Northeast Times

Story Archive August 01 2012

Letters to the editor: August 1, 2012

He yearns for mild gun-control reformsThe mass shooting in Colorado should motivate our legislators to come together and make sensible reforms to our gun laws. Unfortunately, that is not likely to happen.I predict gun-control advocates will make reasonable proposals like an assault weapons ban and a “one handgun purchase per month” law. But then they’ll overreach and advance unwise laws that do nothing but inhibit law-abiding gun owners from protecting themselves — for instance, designating so many so-called “gun-free zones” that legally carrying a concealed weapon becomes impracticable.On the other side, the gun lobby and the politicians beholden to them will refuse to budge on anything. The mildest reforms will be decried as an assault on fundamental liberty — as if the right to buy 30-round magazines for Glocks belongs on the list of unalienable rights endowed by our creator.Debate will be filled with the same tired bumper-sticker logic and nothing will change. This process will repeat itself after the next massacre and the next one after that.Of course, I hope I’m wrong. I want to see someone step up and say, “I can work with you on no assault weapons and one handgun a month; but now we need to get something done about concealed carry reciprocity.”I yearn for compromise and reforms that hamper madmen and strengthen the citizens to stand up against them. I yearn for politicians who are reasonable enough to make it happen.Matthew McGrathBrookhaven

Editorial: Voter ID is fair

Unless Pennsylvania’s so-called Voter ID law is struck down by the courts before The Big Day — the general election on Nov. 6 — every eligible voter in the Keystone State will be required to show poll workers valid photo ID before they’re permitted to enter the voting booth, thanks to the Republicans in Harrisburg.People who buy the argument that Voter ID is NOT an attempt by the ruling Republicans to suppress the votes of urban Democrats and help presidential candidate Willard Mitt Romney win Pennsylvania also believe that the moon is made of cheese. Mike Turzai, the Republican majority leader in the state House of Representatives, admitted the GOP’s motives just last month.Aside from the Republicans’ obvious ulterior motives, however, Voter ID is a good idea. As proponents point out, citizens must show photo ID in order to purchase alcohol or gun, drive a car or get into the screening line at the airport. Showing valid ID will protect the integrity of the vote by virtually eliminating fraud at the polls.There’s still ample time for unregistered voters to find the necessary documents required to obtain a state-issued Voter ID card. The Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections, and PennDOT can do their part to get folks registered — thereby helping to increase voter participation and aiding the cause of democracy — by sending staffers with mobile electronic machines that verify required documents to senior centers, nursing homes, etc., to sign up voters on the spot.Election Day is more than three months away. May the best-organized political party win.

At the Movies: ‘The Watch’ is a comedy that misses its mark

I tend to believe The Watch would have quickly floated in and out of theaters with little notice if its name hadn’t been changed from Neighborhood Watch in May. That’s because the studio execs at 20th Century Fox didn’t want moviegoers to associate it with the headline-grabbing Trayvon Martin case. That name change (along with pulling some promotional materials from theaters) helped give this movie some press it otherwise would not have had.The commercials make it seem like The Watch is a modern day Ghostbusters. Well, it’s not even close. The similarities are there with a group of guys joining together to defend against an alien invasion. Let’s just say, if there’s something strange in the neighborhood, I’m think it’s safe to assume I’m not gonna call the guys from The Watch.Ben Stiller is Evan, the manager at Costco, who decides to start a neighborhood watch group after the murder of his overnight security guard. Side note: I hope Costco coughed up a lot of money for as many times as the company was featured or mentioned. I would have much rather preferred that Evan worked at a generic warehouse store rather than seeing 20 exterior Costco shots (I didn’t count, but it certainly seemed like that many). And since I just mentioned them three times, where’s my check?Evan is able to recruit bored married guy Bob (Vince Vaughn), police officer reject Franklin (Jonah Hill) and new guy in town Jamarcus (Richard Ayoade) to join his squad of crime chasers. Obviously, they initially assume the culprit is human, but soon learn their suburban Ohio town is inhabited by aliens that plan to take over the world.I grew quite annoyed with Vaughn’s incessant sex jokes (in particular his jokes about a certain male body part). That loud, raunchy guy act may have seemed new and funny in Wedding Crashers, but seven years later, it’s just tired.Stiller seemed kind of bored with it all, and, as the character that supposedly has the strongest moral fiber, he makes some fairly boneheaded decisions.Hill’s had some recent successes with movies like Moneyball and 21 Jump Street, but he also recently missed the mark with The Sitter, and I expect The Watch to similarly be one of his forgotten flicks.It’s British actor Ayoade (who many Americans may not be familiar with) that gets most of the laughs. I’d recommend checking out Ayoade in the British show, The IT Crowd, where he plays a socially awkward computer nerd. He’s hilarious in that.Surprisingly, two of the movie’s writers, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg, brought audiences the much funnier and more memorable Superbad and Pineapple Express. There’s a third credited writer (Jared Stern), but I’m not quite sure we’ll be seeing any more flicks from this writing trio, as Stern’s IMDB profile doesn’t show any upcoming releases.Ultimately, The Watch is paralyzed by its lazy storytelling, overuse of unfunny sex jokes that have nothing to do with the plot and three out of four actors using their same shtick to play basically the same roles we’ve seen time and time again. Movie Grade: D

Dave Attell is a ‘Comedian’s Comedian’

He admitted that his original motivation to perform stand-up comedy was attributed to his indecisiveness as to what he should do after college. Graduating from New York University with a degree in film and television, Dave Attell said he realized he’d probably never go on to become an actor or a director.“And so that’s when I started hanging around comedy clubs in New York during open-mic nights, although I never thought I’d actually become a comic either,” said Attell, 47, who did become a performer and will appear at the Helium Comedy Club on Sansom Street in Center City this Friday and Saturday.During the late 1980s, Attell worked at menial jobs during the day and at comedy clubs on nights and weekends.“I was a kind of a loner, a shy kind of kid who could make his inner circle of friends laugh,” he recalled. “So that’s what sort of kept me going. At home, I loved listening to the records of comics like George Carlin, and I couldn’t stop laughing myself. I loved to laugh, but it took a long time to convince people I was a comic.”After years of honing his craft, and “totally bombing often,” he eventually found himself being described as a “comedian’s comedian.” And while audience members didn’t always follow his delivery, fellow comedians were refreshed by his originality.One of his biggest breaks came in 1993 when he made his first appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman. That appearance was seen by Saturday Night Live creator Lorne Michaels, who recruited Attell to be a writer and occasional performer. He gladly accepted, and two years later found himself featured on two HBO specials, with a half-hour comedy special all his own in 1997.But perhaps he is best known as the host of his own show titled Insomniac with Dave Attell, which ran from 2001 to ’04 on Comedy Central. For that show, Attell went to a particular city at night, starting out with a minute or so of his performance at a comedy club, and then to various bars, landmarks, clubs and so on. The thrill of the show revolved around the bizarre denizens of the night that he encountered, mostly while wandering cities in America and abroad.During most interviews, Attell said he is asked about that part of his life, but never gets tired of talking about it.“To be honest,” he said, “it was such an easy show to do, that there’s not much to talk about. But I do talk about it over and over and over again. It’s kind of my Abu Ghraib prison.“The point is,” he added, “that I came up with the idea for the show, which originally was just supposed to be a fun travel show. It was totally unscripted, with the whole idea behind it being that no one sleeps.”In 2008, Attell began hosting another show, The Gong Show with Dave Attell for Comedy Central. Like the 1970s version, the show had a rotating panel of celebrity judges grading unusual people and their acts — something that Attell was more than familiar with.Today, Attell is the creator and host of Dave’s Old Porn on Showtime, featuring legends of the adult industry, along with such talents as Chelsea Handler, Adam Carolla and Daniel Tosh, who discuss the flicks. The second season will begin airing this fall.Still, he admitted, he loves doing stand-up and appearing at comedy clubs around the country.“Over the years, I’ve been in four films, but I’m not an actor, and I’m not a very good sitcom guy — as producers come to find out,” he said. “Of course, if something came along, I’d jump on it, but I love just being out there, being funny and entertaining people. For me, that’s the best.” For show times and ticket information, call 215-496-9001.

Religious Listings (Aug. 1, 2012)

All Saints Episcopal Church, Rhawnhurst, 1811 Loney St. Handicrafters meet Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. Harmonie Singing Society meets Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. Holy Eucharist services on Sundays at 8 and 10 a.m. Sunday school for children at 10 a.m. 215-342-6310,

Reunions (Aug. 1, 2012)


Trips (Aug. 1, 2012)

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS August dates available. Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Visit U.S. National Parks and Grand Tetons. Packages from $2,249 per person, include sedan service to and from Philadelphia International Airport, airfare, transfers, 11 meals, professional tour guide, visits to Jackson, Yellowstone (Old Faithful), Jackson Hole, Idaho Potato Museum and more. 610-892-9767.

Horoscope (Aug. 1, 2012)

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) A turn in a relationship upsets the amorous Arian, who is puzzled by Cupid’s romantic antics. Be patient and considerate. The confusion soon will sort itself out.

The Crime Log (July 2 through 15)

The Northeast Times provides an overview of crimes reported to the four police districts in the Northeast. The details are based on reports compiled by the Northeast Detectives division of the Philadelphia Police Department.

National Night Out: An evening for neighbors

Town Watch members and their neighbors will see a very different National Night Out next week when thousands of Philadelphia residents gather at locations throughout the city to demonstrate their support for law and order.