7 ways to have international experiences in Pittsburgh


It might be summertime, but few of us actually get the chance to pack up and travel the world. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave Pittsburgh to experience international cultures. Here are some activities that will make you forget — if only for a couple of hours — that you haven’t left the country.

Catch a Bollywood picture at AMC Loews
Nothing beats whiling away the hours in an air-conditioned movie theater on a hot summer day. In addition to the usual movie picks, AMC Loews at the Waterfront also screens the latest Bollywood films. Bollywood movies are highly popular Hindi language films (subtitles are included). Lose yourself in a dramatic tale of love, friendship and/or heartbreak that takes place in some colorful locale of India, the U.K. or sometimes even the U.S. If you love musicals, then you’ll probably love the random scenes of song and dance that Bollywood films are known for.


Let your hair down at Sphinx Café
Stepping into Sphinx Café from the streets of South Oakland is an experience in itself. Sphinx Café is a large Egyptian style hookah bar complete with colorful Egyptian decor, comfy cushions and a muted television screening Egyptian soaps. Music of various genres plays in the background, but even that can’t break the peaceful atmosphere this hookah bar has managed to create. There is a full menu of shisha flavors, and customers can also order Middle Eastern food, fruit juices or teas. Go with a good group of friends because Hookah is best enjoyed with good company and conversation — but don’t make it a regular habit because according to the CDC, hookah isn’t a healthy alternative to smoking cigarettes.


Browse through the goodies at Kawaii Gifts
Buried within the clothing retailers and restaurants on Walnut Street is this small gem of a shop. Kawaii means cute in Japanese, and as the name suggests, Kawaii Gifts is stocked to the brim with cute items — most of which are imported from Japan where Kawaii culture is huge. The store sells a variety of goods from stationary to miniatures. They also feature brands and characters that are popular in Japan such as Hello Kitty, Rilakkuma and Sentimental Circus.


Exercise your pipes at Kbox
If shopping isn’t really your thing, but you still want to get a taste of Japan and other Asian countries, Kbox Karaoke House has you covered. Kbox is an Asian Style Karaoke bar that was founded by a group of Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh students and alumnus. Karaoke originated in Japan, and is still a highly popular pastime in Asian countries. Don’t worry about getting stage fright, because at K-box, it’s just you and your friends in your own private room. Make it an intimate gathering in a mini room with up to four people or go wild with up to 16 in a VIP room. With a database containing over 100,000 tunes, you can choose from popular English, Chinese, Japanese or Korean songs.


Eat an authentic French meal at Paris 66
If you’re wondering what’s for dinner, Paris 66 is ready to fill your belly with an appetizing French meal. Upon entering this cozy French bistro, you might think you’ve stumbled into Paris. The owners and chefs are French, the meals are French, the menu items are in French and the postcards imbedded in the tabletops are of Paris. Forget the hamburgers; feast on a croque monsieur or a filet Mignon instead! There is also an extensive wine and cocktail menu, and you can finish off your meal with a tasty dessert or coffee.


Go salsa dancing at Los Sabrosos
Skip the club this Saturday and go Salsa Dancing at Los Sabroso dance studio. For $7, you can salsa from 9:30 p.m. way into the early morning. The DJ switches up the music pretty often, so you can practice all of your Latin dance moves from merengue to bachata. No partner necessary, as you can find one when you get there. There is salsa somewhere in Pittsburgh every day of the week. If you can’t make it to Los Sabrosos, check out Salsa Pittsburgh for more times and venues. Hint: Cabaret at Theater Square has salsa dancing on Fridays (pictured below).

Salsa at the Cabaret at Theater Square, Downtown, on Friday nights.

Take up a new hobby with Timbeleza
Timbeleza is a percussion band that plays a form of Brazilian music called batucada. Batucada can accompany samba dancers or capoeira, a Brazilian martial art. Timbeleza holds weekly practices, and on certain summer days, you can hear the sounds of their percussive instruments cranking out cool beats at Flagstaff Hill in Oakland. Timbeleza also holds performances around the city and at events where they sometimes collaborate with samba dancers, break dancers or capoeiristas. For those interested in joining Timbeleza, email Kevin Seklecki or Siamak Malek at sambapittsburgh@gmail.com. Musical experience is preferred, but an instrument will be provided. If you’re not musically inclined, but would still like to experience batucada, Timbeleza will be playing at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater on Aug. 2.


Photo Credits: Stephanie Strasburg, Kitoko Chargois, Jasmine Goldband, Timbeleza


Hitting the brakes for Pittsburgh’s worst traffic nightmares


For Pittsburgh newcomers, it’s the subtle beauty of the city’s geography that often makes the first impression. Rolling hills, a trio of rivers, more green space than the average American urban sprawl — all that good stuff.
Of course, those assets also help create another striking Steel City specialty: an infrastructure and road system that even the most veteran Parkway Name-Your-Direction drivers find vexing.
Getting around Pittsburgh isn’t easy. Those 446 bridges? Handy, as long as they’re open. McArdle Roadway? A nifty cruise to the top of Mt. Washington, barring a landslide. Route 28? OK, it’s tough to think of anything nice to say about PennDOT’s never-ending project.
Managing the city’s many navigation nightmares comes down to luck a lot of the time. A simple fender bender or a broken-down car en route to a tunnel can slow anyone thinking about ditching work early to beat the traffic.
These routes are well-known to natives, but for those new to the roads in Western Pa., here’s a look at some of Pittsburgh biggest offenders when it comes to traffic tie-ups.



