18 Mar
2017

You Are Special To Me: Happy Birthday, Mr. Rogers!

An Ode to Mr. Rogers

March 20 is Won't You Be My Neighbor Day, in honor of the one, the only Mr. Rogers's birthday! Generations of children grew up listening to the soothing voice of Fred Rogers on his public broadcasting television program, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001. For millions of children like me, Fred Rogers was much like Mom and Dad; he had no first name. To suggest he was more than Mr. Rogers, the cardigan-wearing, goldfish-feeding friend I visited almost every day, would be blasphemous. But as I have learned since moving to Pittsburgh, Mr. Rogers' actual neighborhood, he was much more than the man I knew.

Born Fred McFeely Rogers (yes, as in Mr. McFeely, from the Speedy Delivery Service!), Mr. Rogers had a bachelor's degree in music composition, was an ordained Presbyterian minister, and attended University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development. He also held 40 honorary degrees from colleges and universities across the country. Not one. Not two. FORTY. In 2002, President George W. Bush presented Mr. Rogers with the highest civilian honor in the country, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, for a career encouraging the well-being of children through lessons of kindness, compassion, and learning. He passed away in 2003 at the age of 74, leaving behind his wife, Joanne, of more than 50 years, two sons, and millions of children whose childhoods wouldn't have been as magical without him.

If for any reason you might want to visit Mr. Rogers' "imaginary" friends, including Daniel Striped Tiger and King Friday the Thirteenth (and 'by any reason' I mean 'why wouldn't you?'), they are housed in Pittsburgh's Children's Museum alongside one of his iconic sweaters (which his mother knitted), and his sneakers.

Mr. Rogers, thank you for being our neighbor, our mentor, our friend. Happy birthday, with love.

At Home With Mr. Rogers

Pittsburghers, nostalgia should be hitting you right in the feels, now, and you're probably thinking 'Man, I miss Mr. Rogers.' He may not be around town anymore in person, but his spirit is still alive. It's always a little thrilling when a customer catches sight of one of Kards Unlimited's Mr. Rogers products and begins to regale me with a tale of meeting, dining, or actually being a neighbor of the Rogers family.

For the rest of us, we can keep Mr. Rogers alive in our own households with officially licensed Mr. Rogers gear. My favorite? Mister Rogers Sweater Changing Mug. Featuring all of his most heartwarming quotes, add a warm beverage of choice, and his sweater changes between an iconic blue cardigan and yellow cardigan. Some days, it's the little things that make a person feel good, and this touch of magic is a great way to start off the day on the right foot.

Sometimes the world can seem like a scary place. Mr. Rogers always had a way of making his viewers feel a little more courageous. He taught  us how to be gracious for what we have. He knew exactly what to say to make life a little easier. Day to day, I wish there were more people like him, ready to give me a one-liner to help me through a challenge, but he's still there for me. When I need a boost of confidence before a meeting, I can pull out my Encouragemints. The unbeatable combo of fresh breath and an encouraging "Why? Because I like you!" calms the nerves. When I'm facing a deadline at school, nothing helps me take notes better than Mister Rogers' Neighborhood sticky notes.

But the greatest gift we have from Mister Fred Rogers will always be the words he left for us. When life gets a little complicated, turn to any one of three volumes of Mister Rogers wisdom: Life's Journey According to Mister Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers, and Many Ways to Say I Love You. These books prove that, though Mister Rogers may be gone, he will always be our friend.

 

15 Mar
2017

Straighten Up, Richard!

March 15 is National Penis Day, and let me be the first to tell you, this holiday will grow on you. Both men and women can take time out of their busy schedule to appreciate this above-average day. Men around the world need not hide their manhood; today is a day of reflection, speculation, and basking in the glory that is your penis. You think with it, you show affection with it, and sometimes, if the time is right, you put it in a fresh apple pie.

Your penis deserves to have its veil pulled back and shown what it has accomplished.  Your penis's greatest accomplishment is probably not getting hard when your cute co-worker dressed up as Hermione for the Halloween party, but there have also been penises made famous in movies, TV, and even had molds cast of them, preserving them forever. Bet you feel pretty inadequate.

