Cribs: Mary’s Place

I was wining and dining some friends this week when the question came up: What would you do if you struck it rich?

“Well,” I said, “I’d buy a house with a huge writing room. Lots of books and a dope sound system. Plus a wet bar.”

My suggestion was met with “ooh”s and “yes, you’d love that”s — until my friend Kyle (ever the devil’s advocate) argued, “Why don’t you just write in your apartment?”

“My apartment sucks. There’s a goddamn hole in the ceiling.”

“Mary! It’s a great apartment. Just sit down and write something and stop complaining.”

This got me to thinking about my Center City abode, generally lauded by me and, apparently, my landlord, who refuses to do anything about the hole in said ceiling. But for all its shortcomings — size, pitifully small refrigerator and terrifying basement — it’s a tiny spot in the world that often enough feels like home.

Let’s have a look.


Open the door and you’re immediately overpowered by chartreuse, thanks to the painterly efforts of Rawle and (to a lesser extent) me!


One of the apartment’s main selling points was its large window. The ledge is perfect for perching oneself with a cocktail and a good book.


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Grace-Writing 101

Someone else's grace

Someone else's grace

Tomorrow, my dear friend Lesley is spending Thanksgiving in Connecticut with her (somewhat new) boyfriend Pat’s family, The Mulherns. How loverly.

But there’s a catch! She has been informed that she’s in charge of asking the Lord’s blessing before they put fork to turkey. Needless to say, she has to hit one out of the park.

And so, she turned to her old friend Mary for writerly guidance.


Lesley: wanna help me write a grace for pat’s dinner

me: a grace for pat’s dinner!

i guess it can’t be “rub a dub dub thanks for the grub yay god”

Lesley: i was thinking more thoughtful

like, “let us be thankful today with family and friends, and for this smorgasbord and thank you for letting me join you this weekend, yay god”

me: sounds great to me, i would welcome you into the fam lickety split

maybe you should mention the state of the economy, and how you are so lucky to have this juicy bird in your feast

Lesley: ah yes

me: we will write it on a napkin at the pub tonight


No idea.

No idea.

And so, we met at the POPE (Pub on Passyunk East) for beer, pierogies and Thanksgiving grace brainstorming. We came up with some nice rhetoric about thankfulness, and prayers, and turkeys, and family. All the old favorites. I told Lesley I had enough material to write something great and simple and I’d send it to her tomorrow.

(Parenthetically, Stephen Colbert’s Christmas special was on the TV on mute. We watched as he slayed a bear who’d broken into his Christmas cottage, only to see Elvis Costello emerge from the bear’s wound. They proceeded to sing a song (that we couldn’t hear) Bowie-Crosby style. It made no sense. And juxtaposed with the death metal filling the pub quite nicely.)


And then, it was delivery day!

me: oh lesley i don’t want to work! like

Lesley: work on my grace

me: okay.

here’s a start

As we gather together, let us be thankful for the feast before us, our countless blessings and the love of our families. Let us also think of those who are less fortunate and count them in our Thanksgiving prayers. And a special thank you to the Mulhern family for inviting me into their home this Thanksgiving day. Amen.

how was my grace?

Lesley: very nice

me: thank you

Lesley: i will have to practice

me: yes definitely

So in your Thanksgiving prayers, please save a quiet reflection for Lesley’s Thanksgiving in Connecticut with the Mulherns. And, should Lesley decide to use it, please also pray that none of the Mulherns are editors and tear my grace apart. Happy Thanksgiving!


Greetings from Broad and Locust Streets, Philadelphia.

(L to R) Mary van Ogtrop, Billy Penn, Rawle

Mary, Rawle and Billy Penn

There isn’t really too much to say here. Life is good.

World Series Baseball: Pros and Cons

Beaver Cleaver van Ogtrop

Beaver Cleaver van Ogtrop

My beloved Phillies are in the World Series. That is great news! Or is it?

Pro #1: Mary is writing a shit-ton about the Phillies!

Con #1: The writing is for business, not pleasure (though some bits are more pleasurable than others). You can find all the Phils-tinged literature at and

Pro #2: Beer, roast beef sandwiches and camaraderie galore!

Con #2: The lady is dog-tired. To Chase, J-Roll, The Kid, Ry-Ho and the rest of you clowns: You best win this shizz.

The Winner: Pros, obviously. Philadelphia Phillies, I’m begging you: Please win the World Series. Do it for all us folks promoting you back in the 2-1-5. And yerselves. And the old ladies who stoop it in South Philly while listening to the games on their transistors. And for Broad Street. And the neighborhood kids. And my mom. And T.J. Simers. And the shitforbrains Fox announcers. And the bartenders. And the guy who drives the Chickie and Pete’s crab van down Patteson. And the waitresses at the Mayfair Diner. And Jose Reyes. And the guy in the wheelchair who sings his Phillies song. And Billy Penn. And the Phanatic. And Harry Kalas. Just do it.

Sly is Here to Help!

It’s Hump Day, boys and squirrels. Don’t think you can make it to the weekend?

If Sly Stallone can overcome the hurdle in Over The Top, you can too!

From the Vault

Don't sleep!

Crocs = hilarity

[If you like that , you will love this.]