Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Knock it off with the chairs already!

OK. I know that the ritual of placing chairs to save your spot when you had to excavate your car out of the snow has been around for a long time, but let's get real. We got nailed with snow and we ALL had to spend two hours or more digging out our cars. If you had to dig your car out for two hours then WELCOME TO THE CLUB! There is nothing unique about that. If you drove, you dug.

I understand that people have a sense of TEMPORARY ownership over that space, although they have NO LEGAL RIGHT TO IT (LOOK IT UP). However, it's been almost a month, guys. If you are still placing a chair to hog up a space that you are not even using for hours at a time, you are just being greedy. Let it go.

Part of being a great city is being reasonable. Folks from other cities look at this kind of territorialism as being provincial. We're better than this. Your time spent working on an area of space does not give you indefinite rights to it for a month at a time. If so, then the trash men should be able to reserve a spot in front of your house because they picked up the garbage there.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pittsburgh weather in perspective

Just a note about Pittsburgh weather - One criticism of Pittsburgh that I will admit to... is that we are spoiled. You thought I was going to say the weather, didn't you? The weather can be miserable here, but it can be pretty miserable almost anywhere, depending upon your location, preferences, and attitude. We just got over 20 inches of snow and we are getting ready for about another 10. OK - 30 inches of snow in a week kind of sucks, but let's get real. This is the first time this kind of snow has come down since when... 1993? We have it really good here. Bad weather to us means a few closed schools and businesses, a missed trip to the bar, maybe a missed Superbowl party. Of course, we have had some injuries, and even a few fatalities related to the weather, and that is HORRIBLE. I am not down-playing the plight of those who are really struggling because of all of this. I am merely pointing out that our struggles here are minor when you look at it on a global level, and that we should be very grateful. When we have REALLY BAD weather, it's a major inconvenience and (God forbid) there may be a few injuries or even deaths. When other places have REALLY BAD weather, hundreds of thousands of people die and millions are left homeless. The good thing about all of this snow is that it tends to bring out the best in many locals. I don't know how many people I have seen digging each other out of glaciers around here. If nothing else, we know that this will all seem like a half-forgotten dream when it's July and we're all sitting in front of a fan. We are in one of the safest areas of the world, with very little to no chance of a major earthquake, hurricane, tornado, forest fire, or catastrophic flood. If this is the worst that we are going to have to deal with - a crap-load of snow every seventeen years or so, I'm staying right here at home in the Greatest City in the World.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pittsburghers - Check out Fansided.com!!

If you are a Pittsburgh sports fan, no matter your present location, you have GOT to check out Fansided.com. This is a beautiful site (the best sports site I have even seen) run by a great guy, Chris Viola. This thing is pretty damned impressive - visually stunning, smooth-running, and well-written, truly a professional production. I am very happy to announce that Chris has been kind enough to agree to be a guest author on this brand new blog you are reading right now. We are JUST getting started, and we can use his help. He will post once in a while (no obligation, Chris) when he wants to mix things up a bit, and it will be great to have his experience and insights into all things Pittsburgh. Although he may share sports wisdom with us, you will need to go to fansided.com to get the really in-depth stuff. Thanks!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pittsburgh: Home of the Zombie

Pittsburgh is truly a city of firsts. Just to name a few, Pittsburgh is home to the first Big Mac sandwich, the first robotics institute, and the first World Series game. However, for me, all these firsts pale in comparison to George Romero's epic first: "Night of the Living Dead," the first modern zombie film.

Before "Night of the Living Dead" (1968), a shoestring independent effort shot in Pittsburgh by locals, zombies were, well...kind of lame. They appeared in a handful of films, including "White Zombie" (1932), and "I Walked with a Zombie" (1943). These "old school" zombies were usually dead people resurrected to do the bidding of their living masters. For example, the zombies in "White Zombie" were put to work on a plantation. Hey, no overhead, that's a great business strategy. Note to self...

Anyway, George Romero and co-writer John Russo came up with the idea to give the walking dead in their film (originally titled "Night of the Flesheaters") an extra punch. These zombies would not submit to mortals as the zombies of yesteryear once did. Nay, they would bite the hand of the living...right off! By making their zombies cannibals, not only did Romero and Russo scare the hell out of millions, but they also created an entire genre of horror film: the zombie movie.

Following the realease of "Night of The Living Dead," and again upon the release of its uber-bloody sequel "Dawn of the Dead" (1978), the world caught zombie fever. Directors the world over created their own variations on Romero's theme. Canadian director David Cronenberg's films "Shivers" (1974) and "Rabid" (1977) owe a lot to "NOTLD." Italy spawned dozens of zombie movies in the wake of "Dawn of the Dead," including Umberto Lenzi's "Nightmare City" (1980), which was the first movie to feature fast-moving, weapon-wielding zombies, and Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" (1979), "The Beyond" (1981) and "City of The Living Dead" (1980). Spain's Jorge Grau directed "Let Sleeping Corpses Lie" (1974). France's erotic filmmaker Jean Rollin helmed "The Grapes of Death" (1978), and the racy "Zombie Lake" (1981), featuring Nazi zombies and lots of naked women. Portugal's Amando de Ossorio directed "The Blind Dead" (1971) and its sequels, featuring zombie knights from the Inquisition back to wreak vengeance on sinners. In other words, everybody.

