Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Lesbian Comedy Marathon

This weekend! (and the following two weekends Nov. 5-21)! Fabulous lesbian stand-up comedy/performance art. Local Los Angeles chicana lesbiana performance artist Adelina Anthony is presenting her whole Hocicona trilogy in sequence and I for one am super excited to be seeing all three pieces. In fact, I'm a little worried for my face, because when I have come from Anthony's shows in the past, the muscles in my face have been sore from laughing so much. I'm not sure I can take the 3 days in a row workout, but I'll be there to try.

I've seen the first of Anthony's pieces, "La Angry Xicana", several times already, so I can attest that it's delightful and hilarious. In it, Anthony discusses politics, Hollywood, and whatever else is on her mind or makes her angry. Every time I see it, it feels fresh and new.

In "La Sad Girl," which I have seen in early workshops but not in a finalized form, Anthony dons kinky goth-ish clothing and discusses break-ups, BDSM, and other subjects of a personal (fictional) nature. The refrain "Que Sad!" echos throughout the piece, but only becomes funnier each time.

The third piece, "La Chismosa," I have only seen in excerpts. Anthony adopts the persona of a knocked-up gossip to discuss politics and popular culture, using live facebook posts to share chisme about her audience. Last time I saw parts of it, it had some very serious professors rolling in the aisles.

What is a 'hocicona,' you ask? Well a moment of googling seems to suggest that it means "snout" or "long-nosed" when associated with various animals (ie the longnosed stingray is called the raya hocicona and the snouted chinchbug is the chinche hocicona), but associated with humans, the word most commonly means "big-mouthed" or "foul-mouthed." This interview with Anthony defines it as "a shameless, big-mouthed backtalker." Indeed, Anthony is wonderfully shameless in her comedy and she definitely gets the last word.

I can personally attest that all 3 pieces are on their own hilarious and brilliantly critical. I can't wait to see them all together. So brush up on your Spanglish and prepare some of your sexiest outfits, because Anthony's audiences are pretty darn hot. Just don't walk in late or leave your cell phone on, because Anthony is known to ridicule mercilessly any audience member that catches her attention. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Friday, April 16, 2010

In The Political Wake

The Wake. Lisa Kron. dir. Leigh Silverman. Kirk Douglas Theater. 4/15/10.

Lisa Kron's new play, The Wake might be a truly great play. I don't think it's quite there yet. I wasn't completely seduced. But I'm totally interested in a second date.

The Wake is a soaring attempt to map the political on the personal, to discuss the politics of the last ten years from a point of view that is both embraces and indicts American liberalism and exactly the people Kron expects to find in her theater audiences. I don't completely buy it, but there are some absolutely stunning, true, painful moments along the way.

The story focuses (too much, if you ask me) on Ellen, played by Heidi Schreck, who was both the center point and the weak point in the play (probably through no fault of the actor's, who handled a ton of complicated dialogue with aplomb, if not charm). I just spent way too much of the play hating how utterly solipsistic she was. I think her privileged self-centeredness is an important point, but that it needs to be revealed more slowly; her astounding lack of awareness of anyone around her should only be completely understood in Act II, and before then she needs to show some redeeming qualities rather than just an egomaniacal tendency to lecture. As an audience member who believed immediately that Ellen was intended to be a representative of the play's audience, I wanted at least some sense of the good to entice me into accepting Kron's more difficult assessments.

Where the play really sings is in the group scenes. The ensemble of this play is truly excellent, and when all the characters get talking, they all have such great depth and humanity and differentiation to their interactions that I don't know how anyone could help but fall in love with them. Carson Elrod as Ellen's partner, Danny, and Andrea Frankle as his lesbian sister, Kayla were absolutely delightful, real, wonderful characters and Dierdre O'Connell as Judy as an older, acerbic, out-of-place houseguest and worldly foreign aid worker brightened the play up considerably and counteracted Ellen delightfully. I would have loved them to be more clearly developed in relationship to the play's political allegory. Why can't they all be developed as equal representations of failures and blind spots in the American character?

