Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

Sort of a diary for myself ... but you can read it too.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here we go ...

Steelers are going to the superbowl.
Before Polamalu's pick 6 in yesterday's game ...

and after ...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Movies watched in 2008

The list topped out at 186 movies viewed via the theater, cable or Netflix. The full list can be viewed on my IMDB page here.

The stand outs:

The Dark Knight
Iron Man
Burn After Reading
Michael Clayton
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
La Via En Rose
The Orphanage
The Darjeeling Limited
The Fall

Honorable mentions:

No Country for Old Men
There Will be Blood
Charlie Wilson's War
Step Brothers
Into the Wild
The Foot Fist Way
Son of Rambow
Eagle vs. Shark
Next Door
After the Wedding

Favorite Documentaries:

In the Shadow of the Moon
Jimmy Carter - Man from the Plains
Encounters at the End of the World

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Years Eve

Couldn't have asked for a better time.

Started the night off with dinner with friends downtown at the restaurant Six Penn. Spent a few hours there eating, relaxing, downing white russians and listening to stories about our friend's recent trip to Argentina.

After hanging at the restaurant and bar for close to 3 hours we walked over to the Cabaret at Theater Square for a Carnavale/Rio themed New Year's party. The place was packed with a couple hundred people and the vibe was great. The Kokolo Afrobeat Orchestra was the main attraction of the night, playing two energetic sets of afrobeat, boogalo and reggae music.

I got to go backstage and goof off with the band between sets. (The fun you can have when you find a pair of glasses in the dressing room.)

Big, big thanks to Ray (Kokolo) and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust for hooking us all up on the guest list for the night. (which made the night all the more sweeter since tix for the event were over $60 per person)

Awesome night with awesome friends.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


While cleaning today, I decided to dust off my laptop computer using the hose and brush attachement on my vacuum. As I was going over the keys, the number nine key/faceplate/cover thing came off and was sucked up into the hose. Wow, that sucked. (Literally)
Who does that happen to? I guess me. I just spent the last 20 minutes outside in the cold going through the dirt and dust of the vacuum bag searching for the key. Not that pleasant and probably not that healthy. I found the #9 faceplate shattered into a dozen pieces.

I am without a nine. (but how often do you use the #9 anyway?)
Twice in that last sentence to be exact.


Now I am on the internet half seriously looking to see if anyone sells individual replacement key faceplate covers.

Someone has to, the internet has everything.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Been Awhile ...

Been laying low, gearing up for the holidays ... staying busy with:

* The Steelers Season ... and watching all NFL Football in general

* Reading - Been enjoying those 33 1/3 books. (a series of books written about important and/or seminal music albums)

Just finished:

Just started:

** Took my parents to see the musical Mamma Mia this month. I didn't know what to expect from a musical based on ABBA tunes but it was actually very good. My parents thoroughly enjoyed it. My father and I were two out of about a dozen other males there for the show. eh ... No lines for the bathroom.

** I've recently been asked to record piano for a local musician/friend for his two new albums. Boogaloo music. 18 tracks over two albums. All covers from the likes of Pete Rodriguez, Ray Barretto, Joey Pastrana. I have all of the songs at home and I'm trying to learn the music as we speak but it's been pretty tough. I don't have any background in Latin/salsa/meringue style piano playing but I'm doing my best to catch up and learn. We'll see how this project turns out over the next few months.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ballet Maribor

'M' suprised me by getting tickets to the 'Radio and Juliet' ballet this past Saturday. Part of Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, this was a modern take on Romeo and Juliet set to the music of Radiohead.

The choreography was amazing ... and hearing Radiohead tunes blasted at the Byham Theater was thilling.

here are some clips:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Atlanta Visit, Oct 3rd - 9th

Just got back from Atlanta this week. Visiting with the 'Bowser-Kyles' ... cracking jokes with 'Buddy'. We did the usual. Hanging out in the Atlanta fall weather, a trip to Stone Mountain again, played some Wii, went to the movies, listened to music ... basically chilled.

'Buddy' showed me her 'no fear' bungee jumping skills.

Last year at this time I was down in the ATL hanging with the Dalai Lama ... this year, The Black Crowes. Funny how that goes.

Saw the Black Crowes perform with Phil Lesh and his band (former Grateful Dead Bassist) at the new Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta on Sunday Night. Pretty amazing show. Tons of 'Deadheads' in attendance. It was great to hear Phil Lesh play all Grateful Dead tunes. Chris Robinson even came out and sang along to one of Garcia's songs.

The Black Crowes' set wasn't a greatest hits collection as was their set I saw in August but rather contained lesser known tunes and long 'space' jams between/during songs. It was still a great show.

