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Filed Under: default || By jt3y

November 30, 2006 | Link to this story

Check It Out

Category: default || By jt3y

A few days ago, Fast Eddie came to town, a-ridin' on a giant cardboard check. I'm glad he remembers how to get west of Harrisburg after the election --- on the other hand, since he rolled up a 20 percentage point victory in Our Fair City (in five precincts, Swann's vote didn't get out of single digits), maybe it's not too surprising.

I keed, I keed. I'm not one to look a gift governor in the mouth, though I am always sort of ... amused? annoyed? ... when state and federal officials "give away" money. After all, it was our money in the first place, before they took it, and now they're giving it back.

According to the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review, the $4.4 million in loans and grants promised by The Gov will be divided between projects throughout the city:

  • Redevelopment of Midtown Plaza: $1.2 million

  • Sewer repairs, Christy Park: $1.8 million

  • Neighborhood improvements, Christy Park: $120,000

  • Street and sidewalk work, Fifth Avenue: $929,000

  • Tax credits for new Sky Bank branch on Evans Avenue: $98,570

  • Grant to McKeesport Hospital Foundation: $75,000

  • Parklet improvements: $215,000

The sewer line repairs are from a PENNVEST loan, according to the Trib, while the rest of the money is coming from PennDOT, the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

While the Christy Park improvements are vital to retaining that neighborhood --- a neat place to live, a highly walkable urban area, and a great value for first-time homeowners --- the changes Downtown are likely to be the most visible and noticeable to visitors.

"Working together, the state’s Community Action Team and city officials identified this four-block section of the business district as an area where state resources could leverage additional investment, sparking future growth," Rendell said, according to a state press release. "It’s an approach we’ve used across Pennsylvania with great results."

Kudos to Mayor Jim Brewster, city council and Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato for pulling this package together. It's hard to believe that an investment of this size would have happened a few years ago, when council and the mayor's office were at each other's throats most of the time.

The challenge, however, is going to be getting private investment to match or exceed the public money. Too many landlords continue to treat the City of McKeesport as their private garbage dump, or do crummy repairs, apparently under the assumption that people in the Mon Valley can't tell the difference.

All of the street improvements on Fifth Avenue, for instance, won't disguise the fact that Don Farr Moving's storage facility (the old G.C. Murphy Co. home office complex) is painted the most unattractive shade of brown in history. Calling the paint "manure-colored" would be putting it kindly ... and now it's starting to peel.

All of the sewer improvements in Christy Park won't conceal the junk cars or broken sidewalks in front of businesses and homes on Walnut Street.

All of the redevelopment of Midtown Plaza won't help fill the still-empty People's Building --- which was supposed to have been sold back in the spring, though county tax records still list it under the previous ownership --- or the vacant Penn-McKee Hotel.

Let's assume for the moment that public money can jump start development, even though a lot of people will argue the point (especially Pittsburghers still paying for the convention center, stadiums and other projects).

It's up to property owners to actually drive the car.

The $4.4 million package may get the engine running for a while. I'll be more excited when I see someone actually get behind the wheel.

. . .

The Name Game: Yes, I have decided to stop calling the Trib the "Greensburg Astonisher" (which I adopted before Election Day when they insisted on referring to "Bobby Casey Jr." and "the Democrat Party").

And since I'm feeling generous, I'll start calling the P-G by its proper name instead of "A Local Newspaper" (which is what they call the Daily News).

I suppose I'm often petulant, but rarely for very long.

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November 28, 2006 | Link to this story

Steeler Fans Ready To Polka Their Eyes Out

Category: default || By jt3y

I didn't get a chance to listen to any sports talk radio shows on Monday, but I'm assuming that Ellis Cannon and Gene Collier spent most of the time talking people off of bridges and window ledges. (Unlike Mark Madden, who would have been down on the street, yelling, "Jump! Jump!")

Collier, by the way, points out that there was a bright side to Sunday's debacle in Baltimore. The Steeler defense didn't screw up on any kick returns. Since they didn't score, there was no need to kick off, he says.

The Carbolic Smoke Ball reports that the Steelers have apologized to Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for their performance (rimshot).

The 27-0 drubbing at the hands of the Ravens so angered Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette A Local Newspaper that he was reduced to talking like the crocodiles from the "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip. "They're not a mystery team at all," Smizik wrote. "They just not very good."


Hull-o-o-o-o-o, zeeba neighba Bob!

Meanwhile, on Sunday during my radio show (6 to 9 p.m. on 620 WKHB, entertaining literally dozens in the metropolitan Herminie-Edna No. 2 area), a local band dropped by to debut their new Steelers fight song. I hope you like it. I expect to hear from Jimmy Pol's attorney any minute now.

