening of some very interesting plotlines, has become quite the impressive story. Absurd and extreme humor abound, along with deep drama and tension in the later cohesive plot arcs. 

If you're looking for a joke-a-day comic rife with nerd, geek, engineering and internet humor, I would recommend XKCD. Randall Munroe, a former consultant for NASA, started the comic to show off doodles from his college notebooks, and eventually created the stick-figure, pun-steeped, and often impenetrably nerdy comic we all know today. 

The definitive webmanga. Although notorious for his often slow update schedule, Fred Gallagher has transformed Megatokyo from its initial concept of a gag-a-day strip for an anime news site into its own massive story encompassing, commenting on, and often poking fun at and subverting many anime and manga tropes and themes. Gallagher gives his characters believable motives, serious emotions, and drops them into situations that challenge them as much as they do the reader. 

I'm no longer sure this comic is in the right category now; I just read today that the comic will, in a fashion, be rebooted. But for the past ten years (damn, has it been that long?) Ctrl-Alt-Del has been a great geek/gamer comic with an opinion on every slice of nerd, gamer, and otaku culture, with likable and occasionally unpredictable characters. 

Dead Winter
Only one comic about the zombie apocalypse has kept me intrigued from the beginning - and that is the fabulous Dead Winter. Boasting a central cast of characters with serious backstory and depth, the struggles of this ragtag band have kept me on the edge of my seat for months now.

Diesel Sweeties
A classic gag-a-day (or running-gag-a-week, depending on how long R. Stevens' attention span lasts) strip with fun pixel art and characters steeped in their own unique attitudes and identities, Diesel Sweeties is another comic that deserves its long-runner honors. Although some humor may be obscure, it's often best that way. 

Historical references? Check. Geographical humor? Check. Making fun of the differences in societal standards in Victorian times versus now? Really big check. HaV jabs at history, war, kings and queens and presidents alike with a goofy and often affectionate wit. Drawn by the talented Canadian lass Kate Beaton, laughs historical await. 

Created by the mysterious Ohioan known as Drew, Toothpaste For Dinner is a bizarre strip in laugh-a-day format with simple art and a penchant for finding the strange and uncomfortable side of humor as often as poking fun at everyday and mundane things. Also very self-deprecating/-referential.

Meredith Gran's ongoing comic about the lives of two Brooklyn twentysomething girls who couldn't be more different captured my attention thanks to its evocative art and great and deep characters. Hipster humor and general silliness make this a fun read, while Eve's romantic and social struggles bring a seriousness to some chapters. 

Menage A 3
Ongoing comic about a virginal comic book geek nearing 30, which pairs him with the skinny punk rawk chick and the Amazonian-figured Quebecois as roommates? What kind of story is that? It's a sexy one, duh! Also hilarious - generally lighthearted sex comedy abounds. With characters as fun and still human as these dudes and dudettes are, it's tough to pull off well, but Ma3 does it, as contra-worksafely as possible. 

Players of tabletop RPGs may enjoy Order Of The Stick, a stick-figure comic revolving around the adventures (literally) of a six-player-character band of heroes out to save their world from certain doom. Hilarious, action-packed, and with a quasi-realistic viewpoint towards war and fighting, the story and all of its little subplots fascinate me to no end. While much of the humor and drama revolved around the D&D 3.5 edition rules and quirks thereof in early chapters, well-developed and real characters take over and drive the story like a pack of marauding goblins (literally). 

Read occasionally:
Danielle Corsetto writes an all-around awesome strip about love, sex, relationships, and drunken antics (sometimes all at once) from a uniquely feminine point of view. 

Between Failures
Another slice-of-life comic, this story follows a group of employees at a big-box store, and their misadventures and antics. Good characters, but the art has changed some, seemingly to make it easier to draw.

The wife of Toothpaste For Dinner creator Drew, Natalie Dee does a similar joke-a-day strip alongside her husband. Although it's similar bizarre humor, the character thereof is significantly different. 

Finished, hiatus, or stopped reading:
A tale of romantic fractals, let alone mere triangles in a Japanese high school in the 1970s, Ai-Yai-Yai was an interesting webmanga that has now been on hiatus for years. I don't know whether it'll ever get picked up again, but its' later chapters feature some very intriguing character development. 

Keychain Of Creation
Currently on hiatus, KoC is another adventure comic based around a tabletop RPG, albeit the Exalted platform in this instance. Unique art and an interesting extrapolation from the Exalted canon make for an entertaining read. 

Scary Go Round
John Allison was the author of an excellent slice-of-life/adventure/British comic running from 2002 to 2009. Boasting some of the best art I've seen in a webcomic, British humour abounds and the strange and decidedly non-sublime plotlines kept me amused and intrigued for days on end. Allison currently writes a new comic called Bad Machinery at the same web address, but I have to admit to not being as interested. 

Generally a joke-a-day strip about a really odd cast of characters. I stopped reading it during a period where the author became somewhat unfunny, and I was looking for something new. 

