Discover more from Breathing Space
"Do you have a six-pack of Rick Sebak in stock?"
May your dreams be haunted by a very pissed off Myron Cope
In this edition: my life is busy * a “yinzer” in space * AI-generated Pittsburgh-themed beer cans are AMAZING * Carson Daly is screwed * Charles Darwin always has the last laugh * a Pittsburgh insult from 1867 * and more!
Happy Wednesday, Pittsburgh!
Do you want to know how to determine if you’ve overextended yourself? I’m going to tell you—it is when you have to schedule literally every minute of your day so that you can be sure there is time to fit everything in. Here is my today:
Yes, I even schedule in my Duolingo time, a 20-minute nap, and my showers. This is the only way I can even hope to get everything in. I clean and pay bills and catch snippets of Netflix and do other random stuff in the little spaces I find between all of that. I have other things I haven’t found time to work in there today including Pittsburgh Remains to be Seen research/updates, working on my TEDxPittsburgh talk, researching for my next column for Pittsburgh Magazine, prepping for my talk at Pitt OLLI, etc. Maybe tomorrow.
Getting in bed by 10:15 is always my goal so that I have time to complete the daily NYT crossword before I pass out. I am however usually crawling into bed around 11:00 p.m. So getting this newsletter out on time this week is a big deal; please throw cookies at me as a reward.
Do any of you do this? Schedule your whole day out like this? Am I weird?
Am I a delight?
P.S. If you are going to email me about the vaccine, I cannot strongly enough encourage you to … not. Just don’t even make eye contact with the mail icon.
1. If not food, why food-shaped?
So I found this random Mrs. T’s frozen pierogi in the deep recesses of my freezer …
And the lie detector determined that that was a lie. Because it is a lie! I have probably shared this before, but I just wanted to be sure you all were aware that there is a moon orbiting Saturn that is shaped exactly like a frozen Mrs. T’s pierogi. Its name is Pan because a yinzer didn’t get to name it something cool like Four Cheese Medley.
Now, don’t judge me; I keep a box of Mrs. T’s pierogies in my freezer. You might think that makes me a bad yinzer, but if it’s good enough for that goddess of destruction Jalapeño Hannah, it’s good enough for me.
2. Moving to Finland BRB
There is a Jaromir Jagr-themed beer in Finland!
Jaromir. Lagr. I cannot.
“Hoppy Lager For You, Mullet!”
I cannot even harder. My suspicion is that the artwork was AI-generated or assisted, because it just screams “A ROBOT TRIED.” With that in mind, I ran to AI to offer my soul as a sacrifice. I kid. I ran to ask it to give me some Mario Lemieux-themed beers and …
That third one is killer. That last one is LOL WUT. That first one is weird because it’s a bottle on a can. That second one is where beauty goes to die (and also very reminiscent of the Jaromir Lagr design). Of course I had to keep going and asked AI to make me a Pittsburgh-themed beer …
As a student of German on Duolingo for nearly two years, I can tell you that piitgepitter is German for “residual tunnel delays.” True story.* Then I got bored with the black and gold theme and said, give me … RICK SEBAK ON A CAN OF BEER!
Did I just accidentally create the greatest thing ever? Someone with a brewery get on this and pay Rick Sebak all the money. Sally Wiggin …
Oh dear. We have taken a wrong turn, Mr. AI. I will give you one chance to redeem yourself. Give me Mister Rogers …
Um. Did I even utter the phrase “Mister Peanut”?? Or does AI think Mister Rogers is Sir Topham Hatt??
The second one isn’t terrible, theme-wise, but all in all, I continue to think we’re safe from AI taking over the world for a bit longer. My money is on the superlanternflies getting to us first.
And we will have deserved it.
*The lie detector determined … that was a lie.
3. Curses! Foiled again!
I generally don’t believe in curses because if they were real, every pigeon on the planet would have spontaneously exploded by now. But if there is one curse I might buy into just a tiny bit, it is the Terrible Towel curse.
Because the proof is just too strong. Are you aware of a single story where someone did something bad with or to a Terrible Towel and the ghost of Myron Cope didn’t eventually bitchslap them back to prehistory?
Recently, on the Today Show, after making sure he was on screen, Raiders superfan Carson Daly ill-advisedly did … this:
Blew his nose into the legacy of Myron Cope and then made a truly shit-eating proud-of-myself face for the ages. Go watch the video to see it.
When will people learn? How much proof do you need? Every year this happens and every year the curse wins and stupid-faced jags lose. To misuse or disrespect the Terrible Towel is to invite pain into your life. It is very possible the Raiders will never win another game of football this season. And God only knows what else Carson has coming for him in the future, but he will probably never poop normal again in his life.
