Monday, August 24, 2009

Poll Results

The Mt. Washington Brain Trust & Pipe Club was polled:

Which victim of the Polish Hill Strangler was most tragic?
Arlene Dunn- 0%
Cheryl Putnam- 14%
Paula Puglusi- 0%
Constance (Connie) Cabrizi- 57%
Kim Lee- 28%

Striking Distance fans have voted! And the overwhelming result (or poll tampering on the part of Pipe von Pipenstein) is that flight attendent and former love interest of Tom Hardy, Constance "Connie" Cabrizi was believed to be the most tragic of the losses incured by the notorious Polish Hill Strangler in the blockbuster action-drama-mystery Striking Distance. Strangely, she only appears twice in the film, once when being pulled from the river, and again in an autographed photo, which is a tad strange because she was a flight attendent. How come none of my flight attendents nor love interests ever get me autographed photos? (Sally Wiggin aside.) The overwhelming support of "Connie" from our voters was likely due to the tearful reaction of our protagonist Tom Hardy. He knew the other girls that he pulled from the icy embrace of Pittsburgh's waterways, yet had the most emotional response toward Constance. She must have meant something special to him. He even called her "Connie."

Not surprisingly Arlene Dunn received no votes.  She was an indentified victim of the Polish Hill Strangler's first wave of terror. She did not physically appear in the film, though Sally Wiggin does mention her.

Cheryl Putnam, received a small portion of the vote, most likely due the graphic protrayal of her kidnapping while being taunted by a remote-control Police Car and listening to the 1966 hit "Little Red Riding Hood," by Sam the Sham and the Pharohs. This opening scene fades out as her lifeless body is thrown over damn number 6 on the Allegheny River.

Paula Puglosi received no votes. This is awfully surprising because she is one of the only victims with lines in the film. Struck down by that dastardly TASER after leaving her nursing shift, she never even made it to the Bucco's game.

Kim Lee rightfully received 28% of the vote. Her character was developed to a minor degree, and had some great one-liners ("kinda like when you turn it off;" "Not what you'd expect;" etc.) Her death raises some questions like, did she at one time have a relationship with Hardy? This is much debated amongst Striking Distance Scholars.

Thanks for voting (not poll tampering). A new poll will go up later this week, and suggestions for future polls are appreciated.

"He's putting them in the water so I'll find them! He wants ME to find these girls!"
~Tom Hardy

By Lord Johnson

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pittsburgh Hero: Sally Wiggin

Rarely do a city's local newscasters earn the accolades, adoration, and the legendary status of this week's Pittsburgh Hero:  Sally Wiggin.

I was going to write an intricately researched and detailed profile of our city's favorite TV personality... but instead have decided to write a post based largely on vague perceptions and personal experience, in hopes of capturing the mystique and myth that is Sally Wiggin.

Sally has worked the Channel 4 Action News desk for nearly 30 years.  
Throughout her career, Sally has been a font of journalistic integrity and award winning stories. Watching Sally for years, I remember her receiving a number of awards in the eighties and nineties specifically a Golden Quill award, and some others that I can't remember off-hand.  In her extensive experiences at WTAE, she has covered serious topics as an anchor in the evening and lunchtime news, as well as conducting prominent interviews with local sports celebrities from Hines Ward to Myron Cope.

A woman after my own heart, Sally has an honesty in reporting that is unparalleled in modern media, but also displays an extensive knowledge of both Steelers football and Penguins hockey.  She also has a sharp tongue and an irreverent wit.  This is often wonderfully highlighted on the occasions in which she fills in on the WDVE Morning Show with Jim & Randy on 102.5 FM.  Who knew she is quite so hilarious?  Indeed, Sally Wiggin is the full package.  