Not a humor comic; this is a dramatic story about the titular characters and the failure of their relationship. It's a good read, but the story has been finished. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Emotional Feedback On Timeless Wavelength

After I got my first MP3 player, a 4GB Zune that I've been trying to find recently, I all but stopped listening to the radio. Occasionally tuning into Jim Quinn in the mornings was about it, until recently. I've been turned on to listening to 91.3-WYEP (Where The Music Matters!) by a combination of friends of mine; railfan pal Matt, and Jeremy and Woody from work.

I am so glad they talked me into giving the station a try; I've heard new stuff I already like and have been introduced to more still since tuning in. That's where I discovered Poli├ža, Minus The Bear, Florence + The Machine, and Django Django; heard new things from Guided By Voices, Dinosaur Jr. and Tegan And Sara; and just generally playing much better music than I've ever heard on the radio since Channel 97 imploded. I find myself saying that a son sounds like so-and-so band, and it indeed turns out to be them. Too cool. 

In particular, I've come to like their Block Party and After Hours shows. I hear more stuff I like in the evening than I seem to during the day. Not that I've had much chance to listen during the day, since I can't pick them up at work. I am strongly considering making a donation to keep them around.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I've Got A Red Japanese Teapot

I'm cold. I just helped my dad put the plastic up on the porch, and the day has gotten somewhat chilly since then. So I'm making a cup of tea.

I've always liked tea, and I've had a soft spot for herbal peppermint and Earl Grey. I actually made a batch of peppermint iced tea a couple of years ago. It would have been better if I'd used peppermint candies instead of sugar to sweeten it, but it turned out well nonetheless. (I like my mint, and I like it strong.)

But what I've only recently come to appreciate is the fact that tea has its own little ritual. You put the kettle on, pick your flavor, set everything up for the water to boil, pour, steep, sugar etc, and sip. It's oddly comforting now that I think about it. One of the most interesting days I've had was the day I got up, made tea and had a slice of leftover cake from something I missed, and put on some vinyl. It was really cool.

I recently wrote about drinking coffee again. But thinking about it, coffee and tea are more different in my mind than they probably appear to others. I've never made coffee at home, except for the time in college that I used up some old single-cup coffee brewer thingamajiggers and creamed it with that mint chocolate Bailey's that Tim didn't like before heading off to class. Coffee is for the road, tea is for the home. Coffee is public and formal, tea is personal and intimate. Coffee is hanging out, tea is making out.

And now that I've overextended that metaphor to the point of injury, I'm going to go drink my tea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Been Thinking Little Thoughts

A list of small pleasures:

  • The smell of a freshly opened pack of cigarettes.
  • When the battery meter on the Zune turns green.
  • Rolled coins.
  • The combination of the color orange and trains, both real and toy. 
  • Graffiti, corrected for spelling and grammar. 
  • The combined smells of smoke fluid, light oil and grease, and the ozone from open frame motors. 
  • The sublime flavor of a beer after a shot of bourbon. 
  • The search through a stack of unsorted vinyl singles, and the discovery of every song you recognize. 
  • When the song or band I was just thinking of comes on the radio. 
  • Getting the laces on a pair of Chucks to exactly the same tightness on both feet. 
  • Discovering that the new album came out, whatever band it's from. 
  • Good coffee and bagels. 
  • The sound of a train hitting a joint in the rails. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oh No! There Goes Tokyo

With Halloween come and gone, I'm giving you playlists for Halloween to fit classic rock and alt/indie tastes (those of you who listen to screaming death metal and that nu-metal shit seem to have trouble discerning between Halloween and all the damn time, so go away).

A Classick Rock Halloween

  1. Welcome To My Nightmare - Alice Cooper
  2. Season Of The Witch - Donovan
  3. The Wizard - Black Sabbath
  4. Frankenstein - Edgar Winter Group
  5. Daily Nightly - The Monkees
  6. Space Invader - Pretenders
  7. Hell's Bells - AC/DC
  8. Fire - The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
  9. Magic Carpet Ride - Steppenwolf
  10. Death Walks Behind You - Atomic Rooster
  11. Tales Of Brave Ulysses - Cream
  12. Mr. Roboto - Styx
  13. Space Truckin' - Deep Purple
  14. Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner - Warren Zevon
  15. Witchy Woman - The Eagles
  16. Grey Ghost - Henry Paul Band
  17. Voodoo Child - Jimi Hendrix
  18. Godzilla - Blue Oyster Cult
  19. The Battle Of Evermore - Led Zeppelin
  20. The Trees - Rush
  21. Moonage Daydream - David Bowie
  22. My Clone Sleeps Alone - Pat Benatar
  23. It Came Out Of The Sky - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  24. Robot Man - Scorpions
  25. The Unknown Soldier - The Doors
  26. Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
  27. Boris The Spider - The Who
  28. Welcome To The Machine - Pink Floyd
  29. The Sound Of Silence - Simon & Garfunkel
  30. Fire On High - Electric Light Orchestra
Trick-Or Treating On All Saints' Day
  1. Strange Times - The Black Keys
  2. Monster Hospital - Metric
  3. Roland - Interpol
  4. It Came From Japan - Von Bondies
  5. Young For Eternity - The Subways
  6. Midnight Show - Killers
  7. Witchcraft - Wolfmother
  8. We Are Not Alive - The Flying Eyes
  9. In Cairo - Hot Hot Heat
  10. Is She Weird? - Pixies
  11. Wrong Time Capsule - Deerhoof
  12. Voodoo - Godsmack
  13. Welcome Home - Coheed & Cambria
  14. Nine Riders - Early Man
  15. Knights Of Cydonia - Muse
  16. Everybody Knows That You're Insane - Queens Of The Stone Age
  17. I'm Your Villain - Franz Ferdinand
  18. Demon - Sleigh Bells
  19. Phenomena - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  20. Robot - Futureheads
  21. See Through Head - The Hives
  22. Last Caress - Misfits
  23. Invincible - OK Go
  24. Hypnotize - The White Stripes
  25. Chainsaw - The Deathray Davies
  26. Safari - Breeders
  27. Pretend We're Dead - L7
  28. Hardcore UFOs - Guided By Voices
  29. Thinking Of A Dream I Had - The Walkmen
  30. My Poor Brain - Foo Fighters
Hope you got a new needle for your record player.

