Saturday, January 31, 2015

Dear Mister Ed

(On 1/23/2015, a letter from Ed Chadwick, of Undercover Boss fame, was released by the Mayor's office & published on the City of Pittsburgh's official website. I sent the following letter to Mr. Chadwick with his address per the city's website. Unfortunately, my letter was returned unopened as address unknown.)


Ed Chadwick
P.O. Box 1234
Loretto, KY  40037


Dear Mister Ed,

     I am so happy to find out you that you are real and speaking!  As one of your new friends in Pittsburgh, I'd like to give you some advice. I think you should leave KY behind and VisitPittsburgh again to help your good buddy, Mayor Peduto, explain this silly Undercover Boss situation. Let the city get it straight from the horse's mouth!

     Whoah! Hold your horses, Mr. Ed! I know you think the media in Pittsburgh is beating a dead horse here, but I think it's time for y'all to come out of the barn! Like you said in your letter, "you have to help people when you get the chance",  and your good buddy could use your help.

     Honestly, this whole thing is making both of you look like a bit of a horse's a**.  And, as you know, no one can talk to a horse's a** , of course. That is, of course, unless the horse's a** is the famous Mr. Ed!

    Please, Mr. Ed, you will always have KY, but the Mayor needs you now.

Sincerely, your new friend,

      Aubrey

P.S. Could you also tell your buddy about the parking issues on my street in the South Side? Thanks!




 
 
 
 
 
 

                            To view Mr. Ed's letter, go to:
                             http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/mayorpeduto/Chadwickletter.pdf

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

my hillbilly, faded genes


      Well, butter my butt and call me biscuit! That's right, y'all. I am part hillbilly & proud. My paternal grandparents are as authentic as they come. Not to be confused with rednecks or white trash, I'm talking hillbillies, born & raised in Olive Hill, Kentucky. After gettin' hitched at a young age, they loaded up their truck and moved to Ohio, where they done raised 5 youngins. Fittingly, they now live in a log cabin in North Carolina.
.
    If you are familiar with the hillybilly ways, breakfast is church and the more fixin's, animal fats & processed meats brought to the table, the better. So, when our kin are in town, the age ol' debate rolls around in the morning, "Cracker Barrel or Bob Evan's"

    Me?  I would prefer EggsRUs in Crafton, Kelly O's in the Strip or Pamela's in Shadyside. But that's not one of my options today. Food? I want a veggie, egg white omelet, no fried taters or pork products. Not so hillybilly-like.

     Well, kiss my grits and call me breakfast! While both menu's boast similar country themed breakfast fair at their locality, CB does not make omelets.  But BobE's offers "Stuffed 3-Egg Omelets". BobE's gives me a purty good egg white omelet:  The Farm Favorite with baby spinach, a heapin helpin of roasted portabellos, onions, Swiss cheese & tomatoes.



Here's a few other things CB does not have:

  CB does not have a easy way to get to the hostess stand. They prefer to make customers plow threw their over-stocked, over-crowded & over-priced General nonsense Store. BobE's simple set-up is stress free.

  CB does not have WiFi because the restaurant chain does not want their "guests" to "linger". BobE's hospitality includes WiFi.

  CB does not have authentic country roots. CB started as an oil salesman's scheme to lure travelers off of highways to increase gas sales. BobE really was born & raised down on the farm where he started making his own sausage.

  CB does not really like their patrons. Why else would they put a seemingly innocent game to play on all their tables that, not only frustrates, but silently calls their patrons "dumb" & "eg-no-ra-mooses".

  CB does not have a great history with the LGBT community. BobE's is quite accepting of others' sexual orientation as evidenced in his kid's menu's gender neutral mascot, Chuck the Chick.

 
 
 
y'all come back now, ya hear?!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bob Evans Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 3, 2015

T.S. 2014

                                          'Tis the Season


Hope your holidays are faubulous!
 
; )
 
 
 
 

Friday, January 2, 2015

C'mon, Primanti's...get it together!!


     ... it's not aerospace engineering here.

     When one takes two things that are totally the bomb on their own and puts them together, it detonates a wonderful, marvelous magic that's just plain ol' out of this world!! Like when +EddieVedderVEVO of +Pearl Jam  joined +Bruce Springsteen  onstage (at Wrigley Field & I was there) or anytime my cousin and I get together ....



 
      But I'm talking about culinary combustion here....a dynamite blast of yummy to my palate that I invented and I feel it's my obligation to bring it to your attention so the world may be knocked out by this melding of  scrumptious.

     This is not breaking news:  +Primanti Bros. '  (commonly pronounced "Permanni's") signature, vinegar-based coleslaw, made with angel hair cut cabbage, is heavenly.

