I’m Pre-Gaming My 40th High School Reunion

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I spent some of this weekend trying to book a table for nine for lunch next Saturday, which turned out to be a lot more complicated than I thought. It seems a lot of places in my old hometown are only open for dinner on Saturdays. And that was a problem because my best high-school friends and I want to pre-game our high school reunion.

Well, not pre-game in the current college-student sense, as in “Get stumble-drunk before we even get to the party.” We’re not the drinkers we used to be, frankly. (And a couple of us never were drinkers at all.) But we want a chance to be able to talk and catch up without unfamiliar faces coming up to us in the dark and offering us hugs. (Note to reunion planners: You can’t read name tags in the dark.) It’s not like I never see my old high-school friends. A group of five of us have been getting together just about every year, sometimes with spouses, sometimes with moms, sometimes with kids, sometimes just by ourselves. We still get along, still make each other laugh and cry, just like we did when we were wearing hockey kilts, or “white shirts, dark skirts” for choir and band. Read more »

Jack Ryan: Rebooted

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Philadelphia showtimes

Armed with an unflappable understanding of justice and a haircut you can set your watch to, Jack Ryan was already a movie hero the second the late Tom Clancy committed him to paper. Given its easy appeal, the successful Clancy-inspired film franchise, inactive since 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, has been overdue for a reup. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit takes very few risks with the patriot and the formula, but its action serves as an ass-kicking reprieve from all that awards-season indigestion.

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Man Uses Internet for First Time

The smartest show on the radio right now is WNYC’s On the Media, and OTM’s smart people have launched a smart podcast called TLDR. The show—or at least, their blog—earned my affection when producer PJ Vogt introduced me to the seemingly universally loathed 40 Days of Dating in a sharply witted post on the superficial passion project of those two annoying but still hot Manhattanites. It also introduced me to the charm of TLDR: It’s short, but not reductive; analytical without feeling parasitic of other’s reporting.

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The 14 Books You’ll Be Reading This Fall

As we pack away our summer clothes, it’s also time to put away the summer book fluff. So while the weather gets chillier and we switch from white to red wine, we want to read something that’s a bit meatier, a bit more substantial. But with new releases every week, it’s hard to know where to even begin. Here are ones that I’m excited about:

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The Last Word on Miley Cyrus

Like most of the rest of America, I watched the Great Twerk of 2013 with my jaw hanging open, staring at my TV screen in disbelief. I didn’t know a lot about Miley Cyrus before her infamous performance at this year’s MTV awards (here’s a link, in case you were indisposed and somehow missed it)—just that she was the teenage daughter of the “Achy Breaky Heart” guy, that she’d been on a kiddie TV show, that she was engaged to somebody named Liam, and that my 20-year-old son once had a crush on her. She didn’t quite fit into that vast category of wild-child ex-kid actors gone bad, the one that includes Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes.

But she seemed to be heading that way, with scantily clad photos and bong hits and drunken escapades. Then came the startling stage show with the giant foam finger and Robin Thicke, who’s old enough to be her father. Miley-geddon, it seemed, was here.
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When Tracing Your Ancestry Becomes a Murder Mystery

My cousin, Saul ‘Sonny’ Shister, was shot to death in 1955 in Montreal in an apparent game of Russian Roulette with his buddies. He was 17.

I never met Saul, but his death has been haunting me. Why would his friend, Harvey Litwack, brandish a .32-calibre revolver as the group left a downtown club? Even after Litwack emptied what he thought were all the bullets, why would he pull the trigger at one, then two, of his pals?
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In Shocking Development, Philly Ranked “Worst City” In Which to Perform Comedy

Comedian Chris Gethard, who performs with Amy Poehler’s Upright Citizens Brigade, has declared Philadelphia the worst place in the country to perform comedy. Here’s one anecdoate from the Vice Magazine screed:

The show started with an audience member lighting a copy of my book—which has my face on it—on fire, and throwing it on the stage. My first few minutes of stage time were spent franticly stomping on an image of myself.

Here’s another, about the time when audience member was invited on stage so he could propose to his girlfriend.

He gave a very nice speech—there was nervousness, as both speaking in front of crowds and proposing can bring out anxiety, but it was sweet.

Unfortunately, a few sentences were interrupted. The room had gone silent. When most crowds witness a proposal and go silent, they do so out of respect for the moment and a desire to be positively affected by a couple expressing their love in public.

Not Philly.

In the vacuum of that silence, some hooded mook realized what was going on. And he realized he could shout anything he wanted, and a room of hundreds of people would hear it. What did he choose to shout?

“SAY NO TO THAT FUCKIN’ FAGGGOOOOOOOT!”

Throughout the whole screed, the poor guy comes across more depressed than angry. Maybe that’s his problem–like a German Shepard, a Philly audience can smell fear. Either way, one can understand why local stand-up comic Doogie Horner–no stranger to boorish audience behavior–is decamping for New York. [VICE]

Iron Man Is Contractually Obligated to Be a Cowboys Fan

Superhero movies and football — two things you can’t avoid as we head into July, with new guy-in-tights flicks opening every week and Eagles training camp just around the corner. I haven’t seen Man of Steel, nor have I been hanging at the NovaCare complex. But I did stumble across something that bridges the gap between sports and supes, and reminded me just how much I despise the Dallas Cowboys.

A couple of years back, the Cowboys paired up with Marvel for a rather odd line of T-shirts. The “Opposition” tee shows Iron Man in a vaguely Heisman-esque pose, laying waste to chunks of turf. The “Unstoppable” shirt adds Captain America, Spider-Man, The Hulk and Thor, creating a lineup much more intimidating than the actual Dallas roster. Then there’s the predictable “America’s Team” design, in which the heroes are springing to action beneath a red, white and blue “Cowboys” logo. Be warned — it will trigger your gag reflex on sight.

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