Shit that Pissed me off – 8/8

Awful People Who Don’t Deserve Pets Are Abandoning Animals Because They Don’t Look Good In Pictures

All of my cats are humane society cats.  The hardest part of adopting a cat from the humane society is reading the reasons the cat is there.  One of my cats was abandoned when her owners moved.  They left her to starve to death. If I ever met the people who did that to her, I’d want to punch them in the face.

While the headline for this article is misleading, I’m still annoyed to learn there are a large number of black cats who aren’t being adopted because people are shallow.  You can’t find a good pet with a picture.  You have to meet the animal and see if their personality meshes with yours.

Fair is fair.  You have to send the cat your picture to see if he poops on it or not.

Fair is fair. You have to send the cat your picture to see if he poops on it or not.

The thing about people who abandon animals is they all have excuses.  Aside from allergies, though, most excuses come down to failure to take responsibility for the animal.  Pets are a responsibility and not a right.  You have to be prepared to scoop up their shit and feed them and pay attention to them.

If you didn’t know that before you picked the animal up, the animal that needs to be returned is you.

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Fringe Reviews – Day 7

Ben San DelI’m not going to any Fringe shows tonight.  While there are a lot of shows left on my list, I have gotten into the habit of taking one evening of the festival off.

I recognize that my choice means there are some shows I won’t get to see this year.  That, however, is already to be expected.  There are 169 shows  in the Fringe and just over 50 potential slots an audience member can fill.  I know some people who will Iron man the fringe and try to fill every available slot.

That goal is admirable but I need a night away from the Fringe to recharge my batteries.  I’ll miss everyone at Fringe Central this evening.  That community of artists is one of my favorite parts of the Fringe experience.  But I’ve got to get some sleep!

So no new reviews tomorrow.

I saw three shows last night, though.  Here’s my thoughts on those!

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Fringe Reviews – Days 5 & 6

FinklesI have a lot of friends, old and new, who produce shows at the festival.  I’m never sure how to review their shows because I would like them to continue to be my friends even if I didn’t like the show.

I try to remember that most people who write and produce work want to hear honest feedback because it helps them get better.  When I wrote “Shroedinger’s Apocalypse” last year, I knew I was working far outside of my comfort zone.  While I felt good about a lot of the writing, I also felt that it was an imperfect work and I really wanted my peers to help me explore what I could have done to write a better show.

All this is to say that I saw some shows by friends and I’m going to write reviews.  The shows weren’t perfect, but they all had merit.

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Fringe Reviews – Days 2, 3, and 4

AllegraMy Fringe attendance was a bit down over the weekend. Not only was I involved with the opening of three different shows, there was also Guardians of the Galaxy to be considered.

Fringe is a delightfully random experience at times.  Over the weekend, I found myself going to shows simply because they were close to the venue I’d be performing in next.  The result was a few gems and a lot of things that were…OK.

Here’s the reality of the Fringe.  Most of the shows are neither great nor awful.  Most of them are somewhere in the middle.

As a fellow artist, I have great respect for anyone who produces a show at the Fringe.  They are all aiming to produce something of merit and with very few exceptions, there is merit in everything that appears on stage.  Reviewing a show, for me, should be an act of encouraging them to get better rather than tearing down their efforts.

Trying and failing is something we’ve all done.  The best producers at the Fringe have failed.  At something.  I hope.  Otherwise they suck.

So I saw a lot of stuff that didn’t really impress the heck out of me this weekend.  And that’s OK.  If any of the producers read my reviews, I’m sure that you are happy with your show.  If you find something in my review that will help you with your next show, great.  If not, keep writing shows (if you want to) and remember that the best reviewers out there aren’t trying to tear you down – they are trying to make you better.

…which implies I think I’m one of the best reviewers and I don’t think that but anyway on to the reviews…

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Friend a Day – Everyone Else

Crowd of peopleMy Friend a Day commitment was to write 100 installments and today’s blog entry is number 100.

I have a lot more than 100 friends and figuring out who I’m going to write about last has proven to be a rather large challenge.

