Monday, June 25, 2012

My other gig: The Top 10 Hottest Women In Their 50's

Yep, you read that correctly.  I have a second writing gig that I shoot all of my non-Philly-related material to. I think that whenever I post a new piece over there, I'll be sure to at the very least post a quick link blog up here so that my readers know that I'm not slacking off.

So this time out over at I created my top ten list of the hottest women over the age of fifty.  I mean why not?  The mature ladies need some love and attention just like the young'uns!  I'd love to get some comments and see if you agree with my list or who you think I may have even forgotten.  Lists are fun because they always spark debate.

With that said, here is the link...and below it, the intro to the list that you'll find at:

I remember being about fourteen and standing in the front row of Veteran’s Stadium in my hometown of Philly for Madonna’s 1987 “Who’s That Girl” tour. When you’re that young and up close to someone that hot, it’s easy to become a lifelong fan, which I am rather unabashedly. To myself and many others (though certainly not everyone) she is beautiful and incredibly talented and we love her. With this knowledge now passed onto you, my friends, is there any wonder at all why I’d be jokingly pissed at my PCS Editor and fellow writing stud Kayode Kendall for sending me the link to an online article entitled “Six-Older Women More F-ckworthy Than Madonna”

Yup, whether we’re here on PopCultureShock or virtually hanging out on Facebook, “Wile E.” Kayode and I are always debating SOMEthing, that much can be said. So while I was insulted that he totally dissed my childhood first love, he got me thinking about older women…HOT older women. And if as they say, the sincerest form of flattery is imitation, then I guess I should thank THE SMOKING SECTION for inspiring me to out-do their list of older women supposedly more hot than my Madonna.

That said, here are the top ten hottest notable 50-year old women who are not Madonna. 

Remember, see the list HERE!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rob Zombie to write and direct a movie based on the Broad Street Bullies!

I just heard this one today while listening to sports radio station 94 WIP and had to look up all the "what nots" the second I got in from the day job.

Apparently, it was an exclusive piece on the website, and if you click that link you'll be taken to their full piece. The gist of it though is that Rob Zombie has landed the rights to and will write/produce/direct a movie about our legendary hometown Philly hockey heroes from the 70's, the Broad Street Bullies.  What comes as an even bigger surprise to me is that he also reportedly has the full support of the franchise.  C'mon, imagine for a second (if you will) a photo opp something to the effect of Zombie flanked by old-timer brass like Paul Holmgren and owner Ed Snider. Could there be a more odd trio?

For those who only know Rob Zombie as a musician, he has created films such as "House of 1000 Corpses," "The Devil's Rejects" and more recently the "Halloween" I and II remakes.  While it is obvious that the man likes horror films (even more so if you know his music!) the man has a genuine love for all things dirty and from the seventies.  When I say "dirty" I'm not talking smut here, but the obvious definition of the word...and hell, take a look at a photo from the Broad Street Bullies days and tell me if those were pretty boys. As odd as it sounds, this could be a really well matched creator and concept.

There must have already been 30 sites when I Googled up the information and all of them are stating the same thing, so I don't feel too bad in saying a little more info since everyone else pilfered it from  Zombie likened his take on the film as something like "Rocky" meets "Boogie Nights."  Again, it couldn't get more perfect than this! Also mentioned as potential story elements were the game against the Soviet Union's Red Army team, where the Flyers beat them up so badly the Russkies walked off the ice in the FIRST PERIOD and threatened not to play anymore...until they were told they wouldn't be paid.

Yeah, this is gonna be nothing but increasingly more interesting to read up on each time a news bit drops somewhere on the internet.  Hopefully Philly will get some excellent film representation and perhaps a Flyers alumni cameo or two.  But the story possibilities seem endless on this one.

If you have yet to see it, you'll want to watch HBO's brilliant "Broad Street Bullies" documentary, which'll totally fill you in (I'm sure) on what to mostly expect in the Zombie-created film.  I've watched it repeatedly and you will too, even if you're not a fan of the team! you just don't see hockey or people like that anymore.

Consider me hyped.  Get to work on that script Rob!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The 2012 Great Chefs Event in words and visuals

This entry is the full on follow up to the blog I posted up last week speaking about what the then upcoming event was all about.  Just in case ya'll didn't see it...

