a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The terrible toilet seat

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH – It would be easy to explain why someone would grab a brick or a chunk of concrete to take home and remember a football stadium while it is being demolished.

It's not the case for Denny DeLuca, a chef on Pittsburgh's North Side.  He grabbed a toilet seat from the last stall on the right in the rest room at the section frequented by him and his children during Steelers games at Three Rivers Stadium - before the team's home park disappeared in a 2001 implosion.

"Don't worry about it, it's been disinfected," DeLuca explains in a video at an art gallery in Pittsburgh where his off-the-wall Steelers man cave has been installed at Carnegie Mellon University.

Most Yinzers, though, will understand why DeLuca placed a sign across the seat stating it's the only sign of life in Cleveland, the Steelers' biggest rival, before he hung the black plastic toilet cover on the wall of his Carnegie game room. The pile of fake plastic poop glued to the side of the seat is another story.

His shrine is wall-to-wall Steelers, and it rises to the level of primitive art. A dummy of Troy Polamalu hangs from the ceiling as if the team's strong safety is flying after a loose football. A sliver of an steel I-beam where DeLuca scribbled memories of great plays at Three Rivers Stadium sits below his flat screen TV. There is a string of game day tickets across one wall next to his large collection of miniature plastic Steelers players. Two tiny dead Ravens - birds representing the hated team from Baltimore - hang from a string beside the TV.

The display gets weirder and wonderful, and you have just one week left to see it for yourself. The show has been extended because the Steelers are playing the Green Bay Packers Feb. 6 in Super Bowl XLV.

DeLuca's basement room is "crammed floor to ceiling with hundreds of handmade and altered objects, each with its own story that describes both the biography of the team and Denny's autobiography," the  curators explain in a pamphlet about the show titled, "Whatever it Takes: Steelers Fan Collections, Rituals, and Obsessions."

Astria Suparak, the gallery curator, and Jon Rubin, an assistant CMU professor of art, are newbies in Pittsburgh, and they were inspired to create the exhibit after being struck by the singular nature of Pittsburgh's immersion in all things black-and-gold, an article in the Observer-Reporter explains.

The show also celebrates how one fan sets aside 62 minutes before each game to afford enough time to kiss every Steelers item in the house prior to kickoff.

Meanwhile, it also pays tribute to a string of fans who have adorned their bodies with Steelers tattoos. One of them actually thought he would look good with a tattoo inked across his chest of a hand with its middle finger wearing a Steelers ring and flipping the bird. Another favored a tattoo up and down his arm of team founder Art Rooney Sr. smoking a cigar - as if either are sexy.

The show organizers attempt to explain the odd fan obsession with the Steelers through a generation spawned by great teams of the 1970s, the collapse of the steel industry and the city's working man mentality. 

"The team mirrored the values and desires of its working class fans: they were owned by a self-made local family, named after the local industry, and had a relentlessly hard-nosed playing style," the brochure states. 

It's a good try by outsiders to explain us, but I tend to think we have crazy fans here because we also have a great football team that plays exciting, nail-biting games even when it loses.

The gallery can be found in the Purnell Center for the Arts, 5000 Forbes Ave. Hours: noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. A Super Bowl party and closing remarks are set for 6 p.m. Feb. 6. Complimentary snacks and BEVERAGES, sponsored by Iron City Brewing Co. Admission is free.

The black and gold calf, left, and Steelers SuperFan by Lem Apperson.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sometimes ugly is pretty

Take a peek out my kitchen window this morning. Here's an example of how a blanket of new-fallen snow can make things look beautiful, even an ugly falling down house beside an overgrown vacant lot. It's too bad the deer weren't there at the time.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The day President Kennedy waived to us

President John F. Kennedy is shown in 1962 speaking outside the Washington County Courthouse in Washington, Pa., ending a mid-term election sweep through Pennsylvania's steel country. Observer-Reporter

By Scott Beveridge

There isn't much I remember about the autumn morning in 1962 when the president of the United States paraded through my scrappy hometown in southwestern Pennsylvania.

It's because that October 13 when John F. Kennedy swept through Webster, Pa., fell six weeks beyond my 6th birthday, and I doubt that I understood then what he did for a living.