The cinema: a wonderful world of culture, action, and symbolism. Where anything can be considered "art" if you say it is. Some consider art beautiful cinematography, others how well the movie is edited, or the color palette. But some of the most artistic cinematic moments are when an actor hangs dong. Take the classic movie Boogie Nights. Mark Wahlberg exposes what is now known to be a prosthetic penis, but still shocked audiences, nonetheless. And who could forget when Hodor from HBO's Game of Thrones let it all hang out, showing us the baby arm he's been hiding.  Though this is my personal favorite penis scene in a movie [NSFW].

Now how awesome would it be if your Johnson was cast in plaster for everyone to ogle over? Pretty friggin' sweet if you ask me. Most of us won't be so lucky, though, unless you were a rock star in the 60's and 70's. If you happen to fall into the latter category, there's a good chance Cynthia Plaster Caster took a mold of your naughty bits. She is a groupie turned artist, taking plaster molds of every rock star she came across, most notably Jimi Hendrix. I cannot think of a better way I'd want my guy remembered; I just hope the plaster isn't too cold.

So, let's say for your family vacation you want to go somewhere that will impress Craig in HR, because his family just went to Denmark and he won't shut up about how great it was. You look on Kayak and see flights to Iceland are pretty cheap. You arrive in Reykjavik, only to have your family complain the whole time how cold it is, that the food is weird, and how much longer is this hike? Bunch of ungrateful brats. You storm off in a huff and decide to make your own adventure in Iceland. After some brews at one of the many bars in town you stumble around until you see a building that catches your eye. As you get closer, yes, it does say that. You have found The Icelandic Phallological Museum.

This museum has over 200 different penises from land and sea mammals that inhabit Iceland. I'm not sure you can get any more appreciative of the penis. The wild world of animal penises will truly make you stand back and marvel at what Mother Nature has given the world to create with. Though the collection was missing a human penis, the founder of the museum was determined to find one. I will not go into that story, though, because there is already a documentary about it called The Final Member, which chronicles the strange story of how a human penis ended up in the museum.

Today is a day to rise up, let it all hang out, and pull out all the stops. There is something pure, uncut about National Penis Day. It's like looking into your Long John Silvers bag and seeing they gave you extra crab cakes. It's just a silly little holiday that has grown into something that all people can appreciate, for about seven minutes, maybe ten if you're lucky. So men, pull out those nut-hugger jeans, wear sweatpants with no underwear, or put your penis in the fridge for a little just to see what happens. Enjoy the day, it only comes once a year.

 

9 Mar
2017

I know you think you have a favorite instrument, but you’re probably wrong.

Well, it's that time of the year again. March 10th marks International Bagpipes Day!  I know most of us are (obviously) great bagpipe lovers already, but for anyone out there who has ever thought, "Wow, bagpipes are totally amazing, but I wish I knew more about them!" this post is for you.

The Pittsburgh Firefighters Memorial Pipe Band at a competition! (My dad isn't not in this photo...)

Let's start with some basic bagpipe facts.

Piper Bill Millin, badass extraordinaire of WWII

  • Bagpipes were invented in the Near/Middle East, evidence suggests some time before the Roman era.  The exact timeline is unknown, but references to bagpipes and bagpipers are made in ancient Greek plays and Roman writings. There are sporadic mentions of the instrument in earlier texts.
  • Although the Great Highland Bagpipe of Scotland is the most widely known bagpipe in the English-speaking world, bagpipes are actually fairly common across all Indo-European countries, with most every region sporting several examples.  In addition to the Great Highland Bagpipe, pipes from the British Isles include the Scottish Smallpipes, the Border Pipes, the Irish Uilleann Pipes, and others. In Europe, instruments include the zampogna of Italy, the biniou of France, and the Dudelsack (yes, really) of Germany.  There are also bagpipes indigenous to India, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and pretty much every other European country you know.
  • Bagpipes were used on the battlefields of Scotland and England as early as the 16th century.  Bagpipes were used in a manner similar to the use of the bugle by the cavalries of Westerns, with different types of tunes to denote marching to battle, retreating, reveille, etc. The commonly known music of the Great Highland Bagpipes today comes mostly from the tradition of martial music; bagpipe competitions strongly emphasize marches specifically.
  • Gratuitously sexy bagpiper? Don't mind if I do!

    While different types of bagpipe vary greatly in their tones, the instruments have an underlying unity to their sound, which is due to the way they are played.  Almost all bagpipes consist of a chanter, which plays the melody, and at least one drone pipe, which plays a single note in the background (hence the name). The piper fills the bag with air, either blown in by mouth or pumped in by a bellows, and then squeezes the bag, which forces the air through reeds in the pipes, which produces the notes of the instrument.

