Sep 302015
 

Day 10 finds me at the Midtown Scholar updating everyone over a cup o’ Joe.  WARNING:  I am NOT photogenic.  Still, this is easier for me than typing away at a keyboard right now, so, tough tamales!  😉

 

Midtown Scholar Front Sep 30 2015

The Midtown Scholar – My Favorite Place!

Midtown Interior Sept 30 2015

The view from the coffee bar.

 

Sep 102015
 

Okay, day 4 of this here challenge lies right in the ol’ wheelhouse, yessiree!

It all started about a year-and-a-half ago.  I got a ride from a coworker to a local garage to get my car picked up for some repairs needed for it to pass inspection.  It was on the way in that I saw this:

So perfect.

I love “Coming to America” as the next person raised in the 80s, but not as much as this guy.  And I’m willing to bet that it was a guy.  Honestly, I can’t see any woman putting that on her plate.  I could be wrong, but somehow I doubt it.

Shortly afterwards, I started this blog.  It was then that it suggested by the good folks at WordPress.com that a recurring feature is a good way to attract followers and build a “brand” for one’s blog.  All of this had merit, but, more than that, it meant that I would get to make snide, bitchy remarks about people’s vanity plates.  And oh Lord in Heaven has the Harrisburg area been obliging!  I’ve posted almost 150 of these pictures – three per post with very few exceptions – and I still keep coming across more.  A friend of mine recently pointed out the obvious in that we’re so close to the DMV that is makes it exceptionally easy for people to get these things (Harrisburg is Pennsylvania’s state capital).  Still, it’s remarkable in a way how strong everyone’s desire is to stand out.  I’m sure some clever soul could produce some riff on this being part of the Society of the Spectacle.  All I can really do is chuckle.  And, as snotty-nosed as I can get, I realize that I’ve got my little vanities as well.  But still, what else am I gonna with my time?  I’m too old to go out blowing cash on decadent pursuits every night.  I’ve neither the constitution nor the wallet for that.  No, instead I’m just sitting in the balcony, pointing and laughing for fun and entertainment.

Hardly a novel approach, I admit.

Hardly a novel approach, I admit.

And really, when you come across gems like these, how can you resist?

 

Some seem to want to hitch their wagon to a strong identity:

DKNYC

When Branding Goes Very, Very Wrong.

Some plates (unintentionally) cultivate an air of mystery:

 

Either this person owns a Brown Newfoundland dog or is proud of being born in Newfoundland. Considering the jokes that other Canadians make at the expense of "Newfies", I'm guessing the latter. Still, one never knows.

Either this person owns a Brown Newfoundland dog or is proud of being born in Newfoundland. Considering the jokes that other Canadians make at the expense of “Newfies”, I’m guessing the former. Still, one never knows.

 

 

And still others seem to beg your indulgence:

Ok, fine, I'll hear you out. But this had better be damned good - I'm on a clock, you know.

Ok, fine, I’ll hear you out. But this had better be damned good – I’m on a clock, you know.

Yup, Harrisburg and its surrounding area has vanity.  Lots and lots of vanity.  So, if you’re looking to score a few points with a quick anthropological or sociological study or just looking to kill time with a cheap, easy, and wholly legal hobby, it’s the place to be! Toodles, all!

Sep 092015
 

Evening all.  Today’s assignment is take a single word from a list and write something around it.  I chose the word “Home.”  It’s meaning has started to change for me.

If you had asked me five years ago where home was I would have said “Pittsburgh” or “western Pennsylvania.”  Now, I’m not so sure.  Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to go back to Pittsburgh to get together with my college buddies and had a lovely time visiting relatives up in Mercer County.  Even better, I got to bond a little with my niece and nephew on Labor Day.  It was a lovely time, and I felt the bittersweet tug of remorse that one does when leaving a place where one is loved.  And yet…

And yet I found myself eager to get back to settle back into my routine here in Harrisburg.  At first I thought this was just going to be another stop in my life; a place with a job that would lead to another place with a better job.  That hasn’t turned out to be the case.  Instead, I found myself battling some personal demons (a story for another time), buying a house, and building a small but steady circle of friends and acquaintances.  I used to scorn this town.  Now I kinda miss it and the people here when I’m away.  Maybe I’m starting to make my peace with things.  Maybe I’m just getting old.  Maybe both.  No matter how you slice it, though, it’s a funny old world.

The ol' hometown

It’s home now.

