Archive for May, 2008

Steelers and a Caring Place
May 26, 2008

I feel like a hamster stuck on a revolving wheel and I am going nowhere. So the next couple of days, I am going to post a number of blogs  about events that have happened the last month. At least that is my intent. Best laid plans…

A week ago tomorrow morning, I was out at Southpointe for the Hoge- Ward- Stark Celebrity Golf Classic. I think it was the 16th time these Caring Team Co-Captains have hosted the tournament to benefit the Highmark Caring Foundation, which includes the Caring Place. The Steelers have been so supportive of the effort, and, as a board member of the Foundation, and a Caring Team Co-Captain with the guys, I am grateful. 

Ben Roethlisberger has come out every year he has been with the team, and I caught up with him and Merrill Hoge as they were signing in. I think I asked him a stupid question here, and he always has a clever come-back when you do that. On a more serious note, both men have lost parents as children, and understand the importance of a  safe place for children to work through the confusion and conflicting feelings of grief. 

Max, shown here with his co-hosts, Merrill and Hines, is another one who understands the many facets of grief. His family owned funeral homes, and he grew up learning how to comfort those traumatized by loss. HInes had just gotten back from South Korea where he was continuing to set up his foundation to help biracial children in the country of his birth. 

Speaking of kids, these are children from Paynter Elementary in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District. Back in April (I think it was April), I went out to congratulate the entire 370 students there on raising over 63 hundred dollars for the Caring Foundation. And a special thanks to the two teachers who guided them in their efforts, Jodie Noel and Reita Melvin. 

And this is another valuable volunteer for the Caring Place. Suzie Campolong started the Deloitte Run for Your Heart six years ago, after a friend of hers died of breast cancer, and the woman’s family found solace and help at the Caring Place. The run was also in April, out at South Park, and it has raised 50 thousand dollars its inception.

Almost 400 runners and walkers turned out. Even Judy O’Connor, the late mayor’s wife, was there. She has been a volunteer at the Caring Place for years, and Bob was instrumental in securing the space for the center in Downtown Pittsburgh.  It was a labor of love and commitment for so many. And stay tuned– there will be a new Caring Place in the North Hills soon.  (more…)

Penguins, tigers, and elephants
May 19, 2008

Penguins, tigers, and elephants, oh my!!!!!  They are all part of what makes Pittsburgh shine this week-end. Two of those creatures are making headlines at the Zoo. The other performed in what must have been a zoo-like atmosphere on the afternoon of May 18. 

Now, I wasn’t there for Fleury’s fabulous shut-out. He was stellar, wasn’t he? But I was lucky enough to snag a ticket to Game two of the Eastern Conference Finals, a week ago.

This photo stinks,  but it’s my only keepsake to capture the atmosphere, which just gave you goosebumps. I can hardly imagine what it must have been like as they clinched. You gotta love the mystique and tradition connected to the victory hardware in the NHL. The Stanley Cup, the Prince of Wales Trophy. 

In this frozen NBC video, Crosby  is standing as far away from the trophy as he can, and people told me the crowd was shouting, “Don’t touch it.” Bad luck. Guy Junker remembered that Mario actually picked it up in 91 because he didn’t know about the jinx.  I was at that game, when they clinched against the Boston Bruins with four straight, after losing the first two in Beantown. Jinx didn’t matter that year. Ha!!

It’s interesting.  The night the Hossa trade was announced, I talked to a relative of one of the Penguins’ owners. He was irritated with some of the sports talk questioning the trade. He told me the intent was to win the Cup this year. Well, they sure are lookin’ like they are going to do it. Guy says he believes that trade helped send a message to the players that the ownership expected them to step up this year. That, and the injury to Sidney forced them to prove they could win without their captain. You have to give Mario, Ray Shero, and Therrien, so much credit. They have played this all perfectly. But one of the NBC analysts mentioned Craig Patrick as having built a portion of this team, and it is true.  What is remarkable is the calm of that team in the locker room, and in the news conference after the game. They have long been described as mature beyond their years, but actually seeing them so focused and contained was impressive. 

