Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Larry Won the Pittsburgh Poker Open (Winter Series) Championship , 2013!

RIVERS CASINO, PITTSBURGH -- It's a little late to write about this now that it's over, but I couldn't write much while it was going on yesterday because the film crew didn't allow electronic devices on the set. Confused? Here's a link to the Poker Night in America Facebook page. It mentions something about the winner being Larry Pileggi, a personal friend of mine. https://www.facebook.com/pokernightinamerica/posts/479456748837334

Day 1A started on Friday at noon. Pros in town who I saw included Darvin Moon and Greg Raymer. Day 1B was Saturday, but Larry had made it through Day 1A with a slightly less than average chip stack and without a rebuy. (Up to a certain point, a player can buy in again after busting out -- a rebuy.)

On Sunday, Day 2, play started at noon. It ended 16 1/2 hours later at 4:30 a.m. with the final six players. Yesterday, Day 3, play would start at 2 p.m., but Larry had to go to work in the morning. We slept maybe three hours (and wow am I feeling the effects of that now!).

This was the first time that a poker event would be filmed in Pittsburgh. Poker Night in America was the company doing the filming. The set was built upstairs in the ballroom area of the casino. Surrounded by black curtains, the table and cameras took up a space about the size of a two-car garage. Before play started, the players were miked and the lights and the cameras (5 cameras) were set up. The players were tense -- they were way too quiet for poker players. At one time, I counted 28 people in that small space, folks from Rivers Casino, from Poker Tonight in America, dealers, Dave Crawley of KDKA and his camera man, a photographer from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and even the young woman who served drinks (who was dressed in the required red santa-inspired cocktail dress).

Early on, Larry lost a huge hand. That's when my stomach settled down. He plays well short, and he wasn't going to crumble. I couldn't see the cards, but it almost didn't matter. The whole thing was over in about 3 hours. Well, before it was over, I did get to see the cards up close and personal.

By the time it was heads up, the chip stacks were so large that Larry couldn't reach beyond them. Management called me over to help. Sometime I stack chips for Larry, but I don't usually put in his bets for him. This time I had to. I don't play poker myself, even though I've watched a lot. (Okay, I played once or twice, but I don't really have the ability to concentrate for that long.) I'm just thankful I understood how the big and small blinds work in heads up. I felt like I was wearing boxing gloves, but I tried my best not to be seen.

And then it was over. Larry had won.

When we went back down to the poker room, the Poker Night in America broadcast was being streamed to all the TVs, but on a delay. People were confused because to them, it wasn't over yet. Was Larry out? And then they saw that he was carrying the box with the trophy in it. Yes, a Pittsburgh guy beat the pros.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The First Fan Letter For Prisoner 88!

PITTSBURGH, VIA NEW JERSEY -- At this summer's Princeton Children's Book Festival, I met Arron, who is nine years old. He and his dad bought PRISONER 88, and I just received a terrific letter now that Arron has read the book.

Here we are at the Princeton Children's Book Festival
I had asked Arron to think about the character Jake and to let me know if he thought Jake was guilty. This is what he said:

"Dear Ms. Pileggi,
Hello. We met in Princeton. My dad and I read Prisoner 88. It was a great story. I don't think he [Jake] is guilty because he didn't remember pulling the trigger. I hope he had a good life, too.

Thanks, Arron, for your thoughtful letter!

Monday, November 25, 2013

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, Filming in Pittsburgh!

SHADYSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD OF PITTSBURGH -- It's no secret that John Green's terrific YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is being filmed around Pittsburgh. I stumbled onto a shoot today. A funeral scene. Too cold here to stand around for long.

In case you haven't read this book, read it. Today. Teens, parents, it's a powerful story. I know of a group of teen girls who have read it over and over and cry every time. But it's a good cry, a cleansing cry. Fingers crossed that the film will do justice to the book.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Heinz Chapel Made Out of Legos!

PITTSBURGH -- Pitt's Heinz Chapel hosts a string of weddings every weekend, and I finally got to see what the hoopla is all about. I had never been inside Heinz Chapel in all the years I've lived in Pittsburgh, until today. I stopped by to see the Lego version that will be auctioned off in honor of the 75th anniversary of this Gothic style nondenominational memorial chapel. [http://www.heinzchapel.pitt.edu/home]

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Penny Farthing and Steampunk

PITTSBURGH -- This weekend was the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI's annual conference, (Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) held at the Doubletree in Greentree.

In addition to absorbing loads of writing and illustrating information about branding, editing, research and the future of children's books (among many other topics), I learned a couple of new words:  Penny Farthing and Steampunk.

A Penny Farthing is an old-timey bicycle, the kind with the huge front wheel.

According to Wikipedia, "Steampunk refers to a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American 'Wild West,' in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power."

Illustrator John Hinderliter creates Steampunk robots. I apologize for my lousy photography. Check out his work at http://www.johnhinderliter.com.

Illustrator and book designer Lisa Rasmussen plans to create an entire fold-out book. Here she is with the prototype of a small section of a fold-out book. http://www.rasmussenillustrationanddesign.com/about/

And local published authors showed off their wares.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bridging Shadyside and East Liberty

PITTSBURGH -- Construction of the new Highland Avenue Bridge between Shadyside and East Liberty is done! I started taking pictures of it when I knew the old scary, shoddy, shaky bridge was about to be demolished. The entire length is maybe 20 yards, but having it closed for many months made movement through the neighborhoods a nightmare.

Here's the old bridge. Ugly, unsafe, uninviting.

Let the demolition begin.

Beginning the new span. Stripes over graffiti.

Almost done.

In the middle of the new bridge.