Archive: February, 2010
|cover illustration | Thomas Pitilli|
Back in January, when City Paper published its annual writing contest issue featuring the fiction of Jessica Penzias ("Death by Oboe") and poetry of Sean Webb ("The Bridge"), we set Feb. 10 as the date for our winners reading, figuring blizzard season was over. How foolish we were.
It should come as no surprise that this evening's scheduled reading with Penzias, Webb, fiction judge Elise Juska, poetry judge Thomas Devaney and CP senior editor Patrick Rapa at the Tin Angel in Old City, has been POSTPONED due to the inclement weather.
City Paper, Tin Angel and the readers are working to reschedule for an upcoming Tuesday evening, so please stay tuned here and to the event's Facebook page for updates.
THE CURATOR: James Cameron, lovely ladies, Philly's erotic art scene, charming doodles, 2010 Brain Olympics
|Courtesy of Kris Chau|
|All I really want is boys ... and this print.|
Every Tuesday, Critical Mass pokes around the art blog world so you don't have to.
James Cameron apparently loves his water. Learn more from Irreference about this 2010 Academy Award nominee and apparent aquaphile who probably watches that Showgirls pool scene ad nauseam when he's between wives.
Urban Outfitters gives a shout-out to local designer Kris Chau, whose whimsical designs of lovely ladies (pictured) are now on display at Topstitch. Titled "Puppy Face," you know this exhibit has got to be good ... unless you're a cat person.
The artblog sheds some dim, soft and sexy light on the erotic side of Philly's art scene. Christopher Davison draws nudes frolicking in the forest, while Gabriel Martinex takes photos of men's feet at the moment of orgasm and that's just the tip ... of the iceberg.
Print Liberation interviews Philly photographer Catherine Maloney. And while I'd never heard of her before, after reading and seeing her written/doodle answers to the site's questions, I like her just about as much as she likes space. Her photos are pretty swell, too.
In honor of the Winter Olympics, the geeks over at Franklin Institute are hosting the "2010 Brain Olympics." Uwishunu reports that visitors can play a giant game of Operation, compete in something called "Big Brain Academy," and learn about the Rubik's cube. There's no mention of gold medals but you can get the autograph of former Olympic figure skaters Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn. (Not gonna lie, Tonya Harding would be more fun.)
A concert a day keeps the doctor away.
Monday: Alberta Cross is a beardy sort of band, sure. And, yeah, they have a few shows set over seas with Dave Matthews Band. Forget that part entirely (I only mentioned it to be fai)r. It feels like the group wants to have a throwback '70s rock feel. But it's the rootsier tracks, like "Low Man," that work for them, not the larger, We-Wanna-Be-U2 sound. In their better moments singer Petter Ericson Stakee's voice is shakey and passionate, which makes for a lovely little pairing when done right. With Hacienda and The John Olmstead Band, $10 - $12, 8 p.m., Khyber, 56 S. 2nd. St., 215-238-5888.
Tuesday: While Tape won't rock your face off, this Swedish band will provide some haunting electronica. Like many electronic tunes, their songs tend to build up within themselves. Some of the tracks, though, just string you along, giving hints here and there of ripples, but they're really just fractured tangents. Think of them as a subdued version of The Books. With Mountains, $12, 8 p.m., Chapel at the First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 215-563-3980.
Wednesday: Get a little soul in your life with the inspirational Angie Stone. The woman's got some gospel background, made clear when she stretches her larger than life pipes. But the same way a speaking softly will draw a person closer, her softer tracks are equally as impressive. She's got a sexy, raspy voice that demands just as much attention as when she'sbeltin' it out. With Leela James. $39.50 - $49.50, 8 p.m., Keswick Theatre, 291 N. Keswick Ave., 215-572-7650.