What became etched in my mind involved local moms, including my own, gathering their small children along the side of the dusty road passing through our village and waiting there in excitement for a glimpse of Kennedy's motorcade after he left a speech in nearby Monessen.

Kennedy was 45 and on a two-day tour of steel towns around Pittsburgh to stump for Democrats in a mid-term election, The Herald-American newspaper across the Monongahela River in Donora reported two days later. The speech could have easily been delivered last year because it was given at a time when Kennedy's party was about to lose seats in Congress and the governor's mansion in Harrisburg, Pa., the newspaper archives indicate at the Donora Public Library.

"Only twice in the last 100 years has the party in power, the party of the president, succeeded in picking up votes in the off year," Kennedy said on a stage erected in an A & P parking lot in Monessen. The message sound eerily familiar to those offered in the 2009 election two years after President Barack Obama won the White House.

More than 25,000 people had packed the streets around the grocery store and "every available space from one part of the city to the other," The Herald-American reported about Kennedy's visit.

Kennedy was in Democrat country that sunny morning because nearly every registered voter, dead or alive in that small city then under mafia control, shared the president's party. He won the Westmoreland County city with 7,500 votes two years earlier, with just 1,600 ballots there going to Richard M. Nixon.

"I am very conscious of who voted for me and who didn't," Kennedy said.

He began that Saturday in McKeesport after having visited Aliquippa and Downtown Pittsburgh the day before. More than 300,000 people lined the streets in Pittsburgh to catch a glimpse of Kennedy, who "was greeted more like a matinee idol than a chief executive," The Tube City Almanac reported.

Kennedy criticized Republicans in Washington, D.C., at every stop, particularly for their opposition of spending money on such domestic challenges as medicare, education and housing.

Surely the president had to be alarmed at the state of the housing in my town, where houses had turned black from decades of exposure to pollution from the steel mills in Donora and Monessen. The poor town didn't have sidewalks. It didn't even have much grass, either, because the acidic air that spewed from the Donora zinc works had killed most of the vegetation.

The Donora newspaper didn't bother to mention the president's motorcade passed through Webster en route Monessen, and then again to another stop at the Washington County Courthouse in Washington, Pa. The article simply stated Kennedy passed by Donora on the "opposite side" of the river.

Yet we were proud to greet Kennedy on Second Street near the ramp to the Donora-Webster Bridge as he waived to us from a black Lincoln Continental sedan with an open convertible.

It was a historic day for us, even though my mom and her female neighbors expressed much disappointment that the president had come to town without his fashionable wife Jacqueline.

President Kennedy, center, greets people outside Washington County Courthouse, Washington, Pa., at the end of a two-day campaign swing through southwestern Pennsylvania on October 13, 1962, during the mid-term election. Observer-Reporter

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Conversations will be missed with Sir Harold

By Candy Woodall

PITTSBURGH – His favorite songs became the soundtrack of our lives. His place of business became our living room. His endless supply of trivia entertained and educated us. His bar stools gave us a front row seat to some of the city’s best moments. His reliable presence provided a constant in our lives that ensured we had a friend during happy hours and unhappy hours.

We already miss him.

We already feel the pain of not being able to hear what Harry Patterson thought of the upcoming Steelers-Jets matchup.

We already miss hearing about a rare, B-side, double-extended live version of a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young bootleg--and getting asked if it was led by Stills and Nash, Stills and Young or Nash and Young. (Note: It would probably be a trick question. The correct answer would probably have been Stills, Nash and Young, and only Lou would get it right.)

Regardless of how much we had grown or changed, Sir Harold always seemed to remember us as the fresh-faced, coming-of-age college kids he met a decade ago. He was always in our corner. He always saw the best in us. And he never let us leave without “a topper.”

He wasn’t just our bartender. He was our friend. He was part of our family. He was part of our story. He watched us grow up.

Before his River City Inn in PPG Plaza had a jukebox, it had a lot of mixed tapes, which featured everything from the Rolling Stones to The Guess Who to The Beatles to Frank Sinatra to Miles Davis to Traffic to Mountain to Bob Dylan.

