Snow rest for the weary…

February 22, 2011
Snow on Grant Street in Pittsburgh

Photo Credit: John Heller - Pittsburgh Post Gazette

So for those of you in the Pittsburgh area, you are well aware that we got another “blast” of winter weather last night.  This one was particularly frustrating since just a few days ago it was 65 degrees.  Alas, by this morning close to 9″ of snow had fallen in the Pittsburgh area, and as is the case around this area, panic ensued.  Cars were abandoned, the parkways were gridlocked until late into the night, and today everyone is pointing the fingers at who is to blame for this mess.  Weather forecasters had to play “catch-up” with their predictions as the snow came earlier and heavier than forecasted.  Road crews fought to keep up with the snow, but they were at an early disadvantage due to the worst of the storm moving in at rush hour.

Read more about this round of winter weather here, here, or here

It’s a bit funny, because when I moved to Pittsburgh, I was told that while it snows in Pittsburgh, it typically isn’t that bad.  The average winter here in the city yields around 40.3 inches of snow.  Compared to the 84″ that South Bend averages, I figured 40″ would be a cakewalk.  However, the past 2 winters have been anything but average.  Here’s some fun facts:

  • Last winter Pittsburgh saw 77.4″ of snow.  This is 36.8″ above average.
  • 48.7″ fell in February 2010, 21″ of which fell in just 2 days (2/5-2/6)
  • This winter we have seen 50″ so far, which is 20.6″ above average as of today.
  • From late Fall of 2009 through today, the city is 57.4″ above average

So basically, In the past 15 months, Pittsburgh has seen nearly 3 and a half winters worth of snow.  Add to that the fact that Pittsburgh is one of the most hilly cities in America, and you get a whole lot of spinning tires, slide offs, and just general chaos.  See exhibit A below for a video of what a “minor” ice storm this winter combined with the hilly streets of Pittsburgh can look like

Oh Winter… you so crazy.

Personally, I blame this guy:

The Weather Rodent

And maybe this guy:

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl (not Snoop Dogg)

But certainly not this guy:

I make the weather! All of this moisture coming up out of the Gulf is gonna push off to the east and hit Altoona.

Spring has to come eventually, right?


Concert Review: Jimmy Eat World

February 15, 2011

Jimmy Eat World
February 14th
Club Zoo, Pittsburgh, PA

Well, it was a night of firsts.  It was the first time I was able to see Jimmy Eat World live, and it was also the first time I’ve ever seen a concert at Club Zoo.  I arrived in the Strip District around 6:30 to see a line down the street and around the block.  I figured I would pick up my Will Call tickets and then hang out around the Strip until closer to showtime.  Unfortunately, the Will Call table is inside the venue and tickets are not available until the doors open for the night.  Instead of waiting in the rain/snow/sleet/misery mix that was pouring from the sky at the time, I decided to meet up with some friends at Rolands in the Strip for some food and pre-show libations.  Finally, at around 8, we headed back to the venue to find a spot and catch a bit of the opening band before Jimmy took the stage.

We got our tickets, and entered the Club, and instantly I knew it was going to be a “difficult” venue.  The place was already jammed back to the doors and the sight lines were terrible.  If you’ve never been to Club Zoo before, it’s obvious that it’s a club first, concert venue second.  The main floor is quite small and cramped, and outside of that, viewing options are limited to various balconies on the second floor.  Speaking of the balconies, despite already paying 30 dollars a ticket, if you wanted to go upstairs to watch the show, it was an additional 10 dollars for the “VIP level”.  Seeing that we weren’t going to see or hear much on the first level, we paid the extra cash and headed upstairs.  The sight lines upstairs were not much better as the prime viewing spots were already well picked over.  The one major benefit was that the crowds were much lighter upstairs and it was much easier to move around.  My only complaint about the upstairs level is the lack of restrooms.  In order to use the restroom, you had to go back downstairs and fight through a very tightly packed crowd to the one set of restrooms on the other side of the venue.

Ok, enough about the venue.  Let’s get to the music.  I must admit, I didn’t hear much of the opener, David Bazan.  What I heard wasn’t bad, but I can’t give a firm opinion.  (EDIT:  My friend Nate just reminded me that Bazan founded Pedro The Lion, a band I used to be into several years ago… I never made the connection last night.  Whoops)  When we first walked in, he was doing a duet with the lead singer of Jimmy Eat World, and the harmonies sounded solid, but again, I can’t say too much as we were working our way around the maze of Club Zoo at the time looking for a spot for the main act.  And what a main act it was.  I have been a fan of Jimmy for well over 10 years.  I started listening to them when Clarity was released, and have been a fan since then.  I just have never had the opportunity to see them live.   Luckily, that changed last night.

