Culture

Where Science Meets Play

Oscar Wilde once remarked, “Illusion is the first of all pleasures.” Welcome to the Museum of Illusions, Pittsburgh’s newest playground for both the young and the young at heart. Step into Instagram-worthy exhibits — infinity mirrors, spatial puzzles, and a plethora of mind-twisting fun await. Situated a stone’s throw away from PNC Park, this is …

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Ed Simon and the Plight of Milton’s Satan

The notion behind IG Publishing’s “Bookmarked” series is to allow contemporary authors to reflect on how a particular book influenced their journey to becoming writers. “Part autobiography, part literary criticism,” the series aims to guide readers through a deep dive of a single book. The latest installment, Heaven, Hell and Paradise Lost, features Pittsburgh writer …

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Remembering the Beehive

A recent study by apartmentguide.com says Pittsburgh ranks sixth highest among 483 U.S. cities for coffee availability, based on population density and coffee establishments per square mile. It wasn’t always that way, before the iconic Beehive Coffeehouse opened in 1989 on East Carson Street. Readers and regulars alike can thank local journalist David Rullo for …

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Painting the Audience: Quantum’s “Scenes from an Execution” is Artistic Theater

Although we can’t prove that Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” we certainly can admit the wisdom in this adage, especially as it concerns the theater, where interpretation has turned into an industry for directors, dramaturgs, audiences, and especially, critics.  So rather than write a quotidian, interpretive review, our critic decided to …

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Lockett’s Short Stories Provide Authentic View of Appalachian Life

Learning an obscure Mauritanian language may not mean much around his central Pennsylvania hometown of Phillipsburg, but for Michael Lockett, now a transplanted North Sider, his time in the Peace Corps led to humility, empathy, and understanding different perspectives. Those three qualities color his narrative approach throughout a standout debut collection of short stories, In …

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Ghost Park

Ghost Park The dog took off near the backhoe stuck in its rutand I followed through tan brush,watching his white shape zip up the mud path. A plateau halfway up the city mountain:an abandoned basketball court,chain-link strangled by vines,backboard standing indecisive abovea spread of soggy beer-cases, broken bottles, crinkled cans.Of course, a used condom here …

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The Fine Collection Follows and Augments a Long Line of Pittsburgh Benefactors

Andrew Carnegie provided the means to establish the Carnegie Institute, but he believed that it should be supported by those who use it. He wasn’t much of an art collector, so he left it to others to buy or give the grand building’s objects. The art museum’s collection grew very slowly at first, with purchases …

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Pittsburgh Public Theater’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” A Sincerely Funny Play

There are certain plays we admire for their timeless quality, that somehow not only survive, but thrive over decades, centuries, and even millennia.  “Oedipus Rex” and “Hamlet,” for example, have proven themselves in this respect, while others like “Waiting for Godot,” and “American Buffalo” certainly have the potential to join them.  Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance …

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An Enchanting Evening in Another World: Chatham Baroque Transports Us to the Realm of Bach

Several years ago, when I lived in Cambridge, I happened to sit next to an eccentric man on a flight to Boston, who had a large musical instrument occupying the seat next to him.  Suspecting that it wasn’t a cello, I asked what it might be, and he said a viola da gamba.  I replied, …

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Barebones Delivers a Visceral Portrayal of Working America in “Skeleton Crew”

Usually, critics try to bury the lead, but I’m going to say outright that Barebones Productions may be the most authentic theater company in America today.  This is not to denigrate any other company, nor to say that Barebones is the best theater company, but what they have done over the past couple of years …

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Finny Cora

Finny Cora Finbar bolted down a big breakfastand walked with his best humanto the greenwhere he had his morning poop–on the way back twenty paces from homeall four feetwent out from under him . . . heart gone that mercifully quick Cora outlived her mateby three yearsslowing down. . . and down . . . …

