Winter 2010-11

Beaver Becomes A Mini Hollywood

by Missy Koshute, Age 13, Grade 7

11:00 p.m. Although it is late at night, a mega spotlight floods Second Street, making it look as if it’s a black sky day. A crowd is gathered around all kinds of equipment and tents, while crews scurry back and forth shouting “Rolling! Rolling!”, “Quiet, please!”, “Cut!” and “Moving on.”

This, as you may have guessed, is the site of a movie. Beaver has become a mini Hollywood. The well known company DreamWorks has been filming shots of their new movie “I Am Number Four” at a local house, which just happens to be on our family paper route.

On Tuesday, June 8, till midnight, my mom, my brother and I went and watched all the activity. People walked in and out of the house. Sometimes it was the actors, and sometimes it was people hauling around equipment. For one of the outside scenes, a big water tank truck came and poured the liquid all over the road to make it look like it had been raining. During a break, the main actress came out and took pictures with everyone watching, while the director was seen showing a little kid actor what to do for one of his parts.

A big highlight of the night was when I got to pet one of the four adorable beagles in the movie (this one’s name was Scout) and meet the DreamWorks’ dog trainer, who was very friendly in spite of the late hour. Indeed, Scout was a very well-trained set dog. Members of the crew kept coming over and kissing and petting him as they walked by and he didn’t bark once. I learned that in the film the dog protects the kid from the aliens and that Scout, Robie, Adam, and the other dog’s fur was dyed the same colors so that you can’t tell they’re different dogs in the movie. It was all very interesting.

As we were walking back to our car, suddenly a policeman put his hand up and said, “Stop right there. Just don’t move.” We were caught in filming and, no, not being arrested. We had to stand frozen during this street scene for about five minutes. Then we got in our car and drove home.

What an exciting night it was, not only for us, but for all the local bystanders watching! DreamWorks packed up and moved on a long time ago, but Beaver residents eagerly await the next time a movie comes to town, when Beaver will once again become a mini Hollywood.

[Note: This article was submitted for publication in the Summer 2010 issue of The Bridge, but was omitted in error. We’d like to thank Missy for this wonderful, first-person account of an exciting event in Beaver. “I Am Number Four” is set to debut in February 2011.]

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Percy Jackson’s Big Review

by Nicolette Bogolea, Age 11, 5th Grade

After reading Rick Riordan’s big start to his great series Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I think it may be the most adventurous series I have ever read!

It starts out as a 12-year-old boy who suffers from dyslexia and ADHD. In his life, Greek mythology creatures and Half-Bloods find him. At the beginning of the great book, Percy is attending a private school for troubled kids. While he’s there, his best friend and his Latin teacher seem very different. His field trip turns into a disaster, and Percy is taken to a camp for Half-Bloods. On the way, he finds out that Zeus’s lightning bolt has been stolen and Percy is the suspect. Also, his mom gets taken by a minotaur, and Percy wonders if he will ever see her again. At camp he meets two new friends that should help him.

This epic story has an epic ending. I think you’ll want to find out. Flip through these epic pages and read. I recommend this to everyone!

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Let Your Characters Breathe

Melissa Hosack — Author of Paranormal Romance

As a writer, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the years in character development is to let your characters tell their own story.

Going by a strict outline never seemed to work for me. In my opinion, I believe a character needs to develop at their own rate. I could never force a character to do what I want them to. Many characters will fight their creator until the very end, while others jump at the chance to have their story told. This variety of dispositions can be a challenge. Some characters have difficult personalities and don’t want to reveal too much about themselves when I may be ready to, but finally getting them to open up is what makes writing the enjoyable and entertaining thing it is.

Characters can become a personality that is almost tangible to the author. I always find it easier to let such a persona take the reins in whatever it is I am writing. I often find myself surprised with how things turn out. In a vampire series yet to be published, I had a character who was only meant to help transition the location of my story from point A to point B. This character was meant to only be a blip in the life of my main character.

As the story progressed, to my surprise, this character continued to pop up and make sure his presence was known. Orion made sure I knew he wasn’t going to be just a blip. He had a background, a history. He had a life I hadn’t even begun to dream about, a life that he needed to share with me. By the end of my book, this character interjected himself into the final battle against the antagonist. He was prepared to give his life for the heroine, and I had nearly written him off as unimportant. Had I stuck to strict rules, never veering from a set outline, I never would have gotten to know and love my timid and kind vampire named Orion.

My advice to my fellow authors: Don’t let yourself get hampered down by rules and regulations. Writing isn’t about sticking to a straight and narrow path. It is about creativity and letting your characters have a voice of  their own. Let your characters breathe. They will thank you for it in the end.

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But Enough About Me

Joline Pinto Atkins

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Biba—Latin Inspired Cuisine

BIBA. It’s fun to say.

BIBA.

Biba, a Latin dialect of the Spanish, bebida, means “drink”. But to hear the true inspiration behind the name of this new restaurant, check in with owner’s Jason and Chrissy Benegasi.

“It’s named after our dog.” Talk about honoring the legacy of your beloved pet. Biba, your name now lives on through Beaver’s recent addition to ethnic dining. Good dog!

I sat down with Jason one October evening while under a tornado watch. A little wind and the threat of being whipped in the face by flying piles of crispy leaves wasn’t about to stop me. I’ve played Dorothy. I know the adventure a twister can bring. There’s no place like Biba!