Where the play falls apart for me is in the burden it places on Ellen and the parallels it makes between the personal and the political for her. She spends far too much time talking directly to the audience, explaining revelations that should be made in conversations between characters. If I were in charge, I would eliminate all of these monologues except maybe the very first and trim all of Ellen's text. She's supposed to be talky, but I think that can be communicated more clearly and efficiently than it is. Some of these rants are smart, but none of them are entirely necessary. The play spends way too much time telling us that Ellen is smart and complicated when far too often what we see of her is one-note and simplistic, though verbose. I can accept intellectually that that is the point, but I find it profoundly unpleasant to have to sit through it. I would take away some of that, but spend a little more time working up the relationships between the political current events timeline and the personal events in the play. I liked very much in the end how Ellen in conversation with Judy jumped back and forth between relationships and politics, and I would have liked to see more hints of that during the rest of the play. The politics were generally represented by news clips and projections, which were very good, but didn't always work as well as I wanted them to as representations of the personal relationships. Perhaps they needed to be juxtaposed more closely, but I didn't always see which parallels the play wanted me to make. This is especially true in discussing the projection of American politics in the long term, which was actually smart and yet didn't clearly map to the personal/political allegory of the characters. Basically, it felt like Ellen was too static of a character and didn't really grow or change even in what should have been powerful revelations about herself and her belief. That may be true about us as a country, but it's pretty difficult for telling a story.

While it isn't by any means a perfect play and I definitely feel that it needs some cuts, The Wake is an unqualified success in that I left the theater thinking and talking about the play, and the politics. It reflects beautifully, if pessimistically, on where we are now, although the answers about what to do about it are disturbingly absent. I'm excited to hear about how it will grow and change at Berkeley Rep and the Public Theater. I'm so glad I got to see it first, and I hope that CTG will offer more exciting new plays (especially those by women!) like this.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not-So-Noir New Musical

Nightmare Alley. The Geffen Playhouse. 4/12/10.

I feel guilty reviewing the shows I see at the Geffen, since I ended up with tickets for the first preview (hey, it's all I can afford) and at that stage, the productions often show signs of being not quite ready for prime time with flubbed lines and occasional acting failures. The cast of Nightmare Alley, however, seemed well-prepared and professional and deserves nothing but applause for their performances. The worst side-effect of the preview that I noticed was that the actors were over-mic'd so that their powerful voices were loud enough to be cringe-worthy from where I was in the back of the balcony. This show was excellently cast with talented performers who had lovely voices and handled the music beautifully. In fact, I loved the cast and most of the music. Larry Cedar was especially charming as Pete, the surprisingly spry drunken old carny who haunts the main character (Stan, played forcefully by James Barbour).

While the performances were great and the music enjoyable, the plot of the show decidedly needs work. The musical departs significantly from the 1947 Tyrone Power film, but I haven't read the book, so perhaps it remains true to that plot. Unfortunately, several of the plot points don't work particularly well as they stand in the musical at the moment. That gritty, dark nightmare sensibility is desperately missing in a show that otherwise has a lot of potential.

I like the choice to emphasize the carnival as being in the 1930s dust bowl and the sense of desperation and poverty barely contrasted with the hustle and artifice of a dingy sideshow provide a lot of evocative opportunity, of which the production fails to take full advantage. The carnival needs to be established early on (preferably with a strong opening production number, which this show lacked) as a combination of nightmare and promise. As an audience member, I need to feel the desperation and cynicism and fascination of the carnival as a "Nightmare Alley." Instead, the show opens with Zeena the fortune-teller (played by Mary Gordon Murray) moralizing about fate and choosing your path in a way that seems to shut down rather than compel the audience's engagement and imagination.

There was also an odd sense of referencing the Wizard of Oz, with Cedar as very Ray Bolger-esque, Glendening first appearing in the funnel hat of the the tin man, and Michael McCarty having some of the vaudeville spirit of the Bert Lahr's cowardly lion, but I thought these references did a disservice to the show, because the last thing we need from our leading man, who should be charming and ambitious and manipulative, is an association with the wide-eyed innocence of Judy Garland's Dorothy Gale. Stan should be at home in the carnival from the first, not as disoriented as Dorothy arriving in Oz, and while the moment of recognition of the allusions was fun, it took me out of the spirit of the show.

