Friday, January 25, 2013

Filmed in PGH: She's Out of My League

On the list of things that I am a sucker for, romantic comedies may lead the pack. I can appreciate filmmakers like Katherine Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino, but I struggle with their movies because I just don't want to watch them. Sometimes I feel like regular life is stressful enough. I'd much rather pay money for some lighthearted entertainment, and when it comes in the form of a movie like She's Out My League, well that's just fine.

I saw this movie with friends in Boston, pretty soon after it came out. I admit that its "filmed in Pittsburgh" quality was a driving force in getting everyone to agree to see it. A few weeks before it appeared in theaters, I had made the decision to move back to Pittsburgh. I was nearing the beginning of the end of my five years there, and I can remember sitting in the theater seeing my home on the screen and feeling like it was officially within my reach. I just kept thinking: "I'll be there soon."

As I sat down to watch this last weekend, I did so with a pen and a pad of paper. In lieu of a formal review, here are my thoughts:

- Jay Baruchel = Canadian. And, as I was watching the opening scene, I couldn't help but think he could play Tyler Kennedy in the Tyler Kennedy Movie. (Which obviously will happen some day.)

- First Pittsburgh site on screen: the airport. Next we get a sweeping shot of downtown. Then there's a party at the Warhol. I can't help but have fun watching a Filmed in PGH movie and picking out all the places I've been or places I know.

- Hockey! There's a scene of this movie at a Penguins game, in the Igloo. Now that the Pens have been in Consol for a couple seasons, the newness is beginning to feel more like normalness. So to see the Igloo from high above and then from under its retractable shell made me feel a bit of sad nostalgia. In other news. Hockey is back! Hockey is back!

- Patrick Jordan is in this movie. When I saw it in the theater, I didn't know this and because I'm easily excitable I may have shouted "I know him!" 

- One of the dates takes place in Market Square, before its renovation. There's a nice romantic scene where Kirk and Molly have a chat on a bench outside of Primanti's with its neon lights glowing.

- Jack Reacher had its dizzying car chases that geographically made no sense. She's Out of My League threw me for a loop when people entered a party through Brillobox's front door, but the party took place inside of Thunderbird. 

I adore this movie. It's a great story with many funny bits. It's a lovely showcase for my fine city too. Two thumbs up. 10/10 Bridges.

And CONGRATULATIONS on scoring the Pens' first goal of the season!
Go Pig Go.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

#funaday2013 Update

Well, I've done a terrible job of keeping the Tumblr updated for my #funaday2013 project. But I have not been doing a terrible job of keeping up with my #funaday2013 project. In fact, I have knitted and stitched each word according to schedule every day. There have been nights where my hands were achy and my eyes heavy. But I finished my first quote and am moving onto the second.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

EvBetPGH Instagram: January 2013

January is cruel. At least weather-wise. Last weekend it was amazingly mild. This weekend we're dealing with howling cold winds and temperatures ready to drop into the single digits. I look back on these photos from the end of last week and can only look forward to the upcoming months when the weather begins a permanent improvement.

From the Hot Metal Bridge at the beginning of a long bike ride.

On the Eliza Furnace Trail, under the FIrst Avenue trolley station.

Along the South Side trail, soon the sign will be hidden by new green leaves.

Monday, January 21, 2013

American Idols: The Presidents in Glass

I've been watching The West Wing on Netflix. But in backward order. It's a show I've seen all the way through at least twice before. It's undoubtedly one of my favorites ever. Probably because it is so deeply rooted in an inspired part of my brain, I continue to have a growing fascination with the presidents. Fortunately, I have a friend named Kate, who is incredibly knowledgable about them. We went together to the Pittsburgh Glass Center's gallery to see American Idols, John Moran's glass busts of the presidents. Going through the gallery we studied the busts to get clues about each president through their clothes, which were chosen to reveal facts about the president's life and legacy.

This post is poorly timed. The exhibit's final day at the Glass Center is today. Seeing this exhibit was my first time inside the Glass Center, but I don't believe it will be my last. I'm hoping to take a class (or two or three) there this year.

But this post is aptly timed, because today is Inauguration Day. Four years ago, I was up before the crack of dawn to be witness to the event from the Mall. It was a whirlwind weekend that also included celebrating the Steelers AFC Championship at a packed-wall-to-wall Steelers bar in DC.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Filmed in PGH: Jack Reacher

A few weeks ago, my friend Lindsay, who lives in Boston, asked me - I believe somewhat eagerly and excitedly - if I had managed to catch a glimpse of Channing Tatum, who was in town filming a movie. Since I moved back in 2010, those words "in town filming a movie" have become more and more a part of the Pittsburgh everyday vernacular. Though I had not and have not seen this year's Sexiest Man Alive, I've stood next to Gus Van Sant at Brillobox, watched Anne Hathaway slink into her trailer outside the Mellon Institute, and stared (mouth-agape and all) at Christian Bale through a window in a press box at Heinz Field.

In the past year, The Dark Knight Rises, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Won't Back Down have all shown on the big screen. All Filmed in PGH movies. The latest of these to hit the theaters is Jack Reacher, the Tom Cruise-produced and Tom-Cruise-starring action thriller.