It seemed as though every time we walked in there the Stones’ “Under My Thumb” or “Ruby Tuesday” or “Satisfaction” was playing--even though “Gimme Shelter” was his favorite Stones song and Let it Bleed was his favorite Stones album. He was also quick to remind us that “Satisfaction” was “the Beethoven’s 'Fifth' of rock ‘n roll.”

Upon an announcement in 2002 that the Stones were touring again, Lou said the legendary band should hang it up. Harry of course challenged that as well as Lou’s editorial about it in The Globe, Point Park University’s student newspaper.

Somehow I ended up with tickets to the Cleveland show. Lou and I enjoyed amazing seats only 20 feet away from the encore stage. “Brown Sugar” became somewhat of a religious experience for us, and Lou ate his words. As he wrote after seeing the show, “If the Stones can’t rock me, who can?”

Harry of course wanted to hear all about it, every detail. He listened to our story about the set list, Mick’s gyrations, Keith managing to play a full song while smoking a cigarette—without ever taking it out of his mouth, Elvis Costello’s opening, Lou allowing me to only play Neil Young and Cheap Trick on the highway, and what it felt like to hear one of our favorite bands play some of our favorite songs.

Sir Harold smiled and seemed so genuinely interested in our stories, so genuinely happy to see us.

He too shared stories of seeing live shows, reliving some of his best moments.

Every time since then, when Lou and I were at River City Inn, “Brown Sugar” was played.

And Harry always asked us about the Cleveland concert. Not because he forgot any of the details.

Not because he really needed to hear that story for the hundredth time. It was because he knew telling that story made us happy. And so he allowed us to relive that moment as many times as we wanted.

That was Harry.

He was there for so many of our best moments. And he also had a way of making our not-so-great moments seem not so bad.

For example, when Hurricane Ivan ripped through Pittsburgh and some of us were sidelined Downtown, he turned it in to an opportunity to “play songs about water.” You’d be surprised how many there are. Our favorites included “When the Levee Breaks,” “Proud Mary” and “Smoke on the Water.”

The latter, of course, involved a light show. For those of you not familiar, Harry had a talent that involved coordinating a dimmer switch with the intro to Deep Purple’s magic.

He could also play air xylophone to Hall & Oates’ “Out of Touch.”

And none of us will forget the image of Jesus, with a wine glass in hand, dancing to the Bee Gees. “That’s the Jesus I know!” Harry said.

Those who knew Harry will tell you music was a huge part of his life--not only the trivia he accumulated but the way he shared the songs he loved.

I once had the privilege of singing backup vocals to his lead on The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” as his brother Freddy’s band P.U.B. Crawler played along. After that, Sir Harold
appointed me “an honorary Patterson.” It was a decree penned only on a cocktail napkin, but his brother still honors it today.

He could also occasionally be found singing “Eve of Destruction” with a band or keyboardist.

His love of music didn’t quite include everything though. After a raucous Point Park Thursday crew played too much “arena rock” (Journey, Styx, Kansas and Boston), Harry would threaten to skip ahead on the jukebox to “a double-extended, live version” of The Allman Brothers Band's “Whipping Post.”

But just as he chided some selections, he worked hard to convince us that our fist pumping through Journey’s “Separate Ways” was why the band’s “Don’t Stop Believin' " was selected as the final song in the final scene of the final Sopranos episode.

Sir Harold encouraged all of our endeavors, whether lame or lofty, from Lou and I rewriting “Desperado” to become “Onorato,” to Amanda taking on the world, to friends beating cancer, to watching us get married and have kids or to trying to move our noses independently of our faces. Even if he had to wipe his eyes with his wrists a few times while trying to process what we were saying, he cheered us on.

He also provided liquid therapy and a good ear through our trials of unrequited love, devastating mistakes, lost jobs, breaking news and bombed stories. And each time, regardless of how wrong we were or how much we needed to change, he’d give us a gentle bump along the chin and say, “Don’t change a thing.”

There was never anything “Mrs. Liquorsworth” and some Tom Petty couldn’t cure.

He had a knack for knowing what people needed--which was often a shot, beer and a laugh--and he had an arsenal of material.