The show makes several similar unfortunate choices that imply the need for a bit of a re-write, but this is a musical that I want to fix, not dismiss. It has a lot of potential, but it doesn't yet capture the grittiness and desperation that it needs to make it work. Go see it for the music by Jonathan Brielle and some really strong performances, particularly by Sarah Glendening as the spirited ingenue and Cedar in several roles. Cedar's duet with Mary Gordon Murray, "I Get By," was my favorite number in the show by far. I was also happy to run across Melody Butiu, a local actress who I've seen in many excellent performances, as one of four severely underutilized chorusgirls/backup singers who need a more compelling role in the show. While I'm not an expert, their costumes suggested 1940s pinup rather than 1930s carnival worker to me and I would have rather seen them more clearly integrated into the scenes in which they performed. With a stronger opening and some plot and character revisions, this could be a really fun, dark musical, but it's not quite there yet.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

On My Radar

It's been forever since I've done this, but here are some events the internet should know more about:

The Wake, by Lisa Kron: Lisa Kron, one of the 5 Lesbian Brothers, though perhaps more famous for her Tony-nominated play, The Well, is back with a new work about politics, elections, and a burgeoning lesbian relationship. That's all I really know, except all the news and reviews are excellent. It's at the Kirk Douglas through April 18 and I MUST GO.

Circle X is currently doing Sheila Callaghan's Lascivious Something at Inside the Ford. It's set in Greece in the Reagan '80s and I'm totally curious. The title is wonderfully decadent. Plus, support woman playwrights!

Exploring Metaculture with Devil Bunny
Thursday, April 8, 2010
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm, Dodd Hall - Room 147

Join Devil Bunny in Bondage, AKA Gigi Otálvaro-Hormillosa, for an evening of performance, writing and video works, featuring a diverse cast of characters such as extraterrestrial, feminist heroes, cinematic gorillas in pink-ray, ethnotopic inverted minstrels, and supernatural mestizas that exist along various points of the time-space-culture continuum. The evening will end with an artist talk and Q & A.

And if I were in San Francisco:

APRIL 23rd-25th

intersection for the arts

Adelina Anthony writes: I'm excited to be one of the performers in "La Semilla Caminante/The Traveling Seed: A Multimedia Performance Work." It is a journey where indigenous myth resurfaces through contemporary story-telling. It is a story of travel, crossing river and ocean, and coming home to where we started. Created by ground-breaking artist activists Celia Hererra-Rodriguez, Cherríe Moraga & Alleluia Panis. (Tix $5-$15)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Where's the Justice?

RFK: Journey to Justice. LA Theatre Works. 3/18/10.

First and foremost, let me say that I'm generally in favor of L.A. Theater Works, The Play's the Thing on NPR, the commissioning of new plays, and even historical docudrama as a genre. However, RFK: The Journey to Justice, is a pretty terrible example of all of these things. The actors were fine, in fact, many of them were excellent voice talent, but, the play itself was problematic at best.

First of all, I honestly believe that in this day and age, it is decidedly unacceptable and uninteresting to write a play that features 8 men in suits and one woman playing mostly wives and secretaries. I don't care if this is a play about a famous man. Surely he met and had interesting and historically relevant interactions with women at some point between 1958 and 1968. If we don't consistently, repeatedly, vocally tell the world that this is absurd, apparently the world will keep commissioning and producing plays that perpetuate the myth that women only exist as a footnote to history.

OK, after the feminist rant, let's talk about the play itself. It's a weird play. It supposedly depicts Bobby Kennedy's slow realization of the importance of civil rights and his growing political conscience at a time when the world was changing. This could be a fascinating subject, but in this particular context, it really wasn't. Part of this was because the play was a docudrama and thus kept itself mostly to events that were on the historical record, which meant that there were many excerpts from speeches and even the off the record private conversations felt like speeches. Nothing in the play felt intimate or personal at all. The arc of the play didn't even really build properly to give weight to RFK's commitment to civil rights as the turning point of the play. It depicted a slow process of being forced to action by political circumstances that more undermined than celebrated RFK's civil rights record, and then all of a sudden in Act II, it seemed like he really cared. In telling RFK's story, the play didn't really show anything that couldn't be seen on a timeline.

But worst of all for me, the play was spectacularly infuriating, depressing, and perhaps even cynical. Because of the way the story was framed, the whole show was a march toward three assassinations. You knew they were coming from the very beginning, because you know your history, so you get the feeling that the whole play and by extension the civil rights movement is kind of futile and hopeless, both because of how much racism and poverty and injustice there still is in the world and because the play perpetuates an idea that history (or hope, or change) is the story of the great works of great men, all of whom are brutally murdered.