And if Dallas becomes only the third team in NHL history to come back to win after being down three games to none, the  Pens will be playing the Stars again. Just not the Minnesota North Stars. On the other hand, if they end up playing Detroit, Pittsburgh fans will be returning to the site of their latest Super Bowl victory. Good omens–both.

Now on to the real zoo.

Perhaps it it a good omen that the father of the wee, little tiger cub was also hand raised. When we all finally got to see him, only 5 days old, being fed from a bottle, it just ripped your heart out. He was so eager, eyes squeezed shut, so helpless, now that his mother has rejected him. While hand raising  tiger cubs is largely successful, the waiting game is to see if he gets through the next several weeks without demonstrating any health issues that may have made his mother instinctively reject him. But the vet, Dr. Cindy Stadler, her staff, and Mammal Curator Amos Morris, are working round the clock to  give him a fighting chance. His father, Globus, turned out okay. Amur tigers are the largest of the subspecies, I believe, and it is breathtaking to see them in the snows of Siberia (in documentaries, that is–I haven’t been there) . And to think it is hard to even glimpse them now, since there are only 400 left in the wild, and 190 in captivity.  So our tiny tiger is very, very important. The gene pool is so small, it could use an infusion of Toma’s (the mother) DNA. 

And speaking of  babies, I got an email from someone who wanted to know more about the elephant babies. It turns out, her young daughter has been following the development of Victoria and Callee, the Zoo’s first African Elephants to be born there. Now look at them!

Callee will be eight in September, and Victoria will be nine. Callee is already showing signs of sexual interest, and at night, he sleeps in his own stall. Victoria will be the big sister to the two new babies that will be born to Moja and Nan in the next month, and Willie Theison says they will be attracted to her like a magnet. He calls her The Princess, and he says he is hoping she will step up and help take care of them–show them the ropes, so to speak. If she doesn’t, he says she may have to be introduced to them, and persuaded that she still is the most important, but needs to be a good sister. I have signed up to do the baby watch, sitting in the elephant barn for 4 hours in the middle of the night, staring at the monitor to see if they are showing any signs of labor. I tried to pick a time I really think one may be born, but, even with Willie’s suggestion, watch me miss it. Can’t wait, though. We really have an honest-to-goodness herd. And the dynamic, the bonding, the sharing of calf rearing is so beautifully complex. Pittsburgh is very fortunate to have its ellies, tigers…..and Penguins!!!!!

Asia in Pittsburgh and the Talented Marshalls
May 12, 2008

A busy week-end in the Burgh, events everywhere, including the Pens. But that is for the next blog. 

This is about film and theatre, and how the city continues to be, not just a location for movies, but an environment for foreign film festivals, and the celebration of musical theatre. All in the same week-end. 

For three years, I have been fortunate enough to be involved with the Silk Screen Asian American Film Festival, albeit, peripherally.  It’s first year, it got praise from The Wall Street Journal, and the Gala Friday night was the best yet. It was complete with a wealth of cultural performances–

Lion Dances, Indian Fusion Dances, Phillippine tininkling(their national dance),

 to name just a few.  Great food, and the premiere of the first film of the festival.  The Festival lasts thru May 18, and you can catch the movies at the Harris, Melwood, or Regent Square. They have been carefully selected, and cover a wide rage of issues, cultures, and cinematic styles. 

It also attracts some of the top young Asian actors, one of whom is from Monroeville, and is co-starring in the new Michael Myers movie, “The Love Guru,” premiering June 20. 

Manu Narayan  is on the far right. He told me that he met so many people with Pittsburgh connections on the set of Guru. That always seems to be the case. He said even Jessica Alba is a huge Steelers fan. I can’t wait to see the film . The other guy is from Serbia, Radovan Jovicevic. He is a guitarist and composer, and he and Manu, lead singer and saxophonist, formed the Neo World Rock band, Darunam. Their first EP and music video was “All That’s Beautiful Must Die”–  a fusion of Indian, American, and the Balkans. Got it in the gift bag. Love free stuff. Especially when it is good. 

