Citizens Bank Park vs PNC Park

Honus Wagner at PNC Park
Even though I had my doubts about Citizen’s Bank Park when it opened in 2004 and still suspect that subsidized sports arenas are not a good use of public resources, I’ve grown to love Philadelphia’s baseball stadium.

On Independence Day, the family had a chance to see the Phillies in another outstanding facility:  Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.  How do Pennsylvania’s Major League baseball stadiums compare?

PNC Park
Let’s start with location.  It’s hard to look at this view of Pittsburgh and not think that Philly missed a downtown and/or waterfront opportunity.  From almost everywhere in PNC Park, fans get a fantastic view of Pittsburgh’s skyline and many bridges.

PNC Park Riverwalk
The playground, the picnic area, and many of the concessions stands face the Allegheny River.  The Sixth Street Bridge (Roberto Clemente Bridge) closes to traffic on game days, and pedestrians can walk right across it and into the stadium.

My only complaint about the stadium itself is its lack of field views from the upper concourses, which of course is one of Citizens Bank Park’s triumphs.   Everything else is gorgeous.

I’m not familiar enough with Pittsburgh to comment on the bars and restaurants surrounding the ballpark, but at least there *are* bars and restaurants surrounding the ballpark.

However, Philly has an edge over Pittsburgh when it comes to food inside the stadium.  Disclaimer: I’m on the two-leg-or-less eating plan, so availability of vegetarian fare and poultry are important factors.

Primanti Brothers "cheesesteak"
My brother enjoyed his “cheesesteak” from Primanti Brothers, but the menu at their PNC Park outpost is limited.  No poultry.  Manny’s BBQ smelled delicious, but he doesn’t offer any turkey.  Score one for Philly’s Bull’s BBQ.

Outside of Primanti’s, Manny’s, and the stand serving Mrs. T’s pierogis, there didn’t seem to be many unique food options in Pittsburgh.  Nothing like CBP’s Campo’s, Planet Hoagie, Tony Luke’s, Bull’s BBQ, the Schmitter, and Chickie’s & Pete’s.  Aramark should consider replacing some of PNC Park’s Nacho Express stands with Polish church ladies cooking *real* pierogies.

Citizens at both ends of our fair state can be happy with their stadium beer selections, but unlike the Philadelphia fans, Pittsburgh folks will have to put their $7 suds on the floor because there are no cup holders in the cheap seats.  On the other hand, Philadelphia fans will pay twice as much for their tickets, so it’s  a trade-off.

Summary: Pittsburgh has a location and aesthetic edge, and Philly wins for food.   I give more weight to aesthetics, however, since you can work around food limitations by bringing your own or eating before the game.  Sorry, Citizen’s Bank Park—I love you, but we put you too far from our downtown and our waterfront.

The Great Pierogi Race at PNC Park

The Great Pierogi Race at PNC Park

Eat Pray Love

The movie Eat Pray Love is coming out next week.  I didn’t love the book.  The Pray section, set in India, was incredibly tedious (in fairness, that assessment says more about me than it does about the author or her writing).

In addition, I have a hard time reading Eat Pray Love as the transcendent journey promised on the jacket.  Divorce and severe depression are no joke, and I’m glad Elizabeth Gilbert was able to find peace during her year-long adventure.  But the fact that she received a sizable advance to take the trip and write about it lessens its legitimacy as a spiritual narrative.

My friend Superwoman, recently divorced, has carved out a West coast life that involves working for The Man three days a week, starting her own business, traveling around the world, and getting her yoga classes by working at the studio’s front desk.  No book advance, no safety net.  Just a stubborn determination to live life on her own terms.

People like Superwoman make Elizabeth Gilbert’s pre-paid trip seen inauthentic.  Was the author wrong to take the money, travel, and write a book?  Of course not.  I’m just perplexed by the interpretation of Eat Pray Love as an inspirational tale of self-seeking instead of a travelogue.

Trader Joes shout out to Lititz

Trader Joes shout out to Lititz

Vegemite and Cheese

cheese paper

cute cheese paper

In addition to pie, Type E requested a “high quality cheddar” for this birthday. As a lover of both Vegemite and cheese, he’s often wondered about pairing the two but wasn’t sure where to begin.

Enter Philadelphia’s gracious and talented Madame Fromage, who loves a good cheese puzzle. She kindly asked around on our behalf and came back with this suggestion: vegemite and cheddar on a cracker, topped with a little pepper.

If Northampton has a DiBrunos or Downtown Cheese equivalent, I have yet to find it, so the classic British cheddars (Keen, Montgomery) were off the table. We went with two locals: Cabot Clothbound and Shelburne Falls 3-Year Aged Cheddar.

Shelburne Falls & Cabot Clothbound cheeses

Shelburne Falls (left) & Cabot Clothbound

Cabot Clothbound is excellent, of course. The Madame herself says so. However, the Shelburne Falls is also damn tasty, though it’s less classic cheddar and more earthy, tickle-your-throat.

So here’s our lunch. Type E loved it. My review? Pairing cheese with vegemite is a waste of perfectly good cheese.

vegemite and cheese on crackers

vegemite and cheese on crackers

PS Note the most excellent cheese paper in the first photo!

