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This past Monday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered flags in the state to be lowered in honor of late Sopranos star James Gandolfini, who died suddenly last week of a heart attack at age 51.


Now I must admit, I was an avid Sopranos watcher. His show is still one of the most beloved of all time. GandolPhoto: pastemagazine.comfini is a Jersey native who graduated from Rutgers.  I get it.


But I don’t get why flags have to be lowered for him.


I said the same thing last year in regards to Whitney Houston’s passing last year. Now sure, Houston’s track record was way spottier than Gandolfini’s, but it has nothing to do with how these celebrities died.


What about police officers killed in the line of duty? What about all the soldiers who’ve lost their lives over the last ten years fighting a war that we still primarily don’t know the main reason why we were even fighting. What about public officials who are trying to make a difference in the community or beyond. That right should be truly reserved for them. Personally, I think this cheapens this honor. Stepping in front of a microphone or camera and memorizing lines doesn’t warrant such a prestigious honor.

And as great an entertainer as he was, chances are Gandolfini would agree.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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James Gandolfini photo: pastemagazine.com




Want to support the improvement of Philly public schools? The Philadelphia Public School Notebook, the city’s education newspaper, will hold its end-of-school-year celebration on Tuesday, June 11, from 4:30 to 7 pm at the University of the Arts. For details, call 215-951-0330 ext. 2144 or visit thenotebook-dot-org-slash-celebration (thenotebook.org/celebration) 


Philadelphia Public School Notebook’s end-of-school-year celebration will be held Tuesday, June 11, from 4:30 to 7 pm at the University of the Arts (Hamilton Hall) at 320 S. Broad Street. Proceeds from the event help the Notebook, a non-profit newspaper dedicated exclusively to improvement of the Philadelphia public schools, to continue turning the page for change. For details, call 215-951-0330 ext. 2144 or visit thenotebook-dot-org-slash-celebration (thenotebook.org/celebration)


 FOR MORE INFORMATION, contact Paul Socolar or Shawn Phillips at 215-951-0330, ext. 2107 or at notebook@thenotebook.org


The Notebook, 3721 Midvale Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19129

www.thenotebook.org, (215) 951-0330, ext. 2160


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For the first time, people in the Philadelphia area wanting to get the inside scoop on how to succeed in the TV business can go to a camp and learn from people who are on the air right now!Fox 29's Sue Serio and husband Billy Vargus to launch Broadcasting Camp


The Serio-Vargus Broadcasting Camp will be taught by Fox 29 weather anchor Sue Serio, along with former Fox 29 sports anchor Bill Vargus.  


They have guest instructors lined up, too- including Fox 29 personalities Mike Jerrick and Kacie McDonnell.  Jerrick, of course, has done it all during his career, including co-hosting his own national show, "Mike and Juliet" on the Fox network.  


McDonnell, on the other hand, will just be celebrating her 23rd birthday the day of her appearance, but that should help her relate to many of the campers who are in college and wondering what it's like when you first start out in TV.  

 Kacie McDonnell photo: myfoxphilly.com

We’ll also have:


-Scott Graham, the voice of NFL Films and Papa John's commercials, to help explain the use of voice in radio, TV, and voiceover work;


-Kathy Gerrow, the Assistant News Director at NBC10 who has held just about every position imaginable in a TV station


-Actor Brian Anthony Williams, who was in the TV show "The Wire" and countless feature films, to help explain some acting principles to improve on-camera performance; and several others.


The camp runs for one week (July 29th to August 2nd) and will be held at Villanova University. On the final day, we will meet at a studio to record demos for all of the campers.  


The website for more info and to sign up is www.broadcastingcamp.com.


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Kacie McDonnell photo: myfoxphilly.com

As I sit typing this latest column, I look up at my reflection in the window and see my hair frizzing to oblivion. Yup, it’s official - we’ve just done a cannonball into another outrageously humid summer.   


Honestly, I love it. The trees are green and gorgeous, flowers are blooming and the industrial-strength weeds covering my yard are so lush that (when just mowed) my lawn looks worthy of a Masters Tournament (insert polite, muted golf clapping here…).


Best of all, now is the time you can put some fabulously frugal summertime moves into play that will save your household big money (and reduce big-time stress) in just a few months time.


(1) Start walking - No more excuses, it’s time to get moving. The weather is too gorgeous to enjoy it by looking out the windows.  It’s time to get out there for a well-deserved stroll.  Your health, wellness and stress levels will thank you for it.  If you’re working in an office, walk to your local eatery for lunch, or just put that mid-day break to good use with a healthy stretch - just get outdoors and get that oxygen pumping. Better yet, “forget” your cell phone at your desk and take some time just for yourself.  For those working at home, take a half-hour out with the kids and head to the nearest park.  If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll sleep like a rock that night.  

