February 17, 2014

An announcement

We’ve moved.

Go here.

August 13, 2013

A most unusual plot

I keep a list in my wallet. It’s basically a running list of errands, reminders and stuff I need from the grocery store.

~ oil change

~ Mom’s birthday

~ aluminum foil

Not exactly a new concept, this constantly evolving list, but perhaps a bit quaint in that I generally scrawl the information on an old ATM receipt, as opposed to availing myself of more contemporary personal-organization technology, such as an iPhone app, or a Post-it note.

Occasionally, perhaps after reading a newspaper story or eavesdropping on a conversation while in line for coffee, I’ll even scratch down an activity I want to try, the name of a band I’d like to check out or a destination that sounds interesting.

~ North Shore trail

~ The Stepkids

~ Warhol’s grave

I think this might be similar to the idea behind Pinterest?

Anyway, I wouldn’t necessarily characterize these sorts of items as comprising a “bucket list” — although I probably should, lest I squander an opportunity to cleverly point out the irony of including a visit to a famous person’s grave on my bucket list.

At least that was the case until the other evening, when I did, in fact, avail myself of technology to navigate a winding route from the East End, where I was enjoying a late Sunday-afternoon beer in Lawrenceville, to Bethel Park, home to St. John the Baptist Byzantine Catholic Cemetery.

Google maps are still considered contemporary technology, right? At least insomuch as you can’t fit a regular map in your wallet?

Despite being a lifelong resident of the Pittsburgh area, I’ve rarely had occasion to travel to the South Hills. So Bethel Park is just one of those mysterious far-off lands on the other side of a river, across a bridge and beyond a dark and foreboding tunnel that you hear about on the news when there’s a water-main break or a spaghetti dinner or an exciting high school football game. But when I read — in the The Wall Street Journal, of andyall places — that Andy Warhol’s grave regularly attracts visitors to a hillside cemetery along Route 88, it struck me that neglecting to do so myself would be something approaching civic negligence.

Not that I’d dare claim anything more than a passing interest in Warhol’s art, which I find appealing primarily for its colorful intersection with popular culture. My curiosity was piqued by the juxtaposition of his life and death: a gay, eccentric American icon buried in tidy a Catholic cemetery situated in plain view of a busy suburban intersection.

A single lane of pavement cuts across the cemetery, more of a golf cart path than a road, with a hairpin turn at cemetery’s edge delivering you back down the hill toward the exit. Some residents apparently walk the loop for exercise, such as the older gentleman who matter-of-factly pointed me to Warhol’s grave. With olive skin, combed-back silver hair, a white tank top and crucifix hanging from his neck, he shared an unmistakable, and perhaps fitting, disposition with another certified pop-culture figure: Paulie Walnuts from “The Sopranos.”

“He’s still there,” Paulie deadpanned with a nod toward Andy’s headstone. “His mother’s right behind him.

“Doesn’t matter how famous you are,” he continued. “We all end up in the dirt.” (Or the bottom of a lake — am I right, Paulie?)

Once you know where to look, Andy’s gravesite isn’t hard to find. It’s the only one adorned with soup cans, along with flowers, candles and a plastic binder labeled “LEAVE ANDY A MESSAGE.”

So I suppose that means I should connect my printer now.

April 29, 2013

Dear Jason Collins:

Hey there.

So … anything new?

OK, in all seriousness, I just wanted to send along a quick message in support of your decision to open up about your sexuality. I admire your courage and congratulate you on the sense of liberation you must be feeling. Moreover, I want to do my small part to offset the bigotry, hatred and small-mindedness that undoubtedly will accompany this decision.

Yes, I realize it’s not like getting a call from the president.

But I’ll bet you never figured you’d hear from someone in Pittsburgh, either.

I have to tell you, when I saw “Jason Collins” trending on Twitter, my first thought was “Hmm … what could a journeyman NBA center possibly have done to be trending on a Monday morning?”

In that regard, I’m glad you’re not dead.

Ironically, though, I was perhaps even more surprised by what I did learn a mouse click later — that an NBA player had declared to the world he’s gay.

I kid you not: Reading the headline gave me chills.

