Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Gimme Bar

A screen-grab of The Gimme Bar library.

This program is absolutely the shit. The Gimme Bar allows you to grab virtually anything on the web--pics, vids, text, even whole web pages--and drag them to a bar that appears at the bottom of your browser screen. Then once you've added them to your library, you have that entire document stored for easy access--not just the link, but the entire document or video or image.

It's still in beta, but I think you can still get invited just by going to the site and signing up. Here's a link to a vid I grabbed, a live acoustic set by Modest Mouse outside a record store in 2001. And here's a collection, titled 'mars sin death' (slightly NSFW-iah, I guess.)

To see the rest of my 'gimmees' just click my user name, wasabi23, and it'll take you to my library ('public firehose' is the default public library).

the music scene

Amazing animated video. Not entirely sold on the song itself, but...


Sunday, August 28, 2011

william s burroughs drumming

For a drummer he's a helluva beat writer. :)
via dangerousminds

oh ricky

Atheists don't crucify people, Ricky. Nor do we worship them. So get over yourself.
(on the other hand, this is a pretty clever pic.)


This is apparently the box info on a Chinese DVD of 'Batman Begins.' Found via dangerous minds.

Friday, August 26, 2011

lincoln's advice

Found this on the daily what. This kid is a born theatre critic.

penn state move-in day

This little ditty is making the rounds, and even inspiring imitators.

This sign was spotted along fraternity row in State College, Pennsylvania, along a street on which incoming parents bringing in their freshman kids drive. Home of the Nittany Lions.

Keeping it classy, as usual.

via buzzfeed

stupid brain

via the daily what via smbc

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Boulder International Fringe Festival 2011

My latest piece for the Post. (Full, unedited text below.)

There are some wonderful shows playing this year. One thing i'm excited about is that it seems like the one-person show people--always the dominant theatre genre at Fringe--have finally gotten the memo about performing INTERMINABLE, long-ass, self-indulgent shows that go nowhere.

Of the four one-person shows I've seen so far, only one was rather mushy and meandering and in need of an editor. But all of them were shorter than I've gotten used to, having done this for the past three years, none clocking in longer than around 1:15.

(Read the comment at the end of the Post piece for one man's take on what sounds like a painfully self-indulgent one-woman show (2.5 hours!!!) that I thank all the gods who still exist that I didn't see.)


All you need to know about seeing a juggler perform--in an unfamiliar, enclosed space, with a rack of stage lights shining in his eyes--was illustrated by the older lady who moved back a couple of rows when Aji the juggler was about to start tossing knives in the air.

This was after an errant hat rolled to a stop at her feet.

“That’s a logical response,” Aji said cheerfully, as he went on to successfully, more or less, juggle three machete-like knives as part of his one-man show “Bad Day to Be a Juggler.”

His improv and comedy-heavy act, pulled from street performances honed in his adopted hometown of San Francisco, is just one slice of this year’s Boulder Fringe Festival. It’s an always interesting collection ranging from the off-beat to the downright strange playing in various venues around town.

And as always, there is a convivial warmth, a camaraderie and sense of both audience member and performer being participants, largely erasing the fourth wall.

Another one-person show, “Burnt at the Steak” is a complete and well-rounded piece, the comedic musical story of a Texas-born Italian woman, Carolann Valentino. She moves to New York, but her dream of performing on Broadway is hijacked when she finds herself rapidly moving up to management at a multi-million dollar steakhouse in Manhattan.

Her raucous, raunchy show had the audience howling with laughter as she portrayed characters such as her psychic Italian mother, a very Noo Yawk maitre d’, a dingbat restaurant hostess, and a British lady customer who refuses to wear undergarments.

Valentino’s jokes are sharp and well-delivered: “You are the strangest looking Mexican I’ve ever seen!” says one Texas neighbor; in another scene, a Jersey Shore-type woman gives a friend sartorial advice: “First of all, you’re wearing a solid-colored dress. I told you, stick to the animal kingdom! Tiger, giraffe, zebra...”

But the highlights are her songs, including titles like “Big Fat Daddy,” and an uproarious song explaining meat temperatures sung to the tune of “Do-Re-Mi.”