 

Dec 102014
 

So, I’ve been busy doing other stuff and reveling in that, but those plates are still out there in droves.  Watching, waiting, driving about.  I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t some sort of Night Vale connection.  I hope not, but if The Faceless Old Woman who secretly lives in your home shows up, I won’t be surprised.  I won’t be happy, but I won’t be surprised, either.  But enough surmise about surprise.  Let’s see what this week’s got to offer in the way of SC PA vanity!

 

It's her Benz, not yours.

I always hate it when I roll out into the parking lot and can’t tell which Mercedes is mine. This little trick solves that problem. Well done, Sandy!

 

The Rock That Rolls Over Your Head.

Paradigm 33? Is that the Rolling Rock marketing and distribution model?  If so, you might just wanna skip to Paradigm 34. Nobody drinks Rolling Rock anymore.

 

Rule, er, Pennsyltucky?

And here I thought it was the Susquehanna that ran past Harrisburg. Shows you what I know.

 

Holidays come, holidays go, but the plates will make a year-round show.  It’s a constant in these parts.  Just run with it, people.  That’s all any of us can do…for now.

 

Nov 132014
 

Sometimes, there’s a pattern to these here vanity plates.  This week, we see a melodic theme emerge.  Check it out.

BST-GAGA

Best GaGa? I’d have to say Poker Face, but Edge of Glory isn’t too bad, either.

MR DAZZZ

That’s MISTER Dazz to you! Let it Whip, baby!

ZIZI-T

Billy, Dusty, and Frank want you to give them all your lovin’ ladies.

See yinz later!

Nov 062014
 

Ah fall, how I love you! There’s a crispness in the air, football season is in full flight, and the leaves turn vibrant colors. It’s a beautiful time of year in Pennsylvania. Sadly, it fades, though, and winter casts its long shadow over the land for several month. Decay is inevitable. It’s part of life. Things fall apart. But vanity plates still abound.

1 KPRICE

1 K = 1000. Ok. 1000 Price. 1000 Price of what? What’s the unit of currency we’re talking about here? Gold ingots? The Euro? The Loonie?

E-SAL

So, IS E-SAL condemned to live in Harrisburg for plotting to harm J-COB? Does that mean…, OMG, IS HARRISBURG THE ISLAND?

GO DUKES

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Duquesne University vanity plate before.  Pretty cool.

Will the center hold?  Only time will tell.

Oct 282014
 

Everyone’s favorite Pittsburgh band, The Clarks, performing Penny On The Floor at the Abbey Bar earlier this month:

Oct 152014
 

The baseball playoffs are here, wrapping up that season, and the NFL and college football are in full swing.  But that will come end soon, too.  But do you know what never goes out of season?  Vanity plates.  But you knew this.  Let’s see what’s shakin’.

3UP 3DN

Three up, three down, Oriels fan? Not this year. Not with the way Mike Moustakas is playing.

KITTI

Meets great guy. He’s allergic.

TUPAC

Apparently Mr. Shakur really is alive. And now he’s hiding in plain sight by living here in SC PA. Well played, sir.

Oct 082014
 

Oh yeah, legally able to imbibe at last!  Well, metaphorically speaking anyway.  Still, it sounds like as good a reason as any to pop out at some point in the near future and grab a beer (or two).  Of course, I won’t be driving if I do, but I don’t think that’ll be a problem.  Vanity goes where it will, and all I have to do is rely on the law of averages to help me out.  I don’t anticipate any problem on that end, which is good.  I got enough hassles as it is.  But I digress; let’s examine this week’s entrants!

Vanity Plates

Constance, as in steadfast and not constipated, as in, stuck. This is a very subtle, but important distinction.

Vanity Plates

I just imagine this person claps and utters high-pitched cheers of support a lot. I also imagine this not a car you wanna jack as there are likely plenty o’ metal bats with arms reach of its driver. Call it a hunch.

Vanity Plates

Oh my God, I loved those guys back in the 80s! They were so epically metal! They just got after it and…oh, wait, that was Queensrÿche. Never mind.

Oh yeah, vanity plates are out there in droves.  Droves, I say!  I’d tell Yinz that I’m enjoying the fat times before the great famine comes, but I don’t think that’s gonna be the case.

Sep 292014
 

I was busy, but now I’m not.  And I won’t lie, the time away from the office did me good.  But vanity never rests, and it falls to me to take up the struggle once again.  But fear not!  I am a happy warrior, fighting the good fight against silliness with…more silliness.  Okay, maybe I shoulda thought this through a bit more than I did.  Oh well, too late now.  Here we go!