The 2012 Great Chefs Event benefits Alex's Lemonade Stand and aids in funding pediatric cancer research. Hosted by the Vetri Foundation For Children, this annual event features a host of the world's top chefs all donating their valuable time for the cause at hand.  There were silent auctions for items ranging from bottles of wine, to cookbooks to autographed memorabilia by the Phillies Hunter Pence.  For a brief time there was a live auction where attendees could bid on higher-end items like a twenty course dinner from Philly favorite, Chef Michael Solomonov, that included lots of wine (can you say 2 bottles of 2003 Dom Perignon among them).  Ever dream of having dinner with chefs Marc Vetri and Mario Batali up in NYC at Birreria?  Yep, that was up for grabs too. It was truly amazing to hear the bidding on these few items; 19K, 25K and all that cash going right to Alex's Lemonade! Before the night was over we'd hear an announcement that over a million dollars had been raised due in large part to the commitment of the people putting on the fundraiser. People like Alex's mother Liz Scott, who spoke to the audience before the auctioning began, reading all of us the eulogy she read at her daughter's funeral. People like Food Network television host Marc Summers (a member of Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation's Board of Directors) and Chef Marc Vetri; two folks who I swear made clones of themselves so that they could be in all places at all times during the event, talking and being general ambassadors of the evening's cause.  Certainly not to be left off the mentions list are people and groups like the Five Below retail chain of "trend-right, extreme-value merchandise" who found it in their corporate hearts to donate a check worth two hundred thousand dollars.

Indeed, there were great food and drinks. There were celebrity chefs, financial tycoons and hot women; all necessary parts of big event-style parties.  But what will forever differentiate this high-end culinary bash was the ceaseless generosity on all levels and that is what made it a night I won't soon forget...and look forward to attending again next year.

But "where are the photos," I'm sure you're asking?  "Where is your usual narrative?"  Duh! It is right here, my friends:

I arrived at the party straight from my day job, which I hadn't eaten at in preparation for the night's chow down. After skulking about for a moment or two the first thing I had to eat was offered up by Chef Marco Canora, co-owner of "Hearth" in New York.  It was a slider-sized smoked beef brisket sandwich with beer mustard and pickles and it was out of this world! The brisket was so tender...that crispy pickle was a perfect contrast and set the bar for what I'd try the rest of the night. Chef Canora had me hyped!

Hype? Hell I was also thirsty now and after a stressful workday, in need of an adult beverage.  Who better than hometown Philly brewers Yards to supply me with a nice cold glass of their seasonal Saison to quench my thirst and calm my nerves?  We spoke for a time and I can promise you all that sooner rather than later I'll have a full blog dedicated to a tour of their facility and a drinking of many of their beers.  Can't wait to hang out with this personable bunch again!

For a geek like me, some of the highlights were seeing people I watch all the time on television. Despite it being criminal, I didn't taste the wares of Iron Chefs Masaharu Morimoto and Jose Garces but it didn't make it any less exciting to see them.  I've eaten at their restaurants plenty of times so I didn't feel that cheated.  What made me feel a little ripped off was that I found Charm City Cakes owner Chef Duff Goldman doing what I was doing - wandering around the event and sampling all the yummies - instead of "working" and giving me a taste of one of his incredible cakes!  Yes, I jest. I chatted with Duff for a few minutes, asking him about what he'd been up to since his "Ace of Cakes" series wrapped.  He told me he'd been working lots in California to firmly establish "Charm City Cakes West" and basically enjoying life without the time restrictions of making TV.  He'd lost some weight from being able to hit the gym and came off every bit as laid-back-everyman that television portrayed him as.  When I brought up the topic of television being a necessary evil to him at this point, in true Duff-style he told me that, "not to sound douche-y" but at this point his "brand is strong enough" without any more television visibility.  He couldn't have said it better in my opinion.

Marc Summers, Duff Goldman,Jeff Michaud, Jeff Benjamin

Time for more food! I was on a slider kick, which brought me over to Chef Rocco Whalen, owner of Cleveland, Ohio's "Farenheit," "Rocco's at the Q" and "Rosie & Rocco's".  The chef and his crew were serving up char-grilled lamb sliders on a brioche bun with a mint & lemon glaze. Lamb and mint together are the equivalent of chocolate and peanut butter, so this was a no-brainer.  But those little gems of lamb were cooked perfectly and remained nice and juicy.  It was so hard to not grab a second and I think that observation could be said for others too.  While I stood at Chef Whalen's table eating my slider there were two others standing there ravenously doing the same.  I wish someone had a photo of the three of our most serious faces as we ate.

