Intersections: Poetry, Photography and Pittsburgh

In a 2006 lecture at Scripps College, art critic and L.A. Times reviewer Leah Ollman spoke on the overlapping aesthetic qualities used in photography and poetry, stating that “Each has a multiplicitous nature, and like any medium, resists a singular definition. Photography is said to be a slice of reality, a distortion of reality; a …

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Short Takes: “Further News of Defeat,” “Hallelujah Station and Other Stories”

When Autumn House Press began in 1998, they published poetry. In 2008, the Pittsburgh-based press expanded its offerings to fiction, and over the past decade, few small presses can claim to have published a catalog of work as reliably entertaining and artful. In the fall, Autumn House Press published two new story collections from up …

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Finding Jakie Lerner

“805 was a burner. where the hell is Jakie Lerner?” That was former racketeer Sam Solomon’s recollection of Aug. 5, 1930, the day when seemingly all of Pittsburgh bet on a single number: 805. When 805 hit, the city’s numbers bankers scrambled to pay the winnings. Many simply didn’t, and some skipped town to avoid …

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The Winter 2021 issue:

Baron Rothschild and Me

I had passed the bar exam and was working for a very large law firm in Pittsburgh. I was still so new I would get lost on my way to the men’s room. But it was wildly exciting for a working class kid from a dying mill town to be associated with such a prestigious …

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The Importance of the Warmup and Cooldown

Question: “I fit my aerobic workouts into a very tight schedule. How important is it to spend time warming up before and cooling down after exercising? I often do neither.” Warming up prior to engaging in more vigorous exercise serves several important functions. From both a mental and physiological standpoint, it prepares the body for …

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It’s Hard to Eat Healthy

“Ba da ba ba ba.” in 2003, faced with slumping sales, McDonald’s commissioned a jingle. The fast-food giant recruited the era’s biggest music producer, Pharrell Williams, and pop icon Justin Timberlake to create “I’m Lovin’ It.”  The catchy hook became the heart of McDonald’s first worldwide campaign. It was sung in 20 languages throughout 120 …

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Pandemic Saps Confidence in Jobs Outlook, Economy

Concern about their jobs and the local and national economies is widespread among people in southwestern Pennsylvania as the COVID-19 pandemic drags into its second year. In January, their confidence in all three fell to some of the lowest levels since the region’s first case of the coronavirus was reported 11 months ago, a new …

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Rethinking Obesity

Tammy Dolan had always been a “heavy kid.” Still, she never considered herself “really big.” Then came college and weight gain. She graduated and was ready to face the world. But, “I wasn’t happy with myself,” said the 39-year-old from Centerville, Crawford County. She tried dieting and exercise but couldn’t lose the pounds. After consulting …

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Getting Vaccinated Gains Popularity

Supplies are short and the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine is slow, but the willingness to get the shots is sharply rising across southwestern Pennsylvania, a new survey suggests. And hesitancy over getting vaccinated is fading the most among non-whites. Some 60 percent of southwestern Pennsylvanians said they were ready to get the shot in …

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Pittsburgh’s First Great Boxing Rivalries and the One-Punch Wonder

While the Pirates may have given Pittsburgh its first major sports championship when they defeated the Detroit Tigers in the 1909 World Series, its boxers gave Pittsburgh its first claim to the title City of Champions. In the first half of the 20th century, there were nine boxing champions with ties to Pittsburgh and the …

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How Sharpe Is Your Ratio?

“The Sharpe ratio is oversold.” — William F. Sharpe If the Sharpe ratio didn’t exist, I swear the financial industry would have to shut down. Originally developed by William F. Sharpe in the 1960s, he called it the “reward-to-variability ratio.” Sharpe first described the ratio in a paper published in the Journal of Business in …

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Mysteries of the Porcupine

This is how a porcupine attacks. It turns its back, displays the black line running down the middle of its tail, edged with white quills visible in the dark. Its body shivers. The jaw clenches, incisors vibrate, and the teeth clatter. It emits an odor. Quills become erect. These are mere warnings. If not enough …

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Exploring the Appalachian Shale Barren

An interesting, out-of-the-way place to explore in western Pennsylvania is the Sideling Hill Creek area. The Sideling Hill Creek valley is located in southeastern Bedford County and southwestern Fulton County, about a two-hour drive from Pittsburgh. Its watershed is framed by the sandstone-capped Town Hill mountain to the east, and Big Mountain to the west. …

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Lee Gutkind on Writing His Memoir, “My Last Eight Thousand Days”

My memoir, “My Last Eight Thousand Days,” published in October 2020, had been a work in progress for at least 10 years—just as my life had been a work in progress for 70-plus. I think of the book and the process of writing it, digging deeply into my life, as a bridge from the Lee …

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