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November 21, 2006 | Link to this story

Crazy Like a Fox

Category: default || By jt3y

News Corporation --- the Rupert Murdoch-controlled global conglomerate that owns Fox Television, Fox News, HarperCollins,, the Times of London and a hairball of other publishing companies and TV networks here and abroad --- has cancelled plans to publish a book by O.J. Simpson detailing how he would have killed his wife and Ron Goldman.

(If he had killed them, which he didn't, because he was reading Bible stories to orphans at the time, and he's going to find the real killer any minute now, possibly while signing autographs at a sports memorabilia show.)

Also cancelled was a two-night TV special featuring Simpson's publisher, Judith Regan, and the Juice himself. The special would have aired on Fox TV.

Apparently, the network that brought us "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire," "The World's Wildest Police Chases," "When Animals Attack," "Woops!" (a light-hearted sitcom about an accidental nuclear holocaust), "The Chevy Chase Show" and "Celebrity Boxing" has decided that giving a suspected (though acquitted) double-murderer several hours of prime-time to discuss his homicidal fantasies is in "poor taste."

As numerous critics have pointed out, this provided a great story for Fox News to chew on for several days, allowing people like Bill "Loofa" O'Reilly to bloviate to their hearts' content about the moral turpitude of big media conglomerates ... like the very one that pays his salary.

Hey --- Bill's just looking out for you. And by "you," I mean "himself," and by "looking out," I mean "getting rich."

(A real conspiracy nut would say that the Simpson controversy also knocked the story of the recent elections --- a disaster for Republicans --- off of Fox News for several days. I say, don't chalk up to conspiracy what can adequately be explained by incompetence.)

In a related local story, former Allegheny County Sheriff Pete "Laverne's Dad" DeFazio, who is pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges of coercing deputies into donating to political campaigns, is not admitting any wrong-doing.

However, DeFazio is writing his own book, preliminarily titled How I Woulda Done It 'N'At, which speculates on how he would have coerced deputies into donating to political campaigns.

Tube City Almanac has learned that DeFazio's book will include a free sheet of stickers, but readers will have to purchase crayons separately to color the other pages.

In other business: Reversed messages can supposedly be found in all sorts of song lyrics, from obvious suspects, like "Stairway to Heaven" and "Hotel California," to less likely places, like "Popeye The Sailor Man."

The Australian researcher who compiled the clips, David John Oates, says they're actually evidence of our subconscious minds operating in "covert" mode, expressing our hidden feelings and motivations: "These two modes of speech, forward and backward, are dependent upon each other and form an integral part of human communication. One mode cannot be fully understood without the other mode."

No, it appears to be a serious effort. Why are you laughing?

The hidden message in "Popeye The Sailor Man" (sound clip) is dirty, according to Oates' website, which calls the phenomenon "Reverse Speech," or "R.S."

I'm thinking of two letters. The second one is "S," but the first isn't.

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Posted at 07:03 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
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November 20, 2006 | Link to this story

A Monday Pick-Me-Up

Category: default || By jt3y

If you don't think this is a cute picture, then I suggest you check your pulse. Or, perhaps, you're the Grinch who stole Christmas, in which case I ask: Shouldn't you be stealing presents in Whoville instead of hanging around here?

The doggie and his human friends are riding in a restored 1950s London taxicab (owned by the Striffler funeral home chain) during Saturday's "Salute to Santa" parade.

More photos here.

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November 18, 2006 | Link to this story

You Better Not Pout, You Better Not Cry

Category: default || By jt3y

I'm tellin' you why ... photos of today's "Salute to Santa" parade are coming to Tube City Online on Monday.

(But those don't look like no eight tiny reindeer to me.)

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November 17, 2006 | Link to this story

Beginning To Look a Lot Like Demolition

Category: default || By jt3y

There appears to be demolition work going on right now at Eastland Mall in North Versailles. A check over the weekend revealed roll-away trash bins and a big pile of debris (much of it looked like it was from old flea market stalls) outside the old mall entrance between what had been Baker Shoes and Gimbels.

There's a possibility that someone is renting space for storage and that remodeling is underway, but given the terrible condition of the mall over the past few years, I strongly doubt it. Instead, I suspect that preparations are underway to finally knock the old white elephant (not that White Elephant!) down.

One sign that Eastland has an imminent date with a wrecking ball would be the start of asbestos abatement --- early '60s commercial buildings are often lousy with asbestos, which was widely used as a fireproofing material in floor and ceiling tile and insulation.

If I can sniff out any other information, I'll let you know.

. . .

Speaking of North Versailles: Here's some useless but interesting trivia that I don't think anyone in the local media has picked up on. (In any event, a search of the Internet tubes hasn't turned up anything, but maybe it was in the News --- in which case a certain reporter who covers radio and TV is sure to email me.)

Anyway: Apparently, one of the characters in the CBS crime drama Criminal Minds is supposed to be a graduate of East Allegheny High School in North Versailles.

