N’atman coming to theaters this weekend!

Hey Yinz,

The Dark Knight Rises premieres this weekend, and the world will get to see the N’atman in action! Early reviews say that the movie finishes strong. I just wanted to share this comic posted on the Pittsburgh Film Office’s Facebook.

Whip! Bam! Boom! Kapow!

When you’re sitting in the movie theater answering trivia (like what was Baby’s real name in Dirty Dancing?) and waiting for the Batman to start, I ask you to please take a minute and think about who lost when Batman came to town. Sure, the city won overall. The film industry brought jobs to Pittsburgh and stimulated local business. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl got to relive his college football glory days as a player for the Gotham Rogue. And Christian Bale discovered Braddock, which will be the backdrop for another Christian Bale movie, “Out of the Furnace.”

But there were two losers when Batman came to town. Last summer, I watched four or five people rip the leaves off two trees on the Bellefield Avenue-side of Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon Institute in Oakland, presumably to make the trees fit the winter scene. (If you want to talk about jobs, there were two people on ladders ripping leaves off the trees and two to pick them up.) A year has passed, and  the trees are still alive, but their branches support only a dozen or so leaves.

This photo was taken in May – less than one year after the incident, shall we say. I don’t understand why the crew ripped the leaves off these two trees but left the middle tree unscathed. Perhaps this will be central to the plot! We’ll have to wait and see.



Better stop printing ‘jagoff’ if you ain’t a yinzer

Hi yinz,

In last week’s issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper, there was a great article about how Pittsburgh Post-Gazette executive editor David Shribman told his staff to stop publishing “jagoff” in the Post-Gazette and on the website. The memo to the PG staff can be read on Jim Romenesko’s blog.

Chris Potter, CP editor and author of the cover story “Let us now praise famous jagoffs,” weaves a quick and not-so-dirty history of the term “jagoff,” tracing the word back to the British Isles, with his analysis on Pittsburgh identity. What resonated most with this writer and native Pittsburgher was  the commentary about the new generation of Pittsburghers who long for the regional distinction earned by the old Pittsburgh working class – born in steel, boxing and jazz, as Teenie Harris saw it.

The truth is that I don’t say “yinz,” unless I’m speaking ironically or at least on this blog. My parents are immigrants, and I was raised in the ‘burbs – far from ‘sliberty and dahntahn. I am guilty of some lazy speak, as I take shahers (showers) before bed, watch out for “slippy” spots when it rains and use gumbands (rubber bands) to seal up a bag of chips. But I can’t be sure if I picked up on this so-called dialect unintentionally.

Pittsburghers love their regional code — evidenced by Kennywood’s Open postcards, Pittsburghese T-shirts in the Strip, restaurants like Taste of Dahntahn, bars like Jaggerbush, parking chairs, Pittsburgh Dad and even our own pronunciation of Stillers. One of my favorite episodes of Pittsburgh Dad features the Pittsburgh Dad trying to woo his wife on Valentine’s Day. He pours a tall glass of boxed blush wine for Deb and his signature Iron City beer into a wine glass for himself. It is a scene that embodies what I see in Pittsburgh – a place where a blue-collar worker can make a comfortable home for his family — with a “good living room” and a family room.

The Pittsburgh Dad many Pittsburghers imagine is a no-nonsense man who goes to church and tucks his polo shirt into his jean shorts. As I’ve gotten older, I see fewer Pittsburgh Dads and classic examples of yinzers, but also, I’m more aware of the physical and behavioral qualities that set Pittsburgh natives apart. Though encounters are becoming more rare, I still get giddy when I hear a Pittsburgh dad at the Regatta tell his son to quit being a jagoff or quit jagging off.

This creates a dilemma of what I call the “new yinzer” : For people who did not grow up hearing “jagoff,” are we entitled to reclaim it?

Potter asks:

“But ever since last winter, when I saw a billboard boasting ‘Yinzers save with Nationwide insurance,’ I’ve wondered whether our fixation on the local dialogue is itself a pretense. How long, after all, can we boast about our “authenticity” before we start sounding inauthentic?”

This blog, titled Pixburgh N’at because of the play on pix (as in pictures) and Picksburgh, is an example of what Potter is talking about.  The new yinzer is not inauthentic if he or she distinguishes himself or herself from the yinzers of the past.  Yinzer is a dialect and a culture that, like all others, is ever evolving. New yinzers can carry on the prized regional slang and quirks as they fit with the new image of the city.

At risk of sounding like a jagoff, but I do consider myself a new yinzer — as much as one can be with an English writing degree.


Obsurophile’s Peter in Crazy Mocha

Hey yinz,

On Saturday, I was walking in Lawrenceville with my usual comrades when nature called. I scurried over to the Crazy Mocha coffee shop, which was almost empty at about 5:30 p.m. As I purchased an Italian soda and some biscotti to justify my visit, I noticed a large, intriguing contraption over my shoulder. There was Peter Pawlowski with his Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic camera on a tripod, ready to capture pictures of his girlfriend, Jenny Jo, at work.

Here’s Peter. Notice the sweet Polaroid jacket.

Peter Pawlowski in Crazy Mocha

We got to talking and bonded over the magic of photography. Though I was already impressed with the one photo he took of my exchange with Jenny Jo, I really got to appreciate his skill when I got home and checked out Peter’s Flickr page.

This is my favorite from the evening:

Crazy Mocha barista photo by Peter Pawlowski

I asked him in an e-mail how he got this effect without it being just one big blur. Peter explained, “The photo was taken with Fuji FP3000B instant film, which is ISO 3000, very fast! This means that I could take indoor photos with available light at f4.7 and 1/100s shutter speed. The triple exposure was more like f11 for each exposure.”  I’m always so impressed by the technical skills photographers who shoot with film possess.

As I alluded earlier, here’s the picture of Jenny Jo and me.  The original is smaller than a regular 4×6 print. Yes, this will be my first appearance in Pixburgh N’at.

Jenny Jo and me trying to not look pose-y Photo: Peter Pawlowski

He even mentioned Pixburgh N’at on his blog, obscurophile. Hooray for networking. It was great to meet you, Peter, and Jenny Jo. Keep up the good work. It was a pleasure meeting you both.


Welcome back, Sidney Crosby!

Hey yinz,

Sidney Crosby returned to the Penguins’ lineup yesterday in perfect fashion. Crosby could have joined his teammates on their recent Pacific tour, as many people speculated. But instead, Crosby lead his team to a 5-0 triumph over the New York Islanders on home ice with no fights, disputed goals, and no answered goals from the opponent (way to go Fleury!).

Probably the best part was seeing Crosby score about 5 minutes into the game. It was his first goal in nearly 11 months. When that siren blared, he lifted his knee, pumped his arm and gave a “f*ck yeah” that signaled to the world that he was back again. Oh captain, my captain! (The Walt Whitman irony is understood because obviously, he’s kickin’. I just have to respond to the #ohcaptainmycaptain Twitter hashtag.)

The crowd was awesome to behold. The Penguins gave all of the fans “Welcome Back Sid” signs. (I assume that’s “Welcome Back, Sid” and not an order to welcome back Sid. 😛 ) The chants for Crosby boomed, especially in the final minutes, as we all hoped for Crosby to get a third. Though the hats stayed on, no Pens fan left the arena disappointed.

Unfortunately but understandably, cameras with detachable lenses are forbidden in for the Average Joe/Jane in the Consol Energy Center.  I took these photos with my boyfriend’s Lumix camera, but I think the photos are worth sharing.

Oh, how we missed seeing number 87!

Kris Letang's hair was prominent, as usual. 😉

Guess who took the first faceoff of the night.

Crosby is a beast!

Congratulations on the shutout, Fleury! There was a lot of competition for stars in this game.

Sidney Crosby gets a well-deserved first star with two goals and two assists on the night.

Great job, Crosby! We’re all glad to see you’re doing well.


Handmade Arcade starts holiday shopping early

Hey yinz,

Handmade Arcade, which calls itself “Pittsburgh’s Largest Indie Craft Fair,” gave a preview of the frenzied holiday shopping season with its annual pre-holiday craft show in David Lawrence Convention Center on Saturday.   There were so many vendors selling jewelry, homemade soaps, recycled/reused/upcycled notebooks, screen-print T-shirts and my favorite, plushies!  Most of the items are reasonably priced for gifts, which I think is one of the goals of the event. The pre-holiday shopping extravaganza for handmade wares began in 2004 with 32 vendors, and this year, the event had more than 150 vendors. My favorite part about this event is that most of the craftsmen and artists are Pittsburgh-based.

Here are some pictures from the day. I asked all of these vendors for permission before photographing their work. Some asked for me to send them my photos. I also decided to add their websites if available. The Handmade Arcade website has a complete list of the vendors with their websites.

On a side note, you’ll notice that I played around with my photo presentation. It actually was not that easy, so if you don’t like it, I’ll happily go back to the usual format.

Wade Caruso woodwork’s Picasa album   

Rebound Designs rebound-designs.com

Rebound Designs

Rag Trader: Vintage Reborn ragtradervintage.com
Friend or Foe plushies made in Pittsburgh and sold at Divertido in Lawrenceville
Narwhal plushie by Zooguu zooguu.com

Pittsburgh-based Green Bubble Gorgeous http://www.etsy.com/shop/greenbubblegorgeous

Pampering treats from Green Bubble Gorgeous

I can personally vouch for Green Bubble Gorgeous because I’ve purchased Krystal Doring’s expertly crafted, organic cupcake bath bombs, and Popsicle- and donut-shaped soaps for myself and for gifts. 🙂

There was also a great interactive area for the kids, where they could make silk screened wrapping paper (I got bison wrapping paper!), create a cardboard tube city and dress up like monsters.

Congratulations to the organizers on another successful Handmade Arcade!


Penguins’ ice skating rink coming to the South Side

Hey yinz,

How ’bout them Pens?  Yinz Luv Da Guins. Am I right? The Penguins are looking good at the top of the Atlantic division. What’s looking almost as promising is the ice rink that’s being constructed in the South Side.

Did I ever mention that I work in the South Side? Not only do I work in the South Side, but my office is perched three stories above where the Penguins Pond will be: the corner of 26th and Sidney (coincidence?) streets.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been documenting the construction of the rink. The construction workers have been working long days to reconstruct the ice rink for the Pittsburgh Winter Classic game. It’s been exciting to see workers put up the boards, lay down dirt and tubing. My efforts culminated in this panoramic photo that I made tonight at my photography class at Pittsburgh Filmmakers:

Panorama of the Penguins Pond in the South Side

Make sure to click on the image to see more detail.  To the left, you can see a man spraying water on the rink. This is the first panorama I’ve made in Photoshop, and I’m quite pleased with the result.

You can come down and get your own pictures, as the ice rink will be open to public skating next Friday, November 18 and will be open through January 8.


Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Friday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Saturday 1 p.m. – 11 p.m.

Sunday 1 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The rink will also host hockey games for the Pittsburgh Amateur Hockey League and Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League. So, maybe I’ll get to see Shaler Area’s hockey team play.

Here are a few more photos from the rink’s construction. I took most of the photos from inside the office. I’ll have to get back to you about whether we’ll be selling executive box seats for the various games. 😉

Ice rink construction progress on November 2
Laying down the dirt on November 2
Rolling out the tubing on November 7
Daylight savings and a long work day are to thank for this picture on November 7
Setting up the bleachers on November 8
This was taken on November 8. It was another late night in the office. The lights will not turn off because of the motion sensor, so please excuse the glare.

Well, I hope yinz like the pictures. The rink is open for private skating parties n’at. Maybe I’ll see yinz at the pond.


Teenie Harris, a Pittsburgh story

Hey yinz,

Pittsburghers love our own. We love our backup-backup QB Charlie Batch and Jackie Evancho. We even love claiming Jeff Goldblum for the Steel City. No one has anything bad to say about Jeff Goldblum. We even secretly love that when Christina Aguilera was buzzing online for going on a date pants-less that she was rocking an Andy Warhol shirt. Double points on that one!

Anyway, I wanted to spread the word about an exciting, super-Pittsburghy exhibit that’s on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art.  Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story is not just an American story — it’s a Pittsburgh one. Teenie Harris lived from 1908 to 1998 (amazing), and he photos ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary for the “Pittsburgh Courier” during the 1930s through the 1970s, according to Teenie’s biography on the Carnegie Museum’s website.  (Note: The prominent black newspaper,  the “Pittsburgh Courier,” is now the “New Pittsburgh Courier.”)

This is the sign outside of the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Teenie Harris exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art

The Carnegie Museum of Art acquired nearly 80,000 of Teenie Harris’ negatives in 2001, and since then the museum has scanned and cataloged about 60,000 of those negatives. There are pictures of jazz musicians playing upright or double basses, weddings, funerals, and babies.

I also love this photo of a demonstration outside of the US Steel building because of the story it tells.  Most of Teenie’s photos are not composed in a particularly artistic way. He actually took a lot of group portraits of people sitting in chairs and photos that have the society-page or standing-around-the-backyard-barbeque feel. But this is an exhibit I definitely want to check out. The exhibit opened last week and will run until April 7, 2012. I’ll try to get out to the exhibit sooner than later though.

On a side note, the museum has a job opening for a part-time special projects assistant job position dedicated to this exhibit. It would be a great job for someone knowledgeable about African-American history, Pittsburgh history and/or photography. Good luck if you’re applying!