Sunday, November 29, 2009

COMPELLING STORY LINES ABOUND AS STEELERS FACE RAVENS ON SUNDAY NITE

Following the NFL each week is much the same as following a soap opera on daytime television: Who's hurt, who's better, who's not talking to who, who got "divorced", who's getting rich, who's losing the farm...you get the picture.

On Sunday night, America's "new" favorite team went into their game against the hated "(Br)avens having a situation that althought not unprecedented, is certainly one this franchise has not faced at least since the days when Art Rooney Sr. was still chomping on cigars and playing the ponies. 

In one horrible afternoon, the SuperBowl champs last week managed to: A) Lose to the miserable Chiefs B) Allow another kickoff return for a touchdown C) Send Big Ben's brain to "La La land" and D) Have their China doll backup quarterback injured in his first series. The results of that disastrous day have suddenly cast a pall over the entire season.

In the aftermath of the Rothliesberger head injury, the reports all week naturally centered on Ben's condition. Amazingly paralleling the circumstances in Arizona with Kurt Warner, after both starters practiced all week, both men decided to withdraw on Friday. While Ben may have had every intention of playing, perhaps he was hiding his headache and hoping it would go away. While trying to "play through it" in practice, what Big Ben didn't realize was that his bravado was actually hurting his team. Every snap that he took with the first team was one less that his backup, Dennis Dixon, a man who has thrown only one pass before in a regular season game, wasn't getting. As a result, Dixon got one full day's work with the starting offense though he did get some reps early in the week.




ABOVE: Dennis Dixon has quite the exquisite set of wheels, but would only be asked to use them in the most dire of circumstances. On the bench as his backup is former Pitt QB Tyler Palko, a player who has had all of 72 hours to first view the playbook. Behind Palko at "emergency" quarterback is Ben Roethliesberger who might indeed be needing another trip to the emergency room if he has to enter this game.

Having Dixon thrown into the "Lion's Den" in Baltimore is certainly great fodder for the media, however, and a very compelling story. Here you have a former Oregon Duck who was a serious Heisman Trophy candidate until he suffered a knee injury, a fellow who has looked good in several preseason opportunities. Now he finds himself on a Sunday night national broadcast looking a menacing "Cousin Ray Ray" in the eye across the line of scrimmage.

Hanging in the balace, if the Ravens lose this game their chances for the playoffs are seriously dimmed even more than they already are. For the Steelers, a once-promising season could continue to unravel.

An untried, untested, backup would be the determining factor. The smart money would not be on the side of Dixon pulling it off, although this kid has a lot of moxie. While the odds against it are great, the Steelers in a sense also have their backs to the wall too. I expect the entire offense to rally around Dixon, having pull him through this monumental challenge. Can Dixon do it? Does he have the patience to deal with a pro pass rush? Can he avoid the dreaded Ed Reed interception?

This is compelling stuff and this game will prove to be one of the most interesting Steeler games since, oh, last February...

Think about it for a minute: You have two hated rivals, who are already both backed into their respective corners, going at it on national t.v. with a rookie at the helm of the Steelers. If this matchup involved dogs, there'd be jailtime also hanging in the balance potentially for all of the participants and viewers. Thank goodness the NFL only uses humans.

DENNIS DIXON COLLEGE AWARDS

Finalist for the Associated Press Player of the Year
Finalist for the Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year)
Finalist for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award
Finalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year award
Bill Hayward Amateur Athlete of the Year award
ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District quarterback
National Football Foundation's Scholar-Athlete Award recipient
All-American honorable mention
Three-time Pacific-10 Offensive player of the week
National Player of the Week for his winning performance at Michigan by Rivals.com, USA Today and AP

________________________________

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

SCOUTING REPORT ON WEST VIRGINIA, THE STATE, NOT THE TEAM

From one of our most loyal readers, "Doctor Jon" (not the singer) comes this scouting report on West Virginia. Not the team, mind you, but the entire state. The Doc went down to Mo'Town to scout out the sights and he came back with some shocking images. Pitt fans may want to reconsider venturing into the land of the Mountaineers after seeing this. It might be better to watch the "Backyard Brawl" on tv!