It's true --- I couldn't make this up. A.J. Cook plays FBI agent Jennifer Jareau, who's supposed to be a graduate of EA, where she captained the soccer team and won an athletic scholarship to Pitt.

I've been trying to figure out the Mon-Yough connection to the show, without any luck so far. I'm assuming that someone has a relative from this area, or attended Carnegie Mellon.

I found this out the other night when I caught a few minutes of Criminal Minds and noticed that the guy from Dharma & Greg is one of the stars. Since I was pretty sure he had a name (Thomas Gibson, as it turns out) I looked up the show on Wikipedia.

If you watch the show and start seeing references to Wilmerding and Monroeville Mall, you'll know why.

. . .

More Turtle Creek Valley News: Alert Reader Dave says: "Jason, please write something about Marty Griffin from KDKA and the preacher from Pitcairn who encouraged kind-hearted, generous local people to donate over $10,000 to buy Thanksgiving turkeys for our less fortunate folk. This is a great story."

Indeed --- you may have seen Pat Cloonan's story (subscribers only) in the News last night.

You can also read about it in the Pitcairn Times-Express. As Michael Cristiano reports, for the past two years, Rev. David Martin, pastor of the Pitcairn Assembly of God Church on Wall Avenue, has climbed onto the roof to collect money to donate turkeys to local food banks.

This year, Griffin, who hosts a morning talk show on KDKA radio, got involved and his listeners pledged $10,000 --- the equivalent of 1,000 turkeys, according to Cloonan --- enabling Martin to wrap up his vigil early. You can listen to the podcast (MP3 file) of the program at the KDKA website.

. . .

City Councilman Paul Shelly Jr. kicked off his run for the District 9 seat on Allegheny County Council last Saturday. Shelly is seeking the Democratic nomination for the seat currently held by Bob Macey of West Mifflin. Macey was appointed to the seat back in May after Jay Jabbour resigned to run for state representative.

Saying he will "not badmouth any fellow Democrats," Shelly is also pledging to do his best to "serve the entire valley," though he adds "any candidate that tells you that they won’t look out for their home town first may just come back and try to sell you the McKeesport-Duquesne Bridge!"

Shelly has posted his "Platform For a Better Mon Valley" to his website at

Besides Our Fair City, District 9 includes Duquesne, Dravosburg, Elizabeth and Elizabeth Township, Forward, Glassport, Liberty, Lincoln, Port Vue, South Versailles (Coulter), Versailles Borough, West Mifflin and White Oak.

. . .

One aside from your humble editor about Shelly's platform: The candidate who attacked "fellow Democrats" the most this year --- at least in the Mon-Yough area --- was George Matta II, who Shelly endorsed. Matta ran a brutal campaign against state Rep. Marc Gergely (another occasional reader of the Almanac).

But Shelly offered a pretty good commentary on the situation back in May. A few choice morsels:

I don’t agree with many of the tactics used in this race. It seemed a campaign of making the other guy look worse than yourself rather than giving compelling reasons as to why you are the better candidate. I detest negativity and am disturbed that those sort of tactics were employed. I thought we had turned a corner and got past that stuff. I guess I was wrong. Negativity still works or politicians wouldn’t employ it. I believe that it hurts the candidates, the voters and the process. It keeps good folks from seeking public office as they choose not to subject their families to such craziness. ...

I must agree with Mayor Brewster who said that this was a divisive election and that we need to rebuild relationships within our own Democratic Party. We tend to spend too much time and energy fighting each other rather than rallying behind the common cause of fighting for our city.

Unfortunately, elections can and do bring out the worst in some people. I know that in the past, in the heat of battle, that I have done and said things that I later regretted and even apologized for. I am conscious of this and try to do better at it. I’m not condoning anyone’s actions. I saw a lot of things said and done in this race that I would never do. My family and I have chosen to stay here and it is just not worth it.

. . .

To Do This Weekend: Geez, is it that time again? Yes, it is. And here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Fifth Avenue, starting at the Palisades and continuing to Coursin Street. The Downtown McKeesport Association's 42nd annual "Salute to Santa" parade begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, and Santa will also be taking children's letters on the spot ... McKeesport Little Theater, Bailey and Coursin near Carnegie Free Library, presents Neil Simon's The Last of the Red Hot Lovers tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Call (412) 673-1100.

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Posted at 07:32 am by jt3y | Click here and put your ad on Tube City Almanac!
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November 15, 2006 | Link to this story

You've Got a Tax In Pennsylvania

Category: default || By jt3y

The state didn't take long to stick it to the taxpayers after the election, did it?

First came the news that a special transportation commission, composed of PennDOT representatives and elected officials (like J. Barry Stout of the mid-Mon Valley) want to soak us with much higher taxes and fees.

