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?


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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For Don Draper, Reality Bites — Hard

Season 6 of Mad Men ended last night with Don Draper (Jon Hamm) descending to the ninth circle of hell. The question is, will he stay there, and do we care anymore?

After six seasons of watching Droopy Don satisfy all his primal urges without regard to truth or consequence, reality came back to not only bite him in the ass, but to swallow him whole. Brother, did he earn it.

A full-blown alcoholic, he spends a night in the drunk tank. His emotionally battered wife walks out. He falls apart at a pitch meeting for Hershey’s chocolate. The Sterling Cooper partners order him to go on leave, with no return date.

No wonder the blurb for this episode, titled “In Care Of,” presented the storyline thusly: “Don has a problem.” Ya think?

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America Is Just Like Westeros!

My husband isn’t a Game of Thrones guy. When he comes home from work, he really just wants to watch a movie he’s already seen a number of times, so it’s easier for him to follow. I came home the other night and found him sitting in front of The Prince of Tides. “Doug,” I said. “We just watched this freaking movie. Wednesday night when I came home, you were watching The Prince of Tides.”

“So? It’s a good movie,” he said, and that was the only defense he made. Read more »

The Five Huge Mistakes in Arrested Development’s New Season

I’m now just over halfway through watching Season 4 of Arrested Development — the much-anticipated Netflix treat we’ve been begging for since 2006, when the show first “ended.” So far, I’ve seen individual episodes receive more post-action analysis than an Eagles game, but I haven’t seen a collective evaluation of fan response to Arrested‘s latest iteration. Should we have been careful what we wished for? Or is this actually filling the void Seasons 1 through 3 left behind?

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United States Close To Being Sold For Scrap. (Yes, We’re Talking About The Ship.)

After years of bringing a bit of character the skyline near Ikea, it appears the SS United States is finally running out of time. AP reports: “The 990-foot-long ship could be sold for scrap within two months unless the grass-roots preservation group that’s working to secure a home and purpose for it can raise $500,000 immediately, the group told The Associated Press. Talks are under way with developers and investors about the ship’s long-term future, but without the emergency funding, its caretakers fear they will run out of money before a deal is inked.”  It’s a sad end for a big, noble ship, but it’s probably better than to leave her rusting in the water for perpetuity.

Dolce & Gabbana Baby Perfume: For Your Sexiest Infant

Why not? CBS 3 reports: “High end fashion house Dolce & Gabbana claims they’ve bottled the sweet smell of an infant in its new fragrance “per I bambini” which means “for the children” in Italian and is said to be inspired by the smell of baby’s breath. Patricia Dalton of Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia says like other baby products, the new perfume probably won’t have alcohol or the harsh chemicals found in adult fragrances. “Putting fragrances on babies is not really new. What’s new about this is that there’s no other function except to fragrance the baby,”

In our experience, babies already have intense smells that come with them—either that powdery freshness that only babies have, even when they haven’t been powdered in awhile—or like poop. Lots and lots of angry, angry poop. So the perfume should be nicer than that at least.

Local Drag Cabaret Act Uninvited From School for Being “Inappropriate”

Haddonfield Child Care, a New Jersey after-school program for elementary school kids, booked local drag outfit Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret, to add a “little variety” to an upcoming Dr. Seuss Tribute. Then, mysteriously, a few “powers-that-be” types put the kibosh on the whole thing. Because they’re a drag band? Because Martha is gay? Because…why? Head on over to G Philly to read m ore about the strange reversal. (And brewing blogo-twitter-war?) [Disclosure: Martha Graham Cracker’s Cabaret’s band leader, who features prominently in the hubbub, is a reporter for the Philly Post.] [G Philly]

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