Archive: October, 2011
Check this space all week for our pick of the 2011 Philly-Halloween-event litter.
[ family ]
✚ Woodmere Hay Maze by Cassie Owens
Hoping to place family fun in an art installation, event organizers at Woodmere Art Museum put a call out for designers to send ideas for their second annual hay maze. The museum selected “Owl’s Eye,” a design from local architect Peter Brown that was inspired by sacred ruins throughout time. Next week, the 900-bale hay labyrinth will receive a Halloween makeover, offering special events inside. On Fri., Oct. 28, join in on ghost stories and mask making. On Sun., Oct. 30, bring the kids for early trick-or-treat. Weekends through Oct. 30, $6-$20, Woodmere Art Museum, 9201 Germantown Ave., 215-247-0476 woodmereartmuseum.org.
[ theater ]
✚ A Reading of Stoker’s Dracula by Brian Wilensky
The vampire community has had tons of film, TV and literature adaptations of their beloved count. But how many times has Bram Stoker’s Dracula been portrayed as a one-man show? Philly actor Josh Hitchens will take on 14 different characters as he acts out Stoker’s classic in this 75-minute reading — all while sticking as much to the original text as he can. Thu., Oct. 27, 6 p.m., $10, Rosenbach Museum and Library, 2008 Delancey Place, 215-732-1600, rosenbach.org.
Despite a packed house at the Center for Architecture, last week’s panel presentation “Gray Area: Provocations on the Future of Preservation” did little to provoke engaged discussions or form strong opinions. Instead, the panelists — Tod Williams, treehugger.com’s Lloyd Alter, Greenworks founding director Mark Alan Hughes and Metropolis magazine editor in chief Susan Szenasy — remained muddled in the titular gray area.
Does and should historic preservation affect our actions in the present? Is it more important to move forward with sustainable, flexible building projects or keep relics from the past? Are they mutually exclusive? What principles should help us decide what is kept and what is demolished or left to ruin? Who should be doing the work to save these spaces, and how? All of these questions presented by the moderator are vital to the topic of preservation. Sadly, few got answers.
One presenter did provide his own principles for preservation determination: It should be a lovable area/building, usable and sustainable, flexible to modern living and frugal in upkeep and running. This is a solid set of rules with lots of possibilities for real-world application. The last part, frugality, tends to lend itself to older buildings — they were sometimes built better than modern buildings, often made to stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer, thus limiting costs — which can sustain themselves, creating the ultimate in green living by reusing what’s already there.
Reporter Meg Augustin takes you inside some of Philly's most fab dwellings to showcase our city's unique grasp on design and architecture.
With Halloween upon us, people are beginning to seek out the freakiest haunted houses, hoping to get scared out of their minds but still live to tell the tale. As a recent Art Museum-district transplant, I became interested in Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) and how its designers manage to transform the prison’s beautiful stone façade into one of America’s No. 1 haunted attractions. So I met with ESP's associate director of design services Jason Ohlsen to get scoop about the design of Terror Behind the Walls.
Ohlsen, who claims to have no interest in “scary stuff” says the prison itself is the inspiration for the whole attraction. “The story line, the scenery, the costumes … they are all meant to make you feel [like] you are trapped in this massive prison.” The design team has used ESP in such a way that it distracts and reflects from what is really going on, offering a one-of-a-kind, totally believable story line. Even walking through the space in broad daylight, I was on my guard.
Ohlsen used the prison’s walls and floor plan to shape the course of the attraction, which gave him ideas about how each space could be built upon. “One of my greatest compliments,” he notes, “was when a visitor chastised us for ‘just putting people and stuff into rooms.’” Little did this visitor know that she was seeing fabricated spaces, not the prison itself. Walking through, even in daylight, it’s hard to distinguish what’s real and what's not. Fabricated walls and floors have perfected the texture and many of the items filling the spaces — exam tables, hospital beds and desks — were shipped from another prison, creating the blurred line between reality and make-believe that makes the space so bafflingly spooky.
Man Cave is a testosterone-laden Monday feature that highlights the weekend haps of a pop culture-loving Philly dude.
I have to admit that Mad Men originally didn't grab me. That's probably because every time I would catch it, I would watch four minutes of a guy in a suit with a cigarette and whiskey staring into the distance before I moved on to more immediately gratifying entertainment options.
That said, the cultural importance of the philandering Don Draper and Sterling Cooper advertising was growing to a point where I couldn't ignore it, and I decided to start the series on DVD. I got through the first two seasons in about a month, and this weekend I plowed through most of season three.