    News to anyone that doesn't know me:  I am a slaw-th ( and quite sloth-like as well), meaning, I love coleslaw. If it's on a menu, I will order it as a side or as my meal. I will even wait in a ridiculously long drive thru line at +ChickfilA Robinson at lunchtime to order nothing but slaw.

    My other must order item.... nachos....my diet kryptonite. Unfortunately, it is so rare for a restaurant to do this seemingly simple dish well....it makes me loco. This is so puzzling to me. My unhealthy obsession forces me to try nachos anytime I see them on a menu. More often then not, I just end up ripping them apart, with both my fork & my words...... probing, dissecting & cursing ...obliterating them into a tortilla landfill.

   Then one fateful, late night stop at Primanti's. I noticed 'Nachos Grande Supreme & More' on the menu, hmmmmmmmm....

       " I'll have a side of coleslaw & try the Nachos Grande,"  I said with the lowest of expectations.

    The nachos came out on a big platter, piled high with chips, toasty & warm.  Whoa...  this does look pretty Grande & Supreme.... The 'Almost Famous Hot Chili' and nacho cheese were ample without smothering the chips...sprinkled with sliced jalapenos, pico and a dollup of sour cream.

 

             But.... Sorry, Primanti Bros., there just wasn't the "& More" that was promised.

            Until....Bam!!!.....I decided to cover my  nachos with your coleslaw. Boom....now Bite this!!!



 Duhhhh...Primanti's....you put your coleslaw on all of your sammies; therefore, making them unique & delicious...so, why wouldn't you put it on your loaded nachos!



  So, get it together & Please, please, steal my nacho concept & take your nachos to the next level .....before someone else does & makes their own version of Aubrey's Almost Famous Nachos Grande Supreme!!

  Primanti Brothers on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

beauty & the beast: a sequel

www.megangardner.com

No. This is no fairy tale....no romantic fantasy spun magically together with an annoyingly sweet soundtrack and scene-stealing, talking inanimate objects.  No.  This a cautionary tale for gals like me who get so bored with working out and fending off the unwanted attention of sweaty gym rats in a chain, paid membership, indoor surrounding...day after day...that they yearn for something better.

     Once upon an evening in late September, I foolishly decided to venture away from La Fit ( +LA Fitness)  and take my run through my alma mater, +Carnegie Mellon University , and nearby Shenley Park. The setting was splendid. The air was seasonably crisp & cool; the sunlight danced across the pavement as it poked through the branches of the tree lined streets. With "Lithium" pulsing through my ear buds, my high pony tail swayed back & forth in perfect rhythm with the beat of  my pink +Nike's on the street. I thought I had found +Nirvana .
     About 20 minutes into my run, a belle went off in my head, alerting me to turn around.  And that is the moment I first encountered the beast...a young, 2 point, white-tailed buck clip-clopping down the park road, heading right towards me! With no time to assess the sitch, I spun around and upped my 8 minute mile pace to a full out sprint. I glanced behind me and saw that he was still there and closing ground. I made a mad dash to the right at the Y in the road and instinctively picked up a large, chunk of broken concrete with 2 hands for protection. I backed up off the road a bit and tried to shield myself near a small shrub. I prayed he would continue going straight up the other street.

   WTF! I stood there in disbelief as the buck took a Ralphie at the Y and then stopped dead in his tracks in the middle of the road about 12 feet away from me. With his head lining up with my 5'9" height, I decided to act first and ask questions later. I yelled, "Get away from me!" while simultaneously heaving my concrete ammunition directly at the beast. Somewhat startled but apparently not scared, the young buck galloped a few yards away to the grass on the opposite side of
the road but stood his ground.

     And now for my fairy tale ending, a knight in shining armor on a white horse arrived to save me from peril!!!!

     No....not even close. Because in real life, my rescue comes in the form of a middle-aged couple, driving a white Toyota Camry with 2 pubescent boys in the backseat. "Hey! We just saw that deer charge at you! It doesn't look like he's goin' anywhere. C'mon, get in & we'll drive you out of here", the male driver said to me. Without hesitation I hopped into the backseat where the male teens, stinky & sticky from soccer practice, were chuckling and whispering with each other. I gave them my squinty-eye death stare that I had perfected at La Fit; however, it only fueled their laughter.
     Looking away from them and out the rear window, I tuned out the annoying juvies and the nice man who, in a weird coincidence, was chatting on about deer behavior, seeming to know more facts than the average person should. Instead I focused on the majestic beast slowly disappearing from my view. Was he really trying to hurt me? Or was he coming to me for help? Did an evil witch, jealous because a handsome prince noticed her friend and not her, transform him into this animal form and he needed a pretty girl to befriend him in order to break the curse?


