Yinz Luv ‘Da Buccos, I Heart Jim Shearer

Jim Shearer, the mastermind behind the web-series “Yinz Luv ‘Da Guins” and “Yinz Luv ‘Da Stillers,” is answering a question he’s been asked ever since he started his homemade, YouTube sports shows three years ago: Do yinz luv ‘da Buccos? The answer is “yes.” In his Opening Day: Yinz Luv ‘Da Buccos exhibit on display at Wildcard through the month of April, Shearer pays homage to the Pittsburgh Pirates of his youth (back when it was somewhat customary to end a season with more wins than losses) in a series of portraits of beloved players. Using the same art tools he wielded as a youngster, each image is created with colored pencils, crayons, magic markers, and watercolors. To coincide with the Pirates’ first game of the season, Opening Day: Yinz Luv ‘Da Buccos will have its opening night celebration on Friday, April 1st from 8:00pm-10:00pm. The event is free and includes complimentary drinks and refreshments, along with a Pirates trivia contest and other surprises, including Jim Shearer.

Check out some other local coverage of this event, like PittGirl Virginia Montanez’  interview with Jim Shearer or this article in the PittNews.

ps.  I’ll admit that right after I moved here in 2002 my roommate and I didn’t have cable but got MTV2.  So I started crushing on Jim Shearer the same time I started falling for Pittsburgh.

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So You Want To Learn to Dance?

Swing Dancing at the Spanish Ballroom

Image by alykat via Flickr

Feeling inspired by Heinz Ward’s recent success of dancing with the stars?  Pittsburgh has lots of beginner friendly places that offer dance lessons.

  • Swing Pittsburgh – offers swing dancing lessons every Saturday night at 8pm, with a DJ or Band and dancing from 9pm-Midnight
  • Absolute Ballroom – offers group and private lessons 7 days a week
  • Ballroom Pittsburgh – offers ballroom dancing lessons every Thursday night at 7:30pm, with a dance from 8:30-11:30pm

What do you think? Have you taken dancing lessons here in Pittsburgh?  Where did you go?

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The Exchange

WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 25:  This compact disc w...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Although it is based out of Ohio, to a Pittsburgh resident, The Exchange might as well be a local institution, with a number of stores scattered about the region: there are stores located in the North Hills, Squirrel Hill, Dormont, Monroeville, Robinson Towne Center, and downtown Pittsburgh (actually, two locations downtown, not far from each other).  In my opinion, the Monroeville location is tops in all regards; it has the largest selection, easiest parking, and space to move around (some stores, particularly the location downtown by Market Square, are slightly cramped).

The procedure at The Exchange is slightly different than in most music stores; rather than containing rows of CD cases sans discs, the selections are locked in glass cabinets (in some stores, the $2.50 shelves are left unlocked, and the $1 titles are, in general, unceremoniously left in boxes on the floor).  Actually picking up a CD necessitates asking an employee to unlock the case.  I’m not sure why this is considered much of a precautionary measure, because in most instances, the employee will simply walk away after opening the case, leaving the cabinet to be relocked at an indeterminate point in the future.  The exception is for the cases that contain box sets; in those situations, one must request a specific title for inspection, and the case is relocked immediately after the selection is removed.

In general, most of the titles available at The Exchange are fairly well-known.  I’ve seen a handful of artier titles littered amongst the shelves, but if you’re seeking out an ultra-rare import, I wouldn’t bank on finding it here.  On the other hand, if you were just starting a Bruce Springsteen collection, The Exchange would be an excellent place to begin.

The discount section is always worth browsing through; some of the best bargains I’ve found have been located there (for example, the first Jane Siberry album, which goes on the Internet for upwards of $25, and then only when it’s available, was $2.50 at The Exchange when I found it).  The discount shelves tend to be disorganized (the $1 boxes aren’t even offered the dignity of an attempt at alphabetization), but let’s be honest; that adds to the thrill of the physical music hunt and forces one to browse through all of the titles, rather than seeking out one or two specific items.  Some of my favorite albums were impulse purchases made because I found an intriguing title offered for a buck or two (my favorite Suede album, “Head Music,” came to me for a dollar, even if it was the U.S. version impertinently credited to “The London Suede” due to legal issues).

In my experience, when it comes to buying your old CD’s, The Exchange offers very fair prices for a record store.  You can probably sell your goodies for much more online, but if you don’t want to deal with that, it’s fairly painless to unload your shelf full of also-rans at the store.  On average, I tend to get $2 per CD (obviously, less for titles that aren’t expected to sell very well and vice-versa).  Years ago, when I first started patronizing The Exchange, they would buy literally anything that wasn’t scratched beyond repair.  Now, with the CD downturn, they’re more liberal about rejecting offers…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a shot.  If there’s a CD or DVD that they won’t buy and you really want to get rid of it, I suggest donating it to your local library; it’s good for your conscience, and besides, if you tried to unload it at a larger chain store (Half Price Books, ahem), you might be lucky to get a dollar for a whole bag’s worth.

As of recent years, the focus has seemed to shift from CD’s to DVD’s and video games, as well as electronic equipment (.mp3 players, headphones, etc.).  From the perspective of a music addict, this is not the happiest of developments, but for a gamer or movie buff, it would be worth investigating The Exchange.

Titles can be requested from other stores, normally with only a few dollars added to the price to cover shipping costs.  It’s worth asking around if there’s a specific album you’re interested in, and if the store that has it is close enough, it might be wise to simply make the trip to that location to pick up the title in question.

One last note, regarding the price stickers on the cases that are impossible to remove without leaving remnants behind: although I’ve never tried this, an employee told me that an easy way to remove them without leaving any adhesive behind is to hold the label under a flame (preferably from a cigarette lighter) until it turns black, and then peel it off.  This obviously might not be preferable for digipacks, but then, I’ve never let faulty cosmetics interfere with an otherwise great bargain.

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The Waffles Are That Good

Liège style waffle

Image via Wikipedia

“The waffles are that good” was a line from the email sent to me by my friend Lesley – she stopped into Waffalonia for a quick dinner and was delighted with the entire experience.  I suggested she write a little review of Waffalonia – here is her rave review of the place.

Waffalonia is located on Murray avenue near Forbes in Sq. Hill – this is the space where Dozen cupcakes used to be located.

You may not have noticed, but Squirrel Hill is home to another delicious new eatery.  Tucked in between Coldstone Creamery and Razzy Fresh, you could easily miss Wafflonia, the recently opened Belgian waffle shop on Murray Avenue.  I strongly caution against this.  I lived in Belgium for two years.  Over there waffles are street food, made fresh, served in wax paper, and eaten while strolling around town.  They are considered more for snacks or dessert than breakfast.  Folks, Wafflonia is the real deal: delicious, cheap, and easy-going.  I visited Wafflonia recently at the end of a long work day.  The waffles are crunchy on the outside, warm and sugary on the inside.  I quickly devoured mine, then licked my fingers clean. My spirits brightened instantly.  With its understated décor and warm lighting, Wafflonia is the perfect place to duck into on a chilly late winter evening.  When the weather warms up, we will simply adapt by ordering the waffle-ice cream combo.  Or maybe the waffle with nutella and bananas. Wafflonia deserves to be a huge success.  Go there.  Go there now.

Check out Lesley’s photo blog Plum for the Road with lots of Pittsburgh photos.

Waffallonia on Urbanspoon

Banff is Back- April 8, 9 & 10

I have a thing for sportsy, outdoorsy films – it is a pretty interesting way to get a little bit of the outdoors mixed in with a the story of interesting athletes.  One of the neatest bars I have been to – Mai Tai Bar in Honolulu – gets major points – not for aestiques – it is actually on the roof of a mall in Honolulu – but bonus points for their entertainment – they have live isalnd music in the bar and show skiing and surfing films on the TVs.  (There is also a Mai Tai Bar in Daytona Beach – that I visited earlier this year with the hopes of shipping a drink and watching surf films – instead the evenings entertainment was the cover band Spandex Super Heros).

But back to Banff – the Banff film festival is THE outdoor film festival and each year they put together a collection of the best outdoor films.  Venture Outdoors brings the festival to town and this year – Banff is bigger than ever  with three days of films.

Friday, April 8 -7pm
Saturday, April 9 – 7pm
Sunday, April 10 – 2pm

Each day will have a different line up of films- check out the complete line up here.

Tickets are available here.

Check out the 2010/2011 trailer

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