“Steak” is an example of how good a one-person show can be, the potential the form has to rise above what often turns out to be self-indulgent, overwrought goo.

Another is “Huffs,” Kelsie Huff’s tale of growing up with her abusive, cheating, alcoholic father.

“Emotional goo” warning signs flash immediately.

However, Huff is not only clearly a seasoned comedic performer, she also is a top-flight writer. The piece rips along relentlessly, honed down to her funniest memories recounted with a professional comedian’s pitch-perfect timing.

But while Huff is unabashed about humorously relating her most embarrassing, awkward moments, she also counterpunches with deeper emotions effectively, bringing in sharp jabs of real pain and pathos.

The death of her father for one is a story in which she skillfully blends poignancy and wit. She goes from describing her mother’s distraught reaction in the morgue--she helplessly repeats “I should have brought the dog. I should have brought the dog,”--to flatly intoning “The villain is gone.”

And while the festival’s theatre offerings lean heavily toward one-person shows, a charming change of pace is being produced by a group of students from New Vista High School.

Their original piece, “Alex and Themselves” is part dance, part coming-of-age story, part allegory for leaving the safety of home and hearth. It’s a promising, steampunk-inspired tale about Calla Lily, an 18-year-old girl (Camille Libouban-Gundersen) who lives in a town that has been locked away from the outside world her entire life.

Her dictatorial mother (Tizri Eleanor Zelig) runs the town with an iron fist, but Calla Lily finds a means of escape.

It’s a strange but sweet and haunting piece, overlain with gloomy keyboard music (played by Josie Brown, who also plays Marie) to which the ethereal and mysterious Alex (Lorien Russell) dances. And although it isn’t quite explainable in a linear sense, it still works.

In fact, not being quite explainable makes it perfect for Fringe.


Monday, August 22, 2011

clockwork coffee klatch

I love random, backstage pics like this. Stanley Kubrick and Malcolm McDowell on the (apparently freezing-ass cold) set of "A Clockwork Orange."

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the future-driven animal

Here's a thing I wrote the other day. Don't read too much into the darkness and bleakness of it. It was a day, a few hours, that's all.


Life is a series of peaks and valleys: shit doesn’t always work out. All adults know this.

But what most of us refuse to face is that virtually every--no, not virtually, EVERY good experience we get to have, every person we love, every town to which we move with our big dreams (every single time, we’re so sweetly and pathetically absorbed in the feeling that THIS time damnit, moving will change everything! Of course it will!) every new job, every tiny slice of happiness we carve out of the shit and pain and nothingness that is this world--all of these are fiction.

And they will eventually let us down.

Capped off by the ultimate, final let-down: death.

For humans, all of our hopes, all of our LIVES are pinned on our imaginations, our stupid/smart goddamn human brains that lie to us constantly, telling us how great such-and-such is GOING to be, all the while subtly never letting us forget that by virtue of that thought, the present moment is, for some reason, not up to snuff. We would not otherwise spend nearly as much time fantasizing about how good these various mythical futures might be, would we, if we didn’t at least subconsciously see the present as so wanting. Otherwise why would our brains perpetually conjure them up?

We are the most ridiculous creatures of all: future-driven animals. Most animals are by necessity present-driven: what do I need right now? What do I want? There are more advanced species, besides us, that learn from the past: what should I avoid eating? Whom should I avoid pissing off? How should I prevent that bad experience from happening again.

But unlike any other animal on the planet in this regard, we humans are 90 percent focused on something that hasn’t happened yet, something that the odds--and, it would have been hoped, our big-ass brains--might have informed us may never happen. We don’t or won’t or can’t realize that the myriad futures we imagine are myths.

The future is something that quite literally does not, never has, and never will exist. It is only in your imagination. It is not a real place you can touch or see or quantify.

And if it is only in our imaginations, then it is false, and it merely serves to confuse.

The future is a lie, a shuck, a scam, a pitch sold by the best liar the world has ever known: the human brain.