Old Charlie Stole The Handle

I've blogged briefly at times about my Lego train hobby before, but I found a picture in a file on my computer that shows my collection at a very early stage. 
This was taken at my third apartment at Penn State; I've also previously blogged about my room's decor in this apartment. The components of set 4563 are visible; the red locomotive, red boxcar in back, yellow/black flatcar in front of the locomotive, and barely visible behind the steam locomotive and said flatcar is the blue gondola. Most of my reinterpretation of set 3225 is also visible; the aforementioned steam locomotive, the wooden gondola coupled behind, and the yellow/black/gray ballast dumper. I hadn't built the coach at the time. Also visible is the auto carrier from set 4544, coupled behind the locomotive.

I had been designing some cars since I discovered the LDraw software online a couple years prior to this picture. One of my more ingenious designs, sadly, is completely obscured by the High Life bottle - a tank car. However, at the time it was designed, I posted at least one picture of it on this blog. In the foreground are parts for the black/yellow boxcar I designed, and an incomplete green/white gondola as well.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tell Santa Claus To Bring Me A Rock'N'Roll Guitar

Okay, I'm posting this both for my family's convenience and for your perusal. I'm too lazy to actually put together a separate Christmas list, so enjoy.
Softcover is ok with me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Light Up The Stove And The Coffee Cup Is Hot

I drink coffee again.

I miss going for coffee and a bagel at the Chat's Coffee kiosk in the Penn State student union building. It was a great way to start the day, and if I could find a way to do that again, I would. But 125 miles is a long way to walk for coffee.

So I've started looking for places to get a good cup.

The Oakmont Bakery in Oakmont serves a good cup. Plus, being a bakery, they can get you any kind of bagel you want. I'm partial to their sourdough bagels in particular. Also of note is the Nowalk Daily Grind, in Holiday Park. Another good cup, especially when you need to be awake to shop at the thrift store down the road. Haven't tried their bagels yet, but I do like that they're open 24 hours a day and have (or at least had) a small arcade.

McDonalds doesn't brew as good a cup as it did when I worked there. Perhaps management has changed (it's still the same guys, but it sounds like THEY changed since I left). Easytrip? Leave it. How long had that mud been sitting there? Gross. Sheetz has made a good cup in the past, but I'll only get that if we're leaving early on a railfan trip.

Still waiting for a chance to try the Beehive on the South Side, and the Coco Coffeehouse in Leechburg (yes, a serious coffeeshop in middle-of-nowhere Leechburg).

This Won't Be Played On Your Radio

A recent playlist, not that I own all of this stuff.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Beat On The Brat With A Baseball Bat

Sunday night (of all nights) I went to Altoona (of all places) to see a Ramones tribute band (of all things).

This wasn't just any Ramones tribute band, however. They're called Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg, and with very good reason - Marky himself is the drummer. It's an all-star lineup, with Michale Graves (Misfits) on vocals, Rome Ramirez (Sublime) on bass, and I don't know who was on guitar. Judging by what I've read online, the bass and guitar positions seem to have been pretty fluid in the past, and still may be. If anyone can confirm who was playing that night I would be grateful to know.

Marky was brilliant. The man can still rock, and if he was half as good in his heyday, it it would still have sounded awesome. He looks good, even after the turbulent years with the Ramones. To be honest, I'm still not totally sold on Graves as replacement for Joey; maybe I'm too used to Joey's deeper voice and warmer presence. But Graves shows why he's a good choice for a frontman; he's got the energy and the intensity someone like that needs and his voice is good too, which never hurts. I see why he brought back the Misifts, as well. The Show was loud, hard and fast. Isn't that what punk is all about? Anything else is just polish.

Plus, I should mention the three opening acts as well. First up was The Whatleys, a State College, PA-based band that I know I've heard of before and I can't remember where. Following them was Xs For Eyes, and last was the Railroad City Murder Machine, easily the loudest of the three. Rock on, guys.

