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November 17, 2006

In Philly

Briefly: Traveling yesterday was an unremitting vortex of suck thanks to the weather -- I got into Philly six hours late and rather more jostled than I would have liked to have been -- but once I got here things picked up, and I had dinner with Charlie Stross and then hung out with a bar with Charlie, MaryAnn Johanson, and MaryAnn's next door neighboor whose name my brain steadfastly refuses to offer up, possibly under protest that it's almost 10am and I've not caffeinated yet. You're about to get a paddlin' for that, brain.

I'm off to get ready for a lunch-time chat at a local high school -- that's right, I'm going to spew "wisdom" to Teh Kidz -- and then maybe I'll, oh, I don't know, sight see or something. Anyway, I'll be back later.

Posted by john at November 17, 2006 09:38 AM

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Steve Buchheit | November 17, 2006 10:07 AM

Natural History Museum, excellent for geeking (or was when I was a kid). The Liberty Bell and Independence Square (if you haven't seen it). They also used to give tours down at the Navy docks. If you haven't seen an aircraft carrier up close and personal you just have no idea how frickin' big those things are.

Have fun warping, I mean, educating teh kidz!

ship | November 17, 2006 10:30 AM

check out chinatown if you get the chance. it' not like new york but still a cool place with alot of great food

ship | November 17, 2006 10:31 AM

check out chinatown if you get the chance. it's not like new york but still a cool place with alot of great food

Michelle | November 17, 2006 10:42 AM

You are right in my neck of the woods. You should go to the Franklin Institue; it is fantastic (and nerdy in a good way!) The Museum of Art is an incredible experience. The best ice cream: Franklin's Fountain on 2nd and Market (coconut is the best.) Best resturant in the city, Buddakan on Chestnut Street, followed closely by Amada, also on Chestnut. Philly is a amazing city. Luckily the weather has cleared up. Oh, you HAVE to go to Reading Terminal Market (12th and Filbert) There are so many incredible vendors. If you must do a cheesesteak, go to King's steaks in the Market and get Basset's ice cream for dessert (respberry truffel is the best.)
Enjoy the city!

Emily | November 17, 2006 10:53 AM

Go to the Mutter Museum. Freaky and awesome.

Kevin Downing | November 17, 2006 10:56 AM

I second the Mutter Museum recommendation - truly unique as meseums go.

I must take umbrage with the cheesesteak rec though - I am a Pat's man through and through.

Scalzi - any chance you're making any public appearances in the Philly area? Did I miss this PR announcement? Would love to come by and say hi if you're doing a reading or signing.

Steve Buchheit | November 17, 2006 11:03 AM

For those in the Philly area, whatever hapened to Ginos for PhillySteak sandwiches? And can you still get a good hoagie instead of a "sub"?

bensdad00 | November 17, 2006 11:04 AM

The Olympia and Becuna on Penn's Landing are great for a view of sailors life in two different periods of American History (Spanish American War and WWII) Grey Lodge Pub in the Northeast is a great place for beer and talk and if you are staying overnight I can score you free tickets for 42nd Street if you like that kind of thing.

Kevin Downing | November 17, 2006 11:13 AM

Geno's is still there - directly across from Pat's in South Philly. And it will ALWAYS be hoagie here.

I love those little regional differences in names for things. I spent 10 years in Rhode Island, and they have some VERY unique names for things up there - like "cabinet" for milkshake and "bubbler" for a water fountain.

WizarDru | November 17, 2006 11:23 AM

A "sub"? Them's fighting words in Philly. =)

I'm a Pat's man, as well, but there are plenty of good cheesesteaks to be had that don't come from the big two.

Scalzi, the Sheraton is near tons and tons of stuff in mere walking distance. Really, if I only had one thing to do in Philly, I'd hit the Art Museum. It's even within walking distance. My recommendation: HIT THE SECOND FLOOR. The recreations of the various period buildings (Japanese Tea House, Spanish Courtyard, Indian Temple, Chinese Court, English Manor) are AWESOME. The medieval arms and armor collection is terrific, too.

Steve Buchheit | November 17, 2006 11:29 AM

WizarDru, yep, I wish I could find a good hoagie. About closest was a BMT from Subway, but it's not the same. I grew up in S. Jersey, I miss the food, a lot.

I didn't remember the arms and armor from the Art Museum (the Cleveland Museum has a great collection too, but they're under reconstruction). From what I remember of the Philly Art Museum I bet it's a great collection.

Anonymous | November 17, 2006 11:39 AM

Kevin Downing:

Aside from the school appearance, which is not open to the public (I think the police officer at the school's entrance would dissuade you), I'm not doing any sort of appearance outside of Philcon. But why not come to Philcon? Hang out with the geeks! Meet eight-time Hugo nominee(+ a win!) Charles Stross! See me on my 14,000 panels! I assure you, you'll have a good time. Or at least a geeky time.

Nathan | November 17, 2006 11:47 AM

Kevin Downing,

There's a professor, Bert Vaux, at The University of Wisconsin (used to be at Harvard), who's been conducting a multi-year survey of regional dialects and idiom. Take a look. Very interesting stuff.


