Tuesday, October 30, 2012

PGH's Best Night of the Year: The Bloomfield Halloween Parade 2012

Well, folks. Another Bloomfield Halloween Parade is in the books. This year's parade took place on the tail end of our lovely Indian summer, which meant it was warm and dry outside. Perfect conditions for beers on the street while the wonderfully odd parade went by. Words, honestly, cannot do the parade justice. So this year I took short videos of some of the parade's best moments:

Shark! Shark! Shark! (As well as a "never forget" with regard to the Zoltan costumes.)

The Tamburitzans!

A very, very creepy Mr. Rooter. That costume is...just creepy. Also, Mr. Rooter has an arm on him. He really whipped that candy into the crowd.

The little AAA car is ALWAYS a Halloween Parade highlight.

WHO YOU GONNA CALL? (Honestly, Ghostbusters is really a favorite song of mine. Like, in general.)

So much going on in this clip. Steeley McBeam, a Here We Go Steelers chant, Nightmare Dancing, and  a Gooski's chant. This is why the parade is the best thing that happens all year.

We hate crime, McGruff.

I've saved my top three moments of the parade for last.

The Polish Hill Zombie Band.

The C.S. Kim Karate Demo - BREAK SOME BOARDS.


Anyone who thinks there is a better nighttime experience in Pittsburgh is crazy. The Bloomfield Halloween Parade is reason enough for me to never ever leave. The only bad thing is that when it's over, there's another year to go until the next one.

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stroll the Cemetery: Fall 2012

So, we are all hunkering down for Frankenstorm, right? I am highly doubtful that Pittsburgh is in for anything more than several days of rain. Supposedly Tuesday we'll be facing hurricane-winds, but that will hopefully be more a fun bike-commute challenge than anything else. The one thing this constant rain will do is take the remainder of the leaves off the trees. So very sad.

Fortunately, before this dreary cold rain came to town, we were graced by a lovely week of Indian summer weather. I took the opportunity to take many bike rides and many walks, including a nice long one through the Allegheny Cemetery. Though I proclaim a love of summer over all other seasons, fall is really the most breathtaking time of year. My favorite color is orange. Followed by yellow. Followed by red. So, for me, fall is the perfect. (The only reason I can't call it my favorite is because it's always too short. It's always perfect for a couple weeks and then it's a slow and painful descent into the long cold and dark winter.) As these adventures through the cemetery continue throughout the year, I am highly doubtful that any of the photos I take will be as beautiful as these.

How perfect is that orange tree? Pretty perfect. 

One of my favorite things about the Allegheny Cemetery is seeing all the graves and mausoleums with the names of Pittsburgh streets. Ward Street was home to my first Pittsburgh apartment. 

This wins my vote for my favorite photo of the day.

Why, oh why, can't we live in a world where the trees are always this way?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fright Nights: Kennywood with Ghouls

Two things I love in life: amusement parks and Halloween. Put them together and it's an "Allison Special." Kennywood's Fright Nights, for the second year in a row, proved to be an excellent time. We rode coasters (the Jack Rabbit - double dips in the dark!, the Racer - my car won!, the Exterminator - even more fun in the dark!, and the Phantom's Revenge - terrifyingly awesome!). We ate Potato Patch fries and corn dogs and fried oreos and soft pretzels. We only went through one haunted house, Dark Shadows, but it was totally awesome because it was more based in environmental frights and being incredibly disorienting. I got a really good scare coming out of the Exterminator, which ended with me yelling a very bad word and running quickly away (like the scaredy cat that I truly am proud to be). We stayed in the park until the cold started to set in and we couldn't ignore our numbing fingers and toes any longer. Here are a few pictures from our Fright Night.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Steelers v. Eagles: A Win, A Gray and Rainy Sunday

I'm very lucky to enjoy the privilege of attending a Steelers game once a year. My dad and his fraternity brothers have had season tickets to the Steelers since they were living in the Beta Theta Pi house at CMU. They had the foresight to procure an extra ticket in their group of seats, so I've been enjoying this privilege throughout my life. Even while I lived in Boston I tried to keep the one-game-a-year tradition alive by flying home for a game whenever I could. 