In the 42 years since the release of "NOTLD" the horror world hasn't had a more significant (or influential) breakthrough than the zombie film. George Romero is still making zombie movies today, and the number of zombie films just keeps on growing. Hopefully, the zombie film will never die.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Pittsburgh is remarkable in terms of charitable organizations (among other things). We have an enormous number of fundraisers going on for more causes than I can count. My co-authors and I have decided to add a couple of new options. We are working with a club at North Hills High School to create a fundraiser through which they will sell Doing Good Works and Pittsburgh, the Greatest City in the World and split the profits with us 50 / 50. We have many expenses to cover, but I think 50% is pretty respectable. Once we try this out with them, we will open up this option to all schools and registered charities. We think that this will be a great way for organizations to raise money, and it is a better option than the junk food that they usually try to sell. If you have ideas of places that could use new fundraiser idea. please let us know. We are also interested in getting the word out through local media. We sent a Pittsburgh book to WDVE. You would think that a book that uses over 300 research items to prove that this is the greatest city in the world would have gotten their attention, but we never heard anything. We are going to have to gently remind them to take a look. The Pittsburghers need to know about this. I would love for the book to help rake in cash for as many local schools and charities as possible. The more we make, the more we can afford to give. Once we get loans and other expenses paid off, maybe we can offer even more than 50% of the profits.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Greetings from the Greatest City in the World!

Hello everyone! If you are checking out this weblog, you are probably a Pittsburgher, a Pittsburgh sports fan, a former Pittsburgher, or just someone I badgered into checking this out to make sure it was working. This weblog is for anyone who is interested in Pittsburgh and all that it has to offer. We will discuss hidden treasures, great restaurants, great activities, positive events, what we love about the Burgh, and what we can do to make it better. No place is perfect, but after living in twelve cities around the country and visiting places around the world, this is my favorite. Of course, it is cold as hell right now, but you can't blame that on the city. This is just a brief introduction today, but we will be pulling in all kinds of valuable and fascinating info about our area. Over the summer, I wrote a book with my star pupil, Heath Curran, called
Pittsburgh, The Greatest City in the World. We will be pulling much of our info from that, because it was a ton of work and we have the research right there. We will try to update at least once per week, and I can't wait to see what everyone has to say. Since I don't have much time at the moment, I will include a list of Pittsburgh's #1 rankings, just as a warm-up. Thanks SO MUCH for your interest. -- Sean (Sean Elliot Martin, Ph.D. / Grandmaster)

Pittsburgh Rankings –

quoted from Pittsburgh, The Greatest City in the World (Amazon.com)

#1 most livable City in America – According to The Economist (2009) and Places

Rated Almanac (2007, 1985)

#1 greatest number of bridges of all world cities (446)#1 Best metropolitan area for

relocating families – Worldwide ERC and Primacy Relocation

#1 best place to raise a family among metro areas in the U.S.Reader’s Digest

#1 transportation program in the nation to assist seniors and people with disabilities

#1 bike trails in the world – The Great Allegheny Passage Trail

#1 Best Mid-sized City for Art Lovers – American Style Magazine

#1 Poetry Series in the World – the International Poetry Forum

#1 installation art facility in the U.S. – The Mattress Factory

#1 most comprehensive museum dedicated to a single artist – Andy Warhol

#1 traditional amusement park in the United States – Kennywood

#1 riverboat fleet in America – Gateway Clipper Fleet

#1 largest inland regatta in the U.S. – The Three Rivers Regatta

#1 America’s Best Fries and Hot Dogs Original Hot Dog Shop - AOL City Guide

#1 “nation’s best Major League Baseball park” – Pittsburgh PiratesPNC Park

(USA Today, ESPN)

#1 "best all-time work of American architecture" – “Fallingwater” (American

Institute of Architects)

#1 bird zoo in the country – Pittsburgh’s National Aviary

#1 largest “green” building in the world – David L. Lawrence Convention Center

#1 most energy efficient conservatory in the world – Phipps Conservatory and

Botanical Gardens

#1 largest Silver LEED-certified green museum in the country – Children’s

Museum of Pittsburgh

#1 “Urban Adventurer” award from National Geographic magazine for outdoor

adventure opportunities available close to a city

#1 Transplant Center in the World – University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

#1 Conference and Exposition on laboratory science in the world – Pittcon

#1 largest and most comprehensive robotics exhibition in the world at the

Carnegie Science Center – Roboworld

#1 largest robotics research center in the world – Carnegie Mellon University

#1 world’s largest “science of sport” exhibition – The Carnegie Science Center

#1 collection of Jurassic period fossils in the world – Carnegie Museum

#1 airport in the country according to J.D. Power – Pittsburgh International Airport

#1 largest vintage auto race in America benefits the Allegheny Valley School and Autism

Society of Pittsburgh – The Pittsburgh International Vintage Grand Prix

#1 largest and most comprehensive inner city sports program for kids in the country –

BIG League Sports of Pittsburgh (Citiparks Summer Magazine 2009)

#1 lowest crime rate for any metropolitan area (Pittsburgh proper and surrounding area)

in the U.S. with over 1,000,000 citizens, according to the FBI

#1 American Football team of all time (six Super Bowl victories including 2009) – The

Pittsburgh Steelers

#1 football fans according to ESPN – The Pittsburgh Steelers fans