Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bruising for Besos - extended!

Adelina Anthony. Bruising for Besos. LA Gay and Lesbian Center. 3/13/09.

Adelina Anthony's Bruising for Besos has been extended until April 19, so now that you can still see it, perhaps you should. It is a lovely, melancholy piece about love and emotional and physical abuse, which means it is extremely difficult to watch. I was at first reluctant to write about it, because I love Anthony's work and commitment in general, but I had some mixed feelings about the piece. I was thoroughly impressed by Anthony's skill at weaving in and out of various characters to make this a one-woman show with many roles and many voices. Her skill as an actress is beautifully demonstrated in Bruising for Besos; watching her deftly switch between characters could be reason enough to go see it while you can.

It's an intensely personal play, however, and sometimes that sense of the personal is too heavy-handed. At points, the piece seems overwritten, as if it were trying too hard to be literary and therefore felt self-conscious. Sometimes it felt as if there weren't enough distance between Anthony as playwright, Anthony as actor, and Yoli as character.

The play takes place on a beautiful, haunting set depicting a broken down car on the side of the road outside San Antonio and that in itself spoke to me. The set is so powerful that I wish I were more inspired by the play's sense of space and time. Something about it as a memory play didn't work for me, even though it should have. I wonder if perhaps I am just temporarily frustrated with solo work and would have preferred this to be a play with multiple actors playing the multiple characters. I may wish for more theatrical magic and less monologue, but what Anthony does, she does well.

Despite my mixed feelings, I think this play is absolutely worth seeing and thinking about and discussing. It is lovely and contemplative and at times stunningly well-acted. It's a powerful departure from Anthony's previous work and as such, deserves recognition and celebration. I'm so glad it's getting the audience to extend (twice!) and if you haven't seen it, you should go.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fabulous Things To Do

I went to the Charles Phoenix show tonight night and it was awesome, but more on that later. First of all, a friend of mine and I are working on a list of kitchy, touristy, retro, or otherwise fabulous things we have to do in Southern California. Help us list!

Angel City Drive-in - drive-in movie on the top of a parking lot!
Vineland Drive-in
Cinespia cemetery screenings
Dinner and a movie at cinespace

Medusa Lounge
The Edison Bar
Saints and Sinners Lounge
The Dresden
The Derby - I think the Los Feliz location still exists, but it's unclear what's going on there now or if it's worth visiting

coffee shops/diners/restaurants:
Dinah's Family Restaurant - on Sepulveda in Culver City. Since 1959.
Bob's Big Boy (Burbank)
Pie 'n Burger
Encounter restaurant at LAX
The Pantry
Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles
Oki Dog
El Coyote
The Gardens of Taxco
Carny's - in a train!
Pink's Hot Dogs
House of Pies
Japanese curry - Hurry Curry?
The Apple Pan
A&W Rootbeer - Norwalk and Buena Park
Angelo's Drive-in - Anaheim - an actual drive-in!
Musso and Frank
Phillipe's - the original French Dip! - absolutely magnificent. Perfect texture, very tasty!
Cafe Jack - Sushi and coffee in a Titanic-themed restaurant shaped like a boat! The sushi was good, but the beverages were a bit overpriced. The pizza cutlet was weird (breaded chicken cutlet with cheese, tomato sauce, and veggies on top).
Coles (Pacific Electric Buffet) - the sandwich wasn't quite as perfect as Phillipe's, but it did come with jus for dipping. Plus, the atmosphere was way more snazzy.
Swingers Diner - great milkshakes and lots of vegetarian options. Great for late-night food.
Pann's Restaurant and Coffee Shop - Built 1958. The food was good in this original 1950s diner.

Dale's Donuts - Atlantic Ave. and Alondra Blvd. in Compton
Bellflower Bagels - 17025 Bellflower Blvd.
Randy's Donuts - by the airport!
Kindle's Donuts - The giant "do-nut" was bigger than I even imagined! And the donuts were tasty, too.
The Donut Hole - La Puente- you drive through the donuts! It was super yummy and generally awesome, but not as cheap as Randy's or Kindle's.
Donut King II - Cheap and yummy.
Doughn-t Hut - Magnolia and Buena Vista, Burbank
Frittelli's - high end donuts in Beverly Hills
Earl's - Chatsworth
Donut Man - Fresh fruit seasonal donuts, along Route 66 in Glendora
Primo's Westdale Doughnuts - "Best Donuts in LA since 1956," on Sawtelle
Stan's - Wow! This is right next to UCLA and I never went in!
Bob's Coffee and Doughnuts - Los Angeles Farmers' Market
Nickel Diner - Bacon donuts?
Angel Food Donuts -3860 Long Beach Blvd and 3657 Santa Fe Ave, Long Beach, mini giant donut
The Daily Grind Espresso - Long Beach, giant donut, possibly pink glazed?
Carl's Do-nuts and Burgers - 784 W Holt Ave, Pomona

tourist attractions:
The Gamble House - Greene & Greene Architecture, 1908
Cabazon Dinosaurs
Barnsdall Art Park/Hollyhock House - Frank Lloyd Wright (1921)
Chinatown - not as cool as other Chinatowns. We tried various odd pastries, which were weird and awesome. Lots of vaguely interesting "chinese-y" architecture including a way overdone Bank of America (we decided chinoiserie was too fancy a word for what we saw)
Watts Towers
The Hollywood Bowl
Hearst Castle
The Magic Castle
Moonlight Rollerway
Hollywood Adventist Church - (1961)
The Mission Inn