How many of you learned Yinzer as a Second Language from Sir Harold? Gian Iggles, Ben Roffsburr, Victoria Secrets, Kmarts, Targets, Walmarts, Sheetzs, Red Lobsters, Pixburgh Storz, Ruth Chris’. You may also know that “Sidney Crosby: CAN’T BE YINZERIZED.”

He may have also helped you understand Yinzer geography.

“It’s always dahn the South Side, over the stadiums, up the arena and out the airport,” he said.

You may have even learned a little about Yinzer politics.

“Weeda taxpayers don’t wanna pay for no new stadiums. Yinz can’t tear down Three Rivers n’ at,” he said.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Harry’s ability to spot a jagoff:

1. He always asks, "Don’t you know who I am?”

2. He always says, “He said I had one comin’.”

3. He always pays for one draft beer with a debit card.

Occasionally the aforementioned jagoff may walk into a bar “palms up, slack jawed, wearing cutoff jeans and tennis shoes” asking “Hey, where is everybody?” Sir Harold would say.

Harry’s answer to such a question was always the same: “Obviously somewhere they didn’t want you to be.”

If someone was having a bad day, he could tell by their gait or a look on their face. “Was somebody being unreasonable?” he said.

If someone was a having a good day, he also instinctively knew that. “Are you bragging or complaining?” he said.

Harry was so proud to serve the bar that was home to one of America’s great newspapers and some of its greatest writers. He read all of their stories. He was impressed with Dan Majors not only for his craft but for being the first patron he ever served who actually ordered one bourbon, one scotch and one beer. He loved talking shop with Bob Dvorchak, Mike Fuoco and Bill Moushey, and it’s no surprise that some of their bylines were among clippings he stored between bottles of Crown Royal and old cocktail glasses.

And I think it says everything that a man who read the biggest newspapers in Pittsburgh and New York also made time to read Point Park’s student newspaper. I doubt he cared about what was going on in the student service center. He read our weekly publication because he cared about us.

A bust of Vladimir Lenin--a gift from one of his favorite writers--hung proudly on the River City Inn wall until the bar's ownership changed a year ago. It was common to see Lenin wearing a Steelers or Pirates cap, depending on the season.

Sir Harold treated home openers and halfway to St. Patrick’s Day like holidays. In the good ol’ days, The Globe editors were allowed to barter Chinese food for cocktails and Bobbleheads for beer--as long as they weren’t “fruity frou-frou drinks” or “John Cougar Mellonballs.”

And a special group of friends, those he dubbed The Fun People, had “window-tapping privileges.”

Part of the reason we became The Fun People was because we appreciated simplicity: Bacardi Limon and diet dew, pitchers of Yuengling, a vodka tonic, shots of Southern Comfort and draft beer and shots of Crown Royal. And those shots were often served in scotch glasses.

And we ordered several, especially when we only had to walk one block to get home. Spending time with him was so effortless.

Amanda and I once made a list there called “People who Don’t [Eff] Around: a Big Girl’s homage to people with intestinal fortitude.” On the list were favorite professors, favorite musicians, all songs involving a cowbell and people in photos we did not know (but you could tell they didn’t mess around).

Harry later countered with a list of his own: “10 Reasons She’s Not Leaving that ....”

He had a quick wit and a lot of patience.

A local architect once spent some time in the kitchen, working on a business deal. When he got off the call, he told Harry, “I just closed a $125,000 deal.”

Harry said, “And that’s not even the best thing that’s ever happened in that kitchen.”

To say that I will miss the witty banter and conversational tennis is an understatement. I am truly heartbroken and shocked by the loss of our dear friend.

It hurts more today than yesterday because when I woke up, I was sure it was real.

Conversations with my friends reveal that many of us are feeling the same way. How strange it will feel to not stop in there before or after dinner Downtown.

How strange it will feel to not walk by and see him pouring a pint, sitting in the corner with some newspapers or answering the phone with his token, “Rrriver City Inn!” How strange it will feel to not stop in before or after a game, or before or after a concert.

How strange it will feel to not have him pour the drinks at the next birthday party or journalism banquet or guild bash.

To not be in this year’s March Madness pool.

To not meet up for the home opener.

To not see our friend.