ABOVE: Don't get lost, unless the people you're looking for have the last name "Tidy Cats"



ABOVE: This enterprising WVU fan has made double use of their old couch by turning her into a yard swing! Oh those clever Mountaineers! Of course if WVU were to pull off a 13-9 of their own, this couch would be ready for a gallon of gas and a match!


ABOVE: The sign in the yard said that this was the Morgantown Women's Club's 2009 award winning garden.


ABOVE: With Thanksgiving nearly here, the residents of West Virginny are already busy decorating...



ABOVE: The Doc checked into a luxury motel with a fully stocked bar (at least that's what the sign said).


ABOVE: While still at his luxury motel, the Doc was invited to have some goormay fancy vittles with the other guests.



ABOVE: Knowin' that the Doc was a Doc and all, they convinced him to rent their luxury limo and go to the Puskar Stadium to get some pregame vittles with some of their kin folk. BELOW: The fare there shouldn't surprise you...



BEST OF LUCK TO THE PANTHERS IN THEIR QUEST FOR THE BIG EAST TITLE AND A BCS BID!

Special thanks to "Charlie Plokhooy" (real name?) who somehow cobbled these bizarre pictures together in the first place!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

BEER WARS: IRON CITY STRIKES BACK WITH MOVE TO FORMER ROLLING ROCK FACILITY

PITTSBURGH: THRU THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA


#44 "PALLET QUANTITY"
LEFT: Stacks of Iron City Beer sit waiting their turn to be shipped from the staging area at the City Brewing Co. in Latrobe, PA.


#45 "THE GREAT WALL"
BELOW RIGHT: Pallet after palletload of empty Iron City bottles waits to be filled. On the day we visited, a new canning line was being installed. 

Editor's Note-- 

As our regular readers know, Tuesday is the day for our weekly feature "Pittsburgh:Thru the Lens of Gary Gayda". Today's version is going to be a whopper too as we are among the first media to tour City Brewing Co., the new home of Iron City Beer. So sit back, grab a cold "Ahrn" and enjoy this week's installment! As always these photos are available by emailing Gary Gayda directly at GMGayda @yahoo.com. Indicate the picture name and number as well as the size that you are interested in and Gary will get back with you. Gary Gayda took over 400 shots during our tour. Below are more of our favorites.


Being older than a good percentage of the people who read "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold" sometimes affords me a better insight when I'm composing a story such as this one. Unless you were born in the 50's at the latest, you wouldn't have experienced the days when Iron City proclaimed itself, "Pittsburgh's number one beer"...and it was! Who could ever forget gravely-voiced Bob Prince or his partner, "The Possum" Jim Woods selling Iron City during Pittsburgh Pirates radio and tv broadcasts?

While Iron City still sells a fair number of cases, it unfortunately is not anywhere near where it had been in the 60's and 70's nor is it selling enough product to be sufficiently profitable now. This is because of incursion into what had been its' domain by national brands such as Coors, Budweiser and Miller Brewing.


Iron City's official barrel production was not revealed during a recent visit to their new (to them) facility in Latrobe. However, even to a virtual novice such as myself of "all things beer-making", it became very obvious that the former Pittsburgh Brewing Company had made a radical change. This change in course could potentially save it from what would have been certain extinction in the not too distant future had it maintained its' original path. 

The "City Brewing Company" is a contract producer, brewing beers for several other brands in addition to Iron City. Brands such as Stoney's and some line extensions of the Pabst company are also produced there now. While Iron City no longer has direct ownership of a brewery, per se, they still have longtime brewmaster Mike Carota on hand to supervise the brewing of their brands at City Brewing. 

Carota, is a very accomodating sort and, as you would expect, a most-knowledgable person when it comes to beer. He is credited with developing I.C. Light as well as working on the original Sam Adams recipe. He prefers though to talk about Iron City rather than discuss his own personal accomplishments. On this tour which lasted over two hours, he would cut no corners in showing "P.B. & G." literally every square inch of the facilty which I estimate at being at least 300,000 square feet in size.


#46 "BREWER TO BLOGGER"
LEFT: Brewmaster Mike Carota (left) finds out what a real blogger looks like.

While the move to Latrobe was understandably quite unpopular with the former Pittsburgh Brewing Company's brewery workers and many Pittsburghers, adding Iron City to the stable of brands already being produced at City Brewing Co. will help that new company grow and become even more stabilized. But the world of beer has a deep, dark underbelly, as I would soon learn, and one that most beer drinkers are completely unaware exists. It doesn't come in a "Lite" version either.

Before our tour started, I had a chance to speak with a veteran union worker named "Bernie" (who didn't want to give out his last name). Bernie, who has worked in this plant for 27 years, spoke with great sorrow over the loss of the "Rolling Rock" brand there. "We had built that brand up so strong that we were bottling every single day. Now they're trying to make it in New Jersey. Can you imagine making Rolling Rock with New Jersey river water? It's no wonder that they're producing about a fourth of what we used to brew just a couple years ago. There's guys from this brewery that haven't worked a day in the last three years since they moved production to New Jersey." When I asked Bernie about the chances of Rolling Rock ever coming back to Latrobe, he sighed and commented, "You'd need $40 million just for the name, so it's highly unlikely."

When I asked about the former Iron City workers, Bernie explained that, "They're from our union too. After all of our people get called back to work then they'll start calling those workers back next. We still have men out of work here."

The amazing part of this impromptu interview showed the true depth of Bernie's knowledge of the beer industry. He began rifling off the names of companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Inbev, even citing the cutthroat tactics of multinational companies in Brazil for the demise of Rolling Rock in Latrobe. "Governor Rendell called Augie Busch and begged him to come to Latrobe and see the operation that we had here. Busch told him, 'I'm too busy for that'. Why did our company have to be sold out from under us? Greed. The three guys who did this (moved the operation to New Jersey) have all since lost their jobs. But that doesn't help us any though."

While the fate and probable ruination of a popular brand such as Rolling Rock may have already been sealed, the future in Latrobe now stands with another local brand making its' home there. If the former Latrobe Brewing Co. employees can use their brewing capabilities to produce Iron City using its' original recipe while utilizing all of the efficiencies present in their modern-day plant, my bet is that Iron City and its' associated brands will be making a major comeback...and soon.

Just to give you an idea of how Iron City was totally missing-out on modern day efficiencies in Pittsburgh, we were shown a major-sized piece of equipment that takes in empty kegs, sterilzes them using several steps and loads them back onto pallets. This process takes one man to operate, compared to 11 men at the former PBC plant. This is not because the Pittsburgh workers themselves were inefficient, but rather, because they lacked the proper equipment... equipment that Pittsburgh Brewing had neither the money to afford it or the space to accomodate it.




#47 "HEY MOE, HEY LARRY"
LEFT: Forklift operator Jay Wano moves kegs of Iron. We tried to convince him to "spill" some kegs for the camera, sort of like "The Three Stooges" but alas, he wasn't biting.

                                        #48 "KEGGER"
While union workers may argue that this equipment represents jobs that were lost, the fact of the matter is that these greater costs of production were doing nothing to help Iron City be profitable so that it could modernize and compete. Taking the drastic step of moving production to a contract manufacturer may strike some as being one step closer to extinction, but that comment would never be made by anyone who had just taken this tour. I would estimate that the cost to develop a plant such as this would be at least $60 million plus the building. The amount of piping, pumps, storage tanks, refrigeration lines, bottling equipment etc. is simply mind-blowing. Iron City has bypassed all of that cost by having City Brewing be their manufacturer. At the same time, I would be greatly surprised to learn that the cost of manufacturing Iron City had also not dropped precipitously. The economies of scale, after all, are everywhere.

                 #49 "SECRET INGREDIENT"

ABOVE: A worker adds molten steel, the secret ingredient, to Iron City Beer. No, not really. In this shot a worker is cutting out some old equipment to make room for another canning line to be installed in the very near future.  

On the day of our tour, there was no canning or bottling going on as they were busy installing a new canning line. This line is expected to be operational December 8th with the first canned product from Latrobe hitting stores by late December. Currently, Iron City's canning is taking place in LaCrosse, Wisconsin although all of the bottling is being done in Latrobe.
                                                                                                            #50 "BEER 101"

Our tourguide, Brewmaster Mike Carota first took us to the brewhouse where the massive caudrons held the simmering brew. There were various stages along the way including the Lauter Tub, Kettle cooker, the Mash tub and the Hot Wort tank. Each boiling cauldron represents another stage in the complicated process of brewing beer. If you never saw a "witch's brew" before, you would swear that this was it. The aroma was unmistakably "brewery". I had spent a couple high school years going to class across the street from the old "Duquesne Brewey" on the South Side, so I knew the unmistakable aroma of cooking hops as soon as I first smelled it...sort of like an odd combination of broccoli and brussel sprouts

#51 "STARTER"                #52 "CAULDRON"



                                      #54 "TEAKETTLE"
#53 "A MESS OF PIPES"


TOP RIGHT: Editor gets beer lesson, keeps asking, "So when's the taste test?" MIDDLE LEFT: A new batch of Iron City is started. MIDDLE RIGHT: Steamy cauldron posed all kinds of problems for our photographer. CENTER: Just a small part of the maze of pipes that makes up the filering area. LOWER RIGHT: Mammoth tea kettle used to cook Iron City's raw ingredients. 


#55 "MR. HOPS"

LEFT: Brewery worker Carl Bauer adds hops


Mike explained that Iron City starts out by reprocessing the municipal water that feeds the City Water plant. While Rolling Rock may have been brewed with "mountain spring water," it was the same water that was also used municipally. What must be done before anything else happens is to have the water re-filtered to remove any trace chemicals or chlorine from it.

"Iron City's original recipe is a mixture of malt, corn, hops water and yeast," added Carota. It takes us around a month to brew a batch of Iron City, slightly longer for I.C. Light."

#56 "COMIN' ROUND THE MOUNTAIN"

ABOVE: A fresh case of IC Light makes its' way around the plant.

I asked about a former product, "IC Golden Lager" and why they no longer manufactured it. I was surprised to learn that..."We made that product using a special variety of golden hops. The problem was that they were very prone to insect infestation in the fields, so the farmers quit growing them. It became so difficult to find a dependable supply that we had to discontinue it."

#57 "BOTTLES-EYE-VIEW"

ABOVE: "Bottle's-eye-view of track that carries bottles throughout the plant.

We saw how hops are shipped to brewers today. The hops have been milled with the non-essential parts removed. The hops are then pelletized and vacuum sealed for freshness. The result is that the brewery has less waste material to dispose of while at the same time having a product stored on hand that is sealed for freshness. As you can just imagine, this product development has been a great help to breweries the world over.

When asked if there were any new products in the works at Iron City, Carota smiled a wry smile, as all good brewmasters would and said, "Yes, but you'll have to ask (Brewery President) Tim Hickman about it."

Another fascinating area was the filtering room where diatomaceous earth is used to further remove any solids that may have made it past prior filterings.
In discussing the brewing of Iron City with an industry insider, I further learned that the word on the street is that the brew is much improved from the original version because of the additional filtering. "They can make better beer in Latrobe because they have the up-to-date equipment there. You were virtually talking the stone age at the original plant in Pittsburgh. Only the Egyptians had older equipment."

#58 "CAROUSEL"

Whether it be the bottle line, new canning line, the kegging equipment or filtration area, Iron City and IC Light should begin winning many new fans because they've managed to take a beer that's 145 years old and not change it, but change the way it's made. That's not meant as a knock at any of the workers who lost their jobs in Pittsburgh because, let's face it, they could only work with what they had.

#59 "CAROUSEL II"

But it will certainly be most interesting to see if the new Iron City Brewing Company will move through this time of great change and emerge a viable company for the future. I'm betting that it will, because there's too much skill, too much equipment and too big of a facility in Latrobe for it to do anything but grow again. Wouldn't it be great if all of those Pittsburgh and Latrobe workers got their jobs back? There's only one way for that to happen: "When you're really ready to pour it on, pour on the Iron." Pittsburghers have to supporrt their local brewery and local workers.

Finally, after touring the lab where they test the beer for alcohol content, extract level, color and bitterness it was time for Gary Gayda and I to get down to business. Our mission: Check all of the bottles in this case of IC Light for the proper taste, color, etc.. I must say that after 24 bottles, everything looked great, tasted great, felt great, smelled great. In fact, now I truly know why they've always called "Iron City Beer, the Beer Drinkers Beer".