Joe Grata of the Post-Gazette Local Newspaper points out that the entire package --- including a 12.5 cent increase in gasoline taxes, $15 increases in driver and vehicle license fees, and a new 0.9 percent real-estate transfer tax --- would be the largest tax increase for "transportation needs" in the state's history.

Then "Fast Eddie" Rendell vetoed a bill that would have allowed workers to have the $52 occupation tax removed from their checks in small installments, rather than in lump sums.

The governor said the legislation didn't give municipalities "reasonable time periods for implementation of these changes."

An editorial in last night's Daily News lacerated Rendell, calling his veto high-handed and destructive to low-income wage earners, and labeling him "His Excellency." It pointed out that although $52 may not seem like much, for seasonal and part-time workers (it used the example of high school or college kids working at Kennywood), it could swallow most or all of their first paycheck.

That's not a particularly encouraging message to send to a young person, I'll admit. The good news is that the legislature meets again Monday, and might try to override Fast Eddie's veto.

I'm more aggravated about the first item --- the massive dirt sandwich that PennDOT Secretary Allen Biehler and other officials want us to eat. You can read all of the details in the Tribune-Review Greensburg Astonisher.

The money raised would ostensibly fund mass transit improvements, repair bridges and highways, and upgrade traffic signals.

You know, I can't find PennDOT's budget on the PennDOT website. (That's a shocker, I'll admit.) Consequently, I can't see how much that the agency is paying for administrative costs.

There is a spiffy 2005 Annual Report (PDF), but it doesn't say how much PennDOT spends on management, either. (Another a big surprise!)

Still, even without those documents, I can't help but wonder if trimming some layers of management at PennDOT might free up more money for some of these vital transportation projects.

Also, Pennsylvania has the largest, most-expensive state legislature in the country, costing taxpayers about $341 million this year.

It stands to reason that if we cut the General Assembly in half, we'd have $170 million to put toward transportation, wouldn't we?

I suspect we have as much chance of that happening as Port Authority inventing a bus that runs on rainbows and unicorns.

It's much easier to soak the taxpayers. Shucks, we don't mind.

Hey, when's the next election? Two years? Fine. Stick it to us, and we'll be waiting. Just ask these guys.

. . .

In other business: On Sunday, the Local Newspaper has released the results of their comic strip survey. "Doonesbury," "Get Fuzzy" and the resurgent "Sally Forth" are in the "most hated" category, while the favorites include "Blondie" and "The Born Loser."

"Get Fuzzy," once one of my favorites, has been off of its game for a while. But the ongoing "Doonesbury" stories have been sharp --- one is following Alex Doonesbury's problems during her freshman year of college, while the other, more vital one, examines B.D.'s return home from Iraq, where he lost a leg in an ambush.

(For those of you who think that "Doonesbury" is too left-wing, rest assured, there's nothing overtly political about either story --- the Iraq story in particular has been praised by the Defense Department and veterans alike.)

What really blows my mind are the comics that readers say they like best. "The Born Loser"? Good grief --- has anyone, ever, gotten more than a smile out of "The Born Loser"? Other favorites include "Wizard of Id," "Hagar the Horrible" and "Beetle Bailey."

Egad. If "Beetle Bailey" is your favorite comic strip, you probably think Wonder Bread is "too spicy."

Even more depressing: The vow that these results "will be a primary factor ... in helping the (Local Newspaper) decide what changes will be made to the comics."

I await the decision to bring back "Henry" and "Mutt and Jeff." And what about the "Toonerville Trolley"?

Oh, never mind the last one --- I think the Toonerville Trolley is part of the PennDOT tax increases.

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November 14, 2006 | Link to this story

Name That Campus

Category: default || By jt3y

I got a message from Mayor Jim Brewster the other day informing me that he finally did get an appointment to meet with Penn State University President Graham Spanier to discuss the impending name change from "Penn State McKeesport" to "Penn State Allegheny."

Brewster also says that Penn State officials told him that they received only two complaints about the name change --- and one of those, presumably, was mine. There have been a lot of letters to the editor of the Daily News, but I don't imagine that the university is counting those.

Consequently, the mayor is encouraging residents to voice their opinion directly to Penn State officials. I think that's an excellent idea, and whether you agree or disagree that "Penn State McKeesport" should change its name, take the time to write and express your viewpoint, too.

My personal hope is that maybe this name change isn't set in stone --- or perhaps it can be tempered in such a way that the name "McKeesport" remains a part of the campus's name. ("Penn State Allegheny at McKeesport"? Hmm. Anyone have another suggestion?)

Someone asked me recently why I dislike the change. Simple: I think the city benefits from having the prestige of a Penn State campus, and I think it's harmful to the city's image to remove its name.