And the young lady, is Ruby Jain, who helped put the Red Carpet Gala together. Not knowing the Pens were going to be in the Eastern Conference Finals when the date was chosen months ago, it did conflict with the gmae that night, so we had to settle for announcing the score periodically, and watching on DVR’s later. 

 Saturday night, the Pittsburgh CLO honored Rob and Kathleen Marshall with their Richard Rodgers Award for excellence in musical theatre(this photo is not from that evening). It is the tenth one given, and previous recipients have included Shirley Jones, Julie Andrews, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Stephen Sondheim. CLO was gracious enough to make the Marshall siblings available for an interview, and I was so excited to meet them. They are so brilliant, yet so accessible, and just delightful. They started in CLO as kids–Rob was 12, Kathleen 10, and their sister, Rob’s twin, Maura, was also part of their first foray into performance–The Sound of Music. They were the Von Trapp children.  As everyone around here knows, Rob went on to choreograph, and direct on Broadway, as did his sister. They both have been nominated for and have won Tonys, and in his directorial debut in film, he was nominated for an Oscar for “Chicago.” He also directed “Memoirs of a Geisha.” I didn’t get to go the the Gala that night, but after the interview, I was told that Harry Connick, Jr. was going to walk in and surprise Kathleen. He is returning to Broadway to appear in a show she is directing next year. And Rob talked a little about losing Javier Bardem from his upcoming movie musical, “Nine.” Rob said it is true, Bardem pulled out because of exhaustion, but he hinted that someone very special would replace him.  I wonder if it could be……Johnny Depp???? Merely my personal speculation.

Here We Go Again
May 8, 2008

Well, how long has it been? I stopped the blogs for a variety of reasons. Chiefly, because I could never keep up–procrastination is my M.O. But as our on-air people all become involved in making appearances, and working in the non-profit arena, there are not enough cameras to cover all the events we attend. Subsequently, people who work tirelesslly to have their passions and causes noticed, go without TV coverage. 

So  I decided to try this again. The fact that I made the decision a month ago, and now have to play catch-up with a boat-load of photos, is just indicative of my laziness, and avoidance of technology. I am still a bit leery of putting in these photos. So here goes, a photo that is an embarrassment to me, and proof that I made the right decision not going into the theatre. Ha!

 

Oh, my goodness. It worked! I enter this for two reasons. Too thank the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for letting us all become part of such a remarkable performance, and watch from the wings as an extraordinarily talented group of dancers graced the stage of the Benedum for a trip down the Rabbit Hole, thru the Looking Glass, and into the Wonderful World of Alice. This haughty look on my face was my attempt at appearing queenly-but Helen Mirren I am not!!!!! I look like I am constipated.  Or a real sourpuss. Kelly, Andrew and Jake (love having him as MY King) look positively smashing–while I just look smashed. 

Here’s a little better one with the wonderfully wicked Queen of Hearts, and her King. I had forgotten that they play croquet with rolled up hedgehogs. 

 

This ballet was choreographed by Derek Deane, a friend of Princess Diana, who had been a patron of the ballet. The costumes we were wearing are works of art, and the gowns are worth $3000 dollars a piece. 

Just this last week-end, Kelly and I got to dress up, not with dancers, but with dogs. It was a fashion show benefitting the Western Pa Humane Society, and Kelly walked her adopted Chuck–Chuck with the laughing eyes. He is lovable, but intimidating. The audience loved it. 

Here he is with Kelly and her friend, Paula. I walked a dog named Eddie Bones. He had been severely abused and starved–found in the Hill District. Now he is full of life, well-behaved.

And the night before, I got to call bingo–Bow Wow Bingo– for Animal Friends.

This is Max, a 7 year old Boxer that someone gave up in Greene County. I called several days later, to make sure he had been adopted, and he had. He seemed so laid back, so dignified, but sort of lost, wondering why the people who loved him had given him away. I know it is anthropomorphizing, but have you seen that Pedigree commercial with the German Shepherd hanging his head out the car window, then looked confused in a cage. I sobbed. Well, Max has a new family. BINGO!