29 November 2010

American Chop Suey

As always, the What is dedicated to presenting you with colorful ideas for everyday life. Many of our ideas are food-related, because we love food. Learning how to cook for yourself now that you no longer have your mom or your meal plan to provide your meals can seem like a daunting task. We at the What are here to show you that cooking can be fun, easy, and rewarding by offering up recipes like this from our personal cookbooks. As is the case with most of our recipe-based ideas, this one is simple and delicious, just like us.

American Chop Suey

Recently I found myself lamenting that my cooking skills were limited to summertime meals and I began looking for different recipes to try out to expand my culinary horizons. Then I had American Chop Suey. This delectable dish, popular in the Northeastern section of the country, has always been a favorite of mine, yet for some reason, I had forgotten about it. The meal is incredibly simple to put together, and you likely already have everything you need to make it.

22 November 2010

PRIMER - A Different Kind of Date Night

Click on the image above to see Patrick's latest article with Primer Magazine! For the Philadelphians, here are a few links to accompany the article:

Franklin Square - Great for mini-golf or just walking around
North Bowl - Lounge and lanes for a fun evening in NoLibs
Philadelphia Weekly - A handy guide to local events
Koresh Dance Company - Professional dance lessons
Brokeass Gourmet - Delicious recipes
The What's Recipes - Recipes from the What

20 November 2010

Kicking Off December, Philly Style

With Thanksgiving looming just around the corner, many are excited about their plans for the weekend. Whether it be partying on Wednesday night, pigging out on Thursday, or shopping on Friday, everyone seems to be abuzz over the long weekend's events. However, in Philadelphia, there is much more to be excited about for the following weekend.

To begin with, there's Wednesday. Aside from kicking off the month of December, Wednesday also provides the opportunity to visit the Please Touch Museum on the cheap. Please Touch offers its First Wednesday deal of lowering the admission price for visitors over the age of one to just $2 between five and seven at night. It's fun for the family and easy on the wallet, a good way to start December.

The following evening may not be a family event, but is very fun and well worth the trip to South Street. On the first Thursday of every month one can catch Bobby Zankel and the Warriors of the Wonderful Sound at the Tritone at 15th and South. You will be blown away by the amount of people at the bar, and even more blown away when you realize half of them are in the band. Swing by the Tritone on first Thursdays to enjoy fried pickles and the South Philly Special (Pa can of PBR and a shot of whiskey for three bucks) while enjoying the swinging jazz grooves of Zankel and his warriors.

If you are not familiar with what comes next, shame on you! On the first Friday of each month, several art galleries in Old City open their doors between 5 and 9PM for free. You can peruse the galleries, purchase original art, and mingle with an eclectic crowd. There are dozens of galleries to choose from, with most of them falling between Vine and Market Streets to the North and South and Front and Third Streets to the East and West. Plus, you will be right around the corner from fantastic restaurants like Positano Coast, the Race Street Cafe, and Q BBQ and Tequila.

The grand finale of this fun-filled extended weekend happens to be the unofficial kick off of the holiday season in Philadelphia. Elfreth's Alley presents its annual Deck the Alley celebration. In addition to the carolers and tours of many of the Alley's historic homes, this year the pot has been sweetened. Edward A. Mauger, author of Philadelphia Then and Now will be on hand signing copies of his book. Furthermore, a special deluxe package is being offered. For $135, you will get your ticket to Deck the Alley, a carriage ride through Old City and Society Hill to the Physick House, where refreshments will be served. From there, you will enjoy a meal at the legendary City Tavern. Remember, this is one of only two times this year that the residents of Elfreth's Alley will open their private, historic homes to the public, and tickets have been selling fast!

As we at the What have mentioned before, it is hard to rival the Philadelphia holiday season. The weekend following Thanksgiving is just the tip of the iceberg, as the City of Brotherly Love will be sure to keep you busy and full of holiday cheer for several weeks to come.

For more information:
First Wednesday at the Please Touch Museum
Tritone Events Schedule
First Friday
Deck the Alley

18 November 2010

Weekly Top Five - 18.Nov.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Harry Potter Random Facts
 In honor of the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows being released at midnight, The What decided to dig deep and pull up some interesting things that you may not have known about the Boy Who Lived and his story. J.K. Rowling's series is one of the most detailed, well-written and intricate stories ever told, and these are just a few of the reasons why.