Carson, to quote the High Priestess of Curses, Mrs. Sophia Petrillo, “May you put your dentures in upside down and chew your own head off.”
4. Damn it, Darwin!*
For about five years now, we’ve been told that we must destroy the lanternflies. The health of our ecosystem depends on it. They will destroy our trees! They will ruin the habitat of other native species! They will bring dystopian doom into our lives!
So we killed them. Leapt at them and stomped them where they stood. Chased them down the sidewalk and destroyed them in the name of Mother Nature. No mercy. Now I am death, destroyer of lanternflies.
But now studies are showing that perhaps the lanternflies aren’t doing much damage to our trees after all. So that’s good news. But there’s just one problem.
But as someone who studies genetics, Duennes wants to know more about bugs themselves, and how their interaction with humans and a new environment is changing those genetics.
Like many people who are trying to kill as many lanternflies as they can find, Duennes said she’s noticed that, anecdotally, it’s a little more difficult to just walk right up and step on one this year.
“Most times, people stomp on them, and so the ones that get way — the ones that jump faster and farther — are the ones that will survive to reproduce,” she said.
I too have noticed how much harder it is to kill them this year. In other words, by us doing as told and chasing down and killing the lanternflies en masse, we are ensuring the immediate survival of their best and strongest jumpers in the face of a constant threat, and we are killing only their puniest weaklings. Those surviving strong jumpers will mate with other super jumpers and create even stronger super-er-er jumper babies at a rapid pace. WE ARE UNWITTINGLY CREATING A SUPER-SPECIES OF LANTERNFLY, YOU GUYS.
Humans will just never ever beat nature. Our only shot against the lanternfly now is that one of them disrespects the Terrible Towel so greatly that Myron comes and saves us all.
*This item brought to by the letters F and U and by me trying to throw away dead potted flowers yesterday and having FOUR giant lanternflies jump out of the stems and land on me. My actual person. My human body.
5. “May your marinara never cling to your pasta!”
Continuing my series of insults published about Pittsburgh throughout history that I didn’t have space to include in my recent column for Pittsburgh Magazine (which you can read here!), let’s go visit the year 1867! What would the city have looked like then? You’re in luck, because I have a photo from 1867!
St. Clair Street Bridge was where the Roberto Clemente Bridge is now.
With that visual in mind, let’s get to the insult. Correspondence to an out-of-town paper was re-printed in the Pittsburg Chronicle and then picked up by Monongahela Valley Republican, which is where I found it. In true Pittsburgh fashion, in introducing the blurb, the Pittsburg Chronicle called it evidence that Pittsburgh “must be one of the most desirable of places to live.” As in, “Jealous much?”
“We think Pittsburgh is dirty? More we think Pittsburgh is nasty, filthy … the breezes that blow over us bring no freshness, but serve only to distribute the vile incense of nastiness. The abominable odors are numerous, pronounced, emphatic, intrusive and all pervading. There is no escape from them.”
Tell me you just bought a thesaurus without telling me you just bought a thesaurus.
Regardless, to the correspondent who wrote this, I quote Sophia Petrillo …
The Steelers plane had to make an emergency landing when it experienced engine trouble and that’s just very very YIKES to me, the mother of a flight school student.
Mexico loves the Steelers. Having spent 20 years of my life once-married to a Mexican Steelers fan, I can confirm. Now I’m “married” to a hockey player who doesn’t know I exist. Life is funny like that.
My book talk at Norwin Library is this evening! Join us!
I’m quoted in this Trib piece about one-man litter clean up crew Tom Ross. A snippet:
Like Ross, Montanez uses her platform on X, which boasts more than 24,000 followers, to bring attention to the matter and encourage city and county officials to take action. “All I am trying to do is be loud enough and angry enough that other people will get loud and angry and maybe somebody will start paying attention,” Montanez said.
Now the question is, should my future autobiography be titled Loud Enough and Angry Enough? Or should I play it safe and go with The Life and Times of Mrs. Jaromir Jagr? Discuss.
Motorists are mad that the Fern Hollow bridge traffic redesign is better for pedestrians and cyclists, but worse for cars. Boo-hoo. Just be happy you are driving on a bridge that isn’t made of rust glued together by pigeon poop.
7. That’s all, yinz!
I’m out of space and you know I’m definitely out of time; the schedule says so! The schedule is the king. Have a great week! Be kind! Don’t litter! Stop killing the lanternflies, I guess? Or maybe try to kill the fasted ones and leave the stupid, slow ones alive? I’m so confused now.
And be sure to get out and see my new banjo band Four Cheese Medley. We only play at church pierogi festivals.
See yinz around these here parts next week! Unless the schedule tells me no.