Best of Philly 2005: Fun

Movie theaters, music venues, mini-golf, and other ways to keep yourself amused

Place to get in on the best fun trend if you don’t feel like coming into the city:Facenda-Whitaker Lanes
Not too fancy, not too dingy, with 50 lanes, a bar, idiot-proof scoring, and absolutely no pretensions (2912 Swede Road, East Norriton; 610-272-6547).

Place to indulge your inner nerd: National Scrabble Association Club #561 Every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m., word junkies from every walk of life hunker down over timed Scrabble games, placing words you never knew existed—like “qat,” “qintar” and “qoph,” three of the few words that contain Q but no U. See, we gave you a head start (Parent-Infant Center, 42nd and Locust streets; 215-878-7189).

Pool hall: Buffalo Billiards
A reminder that pool halls need not be places you’d be embarrassed to take your mom (or to take some money off her hands in a game of nine-ball). And they have lots of tables, so you rarely wait (118 Chestnut Street; 215-
574-7665).

Place to see an independent film: The Ambler Theater
The 1920s-era Ambler has new seats and a redone lobby and concession area. It also offers a steady diet of independent and foreign films, screenings of classic Hollywood movies, and special matinees for kids on Saturday afternoons (108 East Butler Avenue, Ambler; 215-
345-7855).

Challenging mini-golf: Markie’s Mini-Golf and Clayground With longer-than-normal holes, and greens you actually have to “read,” this is a mini-golf course even serious golfers can love. Plus, the accompanying make-your-own ceramics studio and café make this a great place for kids’ parties (360 Schuylkill Road, Phoenixville; 610- 935-5774).

Spooky Mini-golf : Wood’s Golf Center Leave the clowns and windmills to the amateurs. Woody’s offers two mini-golf courses, one featuring dinosaurs, the other pirates, caves and, yes, fog. There’s even a smoking dragon. We got a little scared (559 ­Germantown Pike, Norristown; 610-279-0678).

New music venue: World Cafe Live The food can disappoint at this West Philly venture, but if you like live shows, there’s no better place in town. You can actually see and hear everything, thanks to perfect sight lines and a crisp, primo sound system (3025 Walnut Street; 215-222-1400).

Playwright: Bruce Graham Graham has been part of the Philly theater scene for a couple of decades, but his most recent work, The Philly Fan, which debuted at last year’s Fringe Festival, reminded us how sharp, touching and hilarious his best work can be. He’s currently finishing his 14th play, Dex and Julie Sittin’ in a Tree.

Theater talent: James Sugg Sugg is one busy guy. He recently won a litany of awards for his acting, theatrical sound design and music composition. And he’s worked with most theater companies in the city. But instead of taking a breather, he goes and writes his first musical, based on Mark Twain’s long-lost short story “A Murder, A Mystery and A Marriage,” to be produced next year in D.C. and Delaware.

Theater Company : Pig Iron
This 10-year-old Barrymore and OBIE award-winning experimental theater group has conquered much of the world with its bizarre productions, including explorations of Joan of Arc, mental asylums and, er, tennis, and shows no signs of stagnation. In the first half of 2006 alone, Pig Iron will present three revivals, one new original work, and a massive reworking of its Mission to Mercury, inspired by the music of Queen (pigiron.org).

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