Salta to Cachi: June 12, 2013

Eventually we got out of Buenos Aires, spent just enough time in Salta to eat a few empanadas and pick up a car, and happily left the city behind. All respect to Type E for navigating not only the mean streets of Salta (no lights, no stop signs—just hold your breath and go) but the rambling road to Cachi.

The first of many road animals.



The road didn’t stay paved for long, and the car held up pretty well, all things considered. Luckily it was dry season.

Ruta 33: Salta to Cachi

Ruta 33: Salta to Cachi

In case it’s not obvious, this is a bad place to pass.

Do Not Pass!

Do Not Pass!

According to Google maps, it takes 3 1/2 hours to drive from Salta to Cachi. Do not believe that lie.

Ruta 33, Argentina

Ruta 33, Argentina

Closer to Cachi, the road is paved again, which doesn’t mean there aren’t any impediments. Cute impediments.

Sheep outside Cachi

Sheep outside Cachi

After a beautiful and somewhat terrifying afternoon on the road, we got to Cachi in time to begin our initiation into that most lovely of Salta products — Torrentés.

Cachi Plaza

Cachi Plaza

P.S. Should you ever find yourself traveling through Cachi, do yourself a favor and stay at El Cortijo. Have dinner there too.

Arts Pick: emptiness of pop culture

Hello Kitty cake

Today’s arts pick is an astoundingly brilliant commentary on the emptiness of pop culture. The ubiquitous subject is familiar to most people as a loveable kitty exploited to sell everything from school supplies to thongs.

But don’t be deceived by the sweet exterior, which lacks substance and depth and merely serves to conceal the despair caused by crass consumerism. The most obvious example of this hopelessness is the subject’s right ear, which has been savagely removed–perhaps as an homage to Van Gogh–but does not bleed the blood of the living. And though the vacant eyes have been pierced by instruments of illumination, they cannot be windows to an entity that has no soul. Alas, the mouthless subject must endure her abuse in silent anguish.

This piece is currently on display in a Philadelphia refrigerator. Please be advised that security is high because several visitors have attempted to remove the left ear.

The Humus Reform Committee

Last week, the Humus Reform Committee* appeared on this site, accusing me of taking bribes from Bobbi in exchange for promoting her most excellent hummus.

Sadly, I have received no free hummus from Bobbi. Which isn’t to say that I’m not open to the idea of pay-to-play blogging. After all, Good Grief! is a Philadelphia website. So send me your bribes, payments, and kickbacks, and I will write a nice haiku about your product.

*The Hummus Reform Committee is a bit unnerving. A note sent to its gmail account (hummusatune at resulted in the following reply:

We are in every middle-eastern restaurant, every hummus-serving bar and every supermarket. And now, we are also online.
p.s. We heard you consumed peanut-butter hummus. This action is still under review.

Goodnight, Moon Pappy

Moon Pappy

Moon Pappy

William H. S, of Lititz, died peacefully at home on May 29th after a year-long battle with brain cancer. Born on September 12, 1944, he was the son of the late Benjamin and Mildred S and is preceded in death by his brother, Robert. He is survived by Mary, his wife of 40 years.

William, known to most as Bill and to a few as “Moon Pappy,” was born and raised in Millerstown, PA, graduating as marching band member, class president, and valedictorian from Greenwood High School in 1962. He earned a BS in biology from Lycoming College in 1966 and then completed a year of training at Lancaster General Hospital’s School of Medical Technology, where he met his future wife.

Bill worked for three years at New Jersey’s Morristown Memorial Hospital. He spent most of his career as a medical technologist specializing in clinical chemistry at Lancaster General Hospital from 1971 – 1999. After retiring from LGH, he worked in the lab at Good Samaritan Hospital from 2000 – 2009. During his career, he also taught clinical chemistry at Lancaster General’s School of Medical Technology.

Reading, bird watching, science fiction, photography, gardening, traveling, and music were just a few of Bill’s passions, and they were reflected in his community life. An active member of the Lititz Moravian Church, Bill served on its Board of Elders and sang in the choir for over 20 years. He enjoyed being the church’s unofficial photographer. He was a board member of the Lititz Public Library for 12 years and during that time acted as Secretary, Vice President, and President. Each year, Bill looked forward to counting birds for the Audubon Society’s annual Christmas count. He had also volunteered at Franklin and Marshall’s North Museum as a docent.

Bill will be fondly remembered as a loving husband and father with an intelligent, humorous, quirky personality. Whether he was introducing his children to Star Trek, taking endless pictures of mush-rooms, or spinning his old Civic on top of the hospital parking garage, he lived the life of a unique individual.

In addition to his wife, Bill is survived by two children, Rebecca S, wife of Eric F, of Philadelphia and Daniel S, husband of Jes S, of Ephrata; a brother, Ronald of Harrisburg; a sister, Dolores of Mechanicsburg; and many nieces and nephews.

Dad and me

Dad and me


Is this a fable, an allegory, a metaphor, or just a story about people poundin grapefruits into a keyboard?

Can it be? A political weblog that does not whine or proselytize? Maybe it does, but you’ll be so busy laughing your ass off that you won’t even notice. For example:

BlobFest fire extinguisher parade

BlobFest fire extinguisher parade