Wednesday, June 22, 2011

'Crushed Nuts' and Buried Treasure

I am happy to report that the National Society of Newspaper Columnists (NSNC) has nominated me to the Board of Directors: Read the announcement

Thank you so much to everyone who left messages on my Facebook page and Twitter account.

I am looking forward to attending the NSNC "Rebound in Motown" Conference in Detroit this week. I will be posting photos. Details of the event can be found at

If you are a columnist or blogger, check out the entire website, then click on the *Join or Renew* Tab to find out how you can also become a member of the NSNC. Testimonials are about half-way down the page.

Of course, I don’t need to explain why networking is so important to you for achieving career goals and enhancing your personal development as a writer. It is one of the main reasons why many people join. It is an invaluable learning experience. Exchanging ideas with other writers will motivate you to get back on top of projects that you might have put aside because you needed mentoring or the information necessary to get your work published or syndicated.

If you are not a writer, but came here today looking for something funny, here goes:

I have been procrastinating mulching my garden and also submitted an Extension Form with the IRS to file my taxes late. True, I enjoy fresh herbs, vegetables, and fruit; but messing with earthworms is not something I like to deal with. Plus, I’m allergic to fertilizer. I break out in hives. So, I’ve been looking at all the limp stuff out in my back yard that require food and water. I am my father’s daughter, and Dad could have won the National Sandbagger Championship back in 1955, when he sent “Nothing to Report” on a 3"x5" index card to the IRS because there was no such thing as an Extension Form.

I made coffee and started listening to "Crushed Nuts," a hilarious set of CDs (yes, two of them)by The Bob & Tom Show. I was on Track #28 "Red Flag Accounting," when this article pops up on my laptop about a guy finding 650-year-old treasure in his herb garden click here to read it .

Excuse my lack of typing skills right now, I have five earthworms hanging off my index finger and a beetle just scurried under the “A” key.

© 2011, Valenta, All rights reserved.

To read my column Skinny Dipping click here

To buy my book “Sitting on Cold Porcelain” click here

Thursday, June 9, 2011

1st Annual F Harold Comedy Festival is at The Walnut Street Theatre

Move over NY and LA, here comes Philly! Philadelphia Comedy is gaining a stronghold. Folks who love comedy will find all art forms represented in the City of Brotherly Love: standup, sketch, and improv. The main source of information is a Philadelphia Comedy Blog called WitOut, where you will find a complete listing of performers and venues.

Last year at this time, I signed up with the Philadelphia Improv Theatre (PHIT) to take an Improv Level 1 class. My instructor was Rick Horner. I recently signed up for sketch comedy writing at PHIT and attended standup classes at The Helium Comedy Club with Brad Trackman. Yes, that's in addition to writing a humor book called Sitting on Cold Porcelain. Okay, so now I can stand in front of a mirror with a mic and command all my funny extremities to become double-jointed and write my own press release. I can't decide on a favorite comedy art form, I like them all.

I have kept in touch with Rick Horner via Facebook and found out that he has organized the 1st Annual F Harold Comedy Festival for people like me, who love all forms of comedy, so I attended opening night on June 7th, and asked for an interview. I was amazed at the talent represented on stage. His goal is to give the Philadelphia community an "opportunity to see a cross-section of local talent."

The Festival runs until June 12th, so you can still buy tickets at the Walnut Street Theatre, Studio 5, box office.

You will love it!

