I’ll have my steak Pittsburgh rare …

This one was passed on to me by a friend and fellow Pittsburgh expatriate. I’d always wondered where the expression “Pittsburgh rare” came from. I guess it’s another one of those ‘Burgh things, like red beer (putting a bit of tomato juice in your beer when you were drinking beer for breakfast after working the night shift at the mill) or boilermakers (shot of whiskey dropped in a class of beer).

Press not finding much freedom in Oklahoma …

This is pretty creepy. Apparently, the National Guard and officials in Webbers Falls, Okla., are doing everything they can to keep the lid on press coverage of the event. They’ve chased reporters out of several public areas, even goings as far as handcuffing one reporter for being in a public area. This kind of stuff really makes me nervous. How far are we from becoming a police state when the press is this restricted?

Two more TV picks … Bernie Mac and Insomniac

1. My madpig brother (he of cloven hoof) recommended “Insomniac with Dave Attell” on Comedy Central. Attell, a standup comic, finishes a show in a given city, then sets off to investigate the local nightlife, taking the viewer along for the ride. Attell offers some great, often seedy, glimpses into the flora and fauna of that populate city steets after midnight. The San Francisco show was a scream. They’re all funny. Check it out. (Though the web site leaves a lot to be desired … typical Comedy Central overkill with some faulty Flash photo galleries and an annoying Smirnoff Ice rich media ad (who drinks this shit?).

2. “The Bernie Mac Show“: This is the best think I’ve seen on Fox in a long time. Well written. Well acted. And it’s funny as hell. Bernie Mac takes in his crack-addicted sister’s three kids. And the reluctant father figure has a tough time adjusting. My favorite episode is the Christmas show. In each show, there are segments where Bernie Mac speaks into the camera, addressing the audience as “America.” In this one, he’s drinking potent eggnog and is progressively drunker each time he addresses the audience in these asides. I was howling.

Yet another reason to love Tivo …

Most folks who know me know I love my Tivo. And my Tivo loves me. Here’s another reason that I love Tivo. As you watch shows, Tivo lets you give them “thumbs up” and “thumbs down.” Based on your input, it starts recommending shows that it thinks you might like. Sometimes, these recommendations are downright strange. For instance, I had a tough time convincing Tivo that I don’t like “The Jeffersons.”

But I recently expanded the hard drive on my Tivo (to a whopping 110 hours), and now Tivo has more room than ever to record suggestions for me. Recently, it found a gem.

There’s a show on BBC American called “Coupling.” After watching it once, I told Tivo to get a season pass (it will now be recorded whenever it’s on, without me having to do anything.). I’ve seen two episodes now and the show is hilarious. I highly recommend it. BBC America largely has been a disappointment, but “Coupling” is the best show I’ve found there since “British Men Behaving Badly.”

First rock concert …

On the wind-swept plains of West Texas, I recently met a fellow ex-Pittsburgher. As we started talking, I realized he was at many of the late ’70s rock concerts that I attended, including my first show: Rush, Cheap Trick and Max Webster at the Stanley Theater in 1977.

I was in ninth grade and had hatched a scheme to sneak out the bedroom window, catch a bus downtown and see the show with my buddy Ralph. (I wasn’t allowed to go to concerts. I’d already missed Kiss. No way was I going to miss Rush.)

But my conscience got the better of me and I confessed what I was about to do to my parents, who — to my surprise — decided to allow me to go anway.

We were about 25 rows back at stage left. The smell of pot smoke hung heavy in the air. And I was totally blown away by the show. Didn’t know what to make of Cheap Trick (I think that was their first tour), but I was totally in awe of Rush. This was pre-synthesizer Rush. Great stuff. I bought the obligatory black concernt T-shirt (with that naked dude and the star — from 2112) and wore the damn thing till it fell off me.

The Stanley was such an incredible venue. It was an old movie/Vaudville venue that seated maybe 1,500 people. I ended up seeing dozens of shows there during the next few years. Everyone from UFO to the Grateful Dead. Ah, those were the days.

So what was your first show? Do you even remember it? Please don’t tell me it was the Bay City Rollers …

All the news that’s fit to print …

I’ve been reading The New York Times pretty regularly, and I’m always amazed at how many great stories they cram into each edition. In Monday’s paper (traditionally a “slow” day for newspapers), I stumbled across the following nuggest (you need to register to see these; it’s worth it).

Cambodia’s Mystery Mammal: For years, tales have emerged from Cambodia’s hidden mountain ranges of this strange animal known as the khting vor. Some mountain people say it eats snakes. Some say it can leap like a mountain goat. Some swear that it is a roaring, savage predator.

Pike invaders: Details attempts to get rid of non-native Pike in a California Lake. Despite bombing and poison, the pike are still hanging in there.

Rust never sleeps: Review of a new biography on good old three-chord Neil Young.

The college game: And finally, a three-day series detailing the quest of three very different students who are attempting to get accepted to the college of their choice. After I read part one on Sunday, I went out of my way to buy Monday and Tuesday’s Times just to make sure I saw the entire piece. I don’t recall ever having done that … This is what journalism is all about. I was especially stoked to realize that the online version had added features, including audio, video and slideshows. Nice …