Another great trip to Atlanta.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Another Busy Weekend

I couldn't possibly have done more things and slept less this last Labor Day weekend. My activities included, but were not limited to, the following:
Friday night, 'Mr. Jones' aka 'The Bassclown' was our guest DJ over at the club. He spun a great set, the place was packed and people were moving. All the usual suspects were out and about.

Family, friends ('M' and 'the Jones') and I spent Saturday afternoon at the La Casa Narcisi Winery up in Gibsonia PA attending their yearly wine festival. It was a beautiful afternoon to enjoy the bands, eat food, drink wine, watch the grape stomping, etc. Most importantly though was their 2008 Amateur Wine Maker's competition that my family and I entered our wine in. There were 25 competitors and our Chardonnay came in first place! Unbelievable! I mean our wine is good but I didn't think it was that good.

Saturday evening after the wine festival, 'M' and I met 'Too Much Pink' and her boyfriend over at Moondogs in Blawnox to catch the swing band The Metropolitans.

Sunday Afternoon, 'M' and I decided to go to the Pittsburgh Zoo. Bold choice for Labor Day activities since we knew it would be packed but 'M' had 6 free passes for the zoo that expired that weekend. We went (and made 4 other random people very happy with the free passes we handed out in the parking lot) and it was extremely packed. No problem though ... we did a speed run through the place concentrating on catching the new polar bear exhibit and newer baby elephants. I ran into some old friends, 'Alaska' and 'She1be, and took time to sit and experience some over priced Dippin Dots ice cream for the first time.

Sunday evening 'M', 'Mr. Jones', 'Clover', 'Schaf', 'Litl' and I were all invited to a surprise 50th birthday party for one of our close friends. The party was held at the Alto Lounge in Shadyside from 5pm to 9pm with open bar and free food plus 'Brotha Mike' providing the tunes. The party was fun and relaxing and the guest of honor was extremely surprised. I gave her a bottle of my ... ahem ... Award Winning Chardonnay Wine as a present. :)

After the party, we all convened over to 'Clover' and 'Schaf's' place where we were joined by 'Mrs Jones', 'JimmyAndrewForest' and a few others. 'M' and I hit a wall shortly after that and decided to head home while everyone else made plans to go out for the remainder of the night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peril in Pittsburgh

*Thank you NTMTO Board.

Recent Happenings ...

Last week, I checked out the restaurant Seviche for the first time ... a Nuevo Latino tapas restaurant and bar located on Penn Avenue downtown near the Convention Center. I met my friend 'Em' there for some after work cocktails and we sampled some fresh seviche:

Seasoned with soy sauce, scallions, sesame oil and capers. Served on sushi rice and nori rolls with white truffle oil wasabi mayonnaise and Tobiko caviar

FIRE AND ICE w/ Hamachi (Yellow Tail Snapper)
Our traditional seviche recipe prepared in a spicier version with habanero peppers and red onion and topped with a cool homemade prickly pear granita.

Marinated in fresh lime, jalapeno, cilantro, scallion, red onion, avocado, corn and red pepper

The seviche was excellent and the prices were not too outrageous. There are drink specials throughout the week and the rest of the menu looked rather tasty. I liked the atmosphere and the service was great ... I can see hanging out there again soon.


Friday, 'Litl' and I succumbed to the peer pressure and went and saw The Dark Knight on IMAX ... cause ya know, 'everyone is doing it'. Pretty amazing film. We ended the night over at 'Z- Lounge' with 'Mrs. Jones', 'JimmyAndrewForest' and others to hear 'Bassclown' spin some records.


On Sunday, 'Em' and I went to Highland Park to listen to some Jazz music. Reservoir Jazz is a summer series showcasing some of Pittsburgh's greatest Jazz talent every Sunday afternoon, free in the park. The weather was beautiful and the place was packed with families picnicking, BBQing, playing and hanging out. Very nice relaxing vibe. (and only about a mile from my house!)


Last night, 'Em' and I went to Regent Square Theater to see Werner Herzog's latest documentary, 'Encounter At The End of the World'. The movie is a visually stunning exploration of the Antarctic community of McMurdo Station, headquarters to the National Science Foundation and home to eleven hundred people during the austral summer (Oct-Feb). Herzog, narrating the film himself in his typical surreal yet sincere fashion, examines human nature and Mother nature, juxtaposing breathtaking locations with the profound, surreal, and sometimes absurd experiences of the marine biologists, physicists, plumbers, and truck drivers who choose to form a society as far away from society as one can get. We both really enjoyed the film especially the questions it raisied about our (in)human nature (Herzog is consistently good at doing this, yo).

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Bowser-Kyles invade PGH.

You may know them from the hit 'How I spent MLK Day' and the popular series 'Atlanta Visit Day 1 - 5' ... this time 'Beaner', 'Bowser' and 'Buddy' took time off their Western PA tour to come and visit me in PGH and boy did we have some good times.

