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Pittsburgh's Steel City Con arriving at warp speed

Written by Maria Sciullo on .

For sci-fi geeks of all sorts, it's the most wonderful time of the year.

Beginning Friday, fans of all things 'Con can enjoy three tech/Trek days of Steel City Con, which takes over the Monroeville Convention Center.

takeiHeadliner is actor George Takei, best known from the classic "Star Trek." Takei spent a bit of last year playing HoloGramps in "Supah Ninjas," the Nickelodeon series filmed at 31st Street Studios, but at Steel City Con, he'll no doubt be answering to "Sulu."

Takei will be signing autographs in a limited appearance each day and also participate in a Q&A session. Oh myyyyy.

A recent addition to the Con lineup is graphic novel artist Neal Adams, who has drawn some of the biggest titles in comics history, from Batman to X-Men and his own creation, "Blood." He'll also be appearing all three days at the event. Hours for Steel City Con are 1-9 p.m. Friday, 10-8 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday. More information and schedules can be found at the Steel City Con web site.

Others set to appear include Seinfeld Soup Nazi, Larry Thomas, former pro wrestlers Charles Wright and Ted DiBiase, actor Michael Biehn ("Terminator," "Aliens" and "Tombstone") and young actress Kylie Szymanski, who played the Governor's dear departed zombie daughter on AMC's "Walking Dead."

The Steel City Con bills itself as one of the world's largest toy shows; expect vendors of all sorts and alien races. They'll even be some show cars, including the Time Machine Delorean from "Back to the Future."

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New York critics happily do the 'American Hustle'

Written by Barbara Vancheri on .

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“American Hustle,” scheduled to open in Pittsburgh Dec. 20 (it was bumped today from Dec. 18), has been named best picture by the New York Film Critics Circle.
 
Members voted today and here are the winners: 
 
Cate-Blanchett - CopyBest Picture:  “American Hustle.”
Best Actress: Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine.” 
Best Actor: Robert Redford, “All Is Lost.”
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle.” 
Best Supporting Actor: Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Best Director: Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave.”
Best Screenplay:  “American Hustle.”
Best Animated Film:  “The Wind Rises.”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Blue is the Warmest Color.”
Best Non-Fiction Film (Documentary): “Stories We Tell.”
Best First Film: Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale Station.”
Best Cinematography: Bruno Delbonnel, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”
Special Award: Frederick Wiseman. 
 
In other news, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its shortlist of 15 documentaries in contention for the Oscar. They emerged from 147 films that qualified in the category. 
 
The 15 films are listed below in alphabetical order by title, with their production companies:
 
   “The Act of Killing,” Final Cut for Real.
   “The Armstrong Lie,” The Kennedy/Marshall Company.
   “Blackfish,” Our Turn Productions.
   “The Crash Reel,” KP Rides Again.
   “Cutie and the Boxer,” Ex Lion Tamer and Cine Mosaic. 
   “Dirty Wars,” Civic Bakery.
   “First Cousin Once Removed,” Experiments in Time, Light & Motion.
   “God Loves Uganda,” Full Credit Productions and Motto Pictures.
   “Life According to Sam,” Fine Films.
   “Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer,” Roast Beef Productions.
   “The Square,” Noujaim Films and Maktube Productions.
   “Stories We Tell,” National Film Board of Canada.
   “Tim’s Vermeer,” High Delft Pictures.
   “20 Feet from Stardom,” Gil Friesen Productions and Tremolo Productions. 
   “Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? The Life and Time of Tim Hetherington,” Tripoli Street.
 
The Academy’s Documentary Branch determined the shortlist in a preliminary round of voting.
 
Documentary Branch members will now select the five nominees from among the 15 titles. They will be announced Jan. 16 with the Oscars handed out March 2. 
 

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Mac Miller will release first live album on Dec. 17

Written by Scott Mervis on .

xlive-from-space-small.jpg.pagespeed.ic.DclxGmZPibPittsburgh rap star Mac Miller went on Twitter just after midnight Monday to announce that he will be releasing his first live album, "Live From Space," on Dec. 17.

It will highlight performances from his The Space Migration Tour, which stopped at Stage AE in July, and featured backup help from funk duo The Internet.

"Live From Space" -- a rare live rap album -- will offer five bonus tracks that did not appear on this year's "Watching Movies With The Sound Off."

The cover was designed by his brother, Miller McCormick.

