On Wednesday I made the foolish decision to drive from Charlottesville, VA to Pittsburgh, PA via the mountains of West Virginia, thinking that since the scenic route was only a few minutes longer on Google Maps, hey, why not? Hours later, as Benjamin and I looked at each other’s green faces after driving up and down every West Virginian peak in the lower half of the state, sometimes crawling along behind wayward trucks who swept their oblong cargo behind them at hazardous angles, it occurred to me to stick to known routes when there’s any doubt. The scenery was quite beautiful, though.
We ended up having to stop a few times during this journey to speak with Ireland, Canada, and assorted other English-oriented locales, so that lengthened an already swollen odyssey, and by the time I hit the evening rush hour coming into Pittsburgh, I was about ready to go Grand Theft Auto on my fellow motorists (or Crackdown– that’s the one where you can blow up a lot of vehicles, right?). Fortunately, Benjamin’s expert navigation and words of wisdom averted any violence, and we arrived at my friend Karrie’s place intact.
During the day Thursday, we didn’t have much opportunity to typo hunt in the ‘Burgh, shuttling from one interview to the next, but I did manage to find yet another mangling of a familiar word:
We’ve seen the H thrown in there before, seen a P or a C dropped, but I think the A instead of U is a new one for me. This was in a convenience store in an office building not far from the mighty Allegheny. We went inside and it turned out the woman working there was quite familiar with the error, having noticed it herself and had plenty of customers mention it to her, but she did not feel she had the authority to change her boss’s sign. Chapter 7, people! Chapter 7.
Later Benjamin and I walked for a few miles through Pittsburgh, disturbed and saddened by the blighted middle section of the city as we headed down Fifth Avenue. We did have some interesting views of houses on the hills on the other side of the mighty Monongahela (there, I had an excuse to say Monongahela, I can proceed with this entry). Our reading that evening would not be downtown, however, but in a Barnes & Noble at the Waterworks Mall a little outside the town proper.
This was another one that, like Charlottesville, made Benjamin and me a little nervous. Our connections in Pittsburgh were a little thin. The family I thought I’d had in the area turned out to be imaginary. And strangely, the signage that Barnes & Noble had received from corporate listed only my name, denying Benjamin’s existence. That’s a harsh position to take just because Benjamin is a Borders employee. We began our presentation, or a stripped-down version of it, to a rather small audience.
And then something magical happened– more people started to show up. By the time we’d run through our little bag of tricks, there were enough people to justify adding a couple more elements for our event, including having a volunteer read with us. And of course, more elements mean more prizes. There were some great questions from the audience and excellent enthusiasm. Pittsburgh, you came through for us. Here’s a shot of our new friends.
And I guess I’ve got a new piece of art for my living room: