We’re looking at the future, and actually, it’s looking good!
Port Authority is working with the massive amount of data that they have to create a system to let riders know in real-time, if their buses will be late. CMU’s app Tiramisu aimed to do that, but was based on rider input. If no one was on the bus ahead of you to record the data, it reverts to the timetables. It’s still a really cool app and I love using it, but this is the obvious next step.
And in even better news: no rate increases or service reductions are on the horizon! For the first time in recent history, PAT has an influx of cash, thanks to Act 89 from Harrisburg. And thankfully, the board of PAT is taking it’s time: while they want to restore service, they are committed to seeing what is most needed and working with the low-hanging fruit first.
While there was no mention of Bus Rapid Transit, and that would mostly come from capital money anyway, I’m still wary, especially since the latest plans have it running between Oakland and Downtown, an area already adequately served, but we’ll hold off that discussion for another day.
PennDOT is looking to improve the Parkway East. Now, before you get too excited, they want to make sure we temper our expectations.
Their first phase is to gather information. They want to know how people use the Parkway, approximate destinations, use of public transit, alternate routes, etc. The format is easy to use, and only takes about ten minutes. In addition, they’re combining that data with traffic studies, community comments and outreach to publics directly impacted by the corridor, so all in all, it looks to be pretty comprehensive.
And while we may not be getting an added lane to the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, at least we’re on the road to improvements, and I can think of three interchanges right off the back that need scrapped and rebuilt from scratch to give us a good start. Check out the information here and participate in the survey by clicking the large orange button.
Even Puck Daddy agrees, Malkin’s Mom is freaking adorable.
She was one of the Olympic torch-bearers, and she was in training over the summer for her jog:
When I came back from Pittsburgh in the summer I started going to the gym, getting fit.
At its best, art makes us take a step back from our lives and examine ourselves, giving us the space to confront ourselves and grow in meaningful ways. “Madagascar,” in an hour and a half, does just that, in a way that snuck up on me, but left me more than satisfied, if not a bit introspective.
What I’ve always loved about Quantum Theatre is the spaces they occupy temporarily. I’m continually impressed not only with the diversity of the locations they choose, but how they use those spaces to enhance the show. Quantum invited me down to The Carlyle, on fourth street downtown, a new space, and part of town, to me.
When I worked in town, I was closer to the other end of Grant Street, so often the blocks closer to The Point are new to me, but I always look forward to an adventure. I write this not as a deterrent, but as encouragement for anyone looking for something exciting off the beaten path. And besides, you’ll be taken care of, the entrance to the performance space was marked, as always, with a very visible “Q.”
I’ve always been impressed with how Quantum integrates itself with the local community. This time, they have partnered with Tavern 245 to offer patrons a discount. I actually ended up heading to Market Square afterwards, which is a short walk away, so you won’t be at a loss for food or drink before or after the show, or entertainment if you stop to watch the ice skaters at PPG Place.
The lobby of The Carlyle is regal, with three large columns filling your view of the stage. The space itself reminded me of a hotel I stayed at in Cleveland which occupied an old bank (considering it used to be a bank, this should not surprise anyone): tall ceilings with fancy, tiled ceilings and marble everywhere you looked. Most of the walls have been covered in cloth, but only about three quarters of the way up, evoking the headless statues mentioned in the show itself, what I thought was an ingenious touch.
Often I tend to judge things based on their soundtracks, the music added to the environment of the show, at the beginning and end, easing transitions between the characters, and at least in my mind, perfectly blending into the story and the scene. I wish we could have heard more, but the fleeting bits of that haunting piano only added to the air of mystery and helped to set the tone of the play. At night, that part of downtown is not overly busy, but you can easily imagine the cars and buses that you do hear as coming from the streets of Rome instead of Pittsburgh.
The story weaves between three characters, all telling one story that slowly assembles over the course of the evening. Watching the three characters, each in a different time, imposed over one another was a treat, and engaging as they spoke directly to the audience, posing questions not only to their own morality, but ours as well.
