- Chantez et vous trouverez votre chanson -

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.
     -George Bernard Shaw

It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves- in finding themselves.
      -Andre Gide

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pittsburgh blowing up on the big screen!

First Zack & Miri Make a Porno, then My Bloody Valentine and now Adventureland.  I feel like my hometown is becoming famous!!

Now, I won't kid myself, I realize one of the main reasons movies have been filmed in Pittsburgh lately is probably because it's significantly cheaper than filming in New York, but still... there's no better city to deserve some on-screen action.

I just saw Adventureland today, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I liked it.  Set in 1987, the movie follows a nerdy post-grad kid that comes home to Pittsburgh for the summer and is stuck working at Adventureland, the local amusement park.  It reminded me of an 80's version of Almost Famous or Dazed & Confused.  The movie was funny, especially when Bill Hader and Kristen Wiigs' characters chimed in, but the movie flowed with mostly an understated humor.  Ultimately, it's a sweet coming-of-age story about a kid that grows up more in one summer at a dead-end job than he did all four years at his respectable college.

The whole movie basically took place in Kennywood, the real Adventureland in Pittsburgh.  I loved pointing out all the rides and seeing the park on the big screen.  Although, just an FYI, the movie makes the park look really run down, but in reality, it's not run down at all.  Kennywood has been around forever, but the film purposely doesn't show any of the new additions to the park or the modern roller coasters there.  Fun Fact: I read that they decided to shoot at Kennywood instead of a list of other theme parks around the country because Kennywood isn't commercialized and they didn't have to cover up a bunch of advertisements and corporate sponsors for filming.

Growing up, Kennywood was the place to be seen.  Every school district in Pittsburgh is given a "Kennywood Day," a weekday where there is no school and you're able to purchase discounted tickets to spend the day at the park.  It was of utmost importance to look cute on Kennywood Day.  Ohhh the shopping trips I would take and the hours I would spend perfecting my outfit to make sure I looked good in case I ran into any boys from school. All the girls basically looked like little hoochie-mamas on Kennywood Day.  No dress-code policy there! haha

The characters felt very authentic and the film kept true to Pittsburgh-- the homes they showed looked like homes near my neighborhood and there were plenty of landscape shots that reminded me of home.  The house parties and aimless driving over tons of yellow bridges brought back memories of high school as well.  I also liked the random glimpses of Pittsburgh pride, like the guy playing the shooting gallery game with the Lambert jersey on.  (Zack & Miri was really good with that, too.)  Fun Fact #2: The directors for both Adventureland and Zack & Miri have personal ties to Pittsburgh.  Kevin Smith (Zack & Miri) had a girlfriend from Pittsburgh and always loved the city and told himself he'd like to film there someday and Greg Mottola (Adventureland) got his undergraduate degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

My advice-- go see it.  

Pittsburgh being in the movies isn't new, though.  Throughout the years, lots of popular movies have been filmed in my hometown.  Here are a few to jog your memory of the Steel City on the Silver Screen:

- Wonder Boys
- Dogma
- Inspector Gadget
- Milk Money
- Groundhog Day
- The Silence of the Lambs
- Flashdance
- The Deer Hunter

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bring It On?

Interesting debate to chew on: Is cheerleading a sport?   

At the beginning of this year, the topic of high school cheerleading made it all the way to the State Supreme Court and onto the pages of ESPN online.  It's actually a really interesting case... 

As a cheerleader all throughout middle school, high school and beyond into college (Go Indians...Go Red Storm!), I get super pumped when cheerleading makes it into the headlines. Heck, I get excited when I come across cheerleading competitions on TV, but when regular folk and sports-talking guys are mentioning spirit fingers, I get all warm, fuzzy and proud inside.

The case: Varsity cheerleader, Brittany Noffke from Holmen High School in western Wisconsin decided to sue a male teammate who was her designated "spotter" (for you non-cheerleaders, it means exactly what you think it means), and failed to catch her when she fell backwards out of a stunt.  She ended up with a serious head injury.  

Seriously, cheerleading can be dangerous, y'all!

So, what do you think?  Can you sue a teammate for not catching you?  The question at hand for the Wisconsin State Supreme Court was if cheerleading was a contact sport or not.  If they decided that yes, cheering should be lumped with football and other contact sports, high schools and teammates would not be held accountable when someone gets hurt (including Brittany's teammate).  In other words, join the squad at your own risk.  But, is cheerleading really at the same level as football with injuries and danger?  And should there be no consequence for dropping a teammate??

In the greater sense of the question, it's hard for me to deem cheerleading a "sport."  I typically only associate games as sports, i.e. an athletic event with rules and a clear winner and loser at the end.  Soccer games, baseball games, etc.  The main and original purpose of cheerleading is to support the players in those aforementioned games.  Even when we show off our amazing abilities in competitions, there is still no clear cut winner/loser.  A panel of judges grades each team on their fancy footwork and the "wow factor" of their performance.... how does that fit?  In my world of sports, a team can play a dirty and messy game and still win.

But then there are the Olympics.  They just throw a huge wrench in my idea of sports.  Figure skating, gymnastics, diving... the winners for each are determined by judges and they are all absolutely considered sports.  What is the definition of a sport anyway?  Dictionary.com defines a sport as "physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively."  By that definition, cheerleading qualifies for sport status.  But, contact sport status??  There is no risk in the actual "leading of cheers."  When a team begins engaging in stunts and gymnastics, though, it gets more serious. In fact, tons of squads across the country do not allow their cheerleaders to stunt or tumble for the specific reason that those activites are dangerous.  

And voila, with that last statement, I think I have my answer. 

Cheerleading that incorporates stunting and gymnastics is a contact sport, and schools and teammates cannot be held monetarily liable if someone gets hurt.  The nature of the sport is dangerous and you should know that going in.  Tossing people high into the air, balancing a person on human hands (at least) six feet in the air and forcefully springing your body into the air unnaturally can potentially cause injuries, just as sacking a quarterback can potentially cause injuries.  And yes, if your teammate drops you, he should be reprimanded, but not in the courtroom and not to pay for your medical bills.  No one forced you to cheerlead and no one forced you to be the girl in the air.  We all make mistakes and injuries happen in cheerleading.

Do you agree with me?  Check out the full story from ESPN Rise online.

PS - the Wisconsin Supreme Court felt the same way I did.  On January 27, 2009 cheerleading was made an official contact sport, at least in the eyes of Wisconsin.