Following is my interview with Rick:


Opening night at the F Harold Comedy Festival was fantastic. Can you tell me more about the performers in the lineup?
What an opening night! John Kensil is a popular local stand up comedian I was fortunate enough to book, The Hendersons are a brand-new long form improv group debuting an awesome show at the F. Harold!
Rosen & Milkshake are an incredible rockin' Philly favorite, hot off the heels of a dynamite performance at Duofest (an improv festival specifically for duos only), and Carolyn Busa is one the hottest comedians performing all over Philadelphia!
Grimmacchio, who also had a terrific performance at last weekend's Duofest, delighted audiences Tuesday to a sold-out crowd, and Ryan Carey had a tremendous set of his stand-up! Aaron Hertzog can be seen all around Philadelphia either doing solo stand-up or performing with one of his improv groups, Hate Speech Committee, Get a Room, or The Hendersons!
I was lucky to have Pat House close out the night with some of his wonderful stand-up - and Pat will be hosting all of Sunday's shows as well. All talent, all Philly, all handled beautifully by a great group of volunteers - Emily Davis, Cara Schmidt, Mark Dames, and Greg Maughan.


Where do you yourself perform Improv in Philadelphia?

I perform in three duos!

WhipSuit (performing tonight!) has a regular performance every third Friday of the month at O'Neals pub, 611 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (great food and drink specials!) at 8:15pm.

Horner & Davis (performing Saturday night!) and Suggestical, An Improvised Musical perform all over town, with the Philly Improv Theater at the Shubin Theatre, 407 Bainbridge Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147; and with Polygon Comedy at other venues like Tabu Lounge & Sports Bar, 200 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107.

I also coach improv (currently coaching Rintersplit (performing Thursday) and Iron Lung (performing Friday night!) I am available for additional improv coaching gigs at or 267.278.5250.

I also run the Improv Incubator weekly at the Community Education Center in West Philadelphia (3500 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia PA 19104) which is a social and creative mixer where the entire Philly improv community is invited to meet, play, and perform scenes.


Did you grow up in the area?
I grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and I love Philly and all of the amazing talent inside and all around it!!! Now I live in Telford - if you can find it, come visit me and I will have coffee with you.


What do you do at PHIT?
I am a recently-retired House Team Director at PHIT (former House Team Activity Book). I am also one of the many instructors there - actually I have a class that is starting soon, Improv Level 201! Improv Level 201 is Wednesday nights from 7 to 9:30 starting Wednesday 6/22/11 , and there are 7 spots left (plus if you register by 6/15/11 you can save $50)! Commercial over. You had me as a teacher Rose, so you know I'm all about making students work hard, get better, and look good.


What are your long-term goals for the F Harold Comedy Festival?
It is so amazing that so many great companies are producing great comedy — PHIT, ComedySportz, PHIF, PJI, The N Crowd — I could go on and on. F. Harold is a little different from other things happening in Philly because it is a blend of the parts of comedy that seem to be finding so much overlap in the city already, thanks to Philly Improv Theater and The Philadelphia Joke Initiative. They have fostered a true sense of cohesiveness between stand-up, sketch and improv and the goal of the F. Harold is to allow all the talent Philly has to offer the opportunity to both demonstrate and exhibit each other, and showcase new ideas and people.


If people from out-of-town want to get a feel for Philly comedy, where are the best places to go?
I am going to give you some websites:
ComedySportz (
Philadelphia Improv Festival (
Philly Improv Theater (
Philadelphia Joke Initiative (
Polygon Comedy (
The N Crowd (
Helium Comedy Club (


Do you have a blog, Facebook page, twitter account where folks can learn more about you and F Harold?
Yes! The wonderful web page developed by Jess Carpenter (performing Saturday night!) with logos and flyers created by Cara Schmidt and Chris Calletta: F Harold Presents and links to all other social media.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anthony Weiner: Emerald Forest Syndrome?

"...And, as a guy from Brooklyn, there's no way I'm backing down." ~ Anthony Weiner (not

I recently told someone that I wouldn’t touch this topic with a ten foot pole, but I’ve changed my mind. I suppose you could say that people like me, who used to be called “The Silent Majority” are no longer silent. We are now labeled “Fed Ups.” We just want things to work effectively and people that we elect to behave themselves and do a good job for us. We pay their salaries, right? We expect our money’s worth.