All this took place at this tiny, tiny bar called Aldo's Place on North 4th avenue, not far from the turntable at the Norfolk Southern Juniata Shops. Neat little place. They had Duquesne - and on tap, too! Service seemed to be good from what I saw, even with the show crowd (I was driving so I couldn't have too much). And the crowd seemed to be a mix of post-college and older people.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Hole I Dig Is Bottomless

Seriously, Wikimedia?
This is one of the pictures in the Wikipedia article for Guided By Voices. The caption, and I quote, is 'Bob Pollard performing with Guided By Voices'. As I understand, Pollard had a drinking problem well-known enough that it was referenced in a Questionable Content strip.

Not cool, Wikipedia. Not cool.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ridin' That Train, High On Cocaine

I've been thinking about some of the really unusual terminology tossed about by railroad employees and railfans. There's some interesting stuff in there.

First off, is the case of the overheating locomotives. Western railroads with long tunnels and snowsheds (particularly Denver & Rio Grande Western, Southern Pacific, and SP subsidiary Cotton Belt) had cooling issues with locomotives produced by GM's Electro-Motive Division - in particular, the 3000-horsepower GP40 and SD40 and the 3600-horsepower SD45.

EMD kept their radiator intakes mounted higher on the locomotive carbody than other manufacturers, just down from the roof. This meant that when the radiators drew in air for cooling, it came from the air at the top of the tunnel, which was hot from diesel exhaust and air already warmed by being run through the radiator. This caused some problems, to put it mildly.

The D&RGW tried out a water spray system on their GP40s as a first attempt. This consisted of a cool water tank, and a series of nozzles that would drench the radiators. While it worked, the limited capacity of the tank and the soaking of the radiators and surrounding steel made it less than an ideal solution. Southern Pacific found some success with large shrouds over the radiators of their SD45s.

Meanwhile, engineers at EMD were working on a better solution. They began by redesigning the radiators to draw cool air from the lower carbody sides, with large ducts to suck in the cooler air near the bottom of the tunnel. The catch was that some equipment normally installed in the carbody section below the radiators would be displaced forward, making the rest of the internals mildly cramped. The resulting locomotives, the SD40T-2 and SD45T-2 (the GP40-2 never received such a fix) solved the problem marvelously, and due to their distinctive-among-EMDs radiator profile, they received the nickname 'Tunnelmotors'.


At the other end of the train once sat the caboose. Used mainly to provide a lookout at the rear of the train, and shelter for crews at the rear end, these cars were a classic and familiar sight in railroading. Crews eventually gave a large number of nicknames to these cars, many of them pejorative, but some fond as well:

  • Cabin
  • Crummy 
  • Hack
  • Bobber (usually reserved for 2-axle cars)
  • Palace
  • Buggy
  • Monkey Wagon
  • Brain Box
  • Waycar
  • Van (Canadian, possibly derived from the term for the British equivalent of the caboose, the brake van)


Of course, technology marches on, and a replacement for the caboose was eventually developed. This device was a battery, strobe light, and small computer that monitored air pressure in the brake system. These were called Flashing Rear End Devices. Train crews, however, quickly turned 'Flashing' into 'F*****g'. The main reason being that the damn thing was the whole damn way at the other end of the damn train from the locomotives. It was also damn heavy and a trainlength was a damn long way to carry the damn big thing. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Players Tried For A Forward Pass

I recently blogged about deciding to severely limit my television consumption. Scottish Conan Guy and nothing else, etc. Well, I may have made that decision too hastily.

It's almost football season. I'll be watching the Steelers, too.

I also need to see if that American Pickers episode with the Lionel State Set is available on demand. I wanted to see that so bad.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Get Yourself An Egg And Beat It

As the joke is typically set up, the only two words in the English language that end in -gry are hungry and angry.

I am certain that this is not a coincidence.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tick Tick Tick Tick Time You Take It

It occurs to me that some of the music I listen to is... extreme. Here is a tiptoe through that minefield of what I like to call 'Yikes' along with some warnings as to the details.

Rebel Girl - Bikini Kill
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Non-traditional Romance
Xtreem Attitude

Illegal Tender - Louis XIV
WARNING: This song contains
Severe Sleaze
Extreme Innuendo
Morally Problematic Amusement

Hang Wire - The Pixies
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Kinda Dark Lyrics
Kinda Dark Everything Else

Tick - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Orgasmic Rendition (or, they don't call her Karen O for nothing)
The Word 'Shit'
Caffeine Overdose

Abra Cadaver - The Hives
WARNING: This song contains
Really Fast Punk Music
Occasional Shoutiness
Alice Cooper Addiction
Other People's Tobacco Use

 Last Caress - The Misfits
WARNING: This song contains
Alice Cooper Addiction
Such Violence!
Unwarranted Self-Importance
Fun With Death

Bandages - Hot Hot Heat
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Uncontrolled Exuberance
Caffeine Overdose

Springing Leaks - Algernon Cadwallader
WARNING: This song contains
Occasional Shoutiness
Unintelligible Meanness

Hot Freaks - Guided By Voices
WARNING: This song contains
Extreme Innuendo
Occasional Shoutiness
Robert Pollard

One Way Ticket - The Darkness
WARNING: This song contains
Nasal Snowblinding
80's Hair

So, yeah. Wow. I mean, dang. Yeegh.