Once the plot clicked into place, previous comments by the characters stood out in sharp relief, highlighting some of the themes of the show in unexpected ways. Each of the actors gave a wonderful performance, and seemed to really enjoy being in this show, which always equates to more engaging and powerful performances.
Quantum is also heading to a new space on the Internet, specifically starting discussions with patrons after the show to talk about “Madagascar.” So far, a few guests have responded and rudimentarily interacted with each other. It’s a good start, but I had wished to see interaction with the cast and crew, but I hope that this is something they continue to develop for future productions, something unseen from other groups.
Many thanks to Quantum for inviting me down, and if you have the opportunity, I highly recommend you see “Madagascar,” which has just been extended for another week. More information on this intimate show can be found here and be sure to make note of several special performances coming up:
- February 7 – Wine Tasting and light hors d’oeuvres
- February 8 – Post-show discussion with Psychoanalyst and Director
- February 12 – Pre-show happy hour for young professionals
*tap tap tap. This thing on?
Heinz returns to the Superbowl this weekend, after a 16 year absence and for the second time ever. The commercial, in my opinion, is very well done, with one exception: you should hit the bottle where the neck joins the body, where the ’57′s are in the glass. But if you want to check it out early, here it is:
Coming up next this week, my review of Quantum Theatre’s “Madagascar.”
I’ve been away for a bit, mostly due to the fact that I’m not downtown on a daily basis anymore, but sometimes, I’m reminded how much I love this city, and I get sucked right back in, so expect more regular postings!
Man Made DIY takes a look at the Heinz Ketchup bottle:
The solution is to trigger the shear thinning effect at the top of the bottle, not the bottom. That unclogs the mouth and lets the ketchup below to freely flow
I actually suggest hitting the bottle where the neck tapers, on one of the “57″s in the glass. Works every time.
Scientists from MIT teamed up with Boston’s public transportation agency and created the Sesame Ring (as in, “Open, Sesame”).
The ring operates with RFID technology, like the ConnectCard, and Boston’s equivalent, Charlie Card, which pays for trips when it is tapped/waved in front of a reader on the bus or T.
It’s a cool idea, and it was funded through Kickstarter to address the problem of people not being able to fish out their cards in time, but I have to wonder if that is really a problem. I’ve never had a problem pulling out my card, and even when people have had to fish for their card, pass or money, the bus normally takes off and they pay or swipe what they need to as the route continues.
Either way though, it’s a cool idea, especially since you could get them customized, but I just don’t see the need of them, aside from being a cool fashion accessory.
Pennsylvania has been in the news a lot lately for our struggle for marriage equality. Here’s a quick round-up of where we are.
The ACLU lawsuit is still pending, this was first announced after the Prop 8 and DOMA decisions and is actually separate from everything else going on. Our Attorney General declined to defend it, since she believes it is unconstitutional and would not stand in court, opting to save the state money. Governor Corbett, however, picked up the defense and is now using a $400/hour lawyer, charged to the taxpayers, to defend Pennsylvania’s ban on marriage equality in court.
What’s kept us in the news lately has been marriage licenses coming from a county hear Philadelphia. A case was heard, and the Governor’s lawyers shoved their feet so far into their mouths, it garnered national attention for their offensive remarks:
In a brief Wednesday, state attorneys said those marriage licenses were never valid, and compared gay and lesbian couples to “12-year-olds” who are also barred from marrying under state law.
The Governor backtracked from those remarks after the backlash heated up, which I suppose is something.
The wording of that brief however, called these marriages “meaningless.” And I think that’s the most hurtful part. These are people’s lives, people’s loves that they’re calling meaningless, because Corbett is desperately trying to cling to some sort of base to keep him in office next year.
And I may be wrong, but here is what I understand, once a marriage license has been given to a couple, they can be married by anyone in the the state that has that authority, so people like Mayor Fetterman aren’t breaking any laws. Again, I may be off on that, and it’s really a technicality, but one that I would hope would give more public officials ways to show their support.
So the two trials will continue, and the spotlight isn’t going to be moving off of Pennsylvania anytime soon, as we’re the only state in the entire northeast that has no legal recognition of same-sex relationships (NJ has civil unions, but no marriage equality, and every other state has marriage equality).
