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Lisa' Army- Pumpkin Race to help cancer patients

According to her Dad, Bill, when Lisa Loonstyn was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at age 20, she accelerated the process of having a baby in expectation that she would need to have her ovaries removed. No one expected that the cancer, detected at stage one, would kill her at age 24. Her baby, now five, participated in the first “Lisa’s Army” 5K pumpkin race on Forbidden Drive along the Wissahickon Creek on Saturday. Loonstyn said his daughter was always helping others who were going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  In her honor and memory, the friends and family who loved her continue this mission. Lisa loved pumpkins and Halloween was her favorite holiday. Watch video here.


Popcorn seller sings between Jersey Boys screenings

When Tiffany Gaal is not selling popcorn or sweeping up spilled popcorn at the 100 year-old, one screen Hiway  [Movie] Theater in Jenkintown, Pa., she’s auditioning for or appearing in musical theater. After the early evening screening of “Jersey Boys,” the story of singer Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, your correspondent cajoled Gaal into singing while she was restocking the snack stand. She chose “Come with me” from the epilogue of Les Miz, the musical she is most desirous of performing in. For good measure, I got her to sing some of Valli’s hit song, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.”  

Watch video here.

In the accompanying video, Andrew Heller, Gaal’s work partner at the Hiway, appears in a non-singing role.

 


Female killer film starts shooting in Chestnut Hill

 Watch video here.

On Tuesday, May 21st, at the home of Mary Moorhouse and Angela Griffiths on the corner of Ardleigh and Meade Streets in Chestnut Hill, Nena Eskridge and Fairleigh Dickinson University students began shooting an independent feature length film called “Stray.”

 “Stray is a dark psycho/thriller about a killer who decides to give up a life of crime to settle down in a small town to start a family. But first she has to find the right guy to help make it happen – whether he wants to or not.” This, according to the production’s Kickstarter fundraising page which shows 133 donors have already pledged $50,400 surpassing the $50,000 goal.

“Stray” features actress Michele Page (who played a punk girl in a bank  “Miss Congeniality 2”) as the lead Jennifer Davis and also tv and screen actors Annie Corley and Aaron Lustig.

A flier left some weeks ago through your correspondent’s mail slot alerted us that filming would begin today and continue through June 10th. The crew will shoot scenes along Germantown Avenue, at the Mermaid Inn and one on June 6th at the back of 213 E Meade Street, Eskridge’s house  (on the alley behind our house.) Everyone is welcome to “stop by and watch. Just remember everyone has to be quiet “

Stray trailer from nena eskridge on Vimeo.


Antonelli Institute teachers and students got talent

Most students at the Antonelli Institute of Graphic Design and Photography in Erdenheim, Pa, just outside of Philadelphia, enroll coming out of high school. They must first study traditional film and wet process darkroom photography before moving on to digital work, says lead photography instructor Drew Simcox, shown above.

Students compete for awards by class and by subject category and their prints for the upcoming May competition are displayed across the tall walls of the well-lit atrium-lunchroom area. Simcox proudly shows off the work of Antonelli graduates like the cover photo by Evan Habeeb on a recent Sports Illustrated magazine as well as published books of instructors such as his own “Heber Valley Railroad” shot in Utah through a partnership with the Adobe Company and illustrator-cartoonist Christian Patchell’s “I put the Can in Cancer,” documenting his personal battle with the affliction.

Renowned photojournalist Colin Finlay has visited twice and has critiqued the work of Antonelli students who had returned from a photo shoot in Haiti in conjunction with the Pennsylvania non-profit, Poverty Resolutions.

Students are given a wide arrange of field assignments and can often be seen  practicing their art in nearby Chestnut Hill at the Morris Arboretum or on the main Germantown Avenue corridor.

 

Left: Antonelli student Jaime Perez was at the Morris Arboretum shooting a Kyudo archer in 2009. Right: Antonelli student Eric Moll shown here taking photographs at the 2013 Chestnut Hill Fall for the Arts Festival has a photo published in the 2014 Chestnut Hill Calendar.


Money never sleeps: mining litecoins in basement

A father and son  "mine" bitcoins and litecoins 24/7 in their unfinished Chestnut Hill basement.

These "coins," son explains, are virtual currencies not under the control of any government.  As such, the world of digital money has attracted illegal activity such as the Silk Road online black market that the U.S. government has shut down for dealings in drugs.

Rocky relates that bitcoins are convertible to dollars and that when China recently clamped down on their use, the price crashed from upwards of $1200 per bitcoin to $700.

