Tomorrow is Hallaton, Leicestershire, England annual bottle kicking holiday, this tradition goes back at least 600 years.  It also is the anniversary of British master mariner Robert Jenkins having his ear cut off by the Spanish during the plunder of his ship off Jamaica in 1731.  He presented the ear to the British Parliament in October 1739 when they declared war on Spain.  This war, that lasted until 1743 was called the War of Jenkin’s Ear.  Nothing else is known of the man.

The garage rock group ? and the Mysterians are playing at the Kelley-Strayhorn Theater on Saturday at 7 p.m.  Tickets are $25 and info at 412.512.2830.  They are the group that had the 1966 hit “96 Tears” and the lead singer is quite the character.  No one seems to know his name and he claims to have been born on Mars and walked with dinosaurs.

It looks like the new Batman movie (The Dark Knight Rises) staring Christian Bale (Mark Walberg’s brother in The Fighter) will be shooting scenes here this summer.  And they’re not getting any tax incentives because they are not shooting enough to qualify.  Pretty impressive their selection of us with no tax incentives.

The Warhol has a new exhibit by Sandow Birk, an artist from California.  It is titled “The Word of God: Sandow Birk’s American Qur’an”  He’s not Muslim, but in his travels, picked up a copy of the Qur’an and as an artist was intrigued by the images in the book.  He wanted to get a better understanding of the Muslim faith and so got an English copy of the Qur’an.  He was more intrigued by the artwork.  He ended up visiting the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin that has one of the largest collections of ancient Qur’an’s.  The Qur’an is not like the New Testament, it is not a history or linear narrative.  Rather it is a collection believed to be a verbatim account of the word of God.  There are 114 chapters of these suras, arranged by length.  Sandow has re-created about half of the suras and some of these are on display at the Warhol.  He used traditional illustrations on each page and the backdrop are scenes of various Americana.  A Piggly Wiggley grocery store destroyed by a tornado, a New England snow storm, a semi moving van at a truck stop are a few of the back drops.  The artwork are on display during the Warhol’s normal operating hours Tuesdays through Sundays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (8 p.m. on Fridays) until May 1.

A new documentary was released Friday,  “The Elephant in the Living Room” is about the lack of uniform requirements across the country on wild animal ownership in people’s homes and insanity of it. Like that woman in New Jersey who’s pet ape ripped her friend’s face off and nearly killed her several years ago, Sandra Piovesan of Westmoreland County whose pack of wolf-dog hybrids killed her in 2006 and Kelly Ann Walz of Monroe County  was killed by Teddy, her 350 pound bear she raised from a cub.  One quote I heard and think is worth remembering is there are ten times more tigers living in peoples homes in America than in the wilds of Asia.  It was supposed to be shown at a theater on McKnight Road, but when I called for info, the attendant had no idea.  You may want to watch for this film.

Construction of Phipp’s new resource center started in October.  They are trying to make it the greenist building on earth.  Electric will come from solar panels and wind mills, the water will be reclaimed, heating and cooling will be through 500 foot deep wells and computer controlled window openings and closings.  It is slated to open next spring and is being built entirely with Pennsylvania contractors.  Phipp’s has engineering students monitoring the construction and will continue to monitor it after the facility is completed.  They are looking to be certified by LEED (building certification), the International SITES Initiative (landscaping certification) and International Living Building Challenge which certifies the integration of the building and landscaping.  Pretty impressive.

The Allegheny Land Trust has two scary places.  Dead Man’s Hollow, over by the Boston Bridge outside McKeesport, is purported to be haunted.  It is a four hundred forty acre preserve by the Youghiogheny River  supposedly was the area where bodies washed up the Youghiogheny River, mysterious hangings, a shop keeper who was murdered chasing robbers.  Steve Bosnyak, a Land Trust employee who’s uncle used to live there created a web site talking about the legends. On April 16, Elite Runners and Walkers in Robinson will have  an inaugural Dead Man’s Hollow Race-a 5 kilometer and half marathon run.  I guess you can expect records to be broken if the runners are being chased by the dead.  🙂

The Irwin Run Conservation Area in Pine Township (just outside North Park) is also known as Blue Myst Road for the fog that frequently blankets the road.  It is rumored to be inhabited by witches, an angry group of reclusive midgets, a cemetery where the tombstones lean towards each other to so the dead can kiss and floating orbs of blue light that stay just far enough away from people that they can’t be identified.

There’s a new “sport” you may see around town, it’s Parkour.  If you see youths swinging from ledges or walking on all fours across a swing set, chances are they are participants.  There’s about 200 registered participants in this non competitive sport originated about twenty years ago in France.  It traces it’s roots to stunt men and martial arts and it takes a new view on navigating around urban landscapes.  The name derives from the French word for military training in obstacle courses.  Participants are called traceurs from Paris slang meaning to hurry or move quickly.  If you would like to join up, contact Andrew Obenreder at his web site.

Have a great weekend,


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