We are, all our lives, subject to a series of emotional highs, all of which are pinned on hopes, all of which we know in our heart of hearts can never be reality. These hopes, these imagined moments are inevitably followed by disappointments and disillusionments when they don’t work out. Our dreams are not so much shattered as they are slowly, incrementally pecked away, worn down, made soggy, eroded, shaved off a bit at a time. They are made drab and lifeless on the heels of the initial Technicolor vibrancy they initially possessed when they first played out in our minds.

Our imaginations are too great; no one person and no experience can ever live up to the shows we put on in our heads. Everyone and every situation and every place must someday, at some point, disappoint.

This is the curse of humanity: we are all born dreamers who are doomed to have those dreams on which we rely rendered, eventually, gray and sad and banal and soft and moldy and rotten like old fruit.

We are creatures destined to be emptied, destined to be squeezed dry and drained of hope.

However, even without hope, we carry on. Disillusioned, we go forth, we plug away despite our despair--until the next lie strikes our fancy and we become dreamers again.

We are not the smartest animals on the planet.

We are, rather, the animals that should be most pitied.

Because we are not animals that are ever truly alive, not like the rest of them. In a way, unlike every other animal, we never really exist. We are never here, not really. We are ghosts living out our entire lives in dreams of tomorrows that will never come.

We live constantly in a future that can never be.

Thus, we never truly live.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Who's Tommy

Here's my latest review from the Post.

I hope I made it clear how much fun I had; it was just frustrating that the sound person had the vocal mics set where the band's volume should have been. They clipped and cut out constantly, whereas the band was way way to quiet. (They cut my point about just HOW LOUD the vocal mics were from the piece, but just trust me.)

At any rate, had a great time both at the show and in Dillon. That fucking lake-- I could live right there, in a tent on the shore.

At least until October or so.


It was the 1960s, after all.

For a small slice of just how ridiculous — or magical, depending on your perspective — that era was, try to imagine the pitch meeting for The Who's rock opera "Tommy" had it been written today:

"Well, there's this kid who sees something traumatic, right? And he goes catatonic as a result. Eventually, he recovers by smashing a mirror then becoming a world- class pinball player and quasi-savior."

Ooo-kay . . .

But as is known to anyone who appreciates the original album or even the ultra- weird film version (starring Ann-Margret, Elton John and Jack Nicholson — it was the 1970s, after all), there is an understanding that Pete Townshend and the Who, at the height of their powers, were not subject to the usual rules of storytelling.

Lake Dillon Theatre boldly brings the sprawling, reworked 1994 show, "The Who's 'Tommy,' " to its postage-stamp stage, seeming to embrace that lack of cohesion, taking the audience on a whirlwind trip through the looking glass.

The sense of events being completely out of deaf, dumb and blind Tommy's control is the show's real strength. Keeping us off-balance under the rapid-fire succession of scene changes and shifts in tone seems to be director Chris Alleman's goal here, and largely, he succeeds.

Some liberties have been taken in Act 1 with how the timelines of young Tommy (Alex Anderson) and older Tommy (Josh T. Smith) cross, and how they interact with each other, but it works. Somehow, both characters' experiences make more sense as viewed through the lenses of memory or premonition. It's a way to show that we are all, in a way, trapped in a younger version of ourselves.

And there are some fine performances here — Smith as adult Tommy is a riveting messiah, and his interactions with Anderson as his younger self are poignant.

As Mrs. Walker, Amy Jo Jackson brings a human warmth to a troubled woman. Michael Jayne Walker as Cousin Kevin delights in a joyful wickedness during his torment of Tommy, and Brett Michael Wilson as perverted Uncle Ernie is a greasy, twisted loon who would make Keith Moon proud.

Often lost in talking about the music of the Who, amid the detritus of Townshend's smashed guitars and Moon's jet-engine drumming, is that the band composed and performed astounding four-part harmonies. Lake Dillon's company does justice to that tradition.

That said, this is rock 'n' roll, damn it. Even with the understanding that it isn't the Who performing, the music must, by definition, rock. The offstage band was mostly capable, but almost everything it played seemed tentative in terms of volume, as well as tempo, as though it was afraid of overwhelming the singers. (Which would have been impossible: the vocal mics were almost universally too loud.)

The band needed to be louder. Much louder. The music of the Who — even the theatrical version of it — should be a freight train threatening to crush all in its path.