 

Your guess is as good as min.

South Dakota time four? 4 Scary Ducks? Suspended Driver for the fourth time? This one’s another puzzler.

 

LUV-EORE

It’s not much of a vanity plate, but I’m sort of attached to it.

 

So, you're saying you're the love child of the old Zayre's department stores and T.J. Maxx?  You get to be the bastard child of low-end retail.   Um, wow, lucky you.

So, you’re saying you’re the love child of the old Zayre department stores and T.J. Maxx? You get to be the bastard child of low-end retail. Um, wow, lucky you.

 

Fall is here, but in terms of vanity, nothing has changed.  It’s a constant of a sort, I suppose.

Sep 182014
 

Yup, another birthday, another year, and another week of South Central Pennsylvania indulging in its vanity plate habit.  It just never ends.

Oh hey, I love the Dungeons & the Dragons too!  And with 5th edition just released, it's a swell time to let your nerd flag fly.  Or not, if this wasn't your intention.  But I choose to believe it is.

Oh hey, I love the Dungeons & the Dragons too! And with 5th edition just released, it’s a swell time to let your nerd flag fly. Or not, if this wasn’t your intention.  But I choose to believe that it is.

Electronic Ink? Or is “E” your first initial? And is “77” the year you were born or just a number? Your IQ? Do you even know?

Initially I was gonna mock this person's grasp of the obvious.  Then on second thought I realized this isn't a bad way to pick out your truck in a crowded parking lot.  How deceptively clever of you sir/madame!

Initially I was gonna mock this person’s grasp of the obvious. Then on second thought I realized this isn’t a bad way to pick out your truck in a crowded parking lot. How deceptively clever of you sir/madame!

 

Yup, it’s a quirk that’s showing itself everywhere these days in South Central PA.  Maybe they’re all part of some ka-tet that only a few, including the plate’s owners themselves, recognize?  Maybe this means I’m in on it, too?  Probably not, but a fellah can dream!

Sep 122014
 

So busy, so occupied.  Stuff at work, stuff in life, and the world is still a-spinnin’.  But don’t you worry none, I kept an eye out.  I may be a little behind, but I sure as sugar ain’t done.  So let’s hit it.

 

TURBOO

So, “Live the Dream” means making cheesy puns? Really? I guess we really are living in age of diminished expectations.

 

 

RUN2LV

I think this means “Run to Live.” Normally, I mock these things, but this plate’s owner is right. Running is very conducive to good health. And the runner’s high is pretty nice, too.

 

REDSOX 3

Um, really? Unless you or a close family member was raised in New England, you got no excuse. I mean, if you’re gonna root for an American League team, at least pick the Baltimore Orioles. They’re just down the road. Come on!

18 and life you got it!

Sep 072014
 

I’m glad that’s over, and truth be told, I am suspicious of Map.MyRun’s calibration being accurate.  The time still stands, though.

 

Official Result per the webiste:

281 SHAUN MCCLEARN 935 43 M 29 40-44 1:55:42.69 8:50/M

Two things:

1.  I am a SHAWN, not a Shaun.

2. MapMyRun needs some work on their calibration.  They were off by

I ran with MapMyRun+! Distance: 13.24mi, time: 01:55:58, pace: 8:46min/mi, speed: 6.85mi/h.

http://mapmyrun.com/workout/722110385

http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/fullscreen/27707840/

Sep 022014
 

Yeah, Labor Day.  Where I celebrate my proletarian roots by sitting in the sun and watching college football (HAIL TO PITT, BABY!!!) and then stuffing my face.   And then stuffing my face some more, then hitting a hammock, and then going to the Great Stoneboro Fair, visiting with relatives, and then eating fried dough, a thing for which there is NO nutritional justification.  And then, I lie around on a hammock some more.  And then, I sleep in, and then I eat too much at my sister’s.  So, I’m gettin’ fatter.  Meanwhile, the Vanity Plates keep on a-lurkin’.  Bastards.  I gotta get back in shape if I’m gonna keep up with this phenomenon.  Good thing the Harrisburg Half-Marathon is coming up this Sunday.

 

ROBIN_4

Robin 4 Congress? 4 Life? The 4th in a series of Robins? Or were just the fourth Robin to think of getting a vanity plate with your name? It’s very plausible, but if that’s the case, it’s awfully prosaic. Please don’t disappoint me.