5. Harry Potter is 30 - That's right, the Boy Who Lived is now a man. Harry's date of birth is 31.Jul.1980, meaning he just celebrated his thirtieth birthday earlier this summer. That means that the happenings of the epilogue to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will not happen for another six years. Also, this puts the events of the Deathly Hallows in the 1996-97 school year.

4. There's science behind the magic - Many Harry Potter readers wish that the magical world they read about was real, when in many ways it is. A good portion of the book's lore has its roots in science. For instance, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was founded over a thousand years ago. Each founder not only had an animal to represent them, but an element as well. Gryffindor (lion/fire), Slytherin (serpent/water), Hufflepuff (badger/earth), and Ravenclaw (raven/air). Furthermore, the Philosopher's Stone refers to alchemy. Alchemy is the ancient study of the transformation of metals, and shares a root word with chemistry and algebra.

3. Birthdays and holidays hold much importance - As for birthdays, Harry, Ron, and Hermione each have a wand that refers to when they were born. Their wand cores almost serve as gemstones, but using the Celtic Tree Calendar instead. As for holidays, Christmas played a major part in each novel, save the last, and other holidays held significance as well. Fred and George Weasley were appropriately born on April Fool's Day and on a sadder note, Voldemort murdered James and Lily Potter on Halloween. And about that fateful Halloween night, the Potters were not in their thirties, as shown in the first film, they were both only 21 when they were killed.

2. Family and relationships are key - Throughout this epic tale, family has always been of the utmost importance. Voldemort became what he was based on his lack of a family and later orphaned Harry, creating his nemesis. It was clearly stressed throughout all seven books that it was his mother's love that gave Harry the protection against Voldemort. Even once the books were finished, Rowling kept going, mapping out the relationships of the surviving characters, which can be seen here.

1. The entire arc has been planned from day one - While there certainly are minor aspects of later novels that may not have been planned from the get go, the major plot line of the Harry Potter story was set in stone from the first book. One good example of this is Nearly Headless Nick's offhand mention of the Gray Lady being Ravenclaw's ghost in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. She would not be mentioned again until page 613 of the Deathly Hallows. Another key moment in book one has Harry thinking to himself that he couldn't help but think that somehow Professor Snape could read minds, which, in a way, is true as Snape is a master of Legilimency and Occlumency.

15 November 2010

The Lazy Journalism of Attacking Philadelphia Fans

Only in the world of sports journalism can one constantly rehash a tired issue mired with more opinion than fact, more hyperbole than actual reporting, and still remain employed. Such is the case with the constant lambasting of Philadelphia sports fans. Ladies and gentlemen of the sports media, enough is enough. It is time to move on and start using your time and your employer's money to actually cover the contests you are paid to cover, not reeditorialize a dead issue. And here are a few reasons why.

Philadelphia is not your scapegoat
Rooting for the Birds at the Linc.
Incidents involving unruly spectators at sporting events are not limited to one place, nor are they prevalent in one place more than others. New York, Chicago, and Detroit all have just as many, if not more, incidents as Philadelphia. In fact, throughout the baseball, hockey, and football seasons commentators ignore any negative behavior on the part of every other city's fans, from vulgar chants to items being thrown to the field, but their camera operators are quick to seek out Philly fans looking angry so the commentators can make an offhand remark about how terrible they are.

Your immaturity is (or should be) tarnishing your reputation
I, a Philadelphian and a die-hard sports fan, love Washington DC. It's a beautiful city with a fantastic Metro. I subscribed to the Post through email and am a rabid supporter of their MLS team, DC United. However, my Post subscription was quickly canceled once Mike Wise likened the women and children attending Flyers' games to security at a Megadeth concert. Wise, who was suspended earlier this year for a fake tweet about Ben Roethlisberger, received no such punishment for blatantly insulting women and children who did nothing but go to a hockey game to root for their team. Wise is certainly not the only so-called journalist guilty of such actions, as just as recently as last week Eagles fans were labeled as idiots on Yahoo Sports. There is no place for name-calling in journalism, it's unnecessary and embarrassing.