Thursday: Velvet Davenport gives you throwback sounds with a touch of contemporary weirdness. They combine '60s tambourine with more recent chamber pop loops. But then there are moments, like their song "Kennedy Funk Jam," where it sounds like they've added in the sound of Charles Manson's nightmares. With Nymph, Florida, Spooks, and iDeath, $5 - $10 donations, 8 p.m., Danger Danger Gallery, 5013 Baltimore Ave.
Friday: Jemina Pearl is the dirty little punker (formerly of Be Your Own Pet) who is way smarter than the boys she teases. Her songs bounce around between '60s pop and '80s dance and her lyrics are so simple it's almost insulting. But there's something about the subject matter (like the song "I Hate People") or the delivery of the lines that makes it feel like she sees straight through every situation. With the Successful Failures and the Edison Proposal, $10, 9 p.m., Manhattan Room, 15 W.Girard Ave., 215-739-5577.
Saturday: Ohmygod, super sweet sythny indie pop alert! Phantogram is the dancey duo you want to carry around in your pocket because they're just so freaking adorable. They hint at a darker side with a touch of fuzz and droning, and spookier riffs, but it just comes off as cute all over again. Are they strikingly different from otherelectro dance groups? No. They have carved a little corner out for themselves with a sound that looks backwards to Portishead and Tricky rather than putting their blinders on to every other band and "progressing" forward in a scene that is dominating music currently. That means they don't sound like MGMT or Phoenix. With The Silent League, TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb, and Junk Culture, 8 p.m., $8, Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Sunday: If you're not one of those hopeless romantics going to see Kid Rock at the Borgota this V-Day, check out El Perro Del Mar. She'll be doling out the delicate, wispy lo-fi dream-tunes. Another Swede! That's two in one Showdown, that has to be a record or something. This should make for a relaxing end to the week. With Taken By Trees, $15 - $18, 8 p.m., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
This morning, I found five (five!) St. Martin's Press trade paperbacks in my mail slot. It's my first instinct to toss these into our giveaway pile (because come on), but since PhilaSNOWmageddon 2.0 is bounding eastward at a rapid clip, I figure I should hunker down and actually read one of these books for once whilst buried by snow. BUT WHICH ONE?! It's too hard to choose; I need your help.
Check out the descriptions below, and hit the comments to tell me which book I should read. I'll follow orders, and report back on my findings post-storm.
WHAT AND WHO? Bound by Sin: A Cin Craven Novel, by Jenna Maclaine
WHY? "She is a vampire, a witch, a warrior and her story is one of legend."
HOW? "As the Civil War rages in America, Cin Craven is locked in an epic battle of her own fighting the renegade vampires whose unquenchable appetites she knows all too well. At her side are the immortal warriors of the Righteous among them her husband, her lover, her soulmate Michael. ... Cin is drawn to the irresistible lure of dark magic to stop their enemies, while Michael staunchly opposes it putting their love and loyalty to the ultimate test." Also "a breathtaking saga of blood, magic, and desire that is bound to live forever."
WHAT AND WHO? Knock Me for a Loop, by Heidi Betts
WHY? It's "a funny, sexy yarn" (and yes, that is a pun)
HOW? "When it comes to relationships, talk show host Grace Fisher won't stand for cheating especially not from her fiancÃ©, star hockey goalie Zack Hoolihan. Her weekly knitting group backs her up when she calls it off, but that doesn't entirely ease the sting of betrayal. She won't listen to Zack's indignant explanations of innocence she just wants to tie up loose ends and move on. Until he winds up injured, that is, and she finds herself playing nursemaid ... Now he's thrown for a loop. This time, he'll do everything it takes to knit their relationship back together."
WHAT AND WHO? All Night with a Rogue: A Lords of Vice Novel, by Alexandra Hawkins
WHY? "Pleasure so wicked never felt so right."
HOW? "Seduce Lady Juliana Ivers and then cast her aside: Those are his sister's instructions. Alexius Braverton, Marquess of Sinclair known as Sin to the ton is happy enough to oblige, especially when he catches a glimpse of his target. Juliana is completely unlike the empty-headed chits who barely hold his attention for a week. A true gentleman would leave her to find a worthy suitor. But then, a Lord of Vice would never claim to be a gentleman."
