2018 Fringe Reviews – Day 2

Generally, the opening few days of the Fringe involve a lot of shows by people I know. That way I can front load with stuff I know I want to see either to support my friends or because I have a lot of confidence in the company who produced the work. Then I can listen to audience members and read reviews to find the shows I didn’t know about but should have.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to do the Fringe. At times, I’m just at a theater and decide to see what’s next. Sometimes, that decision is a great one. Sometimes, it is….I’m going to say less successful.

For day 2, I’m still watching the shows I already knew I wanted to see. But we’ll rapidly start transitioning to the experiments. And the experiments can be a lot more fun. Because you just don’t know what is going to happen.

Remy Raygun of the Space Brigade: A Build-Your-Own Space Adventure

I love everything about the concept of this show. A build your own space opera with live music that is also a choose your own adventure? I’m in.

Where this show had a little trouble was execution. I’m not talking about actors having trouble remembering lines because that happens in a lot of shows on opening night. The issue was the show really promised to be something with a lot more action and what took place on stage was really static.

I lost count of the number of times the actors formed a straight line across the stage and basically didn’t move from that configuration. The audience voted for “action” twice and the end result was something that wasn’t active. In a choose your own adventure, that is doubly frustrating because it feels like a tease. As an audience member, I was given a choice but the result of that choice isn’t what I thought I was going to get (note I voted for the non action option both times).

The actors were enthusiastic and grasped the silliness of the concept. I love the fact the cast was diverse and all women. I still love everything about the concept. I got lost, though, because the show needed urgency. It needed to feel kinetic. But (for me at least) it just didn’t.

I note that there were, apparently, some audio issues that may have caused some challenges.

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2018 Fringe Reviews – Day 1

The 2018 Minnesota Fringe Festival has begun!  This year I find myself involved as a writer in three different shows and an actor in two. I watch as many shows during the Festival as I can, schedule permitting, because I just love the crazy theatrical orgy that takes over the Twin Cities theater scene for these ten days.

A few notes on my reviews:

I don’t use a star rating system. If you got a show on the stage, you are great. Maybe I didn’t like your show and for that, I’m sorry because I honestly want to love everyone’s show. Going to bad theater doesn’t make anyone happy.

If I don’t like a show, I’ll try to be constructive as to why. As a writer, my bias is always going to lean towards what is wrong with the writing. There could be other issues but the writer is likely to experience the bulk of my wrath because that’s what I know about.

So I’ll be as brutally honest as I can. But I can never be that brutal because seriously – they made a show! I just love that Fringe lets anybody make a show.

A Family Friendly Pulp Fiction (Not Appropriate for Families)

This would be one of the three shows I wrote. The concept came from the inclusion of a Family Fringe as part of the festival this year. I loved the idea but got to thinking (as I do) “what is the worst conceivable idea for a Family Friendly show?”

I don’t know if a Family Friendly Pulp Fiction is the worst conceivable idea for a Family Friendly show. Debbie Does Dallas might be a little worse.

But starting from that weird idea, I decided to turn Pulp Fiction into a “family friendly” experience.

I knew that just substituting swear words, however, wasn’t going to be more than a five minute gimmick. Fortunately, I was able to add more meat to the bones of that dumb idea and the result is something I’m really proud of.

More than that, I’m proud that the reviews so far from the Pioneer Press, the Star Tribune, and Shit Analysis have all picked up on the deeper themes I was exploring. That’s pretty cool.

I’m sure I’ll write more about this show because I’ll be there four more times.

Next show is Sunday at 5:30 PM at Theater in the Round Read More…

Shit that Pissed me Off 7/27/18

Parade Announcer Gets Called on Sexist Bullshit by a 12-year-old

This is a great story so before I start with a trademark rant, let me just say how fantastic it is that a 12-year-old girl recognized the sexism at work and said something.

In Russell Township, Ohio, there was a parade. Parades happen in a lot of small towns so this is nothing to be surprised about. Taking part in the parade were the local girl and boy scout troops. Also not much of a surprise. It gets the kids out of the house and engaging in physical activity. I’m all for it.

As they walked by, the parade announcer said the boy scouts were the “future leaders of America.” OK, I guess. Seems kind of presumptuous but OK.

Then the girls walked by and the announcer said they were just there to have fun.

In reference to the Cyndi Lauper song which, though catchy and awesome, sends something of a poor message when it comes to the ambitions of young women.

Also, I’m guessing the Girl Scouts of Russell Township weren’t dressed like this (not that it would be a problem if they were).

Julianne Spyer was walking with the Girl Scouts that day and was none to pleased to learn that the boys were future leaders of America and the girls just wanted to have some fun. She wrote a letter to the editor and it went viral.

Everyone is super proud of Julianne for calling out the sexism displayed but I have to wonder – what now? Do you think that we are suddenly going to start doing better because of a 12-year-old in Ohio? Or are we so busy patting the kid on the head that we are going to stop there?

I also wonder, if this letter had been written by someone who was not a twelve year old, would it have gotten any attention at all? Would anyone else have noticed the subtle sexism that the announcer probably didn’t even think about?

I don’t wish to belittle what Julianne did one bit. She noticed something wrong and she spoke up. Her actions end up being irrelevant unless the next local parade announcer doesn’t make the same mistake. Or gets called out when they do.

Let’s celebrate Julianne because she is an awesome little girl and one of the future leaders of America. Even better, let’s celebrate her by actually listening to her message.