What really happened?
Celebrating the 2008 World Series win.
More often than not, what is reported is far from what actually happened. When Michael Irvin took a big hit and went down, yes, people cheered. However, once those of us in the stands realized he was hurt, we quieted down. In fact, in the section right above the hit (where I was sitting), we were gathered around a radio trying to hear from the announcers if he was going to be alright and clapped as he was taken from the field. A similar situation happened just last week at the game against the Colts. Wide receiver Austin Collie was hit and moments later, a flag hit the ground. In every single stadium in this country I have ever been to, the moment a penalty is called everyone's attention turns immediately to the big screen for a replay. On that day, the replay showed that the hit was legal, thus drawing boos from the crowd, who had yet to notice Collie was still ground. Once their attention returned to the field, they quieted down and clapped respectfully as Collie was taken from the field.

Philadelphians are not the problem
Take a look back over incidents that happened at Philadelphia sporting events over the past several years. From fools running onto the field to fights to drunken buffoons inducing vomiting, these people all have two things in common. One, they are an embarrassment to our fans, teams, and city. Two, they're not from Philadelphia. I know this is nitpicking, but as someone from Philadelphia who has also lived in the suburbs, I can tell you there are differences between the fans. The true Philadelphians are the fans who, if they can afford it, go to a game and stay to the bitter end, even when losing 42-0 in the snow on Monday Night Football. They're the fans who are among the most passionate and knowledgeable followers of any sport organizations. The people who cause the majority of the problems and bring embarrassment and shame are more often than not the people who buy season tickets because they can, go to games to party and not to root for the team, and either leave or cause trouble when things are not going their way.

I hope that journalists and commentators begin to cover Philadelphia sports more objectively. I've been to Philly sporting events supporting the home team as well as vehemently rooting against Philly in certain sports while decked out in the other teams' colors. In either circumstance, I have never had an issue with any other fan, and more often than not, I see fans from out of town chatting amiably with the Philadelphia fans sitting by them, discussing everything from sports, sightseeing in the city, and how wonderful cheesesteaks can be.

So yes, Philadelphia fans are passionate. And yes, we will cheer our athletes when they win for us and boo them when they lose, but we'll also be the first to defend them from outside attacks. Philadelphia is a beautiful city with a wonderfully diverse and incredibly welcoming population, and it deserves much better than what it has received from the biased world of sports journalism.

11 November 2010

Weekly Top Five - 11.Nov.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Good Reads
 I often find myself searching for a decent book to read, whether it be for a lazy Sunday or something to hold my interest on the train ride into work. Over the past year, I came across these five books and really enjoyed them. Each features a main character who, at least at some point, is in the demographic we aim to cater to here at the What. So whether it is running away and joining the circus during the Great Depression or dropping out of college to immerse yourself in the early 1980's punk scene, each of these books touch on familiar situations in fantastic settings.

5. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Reading this novel is an interesting experience. It chronicles the breakdown of a young woman working in New York City in a manner that is, in a way, disturbing. The progression of her breakdown is so seamless that it almost feels natural. Having survived the stresses college can bring, you should find some familiarity with the protagonists thoughts, eerie though that may be.

4. Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen - Of the five books on this list, this is the only one I do not personally own. I fully intend to purchase it, although I have already read it, because the story is that good. Gruen's tale of an elderly man reminiscing about running away and joining the circus as a youth draws you in and wraps you in the somewhat bizarre world of circus life. I had trouble putting this book down, and can not wait to read it again.

3. Pretty Little Dirty by Amanda Boyden - This is one of the most aptly-named novels I have ever read. Boyden interweaves scenes from punk concerts in with a narrative about two best friends. The girls first meet as suburban twelve-year-olds and go on to experience more in ten years than most will in a lifetime. For those of us who have lived a little and taken risks in life, this book at times is a happy trip down memory lane yet also a harrowing reminder of what could have been. The story is beautifully told, and the author truly makes the reader feel as though they are experiencing the story as opposed to just observing.

2. Rules of Attraction by Brett Easton Ellis - This novel takes place in the late eighties at a New England Liberal Arts school and its protagonist is the younger brother of the titular character in American Psycho. If that doesn't sell you on this book alone, perhaps you should skip this one. If it sounds like your cup of tea, prepare for yourself for a raucous tale of sex, drugs, and rock and roll that brings debauchery to a new level. If you saw the film version, while good, it's only the tip of the iceberg with this story. An unnamed source once said about this book, "This book is so dirty it makes me want to snort some coke and then go punch a hooker." You will understand exactly what they meant once you read it.