The city should be proud of its past, but more importantly, it needs to have a future --- and if we're going to go around hanging our heads because we're from "McKeesport," then we might as well level the place right now.

Anyway, we don't need to drive a wedge between the city and this important educational resource, and rightly or wrongly, a lot of McKeesporters (past and present) are offended.

Why? Well, read what the chancellor of the Penn State New Kensington campus recently wrote:

We are proud of our New Kensington heritage as we enter as fifth decade of service to the citizens of southwestern Pennsylvania. We have no plans to regionalize our name. There are no discussions, going on now or in the planning stages, at the campus or University Park on a name change for the campus.

We will continue to be known by the city of our birthplace. We are ... "Penn State New Kensington."

Penn State New Kensington is proud of its heritage. It should be. But the statement from PSNK begs the question: Does this mean that certain other campuses embarrassed by theirs?

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November 13, 2006 | Link to this story

Deep Items From a Shallow Mind

Category: default || By jt3y

I had something of a perfect storm late last week --- the water heater blew up and the two-hour job of replacing it took all day, and then I came down with a bad cold --- so you were spared my bloviating on the results of the elections. Keep that in mind: There's something else to be grateful for on Thanksgiving.

I will drop a few pearls of wisdom (actually, they're more like "cubic zirconia of obviousness") on you, however.

  • Rick Santorum's concession speech was one of the most graceful and compassionate things I've ever heard him say. I knew there was a reason he had so impressed me years ago, before he became the spokesman for the Grand Inquisition. If he had behaved that thoughtfully and with such good humor during the past 12 years, he'd have won re-election.

    I'm glad to see Santorum still has that in him, and if he does run for governor in four years --- as many people seem to think he might --- I hope he comes back with that humility intact. It would serve him, and the people of Pennsylvania, well.

  • Speaking of Santorum's concession speech, several people have sent me jokes about his children, who were on the platform with him. No offense, folks, but I'm not even going to dignify them. That's beyond the pale: Whatever you perceive as his political sins, don't visit them upon his kids.

    They love their dad, and they were there to support him --- of course they were crying and upset. C'mon and grow up.

  • The only other election item of note, for me, was that Mike Veon lost. Mike Veon lost! Let me say it again: Mike Veon lost!

    When I heard the news, I wanted to dance around like Eric Cartman on "South Park": "Na na na na na na, made you eat your pay-raise."

    One Democratic official told the Beaver County Times that voters "just committed suicide" by rejecting Veon. Oh, please. Get over yourself. If you're worried that his replacement won't know how to bring home pork, I'm sure he'll figure out --- they always do.

    Frankly, Veon has soaked the taxpayers of Beaver County and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for years and years, both directly (through his unabashed use of personal perks and gratituties) and indirectly (by failing to use his power to do anything to reduce the size of state government or to reform property taxation, to give just two examples).

    The voters of Beaver County "committed suicide"? No --- they went to the window, all right, but instead of jumping, they opened it up and yelled ... well, you know the rest.

    Veon's lucky they were satisfied just using voting machines. In an earlier time, they'd have used tar and feathers.

  • Finally, a commenter asked about Thursday's cartoon: "Is Bob Casey going to commute daily from Scranton to Washington, D.C.?" That's a reference to a frequent complaint about Santorum --- namely that he was gaming the voters of Pennsylvania by taking charter school money while living in Virginia.

    Actually, I suspect Casey will do what generations of congress-critters and senators have done --- he'll rent an apartment in the DeeCee area and travel back and forth on weekends.

    I'm more surprised that no one commented on the logical fallacy of having a Quaker kick someone. You knew that was supposed to be a Quaker, right?

    I know, don't give up my day job (I have a day job?).

See yinz tomorrow. Lots o' local Mon-Yough stuff coming up this week, kiddies --- better buckle your seat belts n'at.

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November 09, 2006 | Link to this story

... And Give Up Penn Hills?

Category: default || By jt3y

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November 08, 2006 | Link to this story

Election Post-Mortem

Category: default || By jt3y


(image by Mort Drucker, from the album cover)

And now, from approximately coast-to-coast, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding wrap up the election returns for you, in a segment from the original recording of their 1970 Broadway show, Bob and Ray: The Two and Only.

The original CBS album, on Columbia Masterworks, is out of print, but you can find used copies on Amazon, or buy other Bob and Ray stuff from the official Bob and Ray Overstocked Warehouse.

From aboard the Bob and Ray Trophy Train, somewhere outside McKeesport, this is radio's fair-haired golden boy and winner of numerous diction awards, Wally Ballou, sign- ...

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November 07, 2006 | Link to this story

Put Up or Shut Up

Category: default || By jt3y

My crystal ball looks an awful lot like a glass ashtray from the PAT bus station downtown, but here are my predictions (hey, if John McIntire can do it, then I can do it, right?), based on nothing but guesses. If I'm right, it's pure dumb luck, frankly:

Casey by 5 points over Santorum: The polls have been saying that Bob "Bob" Casey Jr. has a 7 to 11 point lead, but I don't buy it. Casey's support is a mile wide and an inch deep, while Sen. Torquemada's supporters are true believers.

