Sunday, September 28, 2014

Harry Shearer Brings Nixon to Philly

from the inbox:

To celebrate his new series 'Nixon's The One' - which launches October 21 on YouTube - Harry Shearer ('The Simpsons,' 'Spinal Tap,' 'Le Show') will be giving special live Nixon-themed performances in three US cities this fall: New York, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia (dates below). The events will incorporate video clips from the series; Shearer's behind-the-scenes stories; insights from the thousands of hours of Nixon tapes he and his co-writer, Nixon historian Stanley Kutler, listened to; and an audience Q&A with Shearer.

"I'm looking forward to getting my not-so-secret obsession with the great comic character of the 20th century into the full light of darkened nightclubs," Shearer says. "And, though I’ll take questions, I’ll glare at people who ask me to ‘Do Mr. Burns'. The glare, of course, is me complying."
For the series, Shearer and Kutler combed through thousands of hours of Nixon's legendary secret White House tapes, and re-enacted word for word the best moments as if filmed by a hidden camera. The New Yorker wrote, "It’s hard to think of a more apt way to revisit the tenure of a President whose rise and fall was bound, at every juncture, to recordings of one kind or another."

The Philadelphia event is Oct. 27th at World Cafe Live

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Weekend Culture II: Fences at People's Light

The second cultural event of the weekend was August Wilson's play Fences at the People's Light & Theatre.  I've been to PLT performances before.  They are uniformly good.  This was the first time I'd seen one of Wilson's plays; I've been hearing about them for years.  The play is good.  The cast is terrific.  Michael Genet is the male lead.  He's appeared on Broadway and in film and television roles.  He's a fabulous actor.  One theme in the play is father / son tension. Genet's character is the husband and father of an African American family in the 1950's.  My favorite castmember, though, was Melanye Finister as Rose.  Maybe I just found her character more likable.

In the last scene, which takes place in 1965 a young Marine is wavering on whether he will re-enlist or not.  All I could think was that if he stayed in he was probably on the fast track for Viet Nam.

On the way to the theatre we saw a bad accident on the highway.  One of the cars was upside down and it looked like firefighters were using the jaws of life to get someone out of another vehicle.  Traffic was backed up quite a ways and must have been that way for some time.  People had gotten out of their cars and were talking to each other or sitting on top of their cars.  I looked for news reports about it but didn't see any.

During the play a woman in the audience fainted / passed out / had a seizure.  A theatre employee couldn't wake her but she was still breathing.  Emergency personnel came and took her out on a gurney.  I didn't see that in the news either.

All that aside, any performance at People's Light is going to be worth the money.  They have some interesting plays coming up this season.  Tickets would make a great holiday gift.

Weekend Culture I: Scalzi

This past weekend I went out to two local cultural events.  This is a brief report on the first.

Last Friday I went to the Rittenhouse Square Barnes & Noble to hear author John Scalzi talk.  His new book Lock In was released in August and he was on a book tour.  I've been a Scalzi fan for years, since a friend loaned me a copy of Old Man's War. (If you haven't read that book I highly recommend it).  Then he put a modern spin on a science fiction classic that I read in college, Little Fuzzy by H. Bean Piper.  Scalzi rewrote it as Little Fuzzy.  

This was my first real author talk.  I've heard people (mostly politicians) who have written books talk, but a book tour talk is a little different.  Scalzi read from a new book that he's working on.  The excerpt showed his flair for humor.  He asked that the audience not tape his reading and that all we say about the new book excerpt is that the scene he read is of a group of people sitting around a table and it was awesome.  Those are his words but I'd agree with them.

Scalzi's blog has some authorized videos from the book tour.

In the Q&A section someone asked him about the recent furor in the videogame community over threats to two women writers.  Scalzi gave a very thorough answer.  He has long been an advocate for women writers and for women in the sci fi community generally.  A few years ago he said he would not attend or speak at any conference that did not have a clearly stated harassment policy, complete with a reporting procedure.  Conferences that had been dragging their feet on this for some time suddenly came up with such policies.

I bought a copy of Link In the week it came out but haven't had a chance to read it yet.  Generally speaking, anything he writes is good.

SEPTA Strategic Plan

Our friends at SEPTA have created a page on their website solely to present their strategic business plan.  You can read more at:

I looked at parts of it but not all, and found it as informative as most strategic plans.  That being said, let me say again, as I have many times before, that I am a loyal and happy SEPTA rider.  The trains are mostly on time.  The conductors are friendly and professional.  The other riders are nice people.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First Annual Campus Philly Cup

from the inbox:

First annual Campus Philly Cup to be awarded to the local school with best participation at Campus Philly CollegeFest on Saturday, September 27th
Campus Philly rolls out the red carpet for college students on Saturday, September 27th, 2014, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for CollegeFest 2014, presented by Army ROTC. This years event will feature some friendly competition for the first time, as colleges and universities compete for the Campus Philly Cup, to be awarded to the school with the best participation at the event.