Before this eve I never heard of Monks / Russian River Brewing Company, but I can tell you I won't soon forget them.  The unique taste their Supplication Ale (7% ABV) had from sour cherries and being aged in used Pinot Noir barrels was right up my alley.  It was crisp and refreshing in a totally different way than I was used to as a drinker of many Belgian whites. Additionally, I'm a real fanatic for fruit beers and even off just one glass, I'd easily place this one in my imaginary top five.

Though I wanted to drink more, I forced myself to continue alternating between food then drink.  This time I needed to devour some of Chef Michael Schlow's fantastic Super Mac N' Cheese from his restaurant "Tico" in Boston, Massachusetts. Those crispy breadcrumbs we the real clincher for me.  Serrano ham is always nice, as is a really creamy cheese and veggies.  This is one I'm going to attempt to replicate at home, being a mac and cheese mad scientist myself.

And then I deviated...

There was a momentary opening where the Shake Shack gang was handing out burger halves and unlike my journey to their location up in the city, I made it into this line and got me a half of a Shack Burger.  Boy, let me tell you...this burger was freaking OUTSTANDING!  Check out my previous blog about the Shack to see, albeit playfully, I was a little skeptical about how tasty their burger would be, especially being across the street from Iron Chef Garces' "Village Whiskey" and it's signature "Whiskey King."  But I will tell you without a single joke or snicker, Shake Shack's burger is the real deal and certainly enters into my later in the year "best burger" competition.  Culinary Manager Mark Rosati (center in below image) and his gang are a welcome addition to the Philly foodscape.  My only regret is that I never tasted the "Lemon Meringue Pie" custard they also brought. What is wrong with me? (don't answer that)

Joe Campanale is partner and Beverage Director of New York's "L'Artusi", "Anfora" and "Ellabess." On this night he was making and shaking a blueberry bourbon lemonade and told me it may have been one of the simplest drinks he'd ever made.  Just as I told him, sometimes there is perfection in simplicity. Joe's drink was the only beverage at the event that I had more than one of. Unfortunately I drank them so fast that I never shot a photo!

Since I had been close by, I thought it high time to pay Brooklyn Brewery a visit.  They were offering their company's Summer Ale, as well as an exclusive beer that they make for Shake Shack, Shack Meister Ale.  I took a swig of their seasonal and left the exclusive for when I finally made it to the real Shack.

There was one more thing that I had to try before I called it a night and that would be Chef Suzanne Goin's s'mores. Look at these things! I stood there and had no shame in eating three in a matter of seconds.  Some people were being nice and taking it in bites. Sorry, I don't work that way. I just popped those suckers into my mouth whole and chewed'em up. That dark chocolate and melty marshmallow was sweet, sweet heaven and the perfect finish to my dining.

The finish to my blog will be a simple photo and caption ending because there were a lot of sights where I may not have interacted.  That doesn't mean I shouldn't show'em off!  If you've got the cash, be on the lookout for this event in 2013, it is well worth the price of entry and never forget that your dough is being spent for a great cause in Alex's Lemonade Stand in their fight against childhood cancer.

Liz Scott

Michael Solomonov and friend

Marc Vetri and friend

Gina DePalma's little lemon olive oil cake

Monday, June 11, 2012

Hemsworth and Shatner at Wizard Philly 2012 oh my!

Before I jump into my personal brand of coverage, I'd just like to note that I did a piece right after the convention that my friends at PopCultureShock were happy to post up on their site. If you haven't checked it out (and shame on you if you're a friend of mine!) then give it a looky sometime because it'll have photos of famous people that I won't be posting here in my blog.

Now then.

Thanks must go out to Wizard for putting on a fabulous 2012 Philadelphia show, which has got to be the best and most talent-laden comic con they've ever hosted here in the city. When you're bringing in the likes of current box-office sensation Chris Hemsworth (Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman), the current reigning WWE champion CM Punk and assembling all the Captains from the various Star Trek series,  you're just commanding the attention of a lot of different fan bases as well as age groups.

That said, I believe I made mention in my coverage of "preview night" about how much I loved the set up of the convention floor and how it made wandering aimlessly for hours pretty darned easy.  Comic venders and comic creators flanked all the media guests who were lined up mostly in the center isle of the show that was also wide enough to accommodate many of the fans who came dressed up and looked good enough to draw crowds of their own. While it was true Saturday was crazy packed, it never felt like one was in a sardine can and that is always nice for your con-going mental state.  Perhaps once the whole weekend was a forced in close enough to a fanboy who didn't have enough/any deodorant...that is seriously saying something!

