Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Monthly discussion series Speakeasy Science begins tonight

Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Come here often? How much wind do you need to make one mega-watt? Can you run a country on windpower?

  • Tony Favarula

These are some questions that Stephen Rose might face tonight as Carnegie Mellon University launches its free monthly discussion series with scientists at bars or cafes.

This month’s event, “Gone with the Windmill," begins at 7 p.m. at Biddle's Escape coffeehouse, on 401 Biddle Ave., in Wilkinsburg. Rose will lead a casual conversation on wind power and energy in America.

Rose began his career as a windmill engineer before obtaining a Ph.D in engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University. There, Rose studied hurricanes as possible threats to offshore windmills, and stayed on as a post-doctoral researcher analyzing wind patterns in historical weather records.

The Science & Engineering Ambassadors, a Pittsburgh-based program of the National Academies, and CMU’s student-run Public Communication for Researchers collaborate to host the Speakeasy Science series.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Planned Parenthood "War on Women" fundraiser tonight

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 12:53 PM

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates hosts a fundraiser to confront the "War On Women" tonight in Pittsburgh’s home of pop and the political, The Andy Warhol Museum.

Cecile Richards, president of the nationally based Planned Parenthood Action Fund, will address the gathering. The event — beginning at 7 — showcases the War on Women exhibit, featuring pieces from local artists Meredith Driscoll and Vanessa German.

Their work and other artists’ creations are available for purchase through a silent auction. Proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates Association and PAC’s efforts in the 2014 mid-term elections.

“The ‘War on Women’ is real, and 2014, an important election year, will be the most important battle in Pennsylvania yet,” says Sari Stevens, executive director of PPPA PAC, in press materials.

Stevens says the exhibit works to interpret the emotional toll women and their families face as well as the future of women’s health care.

“Over the past three years, battles have been waged at the local, state and federal levels in the form of burdensome policy efforts all aimed at reducing access to necessary medical procedures — whether it be through cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, controlling how rape is defined, prohibiting insurance companies from covering birth control, or making it next to impossible to obtain a safe and legal abortion,” said Stevens.

General admission tickets are $50 per person and include a drink ticket and light fare. Ticket information can be found at

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Pittsburgh Fashion Week attracts new designs, mother-daughter duo

Posted By on Fri, Sep 26, 2014 at 1:45 PM

Tammy Jackson and Lorette Pendergrast show off two ensembles before Thursday nights showcase.
  • Danielle Fox
  • Tammy Jackson and Lorette Pendergrast show off two ensembles before Thursday night's showcase.

For Tammy Jackson and Lorette Pendergrast, adding rhinestones to Pittsburgh’s blue collar is a family affair.

The mother-and-daughter design duo both sent lines down the runway last night for Pittsburgh Fashion Week. In its fifth year, Pendergrast and Jackson were a part of the largest PFW to date, with 27 designers and more than 340 models participating.

Model Miyoshi Anderson launched Fashion Week in 2009 after she saw her job opportunities in the city declining. Anderson was looking for ways to bring work to herself and other models, but then stretched out to designers, makeup artists and hair stylists.

GQ might have bestowed the title of “third worst-dressed city” on Pittsburgh in 2011 for such offenses as wearing game-day gear when its not even football season. But, with the 2014 resurfacing of non-profit Fashion Group International in Pittsburgh, Anderson believes the city will embrace fashion and fall colors other than black and gold.

“It’s going to be the adhesive along with Pittsburgh Fashion Week and other events to work together for that boom outreach,” Anderson says. “It really helps the designer focus on how they want to do their business. We want to get [their designs] into storefronts.”

Continue reading »

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Improv Show Includes Web Series Sneak Peek

Posted By on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Comedy vets Hustlebot have a show tomorrow night at Arcade Comedy Theater. The evening includes a sneak peek of the group's web series Stoners With a Time Machine.

  • Hustlebot
The show, now in production locally, was a finalist in the Comedy Central Short Pilot Competition, part of the New York Television Festival.

Hustlebot, which formed in 2006, includes David Fedor, John Feightner, Larry Phillis and Joe Wichryk II.

