Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Lists’ Category

Parallel Realities

Very infrequently I post articles and comments about Women’s Issues and Gender Equality. Some of those posts make me outraged and/or disheartened. The reality is that many women around the world and the U.S. are oppressed. They are physically attacked, harassed, excluded, secluded, confined, marginalized, and belittled. But women, all over the world, still manage to do great things. There is a parallel, but no less real, reality where women are achieving, succeeding, and doing exactly what they want and need to be doing.

I know women who started their own school.
Women who run their own non-profit.
Women who have Ph.D.s.
Women who are the primary breadwinners.
Women who are the only breadwinners.
Women who are publishing books.
Women who are leaving unhealthy relationships.
Women who are reinventing themselves.
Women who have paintings in galleries.
Women who are working for LGBT rights.
Women who are their own bosses.
Women who are programmers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, writers, photographers, musicians, editors, psychologists, television producers, actresses, and poets.
Women who are redefining their field.
Women who travel around the world.
Women who are wicked smart and marvelously hilarious.
Women who are handling everything all by themselves.
Women who write music.
Women who run marathons.
Women who run ranches.
Women who are doing the best they can with what they have.
Women who are starting new ventures.
Women who are off on adventures
Women who are kind and compassionate and also powerful.
Women who are going back to school.
Women who are graduating.
Women who are activists.
Women who have changed things and helped many.
Women who are teaching their sons and daughters to treat everyone with respect.
Women who are doing very interesting things that are important to them and that just might change the world in a small or big way.
Women who are creating a better future for themselves and their children.

And when I say women I mean several, not just one. And my friendship circle isn’t even that large, although it is obviously pretty accomplished. The women I know are inspiring, smart, funny, strong as steel, and awesome.

I also know some really good guys:
I know more than one stay at home dad and even one stay at home husband.
I know several men who are Feminists and use their voices to further gender equality.
Men who support their wives’ dreams and ambitions.
Men who are gentle and kind and good.
Men who listen.
Men who are actively engaged in parenting, teaching and homeschooling their sons and daughters.
Men who are activists.
Men who will not let themselves be defined by archaic gender roles, nor define others that way.
Men who share and help and are awesome at cooking.
Men who watch Downton Abbey. 😉
Men who are good husbands and good fathers and interesting people.
Men who want to make the world a better place and are doing something to make it so.

I mostly know cool men. They give me faith in men and mankind. I know there are guys out there who are oppressing women, making things worse, and making things harder. But not my peeps. I know so many inspiring people and I haven’t even mentioned the amazing kids.  It is good to remind myself of this reality, a reality that is closer to home.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Sometimes I just get tired of watching movies where 5 out of 6 characters are men, and a man is the protagonist, and a man is the villain, and a man is the best buddy, etc.

I thought I would go through the big movies of 2012 (not all the movies that came out because that would be 100+) and see how many women are represented in the more popular films.

The Top Five – The Avengers, Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall, and The Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn Part 2.

lunapic_135682243846015_5

The Avengers was the biggest movie of 2012 and, like this picture, it was overwhelmingly male. I admit I was disappointed that Joss Whedon, one of the more feminist directors out there, didn’t have more women in his movie. You could say he did a good job with what he was given. The cast was already chosen before he was tapped for the job. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, and Nick Fury were already cast in preceding films. I am not sure why he choose Black Widow out of the 20+ other female members of The Avengers (like Wasp, The Scarlett Witch, and Tigra) or why the female characters from the preceding movies like Jane Foster (Thor) and Betty Ross (The Hulk) were left out of this movie. Pepper Potts only had a very small role in the beginning and almost got a phone call from her lover and partner Tony Stark at the end.

Part of the problem, the same problem that I have seen over and over again the last several years, is that Hollywood isn’t writing anything new, but just rehashing popular movies, television shows, comics, video games, theme park rides, etc from the 1960 – 1980s, a time with few good female characters. If Hollywood keeps going back to the safe tired place of retro male action heroes we are unlikely to see change in this dynamic.