 

 

MY_UNCLE

You uncle paid for this plate? For this car? Is a swell guy? Or is he some creep hitting on all of your friends? And succeeding?

 

P3RL_JAM

Eddie Vedder would shake your hand, if he knew that you existed. Stone Gossard or Jeff Ament would probably just scratch their heads, mutter some half-hearted words of appreciation and do their best to slip away as quietly as possible.

 

So, to recap: Fatness, I has it.  Time to get crackin’.  That has nothing to do with Vanity Plates, I just need to remind myself to get back into the gym.  I’ll see you next week.

Aug 272014
 

As we approach this grand farewell to summer, this celebration of all thing proletarian, AND THE START OF FOOTBALL SEASON, there will be a lot of people travelling across this fair, God-kissed (but not French-style, you pervs!) land of ours.*  Pennsylvania will be no exception, of course, so keep your peepers peeled for vanity’s that’s four-wheeled!  (Not bad for on the spot, huh?)  Here’s a little warmup for yinz to get your brain juices flowing as get ready to be on the lookout for automotive wackiness:

 

GQ2AT

GQ Smooth To A “T”, eh? I took me a little while to get this one ’til I sounded it out. And you know what that means: I’m learning to read!

 

IMA_DOER

My hope is that you mean this in the “I’m a go-getter” sense and not the “I’m getting ready for the nastiness” sense. There’s something to be said for subtlety. That’s why they call it innuendo, yeah?

 

BEACH_K9

I like the beach. I like dogs. And I’m sure both go together just fine. I just don’t see the need to advertise it. Still, this plate’s a nice e way to say farewell to the summer, so I’ll give it that.

 

Drive safe, peoples!

*”G0d-kissed land” and all inherent benefits reserved for the sole use of white people.  Everyone else is on their own.

Aug 212014
 

Today’s Daily Post asks “But what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image?” It wants to know “…what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image?”

For some, I’m sure it’s the beauty and wonder of nature. For others, an attempt to catch a moment of affection or quiet dignity is what drives them to snap way. Others still look to moments of high energy (e.g. runners in a 100 meter dash) or drama (e.g. anything that made the news in this God-awful month). Me, I look for vanity plates. I guess I’m kinda shallow that way.

 

In my defense, I have a few good reasons for doing this:

  1. It’s free.
  2. It’s a pretty benign hobby that keeps my brain occupied.
  3. They’re funny.  Well, they’re funny to me at least.
  4. It gives me a recurring feature for my blog.

 

Here’s my all-time favorite example.  This is the one that started it all:

SXL CHOCOLATE VANITY PLATE

Ansel Adams I ain’t, but come on!  Who wouldn’t want a memento of something like that?

If you’re curious, check out some of my other vanity plate pictures, starting here.

 

Aug 202014
 

Howdy-doody people!  I took last week off because I wasn’t feelin’ it.  And I honestly thought that things would get better out in the ol’ psychosphere and in the real world as well.  Boy, was I wrong about that.  In light of the world’s ongoing troubles, I’ve come to the conclusion that soldiering on and taking one’s fun where one can is about the best it’ll ever get.  Be it in war or peace, vanity will march on as long as humanity exists.  So, let’s point and laugh.  Snicker, at least.

 

So, let's see, basketball has five guys, so that would imply a 6th man, and football has 11 guys, so that would imply a 12th man.  That leaves baseball with 9 guys.  So, 10th MAN means you're ra-ra baseball.  Great, I guess.  (Yuck)

So, let’s see, basketball has five guys, so that would imply a 6th man, and football has 11 guys, so that would imply a 12th man. That leaves baseball with 9 guys. So, 10th MAN means you’re ra-ra baseball. Great, I guess. (Yuck)

 

TH DUCHY

I love the music of the 80s, too. But somehow I don’t think most cops are even hip to a one-hit wonder like Musical Youth these days. Even if they do know who it is you’re talking about, I don’t think that group’s the first thing that comes to mind when they see your plate. I hope you like getting pulled over a lot, Young Marley.

 

SPECIAL NEW JERSEY GUEST PLATE:  Please don't let this be you bragging about what I think you're bragging about.  Oh, God, no.  Not that, please don't let it be that.

SPECIAL NEW JERSEY GUEST PLATE: Please don’t let this be you bragging about what I think you’re bragging about. Oh, God, no. Not that, please don’t let it be that.