Update: The court has ordered the the county clerk to stop issuing marriage certificates to same-sex couples.
Football season started over the weekend, or I guess actually last Thursday, but really that just means we’re about a week until pre-season Pens games.
In case you’ve been under a rock lately, you’ve most likely heard about Russia’s draconian anti-LGBT laws as we barrel towards the Sochi Olympics. And in classy fashion, Sid spoke with the media about how he disagrees with the law. Combine that with Orpik’s work with the You Can Play project, and it’s a refreshing look at a professional sports team, and its stars, interested in equality.
The Capitals on the other hand, we have Ovechkin, who is either completely unaware of the law (best case scenario), or afraid to talk about it, instead trying to turn the conversation back to the jerseys. And to be fair, he is in a bit of a more precarious situation, considering he’ll be playing for Team Russia, but it’s still a weird non-response and he’s in a position to make a significant difference, it’s sad to see him pass on the opportunity.
Phipps has announced that their Corpse Flower, named Romero after the director, is in bloom!
The bloom lasts between 24-48 hours and smells like “the rotting flesh of a mammal.” Tonight (Tuesday the 20th) and tomorrow (Wednesday the 21), they will be open until 2 a.m. for visitors, and Wednesday will even feature two screenings of “Day of the Dead” at 8 and 10:30 p.m.
Phipps is amazing at night, and sadly, it’s been too light to really get the full experience over the summer for a night time viewing of the summer glass show, so that alone, is worth it, not to mention a bloom that only comes around every decade.
There’s a post making it’s way around Facebook, and if you haven’t read it, take a minute. Here’s a short snippet:
No matter how many hundreds of times we drive the Parkway West into town, we get butterflies when we come out that side of the Fort Pitt Tunnel and see the spectacular paradise that our grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and friends helped to build – brick by brick, day by day. Together.
Yes, I love this city, I love how absolutely genuine the people are. The way we band together at a moment’s notice, and all the interesting and tucked-away corners of this city. But even so, it’s nice to see it written down.
Head over to Facebook to read it, and take a moment to enjoy the pride.
One of my favorite pages on Facebook is “Condescending Brand Page.” Since I run a few Facebook pages, I always try to keep in the forefront that we’re people, what a like actually is (not what most brands think it is) and that we’re there to have a good time and a conversation.
In comes WTAE, which is really the only local news I watch, if I watch anything at all. And they totally failed at being any kind of decent human being. But thankfully, Facebook was there to call them out on their asshat move.
Yeah, that’s right, “give this story a ‘like’ to show support for these parents whose child was ripped away from them by disease.”
It doesn’t get much lower than that, ladies and gentlemen.
Now, to be fair, it looks as though they did remove that post. But still, what kind of heartless social media manager would post that in the first place?
I’ve seen them popping up in City Paper, and I’d be they’re elsewhere as well, and CopyRanter over at Buzz Feed has picked up the awesome campaign for the Warhol.
This one is my favorite, even with the cringe it induces, and BuzzFeed is missing at least one (the firecracker underwear), unless there are more that I haven’t seen yet.
I’ve only been to the Warhol once, and I didn’t get to see much (I was volunteering as an usher for Pittsburgh Opera), which I know, makes me a bad Pittsburgher, but maybe this will be the kick in the pants for me to get there.
I sadly missed Anthrocon this year. For years it was the last weekend before I left for the summer and my coworkers and I would wander downtown on our lunch break to grab some pictures. Usually of, and sometimes with the furries.
And they’re totally kind, awesome people! But it was in July this month (I have no idea how they didn’t die from heat exhaustion), and I was otherwise engaged, so I missed it.
However, Nerve’s ongoing series, “Talking to Strangers” picked up the slack, and I was taken aback when I was at their homepage and thought to myself, “that bridge looks familiar.”
Check out the article, it’s totally worth it. Don’t judge them too hard, they’re nice people, and harmless, and found a place where they can be themselves, if only we were all so lucky. Oh yeah, and the massive amount of money they bring to the city each year. That’s pretty awesome too.