What better place to start this tour of infamous logjams than the “entrance” of the city?
Listen to morning radio shows or steer a regular commuter into a chat about the roads and inevitably you’ll hear a version of the following: “Why do people slow down before tunnels!”
Funny thing about the Fort Pitt Tunnel, it’s not the drive through the chute that’s the trouble. It’s getting there.
The trek down Green Tree Hill is like a lesson in how gravity isn’t supposed to work. If you find yourself traveling the terminus of the Parkway West overnight, you might find yourself reaching a Millennium Falcon-level of warp speed when you break through the entrance to the tunnel. During rush hour? You may as well pull out a book or practice your best road rage gesture at the “Time to tunnel” sign.
If you’re heading outbound through the tunnel, it’s a different monster but just as frustrating.
Whether you’re coming from the opposing Fort Duquesne Bridge or Downtown, getting on the tunnel’s eponymous bridge is as much of a creep as the hill on the other side.
The outbound end is a slog for good reason, with a set of merges and drivers coming from the Fort Duquesne Bridge making lane changes to reach the tunnel. The trudge from Green Tree, though, is one of the mysteries of Pittsburgh. Once you reach the other side and that beautiful view of Downtown and the rivers, the first concern to stop gawking and rev up to avoid all of those speeding vehicles on the top deck of the bridge.
Wait, where did those come from?



Say you’ve made it down Green Tree Hill, through the Fort Pitt Tunnel, are darting across the bridge under a beautiful late afternoon sun, and you make the right toward the Parkway East and freedom.
Check those brakes.
A bottleneck just as frustrating as its tunnel twin is coming up fast: the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, gateway to Pittsburgh’s heavily populated eastern suburbs.
If you’re a Downtown commuter from Plum, Monroeville or Westmoreland County, you probably know this one very well. Like the Green Tree Hill journey, there aren’t many troublesome merges — the exits right before the tunnel can be a pain, however, especially if you’re getting on the Parkway. No, this one again seems to come down to a case of oh-my-goodness-it’s-a-tunnel-no-way-I-can-hit-this-at-normal-speed disease.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the Parkway East and the tunnel itself have been the subject of several PennDOT projects in recent years. Even weekends can be rough on this stretch if a lane is closed down.
The road also seems to be a magnet for crashes, which can push traffic into a standstill all the way to the shadow the bluff.



Depending on where you live, there are plenty of different answers to the above question. The answer we’ll submit is one that, hopefully, can be scratched off the list soon enough.
Traffic on major artery Route 51 runs fairly smoothly from the West End Bridge — another gas-waster, if it’s after a big North Shore event — until the junction with Route 88, or Library Road.
Some of Pittsburgh’s oldest suburbs (read: oldest roads) are in the South Hills, and the windy, claustrophobic routes are at their worst at this intersection. Visit Google’s Streetview for an idea of the traffic buildups at this point — and specifically, the jungle of traffic lights covering. Along with than the Library Road linkup, two more roads meet here.
There’s hope, though.
A $19 million project is beginning that eliminate left turns from 51 to 88, replaced by a new “jug handle” for that  The extensive initiative is also widening 51 and nearby Provost Road and replacing a handful of structurally deficient bridges at the interchange.
It’s a lot to ask for, but by the end of the construction — which has already begun, with more intrusive phases coming soon — it should be a quicker ride to Baldwin, Whitehall, South Park and lands beyond.


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There’s a reason you see “I hate Route 28″ bumper stickers. And with the ubiquitous bumper-to-bumper rush-hour traffic, you can probably get an up-close view if you haven’t seen one.
But you might be seeing less of them.
Work is ongoing on a project to revamp the roadway along the north bank Allegheny River. When it’s complete, it’ll be a wider road and the stoplights will be a thing of past until you reach the route’s expressway terminus outside of Kittanning.
Of course, there’s no telling until it’s complete just how successful the project will be at alleviating some of the region’s worst traffic. After all, much of the road’s afternoon trouble comes right at the start. The on-ramp from East Ohio Street near the Heinz plant regularly backs up and slows the drivers coming from the North Shore.
Anything, however, is an improvement on the road’s former layout, and the changes already in place show promise.
Maybe there’s light at the end of this tunnel.





13 ‘most Pittsburgh’ Iron City commercials


If you say Pittsburgh beer, the first thing to pop into most people’s minds is going to be Iron City. I’m sure these commercials (and many others) played a key role in the connection. Through the years, some commercials have captured the city better than others.

13. Pour on the Iron: Backyard football

Can easily say I haven’t seen any adults playing backyard football … ever.

12. Show them where you live.

Ah, appealing to the homer in all of us.

11. Gimme the night. Gimme an IC Light

Clear, refreshing and bright. The choice is always right.

10. Pour on the Iron: Wedding

This looks like more fun than most weddings I’ve attended.

9. Pour on the Iron: Keg tapper

Al Luccioni demonstrates the art of tapping a keg

8. Dedicated to the preservation of the wild life

Not sure if any of this ever happened in Pittsburgh, though.

7. Pour on the Iron

Sparkling, robust flavor that does your thirst a favor.

6. Workin’ on a cold Iron

Pure 1990s cheese.

5. Hey, gimme an IC Light

Pure 1980s cheese. Who hasn’t had this happen on a city bus?

4. Pump an Iron

A rollicking  country song with plenty of Steelers imagery.

3. Pour it on, Slugger

Bill Mazeroski pitching the local brew.

2. You can’t keep an Iron man down

A classic tune.

1. Tell ‘Em Ray

An absolute gem, and the inspiration for this list. Can’t quantify how many times this ran during Penguins telecasts.


13 defining moments in the history of the Pirates Baseball Club


The Pirates, formerly the Alleghenys, have represented Pittsburgh since 1882, making them one of the oldest baseball organizations in history. According to MLB.com, the Bucs are only younger than the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. The Cincinnati Reds started playing the same year as the Pirates. In all those years, the Pirates have had their share of defining moments, whether it be a single game or a World Series or an incident in a particular contest. We’re not talking long losing streaks or record-breaking strikeout totals that went for a season.

There’s plenty of debate to be had with a list like this, as it could be much longer or a few defining moments shorter. We felt like 13 was the perfect number because, well, the Pirates snapped their string of losing seasons in 2013. Are there any moments I forgot about?