I hear the next Avengers movie will have more female characters. I can almost believe that since Joss will be directing again. But even if they double the amount of female superheroes from this movie to the next, that wont be near enough.

lunapic_135682243846015_8

The next big movie of 2012, also based on a comic, was The Dark Knight Rises. The consistently wonderful Anne Hathaway played Catwoman, a female character who was intelligent, a force to reckon with, and an agent of her own destiny. Marion Cotillard SPOILERS might have been playing Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Liam Neeson’s character from the first movie. She was just using Bane to finish her father’s plan to destroy the corrupt city of Gotham. But there is other talk on the net that Miranda was not Talia, which I hope is true because Talia has a much more important role in Bruce Wayne’s life. Okaaaay… I’m getting off topic. Miranda may have been the mastermind but Bane was the real villain of Dark Knight Rises. He might not have been very scary or even intelligible, but he had more screen time than Cotillard, as did pretty much all the other male characters in the film (Gordon, Blake, Fox), except maybe Alfred.

lunapic_135682243846015_48

Another huge hit of 2012 was The Hunger Games, our first movie to have an honest to goodness female lead. Many articles have been written about Katniss Everdeen and her bow. The books were huge and the movie was the third highest grossing film of the year. Katniss is kind of a superhero too but she was created in 2008, not 1963 (The Avengers) or 1939 (Batman.) She is from a Dystopian future where children have to fight each other to the death for a chance to sit at the buffet table.

lunapic_135682243846015_11

Skyfall was the 4th highest grossing movie and, after Bond himself, the most important role in the movie goes to a short seventy-eight year old woman, Judi Dench. Bond’s partner, played by Naomie Harris, is strong, cool, and sexually adventurous, but I am not sure about the job she ended up with at the end. And I have a real problem with Bond jumping into the shower, unasked, with a victim of sex trafficking. Yeah, think about it. That is what happened. 😦 On pure action alone this was a great Bond film. But Bond has become an anti-hero, not cool but cold, and even cruel. He has always used women but you got the impression that sex with Double O was worth it. In Skyfall the sex is hot but it is also really cold. Overall I feel conflicted about the role of women in the latest Bond movie.

lunapic_135682243846015_22

I did not see Part 2 of Breaking Dawn but I did see the first two movies and I read the books, so I can imagine how it went. The finale of the Twilight Saga was actually the fifth highest grossing movie of the year. We have 2 movies with female leads in the top 5, one that appealed to tweens of both genders and one that pretty much only drew in women (only women i.e. 1/2 the population).

So, 2 of the 5 highest grossing movies of 2012 had female leads and they were also pretty equal in number of male and female named characters. And both were also based on books written in the last 10 years.

Bond was both good and bad in its portrayal of women. Created in 1953 by Ian Fleming, this Bond has been updated for a modern audience, although not always for the best.

Dark Knight Rises had Catwoman in a central role but the ratio of main male characters to female was 7/2 and of named males to named females was 11/3. The ratio of The Avengers was 8/1, unless we include Agent Hill and Pepper Potts, which would mean we also have to include every named male character, bringing the ratio up to 12/3. But Agent Hill and Pepper Potts had fewer lines and screen time than the other non-supers.

Other notable films of 2012: Lincoln, Argo, The Hobbit, Cabin in the Woods, and Les Miserables.

lunapic_135682243846015_29
Lincoln. What to say about Lincoln? The reality is that a drama set in the House of Representatives during the Civil War is going to be about white old men. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like the movie or that it shouldn’t have been told. The problem is not that there are stories to be told that center around white men, it is that Hollywood overwhelmingly chooses to tell those stories.

