Pep Bowling is the Best Bowling


If an underdog bowling movie were made about me, it would mostly be a bunch of montages of me bowling horribly, while my beleaguered mentor (probably played by Emilio Estevez) cringes from the sidelines. My mentor would give me motivational speeches to no effect, and the movie would basically just follow his descent into despair. The feel-good message of the movie would be to just give up. Emilio would probably win an Oscar for the role. It would be a sleeper hit, for sure.


 Anyway, once, in high school, I went bowling with my family and bowled a 15. I’m not proud of it, but that score is indicative of the fact that my bowling skills are not at a level where even believing in myself would make any noticeable improvement on my game.


But the thing is, I still love bowling. And now I love it even more since discovering Pep Bowl in South Philly.


Our friends clued us in to the place: it’s a BYOB in the basement of a nonprofit (Programs Employing People) on Federal and Broad. There are six lanes, almost perfectly preserved in their original 1950s state. This bowling alley is the definition of old school.


We went with our friends and their four year old son, whose presence meant that we could request bumpers without shame. The bumpers made all the difference, and I bowled a totally respectable game, plus two whole strikes! Thanks, imaginary mentor Emilio Estevez!


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Bobblehead Night at the Phillies!


It was Roy Halladay bobblehead night last Friday at the Phillies game. Cheap seats and a free bobblehead! I was on cloud nine. I cannot even tell you how much I love living just five short subway stops away from a major league baseball park.

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Franklin Square

Speaking of Benjamin Franklin (and in Philadelphia it seems like we always are), we visited Franklin Square yesterday for some “Square Burgers” and a round of mini golf.


We’d been avoiding the mini golf at Franklin Square because we were under the impression that it was prohibitively expensive. It’s actually $9 per adult, which isn’t too super offensive.


The course is super well maintained, and we were already in a good mood from the burgers, so maybe that’s how they get away with the price. No regrets here.


The course is Philadelphia-themed, with most of the 18 holes representing a specific Philadelphia landmark.

DH, who takes mini golf most seriously, was very pleased with the difficulty of the course. My overall mini golf strategy is just to hit the ball hard and indiscriminately, so I pretty much enjoy any mini golf course, but this one was super extra cool.


Each landmark came with a little plaque explaining its significance. Our only quibble came with the plaque for the art museum, which listed Rocky’s famous run and then, as an afterthought, mentioned the world-class art. I love Rocky, I do, but can we all agree that that run was a fictional event? It should not be commemorated as real history.


Anyway, we literally had fun for the whole family. It was the perfect way to spend a summer evening.


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Riverboat Tour and Bartram’s Garden


Last weekend we continued our exploration of Philadelphia with a boat ride down the Schuylkill River and a tour of Bartram’s Garden. This was all thanks to Philly Fun Savers, a weekly email I subscribe to with half-off deals for Philadelphia activities. The day I stop being interested in a good coupon deal will be the day I lose interest in life.


We got two separate tours: one on the river, and one at Bartram’s Garden.


But I’m getting ahead of myself.


As you might be able to see from the pictures, Philadelphia has a fairly industrial history. And the Schuylkill has seen boom times (like when the fish were thriving) and lean times (like when the fish all died).


And while it would be nice if everywhere in the US looked all pristine and flawless and all (Oregon, stop making all the other states look bad!), we still need industry, you guys. Like industry to revitalize the river that industry also ruined.


The good news is that fish are back in the Schuylkill now! We saw many of them jumping around, and they didn’t have two heads or shriveled gills or anything.[Just don't eat them.] Industry and progress!


So, the boat took us to Bartram’s Garden (and house). John Bartram was an 18th century Philadelphian, farmer, botanist, and failed Quaker. The Quakers kicked him out because of his alleged Deist beliefs. It was very scandalous, but I guess that’s what you get when you hang out with Benjamin Franklin too much.


John Bartram and his son traveled up and down the eastern seaboard of the US and into Canada, collecting plants and doing scientific stuff, while the ladies of the house stayed home doing cross stitch after cross stitch after cross stitch.


The Bartram garden and home have been preserved by the City of Philadelphia, and are available for your touring pleasure.


One plant in the garden is the Franklinia, named after John Bartram’s friend Frank Linia. Just kidding, it’s named after Benjamin Franklin just like EVERY landmark/bench/school/bridge/ building/museum in Philadelphia. Apparently there were zero other famous mentor and/or father figures in Philadelphia in the 18th century.


Anyway, Bartram and his son discovered the Franklinia, brought it home and planted it, and then it was never found again in the wild. It’s a botanical mystery just waiting to have a book written about it. If it were me, I would call it: “And Then There Were No Franklinia.” So now any Franklinia plants you see are likely related to the one in Bartram’s garden.


We wandered around the gardens for an hour or so, and then we had a tour of the Bartram residence. It began as a modest home, and Bartram added onto it as he grew richer and more insufferable. Actually, he was apparently a very nice man, or at least, that’s what the powerful Benjamin Franklin lobby wants you to believe.


This was all a great way to spend an afternoon. Word to the wise, though, it will make you sleepy. The boat ride was so relaxing, and then we just slow-walked around gardens and an old house. Slow-walking is guaranteed to make you sleepy, a fact I’m reminded of every time I step foot inside a museum and then immediately look for a place to sit and recoup my sapped energy. We went home and took naps.


In conclusion, this post was sponsored by Benjamin Franklin.

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Beer Gardens

Last year the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society opened a pop-up beer garden on Broad Street. We visit many times over the summer, sometimes with Lucille 3 in tow, and we had high hopes that they would open it up again this year. We also had other hopes, too, lest you think that all we do is sit around just wishing for another beer garden to pop-up.

Anyway, they didn’t reopen the garden on Broad Street (all those wasted high hopes!), but they did open a new one on Spruce Street, near Penn’s Landing. Beer gardens on barges are the new big thing.

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Then there’s the Independence Beer Garden (not affiliated with the PHS as far as I know), which sits catty-corner from Independence Hall. This one is more spacious, with more substantial food offerings than the Spruce Street garden, and it also has fire pits!

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And these are just two of the many good beer garden offerings around here. City life is grand.

Now I’m off to attend to my other interests, whatever they may be.


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In the Cit-aaay!

I mostly love living in the city, although after trips to places like Martha’s Vineyard (I’m still pinching myself on that one), it can be hard to come back to the stickiness and humidity of Philadelphia, with its noise, its disheveled Targets, and its insufficient trash receptacles.

But then living here allows us to buy last-minute tickets to a world-class soccer game that’s starting in fifteen minutes, and we can make it there on time. At night, when I’m craving a treat, we can just skip around to the local store that’s open late (one nearby bodega sells my most favorite British candy). This past spring Kids in the Hall came to Philadelphia on tour, and we went to see them perform five minutes away from our place. And summertime strolls end in discovering new and amazing beer gardens and then settling in to chat about all the things we still want to do and see in Philly.


I don’t know where we’ll end up settling down. But if we leave Philadelphia, I know we’ll miss it.


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Champion’s League Preview!

I was reading in bed around noon yesterday (no shame!), and DH peeked his head around the door and asked if I had any interest in cheap seats at an AS Rome v. Inter Milan soccer game. I wasn’t sure.

About half an hour later he came in and said tickets were now $15 a person (including fees – they usually always get you on fees) for front row seats. We’re often way up in the nosebleeds at professional sports games, so front row seats clinched it. Fifteen minutes later we were down in the subway waiting for a train to the stadium.


Philadelphia’s soccer team plays at PPL Park stadium which is a bear to get to if you don’t have a car, but this game was hosted at Lincoln Financial Field, home base of the Eagles. It’s where Champions play and make gobs of money.


The Roma v. Inter Milan game was part of the Guinness International Champions Cup series, which, yes, reeks of commercialism. But how else were we going to see high-ranking European soccer teams play? And for the record, it seems a little incongruous to have Guinness sponsoring event when the only beer available is Bud Light in a can for $8.50.


DH wasn’t kidding when he said first row seats. We were in the very first row, behind the goal.


The turnout for the game was relatively low – DH estimates around 10,000 people – and hence the cheap seats.


But the fans who turned up were very devoted. A group of women behind us had traveled all the way from Montreal just for this game (they were Italian-Canadian). The New Jerseyan teen next to us tried to flirt with them by suggesting they try out a restaurant near his house that serves Montreal cuisine. Maybe this is just me, but if I lived in Montreal and was in Southern PA for a short time, I’d probably consider eating something that I couldn’t already get every day of my life. Whatever, I don’t understand flirting.


Our seats were amazing! We could hear the players yelling at each other (in Italian!), we could hear the dull sound the ball made when it hit players square in the stomach. We also witnessed some fabulous shots on goal up-close, along with one scorcher of a Milan goal in the second half.


We mostly go to see baseball games around here. Compared to those, this soccer game flew by. I’ll probably never be able to sit through a four hour plus baseball game again. Give me soccer or give me the comfort of my own home!

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