WHAT AND WHO? Truly, Madly: A Lucy Valentine Novel, by Heather Webber
WHY? "Love is a mystery. Truly."
HOW? "Lucy Valentine is as smart as can be, as single as you can get, and so not qualified to run a matchmaking service. But when her parents temporarily step down from the family business, Valentine, Inc., it's Lucy's turn to step up and help out in the name of love. Plus, her rent is due. ... When Lucy locates a missing wedding ring on a dead body she asks the sexy private eye who lives upstairs to help her solve the perfect crime. And who knows? Maybe she'll find the perfect love while she's at it."
WHAT AND WHO? The Dark Storm, by Kris Green
WHY? "War is brewing. Demons are gathering. The world needs a hero."
HOW? "Gabriel is a New York City college kid who loves to bury his nose in books, looking up stories of long-dead cultures, lost languages, and forgotten legends. He never imagined one of those legends would come looking for him until a tough-talking girl named De Mona Sanchez thrusts an ancient weapon into his hands : and recruits Gabriel in a dark epic war he was born to fight. ... If Gabriel fails, humanity loses. If war is hell, this is hell on earth."
Twilight: Forks, OR. True Blood: Bon Temps, LA. The Vampire Diaries: Mystic Falls, VA. The current crop of pop culture vampires like to stick to small towns.
Not so for Tony Trov, Johnny Zito and Christine Larsen's Philadelphia-set "LaMorte Sisters," about Maddie, a new girl at LaMorte Home for Lost Girls run by sect of hardass nuns who take in little ladies affected by vampirism.
Drawn by Christine Larsen (who Molly Eichel liked so much, she Kaleidoscoped her), "LaMorte Sisters" debuted with an eight page run on October 16 of last year on Zuda Comics, DC Comics' web division. Zuda named it an "instant classic," and gave Trov, Zito and Larsen a contract with DC to do 52 more pages, at a rate of one new page per week. They're currently at 24, with new pages debuting every Wednesday.
To the creators, it's basic coming-of-age material, despite the supernatural aspects of the story,: "It's really about growing up too fast in South Philly," Zito says.
The LaMorte school itself is modeled on Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti Catholic High School. "When we were kids, it was this creepy all-girls' catholic school," Trov says, who along with Zito grew up in South Philly (Larsen is fro New Jersey). "The janitor would stare at you, the statues would come to life. There were ghost stories."
"We put Philadelphia in everything we write," Zito adds.
"LaMorte" originally started out as a screenplay but later transformed. "The great thing about comics over film is the instant gratification," says Trov. "We get to see the concepts fleshed out almost instantly. It's amazing to see a character come to life through lines on a piece of paper."
Trov and Zito are also behind "The Black Cherry Bombshells," another Zuda comic, making them the only team on Zuda to be publishing two series simultaneously. Launched in 2008, "The Black Cherry Bombshells" follows the exploits of an all-girl gang fighting other gangs for supremacy in a future Las Vegas where all men have turned into zombies. It is now in its third 52-page "season."
While comics is a seemingly male-dominated medium, Trov and Zito's Zuda comics are both lady-centric. "We like to super-imposed female characters over traditional male action movie roles," Trov explains. "Plus Zuda Comics is very-girl friendly."
"We entered Zuda with ["The Black Chery Bombshells"], and that opened the door for us to pitch all kinds of new projects to them," Zito says. "They liked the zombies so much they went for vampires.
While vamps are a ubiquitous breed in today's pop culture landscape, Zito doesn't view "LaMorte Sisters" as a bandwagon jumping entity.
"Everybody likes vampires at some point," Trov says. "David Bowie made a vampire movie. True Blood and Twilight just kind of picked up where all that left off."
"They're universal! It's sexy, it's the undead," Zito agrees. "We're happy to be another brick in the wall of vampire lore."