To not walk in and hear, “Well, hello there!”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The hot dip this NFL season

It appears most NFL parties this season would not be complete without Buffalo chicken dip. I mean this appetizer has caught on faster than a Hines Ward reception during the second half when the Pittsburgh Steelers were down two touchdowns a needed to pull a win out of their gizzard.

Below you will find my recipe for the dip, shown above, which was supposed to have been served last Friday to my coworkers at Observer-Reporter newsroom in Washington, Pa.. It was my contribution to a Steelers luncheon in advance of Pittsburgh's exciting come-from-behind win the next day against the belittled Baltimore Ravens.

However, the news got in my way that day in the form of my having to report on state police filing first-degree homicide charges against three suspects in a 2003 cold-case slaying in California Borough, Pa.

One of my editors ended up taking half of the dip to a party she would attend the next day, while the night newsroom staff ended up being treated to what remained in the bowl. Thankfully that crew washed said bowl before leaving it empty on my desk.


1 20 ounce bag of Giant Eagle Fire Roasted Fully Cooked frozen chicken breasts
1  small white onion
5 stalks of celery
1 12 ounce bottle Marzetti Blue Cheese Simply Dressing
1 8 ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese
1 8 ounce package of Kraft Mexican Cheddar Jack shredded cheese
McIlhenny Co. Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce to taste


Microwave chicken according to instructions on the bag, chop and place into medium size mixing bowl. Finely chop celery and onions. Soften cheese in microwave oven. Mix ingredients into the chicken and chill overnight. Reheating before serving is optional.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Sunday afternoon

Ebenezer Covered Bridge at Mingo Creek County Park, Nottingham Township, Pa. (Scott Beveridge photo)

By Lorys Crisafulli

Mingo Indians? Mingo Creek? Mingo Park?

Each of these terms brings back different memories to me, but Mingo Creek means the most.

As a child in the 1930s Mingo Creek was the destination my dad chose to unload a 1933 Chevy full of kids so they could play in the "crick." One wide spot in the creek was near Ebenezer Covered Bridge in Nottingham Township, Pa.

It was deeper and more interesting than it is now, and that was our goal.

We could sit on a stone ledge and the water would flow over us. It was probably only one foot high, but sitting on that ledge and feeling the water was so great that we had to take turns.

The pool of water was large enough to float a couple of kids in an inner tube. Of course in those days tires on cars had inner tubes. We took the tubes out of tires, pumped them up with a hand pump and voila! - a child or grownup could fit in the middle with head, shoulder and arms above water with feet and legs dangling below. What heaven! 

Sometimes other families would come along - and yes - with food. A picnic. Myrtle Caldwell, my best friend's mother, always brought the best homemade pies, cakes and even cupcakes. My mother always had fresh baked buns. (We never had Town Talk Bread or store-bought rolls. Her ham that she had baked the day before was to die for.

Dad always sharpened the butcher knife with a long stone called a "honer." He would slice the ham so thin you could almost see through it. Mom piled each bun high with ham, wrapped it in waxed paper and put it in a basket lined with a fresh tea towel. We also had water in half gallon milk jugs. That was our picnic.

We were never allowed to go in the water after eating because "WE WOULD DROWN TO DEATH." Instead, we explored.

In those days Mingo Creek County Park was just several farms.

Mr. Barr had told my dad we could use that part of the creek anytime - just avoid the animals.

Of course there was no parking lot, only a huge swamp with cattails and frogs.

We loved it. We also collected "minnies" (minnows) in jars and the crayfish that snapped at our toes.

The best sport was skipping stones across the water.

We spent a lot of time looking for the perfect flat skipping stones. We also hunted round, white stones, which were considered to be lucky stones.  We would carry them in our pockets for days. They were small, maybe a half inch wide at most, and probably took centuries to get that way. Lucky us. 

If we had a big picnic it included relatives from Hazelwood and Bridgeville. We would have ball games in the big sheep pasture, using "roundies" or dried sheep droppings for bases. Aunt Molly always made sure she took home Uncle Ray's handkerchiefs full of that sheep manure to fertilize her house plants.

This was the era of the Great Depression.

Even into the 1960s and 1970s it was still a rustic area that was ideal place for a child to spend an afternoon with grandma and pap. We - my parents and son Dan - would excitedly put together a picnic basket and head for Mingo.

