Arts, Entertainment, Living

Tough guy TV continues with 'Gold Rush'

Thursday, 02 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

GoldRush_21918_ToddIt's been two years since I first wrote about prime-time's Tough Guy TV trend and cable's obsession with documenting hard work and rough working conditions continues in Discovery Channel's "Gold Rush: Alaska" (10 p.m. Friday).

This docu-series follows six men, many of them unemployed, who leave their Oregon homes to dig for gold in Alaska.

Given the rising price of gold, the timing of the series is pretty ideal.

Read more after the jump. ...


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More blues memories, in photos

Thursday, 02 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

I was so inspired by my last post about blues back in the day that I dug out a few photos of artists that come mostly from Mancini's in the late '70s and early '80s. They're not all top-quality shots, since I used the stage lighting and slow old lenses, but they're still fun.

Here are a few, with some information underneath:


This is the only non-Mancini photo -- Big Walter Horton at the Evergreen Hotel in the North Hills. Walter was extremely fesity that night, and threatened to quit playing if people didn't stop taking his picture. I don't think he saw me. He was one of the all-time great blues harpmen, and was in the last few years of his life when this was taken.


John Hammond, in his much younger days. Even then, it was amazing the way he re-created old acoustic blues.


Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, one of those unheralded but tough Chicago bluesmen that you could find at Mancini's.


The great John Lee Hooker. He didn't want people in his face with cameras, either, so I hid off to the side of the stage and poked my camera around a big speaker. He was bathed in red stage lights, but I wasn't about to use a flash and irritate John Lee. It's one of my favorite photos. (The button on his lapel says, if I remember correctly, "I got my blues at Mancini's")


Mighty Joe Young, a bluesman who made his mark on Chicago's North Side in the 1970s.


The Texan with the stinging guitar, the Iceman, Albert Collins, was at Mancini's so often he almost seemed like the house band.


The very legendary - even back then - Muddy Waters also turned up at Mancini's. He was very fond of the spaghetti dinners he got there. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that he was kind enough to sign it for me.

That's enough for today. Maybe they'll bring back a few fond memories for some of you.

And don't forget Davina and the Vagabonds tonight at the Thunderbird. Make her feel right at home in BluesBurgh.


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Pac-Man Championship Edition DX: Review

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 11:18 AM Written by

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (which will hereby be known as “DX”) is the sequel to Pac-Man Championship Edition, an Xbox Live Arcade title that was released just under four years ago.  DX hit the XBL Arcade and PSN in celebration of Pac-Man’s 30-year anniversary, and gaming’s iconic yellow sphere has received one of his finest games yet. 

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'Psych' channels 'Twin Peaks'

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by

log_ladyI wrote about the "Twin Peaks" episode of "Psych" (10 tonight) in Sunday's TV Week, but there were a few things that didn't make the cut.

First, it was interesting to hear an actor so excited about an episode of a long-running series. In my experience, a lot of actors get jaded and don't always share the same enthusiasm for their show or character as fans. But "Psych" co-star James Roday, who co-wrote tonight's episode, was completely, well, psyched about the episode.

"I'm obviously a little bit biased but I can't say that I've ever been more proud of anything we've accomplished on our show than I am of this ‘Twin Peaks’ episode," Roday said.

Second, does "Twin Peaks" auteur David Lynch know about this homage episode? Find out after the jump. ...

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Obsessed much?

Wednesday, 01 December 2010 12:00 AM Written by


Oops, I did it again! I made up my mind and purchased ANOTHER blazer. This new purchase now sets my blazer count at 12. A little extreme, don't you think?

I just can't seem to breakup with my love of blazers. I love them so much and even have my eye on a couple more!

New to my closet this season is a khaki ¾ arm-length blazer from H&M, a herringbone wool blazer from NY & Co., a navy military-style blazer from Ann Taylor LOFT (my absolute fav store!), a gray jersey blazer from LOFT, a green military blazer from LOFT and a basic black blazer from ecoChic that is originally from LOFT.

Why do I love blazers? I love them because they can be worn with ANYTHING! Fancy dresses, casual dresses, jeans, shorts, shirts, capris.... and the styling opportunities are endless!

Obsessed? I think so. What is that one item in your closet you just can't seem to have enough of?

Be sure to check back on Friday for another Clutch post!

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Albert King, playing his Flying V and smoking his pipe in a show at Mancini's in McKees Rocks somewhere around 1980. (Jim White photo)
Let's reminisce a little.

While recharging the blues batteries last weekend at the BlueNotes Fortress of Solitude in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia, I happened upon a fund-raising broadcast from Maryland Public Television featuring a performance with Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

The Canadian TV show was called In Session, and it claims that this 1983 performance was the only recorded joint appearance of Vaughan and King. It's now available on DVD ("Albert King / Stevie Ray Vaughan: In Session"),  and even though the station kept interrupting the music for pledge breaks, it was still a magical blues moment. 

Vaughan was not quite 30, and King was 60 when the blues master met his young disciple in this show, and you can see from the interaction that two hit it off both musically and personally. They played and sang songs like "Texas Flood" and "Stormy Monday," and challenged each other with burning solos.

It was more than fun to watch in front of a sweet-burning fire with a little bourbon; it was a glimpse of blues history and great music that happens when two fine musicians interact in a relaxed setting. I never managed to be in the right place to see Vaughan, but this almost makes up for it.

It made me think of the times I saw Albert play at Mancini's in McKees Rocks back in the late '70s and early '80s, and it reminded me of how many blues greats came through Pittsburgh in those years to appear at Mancini's and the other local blues showcase, Fat City in Swissvale.

It was common then to find blues artists like King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Willie Dixon, John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Son Seals, JB Hutto, Jimmy Johnson, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Roomful of Blues, Koko Taylor and many more at those two clubs. Sadly, that era, and most of those artists, are gone. But it was great while it lasted.

I've stuck an old photo of mine of Albert above, at Mancini's, playing while he smoked his pipe. Those were the days.

Here's a video clip from "In Session" -

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Cider Grilled Pork Chops

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 02:13 PM Written by
Cider Grilled Pork Chops
Tonight is a Double Duty meal!!! Be sure you make enough to have leftovers to reinvent for fajitas later in the week!!! Double Duty meals will save you so much time in the kitchen and really stretch your dollar! Not to mention they taste really good. If the weather prevents you from firing up the grill, just pop these pork chops under the broiler. Keep an eye on them and broil them for about 6 minutes per side - this of course will depend on how thick the chops are. Slice up the leftover chops for even quicker prep time later in the week. Enjoy!

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Made-to-order 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' DVDs

Tuesday, 30 November 2010 12:53 PM Written by

rogersLet's face it, the original release of episodes of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" on DVD was well-intended but poorly executed. The discs had only two episodes on them, which made no sense when you consider Rogers generally filmed theme weeks of five episodes. The DVD releases were of previously released VHS episodes that had already been technically tweaked with negotiated residuals all sewn up.

Now a far greater number of episodes of the classic children's show will be available through a create-your-DVD on-demand service called CreateSpace. This is a new proceess of DVD manufacturing and distribution that major studios, including Warner Bros., have also been experimenting with. Discs are only manufactured when a customer places an order for the individual episode.

Read more after the jump. ...

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