Last Friday night, I went to the Southside Works and paid my $9.75 to see this movie. Had this movie not been filmed in Pittsburgh, that would have never happened. This is a cheesy action-thriller full of ridiculous one-liners ("I don't need a pen.") and bad-ass threats ("Drink your blood out a boot."). Tom Cruise puts himself on display and I think we're supposed to find him sexy in the scene where he stands around shirtless because he only has ONE SHIRT and he's currently washing it in a motel room sink. I could name a dozen or so other scenes as goofy as that.

But as silly as Jack Reacher was, it featured Pittsburgh quite nicely. Within the first few seconds there is a sweeping shot of our skyline. There's a van we're following from afar, through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, across the bridge, and along our city streets. The movie turns grim pretty quickly after that, as the van holds a sniper, who sets up in a parking garage along Fort Duquesne Boulevard and shoots five people on the North Shore Trail across the Allegheny. From there the movie sprawls into conspiracy and Tom Cruise trying to act tough.

When I watch a movie filmed in Pittsburgh, I'm easily distracted by the many times I'm thinking "I know where that is!" or "That must be in [insert neighborhood name]!" (Sometimes I'm also distracted by people I know showing up. Mostly this is my friend Patrick Jordan.) In both The Dark Knight Rises and Jack Reacher, car chase scenes made me dizzy. Batman kept going in circles around the Kaufmann building and Jack Reacher's chase scene hopped from one side of Downtown and suddenly to the North Shore and through the Armstrong Tunnel, which didn't have a curve, and so on.

Last year, I made a resolution to read books that had to do with Pittsburgh. This year, I'm going a different route. Filmed in PGH will hopefully be a regular feature on EvBetPGH throughout 2013. The year's first Filmed in PGH entry, Jack Reacher, might not get any thumbs up for content, but for its Pittsburghness, I'd give it 8/10 Bridges.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nice (PGH) Things That Look Good: January 2013

Oh, winter. You cold and dreary foe. The older I get, the more I hate winter. I really do not mind the cold, as long as I am moving (walking/biking) through it. But I hate snow. And I hate the fact that it gets dark early and is dark by the time I leave work. There's so much more time spent indoors due to the dark, which makes leisurely walks and long bike rides nearly impossible to accomplish until we spring forward on March 10.

If the weather report for the next week holds, today we should be experiencing temps in the mid-40s! Strange how in the fall when that happens for the first time it seems so cold. But when it happens in the winter, it feels like spring. Though the early darkness remains, it's been staying lighter a little longer each day.

Here are some colorful things I saw on a cold Sunday at the very end of 2012. Pittsburgh's bursts of color are a mood brightener in the midst of the grey skies of winter.

Owl on Butler Street.

Someone added colorful geometric wood blocks to the Roberto Clementes in Doughboy Square.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

River Jump 2013: A New Year's Dip in the Mon

For the third year in a row, I was up early on New Year's Day. The thought of waking up before 8 a.m. after a late-night holiday for many is completely foolish. The thought of waking up before 8 a.m. after a late-night holiday to jump in an icy cold river for nearly all is completely idiotic. It's idiotic fun to be had, and it's one of my favorite things that's become a tradition with some very good friends.

The two previous years it had been gloriously mild. Temps both years were in the 50s. This year, it was below 30 and snowing. Finally. A true Polar Bear Jump. This year's jumpers were much the same as last year's, with our last year's photographer taking her first plunge.

We shouted "Monongahela!" before this was snapped. WTAE was there; not sure if we made it to the television screen.

This costume made me laugh all morning.

Honestly, the worst part was the cold ground on my bare feet. That was really terrible.

The secret is stripping down in stages.

Another secret is to huddle together for warmth.

And to argue about how to do a countdown in an effort to stall the inevitable.

Oh, yeah, and then you're like "GET ME OUT OF THIS RIVER WHY DID I DO THIS?"

We all gathered together for a big brunch after we all took showers to wash the river away. It was cold and a bit crazy, but I'm glad this is a tradition that continues.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Fun-A-Day 2013: Knit Words

Winter is tough. And in Pittsburgh it's tough combined with cold and gray, which makes it even tougher. If you're anything like me, having a creative objective is a great distraction from the winter doldrums. This January, I am participating in Fun-A-Day. Every day this month, I will be knitting a new word and those words will form quotes and take the shape of a scarf. I'll be documenting my progress on a Tumblr: Knit Words. (The goal is to actually do this every day: knitting, stitching and posting.) In March, the final products (mine and the other participants of the Fun-A-Day Pittsburgh group) will be on display. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Stroll the Cemetery: Winter 2013

Technically, this stroll took place at the every end of 2012. But, it'll hit the internet-waves in 2013, and I'm way more inclined to live in the present rather than in the past. The cemetery in the wintertime is boring. Sheeeesh. Walking through (with great care and caution; the pathways were a bit icy), it was hard to believe that this was the same place that was bursting with amazing color just a few months prior.

The cemetery was eerily quiet. It was cold, but not terribly unpleasant. The snow was falling lightly. For as much as I hate winter, this wasn't the worst way to spend a few hours outside of the apartment. Enjoy the photos I took along the way.

The infamous grave looks ever goofier in the winter.

Last year's purchase of good winter boots has finally come in handy.