An avid dog lover and owner, Sally is also highly active in the community.  
Sally is involved with a number of charities and cultural institutions.  She is a member of the Pittsburgh's Zoo's Board of Directors, and attends many of their fund-raising events.  Below, Sally is in an astounding Leopard-print dress that she wore to the 2007 Zoo Gala, where I was lucky enough to meet her.
I have seen Ms. Wiggin before from afar, as she flew by in an Action News Van, or rode through the town of Ligonier for their annual "Fort Ligonier Days Parade."  But at the zoo, we came face to face right in front of the elephant enclosure.  In that dress, she stole the spotlight from even the animals.  She looked amazing.  My unabashed crush on her could not over come the intimidation of actually seeing her in person.  She was larger than life.  I was star-struck.  Sally looks even better in person than she does on the screen.  (I know!?! Is that even possible?!?)  And she has graciously refused all but the most minor of plastic surgeries, to which many weaker stars succumb much earlier in their careers.  I hope this is a life choice she continues to honor.

Sally has maintained her status as a local icon even while local news outlets and newspapers struggle under tough economic conditions.  Her name is recognized across Western Pennsylvania, and her visage has even become a hipster staple on T-shirts and merchandise, such as in the examples below from Marginal Designs.  
I want one.

But her most striking and career topping role came in 1993 when she was prominently featured in Rowdy Harringon's Pittsburgh action-drama-mystery "Striking Distance."  Sally is featured early in film describing the circumstances which puts Bruce Willis' character Tom Hardy on the outs with the Detillos.  If you reference Sally Wiggin in, despite her daily appearances on the small screen, one film and only one film comes up... Striking Distance!  Awesome!

Thank you, Sally Wiggin.  Thank you for being an example of a strong female role model and an image of comfortable class and dignified cheekiness.  You have given Pittsburghers an example of grace and intelligence for all of us to aspire towards here in the "Best City in the World."  May you stick around for many years to come.

Below are Sally's lines from Striking Distance...
"...Police Department, zone one, Sergeant Roberts.  
The Polish Hill Strangler has claimed a fourth victim. 
The nude body of Arlene Dunn was recovered from the Ohio River.  
Police had been alerted to the crimes by the killer, who taunts them by playing the song "Little Red Riding Hood".  
The police brutality trial of Detective Jimmy Detillo is over.  
Detillo was convicted for the beating of Leon Watson. Watson remains in a coma. 
The key to the conviction was the testimony of Detillo's partner and cousin Thomas Hardy.  
Hardy testified that his partner used unwarranted force..." 
       ~Sally Wiggin
by Lord Johnson

More Three Rivers

The crew from the upcoming CBS Medi-drama "Three Rivers", were back in our fare city to film some scenes for the series which airs this fall.   This show, set in Pittsburgh, (the Best City in the Hemisphere,) had the cast and crew back in Pennsylvania for first time since shooting the pilot, which has since been scrapped and reshot on an LA sound stage.  

Acclaimed actor (at least acclaimed by that one girl who posted a comment) Alex O'Loughlin will play transplant surgeon Dr. Andy Yablonski who grew up in the Polish section of Mt. Washington between Cestone's Pizzeria and the Abbots' house on Virginia Avenue, (Ok, I embellished that part a tad, but he really is supposed to be from Mt. Washington.)  He now works at Three Rivers Memorial Hospital [Thanks Peak] located on the North Side between Heinz Field and PNC Park.

During one of the scenes filmed over the weekend another character named Eddie Eiler (not really) yells at him: 
"You may work across the river now, but I know where you came from.  Remember that!"
Obviously referring to growing up in such close proximity to so many Abbot girls, and the horrible lifestyle disparities between Mt. Washington and the North Side!?!

While in town, O'Loughlin was filmed doing some very Pittsburgh-like activities, such as playing Rugby with Pittsburgh Rugby Club...
and hanging out in the Southside, where he also ate a Primanti Brothers sandwich.  
O'Loughlin also wooed his bread n butter 'Burgh fans by saing: 
"I love the surrounding areas of the city.  It's a beautiful part of the world."
However he was also caught doing some very Un-Pittsburgh-like things.  Such as disparaging our city's official cuisine:
"I've had all the obvious stuff like Primanti Brothers and all that stuff, which is disgusting and fun but you never want to do it more than once."
He was also caught doing the VERY Un-Pittsburgh-like thing of spraying himself with Evian mist:  

So all in all, our Three Rivers actor seems to deserve a mixed rating in the pre-season.