'Buddy' (aka 'Jamhands') stopped by on Tuesday to wreak complete havok on my house. I introduced her to the magic of the polaroid camera and she told me that my house was 'pretty' but that it clearly 'did not have enough toys'. We then had a nice lunch that consited of sliced turkey, strawberries, carrots, cheezits and gummi bears.

Tuesday night, 'Bowser' took 'Buddy' to grandma's house while 'Beaner' (aka 'Gus Macker') and I went down to the Byham Theater to see The Black Crowes. It was an intimate yet lolud and rocking experience catching the band in this small 1300 seat theater. The band played for a good 2 hours, mixing it up between songs from their new album, older albums and even some rare b-side material. They also jammed out some songs into very psychedelic medleys ...

The setlist:

Movin' On Down The Line - (2008 Warpaint)
Goodbye Daughters Of The Revolution - (2008 Warpaint)
Sting Me - (1992 The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion)
Another Roadside Tragedy - (1997 Unreleased)
Nebakanezer - (1996 Three Snakes and One Charm)
There's Gold In Them Hills - (2008 Warpaint)
Poor Elijah - Tribute To Johnson (Medley) (1970 Eric Clapton Cover)
Driving Wheel - (2007 Brothers of a Feather)
Whoa Mule - (2008 Warpaint)
Girl From A Pawnshop - (1996 Three Snakes and One Charm)
My Morning Song - (1992 The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion)
Twice As Hard - (1990 -Shake Your Money Maker)
Oh Josephine - (2008 Warpaint)
Soul Singing - (2001 Lions)
Wounded Bird - (2008 Warpaint)
- encore -
Feathers - (1995 H.O.R.D.E. Tour Promo Disc)
Mean Town Blues (1969 Johnny Winter Cover)

Wednesday afternoon, 'Bowser' and our friend 'Zerbs' (aka 'Lehman') came back into to town to join 'Beaner' and me for an afternoon at the Mattress Factory, Carnegie Museum, and lunch and cocktails in Oakland.

The four of us then went to Soba Restaurant in Shadyside to partake in their Corn Festival Tasting Menu. (we were joined by 'Bassclown' and 'BJ' aka 'Hair Extensions'). This was another fantastic tasting menu just like the one I went to in June except this time the 'secret ingredient' was corn.

The chef started us off with a tasting of Coconut Milk and Ginger Soup

1st Course:

Corn Brulee w/ chili lime salad
Corn and Crab Fitter with soy dipping sauce
Corn and Littleneck Clams with chanterelle mushrooms and yunnan ham sauté

2nd Course:

Halibut Ceviche with corn, plum tomatoes, peaches, chili's, cilantro and crushed coriander oil

3rd Course:

Grilled Medium Rare Flank Steak with roasted corn, tomato, onion, thai chili's, basil, lime and soy sauce

4th Course:

Toasted Steamed Cornbread with cardamom honey peaches, whipped crème fraiche and salted caramel popcorn

We also had the wine pairings with dinner (a Chardonnay, a Riesling, a Cabernet and then an Ice Wine for dessert)

The tasting menu was very fulfilling ... I mean, starting off with a crab cake and creme brulee is pretty hearty ... and the ceviche was out of this world with the combination of halibut, chili's, tomatoes and the surprise taste of peaches. The portion of flank steak was very, very generous too. The corn was prevalent in every dish but it definitely wasn't the main star. Most of us felt that the cornbread topped with cracker jacks was a little lackluster of dessert after an extravagant meal like that but I enjoyed it since I never eat cornbread. Overall, I thought the meal was incredible and I can't wait until their next one. (October: Vegetarian Indian Tasting Menu)

We ended the night having cocktails in Shadyside ...

Everyone left yesterday afternoon, bringing an end to my midweek-mini-vacation.

Let's catch up ...

and clear up any confusion. My latest MRI and the two doctor's appointments I had this week were all just to check up on my cervical spinal fusion from May and to see if that bone lesion in my upper left arm was anything.

Double good news:

The bone lesion is just a cyst growing in the hollow part of my arm. Many people have these and they usually go unnoticed. (Mine just happened to be spotted during one of MRIs). When I asked the Doctor why/how they happen and he said 'they just do'. I'll have to keep tabs on it now since I know it is there but I really shouldn't worry about it too much ... he said to have a yearly xray just to make sure it's not growing or affecting the bone around it. I can live with that.

Also, my spine is healing just fine ... so fine in fact that the doctor decided that I do no need to go to Physical Therapy. Bonus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Will it ever end?