Sally Field was great and gave a edgy energy to every scene she was in. But I don’t think she had more than a 30 sec conversation with the other female character in the movie Gloria Reuben, who was supposed to be Mary Todd’s confidante.

lunapic_135682243846015_13

Argo is the first movie on this list that I haven’t seen yet but it might win several Academy Awards so I thought I should include it. Here is a quote from Nico Lang at Thought Catalog. You can read his whole article here.

“Of the movie’s thirteen or so lead roles, two of them are played by women — the relatively unknown Kerry Bishe and lesbian icon Clea DuVall, who hasn’t been near a lead role in a major film since 2004’s The Grudge. (Two of her last three efforts went almost straight-to-video and the third, the 2010 Hilary Swank drama, Conviction, she was barely in.) Playing the supportive yet timid wives and girlfriends of men with larger parts, DuVall and Bishe get to stand around and look nervous, and Bishe looks forever on the edge of tears. I can’t recall either of their characters’ names or a distinct thing they actually do in the film, and the actresses get to share the scraps of lines thrown to them. (My generous estimate is 20.)

However, they get off better than poor Taylor Schilling, who plays Affleck’s estranged (yet still supportive) wife. Having acted in a major film in the last year (the Zac Efron vehicle The Lucky One), Schilling is the de-facto most famous woman in this film — which is a tallest Hobbit situation if there ever were one. Schilling’s only other big role was in the shockingly inept 2010 adaptation of Atlas Shrugged, and Bishe’s most famous work was on the last season of Scrubs, aka. Scrubs University — that no one watched. Despite her relative fame, Schilling doesn’t get any lines in the film, and you can see her face onscreen for three-ish seconds. Her job in the movie? She gets to hug Ben Affleck, a feat of acting prowess I bet she can’t wait to add to her IMDB profile.

With Schilling in the part, I imagine that her role was reduced from a larger one, and her plot line screams of Phantom Storyline syndrome. Throughout the film, much reference is made to Affleck’s wife and son, a device used to garner sympathy for his character, Tony Mendez. (He’s not just a tortured CIA agent; he’s a tortured CIA agent who cares.) This plot point isn’t necessary for the overall arc of the main action, and so I can see why Affleck whittled down its screen time. However, Affleck is able to give roles, jobs and actual lines to no less than 10 name character actors (like Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman and Victor Garber), TV actors (Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina and Bryan Cranston) and lesser-known-but-respected vets (Richard Kind and Tate Donovan). Arkin and Goodman, who steal the film, get ample screen time to cut up and be merry, and Garber and Donovan, who play smaller parts, are allowed to have a part in the narrative in a way the female characters simply are not.

Part of the movie’s marginalization of female characters can be rationalized away by the true-life nature of the film. Because the movie is “based on a true story,” Affleck and his screenwriter, Chris Terrio, have to somewhat stick to the facts and show the story the way things happened. But unlike this year’s Compliance, which told about as accurate of an account of real-life workplace abuse possible, Argo plays fast and loose with the facts for cinematic impact — to ramp up the drama and intensity. (If you needed someone to tell you the airport chase probably didn’t happen that way, you have no idea what the definition of a movie is.) Thus, the “we-had-to-stick-to-the-facts-so-no-lines-for-womenfolk” argument doesn’t hold up. If you can make room for an airport chase, a protracted dénouement where Mendez is awarded an Intelligence Star, a speech from Jimmy Carter (that adds nothing to the film) and a gratuitous shot of Affleck’s abs, you can give one woman something to do. Anything at all. I’m not saying they should create a new role for a woman or magically create a female spy (it’s not Alias, after all), but the women here deserve more than virtual silence.”

Well said, eh? I think I am going to have to start following Mr. Lang. Based on what he is looking for in a mate I think we would be besties.

FP2679-THE-HOBBIT-cast

Um…

lunapic_135682243846015_26

Oh yeah. Heh.