I suspect most people pressing the "Casey" button are voting against Tricky Ricky, not for Casey (with the possible exceptions of his mom Ellen, and his wife Terese, and I'm not totally sure about them). That means if it was raining or if there was a good "Showcase Showdown" on "The Price is Right," I think a lot of potential Casey voters stayed home.

Rendell by 8 points over Swann: Again, the polls have been showing Fast Eddie with double-digit leads, but I think the dynamics in this race are almost a mirror image of the Casey-Santorum matchup: I think a lot of people are voting against Rendell rather than for Swann. For that reason, it's not going to be a blowout like the Bob Casey Sr.- Barbara Hafer race in 1990.

A friend told me today that he held his nose and voted for Swann "even though I know he's an empty suit." Well, maybe it's better to vote for an empty suit than for one that's stuffed with Grade-A baloney. But I don't think there's enough of a protest vote for Swann to win.

Hart by 3 over Altmire: I think Missy wins by a chin nose. I think she's generally well-liked and will get a lot of crossover support from Democrats, and I think she successfully has painted Jason Altmire as a lawyer and a lobbyist --- both dirty words to most people.

Murphy by 8 over Kluko: I don't think Chad "Who?" Kluko ever overcame his name recognition problem, and I think residents of Tim "Not Tom" Murphy's district went into the voting booth and said, "why change?" That's despite Murphy's televised meltdown; he's otherwise dull and inoffensive, and I predict they'll be celebrating tonight in the Murphy household, no doubt with butter-bread sandwiches, plain yogurt and skim milk.

Saints by 6 over Steelers: Sorry, I got carried away.

By the way, back east in Casey Country, an anonymous pundit who calls himself "A Big Fat Slob" has been doing yeoman's work in analyzing Pennsylvania politics. Go check him out. (Tube City hard hat tip: Jonathan Potts.)

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November 06, 2006 | Link to this story

Public Service Message

Category: default || By jt3y

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November 03, 2006 | Link to this story

Editorial Eyes and Eagle Eyes

Category: default || By jt3y

I read two timely and thought provoking editorials yesterday; one in the New Pittsburgh Courier, the other in the Daily News.

First, the Courier, which made its election endorsements: Ed Rendell for Governor and Rick Santorum --- yes, that Rick Santorum --- for Senate:

Certainly we recognize that Lynn Swann at the top of the Republican ticket represents an historic first. The opportunity to vote for a Black man at the head of a major party ticket in Pennsylvania has never before presented itself.

But from what we have seen of Swann, he is simply not up to the task of running a state as varied as Pennsylvania. Neither does he display the kind of political acuity that we feel is necessary to wade through the deep political water that flows freely in Harrisburg.

Swann almost dismisses the fact that politicians in Harrisburg will not do his bidding simply because he says so. We do think that Swann has potential, and he has been a winner in all of his other pursuits. But in this race, Ed Rendell is the best man.

In the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Rick Santorum and State Treasurer Bob Casey, we have an interesting dilemma. In Santorum, we have a politician who complains that his message isn’t reaching Black voters, and in Casey, we have a politician who hasn’t even tried.

While some would say, “anybody but Santorum,” in this race, it has come down to “nobody and Santorum” ...

We wish we were hearing counter arguments from Bob Casey. We wish that he would send a message to the Black community detailing where he’s been and what he’s done and why he should get the vote, especially in what is turning out to be a very close election.

But we have heard next to nothing from Casey, and because of that, we cannot endorse him. Though we are quite concerned that Santorum has been the poster child for a wing of the Republican Party that has been anathema to Blacks, we endorse Rick Santorum in this race.

I don't know that newspaper endorsements carry very much weight, but I wonder whether the editorial doesn't reflect a deep dissatisfaction among black voters that Democrats are still taking them for granted. (Remember: That --- and the general meltdown of the remains of the Allegheny County Democratic machine --- slaughtered Mike Dawida and Colleen Vuono back in 1996.)

Add to that the fact that conservative "family values" candidates have been courting urban ministers for several years --- particularly over gay rights issues --- and I wonder how many African-American voters in Pennsylvania will either stay home next Tuesday, or hold their nose and vote for Santorum.

. . .

Onto the Daily News (subscribers only), and Tuesday's leader entitled "Another Silly Controversy," offering a post-mortem for John Kerry's "botched joke":

"Senator, do you regret saying the remark?" asked an unnamed reporter. "And what were you trying to say?"

"Very simple: That those who didn't study it properly, those who made the decisions, they got us into Iraq," Kerry answered. However, Kerry went on to say, "we're not going to let them change the topic."