     My Disney-esque daydream was interrupted by a strange sensation on my leg. Ugh! I can't even...... It was man-boy's fuzzy, clammy leg pressed against mine. I jerked away which caused a burst of snickering peppered with muffled phrases like, " deer legs" & "short shorts". That was enough for me to tap Dad on the shoulder to let me out.
     "Are you sure?" he said with genuine concern, "You're not out of the woods yet." I assured him it was okay. I couldn't hurt his feelings and tell him that I would prefer to deal with the wild animals outside than the ones he was transporting.
     Safely back home, I reflected on my experience which was both terrifying and aggravating. Surely there is a lesson to be learned here and, perhaps, even some wisdom to be gained.....
 


....and the princess exercised happily ever after at The Rivers Club at One Oxford Center, downtown Pittsburgh.


    
Rivers Club Xmas Brunch 2013
where the deer are friendly.
    


 * On a serious note, gals, please always keep in mind the dangers if you run or walk outside alone. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Field of not in your wildest Dreams

photo www.megangardner.com

  On the same day as the 25th anniversary of Kevin Costner's Field of Dreams( +Field of Dreams Iowa ), I sat my be-hind down on a hard, aluminum bleacher to watch my little brother play his last tee ball game of the season. The stands were filled with excited family & friends sitting in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. The smell of freshly cut grass was intoxicating. The innocent chatter of players & the happy cheers of the crowd were orchestral....maybe this is heaven.


    It was also a late afternoon game with a temperature of 80 degrees F, and no shade.

    So, I peeled my now sweaty be-hind off of the bleacher & made my way to the snack bar.  As I squinted at the drink menu, I heard the Voice say, " Let us by you a drink."
    Huh? Who said that? I looked to my left and then looked down to find a 6 year old boy from the green team standing there. He certainly wasn't the Voice I thought I heard. 
    I shook my head & turned back to the smiling teenage boy behind the counter.
   "One +Diet Coke  and a bottle of water, please." As I opened my  +Free People crossbody bag to grab a couple of bucks, I heard the Voice again. "C'mon. Let us buy a pretty girl a drink." ugh... is this really happening?
   Glancing again to my left, I found the same little ballplayer but this time with a man's hand patting him on the back. My gaze was locked with the boy's. I didn't want to look up....I prayed I was hallucinating due to the heat.....
   Unfortunately not....because there he was, visible to me & everyone else.....Shirtless Joe Dad of little, green player.
   Temporarily blinded by his sunburned skin, I muttered some form of "no thanks" but Shirtless Joe Dad insisted, "You can't turn down my boy on his first try at buying a girl a drink." The little player seemed to have no clue as to what was going down as he rummaged through a big bowl of gumballs(5 for 25 cents FYI). I reluctantly accepted the offer only to try to put an end to this disturbing encounter and, maybe...just maybe, save the boy any future, troubled father/son/baseball relationship.

   "I never seen(sic) you here before," Shirtless Joe Dad inquired.  For Love of the Game, give it up!

   Before the Voice could speak again , I eased my own pain by slowly disappearing into the field of people as I waved to them over my shoulder.

   For reasons they can't even fathom, there are shirtless dads using their young sons as unknowing wingmen for hitting on gals at snack stands at their big, beautiful Little League complex. But I don't think this is what the Athletic Association had in mind years ago when they said, "If we build it, they will come." 
  
  
My little MVP bro
    


*Happy 25th Anniversary, Field of Dreams!

+Maniac Magazine +WHIRL Magazine +Pittsburgh City Paper +Bravo +The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon +Jimmy Fallon +MLB +Baseball America +Pittsburgh Pirates +Pittsburgh Magazine

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Springsteen tickets with a side of chicken fried rice