At first, Mad Men survives solely on its premise: a zoo exhibit of early '60s office-life. Against the backdrop of today, this unbelievably inappropriate workplace environment is just enough to keep you clicking "next episode" even without substantial character development or plot — both of which, in my opinion, are somewhat lacking until the end of the season. Thankfully, the show survives this narrative and the final episodes of the season really hooks you in.
Some of the Man Cave standouts in these first few seasons are the slick John Slattery (Roger Sterling) and the CurvaSaurus Rex Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway). Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson) plays a more subtle, sympathetic young lady and Vincent Kartheiser (Pete Campbell) is great as a conniving junior executive.
Seasons two and three really churn it up with more extramarital affairs, some office outcasting of the ambitious Peggy, infertility of newlywed Pete Campbell, a trip to California where Don goes m.i.a. ... even MORE extramarital affairs ... and of course, enough whiskey and cigarettes to wake Humphrey Bogart from the dead and then kill him again.
The challenge is simply trying to pace yourself to get maximum enjoyment out of each episode, rather than scarfing the whole fourth season down like a Big Mac with fries. Sadly, I know how that plays out in my man cave. I'm not sure what it says about my personality that a TV show doesn't have to be great as much as addicting. Luckily, Mad Men is both.
Brian Wilensky on the week's sure-bet live acts.
Monday: L.A.-based Old Man Markley is self-described punk bluegrass. Markley strums the washboard. And when a band is named after the guy playing the washboard, they can call their music whatever they want. 7 p.m., $5, w/ TJ Kong and The Atomic Bomb, The Fire, 412 W. Girard, 267-671-9298.
Tuesday: If Robert Fripp started a band with Black Flag, there’s a chance it’d sound something like the Windy City’s Wishgift. You’ll go outside to catch your breath at this show, not for a cigarette. 9 p.m., $5, w/ Drugstore & Vatican, Little Bar, 736 S. Eighth St., 267-639-5233.
Wednesday: Marilyn Manson supposedly has a record in the works. But if you have a taste for industrial metal but just can’t wait around for Manson, Philly’s Man and Machines could fill the hole in your black heart. After all, Halloween is around the corner. 8 p.m., $5, w/ Blah Blah Blah, Ships for the Queen & Lights Resolve, Grape Room, 105 Grape St., 215-930-0321.
Thursday: 2008’s And You Were a Crow had more arena-sized guitar riffs than the box of vinyl you inherited from your dad. The Parlor Mob’s back in 2011 with Dogs. If it’s anything like their first album, your dad might like it, too. 8 p.m., $10, w/ Dinosaur Eyelids & Problem Solving, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St., 215-787-0488.
Diana Palmieri recaps the final episode of Jersey Shore.
Last week’s episode chronicles the last few days that Italy has to endure the gang. Sammi, still on her non-brooding kick this season, enlists Ronnie to help Mike, who no one likes, “snap him out of it.” When they return home from a night at the discoteca, Ronnie corners him (in an unusually non-threatening manner) to pretty much stop acting like the douche he is.
At Pauly, Vinny, and Sammi’s last shift at Marco’s Pizzeria, they one up their history at the Shore Store by actually working. Pauly yells into the microphone and they talk about how much they'll miss the pizzeria. To mark their territory, Marco has everyone bring a piece of clothing to hang on the lines inside the shop. Snooki brings one of her extra leopard-print bras and Deena brings a thong she may or may not have washed. Ronnie voices the thoughts of every viewer watching when he says, “I didn’t even know Deena wore underwear.”
All everyone can do is talk about how they can’t wait to get back to Jersey. Why? They miss tanning beds and familiar drunken debauchery at Karma. The culture and the beauty of Italy is overwhelming, and they have to return to dirty beaches and shit-clogged toilets. Mike still tries to grab attention from the group and even calls his sister to let her know that he doesn’t think he’ll return to Jersey. I have to agree with Sitch’s sister when she tells him “that’s silly” because he will never find another way to make as much money sleeping and lounging in an array of Abercrombie sweatpants all day.
The last day in Italy, everyone decides that a change of pace is in order and they actually leave their house when the sun is up. JWOWW announces that the agenda is, “sight see, go hard, leave.” Of course after weeks of being in Florence, all they have gotten a chance to see are Snooki’s tears and Deena’s cooka. During the tour, everyone feigns mild interest. Even Snooki ponders about the cherubs in a Michelangelo painting. “So, it’s real? The babies with wings?”