I don't know how anyone can watch this play and not think about how low the percentage of enrollment of African-American students is at universities (2% at UCLA in 2006, though up a bit since then), or how the combination of economic downturn and budget shortfalls are decimating services to the poor, or the current healthcare fight. I know perfectly well that most of the audience wasn't sitting there like I was listening to all the play's rhetoric about equality and justice and being furious that no one is standing up and saying the same things about LGBT rights. On a day when Lt. Dan Choi chained himself to the white house fence because HE IS BEING FIRED FOR BEING GAY, it was hard to watch a play about a white guy's valuable if occasionally paternalistic and politically motivated interest in civil rights without feeling both furious and cynical about the possibility of anyone paying attention to the current civil rights struggles. Usually, I would give a play the benefit of the doubt in relation to current events, but this particular play made very clear that it was NOT about gay rights. There were a couple of mean-spirited J. Edgar Hoover gay jokes and a lot of emphasis on the equal rights of MEN that basically built connections between the characters and with the audience through the celebration of heterosexual masculinity. Yes, of course, this is a representation of a different time and different attitudes, but the past is always filtered through the present and in this particular version, the patriarchal masculinity and homophobia are being perpetuated rather than critiqued. Historical docudrama should be an opportunity to revisit and reevaluate history through the lens of drama and distance; this production didn't provide the drama, or the reevaluation that this story need and deserves.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Curiouser and Queerer

Project Wonderland. Bootleg Theater. 2/14/10.

Bootleg Theater's Project Wonderland is a wild and wonderful live version of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland complete with excellent puppetry and delightfully strange musical numbers.

The production tells the Alice in Wonderland story as you know it, but also includes a depiction of Charles Dodgson (whose pen name was Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell as a framing story. Lon Haber plays Dodgson, but also steps into the role of Alice when she crosses into Wonderland (when Dodgson goes into an opium-induced dream), so that this production allows the modern assumption of Dodgson's attraction to Alice but also offers a more poignant (and less creepy) possibility of Dodgson identifying with Alice and wanting to be her rather than be with her. Haber makes a surprisingly engaging Alice leading a truly fabulous ensemble cast, including a chorus of five other Alices that sadly disappeared into other roles after a few scenes.

Everyone in the show gave skilled performances, but I was particularly impressed with Matthew Patrick Davis as the Mad Hatter among other roles. In addition to being a giant (6'8" according to his website) with excellent physical comedy skills, he's also adorable and managed to be astonishingly earnest even in clown makeup when he had a brief appearance as Duckworth, a friend of Dodgson's. He's prone to mugging and thereby looking almost exactly like a young Jim Carey, which I enjoy less than some of the other things he does, but he's definitely one to watch and I will gladly follow any future theater endeavors. The mad tea party scene went on a little long, but watching Davis cavort in crazy striped pants and a top hat helped prevent boredom even when the scene dragged.

I also very much enjoyed Jessica Hanna as the White Rabbit (with an excellent signing voice) and Jabez Zuniga as the Queen of Hearts (and as the March Hare, but the Queen of Hearts was way more fabulous). The entire ensemble did a highly entertaining job with music by Indira Stefanianna (and a few classic rock standards) and dance numbers choreographed by Ken Roht (the mad genius behind the 99-cent store extravaganzas that usually inhabit the evidence room/bootleg around Christmas).

A huge amount of credit must go to director Robert A. Prior who also adapted the show. It makes me wonder why Prior and his Fabulous Monsters Performance Group isn't on my radar. I definitely want to see and know about whatever Prior does in the future; I was seriously intrigued. It was a clever production, subtly suggesting issues of queer (gay and/or transgender) identity and identification, but also emphasizing how we raise and educate children and indoctrinate them into adult social forms. This production gave the distinct impression that the grown-up world of schools and tea parties and croquet and court rooms is the source of all nonsense, and that the process of growing up is memorizing absurd words and social forms that never come out quite right. I thought that this was a brilliant combination of themes and that the production emphasized this element of Carroll's book quite well, especially in the caterpillar (played by Michael Bonnabel) scene with its poetry recitation and discussion of transformation.

Most of all, though, the stand-out aspects of this production were the costumes by Teresa Shea and the puppets by Lynn Jeffries. Infinitely inventive, this show was a visual delight. Jeffries' shadow puppets were particularly clever and astonishing. They did an excellent job visualizing the crazy wonderland world of this production, from giant and miniature Alices to dancing starfish and lobsters. The Queen of Hearts' sequined cone bra totally stole the show.

Overall, it's a fun show though it does run a little long (1 hr 45 min with no intermission), and maybe one or two scenes were longer than they needed to be. It's a good homage to both Carroll's book and the film versions I recall fondly from my childhood. I'm sorry I went to the last performance, so recommending it doesn't achieve much, but I really did enjoy the show with all its visual spectacle. It inspired me to think differently about a familiar story, and that in itself is an impressive achievement.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Really cool event!