1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby - Rarely do I come across a Hornby novel that I do not love. Yet, out of all of his works, this is by far my favorite. High Fidelity is the quintessential break-up story as the main character examines his most recent romantic failure by looking up ex-girlfriends and asking "Where did it all go wrong?" Much like Pretty Little Dirty, you feel less like an observer and more like your friend is telling you this tale over a few pints. Also, aside from the romance aspect of the story, you have to admire the characters' passion for music as told through their many top five lists.

09 November 2010

Christmastime in the City

Whether you like it or not, it's that time of year. The time of year when the stores bring out a dazzling array of red and green stuff and your mailbox fills with a heaping load of catalogs. While most of us are still coming down from a Halloween high or looking forward to a delicious turkey dinner in two weeks, the commercial world is busy telling us all that it's Christmastime. For city-dwellers, this is especially exciting. Most major cities have fantastic holiday traditions, and Philadelphia is no exception. Following are the top yuletide stops for you to make in Philly this holiday season.

Macy's Christmas Light Show
Since 1956, the light show has been presented in the main gallery of the Wanamaker building. This breathtaking display was narrated by John Facenda, the voice of NFL Films, for many years before a new narration was recorded by Julie Andrews in 2006. Andrews' narration is paired with the beautiful blinking lights telling classic holiday tales such as the Nutcracker and Frosty the Snowman featuring musical accompaniment from a live organist playing the massive organ. This show will air every hour between 10AM and 8PM daily from the day after Thanksgiving until New Year's Eve. Get there early for a good seat! 

The Dickens Village at Macy's
When Strawbridge's shut its doors several years ago, many (including myself) feared that it marked the end for the Dickens Village. Luckily, Macy's wasted no time in moving the village across the street to the Wanamaker building, placing it in the same building as the Light Show for everyone's Christmas convenience. The village tells the story of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol with 26 different scenes from the famous novel. Over 100 animatronic characters bring the tale to life as you read actual text from the novel on sign posts set throughout the miniature version of 1840's London. A new feature added by Macy's comes at the end of the exhibit, at which point you are escorted into a room to have a quick chat and a photo with Father Christmas himself!

Deck the Alley
When visiting the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the United States, many people wish they could see the inside of the historic Elfreth's Alley houses. Well, on December 4th, you will finally get your chance! As many as 14 of the residents living on the alley will graciously open their homes for touring. Outside, expect to see carolers in period garb and classic Christmas decor. Inside, you will find refreshments (often provided by the fantastic Race Street Cafe) and a book signing with David Papp, author of the children's book The Scarlet Stockings Spy. Tickets are selling fast, so do not hesitate to pick yours up!

Light Displays
The Philadelphia region is home to a variety of impressive holiday decoration displays. Several blocks throughout the city, especially in Southwark and Manayunk, will work together to decorate, while other houses go all out on their own. One such house is located at Fairfax Road and Huey Avenue in Drexel Hill. This house puts on a display that would shame the Griswolds. From lights, to animatronics, to a life-size Santa in his sleigh complete with all of his reindeer, this place has it all. It's easily accessible from the Drexel Park stop on either the 101 or 102 trolleys from 69th Street, and well worth the trip into Delco.

Holiday Train Sets
Nothing says Christmas like a decent holiday model train setup, and there are several to check out in Philly. The Franklin Institute and Septa Museum will often present modest sets in their respective museum spaces. The best set in the city, however, can be found in the old Reading Railroad building. Enter the door next to Dunkin Donuts and you'll be greeted with the expansive set. With sections representing cities, suburbs, and rural areas, this set has it all. Also, kids (and adults) will get a kick out of being able to operate select parts of the display.

Links & Last Words
This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to celebrating the holidays in the City of Brotherly Love. We welcome your comments to address any of your favorite traditions we may have left out. Check out the links below for more information, and have a happy holiday season!

04 November 2010

Weekly Top Five - 4.Nov.10

In  High Fidelity, the characters compare their top fives in a variety of categories. Being big fans of both the film and novel, we here at the What bring you our Weekly Top Five, a feature focused on five fantastic things that you should become familiar with.

Movies To Add To Your Collection

In an effort to broaden your cinematic horizons, here are our picks for five movies you should have in your collection. Each film brings something different to the table, and will add a bit of variety in with your Apatow and Ocean's flicks, not that there's anything wrong with those.