Spoken like one closing the barn door after the horse ran out.

Sadly, the losers in all this are the voters. This is one more moment of inanity in a silly season featuring inanities from all sides.

Obscured amid his faux pas is a point Kerry made in Seattle: "We have the finest young men and women serving us in the United States military ... but this administration has let them down."

Ultimately, voters will decide if Kerry, or Bush, is right.

. . .

Also, I would be remiss in not mentioning that Tony Munson had a fine editorial about the upcoming election in last Thursday's Valley Mirror --- if I still have the issue and can post a few choice morsels, I will.

. . .

In other election-related business (oh, lawdy, lawdy, will Wednesday never come?), Maria at 2 Political Junkies deftly parses some of the nonsense in the Melissa Hart-Jason Altmire race.

Maria notes that Hart, whose district just barely touches the Mon-Yough area, has called on Altmire to stop the national Democratic Party from running commercials on his behalf.

If he does, she says she'll stop the national Republican Party from running ads for her.

But as Maria notes, if Altmire complied, he'd be slitting his own throat. Hart is sitting on $500,000 in advertising money, versus Altmire's $55,000 --- if Altmire couldn't lean on the party for support, he'd be effectively out of the race.

Writes Maria: "So if Missy 'succeeded' in ending all outside ads, she'd have a 10-1 money advantage. Ah, that Missy. So altruistic! She wants a 'fair' campaign --- one where she'll have all the monetary advantages."

Poor Missy Hart. No wonder she has such a long face.

. . .

To Do This Weekend:Trumpeter Warren Vaché and guitarist Joe Negri will be the featured musicians at Penn State McKeesport’s third annual All That’s Jazz scholarship benefit at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Student Community Center, located just off University Drive near Renzie Park. All proceeds go into the Penn State McKeesport Scholarship Fund. Call (412) 675-9048.

Serra Catholic (8-1) hosts the Duquesne Dukes (6-3) tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the WPIAL Class A playoffs. It's my alma mater's first appearance in the football playoffs since the year I graduated ... and that's a long time ago. Sorry, Duquesne High fans and alumni, but GO EAGLES!

Meanwhile, it's a Lincoln Way grudge match in the first round of the Quad-A playoffs as the Norwin Knights (4-5) take on the McKeesport Tigers (7-2) at Weigle-Schaeffer Memorial Stadium tonight at 7:30.

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November 02, 2006 | Link to this story

This Just In

Category: default || By jt3y


     BOSTON—(TCA)—U.S. Sen. John Kerry has apologized if "any servicemen or women are unable to take a joke."


Kerry-Apology-1st Writethru

     BOSTON—(TCA)—U.S. Sen. John Kerry has clarified his earlier apology, saying that he "did not intend to imply that America's fighting men and women were dumber than the president of the United X-X-X-X-X-X



(Eds: Kill all preceding stories)

     BOSTON—(TCA)—U.S. Sen. John Kerry was rushed to Massachusetts General Hospital this morning with what doctors are calling "an impacted size 12 Florsheim in his big fat piehole."



     WASHINGTON—(TCA)—Vice President Dick Cheney reacted angrily to U.S. Sen. John Kerry's explanation that his "botched joke" was actually aimed at the Bush administration.

     "I would remind the senator of the doctrine of 'I'm rubber and you're glue,'" Cheney told an audience at the National Press Club before turning into a bat and flying through an open window.



     BOSTON—(TCA)—Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital say they have successfully removed U.S. Sen. John Kerry's shoe from the mouth of the Massachusetts Democrat.

     The senator is said to be "resting comfortably" after a three-hour operation to stitch his mouth shut "at least until after the elections," a hospital spokesman said. Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean, a physician, performed the surgery.

     Kerry's wife, Teresa, was rushed to an undisclosed Pittsburgh hospital for a similar mouth-sewing operation "strictly as a precautionary measure," a source close to the Kerrys said.

     A report from the Pennsylvania Game Commission said that seven tranquilizer darts were required to subdue Mrs. Kerry.



     WEST CHESTER, Pa.—(TCA)—Campaigning for Republican congressional candidates, President Bush said he didn't understand the "botched joke" that U.S. Sen. John Kerry claims he was telling.

     "A joke is like, two guys walk into a bar, or a rabbi, a priest and a traveling salesman are in a boat, something like that," Bush said. "Did you hear the one about the Scotsman and the rabbi who went to lunch together?"

     Bush's campaign appearance here in the Philadelphia suburbs puzzled some observers since none of the candidates the president was campaigning for would agree to appear on the same stage with him.



     PENN HILLS, Va.—(TCA)—In a move aimed at healing partisan wounds, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican, has sent a "get well" message to his Massachusetts senate colleague, John Kerry, a Democrat.