    
     Two days until the +Bruce Springsteen concert and I still hadn't scammed any tickets. Since I "have a job now", my parents said they weren't buying them for me like they had in the past. The clock was ticking and I was getting desperate.
    With one, last ditch effort and my best princess voice ready, I dialed Daddy's cellphone......But before I could lay on the charm, he said, "Don't worry about the Springsteen concert. It's taken care of. "  Huh? What? How? He wouldn't answer my questions but he assured me the tickets would be good. I was over the moon about going (and not having to drain my bank account for a ticket); however, his vagueness about the details left me a bit uneasy.
     I decided to distract my brain from these negative thoughts. My project for the next 48 hours:  make a one of a kind Bruce tee to wear and a sign to hold.  I cropped an old Springsteen shirt and then sewed some sheer material to the bottom...so adorbs!! My sign read, "Give the Girl a Kiss" with an arrow pointing at me (FYI that is a name of a Springsteen song not a plea from an obsessive fan.)
   Anywhoo, concert day rolls around and my parents still would not tell me anything except, "Don't worry. It's taken care of." All I knew was the clock was still tickin' and I still didn't have a ticket.
   I met up with Parents and Big Bro at +Blue Line Grille at 6:00pm for dinner before the concert. We were all starving and the place was packed with a 1 hour table wait. The security guy at the door wouldn't let me into the bar because I didn't have my ID..... AND still no tickets.....not off to a good start. Then my dad spotted some guy that he said he knew," Hey, that's Doc! He owns the place." He had a quick conversation with him. With a wave of the hand, I am allowed past the security guard. Then Doc took us up an elevator to the second floor bar where it wasn't as crowded. Unfortunately, they don't serve food up there (yet) but I was able to get a few cocktails.
   With the doors open to the outside deck, the cold breeze was getting to me...not to mention the diet coke & rum on an empty stomach...."Where the h*ll is my ticket!?!"
    Then all was revealed.....sort of. Daddy's good buddy from Chicago was in town and yada yada yada....they played golf with Springsteen's tour manager and head of security who told them, "Don't worry. It's taken care of." OMG!! This is amazing....but, still, where are the tickets? It was almost 7pm. Daddy said that we were waiting for a text from Chicago Buddy who was waiting for a text from Tour Manager Guy.
    Okay....I was not digging this plan. The Blue Line was starting to clear out as all of the actual ticket holders headed over to the +CONSOL Energy Center . As Big Bro & Daddy were trying to get a pizza delivered to the Blue Line, Doc came & told us our table was ready. Yes!!...........No!!......Stop!! Daddy's phone tinged. It was a text from Chicago, "Meet at China Wok now!!!"
   We flew down the stairs and out the door. A passerby told us that the China Wok was to the left a couple of blocks. We were walking as fast as possible against a tide of Springsteen fans heading to the concert. Quick thinking Bro googled China Wok and, yup, we going the wrong way. Within 5 minutes though, we were in front of the China Wok. Praise be!
    Okay.....now what? Chicago just texted, "Wait at China Wok. I'll be there in 10".
    It was freezing out and I didn't wear a jacket (I couldn't cover up my one of a kind Bruce tee!!); so, we went into the China Wok and stood in the doorway. While they were complaining about the lack of food again, I was thinking that I'm getting punked. Really? Am I to believe that 30 minutes before the start of the concert, Tour Manager Guy & Head of Security Guy are going to stroll over for some Chinese takeout & hand us our tickets?
   Okay.....now we all had to go potty. The sign taped right in front of our noses plainly states, "Restroom for customers only". And there was no way to sneak by the counter. Big Bro made the ultimate sacrifice for us all and placed an order for chicken fried rice. He was so hungry that he actually ate half of it( and gave it a thumbs up) before .....
   Another text from Chicago, "Meet me across from China Wok". Leaving the chicken fried rice behind, we raced across the street & found him & his 3 buddies. 
    Okay.....now what? We all just stood there silently and waited for the text from TMG. But I think we were all preparing ourselves for the worst and how we were going to run Chicago out of town........Ting! OMG!! It was TMG. "Meet at top of stairs across from China Wok."
    We raced up the deserted steps to find a closed door without a handle........then it opened it. Tour Manager Guy!! Praise be!!
    It was all too much. We were entering backstage through a backdoor at a Bruce Springsteen concert.
   He handed us each 2 wristbands (which put us in The Pit!!) and a green, triangle sticker (which we weren't sure what it was for). He showed us around a bit and then took us out to The Pit through the stage opening! Oh, yes, I did!  He was telling us things about the tour and such, but my head was in the clouds.












  Then for the next 3 hours, Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band with Tom Morello rocked & rolled us to heaven & back.




   At the end of the encore, we followed Chicago to the side of the stage where a security guard stood by a metal barricade, we showed him our magical, green sticker and he let us through. The 8 of us lined the tunnel leading backstage as The Boss, with a few waves & head nods, walked
right by us and jumped into one of 2 white vans that were waiting with their engines running. Tour Manager Guy said the rest of the band members were already inside the vans and they were heading off to the airport. I was still starstruck as Tour Manager Guy walked us through the whirlwind that was the crew packing up the stage and equipment. We exited through that same backdoor.
    I hope they all could sense my heartfelt gratitude for such an experience for I was at a loss for words. This was not a dream, baby, dream. As we walked away from the arena, I couldn't help but glance back for another look and smile at the China Wok.

   Yeah, it would have been a cool ending to say I had met Springsteen & Co. But what a night anywhoo!!



Thanks for singing my all-time favorite song ever,
Back in your Arms
   
video
 
 
*Thank you to Tommy R, Jerry F, & Marc D