Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Gallery Crawl

This little entry should be short and sweet, as the merits of this attraction speak for themselves. Gallery Crawl this Friday, October 1 in the Cultural District Downtown! Granted, the "Cultural District" of Pittsburgh stretches across about a street and a half, but it's chock-full of kickass museums which are FREE and open to the public on Gallery Crawl Night! Click the link to check it out. And don't be too bummed if you can't make it- there'll be another one the first Friday of next month, too :).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A taste of the Old Country

If you’re tired from partying all weekend (or sick of staying in) take a stroll down Main Street in Bloomfield and check out the Little Italy Days- running until 7pm tonight. Get serenaded on the street, buy cheap saint cards, and gorge on fresh Italian food that’s both inexpensive and delicious. I recommend the cannoli, and the fortune-reading booth. Great for a date, or a hangover :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Slight blogging hiatus- Belvedere's

Hello hello, Blogland! I'm sorry for my recent flakiness about posting. I'll try extra hard to update regularly from now on- most likely, on a MWF schedule.
I'm devoting this post to an oldie but a goody- Belvedere's, on Butler St. For those unfamiliar, Belvie's is a total dive bar. Not only is it as lacking in natural light and air as Sarah Palin's bathroom, it is usually crammed with people thrash-dancing in the most alarming way. If I happen to be jogging past here during the 15 minutes a week they air it out, the stench of condensed cigarette smoke is enough to give me a nicotine buzz for a week.
With an intro like that, how could you resist?
But really, Belvie's has some redeeming qualities- in the form of 80's nights. 80's night is every Thursday, and features- you guessed it- 80's music. It's a good place to stop by if you're in the area, if only for the great DJ, the lounge-esque area, and the freedom to thrash dance as you please. It's a $4 cover, and drinks are relatively cheap, like most dive bars. Just be prepared to shower afterwards.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I'm gonna rock and roll all night.

Most of us who live fabulous lives (and if you are reading this blog, you are most likely committed to being fabulous) are under a lot of pressure. Between work, classes, personal pursuits, friendships, and partying, we end up cramming our days with enough twists and turns as to make Houdini turn in his card and quit. This can (and does) manifest itself oftentimes in troubled sleeping, which is quite a shame. At night, when we should be able to finally take a break, our poor little systems are so overwrought that we end up wide-eyed at four am… and unfortunately for us, instead of developing a charismatic cult leader alter ego that runs wild in all this spare time and develops a lucrative side business of soapmaking, we’re just tired and cranky. Luckily, I’ve come up with a few methods of circumventing this whole nasty business- and no, no need to sit here and read through a list of ridiculous, impractical tips like “Go to bed at the same time each night,” or “Meditate for two hours a day”. Personally, I have a life that doesn’t leave a whole mess of spare time that’s just begging to be spent on keeping dream journals or whatever. Try some of these workable tips, and see if they make a difference for you.
-Take a bath- I don’t mean an all-day soak, just ten to fifteen minutes in a tub full of hot water can work wonders on your muscles and stress levels. Especially if it’s in the evening. This alone has amped up the quality of my sleep. If you don’t have a bathtub, or you’re devoting every spare minute of your day to a project or paper, you can try a hot foot soak for the same amount of time. It works especially well if you add some sprigs of lavender to the hot water.
-Drink noncaffenated tea close to bedtime: This one is particularly easy, as it can be done while you’re doing other things in the evening. I don’t know why it works, but it just does. Herbal tea is supposed to be pretty healthy anyway, so choose any that you like. (I’m a fan of Trader Joe’s Bedtime Tea with a ton of lemon juice.)
-Don’t do work on your bed: You want to train yourself to associate your bed with sleeping, which is impossible if it’s covered with pens, pencils, and PB+J crumbs. Beds are awesome, and it’s fun to hang out in them, but really. Do your work on your desk, and leave your bed for snoozies.
-Exercise during the day: Or at least stretch out a little and take some deep breaths a few minute prior to bedtime. Exercise has been shown to deepen sleep, and stretching a little bit before bed helps clear the mind and wind you down.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The internet is amazing

As it gets chillier and chillier outside, more of us are giving in to our natural instinct to curl up and hibernate. Just when I thought I was as impressed as I possibly could be with the plethora of options for low-energy entertainment on the web, I came across this glorious site that meets my need for cutting-edge culture. It's the Daily Art Muse a site that brings you just-off-the-presses art news, along with tons of pretty pictures. The site tends to showcase items that straddle the divide between fine sculpture and folk art, and they are well worth looking at. If you are fortunate to live near any of the museums that host the oeuvres featured on the Daily Art Muse, you can use it to inspire you to make the trek and see the art in person. For the rest of us, the Daily Art Muse is like a little gallery in itself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Little Flea

Everyone has a weakness. For me, it’s vegan baked goods. For my roommate, it’s collecting small tin boxes with crazy floral patterns on them (no judgment). Luckily for us, there is a magical place where our interests can merge- the Lawrenceville Little Flea, a community flea market that’s every Sunday from 9am-4pm. The past times I’ve gone, they’ve had live music, fresh veggies, homemade magnets, and plenty of crazy tin boxes. This Saturday they will be featuring wares from the Justseeds Artist Cooperative, a group of 26 artists devoted to making graphic art that focuses on current social and political issues, plus whatever other weird shit the residents/shopowners of Larrytown can drag out of their closets. Intrigued? Come on down. Keep in mind, “market season” ends at the end of October, so if you’re in the mood for cheap garden plants, fifty cent DVDs and books, and weird trash-turned-treasure, get your little butt down here quick.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Making sweet, sweet film together. Not like that.

From the nonprofit who brought you the Three Rivers Film Festival:
For all those who like movies that are off the beaten track, yet still enjoy a good cinematic experience (without being gouged by DVD rental rates) check out the Pittsburgh Filmmakers’ monthly screenings. They approach film with the reverence due to any fine art form, showing rarer, critically acclaimed films in “exhibitions” all over town- specifically, in their theaters in Edgewood, Downtown, and Oakland. Offerings change per month, so look on the website under “Exhibitions”. This month’s movies include To Kill a Mockingbird and Life During Wartime, a UK import that's generated quite the buzz. The latter rates as a 72% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, has the stepmom from Juno in it, AND Ally Sheedy (the emo girl from the Breakfast Club!) I’m pretty pumped.
The icing on this gorgeous filmic cake is that your admission is only $3 if you go to a local university. But remember, you’re not being cheap- you’re supporting the arts.
PS- I'm aware that almost everything in this entry kind of sounds like a weird euphemism for a porno, and I apologize. Especially because if you didn't think that before, you surely do now.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The War on Acne: State of the Nation Address

Since I lack other productive pursuits, I devoted the summer months to really trying to combat the latest surge of blemish terrorism all across my face. At the end of it all, I emerge with a few more pounds of misbegotten beauty products, cleaner faced, and more the wiser. Here’s a summary of what’s worked, what hasn’t, and what that means for you.
-Mix and match your product lines
If you ask most of the ladies that work at the Macy’s cosmetics counter, they’ll swear to you that products are most effective when used with other products of the same line. However those ladies work on commission from the sales of said products (while I, sadly, do this for free.) If you have intense adult acne, the “product line” rule doesn’t necessarily apply. For example, I found that using the entire Clinique Acne Solutions line would cause me to end up with a face that felt angry, inflamed, and stiff. But using just the Acne Solutions Cleansing Foam in the mornings (in conjunction with non-medicated toner and moisturizer) was perfect. While you don’t get the OCD satisfaction of seeing all your cosmetic bottles match, you might just reap the benefits of a cleaner face.
-Alternate products according to your skin’s current needs
A sales associate told me this once, and it was some of the most valuable advice I’ve gotten. Your skin’s needs change by the week. Some weeks you may need gentler, more moisturizing products for dryer skin, and some weeks you may need stronger cleansers and spot-treatments. This approach requires that you pay attention and learn from experience what works for you. Eventually you’ll be able to recognize that if you skin is suddenly oily in the middle of the day you need to switch to your stronger cleanser in the morning, or whatever. The worst part about this is that it’s not as easy as just slapping on some prefabricated product combination every day, but if you’re reading this, that probably means that the “easy” route isn’t doing much for you right now anyway. Don’t stress out and overhaul your whole routine in one step. Just start to take note of how your skin feels after each product that you use, and go from there.
-Don’t confine yourself to “acne” products
Zitty skin can benefit from gentle moisture, deep cleansing, mild exfoliation, and a whole bunch of other stuff that doesn’t come included in your standard acne-product package. Personally, I found that products marketed for aging/sensitive skin to be good additions to my system as they were often free from heavy oils, yet soothing. As you’re learning to alternate products according to your needs, be sure to swap in some other stuff you may not have thought of before.
Like that old philosopher dude said, know thyself. Like I say, know what works for you.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Decisions, decisions.

Have you heard any of that new theory that the talking heads* have been bandying about recently? It’s something like, “When consumers are offered a large number of options, they are often overwhelmed, and end up paralyzed in their decision-making.” (Behavioral economics, 101). Sound familiar? It certainly pertains to me.
I was planning on having a quiet evening tonight- getting some boring house shit done, possibly staying in and maybe seeing a friend or two in a low-key way. But out of idle curiosity, I started checking out what’s going on in some of my favorite places tonight. Let the panic begin.
Thunderbird Café: Featuring the Pawnbrokers at 9:30. I’ve wanted to see these guys in person for quite a while. Their music is the kind of blues to make you smile.
BrilloBox (Lawenceville): Featuring their amazing Pandemic World Beats dance party starting at 10. I’ve mentioned this before, but fyi- world music, expertly mixed and beat-matched by a DJ, incredibly dance-a-ble. It’s impossible to stay still for this.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: I’ve heard pretty good things about Michael Cera’s latest inventive comedy- Rotten Tomatoes even gives it an unusually high 81% rating. Besides, the movie theater is the only place I can think of where it’s encouraged to eat massive amounts of fresh, buttery popcorn and sit on your butt in air conditioning. I learned this fine distinction as a teenager- if you do this at home, you’re a loser, but if you do it in the South Side, you’re being “social”.
Andy Warhol Museum (Downtown): The Twisted Pair- Marcel Duchamp/Andy Warhol exhibit until September 12. The Warhol Museum is a Pittsburgh cultural staple that looks curiously like the inside of an Urban Outfitters. This exhibit is supposed to explore the intimate relationship between the work of two influential 20th century modern artists, Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp. Why is this a priority for this evening? Because Friday (“Fanfare Good Friday) it’s half-price admission. Hells yeah! Maybe I'll finally find out what's "surreal" about a urinal.

*Not these guys. These guys.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Some like it hot... Red Hot, that is.

I love the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Who doesn’t? I do not, however, generally enjoy RHCP covers or “tributes”, because, let’s face it, they are usually just plain bad. (To be fair, this says more about the greatness of the RHCP than the quality of the band trying to cover them.) This is a view that’s I’ve broadcast far and wide, even before I had a blog with which to make pointless statements on the internet. But earlier this summer, I was (happily) forced to eat my words.
Higher Ground is a RHCP tribute band that plays a lot of shows in Pittsburgh, especially the Oakland area. I saw them at Spice Café, on Atwood, which was a perfect, intimate venue because this band loves their audience interaction- which is great, because the crowd I was with loved to sing along. Their set was tight, and they made sure to focus on numbers that made for good dancing and mix it up with some Weezer, Sublime, and other awesome 90’s bands. Higher Ground knows how to put on a great show, so join their group “The Red Hot Chili Peppers Tribute Band” on Facebook for show invites, and try not to get them confused with these Swedish dudes. A plus- the lead singer, Sal Puccini Jr, owns Puccini’s Hair Design in Oakland and if you’re a regular there, he’ll most likely give you a personal greeting from stage. Don’t know about you, but I do love the attention.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Confessions of a college graduate

Employment was the worst thing that’s happened to me in a long time. Now that I’m no longer a starving student but a hungry college graduate, I’ve found that it’s become slightly harder to exercise self-control on some of the expenditures that I would have previously resisted in favor of… well, food. I figured if I blogged about this stuff, at least I would have the catharsis of publicly admitting my addictions to the world, Post Secret style (or at least I'd spread the virus to you guys. Misery loves company!)
Vera Cruz: (Oakland) This little gem flourishes in the midst of the franchise Mexican-food giants on Forbes, mainly due to its' student-friendly prices and delicious made-from-fresh offerings. I know a guy who ate at this place twice a day for his entire last semester of college… so don’t blame me for getting a little excessive with their Nacho Supremo.
Hot Haute Hot: A home boutique in the Strip District that features antique furniture, restorations, home furnishing and of course, gorgeous jewelry. The stuff is one-of-a-kind and absolutely beautiful. Let’s just say that this gave me a lot of motivation to study for grad school entrance exams and get a better job. The monsters.
Pennsylvania Macaroni Company: The Strip District. Delicious, delicious cheeses, gourmet extra-virgin olive oil and giant jars of Nutella. PenMac= Nirvana.
Verde Good Beans: Downtown. This place is, blessedly, super-close to my workplace. It offers luxury coffee-type drinks for half the price they are at Starbucks, plus fresh made paninis and even gelato shipped in from Mercurio’s Mulberry Creamery in Shadyside. If I’m feeling super sorry for myself on any given workday, I’ll treat myself to a decaf soy chai latte (yes, they have decaf chai! Oh, happy day) and some Honey Sunflower gelato.