The all-day festival, with an expected attendance of more than 5,000 students, includes pop-up arts performances and vendor booths at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, plus free admission to museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and in Historic Philadelphia.
CollegeFest 2014 features:
  • Local and national vendors who will have samples, special offers, games and giveaways.
  • An Involvement Fair sponsored by, where students meet community groups making an impact in the region.
  • A crew of local food vendors.
  • Pop-up performances from cultural partners participating in Campus Phillys Open Arts program, on the Kimmel Center Stage.
  • Free rides on the PHLASH bus, for college students to explore Center City Philadelphia, provided by the Independence Visitor Center.
  • Free access to museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and in Historic Philadelphia.
CollegeFest, which was branded as College Day in previous years, is a keystone event for college students, introducing them to Philadelphia and initiating four years of off-campus exploration. For many participants, it is a first experience seeing Philadelphia beyond the borders of campus, says Rashid Zakat, now a Philadelphia-based artist and videographer.

CollegeFest is produced by Campus Philly, a nonprofit organization that serves as college students off-campus student activities and career services office, in collaboration with exclusive partners AT&T, IKEA, Green Mountain Energy, the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, SALT, and City of Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. The festival is free to attend.

We meet thousands of students at our 31 college and university partner campuses during student activities fairs and orientation events in August and September, says Campus Phillys president, Deborah Diamond. CollegeFest is our chance to show students their other campus. One of the great things about going to school in Philadelphia is that the whole city can become your campus and CollegeFest offers students an introduction to the organizations that want to engage students all year long.

CollegeFest draws students from 65 colleges and universities from all over the region, from as far away as New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Central Pennsylvania. In 2013, College Day drew 5,000 attendees including 4,500 students, generated 5,900 visits to downtown museums, and yielded $105,300 dollars in direct economic impact.

For more details on this event please visit

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Moyer Road Bridge Closed

Following a routine inspection, PennDOT inspectors on Sept. 2nd ordered the closure of Moyer Road Bridge in Salford Township due to safety concerns.

This closure will take effecimmediatelyand traffic will be divertefrom the bridge via a signed detour.  While the bridge is closed, Montgomery Countyand its engineers will determine if there is a short-term solution to the problem and will continue to aggressively pursue the necessary steps to reopenthe bridge as soon as possible.

For more information, please visit

Ferko Playground Project

Please share! On Tuesday, September 9, join Tookany - Tacony Frankford Partnership, Philadelphia Water Department & Philadelphia Parks & Recreation for a Public Meeting on Ferko Playground's storm water management project! Community input will make this project a success.

Ferko Playground and East Cayuga Steet and Juniata Park has been selected for a Clean City, Green Waters stormwater management project.  The meeting is in Ferko Playground at 7:00 p.m.

For more info see

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

SEPTA Shuttle Service on Manayunk / Norristown Line Two Weekends

-Due to track work along SEPTA’s Manayunk/Norristown Regional Rail Line, shuttle buses will operate in place of train service between Wissahickon Station and Elm Street Station for two consecutive weekends (September 6-7, 2014 and September 13-14, 2014).

Passengers traveling inbound to Center City will board shuttle buses approximately 35 minutes before regularly scheduled train times. After departing from Elm Street Station, buses will stop at Main Street, Norristown Transportation Center (NTC), Conshohocken and Spring Mill Stations before expressing to Wissahickon Station.

Shuttle buses will not serve Manayunk, Ivy Ridge or Miquon Stations. Inbound passengers traveling to these stations will need to transfer from shuttle buses to an outbound train at Wissahickon Station to complete their trips.

Trains will depart from Miquon Station eight minutes before regularly scheduled train times and will depart from from Ivy Ridge, Manayunk, Wissahickon Station, East Falls and Allegheny stations three minutes earlier.

Manayunk/Norristown Line trains will operate as far as Miquon Station. Trains will arrive at regularly
scheduled trip times up to Ivy Ridge Station before arriving at Miquon Station. Passengers traveling to stations beyond Miquon will board waiting shuttle buses at Wissahickon Station to complete their outbound trips. After departing from Wissahickon Station, buses will express to Spring Mill Station and will serve Conshohocken, NTC, Main Street and Elm Street Stations.

All passengers should plan to add approximately 35 minutes on their trips.

During shuttle bus substitution weekends, supplemental late night bus service will be provided for inbound and outbound passengers traveling between Manayunk and Elm Street stations.
Passengers can visit to view changes to their train lines and download the supplemental schedule.