And that's tragic, because the show's potential was apparent in not only the individual performances but also in the cleverness of the scene changes, the swooping, vertiginous sensation of time and events taking over and pushing everyone into their next phase.

Still, for a fun retro-ride, the show is worth the drive to the mountains — there are many glimpses of beauty and power and rage and loss. It's just too bad its potential hasn't fully been reached.

"The Who's 'Tommy' " ** 1/2 (out of four stars)

The Lake Dillon Theatre Company, 146 Lake Dillon Drive. Directed by Chris Alleman. Music and lyrics by Pete Townshend. Saturday-Aug. 28. 1 hour, 45 minutes. 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. $15-$29. 970-513-9386 or

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

preventing teh stoopid

Yes, yes, and yes. Anyone who doesn't know these things should not be allowed to use the English language.

ADDENDUM: oops. meant to credit buzzfeed as the place where I found this awesomeness.

annoying facebook girl

This is fast becoming my new fave meme. Found at reddit, most likely. Also check out

Sunday, August 7, 2011

the problem with obama

When I was in Ohio for a mini-family reunion a few weeks back, my dad baited me into discussing politics.

This was after I told him and Cheryl that really, these days I don't even read the newspaper--at least not like I used to; the Washington Post was once my home page; I still have 30 or 40 political site bookmarks on my Firefox, all unused--and that I don't think about politics very much.

But my dad has been ripping through book after book on the economy's implosion, dissections by economists and the like explaining just what happened, who screwed who, and who got away with economic murder. So he was really into talking about all that; I was not.

I'm aware that we got fucked, and that the big banks did the fucking.

I am also aware that nothing changed. They are lubing us up again for another rogering, with virtually nothing and no one lining up to stop them, left or right.

What ensued demonstrated that I do know a lot about politics; I am not uninformed. I just refuse to waste any more brain power than absolutely necessary thinking about or battling over or struggling against the facts: the game is rigged. There can be no real, useful political discussion without overturning the way things are now, as it has become apparent that Obama and his promise of change has been subsumed by the relentless power of money.

He works for--and not coincidentally, has hired to implement his policies--the people with money or the people who work for the people with money. He has demonstrated himself incapable or unwilling to aggressively go after those who profited and continue to profit spectacularly while the rest of the country comes to resemble Rome circa 400 AD, just before the barbarian hordes destroyed the remnants of a mighty empire.

So it's not that I'm apolitical, or disinterested, or uninformed. It's rather that I refuse to participate in a shell game that always turns up the same winner, no matter if the apparent victor is wearing a D or an R next to his name. As Noam Chomsky observed, we spend all our time arguing 'Pepsi or Coke?' When what we should be discussing is whether spending our money on brown sugar water is really a good idea in the first place.

Thus I was really pleased to see someone lay it all out in the New York Times today (found via reddit). Drew Westen is a professor of psychology who consults for politicians, and he frames his article in terms of story-telling. He talks of the troubling signs even from Obama's inauguration onward, when we needed a leader who would lay out the story in honest terms, who's the bad guy, and how are we going to make certain this isn't going to happen again, much less let the same people pull off the same crime again. This story, had it been properly told:

...would have offered a clear, compelling alternative to the dominant narrative of the right, that our problem is not due to spending on things like the pensions of firefighters, but to the fact that those who can afford to buy influence are rewriting the rules so they can cut themselves progressively larger slices of the American pie while paying less of their fair share for it.

But there was no story — and there has been none since.

He points out that, unlike either Roosevelt:
...when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. He never explained that decision to the public — a failure in storytelling as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it.

And here's the real problem with Obama: his failure to do anything to help, and in fact his deliberate muddying of the waters--especially given a historic level of support and potential for real change. That's why I don't do politics anymore: if Obama couldn't or wouldn't pull it off then, with the support he had and the mandate he had and the historic immolation of the economy just behind him and thus a public hungry for change, then no one, ever will be able to overcome the moneyed powers who run things. Not without something that would look very much like a revolution, some change in the way things are done that is drastic and radical.

Read the entire article. It is illuminating, and cuts through the essentially useless and retrograde left-right dialogue and shouting that litters our airwaves.