I am so glad this movie got made and I don’t care that much if the awesome Kate Blanchett was in it or not. Tolkien wrote great literature (Yes, I am calling it literature and not fantasy) that was pretty much devoid of women. In the book the only female Hobbit mentioned is Lobelia. And there are, apparently, no female Dwarves, no female Goblins, no female Trolls, no female Wizards, no female Elves, etc. Maybe someday someone will figure out why Tolkien wrote such a sausage fest, but it was the story he was inspired to write and it was well done.

lunapic_135682243846015_16

Cabin in the Woods is our third movie with a female lead. It also has Joss Whedon written all over it. CitW was hilarious, intelligent, surprising, and dark. If you haven’t seen it yet, let me tell you that it is not the movie that you think it is. It plays with tropes, including the “whore” and “virgin” characters seen in most horror movies. I don’t want to say too much, other than this movie got it right.

lunapic_135682243846015_51

Les Miserables has very strong box office numbers so far, coming in as the second biggest Christmas opener ever. This is yet another story drawn from times gone by where women only existed to give men something to struggle for. But Les Mis is larger than its stereotypical gender roles. It is a story about humanity, both large and small.

The named characters were 6/4 male to female. Jean Valjean and Javert were the leads but you could easily argue that Anne Hathaway, as Fantine, did much more with her role than Russell Crowe. Her time on screen was painful yet captivating. I’m really happy for this very interesting woman and accomplished actor. Besides starring into two huge movies this year she has also played great characters in some other very good movies, like Brokeback Mountain, Becoming Jane, and Rachel Getting Married, the last truly showcasing her talent. Hathaway is also an LGBT rights activist, and involved in various charities for women, children, human rights, and arts advocacy.

les-miserables-film-hathaway
Children’s Movies of 2012 – Brave, Frankenweenie, Wreck-it Ralph, and Rise of the Guardians.

lunapic_135682243846015_38-1

Brave was Pixars first movie with a female lead. Which is kind of crazy to think about, given how much we love Pixar. But still, it’s true. Pixar came out with 12 feature films before they had one with a female lead. At one point I did a break down of male to female main characters in Pixar films and, before Brave, it was 24/9. That isn’t good, but it is even worse if you compare male supporting characters to female, there you have something like 106/26. With the addition of Brave that goes up to 116/29. What is up with that?

I think we can say that Pixar had a lot to answer for with Brave. Unfortunately it didn’t say what I wanted to hear. Brave was beautiful, for sure. But it was not as funny as most Pixar films, it did not work on two levels, like most Pixar films, and the female was mainly dealing with the bitter fact that she was female, rather then just having an adventure, making choices, being a hero, like the male characters do in most Pixar films. Brave is still totally worth watching. If I wasn’t expecting Pixar to right all the gender issue wrongs in one fell swoop I would have enjoyed the movie more.

lunapic_135682243846015_35

Unlike Brave, Frankenweenie was clever, had humor that reached out to both kids and adults, and had zombie pets. While Brave dealt with gender roles  and mother/daughter relationships, Frankenweenie dealt with highly intelligent children (a subject that is also near and dear to my heart), passion, and science.

This movie still had 8/3 male to female ratio, although none of the boys or girls fit into tired old gender stereotypes. It was a very nice, heartwarming movie.

lunapic_135682243846015_41

Looking at this picture you can do the math, 2 guys and 2 girls. Two tall, two short. Two powerhouses, two with other useful skills. Two have dark hair and two are blond. But only one goes barefoot. Wreck-it Ralph is another movie that did it right. I don’t just mean the male to female ratio. It was funny, interesting, well plotted, nostalgic, and also very modern in it’s themes and sensibilities. Also we all love Sarah Silverman and Jane Lynch. Wreck-it Ralph gets 4 Gold Stars.

lunapic_135682243846015_3-1

I didn’t see Rise of the Guardians and I don’t plan to. I’m just not up for seeing another “super-hero” movie, this one based on a series of illustrated books that came out in 2011 and 2012, with such a lopsided representation of male to female characters. In RotG, the Tooth Fairy is the only female with powers. The other main non magical character is a boy, Jamie Bennett. Really Dreamworks? Is that how you are going to do this? *sigh*

Some of these movies also didn’t pass the Bechdel Test. Which is a pretty easy test, made up of three parts.