So as I sit here looking at the images I'd like to post and remembering things out of order, let me begin with a shot that I know I snapped on Friday.  This happy couple happens to be mutually uber-talented artists Boris Vallejo and Julie Bell.  Check out their site and feast your eyes on some truly breath-taking art when you get a moment! Julie and Boris were there only for Friday, but boy did they have their work cut out for them.  I waited about twenty minutes for this shot because someone had given Boris about 100 things to sign.  One day there'll be limits to that stuff...I felt bad for the guy having to sign so much and the fans behind the one guy because they were just as stuck as I was.

Here is "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Tombstone" alumni Jason Priestly along with a fan who had him sign her old, still in the box "Brandon" doll.  I was hoping to chat with Jason about a con that he and I attended back in the 90's when I got a free photo with him, but his handler was a little too militaristic for me.  I snapped a couple of quick shots from the designated area his handler allowed me to stand in ("no posed photos, sorry") and I was outta there.  I did see Jason later on though, as he was perusing a vendor booth loaded with zombie-related merchandise. His handler was about twenty feet ahead and didn't notice he was so whacked out, that his talent was no longer with him.

 I missed Chris Hemsworth's first show appearance but went over to his booth to check and see when he'd be there again.  Lo and behold his whole area was loaded up with fans.  When I checked who they were waiting for, the name CM Punk came from about five or so very excited fans holding anything from folding chairs to replica title belts for the WWE Superstar to sign.  See, this dude was so insanely popular that not only did he fill his own booth's area, but the run off filled up Hemsworth's booth while he wasn't there and it kept going even longer. Hands down, this wrestler had the longest line I've ever seen at a comic convention; no exaggeration. Check out these shots of the crowd as well as the man himself.  Though I have long ceased watching wrestling, it was no less exciting to be over at CM Punk's booth.  His fans were rabid and you could tell he loved it and fed off it. Also, I'd like to note that he was one of the least expensive autographs/photographs at the show considering how popular he was, which is genius because the low price only brought in more fans.

A couple of Star Wars fans were dressed up pretty freakin' cool so I had to nab them as they strolled the literal red carpet.  I felt a little bad for the male because he'd been more or less pushed to the side by someone who wanted a podcast with the female trooper who accompanied him. I wanted them both so I waited for the mini-interview to end, in the meantime I shot the close up that shows in all probability what group of Star Wars fans he belongs with. (I could be and likely am...wrong here.)

In addition to the SW fans, there were a few other outfits that caught my fickle eye, so check out a couple families costuming it up as well as a kickass "Iron" Spider-man, Rogue and the unbelievable Chewbacca. My personal favorites were the Lebowski and Duke duo, if only because I wondered how many people even knew what their outfits were from.  It only got better when I asked if they minded if I shot a photo and the Duke, in spot on Depp mimicry said "Fuck yeah man go ahead."

After a period of two and a half hours in which I stood in the same place, I finally got to see Chris Hemsworth and my man-crush was realized.  He is pretty tall in person, though not as physical a presence (obviously) as he is in his action/fantasy films.  Chris seemed genuinely into being there and interacted with his fans almost non-stop from the second he came out to sit and sign, playfully rolling his sleeves up as if to get to work. What amazed me was his presence. I found myself disappointed that I wasn't waiting in line with everyone else to get my photo with the dude!  Despite his costing over $100 his line was jam packed and there were just as many men as woman...though many a male fan could be seen holding a Thor hammer for Hemsworth to sign.

The part that I'd like to say shocked me was the lack of a mob scene at the Star Trek captains area.  Now remember, this is only my observations and I wasn't there at their area all day.  But I can say that when select captains were alone at another area it seems much more crowded than when I got to experience all five in the same row all signing together at their own tables.  If anyone reading was there for the Trek gang please comment and give me and other readers the lowdown!  But in my experience, with the exceptions of William Shatner and Patrick Stewart it just didn't seem like the event they may have hoped it would be.  I shot a few photos of my favorite aforementioned two and had to get one of Avery Brooks as well.  The man formely known as Ben Sisko and and Hawk (from Spence for Hire) is also the voice of so many documentaries that I've seen...dude is cool as hell and he is nearing 65!

