Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Day 390- Carnegie Science Center- Fun for Adults-Climb Aboard for Locomotion Weekend


When my son was younger, a visit to the Carnegie Science Center was more like a mad dash though the exhibits. You can take your time to explore when it's an all adult excursion. The Carnegie Science Center has so much to absorb and stimulate new knowledge even for us older folks: Sky Watch, lectures, 21+ Nights  (Day 217), the Rangos Giant Theater (Day 277) and traveling exhibits. Recently, my father and I climbed  aboard during the Science Center’s train weekend.

Lego train exhibit with moving engines


The train show brought back memories of my childhood train set.  I could never resist being the engineer that increased the power, causing the train to  accelerate  faster and faster until it finally jumped the track. The crash seemed as much fun as the speed.  Model trains have always been part of my life.  My father filled our basement with his Cinder Valley Railroad. I learned early on that making a miniature version of the world is an artform.      

The Science Center had displays from over 10 train associations and clubs. Various railroad sizes were represented: the biggest (O gauge), the smallest (N gauge) and the middle sizes (S and H.O. gauge.)  Some displays were interactive. You could load barrels on a boxcar, make a volcano erupt in smoke, move a crane and more.

H.O. gauge train, my father's specialty


Every exhibitor seemed to enjoy bragging that their train type was the best for building a model railroad.  We overheard a few visitors saying that the H.O. trains were their favorite.  My father smiled from ear to ear  since that was his specialty.  

My father, now in his 80’s, sparked as he talked train talk with the engineers.  His joy made this day a  memorable father/daughter one to treasure.      

We  even learned something new -there  is a Lego Train Association. We had never even seen a Lego train before. The experience turned me into “train nerd” as I spent an extended period of time asking, “How are they built? How long does it take? Where do you get the kits? What is the cost…”

Giant Rangos Theater

You can always climb aboard at the Science Center with the Miniature Railroad and Village which has a permanent home on the second floor. They add new buildings yearly so it’s always changing. There are even more trains in the movie, Train Time, currently showing in the Giant Rangos Theater.

The Science Center can spark that kid in us at any age. It can even produce special memories and you never know what new things you can learn if you just climb aboard.  

 Other Sources

miniature railroad

ski watch




Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Day 389-Liberty Magic-Pittsburgh’s Venue Dedicated to the Slight of Hand- Ran’D Shine-Dazzles by Things Seen and Unseen


Pittsburgh joins, Chicago, New York, Nashville and Los Angles, with a club dedicated solely to the art of magic.  Liberty Magic, located in the same block that Houdini mesmerized Pittsburgh audiences in 1916, pays homage to his famous Chinese Water Torture Cell illusion in the lobby. At Liberty Magic you are just feet away from famous magicians from all over the world as cards fly, coins appear and vanish, and minds are read. It’s a place to be dazzled by things seen and unseen.    


The experience starts in the lobby with the floor to ceiling shelves containing a top hat, cards and other magical props. The Venue Manager (Zoe Ruth) personally greets every patron inviting all to participate in a one on one or small group card illusion. Through the lobby, passing the all-knowing Zoltar and a room that looks like it could be part of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, you enter the intimate  70 seat theater where the magic begins.  

I have been dazzled at Liberty Magic on several occasions. Each time there was a unique and different approach to the world of trickery. Some shows were sophisticated (Day 344) and others a variety of fun (Day 332). The common thread in all was always the “wow” factor.

Ran' D Shine, who has been featured at the South African African Arts Festival and in two  Presidential Inaugurations in Washington, DC kept the audience questioning, “how did he do that?”  Thimbles multiplied, cut ropes morphed back together and cards were identified, disappeared and reappeared in volunteers’ pockets or a wallet. He told stories, made us laugh and seemed clairvoyant. Ran’D psychological illusions (especially identifying someone in the audience's most influential person) had you believing in the powers of the unseen.  

Skeleton Key VIP Experience

Getting the Skeleton Key VIP Experience or backroom experience is the most intimate exposure to the magic. After the show, we sat around a table where we were as close as it gets to the magician, laughing and enjoy all the things seen and unseen.  

(The magic awaits Wednesday through Sunday every week (go to show schedule for the upcoming Illusionist.)

Other sources

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Day 388- Straight No Chaser – A cappella, Their Song and Instrumental Sound is Magic (Pittsburgh 2022)


 Straight No Chaser  celebrates 25 years of wowing audiences by using only their voices to produce a rainbow of sounds and song. These nine men are the vocals, orchestra and/or band all rolled up into one.  This a cappella group started in 1996 at Indiana University with the purpose, according to one member, “to get girls.”  Since then, they have produced 5 albums, the latest "Straight No Chaser: Social Christmasing." They have taken a cappella to another level as master entertainers in using the voice as an instrument.  It’s like magic.

Monday, December 19, 2022

Day 387 Steubenville Ohio-Holiday Nutcracker Village- A Christmas Story of Hope and Resilience.


 Just about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh in Steubenville, Ohio you can enter a festive world of life-sized Nutcrackers during the Holidays. From November 22, 2022 through January 7, 2023 the downtown streets of Steubenville are transformed into a village of these happy fellows and gals.  Lined along the streets you will find one representing almost every profession, sports team, and/or hobby that you can imagine.  These brightly colored Nutcrackers gave this town a needed boost after it was hit hard when the steel mills closed. Thanks to these beautifully crafted friends, Steubenville is a magical Holiday destination. The making of  The Nutcracker Village is a true Christmas Story of  resilience and hope. 

Monday, December 5, 2022

Day 386- A Christmas Story (The Play)-Pittsburgh Public Theater-A Simpler Christmas


My son and I make it an annual holiday tradition to watch the movie "A Christmas Story" that takes place on Cleveland Street, Indiana in the 1940’s. We laugh over and over at nine-year-old Ralphie’s quest for a “Red Ryder, Carbine Action, two-hundred shot, range rider air rifle with a compass  in the stock” and his father’s acquisition of the “major award,” the tacky leg lamp. The movie has become an iconic classic. Even if you never watched the movie, the story elicits memories of our own childhood. It reminds us of a simpler Christmas, a time when the holiday focus was on those around the tree and not what was under it, unless of course, you are Ralphie.      

Friday, December 2, 2022

Day 385- Pittsburgh Opera -Free Brown Bag Concerts -Experience Opera Up-Close with the 22-23 Resident Artists


Every Year the Pittsburgh Opera gets over 500 applicants from around the world for their Resident Artist two-year program. This program gives the artists a chance to work on a variety of opera productions. Several times a year during the opera season  they preform free one hour "Brown Bag Concerts"  in the Bitz Opera Factory (Opera Headquarters) located in the Strip District. This is great opportunity to meet the new talent and experience opera up-close.  

Friday, November 18, 2022

Day 384 Hadestown-Greek Myth Set in a Speakeasy-Like an Tragic Opera, Music Enchants

Hadestown kicks off the second show of the PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh season. This is not your typical feel-good musical but akin to a tragic opera. Like watching an opera, my focus was drawn not to the story, but the music and elaborate set. Hadestown is loosely based on a Greek myth. The songwriter, Opheus, falls in love with Eurydice and tires to rescue her from underworld where Hades, god of the dead, rules with Perephone, goddess of the seasons and flowers. The kick is that the myth is set in a speakeasy. The gospel and  jazz ballads like opera’s arias, tell the story and enchant (listen here).

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Day 383- November 19, 2022 -Pittsburgh Light up Night- The City dazzles, Make Holiday Traditions and Be a Kid Again


Pittsburgh's Light up Night does just that, it illuminates this city’s Golden Triangle which is a spectacular sight from the top of Mt Washington. This year is the 61st Anniversary Celebration of Highmark Light Up Night 2022, Presented by Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership. This official kick off to the holiday season  started on November 21, 1960. It continues to dazzle with lights, music, food and a blast of fireworks. Make it  a  Holiday tradition and  it will make you feel like a kid again.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Day 382 A Bronx Tale, One Man Show-Palminteri’s Tale- Those Who Mold Us


 In this one one man stage play, actor Chazz Palminteri born, Calogero Lornezo Palminteri, brings to life 18 characters.  It is his narrative of growing up in a tough New York neighborhood in the 1960’s where the flashy Italian Mob ruled the streets. In contrast, the working man had just enough money to make ends meet.  I did not know that the 1993 film, "A Bronx Tale" was born out of Palminteri’s one man show with the same name. He also wrote the hit "Bronx Tale-The Musical" which debuted in 2016.  This is one powerful story that can successfully capture so many genres. Maybe it is so impactful because it resonates with the relational influences in our young lives, our heroes and those who help mold us into adults.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Day 381- Pittsburgh CLO- Kinky Boots- Change Your World and Feel Fabulous.

Company, photo by Matt Polk


Pittsburgh CLO is back bringing affordable musical theater to Pittsburgh. Kinky Boots, which is based on a true story, has a unique plot-Charlie revitalizes his late father’s bankrupt shoe factory by finding a niche market making sexy boots for men who dress as women. Kinky Boots, is all about confidently reinventing something or even yourself. This show is also about acceptance and looking beyond appearances into one's heart. By doing this you can "change your world."

 The music by Cindy Lauper encourages and inspires with a punch of humor. The songs  seemed to be  screaming at me: Take What You GotSex is in HeelThe History of Wrong Guys and of course, What A Women Wants. My eyes welled with tears during, Not My Father's Son, and Hold Me in Your Heart both impactful heartful ballads by Darius Harper as Drag Queen, Lola. I had a flashback to my best  friend, Paul, who left this world much too soon. He dared to be himself when it was so difficult in the 80's. He sure sparkled just like those Kinky Boots!

Monday, May 23, 2022

Day 380- Mr. Rodgers reminds us to do something nice on the 143 Day ( Spring rewind post)

 Today is the 143 day  of the year, a day of kindness and love initiated by Pittsburgh icon Mr. Rodgers.  He wanted this day ignite a spark in all to "do something nice."  During this pandemic, when stress levels are high and protesters are in the news, we all could use a reminder from Mr. Rodger's to say "Happy 143 Day."  Celebrate it with a little  extra dose of  kindness and love for others and self.  

May 23, 2022  is the 143rd day of the year. Mr. Rogers coined the number 143 as a representative of the words “I love you” and a day to spread kindness.  There is letter “I,” 4 letters in “love,” and letters in “You.”   This was a special number to Mr. Rodgers and even kept his weight at 143 pounds.

I lost my father at a very young age and and as child I found   comfort  in the man on the television that projected a wave of kindness and calm.  "You Are Special, Words of Wisdom" is one of my favoret books. It has given me rest during the many calamities that life tossed my way. 

 Mr. Rodgers said it so well:

Taking care is one way to show your love. Another way is letting people take good care of you when you need it.

I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.

Feeling good about ourselves is essential in our being able to love others. 

One of my wise teachers Dr. Orr, told me "There is one thing evil cannot stand, and that is forgiveness"

Love isn't a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” 

Today follow the example of Mr. Rodgers and fuel your own celebration of kindness, showing some love to others and yourself  (After writing this post, I am going to text some love from Pittsburgh all the way to my son in California and give a friend a call  who needs some support.)  

Spiritual Reflection
And he said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. this is the great first commandment. and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)

Other Sources
Link to info: Mr. Rodgers Statute Pittsburgh