Squirrel Hill Sports Bar will launch with Tommy Osh Benefit Concert

Written by Scott Mervis on .


osh3Two weeks ago, Pittsburgh rocker Tommy O’Shanick, better known as Tommy Osh (from Trash Vegas, Ultimatics, etc.) was telling us how he wanted to bring the old Decade vibe of the ’80s to a new spot on Forward Avenue called the Squirrel Hill Sports Bar.

He was booking the music lineup there for new owners Barry and Kevin White, of Penn Hills, and was set to launch it last weekend with Tom Kurlander & PaleBlueSound, a band he played in.

Sadly, the 47-year-old bassist from Oakland was killed in an early morning car accident on the South Side on Feb. 20. Plans for the Sports Bar's music lineup were put on hold.

Fittingly, it now begins on Friday with a benefit concert for Osh’s family featuring Ford Thurston, of the Vibro Kings and Bear Cub, who is coming up from Nashville, and members of The Dirty Charms, Fungus and the Southside Allstars.

Vinni Belfiore, who leads the Southside Allstars, is taking over the booking at the venue. There will be a weekly jam night led by the AllStars either on Wednesdays or Thursdays (still to be determined), bands on Fridays and Saturdays, and a monthly Purple Tuesdays jam night.

“Tommy’s vision was to bring back the true rock club,” Belfiore says. “Live music and a place for musicians and fans to gather. More than just a venue. We had some good things happening before the old venue closed. He wanted to build on that. The location is easy to get to and the size is just right for local band shows.”

Admission is $5 on Friday. The venue is at 5832 Forward Ave. Info about the bar at



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Guess which fast food chain bought Pharrell Williams' 'Arby's hat' on eBay?

Written by Sara Bauknecht on .

pharrell 400

The day after the Oscars, you'd think people still would be pondering Pharrell Williams' decision to wear tuxedo shorts on the Oscars red carpet. (Even for California, that seemed too laid back for the Academy Awards.)

Nope. His tall brown Vivienne Westwood hat (dubbed by the masses the "Arby's hat -- pictured in above Associated Press photo) from the Grammy Awards is what people are buzzing about.

The hat that inspired meme after meme is now in the hands of its namesake -- Arby's. The fast food chain bought it on eBay for $44,100.

Call it a win-win situation: Arby's got its hat back, and the money will support From One Hand to Another, a charity that helps put children in touch with technology and the arts.

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Chilling temperatures may have killed many outdoor stink bugs

Written by Doug Oster on .


oster stink bug photo2Good news from Virgina Tech, outdoor stink bugs might have been killed off by the cold. (Doug Oster/Post-Gazette)

Virgina Tech researchers think the Polar Vortex might have killed up to 95 percent of the outdoor stinkbugs according to the National Geographic.

The brown marmorated stink bug, which is an invasive species , was first found in Allentown, Pa in the late 1990's. Since then gardeners and farmers alike have battled the pest.

My garden was ravaged a few years ago, but since, hasn't been bothered.

The National Geographic article quotes Virginia Tech scientists who while studying the insect saw most killed outdoors in their experiments. They were housing bugs outside in insulated buckets which simulate the areas in homes where they wold overwinter.

After the cold weather most of the stink bugs were dead. You can read the whole story here.

I hope the research is right, it almost makes this cold winter worth it.






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Four-star Oscar speeches from top acting winners

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .



I haven’t had a normal Oscar watching experience since 1989. That would have been the last time I was home, eating popcorn or whatever snack food was then in fashion, and watching the show on TV like a civilian.

I’ve worked every Academy Awards from 1990 to now, usually in the office, sometimes in Los Angeles or Hollywood. So I watch the show with one eye on the clock and my deadline-driven editors and one on the TV. I’m usually typing most of the time, too, and sometimes trying to transcribe what was just said on stage.

But I thought Ellen DeGeneres did a good job as host. Not the best ever but not the worst and a warm, welcoming presence who wasn’t going to insult the A-listers in front of her or the Z-listers at home soaking up every detail about Cate Blanchett’s embellished gown or Jared Leto’s hair or Matthew McConaughey’s wife and mom.

DeGeneres was a soothing tonic after Seth MacFarlane and his famous song about women’s breasts. The show did something that rarely happens by awarding the first Oscar of the night within 10 minutes and making it count by giving it to Jared Leto.

Producers can caution winners about speeches but they cannot control them. Heck, even winners may not know how they’re going to react when they float to the stage and take the 8-pound Oscar in their hands.

Whether you liked the selfies or the pizzas, the 86th Academy Awards were notable for the quality of the thank yous, with special praise for Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, Blanchett and McConaughey. I especially loved McConaughey’s image of his dad in heaven, dancing in his underwear with his favorites in hand or nearby – a cold Miller Lite, a big pot of gumbo and some lemon meringue pie. Anyone whose own father has died had to smile in appreciation.

Leto was inspirational, Nyong’o was poetic and Blanchett funny and forceful in reminding the world that moviegoers will see a movie about a woman. None pulled out a folded piece of paper from a pocket or purse or décolletage.

The speeches should be what people remember about the show. If the host is the most memorable, something’s wrong. And in an endless season when the same foursome seemed to win virtually everything, that was a challenge.

They rose to it. Well done. 


Top photo by Todd Wawrychuk / A.M.P.A.S



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Picking the NEC award winners

Written by Craig Meyer on .

687 -northeast conference-primary-

With the NEC regular season ending Saturday and with the conference tournament beginning Wednesday, it's come time to pick the men of distinction in the league. The conference is announcing the winners of the major awards on Tuesday, but before those are given out, I figured I'd share my thoughts on the possible winners (but only in categories in which it looks like a Robert Morris player has a solid chance of winning).

For the sake of suspense and making sure y'all at least read until the end, I'll start with some of the smaller awards and work my way down.


