Pulse: 60-Second Critic: March 2006

Jerry Blavat: The Lost Episodes
($20; call 215-923-0550)

In the year 3420, alien beings digging through the lifeless terrain of our once great planet will unearth this DVD of footage of the Geator from TV shows he hosted between 1966 and 1991. They’ll see handsome, clean-cut Jerry in 1967 on The Discophonic Scene, leading 2,000 kids in frenzied hopping at North Philly’s Wagner Ballroom. They’ll see Too-Cool Jerry rapping with Marvin Gaye and Sonny and Cher on The Jerry Blavat Show. Mutton-chopped and bell-­bottomed Jerry on Jerry’s Scene. An aging but still beautiful Jerry in 1991 interviewing Martha Reeves and Frankie Valli via his Geatorphoneovision, interspersed with bad-haired Aztec Club dancers bopping to his beats. And it is then that Jerry Blavat will finally be recognized as the incredibly cool god he is. As the DVD case reads: They came. They saw. They grooved. Grade: A+ —Victor Fiorillo

Philadelphia Will Do

When we heard Philadelphia Weekly was starting a blog, we expected an electronic version of the hipster bar-and-DJ guide we stopped reading in the middle of Senior Week. We were wrong. PW has given birth to a vigorous, hungry young cub, Philadelphia Will Do, whose author, Daniel McQuade, the 23-year-old son of a Daily News sports editor, first grabbed attention by posting drafts of the Inky’s tortured buy-out memos. He has since feasted on the follies of everything from car wrecks to Metro typos to Rick Mariano’s observation-deck escapade. When there’s no news to mock, he nods to the tabloids and runs cute photos of puppies. If McQuade keeps a lid on his fascination with all things sexual and his reflexive use of “Yay!” and “Aww,” he’ll challenge Will Bunch for lordship of our grapefruit-sized blogosphere. Grade: B+ —Mattathias Schwartz

Family Planning
By Elizabeth Letts
(NAL Accent; $12.95)

As we meet Charlotte Hopper, an overworked nurse-­practitioner at a women’s health clinic in rural Pennsylvania, she’s trying hard to serve her mostly poor patients and hold her crumbling marriage together. The emotional stakes rise quickly: Charlotte’s discovery of a dead baby in the clinic’s dumpster focuses police and media scrutiny on the small band of women who staff the struggling office, and her husband deserts her when a college roommate makes an unwelcome reappearance. Further—at times baroque—complications seem to be building toward shocking yet satisfying revelations, but stock characters and a “secret” that barely lives up to the name keep this second novel by Chester County nurse-midwife Letts from delivering much in the way of depth or poignancy. Grade: C- —Lillian Haas

Mommy Wars
Edited by Leslie Morgan Steiner
(Random House; $24.95)

Pain comes through loud and clear in these essays about tensions between working and stay-at-home moms. Contributions from authors Susan Cheever, Iris Krasnow and Jane Smiley, Lizzie McGuire creator Terri Minsky, and journalists who include Philly Mag senior editor Sandy Hingston show how every mother’s decision to work or not work is complicated by life: depression, alienation, sleep deprivation, nanny woes. There’s the distinct possibility of insanity whether you stay behind a stove or a desk. The writers aren’t focused so much on defining one “right” decision as on the bitterness of the battle: Shouldn’t we support each other’s choices instead of sabotaging one another? The 27 contributors to this compelling book agree to disagree, while inner and outer battles continue to rage. Grade: A —Kate McGrath