You’re obviously a thoughtful fellow, so I take comfort in knowing that you’re smart enough to disregard the hatred and ignorance you’ll be forced to endure. Those of us who believe gay rights are the civil rights issue of our generation are fortunate to have such an eloquent spokesman.

All of that said, I thought you also might be interested to know that you’re a pioneer in more ways than one:

With today’s announcement, thousands of people in Pittsburgh are suddenly aware of the professional sports league known as the “NBA.”

So well done, my friend.

Best wishes,

Matt Sober

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

March 21, 2013

Message from above

I am here today on behalf of the two bald eagles that have taken up residence in a large nest along a ridge top near Route 28. They have asked me to read the following statement:

Greetings, Homo sapiens.

First of all, we want to thank you all for the interest you’ve shown since the media first reported our presence in your community. Although we would have preferred that this information not be made public, we understand that a certain amount of attention comes with being part of a species that not long ago was on the verge of extinction, not to mention one that stands as America’s most enduring symbol of freedom. To have our menacing visage slapped across bumper stickers, T-shirts and pins declaring “Freedom isn’t free” is an honor we don’t take lightly.

That said, this is a wonderful place to live. We’ve got a breathtaking view, the fishing is great (direct flights to the Allegheny!), and the daily spectacle of the state police chasing down speeding drivers on Route 28 never gets old.
bird Privacy, however, has become a bit of an issue. While it’s flattering that so many of you continue to show up each day with your binoculars and long-range lenses to gawk at us from that vacant lot across the way, there are times when it can be a little intrusive. It would be nice, for example, to be able to tear the flesh off a still-breathing catfish without it being splashed across the front page of the newspaper the next day.

So we are compelled to ask that you please limit photographs to those times when we are outside of the nest. If you want to take pictures while we’re perched on a limb, soaring majestically above the treetops or even snatching an unsuspecting rodent from the side of the highway, OK.

Otherwise, we trust that you will respect our request for privacy. Because if there’s one thing more exciting than having two bald eagles nesting in such a populous area, it’s having two bald eagles maim a guy with a $3,000 camera.

— — — — —

For more utter nonsense, kindly visit http://www.facebook.com/MattSoberWriting.

February 16, 2013

A note about front-of-house operations

The last thing I want to hear the cranky Panera manager ask her teenage subordinate as I’m standing in line waiting for coffee in the morning is “Did you the clean the bathrooms?”

“And the stalls too?”

February 3, 2013

Marketing copy


I’d like to think this website bio turned out so well because I took the time to familiarize myself with the product beforehand.

Like a lot of college students, Paul Fryman developed a true appreciation for beer during his four years on campus at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa.

Unlike a lot of college students, the Ohio native wasn’t satisfied with merely consuming it in large quantities.

He had bigger ideas.

He wanted to brew it.

It was after spending a semester abroad in Germany — where beer-making is a centuries-old art form — that Paul decided to dedicate his senior thesis to the impact of microbreweries on the American beer industry.

Well, the thesis was brilliant, Paul earned his degree, and it finally came time to head out into the world and make a living.

Brewing beer, naturally.

​He started at Great Divide Brewing in Denver.

Then he moved to Lake Placid, N.Y., to join the team at Great Adirondack Brewing.

Before long, though, he was back out West — Jackson Hole, Wyo., to be specific, where he mixed hops and grain for Snake River Brewing.

But then Great Adirondack called. They needed a head brewer, and so Paul headed back East.

Thousands of miles and thousands of barrels later, he finally returned home to Wooster in 2010 and opened JAFB.

After all, the people of Wooster, Ohio, deserve great beer too.

January 30, 2013

WANTED: Competent job-description writer (no rabies required)

From “jobs” that don’t “pay” to “internships” with “blogs” offering only the promise of “great exposure,” Craigslist is where shameless hucksters with poor business models go to prey on starving writers.

The irony of someone who can’t spell offering a writer $9 an hour is, well, sorta depressing.

But this?


This is transcendent.

Possibly even performance art.

Anyway, I imagine if there actually is a Steelers fan out there who’s suffering with rabies, he’s probably got far greater concerns on his rapidly deteriorating mind.

Concerns like drooling. Concerns like convulsions.

Concerns like a series of painful shots showing the Harbaughs on the sidelines Sunday.