Pap and Dan would look for stones and minnows, toss a ball and wade across the creek. After an hour or two we would head home - a 15 minute drive - for an afternoon nap while I thought about the chores I should have done.

Now Mingo Park with its rest rooms, picnic tables and bike trails is as restorative and delightful as it ever was, even though the frogs and cattails are gone. 

It is still the best place to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Lorys CrisafullLorys Crisafulli is an entrepreneur and retired schoolteacher from Monongahela, Pa. She is known around the globe as Miss January, producer of a 2008 calendar featuring older women posing semi-nude for portraits to raise money for charity.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Best movie picks

Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfield in "True Grit."  (Lorey Sebastian/Paramount Pictures)

It would appear that my selections for the five best 2010 movies involved directors who put an incredible new spin on tried and true storylines.

1. "True Grit"

Call me a sucker for a good Western adventure film. Consider me an even bigger fan of the Coen brothers. Ethan and Joel Coen have veered away from producing cutting-edge movies to give their audience a look at how they can deliver a traditional story as good or better than what has been typical of Hollywood. The brilliant camera angles in this adaption of the 1968 novel of the same name by Charles Portis, combined with a quirky and tender script, were so spellbinding that it's easy to forget in the dark this movie has been done before starring John Wayne. Fresh off of his starring role in 2009's praised "Crazy Heart" Jeff Bridges has once again proven he could embody the character of a washed up drunk in his role as Rooster Cogburn, the federal marshal a young girl hired to avenge the murder of her father. Matt Damon delivered a great performance, too, and was nearly unrecognizable as a bumbling Texas bounty hunter. Actress Hailee Steinfield should get an Oscar nomination for having pulled off so convincingly the 14-year-old character of Mattie Ross, who accompanied Cogburn on the quest to capture or slay her father's killer. This movie became a classic out of the gate.

2.  "Winter's Bone"

Director Debra Granik delivered this story about hillbillies so convincingly that I walked away from this bizarre movie thinking she must have grown up poor and in the same Appalachian hills that encircle my hometown in southwestern Pennsylvania. It wasn't until several minutes into the movie that I realized lead actress Jennifer Lawrence in her role as Ree Dolly was playing the older sister of two young children searching for their father rather than the child bride of a much-old redneck who had walked out of their lives. This movie delivered a startling new twist on the traditional story of a damsel in distress faced with losing her homestead to a local sheriff armed a foreclosure notice. Dolly came up in a culture of violent people in the Ozarks, bullies and killers who operated crystal meth labs, and her hero didn't wear white clothes and ride into her life on a white horse. No. Those folks solved their problems with whispers and retaliation.

3. "Black Swan"

This movie has been showing up on every best movie list leading into the Jan. 25 Oscar nominations. It showed up here because of its raw creativity. Director Darren Aronofsky certainly put a wicked, new spin on a star being born, or better yet, having gone through one of the strangest metamorphosis every recorded on film. Natalie Portman starred as Nina Sayers, a crazy good-girl ballerina with what appeared to have been a Morgellons itch while out to prove to her director she could become the blackest swan ever on stage. This movie left me spinning as if somehow I had been on same stage with her as she developed those tragic dark feathers.

4. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"

Actress Noomi Rapace delivered an incredible performance as a young, bisexual Goth computer hacker with just the right talents to help an older disgraced male journalist solve the 40-year disappearance or murder of the beloved niece of a filthy rich dude. This thriller involving a serial killer who might even creep out Hannibal Lecter was based on the best-selling novel by Stieg Larsson. It spawned a movie with a seemingly never ending number of twists and turns that somehow were stitched together cohesively by director Niels Arden Opley.

5. "Alice in Wonderland"

Actress Helena Bonham Carter, if you could imagine, upstaged the outrageous Johnny Depp in this story of a grown up Alice who returned to Wonderland to save it from the evil grips of the Red Queen. Bonham - as that royal highness without a heart and an over-sized forehead - rested her feet on a pig and stole Tweedledee and Tweedledum in a story for all audiences. Hey. I am not one who made a habit of going to see children's movies, but this one by Director Tim Burton really was truly magical.