1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man
These movies didn’t pass:
The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
Lincoln
The Hobbit
Frankenweenie
Rise of the Guardians
These did:
The Hunger Games
Skyfall (Just barely passed, with one conversation in the beginning between M and Eve)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (which doesn’t mean this movie is a good example of feminism)
Argo (which doesn’t mean this movie actual did anything more than have two female characters talk to each other for 1 minute)
Cabin in the Woods
Les Miserables
Wreck-it Ralph
So what is the point of all this? Am I saying that Twilight was a better movie than Lincoln or The Hobbit because it had more women? No. I’m making a point that although women make up half the population we are still woefully underrepresented in films. This is a problem. Both women and men and boys and girls need to see films that represent the reality that women are real people, with their own motivations, drives, agendas, and stories. A few women may be getting more complex roles but they are still enacting those roles in a man’s world. I think Hollywood can either add to and support the male dominated establishment that harms both men and women, or they can aim for equality. Of course, Hollywood is going to focus mostly on making movies that make money. So it is up to you, the audience, to spend your dollars wisely and be that change you want to see in the world. Speaking of equality, let’s look at those movies again to see how many people of color are included… Seven. Seven characters in Fourteen movies. Jesus… Movies, we are doing it wrong.

Read Full Post »

Why do we even call it homeschooling at this point? I guess our home is still our base, the HQ of her education, but this year, more than ever, Z is ranging out far and wide to meet her educational needs. She is actually taking more classes outside of the house than in and I am only teaching five of her seventeen subjects.

Seventeen? Really? Wow! How are we managing that? I don’t know! I have been really lucky finding local resources that are a good fit for Z, especially her homeschooling school, which is she going to two full days a week this year. This year she is doing more subjects but spending less time on each of them. We will see how that works out.

Here they are:

Math: Holt Fuse Algebra app for the iPad  – 3 x wk

Piano: private lesson –  1 x wk + practice –  3-4 x wk

History/Geography : Post Revolution stuff I’m cobbling together/ Around the World in 180 Days – 2x wk

Current Events: OnlineG3 – 1x wk + homewrk (With Z’s favorite teacher Headmistress Guinevere.)

Reading: Right now we are reading The Great Gatsby and various poetry. After TGG we will start on Master Pieces of Short Fiction from The Great Courses.

Language Arts: Another one that I am teaching, we are still using Michael Clay Thompson Word within the Word, Advanced Academic Writing, Magic Lens, and Poetry– 2x wk

Odyssey of the Mind: a collaborative creative problem solving class she is taking at our local homeschool school. – 1x wk

Model U.N.: another collaborative class at her homeschool school where the students are doing hands-on/roleplaying learning about current events, international relations, diplomacy and problem solving. – 1x wk

Naturalist Training: Her 3rd class at the homeschooling school. Described online as teaching an awareness of the patterns of animal behavior and the key characteristics of plants, maintaining a nature journal, creating a plant and animal census, participating in a Hawk Watch, learning to use a variety of field guides, using a compass, making watercolors and sketches, and drawing maps. – 1x wk

Writing Workshop: Her 4th class at the school. This is the same class she took last year where the students made their own newspapers, wrote lots of poetry, participated in Nanowrimo, and wrote and performed a 45min play. I don’t know what they are going to do this year but I expect it will be great. – 1x wk

Biology: a high school class for homeschoolers. Most of it is stuff she already knows but it is cool for her to have access to labs.- 1x wk + homewrk

French: private lessons – 1x wk +homewrk

Musical Theater: Z is finally getting to fulfill a dream she had since she was 3 or 4 to be in Les Miserables. This is a local theater production for middle and high school students. – 1x wk

