Archive for August, 2011




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I got into a big discussion with my buds about the attraction of restaurants that are buffet style. I’m against them.

The seeming appeal – eat as much as you want – is quickly diminished when you realize that there are tons of really big people pawing all over the food. Secondly, the food is not really that great to start with. I would rather pay for a set amount of something I really love than to pay for all I can eat of something that isn’t very good to start with.

It’s like Huey Lewis said in “Bad is Bad”

Across the street, a neon sign:

All you can eat for dollar ninety-nine

Our Soul Stew is the baddest in the land

But one dollar’s worth was all that I could stand

But back to the pawing. One thing I have never understood is the insistence of these places to have a serving utensil in a large container of food that is easily amenable to picking out by hand. When there is a large tray of cookies, why does there need to be a set of tongs to pick them up with? Who can’t reach down and pick up a single cookie with touching the others? But no, these places want every dirty customer to grab a set of tongs or other device, get their germs all over it, and once they have pulled their item, they then lay the now contaminated tongs right over the remaining cookies bringing the utensil into direct contact with several of them. Same thing with the pile of dinner rolls at then end of the table. I don’t know about the masses of humanity that frequent Ryan’s, but I am completely capable of reaching onto the pile and pulling a piece of bread off without touching the others, and I would much prefer the other customers do the same.

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After a ten year hiatus due to annoying, time-consuming things like med school and residency, I finally got back to the summer ballpark tours with my guys. Pittsburgh PA, home of the beautiful PNC park was the choice for this summer’s trip, and it proved to be a great pick. Pittsburgh is a very historical baseball city;  the Pittsburgh Alleghenys played in the American Association from 1882-1886. They defected at the end of the 1886 season to join the 11 year-old National League for the 1987 season and have been there ever since. They initially continued to be identified as the Alleghenys, but after raiding the by then struggling American Association of players in 1890, they were called “piratical” by that league. In response, the franchise renamed themselves the Pirates beginning with the 1891 season and have retained the nickname for 120 years now. In town were the Cincinnati Reds, National League members since 1890 themselves. Cincinnati is 465 miles down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh and the cities have been long-time rivals in the Senior Circuit.

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Set on the northern bank of the Allegheny River just before it merges with the Monangahela River to form the mighty Ohio River, PNC Park opened in 2001 and is one of the more beautiful ballparks in the world. From downtown Pittsburgh you can walk over the Roberto Clemente bridge right into the plaza of the ballpark. Sitting behind the plate, you can look out beyond centerfield and have a beautiful view of the bridge crossing back across the river. Long home runs that clear the bleachers in right field can actually come to rest in the Allegheny. There is a real retro feel to the ball park. Some of my favorite features were the mammoth steel light towers, the 21 foot high right field wall (in honor of Roberto Clemente of course who wore that number on his uniform), and the walkway up to all levels in the left field corner.

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Making things even sweeter, my Redlegs won in come from behind fashion on both Friday night and Sunday afternoon to take the series after dropping a tough one on Saturday. I got to see Joey Votto launch two monstrous home runs. John got sick of me calling him “reigning National League MVP Joey Votto” every time he came to the plate, but when his 3 run shot turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 Reds lead in the 6th inning of Sunday’s game, John had to give me a “and that’s why he’s the MVP”  acknowledgment.  Another favorite, Brandon Phillips (DatBPDude on Twitter) went 7 for 13 in the series with a 3 run homer on Friday night.

While we were in town, a few of the streets near our hotel were closed because Universal Studios was filming the next Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises.” Pittsburgh is taking on the role of Gotham City in the movie. There were all kinds of production people around guarding alleys, communicating on their walkie-talkies and making sure that the people on the streets couldn’t find the Batmobile. There was artificial snow remnants on the streets from the week’s shooting. We did catch a glimpse of what looked like the Batplane parked way down one street as seen in the background here, but no sign of stars Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, or Michael Caine.

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There was a battered City of Gotham Police Department car parked on a studio flatbed truck outside our hotel.

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Other highlights were riding the river walks on a rented bicycle, seeing a crazy life size mousetrap played out at the Carnegie Science museum and some Parma Pizza every night. Lots of fun. Maybe we will finally get to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati next summer.

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