Category Archives: local
Last night at the Troc, two of my favorite Philly websites, Geekadelphia and Cinedork, hosted an epicly epic screening of Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. Hands down, this was my favorite film of 2010, and I was thrilled to get to see it on the big screen again.
And while I didn’t break out my Envy Adams costume, a large handful of people did don their best Ramona/Scott/Kim Pine/Gideon/etc. duds and won a wide array of awesome Scott Pilgrim stuff for their efforts. My personal favorite was the Stephen Stills who even brought his guitar. He’s the talent, after all.
Today, Twitter was all abuzz with how much fun we all had. Even director Edgar Wright had a kind word for us geeks and our efforts:
I might miss all my best geeks in Atlanta, but take it from me: Philly can throw the geek party right.
Photo by Dan Tabor. See more here.
I spent this morning getting 6 vials of blood drawn, but only after the nurse took about 10 minutes digging around in my arm, trying to pierce my vein. Not my biggest idea of fun — don’t let the tattoos fool you, I am terrified of getting stuck. Yeeuch.
Obviously a morning this terrible needs to be compensated for in a spectacular way. Mine? A ticket to the Philadelphia Orchestra to hear Ravel’s arrangement of Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, followed by a trip to the Naked Chocolate Cafe.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I know pretty much nothing about classical music. But NPR is my occasional friend, and I’ve been in love with Pictures since I heard it one morning on a much-too-early drive to work. This rendition didn’t disappoint, but I did wish for more volume. I like to feel like the decibels are punching me in the gut.
The rooftop garden at the Kimmel was actually open today, so I got a chance to go up and take a peek. First thought: the elevator ride is scary but makes for an awesome view. (Design Philadelphia is setting up something rad-looking in the yard next to the Broad Street Ministry; I really want to know what it is!) Second thought: the garden is much less of a garden than I thought, but it’s still really neat. Trees in the sky!
The rooftop garden was warm, but the street was windy and chilly. When it’s cold, I live on hot chocolate. I’d read about the Naked Chocolate Cafe, and knew I just had to stop by and try their wares. I got a petit Aztec hot chocolate (mixed with nutmeg, cinnamon, and other spices) done in a European style (incredibly thick), and I picked up a chocolate and vanilla cupcake for later. The place is decadence to the extreme — my total bill for the 2 items was 6.75 + tip — but oh so worth it.
There are few things I drag my lazy self out of the house for, but Shakespeare is usually one of them. I did, after all, work at a renowned Southern Shakespeare theatre for 8 years.
So was the Wilma’s Macbeth worth the train ride to Center City? Well, yes and no.
Yes, because it featured some stunning visuals: the weird sisters crawling up and down the walls, the variable and emotional use of lighting throughout, the Birnam Wood reveal. And no, because none of these interesting visuals translated into an emotional affective experience. Yes, because the Wilma’s space is beautiful and worth seeing; no, because a fantastic space alone can’t make up for a lack of connection with the audience and the other actors onstage. Yes, because Lady Macbeth’s unraveling was compelling to watch; and no, because, aside from the “Out, damn spot” scene, neither she nor anyone else on the stage seemed to have much business performing Shakespeare.
The Wilma had never tackled the Bard before, and to be honest, it shows. Nearly every actor threw out their lines like grand pronouncements — they seemed to be eternally conscious that were Doing Shakespeare. But the poetry of early modern theatre works best if you treat it like normal language, as the actors of PAC’s The Duchess of Malfi did.
I thought at least seeing Macbeth around Halloween-time would be a good, spooky theatre-going experience, but the play is strangely bloodless. The production outright ignores the text when Banquo appears at the banquet scene: though Macbeth plainly calls his visage “gory,” the Wilma’s Banquo was spotlessly clean, attired in white, and not even very scary. I haven’t seen a better Halloween production to recommend (I hear Carrie is getting panned), but I can tell you the creep-factor just isn’t here.
Macbeth is evidently popular enough that the Wilma has extended its run until November 13th. But really, I’d recommend saving your $30+ and renting yourself a scary movie instead.
My previous post (the title of which is totally what I’m naming my Atlanta memoirs, btw) got me thinking about urban art projects and city ephemera. Luckily, I live in a neighborhood in Philly with scores of both.
When I first moved here, in the midst of the hottest August ever, my favorite thing in Fishtown was the summertime mural under the 95 overpass. The celebration of “Vacation” and “Chillin’” seems a little silly now that the air has gotten crisp, but when the temperatures were pushing 100 degrees everyday, the shade and the bright colors under that overpass really made the difference.
I was really hoping the mural would be a seasonal exhibit kind of thing, but who knows? We may still be looking at “Summertime” all winter long.
And for photos of my other favorite Philly mural project, check out A Love Letter For You. I used to see these everyday as I rode the MFL out to 69th Street, and I miss them now that I’ve given up on the environment and started driving.
Checking my Google Reader for the first time in months brought some sad news: the Whale Wall will soon be no more.
The girls at Pecanne Log, my all-time favorite Atlanta blog, have a posted a nice little tribute. They’re right that the mural was kind of crappy and weird, but so were most of my favorite things about Atlanta.
The Whale Wall is one of those things I saw once and then could never seem to find again, convincing me that I’d made it up on some overly-hot summer night. I don’t generally do a lot of hallucinating while riding my bike, but you know how the memory makes strange things seem stranger.
The parking garage the mural used to adorn had some of the coolest ramps to ride — tight corkscrews spanning several stories — and there really was one sweaty summer evening where we rode up and down them till we nearly puked. Getting up to the top is fun, but I was so dizzy I nearly took a spill off the side. Imagine if the Whale Wall was the last thing you saw before you died. Getting down again the correct way was much harder since we had to fight the downhill momentum, keep to the tight turns, and not stop pedaling, then thread the needle between giant concrete pillars with our heads still spinning.
I don’t think I managed to find my way back to the Whale Wall once in the intervening 5 years, until exploring downtown this summer. That was the day we learned about the Hustler’s 10 Commandments, What the Chicken?, and the awesomeness of mixing giant beers at the CNN Center with running in the fountain at Centennial Olympic Park.
I have a tight 2-year schedule in which to fit in all my Philly culture before moving on to the next grueling step of my education. It’s my goal to hit all the major things I possibly can. Being that I’m probably the biggest museum nerd around, the Philadelphia Museum of Art had to be one of the first things on my list.
It would’ve been so easy to be let down. Just the weekend before, I had hiked about 10 miles around the Met with bff Justin. It’s hard to compare anything to that, but the PMA held its own quite nicely. The outside is, of course, epically gorgeous (and host to like 10 couples taking wedding photos at a time). The inside is impressively large, and, though not tremendously well-laid out, still a lot of fun to wander through.
My museum style is casually haphazard at best — I didn’t know till I stumbled upon it that the PMA has one of Van Gogh’s sunflowers. I wouldn’t say they hold many other truly iconic works, but many of my favorite artists do grace the walls, from di Chirico to Jasper Johns. The only real let down were the strangely dark and boring Manets (nothing like my all-time favorites, Le Bar aux Folies-Bergère and Olympia), especially since they had no explanatory text to help me situate them within his career.
For being a pay-what-you-can first Sunday, the museum was wonderfully uncrowded, and there was much more to see than could fit into 1 day. I’m not sure it’s worth a membership, but a monthly-or-so first Sunday visit could definitely figure into my future.
Bonus Philly experience: afterward, we headed down to Reading Terminal Market, where I was introduced to the joys of DiNic’s. I wish I had reason to stop by more often, because there are several more restaurants and vendors I want to check out. (No way am I missing the upcoming Harvest Festival, though.) Extra bonus points for a truly hideous piece of “art” found on the street during our walk. It’s like the 80s threw up Pepto and pearls all over some kid’s woodshop experiment. I wish more things like this awaited me every time I left the house.
If there’s one most exciting thing about the highbrow Philadelphia culture scene for me, it’s the student subscription service offered by the Philadelphia Orchestra. For $25, students can get one ticket to as many shows as they want for the whole season. That’s a whole lot of orchestra performances for less than 1 ticket would usually cost.
On Friday afternoon (ah, the life of a grad student), I took advantage of this deal for the first time, and hauled myself down to the Kimmel to see Dutoit conduct. “The Starry Night of Romeo & Juliet” included excerpts from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet ballet and a Dutilleux piece inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Both are exceptionally beautiful pieces of music in their own ways, and were a joy to hear.
But the real treat of the show was watching my favorite classical pianist, Jeremy Denk, play Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1. Sitting down towards the front, I didn’t have a great view of his hands, but the sheer joy in his face went a long way to making up for it.
I’d love to wow all 6 of you reading this with a detailed analysis of the music and the performances, but the truth is I’m a total classical music n00b. The only things I know, I read in Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise, just like every other 20-something affecting a greater cultural knowledge than she actually possesses. So all I can say is, Jeremy Denk is a dreamboat (and runs the best blog ever), the Philadelphia Orchestra is pretty darn good, and you can’t beat $25 to visit the gorgeous Kimmel Center multiple times in a season.
Next time: 2 things! I won’t wear the dress that shows all the tattoos — oh my, the blue hairs had some nasty looks for me — and hopefully the skylight garden will be open so I can go revel in its amazingness.