No matter what occupation one has, there are certain expectations. If you work for a company that has a dress code and you seek to succeed in your career there, you won't wear jeans to work. You tend to adapt to the culture, no matter what it might be. If you are an elected politician, you are expected to be dedicated to your job and keep your zipper up for four-to-eight years. We know its hard, but you have to deal with that. If you plan to fail, however, that’s a whole different scenario, like some politicians we all know.

The funny thing about political sex scandals is the culprit doesn’t expect to get caught. Keep in mind, however, that hidden somewhere deep in the recesses of the individual's mind, he or she really knows that they are always in the public eye via news media, and there is actually no place to hide.

I’m still not quite sure if some politicans wear horse blinders or are just plain stupid. Maybe they really think no one will notice personal misbehaviors?

I saw a movie like that once, where people ran around naked and didn’t think anyone noticed. It was called "The Emerald Forest." They applied some green paint and poof! they were invisible.

Maybe it’s a new mental health disorder that needs to be studied called Emerald Forest syndrome.

People with Emerald Forest Syndrome will take a public servant position for a certain number of years, knowing that news reporters, who are following them around all the time, are part of the package, and then, they self-destruct. Maybe the journalists with the cameras won’t see him going into the restaurant with a hoochie mama; after all, he applied the green paint before making the date. He will sexually harass his subordinates because he is in power and the subordinate needs the job and won’t tell anyone. Besides, he is wearing green paint. Pay no attention to the little guy behind the camera, there is always an alibi. After all, his boss, the ones who make payroll, the American tax payers, are oblivious. Besides, he is wearing green paint.

Only if caught red-handed will the Emerald Forest Syndrome sufferer call a public news conference, cry a lot, apologize, beg for forgiveness, and claim temporary insanity.

Recently, US Representative Anthony Weiner was called on the carpet for using social networking sites to send lewd photos of himself to strange women. Maybe he expected the Dallas Cheerleaders to jump on Twitter and RT his weiner...

Let's get physical
Let's get down,
get hard, get funk
And beat that other junk!

... who knows? His initial response really ticked some people off.

Horse blinders or Emerald Forest Syndrome?

See the YouTube Video.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New NSNC Conference Humor Panel: ‘How To Become An Algonquin Wit’

by Tom Saunders

Discover how the great Robert Benchley – columnist, actor, New Yorker critic, Algonquin Round Table regular and the man who quipped “The free-lance writer gets paid per piece or per word or perhaps” – can inspire you to tackle the silly and absurd side of life at the 2011 “Rebound In Motown” conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

Thom Saunders has uncovered Benchley’s little-known essays from the rarely explored archives of the Detroit Athletic Club’s private literary magazine and collected them into a new, award-winning book, “The Athletic Benchley” – a surprising title when it comes to the author of “How to Sleep” and “I Like to Loaf.”

Saunders – winner of the Robert Benchley Award for Humor in 2005 – will be joined by Benchley fans Ken Voyles of the Athletic Club as well as New York Times bestselling humor author, 2006 Benchley Award winner and Columnist of the Year Bruce Cameron; Erma Bombeck Award winner Mike Ball; and Radio Hall of Famer and Detroit comedy icon Dick Purtan. They’ll explore what you can learn from the man who wrote “The Sex Life of the Polyp” while attempting to heed Benchley’s warning that, “There are no lengths to which humorless people will not go to analyze Humor.”

Panel topics include:
• Don't be funny – be funny consistently
• No one cares about your dog except you
• Building funny platforms and sidestepping OSHA
• Algonquin humor – without the three (or 12 martinis)
• If you think you have been funny, where do you send it? Humor's sordid side.

The panel takes place on the afternoon of Friday, June 24, during the Rebound in Motown conference of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, June 23-26 at the restored four-diamond Westin Book-Cadillac in Detroit.

A conference special rate to all members in good standing of the Robert Benchley Society and the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop is available for $299 with a registration for two or more nights at the Book-Cadillac. You can find a complete conference schedule here, special discount hotel registration here for $124 per night with free Internet and discount valet parking, airline and rental car discounts here, and conference registration here.

See you in Detroit!