Tor | November 17, 2006 12:24 PM

I don't go to Geno's anymore. I'm too annoyed by the prominant "English Only" signs they have up.


Steve Buchheit | November 17, 2006 12:33 PM

Tor, they must be afraid of all the Polish and Italian I used to here in Philly. Haven't been in the City where all th ebrothers love each other in more than 2 decades.

Ron | November 17, 2006 12:38 PM

So, I was reading some other website, and then bam! it hit me. The Android's Dream. With blue sheep on the cover. Do androids dream of electric sheep?

It's from Blade Runner. I just got that. Am I a tool?

Tor | November 17, 2006 12:48 PM

Eh - whether the language they are trying to avoid is polish, italian or spanish doesn't really matter to me. I'm cool with the old style.

Walk up, say how many cheesesteaks you want, say (or don't say) "Wiz" and then either "wit" or "witout." Then step to your left. Anything else was verboten. Most places are still like that.

The old style excludes, "uno cheesesteak, con queso" as well as the polish equivalent and "One Philladelphia cheesesteak, with the bun lightly toasted, the meat well done, and pepperjack instead of the orange goo. And do you have Evian?" And that seems fair to me.

Steve Buchheit | November 17, 2006 12:51 PM

Tor, (voice of soup-nazi) "no cheesesteak for you!"

Cod, I could go for a good deli pickle right now (miss those too).

Brian | November 17, 2006 12:54 PM

Come on. Geno's and Pat's are both just tourist traps, and drunk tanks. Get your cheesesteak from the shadiest corner deli you can find. And for god's sake -- get provolone, not Whiz.

Also, the Franklin Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences, and the Water Works are all worth checking out.

Joe | November 17, 2006 01:53 PM

I was in Philly last night too, with a four-year-old under one arm and a Hotwheels Spinnin' Rim playset in the other, struggling mightily to escape umbrella-inverting winds down Broad Street. 30th Street Station never looked so inviting. Bummed I couldn't make it to the awesome public library used book store, though -- some of the used book deals in town.

Bob Devney | November 17, 2006 01:58 PM


The numinous net movie critic MaryAnn Johanson usually hangs around at cons with her Brooklyn neighbor Bonnie Ann Black. They both befriended me years ago at a Boskone. I like to refer to them as the New York Dolls.

And I believe they're trying to hit both Arisia up here in Cambridge in January, then Boskone in Boston in February, if you're up for either of those ...

Catch MaryAnn's reviews at:

And while you're in Philly, catch a painting or two by Thomas Eakins, the great 19th century artist. Several of the museums have them. But for the coolest, most Scalzian experience, call Thomas Jefferson University and arrange for a free private showing of "The Gross Clinic," his famous, fabulous, HUGE work showing a 19th century Philly surgeon at work. Be quick -- the National Gallery offered $68 million for it last week, so it may not stay in Philly long.

Jim Hall | November 17, 2006 02:44 PM

If your a boxing fan, check out The Blue Horizon, home to some of the great Philly boxers for well over 50 years.

CJ | November 17, 2006 03:34 PM

Where are the Rodin statues? I don't remember the museum name, but I remember how much they impressed me (decades ago).

Tripp | November 17, 2006 03:47 PM


Rhode Island, eh? I though 'bubbler' was a Wisconsin thing based on a manufacturer's name. Live and learn.

WizarDru | November 17, 2006 04:09 PM

"Bummed I couldn't make it to the awesome public library used book store, though -- some of the used book deals in town."

Joe, afaik, that Free Library used bookstore is long since gone, for a good long time, now. Ever since 30th street station got a major restoration, iirc.

Kevin Downing | November 17, 2006 04:12 PM


According to the site Nathan posted earlier today:


Wisconsin and RI seem to be the primary users of "bubbler". Not sure how that happened. OF course, in RI, it's pronounced "bubb-lah" which I'm sure is not the case in WI.

joe schreiber | November 17, 2006 04:47 PM

Fortunately, the Philadelphia Free Library Book Corner is still alive and well at 311 N. 20th Street. They're open until six today...

Jest8 | November 17, 2006 04:47 PM

If you get a chance, get Stross to write a damn follow up to Atrocity Archives!

John Scalzi | November 17, 2006 05:05 PM

Jest8, it's called "The Jennifer Morgue" and it's out now.

George E. Martin | November 17, 2006 10:30 PM

Ron said:

So, I was reading some other website, and then bam! it hit me. The Android's Dream. With blue sheep on the cover. Do androids dream of electric sheep?

It's from Blade Runner. I just got that. Am I a tool?

It sounds like you got things somewhat backward. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep
is the title of the Philip K. Dick novel, published in 1968. The movie Blade Runner is an adaptaiton the novel.

Djscman | November 18, 2006 01:52 AM

Bob D.:

Thanks for introducing me to the word "numinous". At first I thought it was related to "numismatics", but not even an offhanded referral to her micropatrons would make sense! MaryAnn's reviews are great. I used to agree with them about 90% of the time; that's started to diverge over the last few years, but that's because my criticisms and tastes aren't as developed as hers.

Jest8 | November 18, 2006 09:54 AM

Damn, that was quick! :)
Thank you for the information.

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