Circus Aerials: Z moved up to the advanced class this year. – 1x wk

Art: Another class I facilitate. We just do a lot of random projects. Zoe enjoys anything hands-on. – 1x wk

Girl’s Choir: This is Z’s second year at Girl Choir. – 1x wk

Hebrew/Religious School: When we changed temples I moved Zoe back a year (she was grade skipped) so that she (actually so I) would have another year to get ready for her Bat Mitzvah. The verdict is still out on this new Temple. . . but I feel like we just need to stick with it. We can’t keep changing communities this close to her Bat Mitzvah. – 2x wk

Don’t those classes look great?! Some of those might need to drop off in the Spring if, as I fear, we over-scheduled ourselves.  But, even with all those classes, I have managed to protect some free time for her every day. She uses it to write music or stories, read, swim, design outfits, hang out with her friends, play, etc. She is a creative girl and she needs that downtime to create, to be herself, find herself, create herself, etc.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

1. If he grows up to be a writer he should watch movies written by women, movies with female protagonists, and movies that tell women’s stories so that he will also be able to write complex realistic female characters because that is just better writing.

2. If he grows up to be a video game designer he will be able to design games that have cross-over appeal, tapping into a larger market, making games that are accessible to the other half of the population, or at least people his games with females that are there for more than just their T&A.

3. If he is a teacher or coach he will be able to understand his female students better. He will be more comfortable and effective teaching to them.

4. If he is a manager he will see the value in hiring women and paying them equally to what he pays men. He will create and uphold a professional environment where women are treated with respect and given equal opportunities.

5. If he grows up and falls in love women won’t seem so mysterious. He will have some understanding of what makes them tick. He will be more comfortable with her needs and feelings, because they won’t be foreign. He will be a better husband.

6. If he has a daughter he can be more to her. She will feel like she can share her interests, likes, loves, and feelings with him and he will be better able to advise, comfort and support her. He can help her dream big and reach those dreams. He will be a better father.

7. The more accurate representations of females that he sees in the media the more he will see women as real people, equals and peers. He will be able to be a more fully developed person and a better man.

Seeing Brave wont accomplish all this, but it is a start. Here are some other movies I recommend you watch with your son,the earlier you start the better:

Spirited Away by Miyazaki
Howl’s Moving Castle by Miyazaki
Ponyo by Miyazaki
Nausicca by Miyazaki
My Neighbor Totoro by Miyazaki
Kiki’s Delivery Service by Miyazaki

Pippi Longstocking

Coraline
The Secret of Nymh
Inkheart
Labyrinth
Whale Rider
Annie

Matilda
Beetlejuice
And when they get older pretty much anything by Joss Whedon.

Read Full Post »

Yeah, it’s me. We are all moved into our new house and looking forward to visits from our friends. I know the promise of spending time with me is enough of a reason to make the trip. But Philadelphia has more to offer than my charm and wit.

Philadelphia has a wealth of history and historical sites. You could easily spend your days learning about the American Revolution where it actually happened. We have the Liberty Bell, Betsey Ross’s House, Independence Hall, The Constitution Center, Elfreth’s Alley, Valley Forge, and many more sites of historical significance.

Depending on when you come you might even get to experience a live action reenactment. They are having them somewhere around here all the time. There is also areas of civil war history and underground railroad history sites and reenactments.

Yep, Philadelphia really loves and appreciates it’s history. But we also have a pretty cool modern city too.

This is the view from B’s homebase in the Comcast Building, the tallest building in the city. I’m so jealous that he gets to work in the city and be near all the great shops and restaurants.

Downtown Philly is great for sight seeing, especially if you like art and architecture. This Swann Memorial Fountain symbolizes Philadelphia’s three major waterways, The Delaware, The Schuykill and the Wissahickon.

We also have Christ Church, City Hall, Eastern State Penitentiary and and many buildings by Frank Furness. Here is more info about the architecture of Philadelphia.

