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Now available on your phone: Wiz Khalifa emojis

Written by Edgar Ramirez on .

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(Matt Freed/Post-Gazette)

That's right, Pittsburgh's own Wiz Khalifa now has his own emojis.

Coincidentally on 4/20, too.

The Grammy-nominated artist that attended Taylor Allderdice High School has publicly made it known in interviews and songs he is a marijuana user, so it comes as no surprise there would be emojis of the recreational/medical drug. He even has his own brand.

His fans are, well, a fan of these.

The emojis are available for $.99 and include other emojis from other artists, for those of you interested.

And for some background reading on 4/20 aka "Weed Day," there's this.

You can catch Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, another pot proponent, this summer at First Niagara Pavilion.

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A Penguins playoff musical journey with Plum High School

Written by Edgar Ramirez on .

PlumPensMain

Props to the students at Plum High School.

In their 6th annual lip dub, the students (and some former ones too) take you on yet another Penguins playoffs journey with the songs that were big during that time.

Even more impressive: They do it all in one 15-minute take — and got Penguins mascot Iceburgh involved too.

They start with the 1969-1970 season — the first year the Penguins qualified — with The Jackson 5's "ABC", working their way up to other hits.

Among them:

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- Carl Douglas' "Kung Fu Fighting" and Grease's "You're the One That I Want" in the 70s

- The Bee Gees' "Staying Alive" and The Village People's "YMCA" in the 80s

- Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" (1990-1991 Stanley Cup champions) and "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" by C+C Music Factory (1991-1992 Stanley Cup champions)

- Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" and Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)" (2008-2009 Stanley Cup champions)

Not to be overlooked: Songs also by Bob Seger, Queen, Guns N' Roses, Whitney Houston, Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Lou Bega, Katy Perry, Adele and more.

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Take a look at the full video:

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Pittsburgh named among Top 10 Best U.S. Downtowns

Written by Edgar Ramirez on .

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(Darrell Sapp/Post-Gazette)

The praise keeps coming.

Just last week, Men's Journal listed Pittsburgh and nine other cities in its annual offering of the best places to live in the U.S.

The city was also listed as the top place to celebrate St. Patrick's Day by Niche and also a Top 10 city for romantics by Amazon.

Well, Pittsburgh can now add to its resume a Top 10 U.S. Best Downtown, according Livability.com.

To be more specific, the fifth best Downtown in the U.S.

"Pittsburgh is growing and thriving, offering expanded housing options, rising population, affordability, diversity and around-the-clock entertainment," the press release states.

According to Livability, editors used figures provided by Esri, the Census Bureau, the United States Department of Agriculture and other sources to come up with the list. They looked for places with low vacancy rates, new development and an influx of people into those spaces. Furthermore:

"We looked for cultural attractions and nightlife that draw people into the heart of their cities. Finally, we added in factors that we typically include in all our lists, including the city’s Walk Score and measures of affordability and diversity. We also included population parameters to ensure we identified places with more than just a quaint Main Street."

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(Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette)

That's right, they know our Downtown is more than just Market Square.

“Having a great downtown is about more than just great stores, and great restaurants. A great downtown needs people,” said Matt Carmichael, editor of Livability.com, in the press release. “Great cities need great spaces to gather. These cities and towns are wonderful places to get out and engage with your friends, family and other residents.”

The release credits Pittsburgh's downtown for being an area that "remains a vibrant mix of culture, arts and innovation."

Point State Park, the Cultural District, our riverfront trails and growing dining scene are also given high praise.

Alexandria, Va., took the top spot in the list, followed by Santa Monica, Calif., Greenville, S.C., Bellevue, Wash., and Pittsburgh rounding out the top 5. The full list can be found here.

Enjoy Downtown!

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The best U.S. city to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Pittsburgh, of course

Written by Edgar Ramirez on .

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(Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette)

We'll take the honor.

According to Niche, a content startup founded in 2002 by Carnegie Mellon University students as CollegeProwler.com, Pittsburgh ranks as the top city to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.

Queue Pittsburgh's reaction:

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But in all seriousness, as one Post-Gazette staff member said, "About time we get our due."

This could also explain why Guinness is the most talked-about beer among fans when it comes to watching Steelers games.

So what did Niche take into account when creating their list?

The site lists:

  • Access to bars: A combination of bars per 1,000 residents and bars per square mile (Carries 35% weight)
  • St. Patrick’s Day Facebook hype: Percentage of residents interested in the topic "St. Patrick's Day" on Facebook compared to the percentage of residents on Facebook (Carries 35% weight)
  • Percent Irish: Percentage of the population that identifies as, well, Irish (Carries 20% weight)
  • Parade: The year the city's first St. Patrick's Day was held (Carries 10% weight)

Other factors that played a role were that a city had to have a population of at least 100,000 residents, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade had to be at least 25 years old, and the city had to have a positive "Facebook Hype." (This last factor disqualified large cities like San Francisco and New York City — in other words, get more social online, people.)

In the list, Chicago took the 10th spot, with a 6.9% Irish population, an A+ grade for access to bars, 1843 as the year their parade was established, and 16% St. Patrick’s Day Facebook hype.

Among other regional cities on the list are Cleveland, Ohio, at No. 8 (8.0% Irish population, A+ access to bars grade, parade established in 1867, and 75% St. Patrick’s Day Facebook hype) and Philadelphia at No. 5 (11.3% Irish population, A+ access to bars grade, parade established in 1771, and 27% St. Patrick’s Day Facebook hype).