And so, my friends, I’m copping out.  100 was an arbitrary number.  I could have just as easily written about 10 friends.  Or 50.  Or 99.

I’m not copping out, though.  It was always my plan to make Friend #100 about all the friends I didn’t mention.

If I didn’t get to you, I’m sorry.  The choice wasn’t personal.  It had a lot more to do with who I felt like writing about on a particular day than any desire to write about specific people.

Writing about my friends made me realize how incredibly lucky we all are to have friends.  As I forced myself to focus only on the positive aspects of people I know, I realized how much time we all spend focusing on the negative in ourselves and in others.

How fantastic is it that through such a disparate web of activities – college, Fringe, Renaissance Festival, CONvergence, etc – I have gotten to know so many amazing people?

And how unfair that I only chose to write about 100?  There are literally hundreds more I could write about.  Why didn’t I write about any of them?

Well, I’m writing about all of them now.  Sort of.

All the people in my life matter to me because they are smart, funny, thoughtful, creative, playful, tenacious, talented, friendly, complicated, and mostly because they are present.

Human beings are social animals and while there are certainly times where I don’t need to be social, I’m quite glad that my life has provided me with so many opportunities to be around others.

Everyone has value to someone else.  Everyone.  The trick for me is to figure out what makes them valuable and to celebrate that thing.  If you can, throw out all the rest.

Of a friend, I once said that all the best parts of them were the reason I put up with all parts that drove me nuts.  Over time, I’ve come to realize that the same can be said of all the people I know.  The best parts of all of them are the parts that are important to me.

So my final takeaway from the Friend a Day project is this:  I may not be able to write about every friend I have.  I can still choose to appreciate every friend I have.

And I do.  Thanks for reading.

Fringe Reviews – Day 1

Amateur hourThe Minnesota Fringe has begun.  As is usual, I’m involved in a few shows.  I’m also trying to watch as many of them as possible.

Because I’m involved in my own shows, I tend to avoid writing audience reviews for anything unless it is a more obscure show that I think needs a nice bump.  I have too much respect for any artist’s work to hurt their average star rating on the Fringe Festival site.

That’s why I blog my reviews.  I can speak my mind about the show but in a way that doesn’t harm the producers chances of finding an audience.

Because the Fringe is (at least in part) about taking risks and trying new things.  Even a bad show deserves an audience. They deserve the chance to have people tell them how they can produce a better show the next time around.

I’m not saying “don’t review shows on the Fringe site.”  I’m saying that my own philosophy as an artist results in different choices when it comes to reviewing shows.

So all that said, here are reviews of the shows I saw on the first day of the Fringe Festival.

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Friend a Day – David Traylor

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Photo by Peter Verrant

David is another very new friend.  I’ve known him for less than a year.  He tried out for Vilification Tennis at this year’s amateur show.  He didn’t make it into the cast because I only have room for one person this year but we did invite him to be a part of Fearless and that has proven to be a great choice.

I have so much respect for anyone who tries out for Vilification Tennis through the amateur show.  It’s about the scariest possible proposition I can think of to try out for a show in front of a live audience.  It’s a lot like American Idol without the slightest possibility of achieving any kind of celebrity.

David is well-known in geek circles as Captain America.  He’s got the look and the costume and he clearly exercises a lot more than I do.

As a part of Fearless, he’s been willing to jump into just about anything we need him to do.  When we wrote the halftime show for CONvergence this year, we decided to plug Captain America into the show because we had the perfect Captain America.

His small role underwent a whole lot of changes between first draft and final staging and he was a complete pro about all of it.  As a producer, it is great to have people who you can plug into a small but important role and know that they are going to rock it.

There are a lot of people who try out for Vilification Tennis and only a few make it into the cast.  The ones who don’t make it into the cast are typically pretty gracious and I don’t see much of them ever again.

The cool thing about Fearless is we have an opportunity to bring some of those new people with us into other performing opportunities.  I’m really glad that we made that decision because it has allowed me to get to know David a lot better over the last few months.

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