    From Wikipedia (because I tried to say this as concisely and failed): "The chanter is usually open-ended, so there is no easy way for the player to stop the pipe from sounding. Thus most bagpipes share a constant, legato sound where there are no rests in the music. Primarily because of this inability to stop playing, technical movements are used to break up notes and to create the illusion of articulation and accents. Because of their importance, these embellishments (or 'ornaments') are often highly technical systems specific to each bagpipe, and take many years of study to master."

  • Bill Millin, personal piper to Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat, piped British soldiers ashore at Normandy like a total badass.  After the battle he asked some captured German snipers why they hadn't shot him and they told him it was because they thought he had gone insane.  What other instrument has a story like that?! None other.

That's about enough of the educational stuff!  Here are some bagpipes for you to listen to!  Enjoy!

Pipe Major Brian Donaldson and Willie MacCallum, two of the best pipers living (and two of the nicest people you'd ever hope to meet!)

The late Pipe Major Alasdair Gillies, last Pipe Major of the Queen's Own Highlanders, and possibly the greatest piper of the 20th Century.  (Also a fantastic person.)

Here's some Italian bagpipes!  Wtf?!

Russian Bagpipes!  Ah!

That's all from your favorite bagpipe lover for today!  Haste ye back! <3

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8 Mar
2017

Nevertheless, She Persisted

Yeah, you heard me.

In honor of National Women's Day, I wanted to share some super cool cards we just got in that feature badass women. (Well, at least I think they're cool, I designed them.) It all started with Elizabeth Warren and what has become a battle cry taken up by women all around the globe. The women featured on these cards are personal role models of mine, each are strong in their own way.

Princess (and General) Leia Organa. My first role model. I so wanted to be like her when I grew up, confident and take-no-shit attitude.

Ellen Ripley. Surviving xenomorphs   AND mansplaining.

Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt Queen of the... you get the picture.
Also, Mother of DRAGONS!

Lady FUCKING Mormont!
(I don't know what her actual middle name is, but if it isn't this, it should be, cause that girl is a stone cold badass.)

Hermione Granger.
There is absolutely no way Harry Potter would've survived without her.

Maeve Millay of Westworld.
I wish I could be half as smart and cunning as this host.

 

Ladies, I salute you. You have, and always will, persist.

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4 Mar
2017

ITS GRAMMAR DAY OR IT’S GRAMMAR DAY!?

Your probably sitting their on you're couch reeding this like, "I'm a native English speaker I don't knead a lessen in grammer."

If that sentence made you want to die on the inside, then this blog is for YOU! Let's get some things straight though.

First rule of grammar club:

We DO NOT make fun of incorrect grammar usage by someone who speaks English as a second language (ESL) because

you probably can't explain why it's wrong. I've rarely heard someone laugh at a poorly written sign and say, "HAHAHAHHA MORPHOLOGY STRIKES AGAIN!"

A person who uses ESL probably knows more about English than you do; as a native English speaker we take the rules for granted and don't question them, but someone learning English is like "THIS IS THE STUPIDEST LANGUAGE" and in many ways, it is! Remember this old gem?

and this classic:

A lot of the rules we were taught growing up (and by we I mean 30-somethings and above who remember diagramming sentences in grade school. If you were me, it was the BEST! If you were a normal person, it was the worst...but if you're reading this, you're in the former camp).

But here's the thing (ack! I started a sentence with but! Shame!) the reasons we were told we couldn't do certain things are not relevant anymore. For example, one of these ancient rules is "you must not split an infinitive." WHY MUST WE NOT??????? Because (eeek I started a sentence with 'because'!! I FEEL LIKE A MILLENNIAL!!! I'M GONNA STAY UP PAST 9 TONIGHT!!!) Latin.  The infinitive in English takes the form 'to (verb)' as in "to go". So when Captain Kirk says "to boldy go" he is splitting up that sexy infinitive coupling with a motherfucking adverb. WTF amirite? Here's the thing though, in Latin, "to go" is only one word, "ire"...BUT WE DON'T SPEAK LATIN ANYMORE.

