Monday, April 21, 2008

The Road not Taken (& other thoughts on a quiet Monday evening)



A couple days ago I was chatting with my friend Mike (a single guy, like me) & he remarked about it being a beautiful day, but it left him feeling melancholy. 

I was a little surprised at his candor, but I appreciated it just the same; I was feeling that way too.  Sometimes that blue sky and warm air just makes things that much more difficult when you're alone, have no plans & really have no place else to go. 

Does everyone experience this?  Later, he sent me this, which cheered me up: 

"It's funny, the skies became overcast here and I started to feel better... am I Barnabas Collins?   In reality, for every couple spooning on a blanket in a park somewhere, there's another poor slob spending his life away today in Wal-Mart with a wife and three squalling kids!"

I must confess, when it began to rain in my neck of the woods--my mood lightened considerably.  Misery loves company, I suppose; even if you're unsure who the company is.

I should probably face facts & admit that my mom was right: I chose to remain single.  We used to argue over this; I'd insist it was just the way things worked out, and she'd say "No Doug, you could've been married by now if you wanted to.  But I LIKE that you stayed single; you have your own space, and live life the way YOU want to.  I hope you keep it that way." 

I'd maintain otherwise, she'd just smile & shake her head.  Of course I've often wondered what my life would be like if I had married 10-15 years ago, raised a son or daughter or both… but now, in my mid-40s...I think I've finally accepted that I'm okay with how things turned out.  (Most of the time, that is.)  Ah well.

617D5C2B848A9C67_3417_2[1]Speaking of Bachelor Living...

I've been telling my sister Shawn (and myself) for the last couple years that I need to get my place fixed up.  Why am I living with all these bare walls?  So I think I'll be getting this for above the sofa; I've been looking for something 'artsy', abstract, earthy.  I like it.

And as soon as I get up the nerve to buy it, I'm going to replace my traditional small coffee table with a dramatic black leather squared table; hey you only live once, right?!

Meanwhile, at the office...nobody's there


A few weeks ago when we were informed at my job that we'd have the option of working from home soon, no one believed it.  (After all, we were one of the last companies downtown that still wore dress clothes while the rest of downtown was business casual; you remember these things!)  But sure enough, the work from home policy began last week & my group began doing just that.

We were split into 2 teams--Team A works from home Thurs & Fri, & Team B on Mon & Tues (with the occasional shift-around).  Everyone reports to the office on Wednesday.  (I'm on Team A.)  



Here's me in the mid-90s, my first IT gig


The 'pros' are pretty obvious (at least to me); I can sleep in an extra 30-40 minutes.  I don't have to shave, get dressed & go running for an overcrowded bus.  I get to drink my own coffee.  (And I've attempted to maintain a 'business sense' while here; no tv or radio, and at noon I dressed & walked up the street for lunch.)  617D5C2B848A9C67_3417_5[1]


But the cons were a little surprising--a nagging feeling that I was "left out of the loop" with things, or that I was getting away with something.  (Plus it was awfully quiet in here.)  This may sound dumb, but I rather missed that feeling of satisfaction you get from finally arriving home after a day's work & shutting that door behind you; all I did here was shut down my laptop & turn on the tv.  

I wonder how long this policy is going to remain in place?


I just hope my apartment doesn't start feeling even smaller than that tiny cubicle... goodnight.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Chilly Night in Pittsburgh (and in my Teepee)

Pittsburgh PM

Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night after an unsettling dream or even an inspired idea, maybe even jotted something down, only to look at it in the cold light of day and feel like a fool?  It appears that's what I'm doing now, I’m just jotting it online!

Right now it's 2:30am Saturday night (okay, technically it's Sunday--but you know what I mean).'s so cold in here… anyway, I was sound asleep when I awoke with a start, jumping straight up.  I could've SWORN someone was standing beside my bed, watching me sleep.  

I should've tried going back to sleep, but it really unnerved me, so now I'm in the livingroom, sitting on my couch & feeling pretty sheepish. 

Hold on for a moment, I think I'll just take a quick peek back in there... okay that bedroom looks awful dark & I can only imagine what’s going on in there!

in my bedroom

"Leader, K-Tov reporting in; I attempted to subdue the human for abduction but he awoke.  I will continue to remain in close proximity until the specimen returns to his bedchamber and falls asleep…"


Ulp—do you see what’s in my brain this time of night?  Okay, this actually reminds me of a different type of chillin' I used to do on Saturday nights--I'm surprised I haven't talked about it here sooner... Chiller Theater!



 "Whatever you do--don't fall asleep"

If you grew up in or near Pittsburgh in the 60's or 70's, chances are you stayed up late Saturday nights for Chiller Theater, hosted by "Chilly Billy" Cardille.  It aired from 1963-1983 on the local NBC station (now WPXI--in the day it was WIIC-TV.) 

They always aired two movies, usually a pretty cheesy assortment of B horror & sci-fi films.  AND FOR A KID LIKE ME, IT WAS NIRVANA.  If you could stay awake long enough to wait up for them, that is!  My sister Shawn & I used to park ourselves in front of the tv at 11:30, waiting for it to begin and desperately trying to not nod off, while Mom sat on the couch behind us, giving us the eagle eye. 

It usually resulted in her telling one or both of us to go to bed while we cried & insisted “I was just resting my eyes!!” 

617D5C2B848A9C67_3387_3125Some Chiller Theater Trivia 

1)  Unlike most 'Late Show' horror hosts in cities like New York or Chicago, Bill Cardille wore no costumes or makeup.  (But he was always decked out in a wide lapel tux with a ruffled shirt & bow tie courtesy of the show’s sponsor.)

2)  For a decade, Chilly hosted alone from a 'mad scientists laboratory'.  In the mid-70s, it became a castle dungeon--with a slew of oddball characters like ‘Terminal Stare’ & Georgette the Fudgemaker.  Funny stuff, but I preferred him solo.   

3)  George Romero tapped Bill Cardille to play himself (as a Pittsburgh reporter, which really was Chilly's day job) for 1968's "Night of the Living Dead"!

617D5C2B848A9C67_3387_41[15]4)  The show was so popular that when ‘Saturday Night Live’ premiered in 1975, it didn’t air in Pittsburgh! (SNL aired at 11:30, the same time as Chiller Theater.)  If you wanted to watch SNL, you had to try & tune into Channel 9—Johnstown.  And back in those pre-cable days, it was hit & miss.

(The local NBC station finally relented in 1979, and Chilly was moved to 1am.)

5)  Each show opened with Al Caiola’s “Experiment in Terror”, found on “retro-lounge” albums today.   You can listen to it here.  (Go on, take a listen—it’s cool but spooky as hell!)


Chiller Theater cast in 1977 (left to right): Terminal Stare, Sister Susie, Norman the Castle Keeper, Chilly Billy & Stephen

If it wasn't for Chiller Theater, how else could I have seen classic fare like The Brain Eaters, Voodoo Woman or The Man With X-Ray Eyes?  That last film genuinely frightened the heck outta me--Ray Milland was creepy enough to a 9 year old, but when he rips his own eyeballs out at the end…!  (Heh heh) 


In 1979, SNL won the ratings war and finally came to Pittsburgh, and Chiller Theatre was moved to 1:00 am.  The writing was on the wall and the late night haunt ended in December 1983 with "It: The Terror From Beyond Space" 


Twenty-five years later, and Bill Cardille is still known as “Chilly”; he loves it!  Well it's now 3:30 am, I guess I'd better stop all this reminiscing & try going back to sleep.  Wish me luck…