5. The Wackness (2008) - This film is the story of an eighteen-year-old drug dealer trying to be cool and score with a hot girl he graduated with, set in 1994 Manhattan. Aside from the interesting characters and odd relationships they forge, pick this one up for the fantastic early 1990's hip-hop soundtrack. It stars Joshua Peck, Olivia Thirlby, and Ben Kingsley with cameos from Mark-Kate Olsen and Method Man. For the ladies: Charming, quirky love story. For the lads: Weed and old school hip-hop.

4. Love Actually (2003) - Tired of the same old romantic comedies and chick flicks? Well, this one is the ultimate romcom, the chickiest of the flicks. But it works. However, amidst all of the relationship drama, there is plenty of comedy. Good comedy. Plus, the film stars about half of the most famous British people you could think of. For the ladies: Romcom at its best. For the lads: Hilarity from Bill Nighy and frequent nudity.

3. Once Upon A Time In Mexico (2003) - This Robert Rodriguez flick is the ultimate homage to Spaghetti Westerns. The action sequences are so good that they make Enrique Iglesias look badass as a guitar-wielding pistolero. The true stars of this movie are Antonio Banderas and Johnny Depp; Banderas for his strong, silent portrayal of El Mariachi, and Depp for his spot-on performance as a rogue CIA agent. One of the best action movies out there. For the ladies: Johnny Depp. Oh, and Antonio Banderas. Did I mention Enrique? For the lads: Guitars, explosions, and Eva Mendes.

2. Casablanca (1943) - So you want a film standard to class up your library? Avoid Citizen Kane like the plague and pick up a copy of Casablanca. This incredible film features Ingrid Bergman opposite an at-his-best Humphrey Bogart. Unlike many classics, this film remains as popular and as watchable as it was when it was released nearly seventy years ago. For the ladies: The quintessential love story. For the lads: Rick - the ultimate badass.

1. 28 Days Later (2003) - Clearly 2003 was a good year for movies. It feels odd adding this to the list, but I've encountered a surprising number of people who do not own the movie. If you don't, you should. It is arguably the best horror movie to come out in the past ten years, and few films can reach the level of suspense that this flick from Danny Boyle does. For the ladies: Cillian Murphy's penis. For the lads: Zombiesque infected people. Really fast ones.

Pickelodeon: Elfreth's Alley

Welcome to Pickelodeon, a little feature where we review all that is reviewable in the world. Pickelodeon is your one stop shop for the inside scoop on the best restaurants, bars, movies, music, events, and anything else you want to hear someone else's opinion on before you try it. Drop us a line in the comment box for any suggestions on what we should review next!

Elfreth's Alley

Philadelphia is a city rich with American history. Not only is it the birthplace of the United States of America, but it also served as the nation's first capital. The city is home to a number of fantastic historical sites such as Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Powell House, and many more. However, many tourists (and locals) too often overlook one of the most fascinating historical sites in the city, Elfreth's Alley.

Elfreth's Alley was originally formed in 1702 as a path to connect the hustle and bustle of industrial 2nd Street to the Delaware River. In 1712 people began to build houses along the alley. Today, the oldest house still standing was constructed in the mid 1720's, making Elfreth's Alley the oldest continuously occupied residential street in the whole of the US.

When visiting historical sites, one typically hears of the famous, wealthy and/or important people who once lived or worked there. At Elfreth's Alley, you instead learn of everyday American life. The residents of the alley were known as the "Lower Sort," or working poor. The people who lived and worked on this street were the average, everyday Americans of their respective times.

Elfreth's Alley was considered a slum from the time people first lived there all the way through the middle of the twentieth century, when several of the houses were condemned. Luckily, the fledgling Elfreth's Alley Association (EAA) was able to rescue and restore many of the houses. Today, 29 of the 32 buildings on the alley are currently lived in and therefore are off-limits to the public.

Still, Elfreth's Alley is well worth the visit. The EAA owns buildings 124 and 126, through which they operate a gift shop and museum house. Tours of the museum house are only $5, making it one of the most affordable tours you'll find. Furthermore, the EAA holds special events annually in conjunction with the residents of the alley in which some residents graciously open their houses to visitors for special tours. One of these events is their Fete Day, which occurs each year in June. The other is the Deck the Alley celebration, typically held on the first Saturday of December.

Next time you find yourself wandering Old City looking for something to do, swing by Elfreth's Alley. They are open from 10-5 Tuesday through Saturday, and 12-5 of Sundays. For more information, visit their website at www.elfrethsalley.org.