     "I, myself, have suffered the unpleasant taste of my own shoes on numerous occasions," Santorum said, adding that his doctors believe he may be allergic to "gays, single mothers and TV cameras."



     NEW YORK—(TCA)—Pundits are "delighted" that U.S. Sen. John Kerry "opened his fat yapper one week before an election."

     "It's much easier to endlessly speculate on a gaffe by a failed presidential candidate than to try and generate substantive coverage on a real issue, like terrorism or the war in wherever," said a CNN spokeswoman.

     Until Kerry's stunningly idiotic comments to an audience of college students in California, executives at Fox News, CNN and MSNBC had privately voiced concern that their reporters and anchors might actually have to do real work.

     An internal CNN memo leaked to a website earlier this month had recommended that the network "kidnap a girl or young woman, preferably white and blonde" during the fourth quarter of 2006.



     OTTAWA, Canada—(TCA)—Canadian immigration officials report a 130 percent increase in applications from American citizens.

     A deputy minister at Citizenship and Immigration Canada says applications began increasing "at roughly the same time the election ads began running in the (United) States," and expects requests to enter Canada will peak "sometime before Nov. 7."

     The Canadian report comes on the heels of last week's news that Americans are purchasing hot-air balloons at four times the usual rate, hoping to float away before the upcoming midterm congressional elections.

     The massive U.S. retailer Wal-Mart reported last month that sales of shovels and other digging implements had increased as well, as Americans bury their heads in the sand to avoid campaign advertising.

(More to come)

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November 01, 2006 | Link to this story

Pretty Scary, Eh Kids?

Category: default || By jt3y

A friend swears that this is true.

He says that once, on "Chiller Theater," Channel 11's notorious Saturday late-night horror movie show, the film was so bad that host "Chilly Billy" Cardille spent all of the station breaks apologizing for it. At one point, he showed the audience the preview reel the station had received: "See? From the trailer it didn't look this bad."

I have no idea whether Pittsburgh-born comedian, actor and writer Joe Flaherty saw that particular episode of "Chiller Theater," but I have a hunch he might have.

In any event, that same on-air desperation was a key part of the character of "Count Floyd," the horror movie host portrayed by Flaherty on "SCTV."

It's no secret that "Count Floyd" was based in part on Cardille; Flaherty has been quoted as saying that "Chiller Theater" was one of his inspirations. One of Flaherty's colleagues on the Canadian sketch-comedy show said that his ideas for TV parodies were born when he was growing up in Pittsburgh, watching self-important "show-business frauds" make fools of themselves.

Well, I don't think anyone considers Cardille a "show-business fraud" --- he has a reputation as a being a pretty nice guy --- and the keys to the popularity of "Chiller Theater" were that no one was taking it seriously, least of all Cardille, so that the audience was always in on the joke.

But on "SCTV," Count Floyd's "Monster Chiller Horror Theater" was deadly serious business, no pun intended. For one thing, Floyd deeply resented hosting a kiddie show --- under the bad vampire makeup, he was Floyd Robertson, co-anchor of the SCTV News.

For another, the station invariably booked either terrible films ("Dr. Tongue's 3-D House of Stewardesses") or the wrong films (at one point, Floyd was stuck introducing an Ingmar Bergman film, in Swedish with English subtitles).

Floyd inevitably found out about the mistakes after the film was on the air, leaving him to first try to convince the viewers at home that the movie was better than it appeared, and then apologizing profusely, practically begging the audience to tune in again.

One of the greatest things about "SCTV" was its ability to layer comedy on comedy on comedy. In later episodes, Floyd, frustrated with being stuck at this low-budget, bottom-feeding TV station, became a raging alcoholic, finally appearing on the evening news bombed out of his mind.


Buy It!
He wound up in rehab, reduced to making on-camera public-service announcements for the alcoholism treatment clinic where he was drying out. ("They don't beat you or anything," said a glassy-eyed, dissipated Floyd.)

What does this all have to do with the Mon-Yough area? Well, if you're Joe Flaherty or his brother, Paul, a writer on "SCTV," you might work local Pittsburgh references into your scripts. You might ID the fictional station as "Channel 3 in Pittsburgh, Cable 102 in Blawnox." You might bring Rocky Bleier and Mean Joe Greene on as guest stars.

Or, you might have Count Floyd introducing a movie called "The Blood-Sucking Monkeys of West Mifflin, Pennsylvania."

Accept this audio clip, from the Feb. 19, 1982, episode of "SCTV," as a little post-Halloween treat to get the taste of candy out of your mouth. (If you want to buy this sketch, it's part of SCTV, Volume 2.)

P.S. Flaherty is currently teaching comedy writing at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario. Not bad for a Pittsburgh boy.

P.P.S. Yes, I meant to have this up last night. So sue me.

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