— A memorable playoff victory (Oct. 1 2013, Wild Card victory over the Reds) Reds ace Johnny Cueto had previously owned the Pirates, shutting them down on most occasions, but he faced an intimidating 10th man at PNC Park in a National League Wild Card playoff game. The one-game series had the winner moving on to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. The Pirates, and a suddenly reborn fan base, got the best of Cueto and the Reds to advance. The 2013 season was special, but this victory was the highlight. On a national stage, PNC Park was electric, and it showed that Pittsburgh could be a baseball town again. The Bucs went on to lose to the Cards in the NLDS, but the fever was back in the ‘Burgh.



— A trippy accomplishment (Dock Ellis’ June 12, 1970, no-hitter against the Padres) It’s really one of the strangest stories in major-league history. The Pirates were in San Diego to face the Padres, and pitcher Dock Ellis forgot he was supposed to pitch. With that, he decided to take LSD on this day. It didn’t seem to matter, as Ellis went out and tossed a no-hitter. The starting pitcher, who got plenty of help from his fielders in the feat, struck out six and walked eight. To this day — whether good or bad — it’s one MLB feat that will never be forgotten. A remarkable animated video (above), put together by James Blagden, details the whole affair. The season picked up from there, as Ellis and the Pirates went on to with the World Series.



— Not that Babe (Pirates rookie overshadows Cobb-Wagner in 1909 World Series) The 1909 World Series — won by the Pirates in seven games — was billed as the battle between the Pirates’ Honus Wagner and the Tigers’ Ty Cobb, both absolute legends of the game. However, it was a rookie pitcher who delivered the goods for the Bucs in winning their first championship in the modern Major League Baseball era. Manager Fred Clarke took a chance on Babe Adams, and he pitched the Pirates to victories in Games 1, 5 and 7. In doing so, he set a record for victories in the World Series by a rookie. Adams made his last MLB appearance with the Bucs in 1926, compiling a 194-140 record in the bigs.



— Oh, so close (Harvey Haddix tosses 12 inning of perfect baseball in 1959 before losing to the Braves) Without any doubt, It would’ve been the greatest perfect game in major-league history. “Would’ve been” being the key words. Haddix, nicknamed the Kitten, took a perfect game into the 13th inning against Milwaukee on May 26, 1959, and lost it in the bottom of the inning after a fielding error by Don Hoak. Three batters later, the Braves’ Joe Adcock connected on a home run that put the no-hit bid and the game to rest. All these years later, some folks still consider Haddix’s near-perfect outing as the greatest pitching performance in MLB history. Even more so when it was revealed years later that the Braves had been stealing signs throughout the game.



— Beating back a giant (Pirates beat Walter Johnson and the Senators in Game 7 to win 1925 World Series) Entering Game 7 of the 1925 World Series, the Pirates faced one of the best pitchers in MLB history in Walter Johnson. The Hall of Famer had held the Bucs to one run in Games 1 and 4, but the guys from Pittsburgh had the momentum going into the deciding contest against the defending champion Washington Senators. The Pirates climbed out of a 3-1 hole to force a Game 7. In the finale — a game remembered for terrible weather conditions — the Pirates took advantage of two Roger Peckinpaugh errors at shortstop to become the first team in World Series history to come back from a 3-1 deficit.



— A team effort (Pirates pitchers Cordova and Rincon combine for no-hitter vs. Astros in 1997) In a year that saw the Pirates come close to snapping a string of losing seasons, the greatest highlight came on July 12 in front of a sold-out Three Rivers Stadium. Cordova put together nine no-hit innings, before surrendering the game over to Rincon, who masterfully handled the 10th. A walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th by Mark Smith won it for the Bucs. It was history on the North Shore, as Cordova and Rincon put together the only combined, extra-inning no-hitter in modern major-league history. It’s also the last no-hitter recorded by the Pirates. Sadly, things didn’t get much better after that.



— Pops will lead them (Stargell hits .400 to lead Pirates to 1979 World Series victory) Age ain’t nothing but a number, and that was true for Pirates slugger Willie Stargell in the 1979 World Series against the Orioles. Boosted by their veteran power hitter and a certain theme song from Sister Sledge, the Pirates roared back to knock off the Orioles in seven games. Stargell was amazing in the series, batting .400 with a record seven extra-base hits and 25 total bases. His towering home run off of Scott McGregor in the sixth inning of Game 7 propelled the “We Are Family” Bucs to another championship.



— It’s finally over (Pirates clinch first winning season since 1992 with Sept. 9, 2013, win over Rangers) With a record of 79-83 in 2012, the lowly Pirates became the first team in major-league history, not to mention in all of professional sports, to have 20 consecutive losing seasons. On Sept. 3, in Milwaukee, the team ended the streak. A few days later, in Texas, the Pirates, behind a solid performance from rookie pitcher Gerrit Cole, clinched their first-winning season since 1992. It was a most-welcome moment for Pittsburghers who so wanted a major-league team that could compete on the highest levels.

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— Breaking down barriers (Pirates start first all-minority lineup in MLB history on Sept. 1, 1971) It’s one of the lesser known facts about the Pirates, but on Sept. 1, 1971, with manager Danny Murtaugh at the helm, the team started the first all-minority lineup in major-league history. The lineup (as seen above) was led by an outfield that included Willie Stargell and Roberto Clemente. Dock Ellis took the mound for the Bucs. Sure, the Pirates also played the first World Series night game at Three Rivers Stadium that same season, but the all-minority lineup was much more important to the sport.



— It takes two (Clemente and Blass lead Pirates to 1971 World Series victory) The Pirates won their fourth World Series title — knocking off the Orioles in seven — behind the strong performances of pitcher Steve Blass and right fielder Roberto Clemente. Blass, a 15-game winner during the season, hung tough in the series, winning Games 3 and 7 with complete performances. Then, there was Clemente, the MVP of the World Series. The right fielder was unstoppable at the plate, batting .414 for the seven-game series, He also notched a tremendous home run in Game 7 to lift the Pirates to an ultimate victory.