#60 "BEER CHART"
ABOVE: The evaluation chart used by experienced taste-testers.
.
#61 "WELL-INTENTIONED TASTE-TESTING"

ABOVE: After a grueling tour, "The Lone Ranger" and "Tonto" dive into a case of IC Light with predictable results in the "Taste-testing room" a euphemism if there ever was one.. BELOW: Gary Gayda (Right) won't be taking any more photos on this day (any usable ones, anyway). (Left) A random blogger is close behind him.

#62 "TASTE-TESTING RUN AMOK"
 

SPECIAL THANKS TO IRON CITY BEER'S SHELBY COLE FOR ARRANGING OUR VISIT AND TO BREWMASTER MIKE CAROTA FOR GENEROUSLY SHARING HIS TIME WITH US!!! DON'T WORRY ABOUT US STEALING ANY COMPANY SECRETS. THIS STUFF'S SO COMPLICATED WE"D NEVER BE ABLE TO FIGURE IT OUT!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

STEELERS BOTTOM OUT AGAINST LOWLY CHEFS

With a home loss to division-leading Cincinnati last week before 65,000 screaming faithful, the Steelers, on the road this week and playing against a lousy Kansas City team were going to have a difficult time getting up for this game. They did not disappoint.


ABOVE: The Steelers were expecting "Chefs", they got "Chiefs" and lost 27-24 in O.T... Not their finest hour.

"How could this be," you wonder aloud? "These are the Steelers we're talking about, they're road warriors"

This week's Kansas City game would once again display two recurring themes of the 2009 season: Poor special teams play and sloppy ball handling.

I have long contended that "attitude" and "hunger" are as big of factors in determining who wins in the NFL as much as raw talent, injuries, even "X's and O's". As an example, last year who would argue that the Bengals were a grotesquely-underperforming team. Yet, how can you explain this same team recovering to the point where they have already swept their divisional games with the Steelers and Ravens this season? They apparently have become world beaters!!! Welcome to the crazy world that is the N.F.L. (an abbreviation apparently for No F'ing Logic).

The Steelers this week were able to top last week's inept performance against Cincinnati with an even more unexplainable loss to the woeful Chiefs. The Steelers managed to tip enough passes into the hands of the opposition, fumble enough receptions and drop enough interceptions that they lost in overtime despite even winning the coin toss! How often do you see a "defeat snatched from the jaws of victory" as thoroughly as this one?

Big Ben was his elusive, Houdini-like self, throwing for 398 yards, but therein may lie the answer to the Steelers offensive turnover problems. Rashard Mendenhall  ran the ball 21 times, averaging 3.8 yards per carry. NEWS ALERT TO STEELERS: THROWING THE BALL IS SIGNIFICANTLY MORE HAZARDOUS THAN RUNNING IT!!! This can be evidenced by two turnovers caused by Heath Miller and Mike Wallace on balls that were tipped or fumbled after being caught.

The Steelers have apparently become "crack-addicted" to the idea of throwing the ball on nearly every down, but this seems like a good place to remind all of you that, "When you throw the ball, there are six things that can happen and five of them are bad."

"Wait a minute," you ask? "I thought the old adage was that there are THREE things that can happen and two of them are bad?"

Well let's review: You can throw a completion, which is good, an interception (bad) or incompletion (also bad, but not as bad as the interception). New additions to this list are that you can catch the pass then subsequently fumble the ball over to the opposition (very bad), tip the pass to the opposition leading to a major runback (also very bad) or even have your franchise quarterback take a knee to the head, thus making his chances of playing next week very questionable (extremely bad).

Truth be known, this game was lost in the third quarter when the Steelers, having seized control of the game and up 17-7 were driving relentlessly for yet another score. Not only didn't they score, the resultant tipped ball drill by Heath Miller and subsequent interception completely changed the complexion of the game. This is what is known as, "Not putting away an opponent when you're standing on their neck." Instead of being up potentially, 24-7, instead the Chiefs were re-invigorated at 17-14.

