Category Archives: Children’s Books

Mankell: Whose Troubles Comforted Us

At 67, this isn’t fair. No more Mankell. No more Wallender. And yes, I know the Swedish writer retired his  chief detective inspector with the final book in the series, The Troubled Man, the one I read first, the one that started me on the spare and splendid series. Those of us who loved the moody character always hoped he would return, we couldn’t get enough of Kurt Wallender. We binged on Kenneth Branagh’s “Wallender,” then preferred the Swedish version: Krister Henricksson who to my inner ear and eye best caught the ever-searching, love clumsy policeman. Continue reading Mankell: Whose Troubles Comforted Us

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Dear Friends,

Sadly, since mid-September I’ve been off the air on WRTI, 90. 1 FM, a part-time gig I was privileged to enjoy for precisely one decade. I thank you for your listening & reading support. This blog & its earlier version (NotesfromPhilly@wordpress) were begun to document the WRTI scripts when they were removed from the radio website in favor of podcasts only.

I’ve plans to expand the blog into a website so please stay tuned.  The hope is to use it to explore my passion for working with writers (and readers!) of all levels.

For the past two years,  I’ve been working with a few individuals as a writing coach in my home studio:  short-story, creative non-fiction, journalism, beginning poetry.  The process is reciprocally invigorating; it takes me back to my days as a piano and music appreciation teacher only now the lessons are literary.

My workshop in the very short essay: Delight! Writing the Pleasures, (based on the miniature reflections of J.B. Priestley) will be offered in January at the Muse House Center in Chestnut Hill; it is also expected at the South Philadelphia (Fuomo) Branch of the Free Library. I would love to see you here,  there or in my Alder Street Studio.

Finally,  I have embarked on Warren Wilson College’s low-residency MFA Program for Writers in Poetry. For me, a conservatory graduate, Warren Wilson is the Juilliard or Peabody of writing schools, a daunting challenge for the third act of this critic’s life.

Here’s to writing practice!

With cordial thanks, dear readers,


Charlotte’s Web at The Arden

Charlotte’s Web, The Arden Theater, (previews: Nov 30-Jan 29, 2011. Review of Opening: Dec. 2, 2011, on WRTI, 90.1 Fm

Aubie Merrylees makes some pig. Terrific, radiant, definitely humble, on stage at the Arden Theatre for his debut in Charlotte’s Web. Innocent and round-eyed, Merrylees has a way of looking at Fern who saves the runt from her father’s axe that’s just like the book. Fern Arable is played by the endearing Emilie Krause. John Arable by Charlie Delmarcelle, whose roles include some of the E.B. White  narration, a mean harmonica and sweet guitar.

Mr. and Mrs. Arable (Leah Walton) also play goose and gander in the Zuckerman’s barn which is more than a hoot.

White’s classic – adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette – is must-see for families –even for singles – this holiday.

As for Charlotte, the talented spider couldn’t be bettered: Sarah Gliko, perfectly costumed by Rosemary McKelvey, plays the empathic arachnid, sliding down a rope in the barn. Everything from her black bob to her manner is Charlotte, through and through.

The Arden production relies far more on thespian imagination than costume for animals and people in the Arable and Zuckerman barns.  Wilbur on his knees or standing is the soul of a pig or boy in need of a friend.

Christopher Colucci’s sound design brings the story together under David Gordon’s mockup of a barn with real hay and dirt. Nine actors switch from animals to humans and it’s a wonder how little we need (in the way of costumes, props) to know when we are hearing sheep, geese, pigs or humans speaking.  Imagination is all.  Excellent Brian Anthony Wilson slides from Homer Zuckerman, who hopes to fatten Wilbur to  a convincing sheep or blue- ribbon pig.

One surprise is Anthony Lawton. Lawton’s played the Arden but never  the Arden’s children’s theater. He’s a natural as Templeton the Rat, as churlish as felon as you’d want, tail swinging from beneath long coat… Whit McLaughlin directs Charlotte’s Web. Do go!