 

Aug 072014
 

One of the many virtues of the Midtown Scholar is that you never quite know what you’re going to stumble across.  How could anyone not pick this up?  It’s the history of a pop culture icon who we all loved as kids, even if the gum was made out of some kind of rock-like substance.  It’s even got some trading cards in the back!  Rock!

 

Insert Wacky Punch Line Here

If this doesn’t scream “Impulse Buy” I don’t what does!

Aug 062014
 

Yeah, so, you know how we do it down here in the S-C-P-A by now. I don’t gotta explain it, do I? I meant, I don’t gotta explain the what. The why is…look, if you know, please help me, ‘cuz I am a long way from Gnosisville. So, like Buddha me (As in, enlighten me.  I wonder if I can make that a phrase?) if you do. In the meantime, here’s what you came to see, the wonder that is Harrisburg’s vanity plate menagerie:

 

Calling yourself "Cutie" takes some moxie.  Calling yourself "Super Cutie" takes outright chutzpah.  As for the 7, well, I still don't know why people number themselves around here.  It's part of the mystery, I suppose.

Calling yourself “Cutie” takes some moxie. Calling yourself “Super Cutie” takes outright chutzpah. As for the 7, well, I still don’t know why people number themselves around here. It’s part of the mystery, I suppose.

K.  Que?  Rain?  As in "Make it..."  Or is this a tribute to Korean Pop (K-Pop) superstar Rain?  Or...something else?

K. Que? Rain? As in “Make it…” Or is this a tribute to Korean Pop (K-Pop) superstar Rain? Or…something else?

Ok, at least this one seems to be pretty easy.  Dockside Willie's is a local watering hole, so I'm guessing that either this is someone connected to the bar via employment or is just someone who is entirely too fond of the spirits it purveys.

Ok, at least this one seems to be pretty easy. Dockside Willie’s is a local watering hole, so I’m guessing that either this is someone connected to the bar via employment or is just someone who is entirely too fond of the spirits it purveys.

 

Onward and upward!

Aug 022014
 

I made it to this year’s India Day Festival held at the Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) campus.  The weather was warm, the crowd was friendly, and the food was great.  I didn’t get a chance to see any of the dancers, but there’s always next year.  In the meantime, this is how it looked from the outside.

IndainFestival5

IndainFestival4

IndianFestival3

Indian Festival2

Indain Festival 1

Dancing Girls - Indan Festival

 

AFTERTHOUGHT:  I am starting to wonder if I got there a bit too early.  I arrived about 12:30 and left at about 3:00.  I can’t help but wonder if there would have been more ‘cultural’ events going on outside as the afternoon sun receded a bit.  Again, there’s always next year.

Jul 222014
 

Howdy peeps!  I’m down the road in lovely Gaithersburg, Maryland for a work-related class for a few days and am just enjoying my time away from the office.  But don’t you worry none, I’m still on top of things!  I’m gonna take good care of you.  Just be cool my cats and kittens, kick back, and enjoy this prolonged tumble down the vanity plate rabbit hole that is south central Pennsyltucky.

Now...something...?

NOWFATH? WTF? I am nonplussed by this one, yesiree. But, what the heck, it’s these sorts of challenges that keep us going. Yeehaw!

 

Bow Wow Wow

I think this plate is not saying “do be love” bus is advertising the car owner’s “Doberman Love”, that is, his/her love for her pet dog. I think I figured one out. Yay me!

 

Yinz Luv Da Stillers!

I couldn’t mock this plate if I wanted to. This person is a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the greatest sports franchise in the history of sports. Go Stillers!

 

 

Jul 212014
 

I recorded a few minutes here and there from Matthew Sweet’s show last night at the Abbey Bar here in Harrisburg.  I did my best but one can only do so much with a camera phone, and the skill of its operator (*ahem*) didn’t help much either.  Still, I enjoyed the show and wanted to share it.  Mr. Sweet still has his voice and his backing band was pretty solid, so they sounded good.  More importantly, I got the feeling he was someone who seems to enjoy himself when he plays, and that kind of enthusiasm on the part of an artist makes a big difference.  Oh, and he didn’t seem to be half in the bag, which is more than I can say for some live acts I’ve seen lately.

Divine Intervention sticks out in my mind as one of those songs that bubbled up during the fall of ’91, right when everything changed musically.  Plus, I just turned 21.  Ah, youth!

Sick of Myself is another well know number, and deservedly so.  Again, he seemed to be enjoying himself, which never a bad thing for someone on stage.

And of course, “Girlfriend” which is the one song we all came for, of course.

Jul 152014