Asides: White stuff on the way, Pittsburgh looking greener and an opera seeking men of any color

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IT'S A BIT EARLY to be thinking about winter -- fall doesn't start for another three weeks -- but the arrival of Labor Day propels such thoughts, as does the arrival of the 2014 edition of the Farmers' Almanac, which arrived last week with a chilling prediction. This winter is going to be cold, the Almanac predicts. Managing editor Sandi Duncan said, "We're predicting two-thirds of the country will have below-average temperatures for the winter season, and in some areas the temperatures will be biting and piercing." But the Almanac, based in Maine, puts Pittsburgh right on a line between bitterly cold and snow-filled weather and merely cold, wet and white. Meanwhile, the Old Farmer's Almanac, the New Hampshire-based rival, has yet to come out with its predictions. We wait in hope for a second opinion.

CALLING a few good men. No, the Marines don't necessarily need them, but the Pittsburgh Opera does. It is seeking men to fill roughly 60 parts in Verdi's "Aida" for the opening production of the company's 75th season next month. The male supernumeraries -- or "supers" -- don't have to sing, but it would help if they are buff, the opera says. They will play soldiers and prisoners returning to ancient Thebes after the Egyptian army's triumph over the Ethiopians, so it makes sense that the casting call is Saturday at the Egyptian Wing of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland. It ought to be still warm enough for those who walk like an Egyptian to take their shirts off.

HOW GREEN was our valley this summer? Admirably green, according to the August/September issue of Organic Gardening magazine, which has a story devoted to once-polluted Pittsburgh "experiencing a vibrantly green renaissance." The story cites various examples of the new green lifestyle -- including the Farmers@Firehouse organic market in the Strip District, the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and its LEED certifications, the popularity of green roofs in Pittsburgh, the LEED-certified Fairmont Pittsburgh hotel, the PNC Green Wall on the bank's corporate headquarters Downtown, the cycle racks on Port Authority buses and Green Gears Pedicabs. Green is everywhere, but the all-encompassing white stuff is coming, according to pessimistic farmers.

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