Pittsburgh, of course, took the top spot with a 13.5% Irish population, A+ in access to bars grade, 1869 as the year our parade was established, and an impressive 136% St. Patrick’s Day Facebook hype (though, gotta say, not as impressive as No. 6 Savannah, Ga.'s 567% Facebook hype).

Boston — who many will probably argue deserves the top spot — came in second.

But as we like to say:

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The full list can be found here.

Until then, get your green ready — there's no excuse for this.

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Whatever happened to the charismatic movement?

Written by Peter Smith on .

Kuhlman

It may seem an odd question given the explosion of Pentecostal Christianity worldwide, but bear with me.

The question came to mind as I was putting together my story on the 40th anniversary of the death of Kathryn Kuhlman, the Pittsburgh evangelist who rose from the Pentecostal sawdust trail to become the most prominent American charismatic leader of her time -- even outpacing the legendary Oral Roberts in her last decade, according to her biographer, Wayne Warner, a retired Assemblies of God archivist. 

Kuhlman embodied a generation in which Catholics, Orthodox Christians and mainline Protestants such as Episcopalians and Presbyterians were suddenly gathering together at services such as Kuhlman's, speaking in tongues and proclaiming miracle healings. Pittsburgh as much as any place could be seen as ground zero for this trend. It was here in Duquesne University that Catholics first began experiencing charismatic gifts. And when Ms. Kuhlman's longtime venue on the North Side underwent renovations, she was invited into perhaps the most storied church in the local Protestant establishment, the two-century-old First Presbyterian Church in Downtown. Around this time in Tulsa, Okla., Oral Roberts was making his own big step into the Establishment when he joined the upscale Boston Avenue Methodist Church there.

Talk about movin' on up. Early in their ministries, Kuhlman and Roberts were preaching tent meetings, and Pentecostalism was, socially speaking, on the wrong side of the ecclesiastical tracks.

Said church historian Amy Artman, who watched nearly the entire archive of Kuhlman's 500 or so television programs on the way to her doctorate:

"Kathryn Kuhlman was a leader in the transformation of charismatic Christianity from a suspect form of religion to a respectable form of religiosity that was accepted and even celebrated by mainstream Christianity and culture by the end of the twentieth century. ... I call this transformation gentrification. The term 'gentrification' is evocative and provocative when used in reference to urban areas, and no less so when applied to the changes charismatic Christianity experienced in the twentieth century. In urban neighborhoods, as interest builds, there is a change in public perception of an area from being uninteresting or even dangerous to being the new 'hot spot.' Charismatic Christianity experienced this kind of media-driven metamorphosis."

Church scholars often talk of three waves of 20th century Christian renewal focused on the Holy Spirit and the miraculous. The first was the Pentecostal revival, breaking out in Los Angeles in 1906 even as other revivals were exploding from Wales to India. Pentecostalism soon resulted in denominations such as the Assemblies of God and the Church of God in Christ and emphasized a "baptism in the Holy Spirit," with often an initial manifestation of speaking in tongues.

The second wave, or charismatic movement, spread into older churches and was often less strict about insisting on speaking in tongues or on the exacting holiness codes of some early Pentecostal groups. (For Ms. Kuhlman, healings were central to her meetings, but not tongues.) But the label "charismatic" was also pinned in many independent church start-ups, not just on a movement within existing churches.

The third wave, called the Third Wave (wonder why), manifested in newer denominations such as Calvary Chapel and the Vineyard, and was exemplified by the term "power evangelism," in which signs and wonders played a role in helping persuade people to become Christians. If this sounds like a meeting point between more traditional evangelicals and charismatics, well, it does to me, too.

So really my question is: What happened to that second wave, at least the part that flowed through the older denominations?

To be sure, all three waves have been a dominant force in both American and global Christianity. A Pew Forum report found especially high numbers of "renewalists" in countries ranging from Kenya to Brazil. 

But at least in the United States, I don't see as much of it in the mainline Protestant churches, or among Catholics or Orthodox. Not that it isn't there, but it isn't a front-burner thing. Church histories remind us that a generation ago, controversy over spiritual gifts cut through virtually every denomination. So it was big. 

But think about all the other issues that have crowded church agendas: Politics, abortion, the role of gays and lesbians, the authority of the Bible, membership losses. It seems like churches there's been a re-separation, with the historic churches putting spiritual gifts on the back-burner, while first-wave Pentecostals and third-wave charismatic denominations and independent churches continue to emphasize the spiritual gifts. 

Sort of. Even among the Pentecostals, tongues aren't being emphasized as much as they used to be. 

But among the mainlines, the catchphrase might be, "Hands, no tongues," as one Baptist church historian put it years ago.

In other words, in many churches, the organ has been replaced, or at least is sharing space, with electric guitars, keyboards and drums. (Come to think of it, I was just in a sanctuary the other day with a great organ, and a drum set.) People like the lively, hand-raising worship that Pentecostalism brought into the mainstream. But for whatever reason, the tongues have lagged.

"I do think the worship wars of the 1980s emerges out of the charismatic movement," said Ms. Artman, now professor of religious studies at Missouri State University. "If the charismatic movement has a victory, it's in the diffusion of more charismatic worship styles into the mainline. Most mainline churches have what's called a contemporary service."

 

 

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