— Safe at home (Braves slide past Pirates in 1992 NLCS to go to World Series) It’s arguably the worst moment in the history of the Pirates organization. The World Series was on the line in 1992, and the Pirates had a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7. With the bases loaded and the Braves at bat, Francisco Cabrera smacked a two-run single that scored David Justice and Sid Bream. It sent Atlanta to the World Series and the Pirates back to Pittsburgh. It was the last, best shot for that Pirates team. The organization followed that dramatic loss with 20 years of losing baseball.



— A lasting image (Roberto Clemente gets his 3,000th hit on Sept. 30, 1972) Roberto Clemente will be remembered for a lot of things, whether it be his prowess at the plate, his rocket throws from right or his tremendous ability to help people. In all of those memories, and so many more, the lasting image of arguably the greatest Pirates player of all time is his 3,000th hit on Sept. 30, 1972 against Jon Matlack of the New York Mets. It would be the last season Clemente played, as he was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 31 in the process of delivering aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.



— Maz’s smash (Bill Mazeroski’s Game 7 walk-off homer in the 1961 World Series) When most baseball fans talk about the defining moment in Pirates history, they talk about Bill Mazeroski’s home run in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series against the Bronx Bombers. The Hall of Fame second baseman’s shot won the World Series for the Pirates against a Yankees lineup that included names like Mantle, Maris, Berra and Ford. It came on Oct. 13 at Forbes Field, giving the Pirates their first World Series championship since 1925. It’ll probably never be topped in the long history of the Pirates.


10 biggest first-round busts in Penguins history


This year’s NHL draft is approaching this weekend, so it might be a good time to take a look through the Penguins’ draft history — specifically the first round — and see where they might want a do-over. Here are the Penguins’ top 10 biggest first-round busts, including three who never played in the NHL:

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Center Angelo Esposito (2007, 20th overall)

0 NHL games

Could have drafted: Left wing Max Pacioretty (22nd overall); defenseman P.K. Subban (43rd overall)

Notable: Dealt to Thrashers in deal that netted Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis.

Robert Dome

Right wing Robert Dome (1997, 17th overall)

7 goals, 7 assists in 53 NHL games (52 with Pens)

Could have drafted: Left wing Brenden Morrow (25th overall); defenseman Brian Campbell (156th overall)


Goaltender Craig Hillier (1996, 23rd overall)

0 NHL games

Could have drafted: Center Daniel Briere (24th overall); defenseman Zdeno Chara (56th overall); right wing Craig Adams (223rd overall)

Defenseman Stefan Bergkvist (1993, 26th overall)

0 goals, 0 assists in 7 NHL games (all with Pens)

Could have drafted: Center Brendan Morrison (39th overall); defenseman Kimmo Timonen (250th overall)


Defenseman Zarley Zalapski (1986, fourth overall)

99 goals, 285 assists in 637 NHL games (190 with Pens)

Could have drafted: Defenseman Brian Leetch (9th overall); left wing Adam Graves (22nd overall)

Notable: Dealt to Hartford Whalers in deal that netted Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and, ultimately, the 1991 and ’92 Stanley Cups.

Center Roger Belanger (1984, 16th overall)

3 goals, 5 assists in 44 NHL games (all with Pens)

Could have drafted: Goaltender Patrick Roy (51st overall); right wing Brett Hull (117th overall); left wing Luc Robitaille (171st overall)

Right wing Blair Chapman (1976, 2nd overall)

106 goals, 125 assists in 402 NHL games (227 with Pens)

Could have drafted: Bernie Federko (7th overall); defenseman Randy Carlyle (30th overall)

Goaltender Gord Laxton (1975, 13th overall)

4 wins, 9 losses in 17 NHL games (all with Pens)

Could have drafted: forward Tim Young (16th overall); right wing Dave Taylor (210th overall)

Center Garry Swain (1968, fourth overall)

1 goal, 1 assist in 9 NHL games (all with Pens)

Could have drafted: Left wing John Marks (ninth overall); left wing Curt Bennett (16th overall)

Goaltender Steve Rexe (1967, second overall)

0 NHL games

Notable: To be fair, only one of the 10 first-round picks in this draft — the Flyers’ Serge Bernier — ever played in the NHL


Photo credits: Jasmine Goldband: Angelo Esposito; Tribune-Review file: Robert Dome; Penguins: Zarley Zalapski; AP: Craig Hillier; legendsofhockey.net: Stefan Bergkvist; gamewornauctions.net: Roger Belanger; penguins-hockey-cards.com: Blair Chapman; goaliesarchive.com: Gord Laxton; hockeydb.com: Garry Swain; benchedathletes.files.wordpress.com: Steve Rexe


All the baseball movies you must see


With basketball and hockey winding down, baseball season is in full swing. Whether you’re backing the Pirates or another MLB team, the best way to get a fix when baseball’s not on TV is by watching one of these great movies. If you haven’t seen all of them, what are you waiting for?



“Pride of the Yankees” (1942, 128 min.) Gary Cooper stars in a tear-jerker about the life and career of Yankees legend Lou Gehrig, one of the best baseball players who ever lived. Directed by well-known filmmaker Sam Wood, the picture is a fantastic portrait of baseball history, not to mention one of the sport’s greatest players.



“42” (2013, 128 min.) An intense biopic, filmmaker Brian Helgeland tackles the early professional career of Jackie Robinson, the man who broke the color barrier in the majors. Boosted by strong performances from Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford, “42” is a very powerful film that tackles an incredibly important moment in baseball history.



“The Bad News Bears” (1976, 102 min.) Let’s get one thing out of the way now. Skip the 2005 remake of this wonderful film at all costs. The earlier version is excellent and stirs those memories of playing baseball at a younger age. Oh, it also carries a memorable performance from the curmudgeonly perfect Walter Matthau as the coach.



“Major League” (1989, 107 min.) A spectacular cast — Tom Berenger, Charlie Sheen, Wesley Snipes, Dennis Haysbert and Corbin Bernsen included — got passing grades as baseball players in this epic sports comedy about an outrageous pennant-chasing Cleveland Indians team. Don’t waste your time with the two sequels, though.



