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Filling in at the last minute

Written by Elizabeth Bloom on .

Happy Opening Day! In baseball, there are often last-minute shuffles to the lineup, and athletes need to step up their game in replacing stars. It's true of classical music, too; one of the genre's most enduring traditions is late substitutions. When Bruno Walter withdrew from a New York Philharmonic concert, he helped launch a young Leonard Bernstein's conducting career. When tenor Vladimir Kuzmenko fell ill during a Pittsburgh Opera performance of "Aida" in 2008, music director Antony Walker sang the role of Radames instead, even while he was still conducting. (Mr. Kuzmenko lip-synched from the stage.) 

This past weekend continued that illustrious tradition. Tenor Eric Barry took on a few extra performances of "La Boheme," another Pittsburgh Opera production. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra music director Manfred Honeck filled in at the last minute for an ailing Gustavo Dudamel to lead the New York Philharmonic in works by Claude Vivier and Bruckner. His performance received a rave review from New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini. Props to all, and happy opening day!

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Empty Netter Assists - 03-31-14

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Dave Molinari's recap from last night's game. "No penalty [was called]. I think that hit happens 10 times a game." - Brooks Orpik on his hit which injured Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews.

-The Chicago Sun-Times' recap. “He plays hard, and it’s never easy to play against him. Sometimes the calls are on the edge, but I know him as a fair guy, and that’s how I remember him. Obviously, some calls are tougher than the others, and sometimes he’s on the borderline.” - Blackhawks forward and former Penguin Marian Hossa on Orpik.

-The Chicago Tribune's recap. Toews' injury is not believed to be serious.

-The Associated Press' recap. "I thought this was one of our most physical games of the year. We saw it from the beginning of the game until the end." - Dan Bylsma.

-Highlights:

-Orpik's hit on Toews:

-Referee Ian Walsh wasn't buying anything Sidney Crosby was selling:

-Bylsma has a chat with his team:

-Dan Bylsma speaks:

-Sidney Crosby speaks:

-Orpik speaks:

-Marc-Andre Fleury speaks:

-Eric Hartzell made 20 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-1 win against the Elmira Jackals.

-Today would've been the 76th birthday of former Penguins forward Bill Hicke. Acquired prior to the 1971-72 season from the California Golden Seals in exchange for cash, Hicke's Penguins' career amounted to 12 games and two goals that season. In November of 1971, he was traded to the Red Wings in exchange for for cash. He passed away, July 18, 2005.

-Happy 49th birthday to the best goaltender in Penguins history (for the time being):

-After the Jump: Ted Nolan gets a job.

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Some like it cool, veggies to plant now

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog arugulab 0331This arugula is so hardy, it lived over the winter. It will thrive in spring weather. Photos by Doug Oster

In the '70's my mother would march us out to the garden on Memorial Day to get the garden weeded, turned over and planted. On Labor Day everything came out.

Today, I garden differently. Peas, arugula, lettuce, beets, carrots, spinach, radishes and more can be planted right now. They love cool weather.

In fact, the arugula above survived the winter. If a plant can take 10 below, it will thrive in spring temperatures.

The trick is to make sure the garden soil is ready to be turned. If it sticks to the shovel, it's too wet. In that case, just buy a bag of compost at a garden center and spread it over the bed. Seeds can be planted directly in the compost.

Peas are traditionally planted on St. Patrick's Day, mine went in even earlier, March 11. That day it was 64 degrees. I soak mine for 24 hours before planting to improve germination. I knew it would get really cold again, so I covered the small bed with a plastic skylight. A sheet of clear plastic would work too. That might help them sprout now too.

The peas are a couple inches tall already and should be able to be picked in late April or early May depending on the weather.

blog peas 0331Starting early also lets you brag! I'm telling everyone who will listen my peas are already a couple inches high!

It's not just seeds which can be planted now either. I used the same compost technique on March 11th to put in small transplants of lettuce, arugula, spinach and cilantro. The next day it dipped to eight degrees. By protecting plants with skylights, plastic and floating row covers, they all survived and now are taking off. A floating row cover is a spun bound translucent fabric available at nurseries which acts as a greenhouse in the garden. It's so light, the plants themselves can hold the fabric up. It's cheap and reusable, one of the best tools for the spring garden.

Nurseries carry seeds and plants this time of the year. It's fun to see what each one has to offer.

Get something in the vegetable garden now, you'll be harvesting before many gardeners even start planting.

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Free rose pruning/care seminar with the experts from the Pittsburgh Rose Society

Written by Doug Oster on .

blog roses societyThese roses were blooming in England outside the Tower of London. Photo by Doug Oster

There's no one better to teach you about caring for roses than the rosarians from the Pittsburgh Rose Society. The rose garden at Renziehausen Park is one of the finest collections of roses in the country.

The Pittsburgh Rose Society will be holding its spring pruning demonstration at the Renziehausen Park Arboretum in McKeesport on Saturday, April 4th and 12th at 1 P.M.  Rosarians will be in the garden to conduct hands-on pruning demonstrations as well as answer questions about planting, fertilizing, and pest control.  You must bring your own pruning tools, gloves, and knee pads to learn and participate.  The event will go on rain or shine.  This demonstration is free and open  to the public.  For more information visit www.pghrosesociety.org.

Here's a video I did about this amazing garden.


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Pennsylvania Hustle

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has come under fire for not prosecuting a case based on a sting operation involving state legislators taking money on camera. Kane has defended her actions, saying the case, which predates her, was fraught with problems and possible racial motives. It is complicated for sure. From what I have read, I think she is probably right. Here are some good questions raised by Philadelphia Magazine via Pennlive.com

033114 Pennsylvania Hustle

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