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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 2:01 PM

Protest outside of Gov. Corbetts office
  • Protest outside of Gov. Corbett's office

Dressed in Halloween costumes, organizers with advocacy groups Working America and One Pittsburgh stood outside of Gov. Tom Corbett’s Pittsburgh office today to call for the expansion of Medicaid.

“I think everyone in America is entitled to healthcare,” said Penny Barrett, a One Pittsburgh volunteer from Troy Hill. "I think healthcare needs to stop being about business. It’s a human right."

As part of the Affordable Care Act Pennsylvania could receive federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage to a larger number of low-income uninsured individuals, but Gov. Corbett has denied the expansion.

Starting in 2014, the expansion would extend Medicaid to individuals making up to $15,900 and families of four with income up to $32,400. According to the Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center, this would benefit an estimated 700,000 Pennsylvanians.

Among the protestors was Georgeanne Koehler, who says her brother died at 57 because he was denied health insurance due to a pre-existing condition and could not receive the necessary healthcare.

“Without Medicaid, he couldn’t get insurance with a pre-existing condition, but he made too much to qualify for Medicaid,” said Georgeanne Koehler. “Our health should never be a matter of politics. It’s a matter of life and death.”

Gov. Corbett is looking into an alternative approach that would use the federal funding to provide subsidies for individuals who want to purchase private insurance plans.

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Though the announcement arrived too late for our print edition, tomorrow’s Unblurred gallery crawl includes a brand-new venue worth mentioning. It’s run by a familiar name.

Krista Franklins Chicken bones & feathers
  • Krista Franklin's "Chicken bones & feathers"

Janera Solomon, best known as executive director of the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, owns fieldwork: contemporary art gallery, right in the heart of the Penn Avenue arts district.

The gallery opens with the group show On Paper, curated by locally based artist and Carnegie Mellon art professor Ayanah Moor.

The show features works by “six artists who engage the mediums of drawing, performance, print media and installation.” The works in the show “range from illustrative to representative to imaginative.”

The artists include Althea Murphy Price, of Knoxville, Tenn.; Paul Stephen Benjamin, of Atlanta; Chicago-based Krista Franklin; Atlanta-based William Downs; Pittsburgh-based Alisha B. Wormsley; and Jordan Martin, of New York City.

The show opens will a reception from 6-8 p.m. tomorrow. (That both starts and ends a little sooner than most of the goings-on at Unblurred.) The show runs through Dec. 14 (though gallery hours are limited to noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, or by appointment).

Fieldwork is located at 4925 Penn Ave. For more information, contact

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 11:56 AM

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Shakespeare monologue-and-scene contest, Pittsburgh Public Theater is looking for past participants to contribute memories of the experience. More in Program Notes.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 11:45 AM

If you ever participated in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest, the company is looking for you.

Gillian Jacobs
  • Gillian Jacobs

Plans to celebrate the contest’s upcoming 20th anniversary include a commemorative program book featuring photos from contests past as well as comments from contestants.

The program will be distributed at February’s Showcase of Finalists.

The Shakespeare Nation Project seeks to bring together the the thousands of student contestants (grades 4 through 12) who have participated, many of whom now live elsewhere.

The project’s honorary chair is Gillian Jacobs. In the 1990s, as a Mount Lebanon high school student, the co-star of NBC’s Community participated in the contest three times.

Jacobs apparently never won, but must have done all right: She also appeared in three productions at the Public, including As You Like It and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition to Community, she’s also now making feature films, including a role in the upcoming Kevin Costner drama Black & White.

The Shakespeare contest was created by Rob Zellers, the Public’s education director, who still oversees it. It’s grown dramatically (so to speak), from 75 participants in 1994 to 1,200 last year.

For its program book, the Public asks past particpants to tell, in a sentence or two, “what you gained from your experience in Pittsburgh Public Theater’s Shakespeare Monologue & Scene Contest.” Include your name and the year and school you attended when you took part, and feel free to attach a current photo. Email responses to Margie Romero at

The deadline is Nov. 15.