Bonus!Photo: ww.delightfulcuisine.com



(2) Start using the grill – If it’s heating up outside, it’s heating up doubly-fast in the kitchen.  Bake one batch of cookies for your kid’s class and suddenly your kitchen feels like it’s 20 feet from the surface of the sun.  If one of your summertime goals is to reduce your air conditioning bills, do as much cooking outdoors as you can.


Practice safe grilling (of course) and put your imagination to work on fun items you may never have thought to cook on your grill!  Philly2Philly readers have emailed me fabulous grilling tips (many gleaned from imaginative cooking techniques created during last year’s Hurricane Sandy power outage) that include boiling water for ice tea, boiling eggs, making toast, cookies and brownies, boiling noodles, scrambling eggs in a frying pan directly placed on the grill surface, etc. Basically, I realize now that anything short of a soufflé can be done with your outdoor grill.  Gotta love it.


(3) Start scouting out flea markets and garage sales – This tip is two-fold.  If you have things that you need in your home (clothes for growing kids, items for your house), start checking out your local garage sales and flea markets – they could have just what you need for a fraction of retail.  Same goes for Craigslist – ‘tis the season for organized people to get their houses cleaned out and their hundreds of unwanted items online and ready for you to grab for 95% off.  On the flip side, if you’re looking to create a bit of additional income this summer, give some thought to snagging a booth at your next local flea market or holding a garage sale of your own.  You empty the house of everything you’ve outgrown, someone else benefits from it – everyone’s a winner.


Here’s to another money-making, money-saving summertime!



Kristen Hagopian hosts “The Brilliant Frugal Living Show” Tuesdays at 11A on Philadelphia’s WFYL 1180AM.  Her next Brilliant Frugal Living Conference is October 22nd in West Chester, with $5 of every ticket sold being donated to the Chester County Food Bank to assist families in need.  Log onto www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com for more information!

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Photo: ww.delightfulcuisine.com

Philly2Philly.com’s Joe Vallee, Ryan Downs, Matt Goldberg, and Billy Vargus stopped by SportsRadio 94WIP Tuesday morning to talk to Angelo Cataldi, Rhea Hughes, Al Morganti and Ben Davis about their book, “A Snowball’s Chance.”


You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link HERE!




There was never a dull moment and the gang couldn’t have been nicer.


“This is a noble project,” exclaimed Cataldi about the book. “I’m gonna guarantee this book is gonna be so successful.”


We’ll take your word for it, Angelo!


Be on the lookout for giveaways and promotions on WIP for A Snowball’s Chance.


Thanks again, guys!


A Snowball's Chance is available in paperback on Philly2Philly, and paperback and Kindle on Amazon.


Special thanks to Rhea Hughes, Mike Baldini of Baldini Communications, and Cindy Webster for helping to arrange this!

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If the trailer for the new Julius Erving documentary “The Doctor” is as good as all the hype surrounding it, this should be one very compelling hour and a half of television.


Judging by the footage, the film will apparently chronicle Erving’s rise to prominence in the ABA as well as his career with the Sixers. Compared to other NBA greats, the former 76er has basically strayed from the limelight after his retirement, but he’s certainly dealt with his share of battles off the court since playing his last game in 1987. The trailer shows him visiting a gravesite, which presumably might be that of his late son, Corey, who died in 2000.  


In an era dominated by Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, Dr. J’s high flying theatrics helped bring the NBA to prominence. Sure, he didn’t win the same number of titles that Johnson (5) and Bird (3) did, but there was only one Dr. J.  Hopefully this documentary gives him even more of the praise he justly deserves.


The 90-minute documentary will air between Games 2 and 3 of The Finals on Monday, June 10, at 9 pm on NBA TV. Chances are the archived footage will be the only time you’ll see a Sixer playing in the NBA Finals for a long time.


Check it out!



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A sea of pink in Philadelphia as thousands gathered on Mother's Day at the 23rd Annual Susan G. Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure. From hundreds of volunteers to sponsors, runners to walkers, fundraisers to participants – many made it a day of celebration and empowerment for all women.


This is just one run of many races to come since last weekend’s Broad Street Run.  Jenna Communications’ President, Jennifer Sherlock gives you a taste of her BSR experience and a preview of another race called Strides for Stroke that is also saving lives and raising awareness.  