It is always good catchin' up with my buddy Charles P. Wilson, who is an artist and does a book that I'm fanatical about called The Stuff of Legend. If you've never checked it out, treat yourself to a trade paperback of one of the mini-series currently out.  There is a gorgeous French hardcover available too, but I don't read in French!  *laughs* Charles, you and the gang need to make an American hardcover STAT! When I stopped by his table he was sketching out a commission piece along the lines of his recent "Pooh" influenced superhero work.  (yes, see the link!)

This was how most of my time was spent over the weekend.  When I wasn't chatting it up with friends, I was in the media area. Sometimes I was treated incredibly (thank you to lovely ladies Shannon Elizabeth and Kristy Swanson) and sometimes I was treated not so incredibly.  So if you see I'm missing a photo of anyone for my coverage or the one I have on PCS that you need to see -COUGH Sam Trammell COUGH- just remember it isn't necessarily because the actor/actress declined. It has very much to do with their handlers and how worthy they deem you, the writer/photographer to be in terms of allowing you access to their cash cow. Bitter? Never.  A standardized proxy for all press in meeting all talent when a show is being covered would just be perfect. It was the closest thing I could have to a complaint, but it isn't the show's fault and not fully the talent's either.

Saturday night was the big GeekNation party which was held at the Field House, roughly two blocks away from the convention center. I didn't hang around long enough to catch the arrival of the "Boondock Saints" but I was there to catch up with Ralph from Zenescope who is my faux mortal enemy. I also made some new acquaintances that I need to find here on the internet and get in touch with...but on this night?  I was rockin' the Geek Carpet with actress Clare Kramer! 

Yeah, life is good.  Oh yeah, see directly below for Wizard World Philly's dates in 2013!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Much ado about Philly's new Shake Shack

I had every intention today of walking into the city as I tend to do when I'm off from work or doing a little weekend exercise and sitting down to eat at the new Shake Shack on the corner of 20th & Sansom.  The advance hype for the place was somewhat high among my foodie friends and my experience with their Oatmeal Creme Pie custard was nothing sort of heavenly so I expected it to be busy there.  Additionally, I remember all the talk up in NYC about their website having surveillance cameras displaying the lines of people in wait so that folks could project whether or not they could make a purchase from the Shack in advance of getting there only to find shock and awe.

Well...I found shock and awe this afternoon when I finally arrived at that corner where the newest installment to the Shake Shack family set up shop. The line was gargantuan and I can freely admit that in all the times I've ever gone to eat somewhere or just wanted to eat at a particular place here in Philly, I have never encountered a line that long. Admittedly, I happened to get there at 12:30 in the afternoon on a Friday so that may have been one of the most inopportune times.  Consider that they eatery is still only just two days old.  It is a payday for many city workers and it is the beginning of the weekend for many of us lucky enough to not work weekends. Yeah, I should have planned this out a little better.

Unfortunately, this time out there will be no photos of delicious custard or what I'm sure must be tasty burgers.  All you'll see is that huge line that I ran into. 

All that I can make note of was how helpful the one Shack employee was who got the job of standing outside with the line, passing out menus to those who wanted to see it and make their choices before they gained entrance.  The guy was really friendly and helpful, almost never ceasing to walk up and down the line checking with people and letting them know what they average wait time was from where they stood. He told me that while the Philly Shake Shack may have been packed pretty much since the time they opened two days ago, he'd experienced 2 1/2 hour wait times in New York - this forty minute wait wasn't really that bad.

A small cackle went off inside my head that I stifled so as not to seem like a douche.  Surely, he didn't know there were a TON of excellent burger joints in Philly.  Why would I stand in line and wait nearly an hour when there was a place that literally housed my favorite burger in the city right across the street? The Shack worker then helped me out as we stood there for a moment close to the entry door.  When I asked him when were the crowds at their lightest, he told me that during the week around 3-5 in the afternoon looked to be the smallest.  I thanked him for his help and bid him a good day.

With a few events coming up that will be keeping me busy, I plan to totally take him up on his recommendation and hit up Shake Shack in the late afternoon for perhaps an early dinner.  Though I was a little disappointed today, it didn't deter me from wanting the Shack experience in the least bit.  If anything I'm a little more excited about my first time dining there because of the insane line it had!

To nail it home a little better about how spot on that Shack worker was...a good pal of mine, Mary Brickthrower dined there today.  We were supposed to eat together but she feared what became my reality from arriving too early in the day.  What time did she get there?  Right around 3 pm.  The text I received after she finished was:  "Oh em gee...SO good!"

Damn, how I hate not being the first kid on my block.