13th hospital visit and 4th MRI of 2008

C'mon kids, laugh with me, not at me. ;)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Jazz is in the house

Last night my friend Jwan brought his mixing skills to the club. He played an awesome set of house and techno music as usual. This time around, however, we tried something new. We had two guys play live trumpet and saxophone along with him, at times, to see how it sounded. Jwan would break his set down and play some minimal tracks that the guys could riff over. The result was really freeform and jazzy and the crowd loved it. When the horns were finished, Jwan would ramp up the music back into something more complex and full bodied. Below is about a minute of last night that I caught on my camera ...

*I realize the video is very dark but at least you can hear the horns to get an idea of what it was like.

** we usually have a live bongo player who comes every week and plays along with the DJ but this week he was a no show.

We're going to try it all again next week anyway ... trumpet, horns, DJ, etc.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pool Party 08

It's 90 degrees and humid again this week. Who wants to go swimming?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Wine Label Pics

Better resolution pics of the actual labels:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My Wine

My labels are finished for the 4 types of wine I made this year; Burgundy, Valdapena, Chardonnay and Cabernet. Last year's wine was named 'Son et Lumiere' (where ever did I get that from?) This year's wine is titled, 'Testa Della Zucci' which roughly translates to 'Head of Pumpkin (Gourd)'. My Italian Grandmother (Nonna) called me 'Punkinhead' while growing up. Yes, it was 'Punkin' and not 'Pumpkin' ... the pittsburgh/italian accent cut out the 'ump'. She also used to shorten and mash together words to make up new ones like 'immakillyou' when she felt like it ... 'immakillyou punkinhead' she used to say.
but anyway ...

In honor of her, I bring you 'Pumpkinhead Wine' courtesy of Casa di Carfagna.

Last night I got together with 'Clover', 'Schaf' and 'Litl' for a short wine tasting. We made it though a bottle each of the Burgundy, Cabernet and Chardonnay.

Chardonnay is still everyone's favorite. The others still taste like alcoholic grape juice. ;)

Monday, July 7, 2008

4th of July weekend pt. 2

Other stuff that happened over the three day weekend:

I hung out and drank too much with 'Clover', 'Schaf', 'Litl', 'JimmyAndrewForest' and a bunch of others. Everyone ended up at 'The Castle' for afterhours but I wussed out and went home.

On a whim I went and saw 'Wall-E' with my friend 'Torque Smackey'. Clever film but not as good as 'The Incredibles'.

I spent a good amount of the weekend trying to load the music sequencer and recording software Pro Tools M-Powered onto my computer. A bitch of a time but I finally got it working properly.

And last but not least, I took advantage of my museum membership and went to the Carnegie Museum with 'Evil Genius' and 'Litl' for an afternoon. I finally checked out the new Dinosaur exhibit and the impressive Carnegie International 'Life on Mars' exhibit.

4th of July Weekend

Very eventful but not in the usual way.

Every year my family and some close family friends make our own wine. We buy the juice of different grapes and then 'rack' the wine every 7 weeks to extract the impurities. We make all types of reds and white; (Cabernet, Valdepena, White Zinf, Chardonnay, Chianti, Burgundy, etc). We started this year's batch back in October of 2007 and this last Saturday, July the 5th, the wine was finally ready to bottle. We spent the entire day cleaning and bottling the wine; a production of about 963 bottles give or take a few.

I couldn't fit all of the cases in the pic ... but those shown are piled two high making it about 750 bottles of wine in this pic.

Anyway ... it took close to 9 hours for the nine of us involved to bottle everything. Of course, this was partly due to the fact that there were at least 30 other people in attendance to watch us work making it more of a fun gathering than actual labor. AND of course we were drinking the entire time; sampling the vino and doing shots of Pelinkovac. AND of course as with every Italian family event of mine, the food spread for the day was most impressive; hot sausage, meatballs, BBQ ribs, brochette, fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausage patties, kielbasa and sauerkraut, sushi, grape leaves, homemade pizza bread, cakes, brownies, tons of fruit ...

I was drunk, stuffed and tired by the end of the day but I still managed to meet up with my old high school friend 'Evil Genius' for dinner before heading home.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Weak Gardening

Work around my house has come to a screeching halt due to my spinal surgery this summer.

In a half-hearted attempt to at least feel some acclomplishments and add some color to my back yard, I purchased a box of mixed flower seed that you just 'shake out' where you want the flowers to grow. The box lists some latin names for the 2 dozen or so types types of flowers that are supposed to be included in the seed but there are no reference pictures ... so I really don't know what's what. (plus, about only 4 types of flowers have actually bloomed from my efforts)

Below are pics of some of the results where I 'planted' near my retaining wall.

The orange flowers that are flourishing the most are really nice. I like how they are vine-like and have grown over the wall ... I only wish I knew what kind they were. Anybody?