January 24, 2013

Tweets / 1.23.13

Tonight’s minutes:

11:55: I almost just died a very strange death: choking on baked beans

11:42: “No Surprises.” Think that’s my cue. #Lullaby

11:40: Sometimes it’s just like “Dang angry guy on the TV. Maybe just chill out for a little while.”

11:21: “That tiger didn’t go crazy. That tiger went tiger.” #ChrisRock #SiegfriedAndRoy

11:11: I’m pretty much comfortable with being hit on by gay guys at this point.

11:06: If I had any chocolate in this house its life would be in jeopardy right now.

11:04: Not to change the subject but can you believe that Manti Te’o story?

11:02: This Thom Yorke is gonna make a name for himself someday.

10:57: It goes without saying I could really go for some pizza at this point.

10:55: It’s kind of like spin the bottle, without the kissing and spinning bottle.

10:53: “Exit Music (For a Film)” is a gorgeous nightmare of a song. #Radiohead

10:50: Have you ever been to a seance?

10:35: Radiohead would make GREAT seance music.

10:25 Hmmm … so I think now would be a pretty good time to play Radiohead.

10:14 RT @richarddeitsch “Class action lawsuit filed against Lance Armstrong by those who bought his books and want $$” I need to get in on this.

10:07 RT @nytimes “Economist says cats should be eliminated from New Zealand.” That economist isn’t going to be very popular on Facebook.

10:05 I don’t care if long underwear aren’t sexy.

December 16, 2012

Heath Miller: Antonio Brown blew the game

Steelers tight end Heath Miller was uncharacteristically outspoken after Sunday’s 27-24 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, placing the blame squarely on wide receiver Antonio Brown.

“It was Antonio’s fault we lost. No question about,” said Miller, who had seven catches for 92 yards and a touchdown. “Not to point fingers or anything.”


Miller: “I block. I catch passes. Apparently I need to start returning punts too.”

The comments stunned reporters, who are accustomed to an expressionless Miller mumbling meaningless platitudes, regardless of a game’s outcome. But when asked to clarify, the eight-year veteran did not back down.

“Let’s face it: He made a lot of boneheaded plays out there today, but that fumble on the long punt return was a killer. Even when he does something right, he screws it up,” Miller said, shaking his head in disgust.

In addition to the fumble that ultimately allowed the Cowboys to tie the score at 24, Brown’s fourth-quarter meltdown included his failure to field a punt, thereby costing the Steelers precious field position, and allowing the Cowboys to preserve a timeout by running out of bounds after a third-down reception in the closing minutes.

Prior to that, the third-year receiver was having a productive game. He finished with eight catches for 76 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown that he managed to score without running into the endzone backward.

Brown said he hasn’t lost confidence, adding that he still feels like he’s “capable of making something exciting happen every time I touch the ball, even if it’s for the other team.”

Meanwhile, with a must-win game looming next week against Cincinnati, Miller shot down the notion that it will be important to stick together.

“I know I’m supposed to stand here and say ‘Ah, well, you win as a team and lose as a team, blah blah blah.’ But that’s bull. In case you didn’t notice, I was basically unstoppable out there today.”

December 11, 2012

Rashard Mendenhall’s Top 10 Excuses for Blowing Off Sunday’s Game

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall has been suspended for failing to join the team Sunday at Heinz Field after learning he would be inactive.

The mercurial fifth-year player out of Illinois is in the final year of his contract and is not expected to return.

Sometimes he's not all there.

Sometimes he’s not all there.

With that in mind — not to mention his reputation as a total space cadet — here are Rashard Mendenhall’s Top 10 Excuses for Blowing Off Sunday’s Game:

10) “It was my yoga instructor’s last class and I wanted to say goodbye.”

9) “Coincidentally, I was busy putting the finishing touches on an essay about rising tensions between North Korea and South Carolina.”

8) “We’re all gonna die in 10 days anyway.”

7) “It’s not like I killed anybody.”

6) “I thought games against San Diego were at 4:15.”

5) “It’s all part of my plan to become the next Ricky Williams.”

4) “Dropped my keys in the toilet just as I was getting ready to leave. Slipped right outta my hands.”

3) “I was sad.”

2) “Figured I’d get a sick day in before the end of the year.”

1) “The important thing is the guys went out and won the game without me … The guys did go out and win the game without me, right?


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