I love the old architecture of the city and surrounding areas. Building’s like this are common place.

This was someone’s house. Now it is a Catholic Home for Children.

An example of Victorian Architecture in Wyncote.

There are several castle type buildings in the area. This one of Chestnut Hill College.

Here is a list of 19 Beautiful Castles in Pennsylvania, many of these are close to where I live.

If you are also into art The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the United States.  Many great artists are represented; Monet, Picasso, Dali, Rubens, Renoir, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, Cezanne, etc.

The museum also has sculpture, tapestries, and other decorative arts as well as the second-largest collection of arms and armor in the United States.

For more art, you could visit the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, The Barnes, and The Rodin Museum.

It’s not Broadway but Philadelphia also has some great theaters, orchestras, and operas. All the big name bands and the small “alt rock” groups come here too. It’s a great place to catch a live show.

Besides being home to the first public library, post office, savings bank, university, and hospital in the United States, Philadelphia also had the first zoo. There is also an aquarium (um… over the river in New Jersey, but close enough). For kids there is also the Please Touch Museum.

For science lovers will love The Franklin Institute where Zoe and friend are pictured here, riding inside a flight simulator. The Academy of Natural Sciences right down the boulevard has collections containing more than 17 million specimens. There are several botanical gardens and arboretums to visit, as well as sites along with rivers, like the Seaport Museum.

If you are looking for something a little more unusual Philadelphia has that too. One of my favorites is the Mutter Museum which contains a collection of medical oddities. It is really gross but quite unique.

Laurel Hills Cemetery is a huge, grand cemetery overlooking the Schuylkill River, with over 33,000 monuments. It is really an amazing place to visit.

Literature buffs would like The Edgar Allen Poe House, The Rosenbach Museum & Library (which has the largest collection of the late, great Maurice Sendak’s illustrations and manuscripts), and The Free Library, who’s Rare Book Department features a Charles Dickens collections with first editions, personal letters, and Dickens’s stuffed pet raven, Grip.

The historic Eastern State Penitentiary is also open for tours and has an amazing Halloween event.

Other places of interest in the city are The Comcast Center, with it’s 2000 sqft television screen, Chinatown, the Reading Terminal Market (a truly fantastic farmer’s market), Rittenhouse Square and Franklin Square.

Philly is also fun for foodies. Every kind of food is represented, at every price point. Max Brenner is a favorite of ours. It is a chocolate restaurant and that is a chocolate hamburger with marshmallow mayo, raspberry ketchup, and white chocolate mustard and it is even better tasting than it looks.

If you know me then you know that my favorite place in Philadelphia is the Wissahickon Creek and the parkland that surrounds it.

It is kinda of ridiculously cool. The path along it is called Forbidden Drive. It has a cave that an early American mystic lived in. There is Devil’s Pool, Hermit’s Lane Bridge, Lover’s Leap, Ma Rinker’s Rock, a 15ft sculpture of a Lenape Indian warrior, many bridges, trails and ruins of old mills.

Forbidden Drive

Devil’s Pool

I think it is so amazing that you can just be walking on a trail and come to something like this. What is more amazing is that this huge wooded place is right in the city.

In Philly you can be driving in the city or a close suburb and suddenly find yourself in a rural scene, like a Revolution era barn, or a ruined structure of Wissahickon schist. Sometimes the wildlife comes right up to your door, like these deer in the front yard of a suburban neighborhood, or the red fox that was on our doorstep last night.

Speaking of our doorstep, come inside Gnarlwood and let us entertain you. B loves cooking for company and I love it when he does. You will too.

Right outside the back door we have the Coop/Scoop where we serve food off the grill and ice cream, as well the hot tub, and the pool. Come on in, the water is fine.