Honorable mentions:

Everyone has been raving about "The Social Network," which exposed the story that made Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg a billionaire. I, too, loved the movie, and have enjoyed an off-and-on love affair with Zuckerberg's social networking website. "I Love You Phillip Morris" - the late-bloomer starring Jim Carrey - also stood out in the pack of movies released last year. Carrey portrayed Steven Russell in a unbelievably true story about a guy who decided to tell the truth to his wife that he was gay after surviving a terrible car crash. It seemed that was the only time the guy ever told the truth in his life.

Every great story typically has involved main characters who were still likable despite their shortcomings. That's why these two movies didn't make the list, above. It's nearly impossible to walk away from a theater liking Zuckerberg in a movie that depicted him screwing over his friends to make money. Meanwhile, Russell ended up serving life in prison for being a liar, scam-artist and thief who simply hurt too many people who loved him. That character was just too incorrigible to like even a little bit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

This happened to all of us

Much of the rhetoric from the far left seems every bit as heartless and ridiculous as that from the far right since the tragic events Saturday in Tucson, Ariz.

Hopefully, if nothing else, the shootings there will edge political discussions toward the center and inspire America's leaders to focus on progress rather than discord.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Google can help your love life

By Scott Beveridge

Google has found a way to help a dork with a smart phone improve his dating skills.

This uncultured guy first needs to download and learn how to operate a Google Goggles app on his phone, preferably an Android, before escorting his love interest to a fancy restaurant and ordering a bottle of good California wine.

He patiently waits until she leaves the table to powder her nose. Then he sneaks out his phone and launches the image recognition app to snap a photo of the wine bottle. Google Goggles scans the image and searches the wine on the Internet without his needing to even type a single word into a search engine.

Armed with new knowledge of said wine this guy can then impress his date after she returns to the table with recommendations on whether or not it would pair well with the apple wood smoked pork ribs or the Chili crusted salmon on the menu.

Google launched this product about a year ago, and actually suggests this maneuver in toned-down phrasing on its Google Goggle website.

In recent weeks, the app has been showing up across the web as having been rated among the best 2010 smart phone apps out there by people who think they best know such things.

That news was enough to encourage me to play with that toy on my new verizon wireless Droid X by Motorola. It's recommended for searches of such things as landmarks, books, artwork, wine and logos.

Sure it easily recognized a Miller Lite draft tap the other day and the $20 bill I laid on the bar.

But the next day it found no matches for the landmark Old Main building at California University of Pennsylvania, and later identified my Twitter feed on my computer as blog comments. Close enough. The app had no problem, either, identifying the photo, above, of the White House. There is no doubt, either, this app would instantly recognize the Internet celebrity known as iJustine, a native of Scenery Hill, Pa.

And for fun today, I used the app to photograph two friends, including one guy whose face is all over the web.

The closest match it found for my female lunch companion inside a Panera was a hot model with an umbrella in France.

"I'll take that," my friend replied.

And then the app identified my male friend as someone close to looking like either the black American rapper known as Lil Wayne or a skull. That friend is white and very much alive.

In all fairness to Google, this app is fun to play with and quite remarkable. And the company admits the service is "not quite perfect yet."

It also has intrigued just about everyone I have shown it to this week.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The pink accessory

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH – It was time for me to buy some new smell good so I headed the other day to the men's fragrance counter at a mall Macy's.

It was supposed to be an easy shopping trip because I wanted to buy one of my favorite colognes, Code by Giorgio Armani, because it doesn't make me sneeze or smell like jasmine.

Unfortunately, that brand didn't offer a box set with a promotional gift. It was the holiday season and I wanted something for free in exchange for the nearly $80 cost of such a scent. 

Prada lured me in because it didn't seem overpowering and came with a big bottle of aftershave lotion and something else in a small black box. I was expecting the gift of a golf umbrella or gym bag, and not something in which to store mascara. Or something in the shade of cotton candy pink, either, from this store in The Mall at Robinson near Pittsburgh International Airport.

Hey attitudes are changing, but it made me wonder if this was an advertising ploy to entice a woman into buying her man this stuff for Christmas if it came with something to give herself. And then the thought crossed my mind that some romantic soul might decide to buy this product for himself if it came with something to also give his wife or girlfriend.