Monday, August 20, 2012

We've Got An Off-Schedule Train Coming Two Miles Out

So we're up at my grandfather's having dinner. Meatloaf, as I recall. I ask for the salt and pepper. I'm looking at this pepper shaker, and something stands out.

I'm into trains, right? You see the stylized letter 'P' in the above photo? This resembles something to me.

Courtesy George Elwood's Fallen Flags

Is it just me, or is there a resemblance between the stylized letter on the shaker and the 'P' in the Penn Central logo as adorns U25B 2568 in the above photo? Railfans are everywhere, and I am very intrigued by the possibility that the pepper shaker was designed by someone with more than a passing interest in trains.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

If You Wanna Run Cool, You've Got To Run On Heavy Heavy Fuel

Ugh. Tried to create the 'Narrow-gauge Boilermaker' at Sam's party last night, using High Life and Kahlua. Now I understand why the narrow gauge lines disappeared as quickly as they were built.

What a hangover. No more liquor for me.

Friday, August 17, 2012

I'd Dive On The Bottom, Baby I'd Never Come Up

I like beer:
Miller High Life, Iron City, and Pabst Blue Ribbon are my cheap favorites, while Yuengling and Duquesne are medium-color local favorites of mine. Straub has met with approval. If I'm drinking Mexican beer, I'll get Sol. Corona is okay. Dos Equis is good, Negra Modelo is better (still waiting to try Tecate, but I hear it's like PBR en espanol). Pale lagers I'ven't had in a while but like include Yuengling Premium and Penn Gold. Anything from Penn Brewery or Erie Brewing Company is good by me.

I also like hard liquor, but not so much:
I'll take a shot of Maker's Mark with a beer every now and again, and Bailey's is okay by me. Peppermint schnapps and Hershey's syrup make an interesting pair, too. But that's about it. The reason I'm not a big drinker of spirits is the time I overdid it on said spirits.Only time I ever threw up while drinking, I'm simultaneously proud and ashamed to say.

Wine and other:
Woodchuck and Strongbow hard ciders are good too, but I like Woodchuck better. I'm not much into wine. Fuck non-alcoholic stuff. And I'm not a fan of mixed drinks of any kind, but my pal Matt swears by margaritas and one of these days I might just not be driving to the bar...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Snortin' Whiskey And Drinkin' Cocaine

Dave Edmunds - I Hear You Knockin'
British artist Dave Edmunds is best remembered today as a 70's rocker very interested in 50's rock and roll and blues. His main claim to fame is his solo single 'I Hear You Knockin', a cover of a Smiley Lewis blues tune. After a chain of production credits for notable pub-rock artists Brinsley Schwarz and Ducks Deluxe, Edmunds subsequently formed the band Rockpile (commonly credited as 'Dave Edmunds and Rockpile) with Nick Lowe in 1976. 

Up - Just Like An Aborigine

After the departure of the MC5 from the Ann Arbor, Michigan commune of John Sinclair, the protopunk band Up became the frontspiece for Sinclair's White Panther Party and its radical politics. With a stripped-down, hard-edged and aggressive sound, the band went unnoticed as the like-minded MC5 and Stooges were signed to Elektra and Up was not. Frustratingly, Up was the opening act at a show double-billed to the Stooges and the MC5, which was the performance that convinced Elektra to sign the two pioneering punk bands. The band split in 1973.

Bob Welch - Ebony Eyes

Bob Welch first rose to fame as rhythm guitarist for Fleetwood Mac for four albums during the years 1970-1975. Upon leaving after difficult tours and legal struggles, he turned to a solo career, releasing 'Ebony Eyes' in 1977 along with its album, French Kiss. Later solo albums in the 80's met with decreasing success, and sadly, in June of 2012 Welch committed suicide after an ineffectual back surgery.

Pat Travers Band - Snortin' Whiskey

Another Canadian, Pat Travers caught the attention of fellow Canuck and rockabilly artist Ronnie Hawkins, who invited him to play with Hawkins' outfit. After an appearance on German television by an early incarnation of Travers' own group, the band released one each studio and live albums, and opened for Rush on their A Farewell To Kings tour. In 1980, Crash And Burn debuted and the single 'Snortin' Whiskey' made the band a notable name in the hard rock scene of the very early 80's. 

In 1981, Travers' group disbanded and Travers dived into new projects which found only minor successes. However, since then Travers and a new lineup for the Pat Travers Band have toured briefly in the 90's and more extensively in the 2000's.