Last year, I got to witness the Halloween Miracle of the Steelers beating the Patriots, which is pretty important for a person who despises all things Boston sports. (Sorry, but five years of living in a hostile sports environment will do that to you...) This year I also got to see a win, but it was less miraculous and more gray and rainy. I also got to sit way closer that where I normally do AND bring a friend with me. So, all in all: excellent. 

Before the game, Corey and I rode our bikes down to the Strip to eat some food before the game. The perfect pre-game meal: double egg and cheese from Primanti's. Kiiiiiiiinda makes me want another one right now.

Today is a Sunday, and there is a game in about ten hours. My dad and brother will be coming over for dinner and then hang out for a while and watch the game. (A Bethel Bakery cake has been procured. Yes.) My fervor for the Steelers feels a bit tepid this year. I need to fix that STAT, especially with hockey being (very very sadly) MIA.

On that note, I'm off to research Steelers bars in Sydney, Australia...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pedal for Pennies: 3000 Miles and Counting

3000 miles.

That's like biking from Pittsburgh to Vancouver - taking the scenic route.

I didn't have a particularly great day yesterday. Nothing particular was wrong. But nothing particular was right. Just a really off day. I counted down the hours and then the minutes until I could change my clothes and get on my bike. At this point in the year, I have to assume that every really nice day might be the last really nice day for a bike ride. The evenings are already getting shorter, which means rides can't be quite as long. But even a short ride - just shy of 14 miles - helped me drag myself out of the funk I'd been in all day Friday. I woke up this morning and the sun was shining. But the forecast called for rain. I chanced it to get in a ride first thing, and ended up logging another 20 miles before the rain hit. I'm going to try my hardest to get to 4000 miles before the year's end.

That's all to say that biking has become a vital part of my life. It gets me to and from work. It gets me to and from the grocery store, friends houses, and all around town. It helps me calm down after a bad day. It's gotten me into what is likely the best shape of my life. I honestly don't know what I would do without it. I look forward to my ride into the city every morning. I look forward to biking in Sydney, Australia, next month. I look forward to the bike adventure through Europe that Rob and I are planning for my birthday next year. Even though I've only had my bike since 2010, it's become like an extension of me.

By reaching 3000 miles, I met my milage goal for Pedal for Pennies. Now that the donation page is up, I'm working toward meeting my fundraising goal for Gilda's Club of Western Pennsylvania. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

30 Before 30: Oh Yeah, We're Going to a Laser Show

I love to let the mail pile up. It's usually nothing but bills and junk, so I find it kind of depressing to take it upstairs every day if it's a bunch of stupid stuff. (And I'm already lugging a bike and a bag up the stairs, so the lame mail gets left behind.) Whenever I worry that my mailcarrier might think I'm MIA in a not good way, I begrudgingly go through it. This happened the other day, and one of the pieces was a mailer from the Carnegie Science Center. I went through it to see if anything caught my eye. And something did! Three words: HALLOWEEN LASER SHOW.

I immediately took a picture of the ad and sent it to my friend Ross, who enjoys the Halloween season as well. Going to see a laser show was on my 30 Before 30 list, and to take care of it with one with these most excellent theme seemed perfect. The ad promised Ghostbusters! The Addams Family! Purple People Eater! All the best things! 

Just look how excited we were!
I think I've forgotten how to not smile like a total goober every time I take a picture.

We settle into our seats. So do the six other people there. The show starts. Wonderfully creepy images and awesome tunes are coming our way! Only! They weren't! Well, the wonderfully creepy images were great, but the 45 minutes of '90s nu metal were kind of strange. That's it. All nu metal. No "invisible man hiding under your bed" or "bustin' makes me feel good." Just a bunch of '90s nu metal. (Though, we did get to hear "Dragula," which was funny for Ross and me, because it had been a song of the Labor Day Toronto trip just a few weeks prior.)