“Eight Men Out” (1988, 119 min.) Much like “Pride of the Yankees,” “Eight Men Out” has its roots in baseball history. Unfortunately, the story stands as a black eye for baseball. The feature film covers what is referred to as the Black Sox scandal, or when a group of the White Sox players notoriously threw the 1919 World Series.



“Field of Dreams” (1989, 107 min.) Adapted from the award-winning W.P. Kinsella novel “Shoeless Joe,” “Field of Dreams” has a spot in every baseball fan’s heart. It not only details the magic to be had from the baseball diamond, but the importance of family. Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones serve up terrific performances in this spiritual quest.



“Sugar” (2008, 114 min.) If there’s one film on this list that not enough baseball fans have seen, this is it. “Sugar” details the difficult trip through the minor leagues by a Dominican pitcher. While the baseball stuff is a big part of this movie, the off-the-field struggles are the most important aspect of “Sugar.” This is a true under-the-radar gem.



 “Money Ball” (2011, 133 min.) While not as good as the book it was adapted from — Michael Lewis’ 2003 bestseller of the same name — “Moneyball” is a strong look at the game behind the game, as far as putting a team out on the field goes. Throw in top-shelf performances from Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and you have a superb picture.



“A League of Their Own” (1992, 128 min.) Hey, why not give the ladies a chance to play? Director Penny Marshall brings forth the story of the first female professional baseball league in this excellent dramedy that wears its emotions on its uniform sleeve. An A-list cast includes Geena Davis, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Tom Hanks.



“The Natural” (1984, 138 min.) Adapted from the 1952 novel of the same name from Bernard Malamud, “The Natural” will also have a place among the top baseball movies. Robert Redford, Glenn Close, Robert Duvall and Kim Basinger star in a film about Roy Hobbs, a prodigy of a baseball player who takes the sport by storm years after a mysterious accident.



“The Rookie” (2002, 127 min.) Based on a true story, this inspirational baseball story explores the road to the majors by a Texas high school coach. Jimmy Morris — played by Dennis Quaid — attempts to try out for a major-league team after losing a bet to his baseball team, and ends up surprising everyone. Especially himself.



“The Sandlot” (1993, 101 min.) It’s not the best baseball movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s another film that successfully brings back memories of playing ball with all of your old friends in the neighborhood. The pic follows a group of teens who fill their summer days by playing baseball and making some mischief.



“Bull Durham” (1998, 108 min.) Most consider “Bull Durham” the best baseball movie of all time, and it’s definitely a contender. Ron Shelton wrote and directed this highly enjoyable portrait of life in the minor leagues, as a journeyman takes a top prospect under his wing in an attempt to prep him for the bigs. Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon are fabulous.



Extra innings: “Cobb” (1994, 128 min.), “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973, 96 min.), “Game 6″ (2005, 87 min.), “Fever Pitch” (2005, 104 min.) and “Mr. Baseball” (1992, 108 min.).




Kennywood, from the top to the bottom


If you grew up in Western Pennsylvania, it’s more than likely that you spent some time at Kennywood for school picnics or just a day at the amusement park. With more than 30 rides to choose from, we thought it might be useful for newbies if we rank the rides so that you can make the best use of your time.

After a totally informal polling of Trib Total Media staffers, here are the best (to worst) rides at Kennywood:



Josh Yohe: The quintessential wooden American roller coaster.

Rob Biertempfel: The granddaddy of ‘em all.


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Jack Rabbit

Sue Jones: A classic that never fails to entertain.

RB: The double-dip always gets me.

JY: The double-dip has stood the test of time.



Phantom’s Revenge

MP: The buildup to the top seems to take forever before the first big drop, and the second drop is even more of a doozy.

JY: An adrenaline rush few rides can match.



Log Jammer

Keith Hodan: On school picnics, that had to be a favorite (especially at night) of 15 and 16-year-old boys who were lucky enough to visit with their girlfriend or crush BECAUSE … the ride requires the girl to lay back against the guy between his legs, so the boy would wrap his arms around the girl. Floating along in the dark, it was the location of many first kisses (and second, third and more)!



Cosmic Chaos

MP: When you’re spinning at the top of the ride, it feels like you’re going to go flying off into the trees.



Swing Shot

MP: The weightless feeling at the top, and the belief that you might go over the top, make this a winner.




JY: It isn’t very fast, and the seats are too small. A unique concept, but better in theory than in execution.


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Aero 360

KH: Means you are able to vomit north, south, east, west, up and down without ever leaving your seat. And for extra points, I think it’s the only ride where you can vomit on the way up and have it land back in your own mouth on the way down!


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Sky Rocket

JY: It defies physics. In a good way.



Black Widow

SJ: Rode it for the first time a couple of weeks ago, and that was the end of my day.



Raging Rapids

SJ: Great fun on a hot day.



Wave Swinger

RB: Simple. Fun.



Pittsburg Plunge

Kitoko Chargois: After getting sunburn from waiting in long lines at Kennywood all day, the Pittsburg Plunge starts to feel like the best ride the park has to offer.

Melanie Wass: My kids have stood in the splash zone for as long as an hour to cool off on a hot day when the lines for actual water rides were waaaaay too long.

KH: A perfect ride for a hot day. You will get soaked, plus it’s fun to watch unsuspecting visitors standing on the bridge get soaked as well.



Bayern Kurve

SJ: Oh no, not for me, particularly if you’re the person on the outside or back getting squished.

RB: Always makes me wanna hurl.




RB: A classic since 1927.




MP: A good icebreaker for getting the day started at Kennywood.


KJH AMUSE 03 2.jpg


SJ: You have to work really hard not to smile on this ride.




Adam Brandolph: The Exterminator is my favorite. Not only does it whip you around like a rag doll, it’s in pitch black darkness so you can’t brace yourself. So much fun!

KC: If you’re of height, I don’t think you can have the full Kennywood experience without riding this one.




MP: A classic — literally — dating back to 1918.




John Lehner: Ah, the Volcano! What used to be the Enterprise, the ride is probably known as being one of the most vomit-inducing rides in the park. In my youth, I used to love this dizzying thriller, but there seems to be an indirect correlation going on; the more gray hairs that sprout on my head, the less my stomach can stomach this ride.

 SJ: Did it once and thought I was going to fall out.




MP: A ride that’s stood the test of time — make sure you get a horse and not the chair.



Ghostwood Estate

Kelsey Shea: I think in the age of Wii and smart phones, Ghostwood Estate’s draw is a little lame. Shooting ghosts? There’s probably an app for that. Relatedly, you can’t shoot ghosts! They’re ghosts. Maybe if you sucked them into your backpack, Ghostbusters style, I could get on board.



Gran Prix

JY: Too many cars creates little speed. Blah.




MP: The line doesn’t look that big, but it always takes too long  for a short payoff.



Noah’s Ark

Jim Wilhelm: Nostalgia. Generations have visited that ride at the park, going through the vibrating/shaking floor and the rocking boat that weaves inside and outside.



Garfield’s Nightmare

JY: My kids don’t have nice things to say about it.

SJ: The line takes forever, and the ride is lame.

RB: Honorable mention for Hardheaded Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway (now called Garfield’s Nightmare) — back in the day, when I was in high school, it was a five-minute romantic getaway.



Musik Express

MP: The lack of padding is no fun for the person on the outside, and the smoking area right next to the line only makes it worse.



Auto Race

MP: Not sure how this doesn’t qualify as a kiddie ride.

Note: Not included are Kiddieland rides and attractions with extra charges (like the Skycoaster and Paddle Boats).

Photos by Sidney Davis, Keith Hodan, Jasmine Goldband, Heidi Murrin, Steve Adams & Mike Palm.


19 of Carnegie Mellon’s biggest Hollywood stars


Carnegie Mellon University has an excellent reputation for churning out talent on every level of entertainment, especially film and television. So, with our latest Trib List blog, we’re going to point out some of those CMU graduates who have emerged as giants in Hollywood. In no particular order, here are some of the great contributions from the famed Oakland institution:


Patrick Wilson

PATRICK WILSON (graduated in 1995) ACTOR

What you know him from: “Little Children,” “Watchmen,” “Lakeview Terrace,” “The A-Team” (movie), “Insidious: Chapters 1 and 2″ and “The Conjuring”


Blair Underwood

BLAIR UNDERWOOD (1988) ACTOR (Grammy Award winner)

What you know him from: “L.A. Law,” “Sex & the City,” “The Event,” “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and “In Treatment”



NANCY MARCHAND (1949) ACTRESS (Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner)

What you know her from: “Lou Grant,” “The Sopranos” and “The Naked Gun”


Los Angeles Premiere Party for Dark Blue


What you know him from: “Raising Arizona,” “Tombstone,” “Dazed and Confused,” “Mallrats,” “The Mummy” franchise and “Intolerable Cruelty”


2011 Summer TCA Tour - Day 13

JOHN PASQUIN (above left) (1969) DIRECTOR

What you know him from: “Home Improvement,” “Family Ties,” “Growing Pains,” “Roseanne,” “Alice,” “Thirtysomething,” “Newhart,” “L.A. Law” and “Rules of Engagement”




What you know him from: “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” “The A-Team” (TV series), “The Carpetbaggers” and “How the West was Won”




What you know him from: “Night of the Living Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead,” “Monkey Shines,” “The Crazies,” “Land of the Dead,” and “Diary of the Dead”


14th Annual Producers Guild Awards - Show

BUD YORKIN (1948) DIRECTOR/PRODUCER (Emmy Award winner)

What you know him from: “An Evening with Fred Astaire,” “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “Good Times,” “Sanford and Son,” “What’s Happening!!” and “Carter Country”



ANN ROTH (1953) COSTUME DESIGNER (Academy Award, BAFTA and Tony Award winner)

What you know her from: “Midnight Cowboy,” “Silkwood,” “The English Patient,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” “The Hours,” “Closer,” “The Hours” and “Cold Mountain”


James Cromwell

 JAMES CROMWELL (1964) ACTOR (Emmy Award winner)

What you know him from: “L.A. Confidential,” “Babe,” “The Queen,” “The Artist,” “W.,” “The Green Mile,” “The People Vs. Larry Flynt,” “I, Robot,” “Six Feet Under,” “Boardwalk Empire” and “American Horror Story: Asylum”


John Wells


What you know him from: “August: Osage County,” “The Company Men,” “I’m Not There,” “ER,” “Shameless,” “The West Wing,” “Southland” and “Third Watch”


Quincys Klugman 1981

JACK KLUGMAN (1948) ACTOR (Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner)

What you know him from: “The Odd Couple” (TV series), “The Twilight Zone,” “Quincy M.E.,” “12 Angry Men” and “Cry Terror!”


Rob Marshall

ROB MARSHALL (1982) DIRECTOR (Emmy Award winner)

What you know him from: “Chicago,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Nine,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” and “Annie” (TV movie)


Greg Mottola


What you know him from: “Superbad,” “Adventureland,” “Paul,” “The Daytrippers,” “Undeclared,” “Arrested Development” and “The Newsroom”


Steve Bochco

STEVEN BOCHCO (1966) WRITER/PRODUCER (Emmy Award winner)

What you know him from: “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law,” “NYPD Blue,” “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” “Columbo” and “Cop Rock”


Michael McKean

MICHAEL MCKEAN (1969) ACTOR (Grammy Award winner)

What you know him from: “This is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” “Clue,” “Plains, Trains and Automobiles,” “Saturday Night Live” and “Laverne & Shirley”


USA Holly Hunter

 HOLLY HUNTER (1980) ACTRESS (Academy Award, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner)

What you know her from: “Broadcast News,” “The Piano,” “Blood Simple,” “The Firm,” “Thirteen,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Raising Arizona,” “Saving Grace” and “Top of the Lake”



TED DANSON (1972) ACTOR (Emmy and Golden Globe Award winner)

What you know him from: “Cheers,” “Becker,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Damages,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Three Men and a Baby,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Ted”


Cherry Jones

CHERRY JONES (1978) ACTRESS (Emmy and Tony Award winner)