After another night out, another Sunday night dinner and more bitching about Mike, the gang is out. “I'm fuckin’ pale,” Pauly says. “I gotta get to Jersey.”
HIGH Ron and Sam sneak in a smush session when the roommates are creepily sitting on the other side of the partition. Pauly remarks how they were only in there for five minutes after doing the daytime walk of shame. “No wonder Sam never smiles!”
LOW At the pizzeria, Snooki helps herself to a helping of fresh mozzarella from behind the counter. Marco tells her, “Hey! Don’t eat my balls.” Ew.
Check this space all week for our picks of the Philly Halloween event litter.
Varga Bar is seeking to flip the misconception that pumpkin carving is for kids with their adult-only jack-o-lantern-carving extravaganza. Expert carver Eric Wagner (want proof?) will be there to show off his etching skills but that shouldn’t deter you from debuting your own creative prowess. All participating carvers will receive a $10 gift certificate and the winner will win dinner for two at Varga. Of course, pumpkin beers will be plentiful, including Dogfish Head Pumpkin and Southern Tier Pumpking. And if this little shindig doesn't satisfy your Varga-hosted Halloween urgings, head back on Oct. 28 and 29 for an '80s movie costume party and a men-and-women-in-uniform costume ball, respectively.
Mon, Oct 24, 8 p.m., free, Varga Bar, 941 Spruce St., 215-627-5200, vargabar.com.
Every Friday, Ryan Carey covers the people and things that are giving Philly the giggles.
Every year, a couple of Philadelphia’s best comedians book it for larger comedy markets. Meanwhile, a handful of our brightest under-achievers stick around. I’d like to introduce you to one of the latter, Roger Weaver, the funniest nobody you will ever meet.
I call him a nobody, because — despite being a Philly comedy mainstay for over 10 years — Roger doesn’t have that loud, assertive, dynamic personality that we see in a lot of successful comics. But one thing he does have that some of them don’t: really funny jokes.
A certified teacher with a history degree from Wake Forrest University, Roger spends his days working one-on-one with special needs students in South Jersey. He tried standup comedy for the first time in 1997 at his Shawnee High School class reunion in Medford, N.J. Callista Flockheart was in his graduating class, and he enjoyed taking some good-natured pot-shots at the Ally McBeal star. Despite his successful set, he didn’t start open-miking for about three years after that. Now he’s a multiple Philly’s Phunniest Phinalist and gets gigs as a feature act at Helium. A big fish in a small pond for sure, Roger is one of the funnist comics to stick around in Philly for the long haul.
Here’s what some local comedy magnates are saying about Roger:
“I’ve been doing this for over 15 years, and Roger is one of the best joke writers I have ever seen.” —Ben Maher, former Helium GM and director of Philly Comedy Month.
“I honestly sometimes forget to laugh at Roger’s jokes, because I’m too busy being in awe of them. He is so intelligent, and he has subtlety down to a science. When it comes to comedy, Roger walks softly and carries a big stick. If you listen carefully enough, he’ll bludgeon you with it.” —Chip Chantry, nationally touring comedian.
“Weaver combines the patient poise of an erudite professor with the whip snap quick writing of classic vaudeville.” —Doogie Horner, 2011 Philly’s Phunniest and host of Ministry of Secret Jokes.
“Roger Weaver is one of the smartest, driest comedians I have ever seen. He’s very Letterman-esque and has the benefit of having a teaching background. That helps him to relate to audiences really well because of learning bratty school kids everyday.” —John Kensil, hobo.
Devoted poet/avid concert-goer/nerd-grrrl extraordinaire Jane Cassady's weekly horoscopes run in this space every Friday morning.
Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Look up and meditate on the YouTube video “Can’t Hug Every Cat.” Think about emotional honesty, awkwardness, little bow ties, and how much you love and want the soft, fuzzy things in life.
Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): To the Sagittarius who likes to knit at parties: may your busy hands make something glittery and magic, like rainbow socks or a scarf that is as warm as your heart is.
Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): You are always carrying a lot of stuff. First, learn to love what your arms are already full of. Second, let someone take a few items and carry them for you.
Move over, Lil' Wayne, over-the-hill super star Betty White is about to bust all up on the rap charts with her remix of English singer-songwriter Luciana’s “I’m Still Hot.”
She croons genius lines like “I will get you sweaty because I’m Big Betty!” with elderly gusto, all while groping a snake and surrounded by sexy, shirtless men. People just can't get enough of this lady.
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