Nu metal listening session aside, I really liked the laser show! It was super neat to look at! And it was only $2 (because of my Carnegie Museums membership). I'll definitely go to more, so long as the music is a little less...something I don't ever need to listen to.

Now, the laser show topped off the crazy day that Ross and I laid out for ourselves. We first biked from Bloomfield to the South Side for the South Side Slopes StepTrek. Then we had a couple burgers and a couple beers at Winghart's. (Market Square location: Will you ever be done with renovations? I miss you!) We followed up with beers at Jekyll & Hyde's (where we listened to the X on the radio and watched Wipeout on TV - perfect combo?) before biking over to Bicycle Heaven on the Northside for a party before the laser show. That's where we met this guy:

And where I experienced much bike lust, especially of the orange variety.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Adventuring the Slopes: StepTrek 2012

Last year, on an extremely hot October afternoon (for real - it was like 85 degrees), I walked up and down what seemed like a billion steps scattered throughout the South Side Slopes. I must be a glutton for punishment, because I enjoyed it so much that I did it again. This time, I took my buddy Ross along. It was the first of a day/evening/ night full of things that Ross and I set out to do. More on some of those another post. Tonight, we focus on steps. Lots. Of. Steps. The South Side Slopes isn't exactly a place where I'm likely to be found. It's prohibitive for someone whose main mode of transport is a bike. There also doesn't seem to be a plethora of entertainment up there either. But, it's really fun to explore, because it's full of outstanding views, tucked away spaces, and a stray cat or two. The StepTrek happens every October. The money raised from registration goes towards keeping the steps in working order. These aren't just fun, they're necessary!

Getting ready for Halloween. We are so, so close.

Not sure if this is still in operation, but the Kollar Club was a Slovakian club, and many immigrants from Slovakia in Pittsburgh came here to learn their first words of English. 

A typical street in the Slopes might end with a staircase.

Going up!

What do we have here!

This adorable little guy. Would have made a good addition to my mini-collection of black cats. But he looked pretty well kept, so he'll stay up there on the Slopes.

A witch, a view of the Cathedral.

I can't help but love every view of this good-looking city. We kind of rock.

Monday, October 15, 2012

It's a Great Day for a Parade: Bloomfield's Columbus Day Parade

I. Love. Parades.

Seriously. Is there such a thing as a bad parade? I love seeing people hanging out on the sidewalks, chatting with their neighbors, watching marching bands, dance troupes, floats, and a whole bevy of other colorful things travel slowly down a main drag in a business district. Bloomfield delights with not one, but TWO parades in October. (The second parade...The Bloomfield Halloween Parade...words cannot describe how excited for it I am.) I was biking around the East End on the Saturday morning of the Columbus Day Parade, and was lucky to get back to my neck of the woods before the festivities ended. Below are some photos of the parade as I caught it going by. Bloomfield kicks some serious butt in October, and the Columbus Day Parade is a great way to start off the best month.

If you've never noticed, the mural here incorporates Bloomfield's parade traditions. The little girl even has a jack-o-lantern candy bucket. Further proof that the Bloomfield Halloween parade is the best night of the year. Beyond the mural, folks gather up and down Liberty to watch the entertainment.

It's Franco! Right there, in my neighborhood. One of those PGH-figures who everyone seems to respect, admire, and want a handshake from. Can't say watching him give high-fives to the youngsters surrounding his convertible didn't choke me up a bit. Especially thinking about how some of those youngsters have yet to grasp just who Franco is and what awesome thing he did.

Reason no. 1 why I love parades:

Because you don't see insane nonsense walking down your street any ol' day of the year. I'm still not even sure if this was a part of a float or group or if this nightmare-clown was a rogue participant. Either way, I love it.

Why was this gentleman riding inside the truck? Doesn't he know this is Pittsburgh? We are furry-friendly! No need to be ashamed, sir!

These guys are the best. 

There's only a couple more weeks till The Bloomfield Halloween Parade. The Columbus Day Parade whets the appetite. The Halloween Parade is the main course AND dessert. It's that good.