The 20th Anniversary Shakespeare contest is supported by the EQT Foundation and Richard E. Rauh.

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 11:43 AM


Sisters Ali and Jamie McMutrie are continuing to make an impact years after dramatically rescuing dozens of Haitian children after the 2010 earthquake in the region. Now, the McMutries run Haitian Families First (HFF), a nonprofit organization aimed at helping and empowering Haitian families in despair through emotional, social, and financial support.

Tomorrow (Nov. 9), the pair will host a benefit party at the Rex Theater, featuring karaoke, live performances, and appearances by local celebrities. Mikey and Big Bob of The Morning Freak Show on 96.1 KISS FM, WTAE’s Sally Wiggin, and mayoral candidate Bill Peduto, among others, will compete in a celebrity karaoke competition at the event. And don't worry — there will be non-celebrity karaoke, too.

This is the second annual live rock 'n' roll karaoke costume party hosted by HFF and all proceeds will benefit the organization. Randy Baumann of the DVE Morning Show will perform at and emcee the event, which starts at 9 p.m.

More information and tickets can be found at

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Posted By on Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Here's the great conundrum of our day: With every passing month, Americans seem to express greater and greater hostility to the Republicans' political ideology. And yet Republicans keep getting elected to positions of influence. The explanation du jour is gerrymandering -- the use of electoral maps to ensure that Republicans get represented all out of proportion to their actual support. But maybe the problem is not in our maps, but in ourselves.

Take the latest Franklin and Marshall College poll, which surveyed 628 Pennsylvania registered voters between Oct. 22 and Oct. 27. Those polled sided with Democrats on the major topics of the day:

  • 50 percent of voters say that Barack Obama's healthcare reforms should not be repealed; 40 percent say they should. That's a 10-point margin opposed to the very position over which the GOP shut down the federal government.
  • 64 percent of those polled say they favor expanding access to Medicaid to more low-income adults. A more punitive plan by Gov. Tom Corbett -- which includes making such access contingent upon a work-requirement -- was only slightly more popular (72 percent approved), probably because that kind of requirement sounds good.
  • 62 percent of those polled said they either "strongly" or "somewhat" favor "creating more laws that regulate gun ownership." That's an 11-point increase from the previous poll, though really this number has been hovering around the 55-60 percent for more than a decade.

And yet unless you're Tom Corbett -- whose abysmal numbers are now so well established that I'm not even going to dwell on them much -- it's hard to see how Republicans suffer from being on the wrong side of all these issues.

This poll was conducted a week after the government shutdown drama, during which time the federal government flirted with a debt default. But while Pennsylvania Tea Party Senator Pat Toomey was one of the hardest of hard-liners pushing for default, it's hard to see how he'll suffer much over the long term. Compared to a poll in August, the percentage of voters who have strongly or somewhat favorable opinions of his performance is essentially unchanged at 27 percent. He did have a 6-point spike in those with "strongly unfavorable" opinions; 16 percent of voters offered that assessment. (There was a similar spike in Toomey's negatives when voters were asked about his job performance.) But that equals his rating in October 2010 -- the month before he won his election. And if history is any guide, the anger will ease: Prior to the shutdown, his unfavorability ratings were on par with Democrat Bob Casey's. (Casey's own approval ratings, incidentally, are unchanged.)

So basically, while Toomey may have voted to put the United States on a track for a profoundly damaging political and economic crisis, it's not clear he's done any harm to himself at all.