Henry Paul Band - Grey Ghost

Henry Paul formed the Siennas in 1971, and shortly thereafter the Siennas turned into The Outlaws. Paul left the band in 1977 and formed his own Henry Paul Band. The Henry Paul Band disbanded in 1983, and Paul returned to The Outlaws for three more years before forming the band BlackHawk. Paul still plays with the Outlaws on more recent tours.

I remember thinking that this was The Outlaws when the song would play on Channel 97 as a kid. So did my dad, but when I looked it up and figured it out, Dad had the little lightbulb come on, remembering that Henry Paul was one of The Outlaws' guitarists.

Red Rider - Lunatic Fringe

Canadian hard rock band Red Rider formed in 1978, and released their first album in 1980. Their second release, As Far As Siam, spawned the AOR hit single 'Lunatic Fringe'. In 1989, rhythm guitarist Tom Cochrane began to see success from his solo career, and as a consequence, Red Rider broke up. Since 2002, Cochrane has reunited with some of his old bandmates to tour as Tom Cochrane And Red Rider.

Sniff 'n' The Tears

British band Sniff 'N' The Tears released 'Driver's Seat' in 1978, after five years of touring and searching for a record deal. The song was a minor hit, and remained an AOR staple for years in England and the US. After three more albums, the group split, but reformed in 1992 and has released a couple of albums since.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

And The Way She's Steaming, Buddy, You Better Not Get In Her Way

Went out to the Ohio Valley to do some railfanning. Big steam in Pittsburgh this weekend. Norfolk Southern ran some employee appreciation specials with Nickel Plate Road 2-8-4 Berkshire, number 765, out of Conway Yard. 

  • The first train filmed partially got by us. We had just decided on the filming location when headlights appeared westbound and I didn't have enough time to catch the head end.
  • Next is a local train. Our buddy Dangerous Dan tagged along and brought the banner for the model railroad club we belong to. We got a curious look and an extra honk of the horn from this engineer!
  • A few minutes before the second 765, an eastbound trailer train passed by at track speed, about 60 mph. The vortex knocked my camera over. Also, my batteries died just before the same shot, and I had to borrow some from another railfan. Thanks, dude.
  • The bridge shots are from Big Rock Park in New Brighton, on the Beaver River. Norfolk Southern reserved Track #1 for the excursions, and as a result, I got skunked on her return from Homewood Junction. She stayed on the far side of the bridge. 
  • In the shot of the merchandiser that crossed the bridge after 765 passed, you can see the CSX train from the next shot appearing in the lower right-hand corner as the tail end of the NS train passes. 
  • The second CSX train is interesting for two reasons: Union Pacific run-through power, and a load of 32 wind turbine blades.
  • The next shot of 765 was taken in the industrial park at Leetsdale, on an ancient iron bridge that the railfans overtook. We had to wave the cars through, there were so many of us.
  • The concluding shot almost didn't happen! I should have stuck by the camera, but was chatting with my friends and some other railfans by the red pickup at the end of the shot. When the train came around the corner I had to dash to the camera.
  • The unusual pan in the final shot is inspired by similar camera techniques observed in the films of noted and prolific railfan photographer and filmographer Emery Gulash. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some Dumb Haircut From 1960

Q: How did the hipster burn his mouth?
A: He ate his pizza before it was cool.

Q: Why don't hipsters like the ocean?
A: It's too current.

Q: Why did the hipster cross the road?
A: To get to the side you've never heard of.

Q: Why did the hipster wear a scarf in the summer?
A: He was cold before it was cool.

Q: How many hipsters does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: We prefer organic, locally made candles. 

A hipster walks into a bar you've never heard of.

Two hipsters walk into a bar. The first one did it before it was cool, and the second one did it ironically.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, will a hipster have it on vinyl the next day?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Well You Ain't Never Caught A Rabbit

If I ever get cancer and need chemotherapy, and my hair disappears as a result, don't bother getting an expensive custom-made wig that recerates how my hair normally looks. Just pop down to the Halloween store and get me an Elvis wig.
What, you think I'm kidding? I'm not kidding.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Can You Live This Fantasy Life?

As of late I've been searching for some lost classic rock songs I remember from my youth, and some of them I have found. Enough of this stuff, and some more recent discoveries, are in the pipeline that I will need two posts to get it all in. Part one as follows:

Aldo Nova - Fantasy

First up is Canadian rocker Aldo Nova, with the modest hit single 'Fantasy'. Interesting way of breaking that door down in the video. The song comes from Aldo Nova's self-titled debut album, released in 1980. The band would not see success bigger than that which accompanied this song.

I remember hearing 'Fantasy' on Channel 97, WRRK Braddock-Pittsburgh, when I was a kid. Early in their existence (which was also early in my existence) Channel 97 was the modern rock station, but by the time I really got into new music they had become a classic rock station with a massive library on account of getting all the new releases. Once a year, later in their existence, they would haul out this entire friggin' library of about 7,000 songs, if i remember correctly, and play the whole thing in alphabetical order. It damn near took them a month to do it, but it was epic. Most of the stuff in this list is either from the A To Z Playback, or got airplay on Channel 97 at some point.

The Hooters - And We Danced

Another Channel 97 memory, 'And We Danced' ended up in the early stages of an A To Z after Donnie Iris. Nervous Night was the album that gave us this gem, and Hooters, who hail from Philadelphia, had a long career, if mostly under the radar domestically, or more popularly in Europe.

Coney Hatch - Monkey Bars

If you ever wanted to know what Van Halen would be like if they were from Canada, this band, Coney Hatch, comes very close. Of Toronto, Ontario, and named for a mental asylum in nearby London, this hard rock quartet issued three albums over their career, with most attention going to this song, 'Monkey Bars'. 

I actually put in a request to Channel 97 for this song once, while I was under the impression that the band's name (or solo artist as it sounded) was Cody Hatch. Eh, I was ten or so.

Gamma - Thunder And Lightning

Previously discussed on this blog, Gamma was a late '70s AOR hard rock band fronted by the prolific, if largely under the radar, Ronnie Montrose.  I did not get a sleeve with my copy; it came free from a local record store, disc only. That is one whacked-out piece of cover art. Whacked. Out.

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band - On The Dark Side

John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band could have easily been mistaken for Bruce and the E Street Band by those not familiar with either. Somehow, in creating the music for the movie Eddie & The Cruisers, Cafferty wrote and, along with his band, performed with a Boss-like sound - for a movie set in 1963. 'On The Dark Side' hit number one after the release of the movie in 1983, but that was as far as the group would go, despite getting a track on the Rocky IV soundtrack.

Spring - Hendre Mews

In 1971, an early progressive rock band released a single album, which did little, and broke up before completing a second effort. This was the band called Spring, who came to the attention of producer Kingsley Ward, owner of Rockfield Studios, when their van broke down in the village of Rockfield.

One of the main sound features of the record was rumored to be three Mellotrons, which the band apparently had available, but three of the pioneering keyboards never appear together on any of the tracks. After the breakup, drummer Pick Withers would go on to play with Dire Straits for the first four albums.

UFO - Too Hot To Handle
UFO were a British hard rock and heavy metal band that found better fame in Germany and Japan than their native Britain or the US. The 1977 album Lights Out contributes the gem 'Too Hot To Handle' to our roundup today. Lineup on this track has Phil Mogg on vocals, Paul Raymond on keyboards, Pete Way on bass, Andy Parker on drums, and Michael Schenker on lead guitar. Schenker, being the younger brother of Scorpions guitarist Rudolf Schenker and himself a brief member of the Scorpions early on, would leave for a solo career with his own group in 1980.

Neil Young (Stray Gators) - L.A.

So why did I include Neil Young on a list of favorite obscure rockers? The reason is that the album in question is obscure in Neil's catalog. Time Fades Away was recorded live over the course of a '73 tour Neil did that turned into a disaster. Neil broke up Crazy Horse after the heroin overdose death of guitarist Danny Whitten; formed a new band made up of session musicians not all of whom had even been on the road before or worked with Neil; sprung brand new, dark, semi-autobiographical songs on his unsuspecting audiences; and recorded the whole affair with a severely problematic digital mixer that bypassed the typical 2-track master tape stage. 

The whole album's 16-track configuration would have to be reassembled with extreme difficulty in order to remaster it for reissue; however, copies on vinyl and a preview of a cancelled HDCD issue are both circulating. That said, it's likely that TFA will not be officially re-released because of how disastrous the tour was and how many bad memories Neil still has of the experience.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

It's Circle Shows In A Ghostly Glow Of Earthly Luminescence

Just had an epic evening on the South Side with my friend Matt. In between chatting with random strangers about the 2010 Skynyrd concert at the Pavilion, jukebox terrorism (Aldo Nova, Tom Waits and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were on the front lines) and other random discussion items (needlessly expensive bars, romantic prospects, music, other friends, apartments we should be living in, etc.) we noted that tonight was a full moon, and we had the best time out down there that either of us have had in a long time. I've actually seen it before; a really awesome night out drinking on the South Side happens when there's a full moon.

Coincidence? I daresay I wonder. It's just consistent enough that I'm sure it's not by chance. I do wonder if it's not the case that, instead of us being aligned with the full moon, it's actually the South Side that exists in harmony with the glowing nighttime orb. What sun sign is Pittsburgh, anyway?

Also, we hit up Jack's, on Carson and 12th; and St. James Place, on South 18th, almost to the Slopes. Matt hadn't been to Jack's before, and I hadn't been there in about a couple months, so it was a good thing we stopped in. Got to talk to the bartenders who know me as a longtime regular (until recently); and Matt likes the place too now, so that's a plus. And St James' is the only bar I've heard of that has Duquesne on tap. Incidentally, Jack's is the only place I know that has Woodchuck hard cider on tap, now that I think about it. Those of you with wheat gluten allergies, I'm looking (figuratively) at you. 

Last but not least, I'm hoping to get a group together to go down the week after my birthday. I'll be spreading the word more officially soon, I hope, but we've got two birthdays to go first.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

I've Been Drinking Bourbon Whiskey, Scotch, And Gin

Three interludes on the South Side.