Especially if that lore is set in your own backyard. Check page nine of "LaMorte Sisters" for an establishing shot of a Philly street. More recent pages features images of Grays Ferry.
"Look for more Philadelphia," Trov says. "It's going to be a Philadelphia story."
A new page of "LaMorte Sisters" debuts every Wednesday at zudacomics.com/lamorte_sisters.
Every parent lies to their child to keep them safe and sound. The legend that proliferated through Staten Island to keep the kiddies away from undesirable places (including an abandoned insane asylum and a TB ward) was Cropsey, an evil monster/human who stole children with varying degrees of savagery. Despite not knowing each other as children, filmmakers Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio (who will be in attendance at this weekend's screenings at the PUFF Movie House) both heard of Cropsey and assumed its urban legend status until Jennifer Schweiger, a pre-teen girl with Downs syndrome went missing...
When Schweiger's body was eventually found, the circumstances were all to close to several other child disappearances on Staten Island. Evidence pointied to transient Andre Rand, a transient, former mental hospital employee with a face out of something from an Ed Wood movie. Cropsey focuses on Rand's case and how it intertwines with Staten Island's history and reputation as a dump, for both trash and unwanted people such as the mental patients. But it lacks focus. The Cropsey framing device wears thin, while the idea that Rand might be innocent or worked with others lacks any concrete, Thin Blue Line-like evidence. But I dig true crime stories and Rand's case is especially fucked. It was like a carwreck on the side of the highway. I knew I shouldn't look, I didn't really want to look but I still couldn't look away.
Cropsey. Fri.-Sat., Feb. 5-6, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 p.m. and midnight; Sun., Feb. 7, 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m., $5, PUFF Movie House, Media Bureau, 725 N. Fourth St., 215-592-124, philadelphiaindependentfilmfestival.com.
|Amy's winning dress
This week was a bit of a snooze fest at Parsons. There was, for me at least, one highlight that came at elimination. It's just a shame I had to sit through the entire episode to get there.
In a boring attempt to come up with exciting new challenges, ProjRun brought in women who were in some way affected by heart disease as models. The challenge was to make something gala-worthy that must a.) red, and b.) incorporate the Campbell's soup branding somewhere in the design. Right, because when I think of high fashion I immediately think of condensed soup. To be fair, Campbell's is financially supporting a fight against heart disease and that's nothing to sneeze at. (The winning dress is sold at projectrunway.com, with all proceeds going to the Go Red Foundation)
Too bad there was no drama to speak of.
But, lucky for you, there were a plethora of hideous dresses to discuss. Remember that ugly jacket Mila made last week? That thing gave her immunity for this week's challenge. Looking back, that jacket was fabulous compared to this week's explosion of beastly fury. Mila stitched together a red dress that was probably perfect for her model's body I'll give that to her. But then she decided she was going to put a huge white star on lower right side, and a smaller one above the left hip. "It looks like a cheap flag at the Thanksgiving Day Parade," said Emilio. Honestly, I can't think of a more apt way to describe it. Can I take one second here to just point out Emilio's growing bitchiness? He's got something to say about everyone, and it's less than constructive. I love a little drama in the sewing room, but it's boring when someone just talks trash in the confession booth. Emilio, if you're going to be a diva, let everyone know. Don't hide it, girl.
And speaking of trash-talking, none of the designers wanted to say anything about their "real women" models. How could they? These women have been through enough already with failing hearts and pacemakers, they can't mention arm flub or cankles. When Seth Aaron mentioned that this was "the largest challenge I ever faced as a designer" (emphasis on the largest part) it should have raised some eyebrows. Really, Seth? Maybe it wasn't intentional, but it seemed a little fishy. If you have a bigger body, you just have to work with it.
Take Jesse's dress, for example. While the cropped white jacket was, as Kors mentioned, a little marching band-y, the worse part about it was the fact that it covered up the perfect neckline of the dress, an aspect the judges all loved. When I say perfect neckline, what I mean is boobies galore. This woman had 'em, and Jesse showcased them wonderfully.