{Can I side track to nerd town for a sec? K thanks. Before I went to graduate school for Speech Language Pathology I had to brush up on some basics, but I realized that these basics weren't exactly basic to your average native English speaker. I fell so deeply madly in love with my Phonetics textbooks (and teacher, ahem) and as a result fell so SO back in love with language.

Getting outside the realm of grammar specifically, here's an example of a super awesome thing: an allophone! So in English, we've got these letters that makes sounds, let's take the letter /t/for example: it's called a phoneme; it represents a sound. When you weren't looking, /t/ went out and made a family! That's right, /t/ has it's own fucking family, and they are called phones. The [t] in tar is different from the [t] in star; if you put your hand in front of your mouth when you say "tar" you will feel a puff of air, and that is called an aspirated [t] and has it's own separate symbol! The [t] in "writer" sounds like a [d] when spoken, so that gets ITS OWN SYMBOL (called a flap) and this goes on, AND THAT'S JUST ENGLISH! These other /t/ sounds are allophones of /t/, aka, bastard children.

And don't get me started (yep I started a sentence with AND; screw you, Ann Landers) on how beautiful actual 3D depictions of spoken language are.}

End side track...you forgot you were in brackets didn't you! We're back to sassy town.

The 2nd rule of grammar club:


We DO make fun of the president of the United States if he makes a grammatical error, and here's why:

BECAUSE HE'S THE GODDAMN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER AND IF HE DOESN'T KNOW BETTER HE SHOULD HIRE PEOPLE WHO DO KNOW BETTER BECAUSE THAT'S HOW LIFE WORKS

Going to leave you with a couple wonderful links: one will take you to a twitter account called TrumpGrammar...no explanation needed, and the second is a link to a study by CMU that found Trump's grammar to be just below a 6th grade level, Aslan save us all.

PEACE OUT (that's right I'm ending on a preposition. EAT IT.)

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3 Mar
2017

I Think I Blue This Post

Life is hard. You're thrown into this world with no choice of what your name is, who your family is, or who you're attracted to. For George Michael Bluth, none of those things ended up in his favor. But every day he manages to get out of bed with a positive attitude. We can all learn a thing from George Michael, and thank God he's teaching us, or else we'd all be getting scared straight by a man with one arm. In honor of George Michael's Birthday on March 3, here are some helpful tips on relationships, business, and family.

Relationships 101:

Never fall in love with your cousin

George Michael has dealt with conflicting emotions about his cousin, Maeby, since the show's pilot episode. They shared a kiss, and it sent shivers down his once innocent spine. His love for her grows over the course of the show, though he's obviously troubled by the nature of this. It is hinted that they aren't biologically related, but they only find out the truth—Maeby’s mother is adopted—after they get to second base. Ouch.

                         Date someone memorable

Business Tips:

Find a void and fill it

George Michael has always been a good student. In college, he really came into his own, losing his virginity to a Spanish mother while abroad, and developing what is the best wooden block app on the market. "FakeBlock" started out as a small idea, a musical block app, but, after a white lie and a series of misunderstandings, everyone believed it to be a revolutionary anti-social network app. Though it was all a misunderstanding that got out of control, Netflix did make the app to promote the new season.

 There's always money in a banana stand

As Mr. Manager, George Michael has a lot of pressure on him. On his first day as Mr. Manager, Maeby thinks the whole, "take a dollar, take a banana and eat it" system works well until George Michael realizes they actually have to pay for the bananas they sell. George Michael isn't the only one we can learn from. His father, Michael, learned the hard way that there's always money in a banana stand when he burns it down, only to discover there was $250,000 hidden in the walls.

Bluth Life Lessons:

There is no right way to dance like a chicken 

Everyone thinks that they have the perfect chicken dance. But which way is best? The Bluth family has some very strong opinions.

Family comes first 

Throughout the series, George Michael learns that no matter how dysfunctional your family is, they're always there to fall back on. Even if they were the ones who fucked up the situation in the first place. No matter how many times you try to leave them, you can't escape them. The family that burns evidence together, stays together.

                       

 

1 Mar
2017

March 2017 Calendar of Events

Happy March, friends! Bulbs are coming up, days are getting longer, and we've got a whole new month of celebrations, of course! From Women of Color Day, to National Napping Day, to Won't You Be My Neighbor Day, and National Respect Your Cat Day, there's a whole lot to celebrate. Read on to see what's getting our panties in a bunch this month! Read more >>