The group is known primarily for live improv, but it's also had also had success with moving images. Hustlebot has won several awards at the Pittsburgh 48 Hour Film Festival, for instance, and won the Steeltown Film Factory Screenwriting Competition for the script for “Roll The Dice.” The completed short film of “Roll the Dice” won the People’s Choice Award at the Harmony Ridge Film Festival.

Tomorrow night’s show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5-10. The opening act is Improvatron, a local improv troupe whose eight members include Aaron Kleiber, Matt Hartman and Laurel George.

Arcade Comedy Theater is located at 811 Liberty Ave., Downtown.

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Copacetic hosts NYC comics artists

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Copacetic Comics Company hosts New York-based cartoonists Katie Skelly and Meghan Turbitt for a signing tomorrow from 7-9 p.m.

  • Art by Ketie Skelly
Skelly’s latest is Operation Margarine — the story of a rich-girl runaway who tags along with a biker named Bon-Bon and escapes into the desert. Skelly has cited influences as diverse as fashion designer Rudi Gernreich and Jean-Luc Godard’s violent dark comedy Weekend, which is apparent in her laconic, stylish and occasionally psychedelic comics.

  • Art by Meghan Turbitt
Meanwhile, Turbitt offers #foodporn — a collection of six vignettes about ordering food at various restaurants and subsequently finding love. A far more satirical voice, her pop art-inflected multi-media works and one-page gag comics are graphic and unsettling, with a strong whiff of Howard Stern's shock humor, another acknowledged influence.

Both Operation Margarine and #foodporn will be available for sale and signing, alongside selections from the artists’ back catalogs. More information can be found here, or by calling 412-251-5451.

Copacetic is located at 3138 Dobson St., in Polish Hill.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

"Alternate Classics" Script Series Debuts

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2014 at 9:00 AM

If you're tickled by the notion of a world where the true classics of cinema include Plan 9 From Outer Space and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians ... well, maybe you already know about Alternate Histories.

Artist Matthew Buchholz ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for his new Classics of Filmdom series, and tonight he's having a thank-you party at Wildcard, in Lawrenceville.

The Classics of Filmdom series creates pocket-sized designer scripts to "legendarily bad science-fiction movies" like the above (and Manos the Hands of Fate). Buchholz's Kickstarter had a goal of $5,000, and thanks to more than 200 donors raised $5,912.

At the party, donors can pick up their books, plus limited-edition prints. Non-donors can buy the books — the first time they'll be available to the public. And Buchholz promises free beer and snacks for everyone, plus "a special selection of monster & sci-fi themed music").

The party runs from 6-8 p.m.

Wildcard is located at 4209 Butler St.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

Free admission to Phipps on Monday

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 3:57 PM

On Monday, Phipps Conservatory offers free admission to all patrons, thanks to a grant from the Jack Buncher Foundation. The entire conservatory, including its children’s Discover Garden, Rooftop Edible Garden and Aquatic Garden, will be accessible free of charge.

Also available is Phipps' Summer Flower Show, where a miniature model train leads patrons through a glasshouse collection of plants, flowers, and interactive features celebrating summer.

Another summer tradition, the Butterfly Forest, will also be open. And visitors can see Romero, the conservatory’s corpse flower — a pungent, tropical plant which blooms only once every 7-10 years, and which has grown leaves for the first time since its first-ever bloom last year.

The Phipps Conservatory will be open for its free day on Mon., Aug. 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, look here.

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Pittsburgh-born Illusionist Performs on New TV Program

Posted By on Fri, Aug 1, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Tonight, on the premiere of the CW’s new stage-magic show Masters of Illusion, Michael Grandinetti will walk through steel.

Michael Grandinettis 360 Degree Levitation
  • Photo courtesy of Andrew Ardans
  • Michael Grandinetti's "360 Degree Levitation"
Or, at the very least, he will appear to walk through a specially designed, 7-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide, inch-thick, 200-pound slab of steel. And it only makes sense that the Duquesne grad, who grew up in West Mifflin, would choose such a stunt to represent himself on national television. “Coming from Pittsburgh,” he said, “steel was always just the first thing that came to mind.”

Grandinetti’s credits include NFL halftime shows, Pirates games and being the first illusionist ever to join the National Independence Day parade, in 2013. Prior to Masters of Illusion, he performed on Entertainment Tonight, SportsCenter and NBC’s The World’s Most Dangerous Magic. But Masters of Illusion provides him with a rare new opportunity to show off his illusions from all sides.