Amy was this week's winner with a floor length gown that hid the model's body. During the judging, Kors, Garcia and Klum kept throwing around the word "elegant." It was modern, too, they insisted. It's true. The dress had very delicate details, like the raw edges of the neckline, and the small amount of Campbell's branding at the waist. And although the fabric was swarming around the model, you could actually see her shape when she walked. None of the dresses were all that exciting this week (at least not for the right reasons) but this one was probably the most gala appropriate.
Poor, sweet little Anna made a dress that actually looked alright during construction, but looked dumpy as hell when it was on the model. What was supposed to be flattering to the model's body type ended up emphasizing the less than ideal parts (her broad shoulders) rather than accentuating the good parts (her legs). The bust portion may have been intended to be billowy, but it ended up bunchy. Anna tried to draw the eye in to the cinched waist of the dress, but it just wasn't working. She had a good idea, though, and that's what helped her just barely scrape by.
Who did she just narrowly beat out, you ask? The boy who should have been gone weeks ago, challenge-skirter extraordinaire, Mr. Jesus. Finally, right? Someone must have told him that the challenge was to make the tackiest, ugliest street corner dress, throw some Campbell's business in there, and call it a day. That's clearly the look he was going for with the tight satin mini and gaudy sparkly chain straps, or whatever. Yes, the construction of the dress was flawless. But that doesn't mean anything when the piece is horrid and painful to the eyes. And, as the great Michael Kors mentioned in judging, taste is something that cannot be learned. So goodbye, Jesus, you sub par designer.
Collectors of pretty things, take note: Every Friday, we're rounding up a what's-what of what we [heart], culled from the scores of design blogs, artist sites and Etsy treasuries we can't help but stalk on the regular.
Valentine's Day is just around the snowpocalyptic bend, so we thought it timely to point out a few gifts appropriate for sweethearts, honeys and steady crushes.
First up: Across the pond, self-described "U.K. design junkies" Rockett St. George host a huge line of V-Day-inspired goods, including these customizable Scrabble tile throw pillows. The covers and insides are made from 100 percent recyclable material, and they come in cream and black. If you're made of money, go ahead and load up on you and your one-and-only's monograms; then see what words you can spell. Hours of fun. (By the way, if anyone's got a tip on a Stateside company that sells something similar, let us know.) $71 each (approximately), rockettstgeorge.co.uk. Spied first at Poppytalk.
Also: Because we're bookish, we particularly adore Brookish's collection of Pride & Prejudice (and not zombies) gifts. She's got stylish black-and-white bangles and ornaments with typewritten Jane Austen quotes; a tea towel boasting that "There's nothing like staying at home for real comfort"; and, most romantically, a Mr. Darcy proposal mug, on which the start of Darcy's memorable, sorta-pathetic speech to Elizabeth Bennett is is handwritten: "In vain I have struggled. It will not do." This applies to other struggles, too. Like cutting down on the coffee. $15, etsy.com/shop/Brookish.
And then: The economy still sucks, so grand gestures ought to be put on hold this year. Your lovely will understand. Instead, send off the smallest, and therefore most adorable, valentine ever: Leafcutter Designs' clever World's Smallest Letters. Send them your message, and the address to which it should be sent, and they'll transcribe your love note onto teeny 1.5-by-1-inch stationery. A magnifying glass is included with every order, so no squinting; they've also got a World's Smallest Package, which comes with a hand-written note, tons of little buttons, and fits into the palm of your hand. Squee. $8-$10 plus shipping, leafcutterdesigns.com. Spied first at Design*Sponge.
Oh, P.S.: If you're in the mood to spruce up your Twitter homepage, check out Ollibird's free downloads. She's got loads of heart-tastic backgrounds, plus less sicky-sweet ones that'd be pleasant all year round. Free, blog.ollibird.com. Spied first at How About Orange.
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