The scene: Jack's Bar. A Monday night about two months ago. Free peanuts, quarter hot dogs, and dollar cans (in descending order of appeal, to me at least). So I get my first beer and go to the jukebox, cash in hand and sipping increasingly merrily all the while. I'm picking out my songs, which is my usual hipster mix of crazy stuff that no other person who has entered through that big green damn door would ever think about playing in Jack's. White Stripes, Mooney Suzuki, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, new Neil Young, MGMT, The Black Keys (especially the songs that haven't yet gotten radio play, as far as I know), obscure 70's hard rock bands, you name it.

Jack's e-jukebox has a feature where you exchange money for credits, and if you want to hear a song ahead of the rest of the queue, you pay a couple extra credits and create your own uber-queue. So I jam ten bucks in, put a bunch of my favorite bands in and am JUST about to finish up when SUDDENLY!

Let me pause briefly here and admit that I have never been, or at least noticed being, of much interest to attractive women. Don't ask me why, I couldn't tell you. Mostly because in order to find out, I'd need attractive women to pay attention to me. Twenty-two caught. But anyway, I'm suddenly beset upon by this fairly cute blonde who's all panicked over me playing my stuff ahead of her and her friends' selections. I mean, she was pleading for me to take her home and ravish her like a stop playing my music ahead of her  and her friends (which, since nothing else was in the uber-queue, shifted into my music gear almost immediately) because they were waiting for the Backstreet Boys (or possibly the Beastie Boys, I neither remember nor care) ALL NIGHT. I bet.

I swear, I could barely get a word in edgewise. I might have gotten in that I was almost done if I were more of an asshole,but I just couldn't get through to her. Better yet, she seemed to be pretty sober yet, or else a damn good actress. So I just said ok, that's cool, and went back to my barstool.

A couple minutes later, as the alcohol created its intended effect, I unexpectedly feel an arm slide across my shoulders. It even more unexpectedly turns out to be attached to another girl. Dang, I think to myself, forgetting what happened last time I was approached by a lady. (What do they put in that hard cider, anyway?) She mentions that I still had two songs' worth of credits on the box when I walked away.

Oh. Uh...yunz guys go ahead and use them, it's cool. (Not that they wanted to make out with me after that. Oh well. Two down, 3.5 billion to go.)


The scene: Dee's Cafe. A Wednesday night, a couple weeks later. I saunter in and order up. Shot-and-a-beer, just for the hell of it. And then a beer, and then a beer, ad nauseum (not literally).

Sometime later, as the haze is at its peak, these chicks walk in. Yes, they really did come in. Shut up. Anyway, the tall one in lace leggings goes to the back to meet someone she knows. The other two come up to the bar and order. As they're waiting for their drinks, they're discussing something. I catch a bit that goes something like this:

"...don't like long sideburns on a guy."

I reach up and feel in front of my ears. My sideburns, while not Union-general awesome, nonetheless make a beeline for the line of my chin from the top of my ear. I would've (and should've) asked if they meant me, but I'm afraid the answer might have been 'yes'. (What, like THESE sideburns!?)


The scene: Also Dee's Cafe. Another Wednesday night, another couple of weeks later still. Shot-and-a-beer, and halfway through the beer, I hit up the jukebox. One nice thing about Dee's jukebox is that it has a lot more music on it. Especially obscure stuff that Jack's just doesn't have, no matter how much I wish it were so. (Does that mean Dee's has more/better indie cred? Hmmmm....)

So I'm committing my usual jukebox terrorism, and these three girls traipse right on in and take a table. The tall one sits and waits for some dude, while the other two get in line for the jukebox behind me. This is starting to sound familiar...

I tell myself that that's just the shot and beer talking and proceed to slap some Guided By Voices, Pixies, more Black Keys, Ratatat, etc on the 'box. I then also proceed to sit my ass back down. The girls behind me do likewise.

I'm about four songs out from leaving, by my inebriated count, and, to put it gently, I really need to pee. On my way back to the restroom, I pass by the three girls' booth. One of them interrupts me. "Is your music going to be over anytime soon?"


I tell them it should only be about three or four songs to go. Then I shoot for the bathroom and return. I'm chilling, and realize that it's been four songs and my stuff is still playing. Fortunately, after a few moments of worry at how off-count I am, I realize that indeed, this is the last song. Nevertheless, I feel certain that I'm no longer on these girls' Christmas card lists. The moment the last song is over, down goes the tip, a wave to their table that I'm not even sure they saw and out the door I go.


And don't even get me started on the chick that started punching me in the ribs. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Grubby Halo, A Vapour Trail In The Empty Air

So I've been dating this girl for a couple of weeks now. She's smart, quiet, cute and mildly adventurous to boot.

She also has a pair of opalescent butterfly wings with an 8-foot span growing out of her back. It's nice being able to fly to the top of the U.S. Steel building on a date, but it makes cuddling awkward.

(I'm cutting this short because I just realized that butterfly wings on a chick would make it impossible to wear a bra. And that did my suspension of disbelief right in.)