"I knew the guy was white and very tall.  I started checking out basketball courts near the campus.  From the pictures I took of the white players, she identified him."
~Jo Christman (a.k.a. Emily Harper)

By Lord Johnson

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Rapid Fire Pittsburgh News

One Man Saves Freedom
A Uniontown Bald Eagle (with the very original name "Freedom") is saved from fishing line.  Read it here.

That sure does HERT!
A 22 year old Mt. Washington man is arrested and charged with 100 counts of graffitti... including some on MY GARAGE!  His tag "HERT" will hopefully apply to his sentencing.  That'll teach him.  Read it here.

Arlen gets a facefull of this guy.  

He really likes the current Health Insurance system.  Click on the photo to see how much.

Cylcists v. Casino
Bicyclists hate to walk.  That's why they took the Rivers Casino to task.  Don't worry, Luke will fix it.  All you have to do is tell on him.  Read it here.

"Is there some meaning in all of this?"
~Tom Hardy

[Dude!  Check out the sweet Striking Distance scene illustrated by Mario Zucca @  That crazy cat and his fish breath!  Oh, Bob.)

by Lord Johnson

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Three Rivers

CBS is launching a new show set in Pittsburgh this fall called Three Rivers.  CBS describes it as 
a medical drama that goes inside the emotionally complex lives of organ donors, the recipients and the surgeons at the preeminent transplant hospital in the country where every moment counts. However, dealing with donor families in their darkest hour and managing the fears and concerns of apprehensive recipients takes much more than just a sharp scalpel.
I have mixed feelings.  
First, are they describing UPMC (the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center) as the "preeminent transplant hospital in the country"?!?  That's pretty high billing.  I assume they ain't talking about Allegheny General. 
Secondly, I love anything set and/or filmed in Pittsburgh.  While the show is set in the 'Burgh, it is not being shot here.  The pilot was actually filmed in Pittsburgh, but due to terrible reviews and some cast changes, they are re-filming the first episode in their Burbank studios, and hoping for better results.  

Three Rivers, as a title, is clever, though.  It both refers to our "Best City in the Cosmos" Pittsburgh, as well as coyly referring to the three intertwined stories that each episode will feature: that of 1) the transplant physicians, 2) the organ recipient, and 3) the organ donor and family.  These stories are supposed to be intertwined, much as the Allegheny and Monongahela mix their muddy waters in creating the Ohio... or some such nonesense.  Oh well.  Whether the show will be successful in implementing its goal or whether this medi-drama will be any good remains to be seen.  I'm willing to give the show a chance, even though I hate medical shows.  For example...
Scrubs makes my crotch itch after all these years of inane jokes and soliloquies; House makes me induce vomiting during the obligatory "blood unexpectedly splattering all over the place" scene in every episode;  ER sucked as soon as Clooney left;  I do remember liking St. Elsewhere, but who doesn't love Howie Mandel.  I'm sure I'm missing some, but I bet I didn't care for them either. 

The one reason I might give Three Rivers a chance is the name.  There is a certain film that was supposed to be called Three Rivers (See above poster with rivers flowing in the wrong direction.)  It was a tale of intrigue featuring a desperate river cop named Tom Hardy, seeking the Polish Hill Strangler, murderer of his father... for some unknown reason, the title of the film was changed in post-production to the non-sensical handle of Striking Distance.  If this show is even half as good as Striking Distance, I'm in it for the long haul.  But first lets see if it survives the fall line-up.

"You've got to give these things a chance, Tommy...  That girl who works for Dutch is awful nice..."
~Vince Hardy

[Thanks to Mario Zucca for the Vince Hardy Illustration.]
by Lord Johnson