When man-about-town, storyteller and wordsmith Andrew Panebianco's not in his office writing clever copy for advertising agency Brownstein Group, he's on stage making audiences laugh at a First Person Arts StorySlam or dreaming up his next word for 'Words That Aren't,' a blog that catalogues invented terms for words that aren't, but should be. Have you ever noticed a "petrifry" just resting on the sidewalk while walking down the street?
Find out what Panebianco is doing this weekend in the interview below...
What is your favorite word of all time? Why?
Oh, this is agony. I don’t have a single favorite word. I have all kinds of favorites for totally different reasons.
I love the word “din” because it’s a tiny, quiet word we use to describe a massive, horrible noise. I love the word “thud” because it’s a shockingly accurate onomatopoeia – it literally is the sound of a dead something hitting the floor. It’s like magic. I love the word “callipygian” because it means, "having a finely-sculpted buttocks" - a philosophy to which I’ve adhered for many, many years.
I’ve also been repeating the name “Syrio Forel” (the half-pint Obi-Wan Kenobi from the first season of "Game of Thrones") aloud to no one in particular for the last five years. Say it out loud right now. Do it like he did in the show ... with that tangy Mediterranean swagger.
Isn't it just the greatest collection of sounds ever? Guh.
What are you reading right now?
Lately, I’ve been preparing for a class I’ll be teaching this summer, so most of my reading time has been spent with a syllabus in mind. That said, a book I keep returning to over and over again is, “Another Insane Devotion” by Peter Trachtenberg, which is a memoir he wrote about losing his cat.
Yes, I know how that sounds.
It’s actually really heartbreaking and funny and wonderful. What starts as a story about trying to find a missing cat (Biscuit! What a great name…) turns into an examination of relationships in general – with pets, with past lovers, with his increasingly estranged wife. It’s ultimately a book about how impossible and bonkers and wonderful it is to love someone, human or otherwise. I’d recommend it to anyone. Even a dog person.
What do you love about living in Philadelphia?
I am exactly as close to, and far away from, everything I want to be. In every regard, this city is my very own 72 and sunny.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever seen in Philadelphia?
I can’t actually repeat that story in print. So instead I’ll say this:
One night after a StorySlam, as I waited half-drunk for some Chinese takeout, I met Will Smith. He bopped into the restaurant, shook everyone’s hand, turned to me and flashed a great big grin.
“Hey,” I said, “I know you. I like you.”
And he just beamed at me and said, “Thanks, baby.”
Will Smith called me baby. That kinda qualifies, right?
What are you doing this weekend?
I will be at the Spruce Gala
this Friday. Saturday is almost certainly going to include magazines and Washington Square Park (or Rittenhouse, depending on how many dogs are there for me to play with). And Sunday will consist of cleaning my apartment, writing and reading a little and having dinner with friends.
So, basically, I’m being middle-aged this weekend.