Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A Week of Crazy Pt 4: The Burgh

First off, the walleye tasted wonderful!  Had some for dinner last night and again tonight.  That’s a first-rate “eating” fish right there.

So, it was home on Friday, then back on the road on Saturday.  I took off about 10:30 Saturday morning, and pointed the car at Pittsburgh.  The first thing I noticed was that the road was filled with these guys:
The fucksticks were everywhere!

The most common variation was the people that camped in the left lane, usually right beside or just barely behind a car in the right lane.

There was one guy in a red compact that was holding me up for miles, as he slightly passed and then fell behind the same car over and over again.  Then I look and he’s got his hand out the window, playing with the wind current.

It’s times like that when I’m glad I don’t carry a gun, even though once I spelled out the circumstances, I’m sure no jury in the world would have convicted me.  I still want that hood-mounted water cannon though.

After a couple of traffic jams, some caused by accidents, another by the dreaded Squirrel Hill Tunnel Monster, I rolled into the downtown Doubletree about 3:30, just minutes behind Sitcom Kelly and her Sitcom Sister.

I had asked her if she wanted to come out to our bloggers’ get-together so that my friends could finally meet the person I’ve been writing about for the last couple years, and to prove that she was not a figment of my imagination.  She accepted because she finally committed to starting a blog, plus there was a Pirates game in the plans.  And any time she has a chance to stalk and capture an athlete to keep in her basement Silence of the Lambs pit, she takes it.

As luck would have it, the NHL was holding their amateur draft over this same weekend.  It was taking place at the Penguins hockey arena, which was just down the block from the hotel.  Bringing Sitcom Kelly to a target-rich environment like this was like bring the perv to the playground. 
Sitcom Kelly studies the NHL Draft Conference Schedule in the hotel lobby, to plan the most effective stalking spots.

When I checked in, I was told that I had an “eco-room,” designed for maximum energy savings.  This meant that they gave me a card that you stick in a slot by the hallway light.  When the card is in, you can operate the lights and stuff.  They also gave me a warm cookie, probably so that I’d go along with the eco-room scam.

I also noticed that the room thermostat was calibrated to the Celsius scale.  I assumed that was so that most people would be too confused to mess with it.

I loved that I got a king-sized bed and 5 pillows.  I didn’t know what to do first… freshen up from the drive, or make a pillow fort.  Alas, we had places to go so I freshened up.

After much consideration of options, we decided to take the subway, aka “The T,” across the river to Station Square, and have a few drinks there before going to the restaurant.  Our meet-up was at La Tavola, and they didn’t serve alcohol.  You could bring your own, but I really didn’t want to schlep a bottle of wine all across town, so we figured we’d have a few early, meet for dinner at 6:00, then come back for a nightcap.

The restaurant was up on the top of Mt. Washington, so to get up there, we had to take the Incline.  An “Incline” is like a single trolley car that while remaining on a horizontal plane, travels up the mountain on a railroad track.  I’d only been on one once before, back in the 80s, so I enjoyed the ride.
Waiting for our car (on the left) to arrive.  The other one is on the way up.

Once on top of Mt. Washington, we sought out the tourist platform, from which to shoot dazzling pictures of the city… like this one:
I love this city!

While we were all fixed up with Google Maps to get us to the restaurant, we ended up going a different way around the block that was in front of us.  This proved to be a karmic gift, because we just so happened to walk by a liquor store.  Figuring we were most of the way there by now, it was a much more manageable schlep for a wine bottle.  I wanted to bring a wine box, but I have no idea what the corkage fee would have been on that.

By the time we rolled in, most of the people were already there.  Maybe one day, I’ll actually arrive somewhere before Cassie does, but it hasn’t happened yet.  But it was good to see my best blog friends.

Cassie was there, with Jessica, our friend from Shreveport LA.
Cassie, me, and Jessica.  Jess also had her husband and daughter with her.

Mr. and Mrs. Carpetbagger were there as well!
Bluz, Carpetbagger, and the Mrs on the far side.

Bethany was there, with her man Casey and son Jones.
I was trying for a candid mother/son shot, but I probably should have asked her to look.

Facie was a newcomer to our events; she sat down on the end of the table with the Carpetbaggers and I.
Facie and Bluz

I swear, the next time we have an event at a restaurant, we have to get a round table or something.  It’s so hard when half the group is only reachable via shouting.  I never had much of a chance to talk to Cassie’s mom, Cassie, Jessica, or their husbands, the latter of which made an early break for it, with the kids.  I’m curious what it’s like having your life written about when it’s not you doing the writing. 

But I’m not complaining.  I enjoyed getting to know Facie, and the Carpetbaggers are always entertaining.  One thing I learned that surprised me was that until recently, Carpetbagger though my name was pronounced with a short “u.”  I was shocked… I always thought it was obvious that Bluz should rhyme with “booze.”  (Or “boos,” as it were.) 

Maybe I should start spiffing up my branding and call myself “Blüzdude.”  Probably not though… it just took my five minutes to find the umlaut.  (Or are those what you call the fringy things on Michael Jackson’s shoulders?  I get confused…)

About 7:30, much to my shock, amazement and utter delight, in walked Ginny, (nee PittGirl) of That’s Church, along with her 2 kids.  I’d been trying to get her out to one of our meet-ups and while she’s been agreeable, Real Life has always intervened.  We’d chatted briefly once before, after I spent half a day at Pittsburgh Podcamp 5, stalking her from room to room.