What you know her from: “24,” “The Beaver,” “Ocean’s Twelve,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Signs,” “The Village” and “The Perfect Storm”



— Zachary Quinto (1999) Actor/Producer

— Judith Light (1970) Actress

— Aaron Staton (2004) Actor

— Rene Auberjonois (1962) Actor

— Matt Bomer (2001) Actor

— Mark Frost (1975) Writer/director/producer

— Josh Gad (2003) Actor

— Michael Goldenberg (1986) Writer/director

— Megan Hilty (2004) Actress

— Joe Manganiello (2000) Actor

— Pablo Schreiber (2000)

— Laura San Giacomo (1984)

— Charles Haid (1968) Actor/director

— Barbara Feldon (1955)

— Robert Cummings (1930) Actor

— Gaius Charles (2005) Actor

— Abby Brammell (2001)


A Yinzer’s Guide to the Summer

It might be OK to finally say it.
Winter — that long, oppressive string of pipe-bursting months — is over. And spring, for that matter, seems to be passing us right by, if we even had one this year.
Long live summer. Who needs to wait for June 21? I’m calling it.
Temperatures are hopping into the 80s, the sun is shining at least a few times a week, and my mom is nagging me to mow the lawn of her North Side manse.
It’s a great time of year to live in Pittsburgh.
Sure, Western Pennsylvania is a full day’s ride from the ocean, and most Pittsburghers use these months to get out of town, but there are some great events and places to visit in the region while the weather is warm.
If you’re new to the area or a local who needs their memory jogged, here’s a quick guide to enjoying a yinzer summer.
Kennywood and Sandcastle
This West Mifflin amusement park and its wetter Homestead counterpart are obvious entries in our guide. They’re the quintessential destinations in the region during the hottest months of the year.
No summer is complete without at least one visit to Kennywood. Billed as America’s Favorite Traditional Amusement Park, it’s a unique place filled with world-class roller coasters and good eats alike — not to mention a rendition of Noah’s Ark that even Darren Aronofsky would find a little far afield from the source material.
Short on time? Your humble guide submits the following as the park’s best rides. Depending on the lines, you can probably knock these out in a few hours:
5. Raging Rapids — Arguably, this trip through the un-laziest of rivers is the park’s best water ride. And if you’re the unfortunate one to end up under a waterfall, it’s definitely the wettest.
4. Jack Rabbit — Any local will tell you the secret to this rickety coaster: sit in the back and wait for the double-dip.
3. Turtle — Hey, it’s a traditional park with plenty of “safe” rides. Give this one a whirl for old times’ sake.
2. Phantom’s Revenge — There was a time when this ride carried the appropriate title “Steel Phantom.” Back then, it boasted a serious set of loops and could be pretty brutal on your neck, to boot. Now, the tallest, fastest coaster at the park is just a lean, mean machine with a lap bar and a 230-foot second drop even better than the cliff-hanging first.
1. Thunderbolt — This lauded wooden coaster opens with a pair of drops before you even get to a lift hill. That’s about the only time you can catch you breath on this thriller. Hang on to your hats.
As far as Sandcastle goes, the closer the temperature climbs to triple digits, the busier the place gets — and potentially closes its doors to late-comers.
Once you’re inside, the highlights include one of the region’s few wave pools and a set of speed slides that double as a test of bravery. For a more relaxed trip, try out the lazy river, or if you’re old enough, the Sandbar is a great place to unwind and catch your breath.
Three Rivers Arts Festival
One of the keys to Pittsburgh’s growing recognition as one of the country’s up-and-coming cities is the growth of its arts and cultural scene. But the city’s massive arts festival has been a fixture for more than half a century.
This year’s 55th annual festival centered around Point State Park from June 6 through 15 features a rich blend of music, theater, film and dance. Simply put, there’s something for everyone — and it’s free, thanks to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and other supporters.
Not into the arts? No problem. The amount of food vendors practically matches the artists. Come hungry.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit http://www.3riversartsfest.org.
EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta
Let’s all say it together:
You gotta regatta.
Pittsburgh’s rivers are a treasure to the region, and this is the best use of the three you’ll see all year. The three-day event from July 2 through 4 is packed with races, food, music and culminates with one of the country’s best Independence Day fireworks shows.
The highlights include powerboat racing across the confluence, which will host the F-2 North American Championships on July 4. And for creative types or anyone up for laugh, the Anything That Floats race is a must see.
Even if you’re not converging on Point State Park for the fireworks, there are plenty of great vantage points to catch the show. A personal favorite is Mt. Washington, but the North Shore is great for an up-close view with a slightly thinner crowd.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit http://www.threeriversregatta.net.
Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix
There may not be a more unique summer event in the region. And certainly, few have a more worthy mission.
Starting as a single-day race in 1983, the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix has grown to a 10-day celebration of vintage cars, the people who maintain them and their drivers. At no other time of the year will car lovers find such an eclectic and fascinating mix of autos in Pittsburgh.
The highlight of the expanded event remains the July 20 race through a challenging Schenley Park course. Even better, that race and many other events are free to spectators, though donations are encouraged and go to a crucial cause.
Over the course of its three-decade life, the PVGP has raised $3.5 million, according its website, for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Last year’s record haul of $350,000 was split between the Autism Society of Pittsburgh and Allegheny Valley School.
Even if you’re not that into cars, this is one of the city’s great summer shindigs, one that should be experienced at least once. And every little bit helps.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit http://www.pvgp.org/.
Get your kicks
It’s no secret, Pittsburgh loves itself some football, but there’s a growing market for futbol, too.
The Riverhounds’ new Highmark Stadium has reignited interest in the franchise, and soccer continues to thrive at the youth level in the region. Another step on sport’s climb in Western Pa. will come July 27 at Heinz Field.
The Steelers’ home field will host two of the world’s top teams in Barclays Premier League champ Manchester City — think of them as you would the reigning Super Bowl champs — and Italian stalwart A.C. Milan as part of the Guinness International Champions Cup.
Heinz Field Rib Fest
Ribs and football. There are few better pairings on this planet.
Celebrating its 15th year from Aug. 28 through Sept. 1, Rib Fest coincides with the start of football season — the Steelers are home for a preseason game Aug. 28, and Pitt opens its season Aug. 30. The addition of a row of vendors beside Heinz Field hawking Southern-style ribs and other barbecued items almost makes for too much awesome in one parking lot. Almost.
There are six free concerts, as well, featuring a mix of local and national acts — and one that holds both distinctions in The Clarks, who play Aug. 29.
Of course, the return of football signifies fall is just around the corner, but the fest makes for a great way to wave goodbye to summer.
For a complete schedule of events and more, visit http://heinzfieldribfest.com.