But talk about not curing a problem, the Steelers cut Arnold Harrison last week, apparently making him the scapegoat for all of their return woes. On the opening kickoff, the Steelers once again allowed a kickoff return for a 97 yard touchdown, equaling a mark for futility not seen since 1950 (that's 59 years folks)! Once again, the Steelers saw a special teams gaffe not only help beat them, but in this case it actually gave Kansas City the initial spark to help them carry the play to the Steelers.





ABOVE: Jeff Reed makes light of the comment, "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory". Steeler fans were not amused, but at least Reed has rid himself of his rainbow-colored hair.

Notice that this was a 97 yard return (ball received at the three yard line) as opposed to the many Ryan Succop kicks the Steelers received that were downed five yards deep in the end zone. I maintain that many of the Steelers kickoff coverage problems are emanating from Jeff Reed not getting the ball as deep as Succop who did it consistently. By the way, Jeff Reed is also the same guy who can't even get into a kick returner's way, let alone make a tackle.

But before any Steeler fans head for the nearest bridge or highway overpass, there comes this headline courtesy of the world-beating Cincinnati Bengals: "BENGALS LOSE TO LOWLY RAIDERS ON LAST SECOND KICK".

You see folks, the biggest problem that NFL coaches have is not drafting the right players, having the best assistant coaches, or even designing the best plays or game plan! Sure, all of those things are important, but even more so is the problem of finding a way to have your players play up to their full potential each week and not taking patsies for granted. The Steelers (six SuperBowls) still haven't completely figured this out (although they are usually better than most other teams at doing it). The Bengals, coming off a big win over the Steelers apparently decided that they didn't have to play as hard to win their game against the lowly Raiders. Apparently they still haven't learned anything from the fact that they've never won a SuperBowl in their long and storied past.




ABOVE: The Raiders did what they always do, "Just win, baby."
Next week the Steelers play a tough game against their nemesis, the Baltimore Ravens. In this day of extreme caution following head injuries, don't be surprised if Ben doesn't play this week, even though he says he's "Okay." Could Charlie Batch pull this off? I think so, but not because of anything special that Charlie would do. Instead, the coaching staff will begin use their heads again and quit relying so heavily on the pass. Big Ben has these guys thinking that they should throw on every play. With anyone other than the "Large One" behind center, sanity will hopefully return to the play calling.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

COMING NEXT TUESDAY IN "P.B. & G": SPECIAL REPORT YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS

LOCAL BEER WARS HEAT UP;
IRON CITY RELOCATES TO
FORMER ROLLING ROCK PLANT


This past August, Iron City Beer closed its' antiquated original facility in Pittsburgh and relocated to the City Brewing facility in Latrobe, the former home of Rolling Rock Beer. In a special edition of "Pittsburgh: Thru the Lens of Gary Gayda" we visit the plant and mark the progress that Iron City is making  in a quest to reclaim the Western Pennsylvania beer market...and more.

Don't Miss It!


___________________________________

Friday, November 20, 2009

IT'S FRIDAY "SPANNING THE GLOBE FOR HUMOR" TIME




FRIDAY HUMOR DEPT.
__________________

I really get a kick out of finding interesting things on the internet and this week I found a goldmine site titled DJ Mick Really? I would have no way of knowing if the laws presented below by the "DJ" are real or not, but if they are, then they truly are "Ten Laws that Prove the World is Nuts". Special thanks to DJ Mick.

#10 In Bahrain, a male doctor may legally examine a woman’s genitals, but is prohibited from looking directly at them during the examination. He may only see their reflection in a mirror.



(Do they look different reversed?)



ABOVE: Typical mirror found in Bahrain doctor's office.

#9 Muslims are banned from looking at the genitals of a corpse. This also applies to undertakers. The sex organs of the deceased must be covered with a brick or piece of wood at all times.


(A brick?)




ABOVE: Bricks awaiting shipment to arab funeral homes.

 #8 The penalty for masturbation in Indonesia is decapitation.

(Much worse than ‘going blind!’)


#7 There are men in Guam whose full-time job is to travel the countryside and deflower young virgins, who pay them for the privilege of having sex for the first time. Reason: under Guam law, it is expressly forbidden for virgins to marry! Where'd they come up with that law?


(Let’s just think for a minute; is there any job anywhere else in the world that even comes close to this?)


#6 In Hong Kong, a betrayed wife is legally allowed to kill her adulterous husband, but may only do so with her bare hands. The husband’s illicit lover, on the other hand, may be killed in any manner desired.


(Ah! Justice!)


#5 Topless saleswomen are legal in Liverpool, England – but only in tropical fish stores.


(But of course!)


#4 In Cali, Colombia, a woman may only have sex with her husband, and the first time this happens, her mother must be in the room to witness the act.


(Makes one shudder at the thought.)




ABOVE: If you live in Columbia, the lady on the left will be watching your every move. 

#3 In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, it is illegal for a man to have sex with a woman and her daughter at the same time.


(I presume this was a big enough problem that they had to pass this law?)


#2 In Lebanon, men are legally allowed to do things with animals that I just don’t want to write about here, however the animals must be female. Having a bit of ‘hows your father’ with a male animal is punishable by death.


(Like THAT makes sense.)

 



ABOVE: It's easy to see how Lebanese men could easily become confused.

#1 In Maryland, USA it is illegal to sell condoms from vending machines with one exception: Prophylactics may be dispensed from a vending machine only ‘in places where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises.’


(Is America a great country or what? Well, not as great as Guam!)

"Spanning the Globe
        For Humor"


ABOVE: Barack Obama shows that he's fed up with the Republicans.




ABOVE: Enter your own caption here. I'm still searching for one, but this picture truly has it all.

ABOVE: The fastest, best solution for the Rubik's Cube (and my personal favorite).




ABOVE: While self-explanatory. I can relate to this sign personally though. Our dog "Rosco", normally very friendly, has developed two nicknames "The Biteman" and "Mr. Teeth".

and finally...




ABOVE: The "sheep" above is outfitted with a GPS unit and has a mouthful of blades to cut your lawn. This is a very bad idea, because if we didn't have meaningless jobs like cutting grass, men would have no real purpose in life. (Also not recommended for use in Lebanon).

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

S.W. PA DEER DECLARE WAR; GOVERNOR HELPLESS TO INTERVENE...NO MONEY

There are usually sporadic incidents of violence each year involving deer, but there is no question that the deer herd of Southwestern Pennsylvania has collectively declared war...and the people here have had enough!!!


ABOVE: A hungry deer sizes up a family cat. In the background, the fawn is being taught the subtle art of killing prey.

Deer are running into convenience stores, banks, crashing through windows, terrorizing workers in insurance offices and in general causing chaos everywhere. Things have gotten so bad that Governor Rendell was going to call out the National Guard to "thin out the herd" so to speak. But after checking with the treasury, the Governor decided that we'd all have to "Live with it" until hunting season. What used to euphemistically be called "Hunting Season" should more resemble out and out warfare this year.

Things have gotten so bad, that even in my own neighborhood my neighbor, Ken, (who I also suspect is a member of the Fantastic Four as I've told you several times) had two separate incidents happen to him! In the first, he had to fend off a maniacal deer with his bare hands in a nearby woods. It had decided to try to trample his dog, "Ubu", to death. Ubu loves to hunt down, fight, and occasionally even kill ground hogs, a fact that no doubt had been duly noted by the deer. When Ubu got too close to one of their own, they decided that they had had enough. This was just another in a series of deer behavioral problems. Fortunately for Ubu, Ken was nearby to save him (as members of the Fantastic Four are wont to do). One shot to the head was enough to stave off the attack but the deer weren't through.

A week or so later, Ken was standing in his own driveway  when a psychotic pack of deer, seeking retribution no doubt, nearly ran him over! One even proceeded to jump through an evergreen tree and into a neighbor's above ground swimming pool (I'm sure that did wonders for their pool liner)! Have these deer totally lost their minds or have the "does" simply failed to "take care of business" for the bucks?




ABOVE: Who can argue, the deer have gone effing crazy! In this photo, the doe on the right is getting "tagged" by the buck in the middle. An insanely jealous buck (left) decides to take out his frustrations and turns homosexual!!!

Just a couple days ago I was traveling down a typical Pennsylvania country road when I noticed two deer munching grass about 20 feet away. Since I've already had the wonderful experience of meeting a deer head on, I brought my car to a crawl and just looked at them. They did not run, but I swear, they had a mean look on their faces. They just stood there looking at me, chewing all the while, just daring me to "try something" with them. The impunity of these deer was just amazing. Was it another example of "deer gone mad" or were they still mad over Ken punching their buddy in the head?




ABOVE: If you see this deer...run!!! It's reputed to be the leader of this latest deer uprising.

Personally, I feel that deer are in the process of evolving. Since man is their only natural enemy, they have decided, collectively, to take us on...show us who's boss. They have now apparently sworn a pact to be our mortal enemy forever.




ABOVE: A deer stands with impunity near a deer crossing sign. He's just waiting for an unsuspecting car so that he can "kamikaze" it.

BELOW: Another car successfully "taken out" by a deer.




While I'm not a hunter, I'm really hoping that those guys have a field day this year. I've never even had deer jerky, but I'm willing to try it. I'll relish every single bite. But the hunters had better watch out too, because the way things are going now, I can just imagine hearing stories soon of organized tramplings of hunting camps and some poor unsuspecting drunken hunters becoming casualties of the war.



ABOVE: The deer are fighting mad and have already escalated the war. We could soon see truckloads of hunters being hauled out of the woods, just like these deer who will soon be smoked into deer jerkey. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

VISITING ROYALTY DOCKS IN PITTSBURGH: THRU THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA


Pittsburgh has had more than its' fair share of visiting royalty here lately, what with the G-20 bringing the major powers of the world here a little over a month ago. But recently, two of the "Big Three" from Christopher Columbus' fleet were docked here in the Burgh for a couple weeks and Gary Gayda was on the scene to record the event for posterity.

Exact replicas of the "Nina" and the "Pinta" were on hand for two weeks and if you're wondering why the Santa Maria didn't make it, the answer is very simple: The masts were simply too tall to fit under the many bridges it would encounter here.


Our intrepid photographer, Gary Gayda, paid a visit to the Nina and Pinta and as usual he came away with some excellent photos. So today, we depart from our depression following the home loss to Cincinnati and focus on something different, a very special edition of "PITTSBURGH: THRU THE LENS OF GARY GAYDA". We'll title this one: "Chris' Fleet Minus One".

As is always the case, these photos are available directly from our "Director of Pittsburgh Photography", Gary Gayda, by emailing him at GMGayda@yahoo.com. Just be sure to give Gary the photo title and number as well as what size print you are interested in. Gary will get back to you post-haste.


So without further babbling-on by yours truly, let's now go back in time and pretend that Chris Columbus decided to visit Pittsburgh this week. After all, the Penguins, Panthers and Steelers were all playing!!! 

Remember, there's only one place where you can get this kind of original Pittsburgh photography and it's right here at "Pittsburgh's Black and Gold"! 

#37  TYPICAL DAY ON THE SHORELINE



ABOVE: Ducks swim peacefully in proximity to Pittsburgh's world-famous fountain.

#38 PITTSBURGH SHORELINE



LEFT: Here's a view of the city that's seldom seen, we'll call it a "Duck's-eye view" of Pittsburgh!













#39 "LANDLUBBERS"



ABOVE: Pittsburghers overrun the Nina, seizing it in the name of the city.

#40 NINA RIGGING



ABOVE: The Nina, along with sistership, the Pinta, were painstakingly reproduced from original plans.

#41 SELDOM SEEN



ABOVE: The Nina and Pinta sit docked with Heinz Field and the Carnegie Science Center looming in the background. Columbus would have surely taken in the Pitt and Steeler games last weekend.

#42 VIEW FROM THE CATBIRD SEAT



LEFT: Imagine you were a member of Columbus' crew sailing into heretofore-undiscovered Pittsburgh. This is what you would have seen...well, minus the buildings and fountain.

#43  SILHOUETTE OF AN ERA PASSED



ABOVE: Using the angle of the sun, shutter speed, f-stop, and extra time in the chemical bath, Gary Gayda produces this image of two docked icons.

#44  REFLECTIONS OF TWO ERAS



ABOVE: The past and present are relected back to the Lens of Gary Gayda in this one gorgeous shot.

Special thanks to our Pittsburgh photographer for today's beautiful images of Pittsburgh!