The set kicked off with A Praise Chorus from Bleed American and then went directly into My Best Theory from their newest album Invented.  Both these songs are full of energy and were a great start to the show.  From there the set spanned nearly the entire Jimmy Eat World discography.   Songs were played from 6 of the band’s 7 releases.  The only album not represented was their 1994 self-titled record.  The band kept up great energy from front to back, despite the crowd being rather mild mannered throughout the entire show.  The highlights for me were Big Casino, Evidence, Pain, Goodbye Sky Harbor, and of course the encore-ending The Middle and Sweetness.

The sound, while a bit quiet in the venue, was excellent.  The band is still spot on with their harmonies, and lead singer, Jim Adkins, has as powerful of a voice as ever.  The instrument blend was good, and I never felt like the band overpowered the vocals.  Courtney Marie Andrews, who appears on the band’s newest album, provided a nice female counterpart on several songs and just added to the full sound that the band already has.

In conclusion, the concert was excellent.  Jimmy Eat World is still going strong, and musically left nothing to be desired at the end of the night.  They played their hearts out, and everyone who I spoke to were ecstatic about the song choices and energy of the show.  Unfortunately, the venue they played left me feeling frustrated that I couldn’t enjoy the show more.  Despite that, I am still incredibly glad that I finally got the chance to see them live.  I only took one picture during the concert and I had to hold the camera precariously above my head and use 3x zoom to get a decent frame on the stage.  So please, forgive the graininess.  Try to think of it as a “rock and roll” feel to the picture.

Jimmy Eat World performing at Club Zoo

A Praise Chorus
My Best Theory
Coffee and Cigarettes
Lucky Denver Mint
Let It Happen
Thinking, That’s All
Big Casino
Action Needs An Audience
For Me This Is Heaven
Hear You Me
Goodbye Sky Harbor

The Middle

Hello? ::endless echo::

September 9, 2009

So, apparently I am the king of the abandoned blog…  As you may have guessed the WordPress Blackberry app did not magically turn me into a blog-oisseur, but alas I have returned again.

If you only know me through this blog, you probably think I am dead.  However, if you know me outside of this blog, you know that my wife and I have recently moved to the magical land of Pittsburgh.  In all honesty I love it, but I figured I would take some time to recount the good, the bad, and the ugly that I have found in Pittsburgh so far…

The Good:
I love the diversity of the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh.  There is so much to see and do around the city, and I don’t see myself running out of options for things to do around the city anytime soon.  Some of the highlights so far in the food category have been the tourist-staple Primanti Brothers, Church Brew Works in Lawrenceville was fantastic, and I also really enjoyed D’s Six Packs and Dogs in Regent Square.  If I decide to not think about food for a moment, I also really enjoyed checking out Frick Park, as well as going to a few Pirates games (despite all of them being losses).  The city is also quite scenic.  I enjoy being able to go from rolling hills, through a tunnel, and then be in the middle of the city.  It’s a dynamic I haven’t seen anywhere else.

The Bad:
Moving from a metro area of around 300,000 to one of 3 million has been quite an adjustment.  A 9 mile commute to work typically takes 30 minutes or so, and even driving a mile up the road can at times be frustrating.  Along the same topic of driving… I have a great fear of the winter time here in Pittsburgh.  Some of the hills I have seen while driving around are a bit intimidating to drive on even in the summertime… I can’t imagine how things may go come Winter.  Are snow chains legal in the city limits? 😉

The Ugly:
Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING that has had to do with getting our cars registered, licensed, and inspected to exist in this fine Commonwealth we call Pennsylvania has been a nightmare.  From the long lines at the license center, to having to go to AAA three times to finally have everything I needed to get my plates and registration, to finding out that between my wife and I, it will cost 1500 dollars to have our cars pass inspection… ::breathe::  I am half tempted to take both of our cars to the top of one of the previously mentioned steep hills, put them in neutral, and let them roll to the demise of their choice… Given the way this city is laid out, I’m sure they would hit a river at some point.

Despite these frustrations, I do not regret the move to Pittsburgh one bit.  Our new home is wonderful, we have a new member of the family (a rescued cat named Lilly), and we are both settling in well to our new jobs.  I am, however, still working on perfecting Pittsburghese so I can more well communicate with the natives.  So… If yinz ever want to visit and go dahntahn, we can get some jumbo, pierogies n’at.  Just make sure you let me know early so I can redd up our house first.

Music Choices for the Moment:
MuteMath – Armistice
Imogen Heap – Elipse
Derek Webb – Stockholm Syndrome