Friday, August 29, 2014

The Play's the Thing

Philadelphia is a good theater town.  We have a lot of options, from Broadway quality and prices to local theater quality and prices. Here are a few of the better theater companies and some of their plays for this coming year.  Most have subscription packages that let you get tickets for groups of plays at a reduced cost.

Wilma Theater -- Among their offerings are Hamlet in March and April, followed by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.  The lead in Hamlet will be played by an African American woman, Zainab Jah.  In addition to established plays they are presenting two newer productions, The Body of an American, a contemporary war story, and Rapture, Blister, Burn, on the reunion of three women who were college friends.

People's Light -- They are offering three classics, three premieres, and two family plays, including their annual holiday panto.  Two of the premieres have local ties.  Row After Row is a dark comedy involving Battle of Gettysburg re-enactors.  Stella & Lou takes place in a South Philly bar.  One of the classics is August Wilson's Fences.  Another is The Cherry Orchard, which will star David Stratharin and Mary McDonnell.  (If you aren't acquainted with these two watch the movie Passion Fish; they were both in it.)  On a personal note, I've always enjoyed the People's Light performances and bought a four play package for this season.

Walnut Street Theater -- The oldest theater in American (opened in 1809) is showing 15 plays this season.  Five on the main stage, five on a smaller stage, and five family attractions.

There are a lot of other theaters in the area.  These are just the ones who send me flyers lately.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Candidates' Comedy Night

The 24th Annual Candidates' Comedy Night
August 14th
Finnegan's Wake

This annual political event which benefits a local charity, Variety Philadelphia.  The venue and all staffing and services are donated.  

I took notes as people performed and as it is impossible to write as fast as people talk I missed some things.  So this is by no means a complete transcript.  I caught as much as I could.  Information in parentheses indicates the candidate's party affiliation and office sought.  Other than the two gubernatorial candidates everyone was a congressional candidate and the number indicates the district they are in.  Information in brackets are my comments.  In places it notes something that I missed; in others it is a more direct comment.  For example, I don't follow any professional sports so sports jokes are completely beyond me.  If someone told a lot of sports jokes I just noted that in brackets.   I did not quite know how to record the performance by Mary Ellen Balchunis so that is one long bracketed comment.  

It is entirely possible that I misinterpreted something, or that by missing part of a presentation the balance of it is out of context.  If that happened I apologize for it, and also for any other errors or misconceptions.  This is my best effort at recording as much as I could.

Host:  Stu Bykofsky, columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News

Co-host:  JeniceArmstrong, also a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News

Comedy Headliner:  Joe Conklin

Stu:  Introduces Jenice Armstrong, mentions that in the first 23 years the event has raised $475,000 for Variety Philadelphia.  He had hoped the event would break $500K this year but it’s a few thousand short

Jenice Armstrong:  There will be 14 candidates doing comedy routines [and goes over event business].

Stu:  [a lot of tasteless jokes, including jokes about child abuse and incest, truly unpleasant to listen to]

Jenice:  [some political jokes]

Megan Rath (R – 1, challenging Bob Brady).  I can’t believe I shaved my legs for this.  All the politicians in the room, no one has been indicted (yet), guess that Kathleen Kane connection is working.  Traffic judges not convicted.  Ok to fix traffic tickets again.  Can you help me out, Bob?  Schools might be funded by cigarette tax.  Will teachers call recess a smoking break?  Nutter is hoping the Pope will do a loaves and fishes thing again.  This is my first foray into politics.  Don’t have a platform yet.  But when carpenters get back into convention center I’ll have them build me one.  Democratic convention here?  It will make the Wing Bowl look classy.  Being pro-choice is like immigration, both penetrate a border we thought was secure.  In the Affordable Care Act there is a provision to save money if you take your own stitches out.  Call suture self.  I used to date a doctor, now I just want to be able to afford one.  My apartment is only 600 square feet.  [small apt jokes]

