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Dickens Impersonator Contest

The Philadelphia Library is hosting a Charles Dickens Impersonation Contest. I think Charles Dickens is one of my favorite authors, so I’m totally interested. Although the contest is on a Monday at 10:30 am, so that kind of counts me out for viewing and participating.

Here’s what contestants have to do:

Part 1: Present a brief monologue as Charles Dickens
To begin the audition, we will ask that each contestant presents to the panel a brief monologue as Charles Dickens. The monologue can be invented or taken directly from his personal commentary and reflections, and should last no more than two minutes.

Part 2: Act out a scene as one of Charles Dickens’s well-known literary characters
An avid performer, Dickens undertook a series of dramatic public readings where he assumed the roles of his characters. Each contestant will be asked to perform a brief scene from one of Dickens’s works as he would have.

Part 3: Q&A from celebrity panel of Judges
Each contestant will go through a fast-paced Q&A session conducted by celebrity judges. Questions will range from general information on Dickens’s life and works, to ways in which he will make literature exciting for new audiences and generations to come. Contestants should come armed with a working knowledge of Dickens facts and information.

Love it! Although on further inspection, the activity is actually called the “Dickens Idol Contest,” inspired by American Idol. Maybe not so cool. But a fun idea anyway.

Here are the details on the Free Library of Philadelphia‘s Blog!


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Family all around me, what a wonderful night

Seems to me there is more than the usual pooh-poohing of Christmas this year. True, Santa and all the glitter-spangled gluttony he has come to represent is a far cry from the third century bishop who reportedly gave his inheritance to the poor (according to Jesus’ words, “sell what you own and give to those in need”), but the deeper meaning of the holiday remains. Does it matter much that Jesus was more likely to have been born in a desert in early spring than in a snowy, glowy, Thomas Kinkade vision of Bethlehem? To me, no it doesn’t. Christmas and other “midwinter” holidays have a more subliminal purpose, although it’s true that the modern Christmas mania seems to more closely resemble the revels of Saturnalia than the humble birth of a peasant in the desert. (Maybe except for the orgies.)

The re-aligning of the birth of a Savior of the world with the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, makes sense to me. Winter is cold, and dark. Many of the indigenous people of the northern hemisphere had a festival that attempted to keep the cold at bay by bringing community together and celebrate the lengthening of the days. Good cheer is necessary on the coldest of nights, and a fire in the hearth with good company can help to stall the deepest winter blues. And if you have none of those, there is always the hope that out of the darkness will come a superhero, a supreme being, a Savior, to light the way in times of confusion, loneliness and despair. Gladys Herdman in “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” sums it up well: “Shazam! Out of the darkness, right? Out of the black night, right?” Whether your Savior is Santa Claus or Jesus, or someone else entirely, we could all use another reason to hope.

And in defense of Santa, he is a bit of an easier concept to grasp for kids. Be good and you’ll be rewarded. When you’re a kid you get that you’ll be rewarded with presents. The concept of being rewarded with eternal life in heaven comes later (sometimes). I would hazard a guess that most people raised as Christians (or secularly) remember when they stopped believing in Santa, and for many it was probably the beginning of the end of childhood. “How drear would be the world if there were no Santa,” wrote the Sun editor to young Virginia all those years ago. And that’s true–a friend of my parents, retired, gives of his (real) snowy white beard to the cause of Believing In Santa during the month of December. It seems to be one of the highlights of his year.

While I don’t think I can properly call myself a Christian anymore, the Christmas season is a reason for me, too, to welcome a light in the darkness, and stomp my boots on the doorsteps of friends before warming my hands–and my soul–in their home. Merry Christmas, friends. Namaste.

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What 3 independently owned businesses wuld you miss?

Was at The Treehouse for a writers group this week. Saw a reference to the 3/50 project. Took me awhile to figure out what it was, but finally realized it was a movement to support locally owned businesses in the community. Nice!

What 3 locally owned businesses would you miss if they disappeared? Stop in & say hello; pick up some necessities rather than running to the Mega Chain, or buy something that brings a smile. “Locally owned” can be Storefront Retailers, who sell physical products; Other Brick & Mortar businesses, like restaurants or salons; and Franchises, like Hallmark, or Ace Hardware, that are independently owned but carry a brand/chain name.

The 50 is that if 50% of the employed population spent $50 a month in a locally owned business, over $42 billion would be generated in revenue. That figure apparently comes from a 2009 report from the US Labor Department.

And the other fun fact is that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 is returned to the community in the form of taxes, payroll, etc. If it’s a national chain, only 43%. Buying online brings nothing back to the community. Gulp.

I thought about my 3, and it’s pretty sad that I am having a hard time thinking of local businesses I go to a lot. I know the Treehouse would be one, and I love the Ace Hardware in Wilmington VT. There’s one in Westmont; think I’ll go there instead of Lowe’s next time I need some hardware! For the third. Hm. I can think of a lot of places I’d be sad to hear went away, but not really ones I frequent. So I guess that means I’d better start, eh?

1. Abbey Road — Music store across from the Treehouse. Some nights they play jazz into the street over the PA. Cool. I don’t really buy music anymore, but I should at least stop in, I think.

2. Ritz Theater — in Westmont. They had financial trouble a few years ago but incorporated as a non-profit and now receive grant funding. 2010 is the 25th anniversary season and the builiding is on the National Register of Historic Places. Great little bit of history. I volunteered here as an usher when I was in middle school, but haven’t been back in years. Ooh and look, they’re showing The Producers and Spamalot this season! Guess I’ll get tickets; would hate to see this old theater go the route of the Harwan. (100-year-old theater in Mt. Ephraim, torn down to build a Walgreens. Horrifying.)

3. I’ll say Lite-N-Up and John’s Friendly Market, both on Station Ave in Haddon Heights. John is in his 80s, and his “office” is a cushy desk chair in the middle of the canned goods aisle. He’s there every day. Great hoagies & deli. Lite-N-Up is owned by friends of the family, home made water ice and ice cream. Where I discovered chocolate covered bananas!

Ok there are my three, plus the Treehouse! Might as well add the Bishop’s Collar & the Ugly Moose, two places in Philly I like but haven’t been in ages. Hm, and now I’m thinking of the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, Woolplay, the Pop Shop, Philadelphia Java Company, Chapter House….good to know there are more local places I frequent than I thought.

What are your three? 🙂 The 3/50 Project

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