I promise, I tried really hard not to jibber at her about how great I think she is, but I’m afraid I was only partially successful.  I’m pretty sure that I beat into the ground the fact that she was the one that inspired me to take up blogging.  (So if you’re tired of reading my bullshit, blame her!)

Let me apologize right now to anyone else that wanted to talk to her that night.  She couldn’t stay more than a half hour or so, so I’m pretty sure that I monopolized most of her time.  But I couldn’t help it.  Must have been that third glass of wine that eliminated my last shred of decorum.

But on the other hand, I got this…
Now I know for sure that talking to her was NOT a figment of my imagination.

Eventually, all our wine ran out, which signified the end of the event.

We bade our fond farewells and headed off into the night, once Cassie finished giving wrong directions to three different motorists.  Sitcom Kelly, her sister and I took the Incline back down the mountain and went straight back to the bar at Station Square.  Carpetbagger joined us, after dropping his wife back at home.

We had a few beers and gabbed there on the patio, enjoying the end of a thoroughly wonderful night.  In fact, it was such a nice night; we eschewed taking The T back to the hotel and hoofed it ourselves. 

I say, whenever you have a chance to take nighttime pictures of the city from the Smithfield Street Bridge, you take it.

I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that came out to our event and made it the special day it was.  (Even if I hardly got to talk to you.)  You are all beautiful people and your friendship means the world to me.

Next up: City walkabout, a Pirates game, and the siren call of homemade pasta.


Sitcom Kelly said...

You forgot to mention the duck farts.

Sitcom Kelly said...

Oh, and thanks for including me and my sitcom sister. It was great to meet everyone.

Jessica R. said...

Such a great meet up. Wished we could have chatted more. Though I did get to chat with Mrs. Bagger and thought she was pretty fantastic.

You were exactly like I thought you would be. And believe me, that's a compliment. :)

Count me in next time around!

bluzdude said...


At the bar, before we went up to the restaurant, we wanted shots, so the barkeep offered us "duck farts," aka Bailey's and Crown Royal.

Call it what you will, it was pretty good. Tasted like it should have been in a pint glass... like "Chocolate Milk Plus!"

bluzdude said...

I'm glad you came out with us. Now how about publishing that third post? You're on the clock, now.

bluzdude said...

These events always go by in a flash. I could have spent the whole time talking to you and Mark, if the seating would have worked out. There never seems to be enough time.

Mrs. Bagger is a dear. Mr. Bagger chose wisely.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that sounds like an excellent blogger meet up!! Except for one thing . . . "Doesn't serve alcohol." What is this strange thing that you speak of. Is this some sort of Pittsburghese for "sucks." Sorry, I don't speak that language. ;)

Ok, now I guess I have to confess . . . I totally thought it was pronounced that way too. I kept saying Bluz in my head like Buzz. Blues makes so much more sense now!! I just thought it was some sort of nickname or something. Besides, in my head Bluzzy sounds like you are trying to say something after having a couple drinks, so I prefer it that way. It's staying!! :)

Unapologetically Mundane said...

Cassie wouldn't let me ride the incline! And I thought your name was "bluhz", too, for at least two days after being introduced to your blog.

I love when Cassie dresses up IN HER LIVESTRONG BRACELET.

Cassie said...

I don't know how to dress up, ETT. I own 20 different kinds of work out clothes, enough to make a new outfit for at least a month or ten, but dress up clothes? Psh.

I'm a nurse, you know. Scrubs, baby.

This was a great time! The food was awesome, the men took the kids away and I got to chit chat with some fun people :) We'll do this again!!

bluzdude said...

Oh, they serve alcohol all right… Yours! I guess they just didn’t want to be bothered with getting a liquor license. Or maybe it’s a zoning thing… who knows? But it worked all out.

You too, with the “Bluzz?” Man, I always thought it was obvious. I’m probably too close to it to be objective. Maybe I should invest in some umlauts after all…

Is it me, or does “umlaut” look like German for scrambled eggs?

bluzdude said...

OK, 2 days is understandable. But the Bagger just realized it a couple weeks ago, after all these years. Perhaps I should put some kind of disclaimer up, in my About Me section…

Cassie’s bracelet gives her special powers. If you snipped it off her, she’d collapse in a heap.

bluzdude said...

The question is, did any of the “fun people” get a word in edgewise? ;o)#

Judie said...

Bluz, what fun!!! I have been absent from the blogging world because while we were at Jekyll Island (see my latest post!!!), we put a contract on a house! We're leaving the wild, wild west and all its stupid, backwoods legislation. First we have to sell our house here. I'll keep you posted!!

bluzdude said...

Where the hell is Jekyll Island? I hope it's somewhere that starts with "A", or else we'll lose your YEEHAA signoff. YEEHJIA just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Judie said...

Actually, we will be living in Brunswick, about 15 minutes from Jekyll Island. That means I will be YEEHBA! That's not so bad, is it???

bluzdude said...

But where is Brunswick? What state?

Facie said...

I still cannot believe that many people pronounced Bluz like Bluzz!

I think people have been driving so much worse lately. I hope it is just in this great state.

Great pics, by the way. Thanks for taking them.

bluzdude said...

I'm still stunned by that.

I tend to think that PA drivers are much better, right up until I approach a tunnel. Then, I'm not so sure any more.

Thanks so much for coming! I'm so glad we got to meet!