Mike Fitzpatrick (R-8 incumbent).  Thank Stu fro bringing so many members of Congress together.  IN Bucks County I visit 100 businesses in 100 days.  True story – a constituent was driving north on 95, pulled over by the police.  She doesn’t have a license or owner’s registration in the car.  Tells the officer she stole the car from a guy whom she killed and is storing him in the trunk.  Cut him up into little pieces.  The policemen calls his boss who came right over.  When he asked she had her license and the registration.  The boss says the officer said you stole the car.  She says I bet he told you I was speeding, too.  Story about kidney stone – called the Pelosi stone.  You have to pass it to see what’s in it.  Joke about Rep. Pelosi getting mad at Rep. Marino.  Joke about Pelosi and botox and facelift.  [In joke she tells Pelosi she looks hot and she smiles – he grimaces like someone who has had botox or a facelift]

Bob Brady (D-1 incumbent).  I haven’t missed one of these events.  Stu went to visit a mental institution.  Asked how they decide who belongs here and who doesn’t.    [He tells a joke about Stu failing the test and staying in the institution].  A married couple is in an accident.  The husband is burned and needs a skin graft.  He is so skinny that they take skin from his wife’s behind.  He thanks his wife.  She says she gets great joy from watching his mother kiss his cheeks.  I don’t do political humor, won’t make fun of others.  [He tells a joke about two business partners who make a deal that whichever one dies first will come back and tell the other one what the afterlife is like.  One dies, comes back and tells the other he has sex, eats, and sleeps all day.  Turns out he is now a bear in Yellowstone Park.]  [Gives Stu a gift care from Capital Grill – all the candidates pitched in for it.]  Stu says we are $3K short of making $500K, asks Tom Corbett, Tom Wolf, Pat Meehan, Mike Fitzpatrick for $500 each.  Asks Nicky and Ted [not sure who these people are] and Eddie from PECO for $500 each.  Asks Alan Butkovitz for $500.  They all agree.  Much applause.  Now over $500K

Stu:  Thanks all.  Bipartisan effort.

Armond James (R-2, challenging Chaka Fattah):  [Stu says he begged to be included and now he doesn’t show up.] 

Brendan Boyle (D-13, open seat).  Hello, Finnegan’s Wake!  Applause for Stu and Jenice.  First time here.  A little excited, a little nervous.  Already lasted longer than my other first time – giving a speech I mean.  Today I saw [sports team], police shooting with blanks[?], and now Governor Corbett – 3 things with no shot.  [joke about now that he has joked about Corbett he is praying that Corbett is never Attorney General again].  Charlie Kallas joke.  Eagles broke my heart.  Four championship games but no Super Bowl.  Goes to show how great McNabb was – just ask him he’ll tell you.  I went the political route.  All three Boyles went the public service route.  I’m in the state house.  My brother is in the state house.  My dad is a SEPTA janitor – at least one of us has an honest job.  Here because I won the primary.  The most expensive in the country.  Next day get a call from Bill Clinton asking me to hang out at Chickie & Pete’s.  Congress has an approval rating of 7%.  With hard work we can get it to 8%.

Pat Meehan (R-7 incumbent).  Thanks Stu and Jenice.  Always a fun night.  Nice to be away from Washington.  Fitzpatrick took one of my Pelosi jokes.  She is one of the people who makes it a tough environment.  She discovered social media – she’s on “can’t move my face book.”  Obama sent her to China because the first one who blinks loses.  Don’t worry about impeachment.  Why not?  Three words:  President Joe Biden.  Nutter back in the news.  Trip to France on taxpayers’ dime.  Staff taking in on the chin.  They thought he asked for three days and nights at the Paris Hilton.  What he wanted was three nights with Paris Hilton.  The DNC is here to see if the convention should be held in Philadelphia.  We have a good shot.  Philly can rig elections.  Philly GOP endorsed the concept – a campaign they might be able to win.  Monied donors, debauchery, Scotch, to Bob Brady that’s just another Tuesday night.  Bill Clinton is on board [lists the names of local gentleman’s clubs].  Chuckie Schumer is pushing Brooklyn.  We need our own narcissistic [missed this word] – good thing we have Ed Rendell.  Called my friend Chris Christie – have the DNC here just as you are exploring you own bid.  Christie non-plussed – we’ll close that bridge when we come to it.  Going to put three people on the spot – Stu, Brady & Fitpatrick.  I’m going to take the ice water challenge and nominate you to do the same and raise $100 for ALS. 

Stu:  I’ll do it right now.  Let’s get a pitcher of ice water.