Read Full Post »

A plain

Elliott

Fairfax

Austen

Eyre

Jetson

Baby

Calamity

Darling

Cobb

Doe

Read Full Post »

nom nom nom

I saw this Food Challenge game on Facebook today and decided it was too fun not to post on my blog. Out of 100 more or less unusual foods I have eaten 80 and 5 of the 20 I haven’t eaten are actually drinks.
1. Abalone
 2. Absinthe
3. Alligator
 4. Baba Ghanoush
5. Bagel and Lox
6. Baklava
7. Barbecue Ribs
8. Bellini – This is actually a cocktail of sparkling wine and pureed peaches
9. Bird’s Nest Soup
10. Biscuits and Gravy
 11. Black Pudding
12. Black Truffle
 13. Borscht
14. Calamari
15. Carp
16. Caviar
17. Cheese Fondue
 18. Chicken and Waffles – I have eaten chicken and I have eaten waffles but not “chicken and waffles.” And there used to be a Chicken and Waffles places right down the street from our first apt. in L.A. (The one where we lived under Vincent Kartheiser.)
19. Chicken Tikka Masala
20. Chile Relleno
21. Chitlins
22. Churros
23. Clam Chowder
24. Cognac
25. Crab Cakes
26. Crickets – No, but I did eat a chocolate covered ant at Godiva.
27. Currywurst – No, but it sounds good.
28. Dandelion Wine – Another drink I haven’t had
29. Dulce De Leche
30. Durian – People eat durian??
31. Eel
32. Eggs Benedict
33. Fish Tacos
34. Foie Gras
35. Fresh Spring Rolls
36. Fried Catfish
37. Fried Green Tomatoes
38. Fried Plantain
39. Frito Pie
40. Frogs’ Legs
41. Fugu – This is that possibly lethally poisonous pufferfish that they eat in Japan, and probably the only thing on this list that I wouldn’t eat if given the chance.
42. Funnel Cake
43. Gazpacho
44. Goat
45. Goat’s Milk
46. Goulash
47. Gumbo – This is my favorite meal.
48. Haggis – I do really want to try haggis.
49. Head Cheese
50. Heirloom Tomatoes
51. Honeycomb

52. Hostess Fruit Pie
53. Huevos Rancheros
54. Jerk Chicken
55. Kangaroo – If jerky counts I ate some kangaroo jerky that I bought from Jungle Jim‘s in Cincinnati. Best grocery store EVAH!
56. Key Lime Pie – This is my favorite dessert, especially how my grandma makes it.
57. Kobe Beef
58. Lassi – This is a yogurt based drink from India. That I am surprised I haven’t had.
59. Lobster
60. Mimosa
61. MoonPie

62. Morel Mushrooms
63. Nettle Tea
64. Octopus – nom nom nom
65. Oxtail Soup – Brian makes a mean oxtail soup
66. Paella
67. Paneer
68. Pastrami on Rye
69. Pavlova – I’d never heard of this. Apparently it is a meringue based dessert named after the famous dancer.
70. Phaal – One of the spiciest of Indian curries. I need to eat this.
71. Philly Cheese Steak – Nope.
72. Pho
73. Pineapple and Cottage Cheese
74. Pistachio Ice Cream
75. Po’ Boy
76. Pocky
77. Polenta
78. Prickly Pear – Brian once made up prickly pear jam from pricky pears he harvested from a mountain hike in SoCal.
79. Rabbit Stew – Brian made this recently.
80. Raw Oysters – Of course, I grew up in South Florida.
81. Root Beer Float
82. S’mores
83. Sauerkraut
84. Sea Urchin
85. Shark
86. Snail
87. Snake
88. Soft Shell Crab
89. Som Tam – Never heard of it but now I really really want it. It is listed at 46 on World’s 50 most delicious foods by CNN Go
90. Spaetzle
91. Spam – spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam
92. Squirrel – Nope
93. Steak Tartare
94. Sweet Potato Fries
95. Sweetbreads
96. Tom Yum – This is my most favorite soup.
97. Umeboshi
98. Venison
99. Wasabi Peas
100. Zucchini Flowers

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »