Rainbow and trolley on a Fishtown Friday afternoon

Rainbow and trolley on a Fishtown Friday afternoon

Pixar’s Day and Night

As part of the weekend’s road trip to East Palestine, Ohio, we went to see Toy Story 3.  The theatre had an air hockey table, and that’s pretty much the best you can hope for on a Saturday night in those parts.

We all loved the movie, even though it was kind of scary.  This is for kids, right?

Pixar’s pre-feature short film went in a new direction for them.  Actually, it went in an old direction.  Eric pointed out that Day & Night is reminiscent of the Secret Cinema’s Surrealism in American Animation program we saw a few months ago.

He’s right.  Day & Night was a bit surreal and contains some of the slapstick elements associated with the era of Merrie Melodies.  It’s more an experience of images and music than a narrative, and it’s hard to explain.

My only criticism is the omniscient narrator voice at the end.  It’s too preachy, and it interrupts the flow of the piece.  Otherwise, kudos to director Teddy Newton for using Pixar’s creativity and technology to create an homage to a truly unique art form.

Citizens Bank Park vs PNC Park

Honus Wagner at PNC Park
Even though I had my doubts about Citizen’s Bank Park when it opened in 2004 and still suspect that subsidized sports arenas are not a good use of public resources, I’ve grown to love Philadelphia’s baseball stadium.

On Independence Day, the family had a chance to see the Phillies in another outstanding facility:  Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.  How do Pennsylvania’s Major League baseball stadiums compare?

PNC Park
Let’s start with location.  It’s hard to look at this view of Pittsburgh and not think that Philly missed a downtown and/or waterfront opportunity.  From almost everywhere in PNC Park, fans get a fantastic view of Pittsburgh’s skyline and many bridges.

PNC Park Riverwalk
The playground, the picnic area, and many of the concessions stands face the Allegheny River.  The Sixth Street Bridge (Roberto Clemente Bridge) closes to traffic on game days, and pedestrians can walk right across it and into the stadium.

My only complaint about the stadium itself is its lack of field views from the upper concourses, which of course is one of Citizens Bank Park’s triumphs.   Everything else is gorgeous.

I’m not familiar enough with Pittsburgh to comment on the bars and restaurants surrounding the ballpark, but at least there *are* bars and restaurants surrounding the ballpark.

However, Philly has an edge over Pittsburgh when it comes to food inside the stadium.  Disclaimer: I’m on the two-leg-or-less eating plan, so availability of vegetarian fare and poultry are important factors.

Primanti Brothers "cheesesteak"
My brother enjoyed his “cheesesteak” from Primanti Brothers, but the menu at their PNC Park outpost is limited.  No poultry.  Manny’s BBQ smelled delicious, but he doesn’t offer any turkey.  Score one for Philly’s Bull’s BBQ.

Outside of Primanti’s, Manny’s, and the stand serving Mrs. T’s pierogis, there didn’t seem to be many unique food options in Pittsburgh.  Nothing like CBP’s Campo’s, Planet Hoagie, Tony Luke’s, Bull’s BBQ, the Schmitter, and Chickie’s & Pete’s.  Aramark should consider replacing some of PNC Park’s Nacho Express stands with Polish church ladies cooking *real* pierogies.

Citizens at both ends of our fair state can be happy with their stadium beer selections, but unlike the Philadelphia fans, Pittsburgh folks will have to put their $7 suds on the floor because there are no cup holders in the cheap seats.  On the other hand, Philadelphia fans will pay twice as much for their tickets, so it’s  a trade-off.

Summary: Pittsburgh has a location and aesthetic edge, and Philly wins for food.   I give more weight to aesthetics, however, since you can work around food limitations by bringing your own or eating before the game.  Sorry, Citizen’s Bank Park—I love you, but we put you too far from our downtown and our waterfront.

The Great Pierogi Race at PNC Park

The Great Pierogi Race at PNC Park

Angelique Kidjo at Long’s Park

Last weekend, Long’s Park brought back Angelique Kidjo for her second appearance in the Summer Music Series, a long-running program of free Sunday evening concerts.

Neither extreme heat nor rain stopped Angelique from giving an amazing performance.  She has a beautiful, strong voice; the ability to blend the world’s music into her own creations (“smoothies,” she calls them); wisdom; graciousness; and raw energy.

Not only did Angelique Kidjo get the crowd dancing (no small feat, considering the weather), she came down from the stage and joined us, making her way through the lawn chairs, greeting her fans, and smiling at babies.  And then she invited the crowd back up to the stage with her, turning the rest of the evening into joyous dance party.

Aside from the smoothies, my favorite part of the concert was her tribute to James Brown, who she says introduced her to the “beauty of the English language.”

Eric and I saw Angelique at Philly’s World Café several years ago.  It was a good show, but not as good as the Long’s Park performances—an outdoor venue with plenty of space to move around is the best way to experience Angelique Kidjo.  If you ever get a chance to see her, don’t miss it—her message is positive, and her music is world class.

PS Eric was unhappy with the way his pictures turned out, but I like the movement.  It wouldn’t be a true Angelique Kidjo show if she stood still for photos!

Saturday night in Columbiana, Ohio

Saturday night in Columbiana, Ohio

Trader Joes shout out to Lititz

Trader Joes shout out to Lititz