Chaka Fattah (D-2 incumbent):  [doesn’t show up.  Jenice wonders if he’s out coaching his son]

Stu:  [Introducs Doug Zeiders, head of Variety]

Doug Zeiders:  Variety offers day and overnight camp for children with disabilities, all ages, all disabilities.  Parents say Variety camp is the only place, outside of him, that kids are loved and accepted.

Stu:  I’ve been on the board of Variety for over 20 years.  We aren’t paid.  We actually have to pay to be on the board.  Pay for parking, meals, etc for meetings. 

Joe Conklin [jokes about Chris Christie and extra crispy and the ice water challenge.]  Now that the DNC is gone we can be ourselves again.  Does impression of Mayor Nutter saying Fishtown was originally a lesbian penal colony.  Does Rendell impression of Rendell saying he likes thin blondes and got the phone numbers of three women in DNC group.  Pope coming to Philly.  The Archdiocese won’t confirm --  but will move him from parish to parish.  Sending buses of priests to Little League game.  Corbett promised money to the Philly schools but gave it to Chaka Fattah, Jr. to hold.  If anybody needs weed Jim Kenney is out on 3rd St.  [many sports jokes].

Stu:  [Does 50/50 drawing.  Jenice wins, donates money back to Variety.  Auction of baseball signed by Mike Schmidt.  Auctions jersey signed by Donovan McNabb.  Gentleman from Emerald Capital wins both.  Stu thanks everyone who donated items or services.]

Kevin Strouse (D-8 challenging Mike Fitzpatrick):  Thanks for warming up the crowd.  Tradition to make the first joke about Stu, but also told not to make fun of the elderly.  I joined the Army and fought the Taliban, now ready for the real fight – Congress.  When joined and in basic training only one in my unit not from the South, didn’t know who Kenny Chesney was.  I had the most boring contraband.  The others had the most debauched porn.  I had a World War II history book.  Hard to separate the Taliban from the goats – they never forget their first love.  After the military I went to work for the NSA.  I can’t tell you how much fun I had.  Seriously, I can’t tell you.  [Dick Cheney joke]

Ryan Costello (R-6, open seat):  Stu took clean jokes.  Brendan said all the jokes I couldn’t say.  On vacation getting John Boehner on – tan.  Problem with political jokes is they often get elected.  [does Johnny Carson Karnack jokes]  What are Rocky and The Sting?  Two jokes that describe Kathleen Kane’s first year in office.  Ted Cruz?  Person Manan Trivedi most wants to see fundraise for me.  Ryan Costello and Ed Rendell?  The last two people to hit on my wife.  Schuylkill Expressway?  What is the only thing slower than Obamacare website. 

Tom Corbett (R-Governor):  I feel sorry for you having to listen to all this.  Politicians aren’t funny.  Tom Wolf and I did this last night in Pittsburgh.  Politicians are not funny.  Except Daylin Leach – fact finding trip to Colorado to investigate pot.    Sunday night thinking about jokes.  People want to know what you do as governor.  At the grocery store they ask what are you doing?  Shopping.  At restaurants, what are you doing?  Eating.  What do I do that’s different than what other people do?  1) I was born in Philadelphia.  I’m the first governor born in Philadelphia since the Revolutionary War – hasn’t gotten me one vote.  2) In was invited to the White House dinner for Angela Merkel.  The President was sitting behind me.  Tim Geithner was the host at my table.  Nancy Pelosi was there.  A woman asks me what I’m doing in Philadelphia to help re-elect Obama.  I say I’m the Republican governor.  She says really, what are you doing to help the President.  3) Bass Masters.  Fish that are caught are put back in.  People cheering for me are from New Jersey.  Tom Wolf and I have a lot in common.  Drive jeeps.  I’m tired of seeing the jeep.  In commercials Tom Wolf is driving a jeep – not looking where he is going.  Tom Wolf must be feeling the pressure.  He actually let the lieutenant governor out.

Mary Ellen Balchunis (D-7, challenging Pat Meehan).  [I honestly don’t know how to really describe this.  Balchunis did not do a comedy routine.  She and two other women did a song and dance routine, to the tune of “I Will Survive.”  The lyrics had something to do with pay equity and social media.  She and the other two women did their performance on the floor instead of the stage.  I wonder if she had decided this in advance because it took a lot of time to get the microphones set up.  Since they were on ground level it was difficult to see.  It was also painful to watch.  To be fair some people might have thought it was innovative and refreshing.  I’m simply not one of them.]