Entering the restaurant, I was struck by the spaciousness of the tiny venue. Surprisingly, with room for only 11 tables, seating wasn’t tight. And although Biba is considered one of Beaver’s more upscale restaurants, there wasn’t a hint of snootiness.

Jason, formerly of Lidia’s Pittsburgh, dreamed of opening his own place for years.

Why Beaver?

“Beaver is obviously up and coming. It’s a unique small town with a main drag feel – not commercial.” Here, we veered off, swapping opinions on local business vs. corporate establishments as it pertained to certain coffee shops. You can ask him for his thoughts on this subject. I agreed not to print details. Wink.

“Beaver is happening. Everyone here is really into their little town.”

He’s exactly right. We adore our little town. What’s not to love about our “main drag” which now boasts the flavors of Cuba, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Argentina, thanks to Biba, whose menu specializes in dishes from South America and the Caribbean, along with Central American and Mexican influences.

“Folks may not recognize what’s on the menu, but it’s really nothing weird,” Jason joked. Chicken, steak, pork, and fish are regulars in the line up, with some new surprises coming in December.

Not to be confused with tapas, (a rumor I think I actually started – oops), Biba is a Latin seasonal restaurant, offering “small plates” (as well as larger dishes) from a unique menu which changes weekly. “Sticking to their guns” by using seasonal, fresh, and local ingredients, Jason shops with venders from our very own community. And while one might find the prices a bit startling at first, the finest ingredients combined with the talent of Executive Chef David Plankenhorn naturally comes at a premium.

I act nonchalant when Jason asks if I’m hungry, but truthfully, I was so hoping he’d ask.

He whips up two of his favorites: a jerk chicken taco on a home-made tortilla, topped with cabbage, pineapple/Serrano pepper salsa and a drizzle of sour cream, followed by a soft taco filled with jumbo lump crab and chorizo, sprinkled with onion and Chihuahua cheese.

“You may need a fork with that one,” he shares. Nope. I had no intention of attempting proper table manners. Those tasty tacos were gone in a snap.

No sooner had I finished than Chef David, a former chocolatier, quietly laid a spoon of chocolate gonache on my plate.

I love him.

Venture into Biba and be treated to a meal that will stretch your culinary palate with dishes from countries far beyond the land of Beaver Bobcats. And if you find “new” to be strange and intimidating, and aren’t brave enough to go it alone, allow me to accompany you. I’ll even hold your hand.

Biba is located at 406 Third Street. (724) 728-7700. Tell them Joline sent you.

Joline Pinto Atkins is no longer the new girl in town. Her take on life, (humorous, and as is the case in life, sometimes not so humorous – although she’ll attempt to find a laugh in any situation) can be found at thecuppajo.blogspot.com. Joline can also be found blogging her musings about entering the “soccer mom” stage of her life every Thursday at PittsburghMom.com.

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NO TO MARCELLUS SHALE DRILLING

Here at The Bridge, we are saddened to hear that the State of Pennsylvania continues to sell out to the Marcellus Shale fracking companies, of which include Halliburton (yes the same Dick Cheney’s Halliburton who put us to war in Iraq) and EOG (formerly known as Enron, remember that one?) and Anadarko our beloved BP’s partner in the Gulf of Mexico spill (a great job there).

Do we want these same multi-national companies in our backyards?  Do you think they care about this area any more than they care about Iraq, the Gulf, America?  Well, they now own the ground beneath the feet of many of us.

These companies with their campaign contributions have taken over the state government and corrupted our politics by turning us against ourselves.  They exploit landowners by pitting them against their neighbors.  Tom Corbett and Pat Toomey are in bed with the Marcellus Shale companies.  Why would we allow drilling in our State Parks?  Why wouldn’t we tax?  Why wouldn’t we investigate the repercussions of drilling from an environmental perspective?  The cost to remediate the damages will far outdo any benefits that trickle down to the public.  As someone stated in a rally against the shale drilling—it will be good for our hospitals and funeral homes.  Exactly.

Please do what you can to oppose any drilling.  The City of Pittsburgh has voted on a ban.  Other counties and places have done the same.  But many have not.  Vote for a ban, or at least a moratorium which would give us time to catch up to see the full effects of fracking on the land and water.

We have done so much to clean up this region after so many years of environmental abuse.  And now we’re repeating the same mistakes again, by privatizing the profits of drilling— giving them to these companies and a few landowners—and socializing the costs by passing the environmental degradation, cleanup, and poisons on to our children and grandchildren.  Think like the Native Americans—of the “Seventh Generation.”  Would this be good for them?

Until the fracking process is proven safe, which it hasn’t been, then BAN IT.  Let these companies go home.

Instead, be energy efficient, look to solar, buy a rain barrel, make your home better insulated, drive less, walk more.  Watch these movies: “Gasland,” “Flow.” Speak out to your leadership and fellow citizens, join Sierra Club, take a permaculture class at Phipps, and do what you can to protect the waters and land for ourselves and for our children, and for theirs too.

Go to: http://www.fractracker.org to see the over 1,500 violations by companies so far (scroll down to find the map from the Wednesday, Nov 17 post).

Go to: http://www.pennfuture.org, http://www.pennenvironment.org, http://www.pecpa.org, http://www.pennsylvania.sierraclub.org, http://www.depweb.state.pa.us to learn more about local environmental issues and how to get involved.

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