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Liner Notes Vol. III

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Lots of interesting and weird stuff crossed my path in the past few weeks, from a pianist charged with noise pollution to a McDonald's use of classical music to scare off teenaged loiterers.

From Global Post, a Spanish pianist on trial for noisy practicing
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/concert-pianist-laia-martin-trial-noisy-practicing
And from The Guardian...the pianist is found not guilty. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/nov/27/spanish-pianist-acquitted-noise-pollution-psychological-damage
From the New York Times, the long-term benefits of music lessons
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/12/science/long-term-benefits-of-music-lessons.html?src=recg
From Eater, the strategy of one McDonald's branch to deter teen loiterers by blasting classical music http://eater.com/archives/2013/11/21/australian-mcdonalds-deters-loitering-teens-by-blasting-opera.php
From the Huffington Post and former Pittsburgh Opera music director John Mauceri, why film music is as good as other new (classical) music (well, his opinion is much more nuanced than that, but you'll have to read it for yourself) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-mauceri/classical-music-101b-ther_b_4303869.html
From Enpundit, what crickets sound like slowed down...people. (This is super cool.) http://enpundit.com/someone-recorded-crickets-slowed-track-sounds-like-humans-singing/
From Digital Music News, where musicians' salaries come from http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2013/11/20/shiftingsources
From the New Yorker, the 110 year-old Holocaust survivor who knew Mahler http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2013/11/alex-ross-meeting-alice-herz-sommer-oldest-holocaust-survivor.html

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MGMT has that electric feel at Stage AE

Written by Scott Mervis on .

 

MGMTIt’s hard to think of a modern band that has produced three singles as irresistibly catchy as “Time to Pretend,” “Kids” and “Electric Feel” and then gone as weird as side two of the latest album.

MGMT has indeed frustrated fans who were thrilled to find an indie band with a feel for a hook.
But, as frontman Andrew VanWyngarden said in an interview last week, the people who have stuck with them “want a band that tries to create worlds for the listeners.”

That’s exactly what MGMT did Monday night at Stage AE taking the stage with the psychedelic explosion of “Flash Delirium,” VanWyngarden twisting the ’60s mantra with “turn it on, tune it in.” The six-piece band was backed by an eye-popping light show and a big screen flashing Crayola bursts that would have made Timothy Leary smile.

The second song, “Time to Pretend,” was met with a high-pitched shriek, and far from being bored with its 2008 hit — we can say “hit,” even though the popular “Oracular Spectacular” songs were not actually Top 40 hits — MGMT went at the tongue-in-cheek song about being rock stars with plenty of drive, thanks to energetic drummer Will Berman.

“Introspection,” an obscure and poppy Faine Jade cover, put us deep in the psych-folk ’60s realm, except for VanWyngarden’s cool high-tech trick of doubling as cameraman with a hand-held device that projected onto the screen, with psychedelic effects.

Fans of that first breakout album — who listened to other than the singles — were treated to the stone soul revival of “The Youth,” “Of Moons, Birds & Monsters” and “Weekend Wars” in the middle of the set, mixed with the dreamy, snowy ambiance of “Siberian Breaks.”

Its electronic ending segued brilliantly into “Electric Feel,” which quickly turned Stage AE into an “American Bandstand” scene of twirling bodies. Once again, it was an excited, electrifying version of the kind of song MGMT has at least temporarily abandoned. Same goes for the joyful “Kids,” which veered into a pounding club mix.

Having heard all three singles, there was a stream of people heading for the exit three songs before the finish. One thing they missed was Jackson and Jarod, from Pittsburgh’s own Grand Buffet (a former MGMT tourmate), jumping on stage to swing at an oversized cowbell like kids going at a pinata.

Someone commented that this show was “four years too late,” and, yes, it would have been nice to have seen MGMT and Pittsburgh-raised VanWyngarden in the “Oracular” heyday. On the other hand, the band’s psych-rock/space-rock/indie-pop worlds blended nicely in their own weird way. Let’s hope, though, for the sake of the pop fans, they can deliver one more of those tasty gems the next time they come around.

SETLIST

 

Flash Delirium
Time to Pretend
Introspection (Faine Jade cover)
The Youth
Of Moons, Birds & Monsters
Mystery Disease
Weekend Wars
Siberian Breaks
Electric Feel
Cool Song No. 2
Kids
Alien Days

Encore:
Your Life Is a Lie (with Grand Buffet)
Congratulations

 

 

 

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