As for Corbett ... I'm guessing most of the coverage the poll gets will focus on the dim picture for him -- expect some Halloween-themed headlines about "scary" numbers. Those of us on Twitter can also expect about 3,218 gloating tweets from Democrats today. But really, there's not much new here. Most people think Corbett is doing a crappy job, apparently: Two-thirds of Pennsylvanians think someone else should have a shot at the job. But that's the same ratio as in August. And it's pretty clear that a lot of the disenchanted are Republicans -- 44 percent of Republican voters think Corbett should step aside and let another Republican have the party's nomination. It's an open question as to what those GOP voters would do in November if Corbett is on the ballot: stay home? Rally to the party's banner, however reluctantly? In any case, Franklin and Marshall didn't poll the popularity of any of Corbett's likely Democratic challengers.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 3:27 PM


Free jazz musician Daniel Carter will perform in Pittsburgh this week with his trio The Moon. Carter, who is from Wilkinsburg, plays saxophone, clarinet, trumpet, and flute and has performed with major acts including William Parker, Thurston Moore, Matthew Shipp. Though never receiving too much attention for his work, Carter has been active in the New York scene since the 1970s and has releases on notable labels like Eremite Records, Aum Fidelity, Thirsty Ear, and Silkheart Records.

The Moon — comprised of Carter, electric guitarist Adam Caine, and drummer Federico Ughi — will play two sets tonight (Wed., Oct. 30) at the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville. For more information and tickets, head over to the Thunderbird website.

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Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 3:21 PM

When you're done trick-or-treating tomorrow night, the Mattress Factory is hosting a film screening with live electronic soundtrack by a pair of artists in residence from Detroit. Costumes are welcome; more details in Program Notes.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Those looking for an arty way to spend the holiday can check out a performance by a pair of the artists represented in the museum’s current Detroit: Artists in Residence show.

Promo still for the Three Grace(s) trilogy
  • Promo still for the Three Grace(s) trilogy

Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller will screen their original film, the Three Grace(s) triptych, accompanied by a live soundtrack.

The triptych includes three shorter films, “Decampment” (2008), “Traditions” (2010) and “Possessions” (2010). (The films are in color, though the accompanying promo still is in black and white.)

Kuperus and Miller will perform the soundtrack as ADULT., the electronic musical duo under whose name they’ve released five full-length albums and performed live internationally.

Here’s a description of the film from its Facebook page: “The approximately 95 minute presentation consists of three interconnected short films; the first being the silent-experimental-horror mirage DECAMPMENT, which was made in 2008. DECAMPMENT follows a provisional women's transmigration from her ‘past’ life into a new society full of deceit and fable. The second chapter in the trilogy is entitled TRADITIONS (2010). TRADITIONS follows two young female friends and their matriarchs, all with unknown (and unchosen) inheritances, down four crossed paths. The trilogy concludes with the brand new dark and claustrophobic installment entitled POSSESSION(S) (2010). POSSESSION(S) simultaneously completes and ignores the narrative triad with doubles.”

In Detroit: Artists in Residence, Kuperus and Miller contributing Diptyching , a somewhat unsettling and somewhat hilarious video installation that depicts two anonymous jump-suited figures undertaking a series of home-improvement tasks, with disastrous results.

Trailers for the Three Grace(s) films suggest that they have different settings and varied scenarios, but a similar vibe.

Tomorrow’s show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $15 and include beer and “movie snacks.” More info here.

And yes, costumes are welcome.

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Posted By on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Tickets for tonight’s performance of Bricolage Productions’ 75th-anniversary recreation of Orson Welles’ infamous Halloween-eve War of the Worlds are sold out. But you can still enjoy the show, arguably in its purest form — on the radio.

At 9 p.m. tonight, tune in to 90.5 WESA for a live broadcast of this radio adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel — just how Welles’ Mercury Theater of the Air did it!

Welles and company’s audio-only 1938 staging of Howard Koch’s script was so convincing that a million or more CBS-radio listeners apparently thought a real Martian attack was under way. (There’s a great Radiolab installment on the whole thing.)

The Bricolage show reprises the company's own terrific 2010 production, which marked the first time anyone had put on WOW here in a while.

The current staging, which Ted Hoover raved about in his review for CP , stars Paul Guggenheimer, Randy Kovitz, Jason McCune and Sean Sears, with Tami Dixon on sound effects, all directed by Jeff Carpenter. There’s even live music, by the Ortner-Roberts duo.

And if you want to see the show in person, performances continue through Nov. 9. More info here.

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