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Shit that Pissed me Off – 7/20/18

Trump Corner: The Russia Problem

I don’t usually lead with Donald Trump because he’d pretty much always a problem. Him and the people who blindly accept everything he does as anything other than the actions of a narcissistic racist whose every action is meant to make things better for himself and his family members.  And who is also a sexual predator.

This week, Trump had a private meeting with Vladimir Putin and proceeded to throw his own intelligence agencies under the bus in the press conference that followed. What he did was so blatant, even Fox news had to acknowledge it at first. They couldn’t side with Trump until a day later when he basically said that he didn’t mean what he said and also fake news.

Because the news is super fake when it is quoting what Trump said into a microphone.

Now all of this was bad. But I feel as if we lost something while we were all being pissed off at our President for being a clueless asshole.

He had a private meeting with Vladimir Putin and we still don’t know what they talked about.

Did Putin ride to the meeting on a horse while shirtless? WE DON’T EVEN KNOW THAT!!!!

Putin has even announced he is beginning to work on military agreements reached at that meeting. But we don’t know what those agreements are. It isn’t even clear that our military is aware of what those agreements are.

Understand, our President called the European Union our “foe” last week. He then had a closed door meeting with Putin in which even his staff was not allowed. And he got together with Kim Jong Un earlier this year.

When a President of the United States has nicer things to say about two dictators than he does about democratically elected leaders of state, it should scare the ever loving shit out of you.

This isn’t politics. Stop loving this guy because he’s a Republican. He isn’t. He’s a guy who will do anything and everything to better himself.

I don’t know what he talked about with Putin. And neither do you. Don’t get caught up being pissed at him for insulting the US intelligence community to forget that he was buddying up to an oppressive dictator.

….and so was Putin.

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Shit that Pissed me Off – 7/13/18

Minneapolis Police Detain Two Black Kids Because Someone Reported the Kids had a Gun (They Didn’t)

So I’m just going to start local because I’m from St. Paul.

For those of you who aren’t from Minnesota, St. Paul is the Twin City right next to Minneapolis that you never hear about because Prince wasn’t from here.

Anyway, these kids were hanging out at Minnehaha Falls park and apparently dealing with some harassment from a white teenager who was calling them names. Racist names. Also, he was telling them he had a knife. No word on what happened to the racist white kid, by the way.

The police showed up, guns drawn, because there was a report that the kids had a gun. They didn’t.

If Bruce Willis had been in Minnehaha Park with a gun, they would have just asked for his autograph.

Did I mention the kids were between nine and twelve years old?

At least two of them were handcuffed, one of them without his shirt. He was begging for his shirt because he was being bitten by mosquitoes.

The cops didn’t give the kid his shirt because fuck that child for having been the target of a racist attack! Or something.

So you can’t even be a black kid hanging around in a park these days. But you can totally be a white racist.

The incident is “under investigation.” I’m sure the police officers feared for their life (I mean those kids might have had a gun) and the fact they traumatized some pre-teens will result in a firm reminder that you shouldn’t handcuff a fucking nine year old when they’ve done nothing wrong.

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Shit that Pissed me Off – 6/29/18

Walgreens Pharmacist Denies a Woman Miscarriage Medication

Walgreens allows their pharmacists to refuse service should they have a moral objection to the prescription being administered. I guess that’s OK because you wouldn’t want anyone…

…Hang on….

It isn’t OK. In this case you had a woman who wanted to have a baby and was about to miscarry and the pharmacist basically shamed her by publicly refusing to fill the prescription.

This pharmacist has a job to do. And the bullshit idea that his deeply held religious beliefs should prevent him from doing his job is completely backwards. He still should do his job.

We all have to do shit we don’t want to do all the time. A lot of us don’t like our jobs but we still do them. I don’t like driving when other drivers are on the road because all other drivers are awful. I do it anyway. So pharmacist guy should just do his fucking job and hope god forgives him for doing the job he decided he wanted to do.

I’m sure there is a biblical passage that supports such an act. And there is also one that condemns it. They might be the same passage.

Because if this exists, you can use the Bible to justify damn near anything.

This case is even worse, by the way. He could have gotten another pharmacist to fill her prescription (per company policy). But he didn’t. Because his opportunity to shame her for what he viewed as an immoral choice (even though it wasn’t but it shouldn’t matter if it was) was more important.

And I know that we live in a world where bakers can refuse to make cakes for gay couples because it is OK to be a homophobic bigot as long as you can claim the bible is on your side. And that world means pharmacists can shame women for miscarrying without anything more than some online blowback.

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it. This shit is not OK.

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Shit that Pissed me Off – 6/22/18

Apologies for missing the last couple of weeks. I was on vacation.

Let’s Just Talk About the Children

The last few installments of STPMO have been focused on a single issue and this week is likely to do the same thing because holy shit is this country fucked up.

I mean, we are fucked up in a lot of ways. But when we are having a debate over whether or not it is OK to forcibly separate children from their parents for months or years, I don’t even know who we are any more. We seem overly concerned with the fact these are immigrant children as if that somehow makes it a different conversation than if these were anyone’s kids.

Never mind whether or not it is legal. I mean, it kind of is but it kind of isn’t and I try to keep this blog to about 1500 words or less so there’s no way we have that kind of time. We shouldn’t be asking if it is legal. We should be asking if it is ethical.

I imagine it would surprise several members of the Trump administration to learn that they are, in fact, two separate words with two separate definitions.

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