Michael Grandinetti
  • Photo courtesy of Alan Mercer
  • Michael Grandinetti
The program first aired in the early 2000s on Pax TV, and this CW iteration is its second revival, but with a few important tweaks. It’s still Las Vegas-style stage magic filmed in front of a live studio audience in Hollywood, but this time, they’re bringing in celebrity host Dean Cain, and filming many of the illusions (including “Walking Through Steel”) from all angles by using hand-held cameras.

Said Grandinetti, “a lot of people think they’re being fooled because it’s TV, so I wanted to give the home viewers something that not even the studio audience can see.”

Other illusions he filmed for the series include the “360-Degree Levitation,” the “Mid-Air Vanish” and a classic party trick originally belonging to Orson Welles. Other performers on the show include Jonathan Pendragon and Rich Ferguson, whose sleight-of-hand tricks have earned him more than 15 world records.

You can catch the series premiere tomorrow at 8 p.m. on the CW, or on subsequent Fridays at the same time.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

CMU Professor to appear on genealogy show

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Scott Sandage, associate professor of history at Carnegie Mellon University, is an expert on failure. His 2006 book Born Losers: A History of Failure in America was an Editor’s Choice for The Atlantic, and won the 34th annual Thomas J. Wilson Prize, given to the best book to debut with Harvard University Press each year.

This Wednesday’s episode of TLC celebrity-genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? will see Sandage utilizing his particular expertise to help Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson learn about his family history.

In particular, Sandage was consulted for the case of Ferguson’s great-grandfather, a Gilded Age grifter dogged by misfortune.

“Jesse’s ancestor had a real knack for getting in trouble,” Sandage says, “but also for convincing people to help him out when he was embezzling money, or leading ill-fated trips to the Klondike, or even being accused of murder.”

So while he might not have been a total failure, this distant relative of Ferguson’s certainly was involved with his share of bizarre and hapless schemes.

The producers of the show wanted someone with expertise in researching the lives of American with checkered careers, to help clear up the ambiguities they had stumbled upon in research and to put their subject’s failure into a historical context.

But what makes these characters so fascinating? Why devote precious airtime to someone so easily described as a failure?

“Although Americans will readily admit that they want success, in our heart of hearts we fear failure,” says Sandage. “I just thought it was time someone got to the bottom of not just our obsession with success but also our fear of failure.”

Similarly curious viewers can catch the episode as it premieres this Wed., July 30, at 9 p.m. on TLC. More information about the program and upcoming episodes can be found here.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Send a Burlesque Artist to L.A.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Pittsburgh's neo-burlesque community is getting together Saturday night to help send one of its own to a national competition.

Macabre Noir
  • Image courtesy of
  • Macabre Noir
Cattivo Bar and performer Lita D'Vargas host the benefit show to send Macabre Noir, winner of the 2014 Regional Burlypicks title, to Los Angeles for the Burlypicks finals.

The big show will feature burlesque (of course) by a dozen local performers including D'Vargas and Noir herself, live music by Phat Man Dee and Holly Hood, a DJ set and drag and sideshow performances.

Macabre Noir, among Pittsburgh's top practitioners of the revived art of burlesque, heads the Steel City Burlesque Academy. She has also performed with the North Carolina-based troupe Kabarett Vulgare and nationally touring outfits like the Coney Island Rock N Roll Roadshow.

As her name suggests, Noir's style is dark, blending gothic and sideshow aesthetics with the burlesque tradition. She sometimes incorporates glass-walking into her act, and is a co-producer and founder of The Atrocity Exhibition, a big annual local underground art and performance event.

Other burlesque performers at Saturday's benefit includ Daisy Decotchka, Demdare Eyes, Gigi Coudray, Luna La Creme, Midnight Mame, Phoenix Rose, Pushing Daisys, Sophie Du Mal, Sueno del Mar and Violet Corbeau.

Tickets are $10, and 100 percent of the door and sales of raffle tickets go to Noir's travel expenses.

The 21-and-over show starts at the chic hour of 10 p.m.

Cattivo is located at 146 44th St., in Lawrenceville.

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