Memorable NFL draft gems of the Steelers


Earlier this week, we looked at some of the NFL draft busts that the Steelers have had over the past few years. Now, it’s time to look at some of the better picks they’ve made. These aren’t picks like Ben Roethlisberger or Mean Joe Greene. Those guys were picked high and delivered. No, these are afterthoughts, picked in the later rounds. Coming into the NFL with chips on their shoulders, they became starters the Steelers could depend on and went about establishing themselves in the NFL. Here are some of the hidden gems the Steelers have plucked from the NFL draft:


10. Brett Keisel (2002, No. 242, Brigham Young) A standout defensive end for the Steelers, Keisel became a regular starter in 2006. He played on two Super Bowl-winning teams, and was named a Pro Bowler in 2010. Presently, Keisel is a free agent, and even if he decides on retirement, the defensive lineman known for his wild beard has had a solid NFL career, even after being picked in the seventh round.

Super Bowl X - Dallas Cowboys vs Pittsburgh Steelers - January 18, 1976

9. Ernie Holmes (1971, No. 203, Texas Southern) Picked late in the 1971 draft, Holmes, nicknamed “Fats,” became a key member of the Steelers’ legendary Steel Curtain defense as a feared defensive tackle with a knack for sacks. Holmes played six seasons with the Steelers, and was on the team that won Super Bowls IX and X. The Steelers dealt him to the Buccaneers in 1978, and he retired soon after.


8. Antonio Brown (2010, No. 195, Central Michigan) Scooped up by the Steelers in the sixth round, the speedy and reliable Brown has solidified himself as a No. 1 receiver and dangerous kick returner in the NFL. In 2013, he put up big numbers, hauling in 110 catches for almost 1,500 yards. A two-time Pro Bowler and a member of the Super Bowl XLV team, Brown looks to have a bright future ahead of him.


7. Darren Perry (1992, No. 203, Penn State) After a solid career in State College, the Steelers grabbed this safety late in the 1992 draft. Perry was strong out of the gate, picking off six passes in his rookie season. With Rod Woodson, he solidified the defense, and helped to lead the Steelers to Super Bowl XXX. He finished with the Saints, and retired after the 2000 season. He’s now an assistant coach with the Packers.

Andy Russell                   Steelers

6. Andy Russell (1963, No. 220, Missouri) A tough LB, Russell played his entire 12-year career with the Steelers. Russell lead the team into the glorious 1970s, and he was a member of two teams that won Super Bowls. He also had his fair share of Pro Bowls, collecting seven over his career. He briefly left the team to fulfill an Army ROTC commitment, and he was stationed in Germany for two years.


5. Mike Wagner (1971, No. 268, Western Illinois) A late-round draft pick, Wagner was originally looked at as a receiver, but he was switched to safety with the Steelers. The move worked out pretty well, as Wagner recorded 36 interceptions over a career that included two trips to the Pro Bowl and a key spot on a team that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Wagner retired in 1981 after a decade with the Steelers.


4. Greg Lloyd (1987, No. 110, Fort Valley State) One of the most-feared linebackers to ever play for the Steelers, Lloyd came to the team in the sixth round of the 1987 draft. Lloyd made his name as a pass rusher, and he recorded 54.5 sacks over a steady career that also included five Pro Bowls. He also played for the team that made it to Super Bowl XXX. Lloyd retired from the NFL after the 1998 season.


3. Mike Webster (1974, No. 125, Wisconsin) A fifth-round pick in 1974, Webster learned the game for two seasons under Ray Mansfield, before stepping into the starting lineup in 1976. He would go on to become arguably the greatest center in NFL history. Webster made the Pro Bowl nine times, and he was a member of a team that won four Super Bowls. He retired from the NFL after the 1990 season and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997.


2. L.C. Greenwood (1969, No. 238, Arkansas-Pine Bluff) The Steelers got a steal in the 10th round of the 1969 draft, taking Greenwood, a tall defensive end. Known for his gold-colored shoes, Greenwood was a big part of the team’s Steel Curtain defense. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times and won four Super Bowls with the Steelers. He recorded 73.5 sacks over a solid NFL career, before retiring in 1982.

Rocky Bleier

1. Rocky Bleier (1968, No. 417, Notre Dame) A member of a Steelers team that won four Super Bowls, Bleier had to battle back from a bad war injury — sustained in Vietnam, where he received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star — to become a remarkable success story. Bleier was a running threat for the Steelers, but he made his name as a punishing blocker for Franco Harris. He retired from the NFL in 1980.


Honorable mentions: Carlton Haselrig (1989, No. 312, Pitt-Johnstown), Willie Williams (1993, No. 162, Western Carolina), John Jackson (1988, No. 252, Eastern Kentucky), Dick Hoak (1961, No. 90, Penn State), Dwayne Woodruff (1979, No. 161, Louisville), Frank Pollard (1980, No. 305, Baylor), Orpheus Roye (1996, No. 200, Florida State), Carlos Emmons (1996, No. 242, Arkansas State), Barry Foster (1990, No. 128, Arkansas), Clark Haggans (2000, No. 137, Colorado State), Lee Flowers (1995, No. 151, Georgia Tech), Myron Bell (1994, No. 140, Michigan State), Merril Hoge (1987, No. 261, Idaho State), Tunch Ilkin (1980, No. 165, Indiana State).