Septa’s Broad Street Line is packed at 7 a.m. as runners prepare for the 10 miles from North to South Philly.  


 My friend Lauren Nickles and I are all stretched and ready to attack Broad Street.  

  This is just one mile in as a sea of runners get ready to pace themselves for the next nine miles to go!


 I finally finished with my buddy Marshall Harris. The Comcast SportsNet anchor ran 1:17 and I finished with my best time in nine years at 1:21. I hope to break 1:20 next year on my tenth year of running the race. Marshall hopes to break 1:15.  


Last but not least, run the Strides for Stroke 5K Sunday, June 9th at 8:30 am in Philadelphia to raise awareness for stroke- the number one cause of adult disabilities and number three cause of death.


All proceeds help guarantee the continued success of the Delaware Valley Stroke Council’s programs to educate people on stroke and advocate for cutting-edge stroke care at area hospitals.


Like us on Facebook and join the event for more details.


Register HERE for Strides for Stroke

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Happy Mother’s Day, everybody!  If you’re a mother, grandmother, stepmother, godmother, or you often hear “you’re like a mom to me!” from someone special – this week’s column is dedicated to you.  


I love Erma Bombeck’s quote – “Mothers have to remember what food each child likes or dislikes, which one is allergic to penicillin and hamster fur, who gets car sick and who isn’t kidding when he stands outside the bathroom door and tells you what’s going to happen if he doesn’t get in right away. It’s tough. If they all have the same hair color they tend to run together.”  Mother's Day photo: hdwallpapersarena.com


Erma’s right – especially about the hair color.  When you’ve got two wildly energetic, dark-haired kids zooming by at Mach 2, it’s tough to know which one you’ve got to scold for squirting toothpaste all over the train set, or who sprinkled Kool Aid powder into the toilet to watch it mix into cool swirly colors when they flush. Or maybe that’s just in my house.


I have fabulous news for all of the households honoring mom this Mother’s Day.  Moms are – without a doubt – the most sentimental slobs on earth. Making the day ultra-special requires very little money, just a touch of imagination (and a lot of dry macaroni). If you’re ready to create a fabulous Mother’s Day for the special lady in your life, read on for gift ideas that have historically gone off the charts on the brag-worthy scale.


Noodle Necklaces – How important are these little gems?  Let’s put it this way – I’ve received bits of jewelry here & there all my life. I can generally tell you where to find the somewhat-sentimental pieces (high school rings, special earrings, etc.).  However, I can tell you with concrete clarity where my wedding & engagement rings are (left hand, 24/7), and my two noodle necklaces, circa 2007 & 2010 (in a protected, cotton lined box way in the back of my “special stuff” drawer).  Trust me, creamettes never had it so good. If the Mom in your life (of any age) doesn’t have one of these, she’s missing out on the most priceless jewelry on earth. Get to it.    Photo: Makeandtakes.com


Breakfast in Bed – the perfect gift from kids, and off-the-charts brag worthy to any and all that cross mom’s path later that day.  Fabulous menu choices (that don’t require an insurance adjuster coming out to the house to assess the damages) are toast with jam, cereal, fruit salad, and a big cup of coffee.  Four Seasons, schmore seasons- let’s see them make a burned piece of toast topped with strawberry jam and mayo that even comes close to your preschooler’s version.  Bon appétit!


Homemade Card –Store-bought cards are lovely, I grant you. I’ve received lots of them in my life.  They’re all…..somewhere.  However, all of the hand-made cards (and I do mean ALL of them), that my children wrote out carefully in crayon, with the words “I Love U Momy” (with the forgotten “m” smushed in later), are now keeping company next to some very lucky macaroni necklaces.  Dads, this means you too.  A hand-written paragraph or two, with an extra helping of well-thought out mush, is serious currency, I kid you not.  If the idea of hand-writing something puts you into a full blown panic, however, I don’t want that on my conscience.  Hitting your local dollar store for a fabulous card is perfectly acceptable as well.


However you decide to celebrate Mother’s Day, make it priceless with your imagination, rather than your cash.  To all the Moms out there (including mine!) that make our lives so fantastic, Happy Mother’s Day!



Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host & Columnist, Consumer Reporter and Author of “Brilliant Frugal Living”.  She lives in Chester County with her husband and two kids.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on Philly’s News/Talk 1180 WFYL on Saturdays and Sundays.  You can find her online at www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com

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Mother's Day photo: wishespoint.com

Noodle Necklace photo: makeandtakes.com

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