Manan Trivedi (D-6, open seat).  Want to thank Mary Ellen.  No matter what I do it can’t be worse than that.  It must be tough for Tom Corbett to come into Philadelphia, with protests, etc.  If it gets to be too much just shut your eyes.  Right now Wolf is ahead by 20, but he will do more commercials; people will meet him.  Corbett could lose by a lot more.  Tom Wolf drove his jeep.  I know it was his because the license plate is from Delaware.  I have a lot in common with Wolf.  He has a PhD; I’m a doctor.  We both have two daughters and grew up in a small town.  But if he grows a beard he’s everyone’s uncle and if I grow a beard I’m on the terrorist watch list.  I won’t make many ethnic jokes.  In case the gaming commission is here, I’m a 7-11 Indian not a casino Indian.  Let’s skip the debates and just have seven spelling bees.  The DNC people were just here.  Bob Brady wore his best track suit.

Stu does the ice water challenge and says that the first time he’s had ice without Jack Daniels.

Tom Wolf (D- Governor, challenging Tom Corbett).  I came from a small town in York County.  It is so small it only has one traffic light.  I was concerned that I would have trouble driving in Philadelphia but no one here knows how to drive either.  I am known as being a little wooden.  I’m sorry Bob Casey isn’t here.  Next to him I look exciting.  Fundraising is hard.  But it is harder to take $10 million out of the family rainy day fund.  Keeps me honest not beholden.  But if anyone comes up with a cure for baldness he can have anything he wants.  I thought Tom Corbett and I were running for the most powerful office in the state, but according to his commercials I learned the Secretary of Revenue is.  If elected I will be the first bearded governor in [missed this number] years.  People say politicians are jokers but tonight proves that is not true.

Dee Adcock (R-13, open seat).  I’m the guy everyone was looking for.  Megan Rath, she’s young, beautiful, and witty.  Comedy night is the perfect place for me.  When I told my wife I was running she said very funny.  I’ve not held any political positions.  After college I grew a small swimming pool store into a large distributorship.  I think about water too much.  My daughter’s name is Brooke; my wife is Sandy.  Let’s dive right in.  I ran in 2010.  People were looking for someone who was not a career politician.  Allyson Schwartz lost the primary for governor.  She put all she’s learned into her new job as a Wal-Mart greeter.  If elected I will donate my salary to charity.  I’m at a disadvantage in the city because of party registration.  I know my party backs me because I rode up in the elevator with all of them.  Just celebrated my 27th anniversary.  I’ve been married longer than my opponent’s been alive.  When asked about seniors Brendan Boyle said “I hated them in high school because they shoved me in the lockers.”  When Obama says slice he means golf.  When Michelle says slice she means meat in school lunches.

With that the evening ended.  

Judicial Sale Announcement from Salus

from the inbox:

Montgomery County Treasurer Jason Salus, who also serves as the County’s Director of Tax Claim, today invited qualified bidders to participate in the upcoming Judicial Real Estate Tax Sale. 

“Properties offered “free and clear” at Judicial Sale often represent attractive investment
opportunities for prospective buyers,” said Salus. According to Salus, the term “free and clear” refers to the divestment of all liens from Judicial Sale properties that occurs at the time of sale.

“While the sale of these properties will accomplish our short-term goal of returning them to the tax rolls and generating much needed revenue for our County, local school districts and municipalities, it will also encourage economic growth in the long-term by stimulating
Montgomery County’s real estate market through redevelopment,” said Salus. 

The sale is scheduled for Thursday, August 28th at 10:00 AM in Courtroom A of the
Montgomery County Courthouse (2 E. Airy Street, Norristown PA). Prospective bidders must register prior to the sale.

A complete list of properties available in this Sale as well as the Sale guidelines and registration information can be found by visiting the Montgomery County Tax Claim Bureau website. Please note that this list is updated daily and may change up to the day of Sale. At press time, twenty properties were scheduled to be offered at Sale including Joshua Hill, a property stretching over ten acres in Whitemarsh Township. 

Furthermore, it is recommended to consult with an Attorney or Abstractor prior to bidding. All properties are sold “as is” without warranty or guarantee as to condition of title.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Horsham Democrats Annual Reception

The Horsham Democrats held their annual reception on August 12, 2014 at the Horsham Pub in Ambler.  Several local officials and candidates attended.  Former 8th District Congressman Patrick Murphy was a special guest.  Joe Hoeffel, who has held office as a Congressman (13th), Montgomery County Commissioner, and State Representative (153rd) and is now an author (of Iraq Lies) was also in attendance but did not make formal remarks.

These are my rough notes from the event.  Public remarks were longer and more detailed; this is in no way intended as a transcript.  It is just my notes from what people said.  My apologies in advance for any errors or misconceptions.  A few personal observations are given at the end of the post. 

MC:  Horsham Dems co-chair Pat Costello
Co-host:  Horsham Dems vice chair Ron Kolla

In addition to speakers the following were present:
Joe Hoeffel, D. Bruce Hanes (Montco Register of Wills), Ann Thornburg Weiss (Montco Clerk of Courts, JeanneSorg (Mayor of Ambler) and Rick Taylor (First Gentleman of Ambler and former State Representative), Greg Holt (Montco State Democratic Committee), Mark Levy (Montco Prothonotary), Madeleine Dean (State Representative for 153rd district), Dottie Miller (State House candidate in 53rd district), RuthDamsker (former Montco County Commissioner, candidate for State Senate in 12th district), [Mary Ellen Balchunis -- 7th district congressional candidate -- she was mentioned but I'm not sure she was there in person]

Brendan Boyle, candidate for Congress in the 13th district and current state representative in the 170th district, who had to leave early, spoke before the other formal remarks.  He referenced being the first Democrat in history to win in his district, and now people were saying a Republican couldn’t win the seat.  He said he looked forward to growing the party.

Pat Costello gave opening remarks, welcoming everyone.  He pointed out the labor leaders in the room and said labor is the backbone of Horsham.  He mentioned candidates in the room (see list above)

Josh Shapiro, chairman of the Montco Commissioners:  Recognizes Pat Costello.  Understands what it takes to build a party.  Bullish on Horsham Dems.  Believe in one another.  This is a tremendous group of people, who know how to mobilize.  Ruth Damsker will vote with Tom Wolf to put more money back into education.  Starts with boots on the ground.  Introduces Patrick Murphy, watches him on MSNBC, doing great things with veterans.  Murphy is raising awareness, and being a voice for the voiceless.

Patrick Murphy, former congressmen in the 8th district:  thanks.  When he signed up with MSNBC he can no longer endorse candidates but got special permission to be here tonight.  The only thing you have is your word.  Special mention of Hoeffel, who is the conscience of the party in this area.  A lot of great things going on in Horsham.  He was only elected to Congress because of the voters Montgomery County who were in the 8th district.  He recognizes Wendy Rothstein (??), who is also a lawyer at Fox Rothschild, and mentions that Montgomery party chair Marcel Groen is also at Fox Rothschild.  References Joe Hoeffel’s book, Iraq Lies.  Less than 1% of Americans have served in Iraq.  Many have come home broken.  Leave no one behind.  Every day 22 veterans commit suicide, over 70% with a gun.  Heart broken over Robin Williams’s death; he did a lot for veterans.  Tells the story of getting a death threat the night the Affordable Care Act.  He slept on the floor of his congressional office and someone called him and said he was dead.   Mentions that while in Congress he did the PX90 workout with Paul Ryan.  Mentions ISIS conflict, and humanitarian drops by US.  Says Tom Corbett has been called the most ineffective governor in the country. 

Leslie Richards, Montco Commissioner:  Great to see so many old and new faces.  When Josh and I won we made history.  Not possible without work by Joe Hoeffel and Ruth Damsker.  Elect Ruth to the State Senate.  Let’s help Tom Corbett make history by being the first PA governor not to win a second term. 

Josh Shapiro:  Thanks Pat Costello and others.  

Personal observations:  This was a lively gathering.  Boyle, Hoeffel and Murphy were the popular kids; there was always a crowed around each of them.  The room was full and the event well-attended, especially on a rainy night.  The food looked good, too.  I had already eaten but did have some blueberries.  There were more influential women there than I am used to seeing, which was encouraging.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Update on the White Cheddar Boys

One of my favorite local bands, The White Cheddar Boys (sometimes also known as Huey and the Banjo), will be playing live at Kung Fu Necktie this Friday, August 8th.  The address is 1250 N. Front St. Philadelphia.  It's worth the time and money to go.  The band is good.