Sunday, 7 February 2016

Performance Arts in Pittsburgh

Looking for a great night out on the town then Pittsburgh is the best place to be. From a wide range of performance arts available in the area, you are sure to be pleased with the outcome of all of the shows and options that are available to you. Regardless what your favorite type of performance art is you are sure to be excited and thoroughly entertained watching shows at Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh Post Gazette Pavillion, Chevy Amphitheater, or any other venue that Pittsburgh has to offer.

Pittsburgh offers a plethora of theatrical performances. Ranging from the professional shows to the amateur and local theater there is always a great theatrical production that is sure to win your heart. From newer pieces to the classics, there is something that all theater lovers alike will enjoy.

Musical theater productions also abound in Pittsburgh. Once again, a great mix of original and classical shows are combined together between professional and amateur shows. There is enough dancing, singing and acting to inspire even the most quiet and calm person. Look for your favorite show and enjoy the evening listening to the happy sounds of singing and dancing.

If your perfect idea of a night out on the town involves listening to live music then you are also in luck. With a great range of music from the Orchestra to the Opera and even the live vocal performances there is sure to be a genre that interests and inspire you. Great performances are one of the biggest hearts in Pittsburgh and music is certainly not lacking as you anticipate listening to the next incredible piece.

Another popular option is the dancing performances. Ranging from modern, impressionable, and even ballet there are plenty of dance shows that are sure to leave you breathless. From the classics such as the Nutcracker, to some original and contemporary performances there are always shows that are in progress that are sure to catch your attention and leave you stunned from the beauty and the talent on the stage.

Pittsburgh has a great rich ability to entertain and delight people. From keeping the tourists to the long time residents entertained there are always plenty of great performance art shows to choose from and in typical Pittsburgh fashion the residents aim to please in everything they do. Enjoy an evening out in the Pittsburgh performance arts and lose yourself to the sights, sounds, and entertainment.

Do Arts Polls Bias Consumers?

The other week I saw a movie that I absolutely loved. It seemed to me obvious how well acted, directed, and produced the whole thing was. Which is why I was surprised when I went home, searched for some information on it, and saw that it had very low ratings in some arts polls. The next week I noticed that it had been performing poorly in the box office. I began to wonder if the two were correlated.

Now, obviously, everyone has their own opinion. And that's the way things should be. So a movie I love may not do well in arts polls and vice versa. I can accept that. In fact, I encourage it. Everyone's opinion is valuable, even if we disagree.

However, it seems to me that with something reasonably expensive, like a movie, a negative rating in arts polls could really convince people not to go to it. As a result, someone might not even read the attached movie review--they'll simply see the poll results and move on.

To me this seems unfair. A movie can do poorly because of negative reviews, and while unfair, at least I can be sure those come from professionals. Arts polls are open to anyone--while this form of democratization is beneficial in other areas of life, I think it's dangerous here. It encourages people to game the system, all while pretending to be fair.

For example, what is someone doesn't particularly like an actor or actress in the movie? They might give the movie a negative vote in arts polls--sight unseen! They might encourage other friends to vote the same way, pushing the movie into negative territory, even if that's because of sock puppet accounts.

One way around this could be making an answer to the poll contingent on answering a question about the movie. It could be completing a memorable line of dialogue or simply knowing the characters full name. Nothing major, just something to check to make sure that people are voting out of knowledge.

Lastly, I wonder about the utility of even including arts polls in movie reviews. Sure those are better left to other areas of the website? Even if the arts polls are done with the utmost responsibility, the fact of the matter is that having that information there will sway the user one way or the other. Not only could it bias them against the film--it could bias them against the review!

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Madness

While browsing ESPN, you spot what seems like a boxing match, until suddenly opponents start to kick one another. The next thing you know, the two fighters are on the ground, striking one another. Welcome to the exciting and increasingly popular arena of mixed martial arts (also known as MMA). You may think this is the next wave in martial arts entertainment, but this combat sport has actually been around since the Olympic games in 648 BC.

What to Expect During a Match

Mixed martial arts uses three different phases of fighting - stand-up, clinch and ground. Stand-up fighting incorporates boxing, kickboxing and Muay Thai. Freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, Sambo (from Russia), as well as Judo are used in the clinch phase of fighting. The ground phase of fighting is characterized by Brazilian Jui-Jitsu (focuses on positioning), shoot wrestling, catch wrestling, Judo, as well as Sambo.

Fighting techniques that you may encounter during a MMA competition includes kicks, punches, knees, pinning holds, sweeps, takedowns, throws, some elbowing, as well as hand-to-hand combat. A win is typically awarded through the decision of a judge. Matches are timed, therefore, the decision comes after the allotted time has passed. Other circumstances that end a fight include referee stoppage, fight doctor decision, submission, cornerman throwing in the towel and of course, a knockout.

The Mixed Martial Arts of Today

The kind of fighting techniques associated with the mixed martial arts of today deals with a combination of different professional fighting styles. Most commonly, a fighter started training in one specific arena of fighting and later decided to branch off into other styles of combat. The main styles of fighting include sprawl-and-brawl, clinch-and-pound and ground-and-pound.

Sprawl-and-brawl is a stand-up fighting approach that utilizes striking and purposefully avoids fighting on the ground. This type of fighter usually has a strong background in boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai or karate. To fight in this style, MMA fighters have undergone training in wrestling. Well-known mixed martial artists connected to this approach include Chuck Liddell, Maurice Smith and Phil Barconi.

Clinch-and pound uses clinch fighting tactics characterized by a clinch hold. While a fighter holds an opponent so that they cannot move, they will often strike the body using their knees, or other dirty boxing moves. Most of these fighters started wrestling before incorporating boxing techniques. Don Frye, Dan Henderson and Randy Couture are familiar with this style of fighting.

Ground-and-pound involves the taking down or throwing of an opponent. The next step is to get into the dominant position, attacking with strikes. Wrestlers usually turn to this type of fighting, which has been used by the likes of Mark Coleman, Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz.

Since there are so many different styles of MMA combat associated with mixed martial art, you may think that there is nothing a fighter can do to their opponent. In actuality, there are several fouls connected to this sport. A fighter are not allowed to head-butt, eye gouge, pull the hair, bite, attack the groin or strike the back of the head or kidneys of an opponent.

MMA Organizations

Bringing the exciting world of mixed martial arts fighting to the public are several different organizations that all have their own specific rules and regulations. One of the most well known, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tests their fighters for steroids and other illegal substances before allowing entrance to one of their championship bouts. In this organization, elbow strikes are allowed with the exception of ones that come from the north-south direction. PRIDE Fighting Championships mainly offer two different MMA weight classes (heavyweight and middleweight) and forbids fighters from intentionally hanging an arm or leg on the ropes.