These exchanges depend upon an army of computer geeks called miners (like the duo) to verify transactions through the use of computers installed with software that solves complex mathematical formulas. As explained in an Internet video, miners may work together in "pools". 

The son enjoys both the technical challenge of configuring and adding hardware and the money-making aspect of mining.  A friend of theirs, he says, has earned $100,000 with a shed full of equipment. For now, the duo are transitioning from bitcoin to litecoin which uses the same peer-to-peer network protocols as bitcoin but can be mined using consumer level graphics cards. They currently earn about $16 a day from running their set-up around the clock out of which $2.50 a day covers additional electricity charges.

Dad is not new to home industry; he also keeps bees.

Watch video here.


McDonald's high school worker aims higher

mcdonalds worker

Danielle Taylor of Germantown, a 12th grader home schooled through Agora Cyber Charter School, works 30 hours a week at the Chestnut Hill McDonald’s. She’s paid at the rate of $7.25 an hour which she thinks is OK for someone, like herself, in high school. She gets no benefits; after a year’s work she may be entitled to a raise of 25 cents an hour. Her goal is to attend college, major in business and technology – and it sounds like she wants to stay out of the fast food industry.

Danielle was interviewed on Thursday December 5th, a day when fast food workers in 100 cities across the nation staged walkouts in support of the right to unionize and demands for a more livable wage.

Watch video interview here


Harry Potter fans descend on Chestnut Hill for Potter Festival

chestnut hill harry potter festival 2013 - 01

View all photos here.

Harry Potter fans swarmed the attractions along Germantown Avenue on Saturday for the Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival. At Top of the Hill Market, Dan Lemoyne, a Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe doppelganger, obligingly struck poses with adoring fans for photos. Meanwhile Professor Dumbledore employed his sorting hat to assign “students” into different Houses of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft. Lemoyne and friends Alyssa Alberto and Lisa Makhoul   offered their responses to the question. “What role does fantasy play in your life?” Watch video here.

Cynthia Day and Therese Tiger gave out brownies to raise funds for “Autism Speaks” a project of their daughters at the Springside School.  Research is aimed at determining what environmental factors may be triggering genetic predispositions to the sensory/social/developmental disorder. Why table at the Chestnut Hill Harry Potter Festival? The crowds. But Tiger’s husband George drew a parallel between his autistic nephew  and Harry Potter, both teens facing the normal teen challenges  and, in addition, possessing special powers. Watch video here.

Outside the Ministry of Magic (Chestnut Hill Visitor’s Center) a man was taking a photo of two young hooded women, one very colorfully attired, betwixt lifesize cardboard cutouts of Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter. The women simply had happened to wander into the Harry Potter Festival wearing the garb of their homeland, Saudi Arabia. Instructional technology students at Chestnut Hill College, they were pleased to find themselves amid the festivities. “It’s fun,” said one who had read the first two books in the Potter series. Watch video here.


"Obama, don't deport my Mama"

Father threatened with deportation Untitled

The Mexican-American and Spanish speaking communities rallied in Norristown Monday evening for immigration reform. They demanded that Congress pass the immigration legislation that is now stalled and overshadowed by the Syrian crisis.  They also gathered signatures on a petition calling on the Norristown police  force not to assist in raids by federal immigration authorities. 

Amidst chants of "Si, se puede" ("Yes we can") speakers discussed how 400 local families have been torn apart by deportation. And parents, joined by their young children testified about how their arrests and the threat of deportation were causing their families severe emotional and economic stress. A Norristown public high school student described her constant fear that her parents might step out to the grocery store and she might never see them again were they to be arrested and deported.

Under the proposed “Dream Act,” undocumented youth who complete college or do two years of military service could earn their way to citizenship over the course of six years.

Calling for human rights and dignity for all, rally participants lit candles as dusk fell,  then circled and sang out loudly in Spanish and English, the civil rights anthem, "We shall overcome."


Photgraphing his daughter's first front page article

His daughter's first front page articleProud father photographs daughter's first front page article

I came across Bill Cusick in a proud moment, taking photos  of his daughter’s first front page article in the Chestnut Hill  Local as it appeared in the newsbox outside the Local office on Germantown Avenue. Katherine, a summer intern with the Local from Germantown Friends School, is editor-in-chief  of her high school newspaper, “The Earthquake.” Earlier I had seen Cusick seriously taking photos of the newsbox outside the Chestnut Hill Bootery and when I saw him doing the same outside the Local office, I knew he was a man with a mission and asked if he might oblige with an explanation. Watch video here.