RMU contenders: Lucky Jones

Other contenders:  Kenneth Ortiz (Wagner), Naofall Folahan (Wagner), Rashad Whack (Mount St. Mary's)

Jones' improvement as a defender has been pretty remarkable to watch this season. In non-conference play, much like the rest of his team, Jones struggled a bit on the defensive end. But in NEC play, particularly in the span in which the Colonials have had just eight guys, Jones has shined under difficult circumstances. As a long and athletic player who can play anything as small as a 2 or anything as large as a 4, Jones has been tasked with guarding every position imaginable in Robert Morris' past 12 games.

That alone is impressive and the fact that he's done so with notable success makes the feat even more remarkable.

With that being said, though, I think this is Folahan's award to lose. Ortiz is the reigning DPOY and as good/pesky as he can be on the ball, he can afford to take some of those risks because he knows that Folahan is waiting in the lane to clean up any possible mess. This season, he has blocked 14.2 percent of opponents' 2-point attempts, the 14th-best mark of any Division I player. To me, a great rim protector is the single most important piece of an elite defense and Wagner has been just that, giving up only 93.1 points per 100 possessions in conference play. The next-closest team in the NEC (RMU) gives up 99.5.

The pick: Folahan


RMU contenders: Karvel Anderson, Lucky Jones

Other contenders: Alex Francis (Bryant), Sidney Sanders Jr. (Fairleigh Dickinson), Dyami Starks (Bryant), Julian Norfleet (Mount St. Mary's), Kenneth Ortiz (Wagner), Jason Brickman (LIU Brooklyn), Jalen Cannon (St. Francis Brooklyn), Earl Brown (St. Francis PA)

As the league's leading scorer, you can pretty much write Anderson in pen for this one, so much of the remaining debate surrounds Jones. I'd also say that Francis and Sanders seem like good bets, so he's basically fighting for one of two spots.

Jones ranks 12th in the NEC in points per game (13.3) and, as we've discussed, has been one of the league's top defenders, so he's proven to be a strong two-way player. Starks has been strong this season, but would two first-team spots be given to the league's third-place team as opposed to its champion? I doubt it, whether that's fair or not. Norfleet's a strong contender, as he has strong per-game numbers and is nationally-ranked in effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage and assist rate.

Like Norfleet, Brickman is nationally-ranked in all of those categories (he's actually higher in all three and is No. 1 in assist rate) and he's the DI leader in assists per game. Plus, even though LIU struggled this season, he could always be in line to get a nod based on his career accomplishments, sort of like how it was with Velton Jones last season. It's also incredibly hard to ignore Cannon and Brown, perhaps the two best rebounders in the conference.

I try not to force all-conference teams based on position, so my predicted team may look a little unorthodox.

The pick: Anderson, Francis, Sanders, Norfleet, Brickman (with Jones and Cannon the first ones off the bench)


RMU contender: Andy Toole

Other contenders: Greg Herenda (Fairleigh Dickinson)

This is effectively a two-man race at this point and each candidate has a good amount of supporters touting his cause. They both certainly have the resumes befitting the title, albeit in different ways. Toole helped guide an eight-man team to a conference regular season championship while Herenda was responsible for a four-win improvement for the Knights in NEC play (from two wins to six).

The turnaround that Herenda has led at Fairleigh Dickinson has been remarkable. I remembered seeing them play at Robert Morris last year near the end of the season and they flat-out looked like a team that had quit. For Herenda to not only improve that program's win total but also make it competitive in just a year is commendable, to say the least.

Some may try to boil this award down to the coach of the first-place team against the coach of the most overachieving squad. That's not totally accurate. I think it's an absolute cop-out to give someone coach of the year just because his team finished in first (hell, even Gene Chizik did that in college football), but that isn't all Toole did. Most anyone reading this is aware of everything Toole guided the Colonials through this season and to be able to win 14 of their last 16 games under those circumstances is pretty damn incredible.

The pick: Toole


RMU contender: Karvel Anderson

Other contenders: Alex Francis (Bryant), Sidney Sanders Jr. (Fairleigh Dickinson)

Everyone has a different philosophy on what constitutes a player of the year and for the sake of brevity, I won't go too far into mine other than to say that unless an award is dubbed a 'Most Valuable Player' I always pick the most outstanding player in a league or sport as opposed to the one that is maybe the most valuable.

To make this discussion easier, I've put some of the more pertinent season stats in a table:

Player Pts/game Asts/game Rebs/game Off. Rating Eff FG% Ast. Rate
Anderson 19.6 1.5 3.3 130.4 63.6 12.4
Sanders 19.2 5.9 3.8 108.8 44.5 44.6
Francis 19.0 1.4 8.3 107.2 57.9 8.1

Choosing between these three is especially difficult considering they each play different positions and fulfill different roles on their teams. Each is a go-to-scorer, but each also excels in particular areas. Anderson's a two-guard who is the conference's most lethal scorer and shooter. A point guard, Sanders has been more responsible than perhaps even Herenda for Fairleigh Dickinson's improvement this season. Francis has been strong on the low post for the NEC's best offensive team.

It's a tough decision -- one I think ultimately comes down to Anderson and Sanders -- but considering all three are relatively even defensively, to me, it comes down to which one has been the most prolific offensive player. And though he doesn't have the assist numbers that Sanders does or the rebounding numbers Francis does, no player in the NEC has been quite as good on the offensive end as Anderson. Not only does he lead the conference in scoring, but he's one of the top 25 players in Division I in three important offensive categories -- offensive rating, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.

I've said before that I'm admittedly biased since I cover Anderson and have seen him do some absurd things throughout the season. With that being said, though, this is a call I feel confident making.

The pick: Anderson


Craig Meyer: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG

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