Museum of Neon Art
Museum of Jurassic Technology
cake lady mini cake museum

Burlesque at El Cid
Serial Killers and Magnum Opus at Sacred Fools
Something wacky at the Steve Allen Theater

New for summer! Ice cream, gelato and milkshakes:
Scoops - the best, hands down, in my opinion. Always new and interesting flavors!
Mashti Malone's - long time favorite! Interesting flavors like Rosewater Saffron.
Carmela Ice Cream - Hollywood and Culver City farmers' markets
Gelato Bar - 4342 ½ Tujunga Avenue, Studio City
Silky Smooth Ultra Creamery - "microcreamery" in the Beverly Center
Delicieuse - 2503 Artesia Blvd Redondo Beach, goat milk ice cream flavors
Fosselman's - 1824 W. Main St., Alhambra
Glacier Ice Cream - 1605 Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach
Gelato Bar - 4342 ½ Tujunga Avenue, Studio City
Saffron Spot - 18744 Pioneer Boulevard, Artesia

Saturday, March 07, 2009


Fringes-Margins-Borders. Highways Performance Space. 3/6/09.

I promised a report, but only have time for a quickie. The show was overall quite strong. Sean Dorsey and Scott Turner Schofield both performed pieces I'd seen multiple times before, but they were so well done that I found myself laughing and delighted anyway. Rumor has it Dorsey is looking for a bigger dance space to bring a full length show to Southern California, so someone should jump on that. Schofield will be performing his new piece, Becoming a Man in 127 Easy Steps at Highways in June! Be sure to go!

Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa, aka devil bunny, performed a piece about the expectations of femininity called "Big Pink." I like the concept a lot, but the text was really dense and rant-y. I want to see it again and think about it more.

Deadlee surprised me by linking the two songs he performed with a funny and intense personal monologue so that his performance was more than hip-hop, which was nice.

Stephanie Cooper, who performs as Thisway/Thatway, did some interesting work that was kind of a burlesque performance related to minstrelsy and set to contemporary rap/hip-hop. The costumes were fabulous and the piece had something to say, but it was a difficult thing to be an audience for in this context. I think it probably works well in a show with a lot of other burlesque numbers but it was a strange intervention for this particular context.

Saleem seems to still be working out what he has to say.

Ian MacKinnon did a piece that was for gay men. It was over the top and campy and fabulous and the audience was really laughing and enjoying it, but it wasn't for me.

That was, overall I think the problem with the evening. There wasn't a good clear establishment of tone. I suspect a lot of the artists would be happier with a loud, boisterous, supportive audience and we all loved it but were for the most part quiet and reflective. The show wasn't sold out, so come tonight and be loud! The show is definitely worth it (and if you ask real nicely, they will probably still give you Pay What You Can tickets, so don't let the money stop you. Go! It's a rare chance to see good artists who don't perform in LA nearly often enough.

Friday, March 06, 2009

To Do List

A la David Cote's dance card, I thought I'd let you know what theater I'm planning to see in the next few weeks.

First of all, I will be going to Highways all weekend this weekend for Fringes-Margins-Borders: Queer Arts Exchange. Sean Dorsey and Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa rarely perform in LA and are not to be missed, and I've been a booster for Scott Turner Schofield for years. I'm seeing all three performances with three different groups of friends and I'd love to see more friendly faces. Tune back in late tonight for my thoughts!

I was also planning on attending the Forrest J Ackerman Tribute Double Feature of Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman and The Time Travelers at the Egyptian, but it seems to be sold out. Boo! If anyone has knowledge or advice on how I might get a ticket, let me know.

Next week I'm seeing Adelina Anthony perform Bruising for Besos at the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. I should have promoted this here earlier. It looks to be much more serious and intimate than Adelina's work that I've seen in the past and I'm excited to see what she does with it. It's getting great reviews. It closes March 15, so get yourself there ASAP!

I haven't bought tickets yet (trying to convince someone to go with me), but I'm also going to try to see The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Ark theatre sometime in the weekend of March 12-15. The play is by camp queen Charles Busch and is a hilarious spoof of murder mysteries. Two actors play several characters each and there's a lot of running back and forth and theatrical magic. I've read it many times, and always wanted to see it performed.

On Thursday, March 19th I'm planning to trek to Pasadena to see Charles Phoenix's Southern Californialand! Slideshow. I got a taste of Phoenix's work at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater tribute a couple of weeks ago, and I'm dying to see a full Charles Phoenix show, especially one focused on Southern California history! It's part of the Sidney D. Gamble Lecture Series, and I'm impressed with their taste. Phoenix is fabulous retro fun, complete with the most amazing suits I have ever seen!

Then on the 20th, I'm going to see Mike Daisey perform How Theater Failed America. My roommate assures me that this is a wonderful, inspiring show, even though I have very mixed feelings about his polemic against MFA programs, which seems at least partially to be an attack on professors. There have been responses and follow-ups all around the theater blogosphere. Anyway, I'm definitely curious to see the show, and the talkback on the state of Los Angeles and American theater afterward. I'm also going to see Daisey workshop his new show, The Last Cargo Cult. Mostly because I want to encourage the Kirk Douglas to have more $5 tickets for work in progress.

That's my theater plan for the rest of the month. Thoughts? Recommendations? Feel free to join me at any of these shows!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Movie Reviews? Ask the Internet

The Rotten Tomatoes Show.

I found myself watching The Rotten Tomatoes Show, a new movie review show on Yes, it's an internet tv show based on a website. Sounds silly, I know, and I probably wouldn't have watched it if I didn't distantly know some of the people involved and if I hadn't been able to Tivo it to watch on my TV via Time Warner Cable's deal with current. But I was actually pleasantly surprised. The show got off to a slightly awkward start - it was cute and clever but the tempo was a bit off at the beginning. Host Brett Erlich at first didn't have quite the energy for a host/announcer, but by the end of the show he had picked up and I loved him. Ellen Fox was OK at the beginning and grew on me as the episode progressed. I suspect after a few episodes, their banter and comfort levels will improve and they will be rockstars.

The real advantage of this show, in addition to harnessing the web 2.0 power of community input, was the cleverness of its segments. The haiku reviews and three sentence reviews were fun with potential for awesomeness. The Top 5 list was surprisingly clever and film literate. And some of the clips of webcam reviews by viewers were great. As they build an audience, I suspect there will be some good hilarious commentary. Mostly, however, I want to request more enthusiasm for the badness of bad movies. As a bad scifi fan, I'd love to see more commentary on the insanity of B-movies and other wackiness. You'd think commentary on Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li and video game movies would be the most opportunity for clever sarcasm, but for me this first segment disappointed. I will, however, be enthusiastically Tivoing this show in the future. It feels young, clever, and entertaining.

Do I want to consider this as the future of criticism? Well, I don't think crowdsourcing is a substitute for my favorite NPR film critics (or local newspaper film and theater coverage), but I haven't watched entertainment news on TV in many years, and this has definitely gotten my attention, and I suspect it will only get better.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Wacky Late Night Theater Antics!

Serial Killers! Sacred Fools Theater. 2/28/2009.

Almost randomly, my roommate and I found ourselves at Sacred Fools Theater tonight for Serial Killers, a late night theater smackdown in which a plethora of actors perform five ten(ish)-minute plays in a madcap fashion, and then the audience votes which 3 serials continue in the next installment. There was a wide range of skill and style in both the plays themselves and the actors performing them, but there was a ton of wacky fun regardless of petty notions like "quality" and "logic." There were inside jokes, crazy nicknames, outlandish concepts, and musical numbers! What more could you ask for in a night of theater?

As an audience, we witnessed:

"Hi Hun, I'm Home!" by Anna Baardsen and Ari Radousky, a sitcom in which Attila the Hun seems to be the patriarch and Mr. Mom of a contemporary American family. It's a fabulous concept, and I totally would have loved to see more, but the episode we watched felt like a conclusion and the audience voted it out.

"The Pembridge Place Panic: A True Story" by Sean Sweeney, a campy horror story about a couple moving into a haunted house, then hiring a TV show host and his crew to investigate the mysterious phenomena. As far as I was concerned, this show starred Michael Holmes' (I think, I wasn't so clear on which character and actor were which) eyebrows, which were awesome.

"The Nitro Hour" by JJ Mayes, a variety show hosted by incompetent hosts. It didn't have much of a plot and seemed mostly to be inside jokes. But Chairman Barnes' announcer voice was awesome! This will not be making it to episode two.

"A Cat Wrote This Play!" by Padriac Duffy, an absurdist romp through a cat's stream of consciousness as imagined by a human playing a cat. This made no sense whatsoever, but it was both charming and hilarious nonetheless. It will be continuing on to episode 6, and deservedly so.

"Seamen! The Musical!" by Joe Jordan, a musical about men on a ship who just happen to like to dance. This was by far my favorite, even though nothing really happened and it may have just been an excuse to make gay jokes. This show was delightfully retro (sort of On the Town meets The Village People) and will continue on to episode 5!

The next installment isn't until March 28, and I may be tempted to go again. And apparently they're doing a playoff between the longest running serials of the year in May and June, which sounds fabulous! Anyway, I totally recommend Serial Killers as rousing theatrical good times where nothing matters as much as a good (usually dirty) joke. This is one of those shows that reminds me why I love theater and theater folks so much, and it's definitely worth the ($7) price of admission.

Now, all I need is a queer version of this. Basically, I wish I could be in New York to see Room for Cream at La MaMa. It sounds awesome.