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monkey bars

monkey bars it’s lifting your feet as trains pass,holding your breath near graves—it’s hidingshivers as you angel in the snow. it’s filling your rain boots with puddles,water-logged Velcrotoo soggy to stick––it’s gum, decades-old,decayingunder desks.  it’s crunching leavesonce they orange;their sound bites like brown-bagged lunch—it’s cartons of milk curdlingin heatwaves. it’s stuffing inch wormsin pocketsand forgettingby laundry day—it’s hanginghand-me-downsyou’re sureare shrinking.  it was sitting on daddy’s suitcase,your …

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Longing for Limelight

Hollywood has been alternately described over the years as “a tissue thin façade full of self-important narcissists” and “a place where dreams come alive.” This year’s winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, Kelly Sather, paints her protagonists as dreamy, never-will-bes who dwell in the shadows of fame. The California native and former entertainment lawyer …

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I Could Live There

I Could Live There A colonial perchedon a leafy hillside—its yarda backslope of rhododendronand weed, a bit of grasshere and there— I could live there, I thinkas the train rolls by. But then I see a perfect woodof evenly spaced pinesand long to lie on the warmed fallen needles, their scent a relieffrom housekeeping tedium.I …

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Pittsburgh Opera Goes Back to the Future with a Moving “Iphigénie En Tauride”

The conceit of the “what if” story has always fascinated us: what if Ebenezer Scrooge hadn’t been visited by his ghosts in Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” or if George Bailey hadn’t had the intervention of the angel Clarence in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or if Marty McFly hadn’t gone back in time to make sure …

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Buying Fragments of God: The Crazy Art World of the 1980s

If the 1960s changed America’s consciousness for the better, the 1980s certainly changed American commercialism for the worse. And to have lived during this latter period in New York City was to have felt the first tremors of this change, much like living near the epicenter of an earthquake and experiencing its initial shockwaves before …

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When Did Prison Become My Home?

When Did Prison Become My Home? My wife had to leave me first,saying so over the phone,the fifteen-minute inmate call long enoughfor her to speak pregnant & separationso I knew my home was not my home.Then came work, waving its armslike a candidate for office,promising a few extra dollarsin my trustee account. Too,I wrote poems …

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Real-life Heroes

On Jan. 25, 1904, 179 mostly teenaged miners died in a massive explosion at the Harwick Mine near Cheswick, where today a stone memorial marks their mass grave. A single survivor, Adolph Gunia, was pulled from the rubble by the mine’s designer, Selwyn Taylor, and his assistant, James McCann. Volunteers like Daniel Lyle dug through …

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mountebank afternoon

mountebank afternoon (for angele ellis) contrails fadesun tries to breathelife into the old city mission the art deco erawritten in lamppostwatched by eaglesbronzed in way back the wind across mountebankafternoon stretches a flagto the point it could break then take to the skya kite of a freedom imaginedlike the leaves that decoratethese hillsides bare trees

Dougherty’s Debut Highlights the Bonds Among Five Female Friends

Of her debut novel, Pittsburgh native Marianne Dougherty says it’s “about the power of female friendships to sustain us” — an accurate portrayal of what plays out over 380 brisk-reading pages. With a host of well-regarded freelance work in both local and national platforms, Dougherty has penned a tale about what bonds her strong feminine …

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His Father’s Son

For the first 37 years following his 1945 birth, August Wilson was a Pittsburgh nobody, abandoned by his white German father, Frederick August Kittel, and disdained by his black mother, Daisy Wilson, once he dropped out of school in the ninth grade. Self-educated thanks to thousands of hours spent in multiple Carnegie Library branches, Freddy …

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Noteworthy

Different Views of Christopher ColumbusOn Oct. 12, in Madrid, Spain, an enormous and colorful parade of national pride snaked its way through the streets of the Spanish capital. The “National Day of Spain” is the country’s biggest civic holiday, celebrating Spanish history and achievements and reconfirming Spaniards’ commitment to the nation’s future. The date commemorates …

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