This shows just how nerdy I am, but I think this is a totally awesome sounding event and I seriously wish I were in the Bay Area to enjoy it. If you know anyone up there, please tell them about this. How cool is it that David Henry Hwang is going back to his alma mater to stage the play that started it all and to celebrate the student theater group he founded?!?

Please join the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club
in welcoming...

David Henry Hwang '79
Hope Nakamura '82
Nancy Takahashi Hatamiya '81
Lisa Pan '81

...back to campus for

the Asian American Theater Project's
30th anniversary re-staging of
David Henry Hwang's Obie Award-winning Play:


The play that started it all, "FOB" was written by David Henry Hwang while
he was an undergraduate at Stanford. He and his friends founded the Asian
American Theater Project in order to produce the play for the first time
at Stanford's Asian American theme dorm in 1979. Hwang's career-launching
play would go on to premier Off-Broadway and win an Obie Award.

Thursday, 2/18 @ 7pm ($5)
Friday, 2/19 @ 7pm ($5)
* Saturday, 2/20 @ 3pm ($10) *

at the Nitery Theater in Old Union

Special Events Following Saturday Show
featuring playwright David Henry Hwang '79 and original cast and crew
members Hope Nakamura '82, Nancy Takahashi Hatamiya '81, and Lisa Pan '81

FOB Alumni Panel @ 5pm, Nitery Theater
Immediately follows Saturday show, included in ticket price.

FOB Reception @ 6 pm, A3C Ballroom
FREE. Refreshments provided.

Reserve Your Play Tickets Now

SAPAAC members, contact Cynthia Liao '09
( for discount

David Henry Hwang is the author of M. Butterfly and Yellowface among many
others. He was born in Los Angeles, California and graduated from Stanford
University as well as Yale School of Drama. Hwang was twenty-one and had
just graduated from Stanford when his first play, FOB, was accepted for
production in at the National Playwrights Conference. The very next year,
FOB won an Obie Award as the best new play of the season. Hwang holds
honorary degrees from Columbia College in Chicago and The American
Conservatory Theatre. He lives in New York City with his wife, actress
Kathryn Layng, and their children, Noah David and Eva Veanne.
This is the Stanford Asian Pacific American Alumni Club (SAPAAC) e-mail
list, hosted by the Stanford Alumni Association.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Military Intelligence and Sex Wars

North Atlantic. The Wooster Group. The REDCAT. 2/10/10.

North Atlantic is a Wooster Group deconstruction of military and gender politics, set more or less during the Cold War. South Pacific it ain't. It offers a wonderfully disturbing, problematic exploration of sex as war and sex in war, exploiting and exploding mid-century gender roles and the conventions of war movies. This piece differs from the Wooster Group productions I have seen in the past because it isn't an explicit deconstruction of one or two significant texts, but rather a critical response to an entire genre (or three).

First and foremost, North Atlantic is a piece about military culture and the military in popular culture. The action takes place on an aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic (although you wouldn't necessarily know that unless you read it in the program) and begins with a wonderfully gruff young officer (Roscoe Chizzum, I believe was his character name) spouting military intelligence cliches at two enlisted men. His rapid-fire delivery of utter nonsense was one of many high points of the production for me.

The production comes into focus when Wooster Group veteran Kate Valk appears as Ann Pussey, serving as madam for a team of secretaries. The women offer a series of bawdy sexual comments about competing in an upcoming wet uniform contest as they fiddle manically with reel-to-reel tape and rotary phones, separated from the downstage playing area of the men by a long table on a raked platform stretching upstage at a steep angle. Although all of the women were excellent, I found Maura Tierney with her shaved head and short shorts particularly compelling and I wish the character had explored that shockingly butch first impression more. Seriously. I would love to see a Maura Tierney play butch for real. *Swoon*

Lurking behind the explicit sexuality depicted in the play lies the threat of homosexuality. Implicitly, North Atlantic suggests that extreme performances of heterosexual voraciousness are necessary in the military to disprove the threat of queerness. When an outside officer, Ned Ludd, arrives on the carrier, Captain Roscoe first challenges his heterosexuality and later dismisses him as an 'egghead,' suggesting a critique of the military's homophobia and anti-intellectualism as intertwined. The constant low-level threat of homosexuality culminated in a dance scene at an after-hours social event in which three couples danced awkwardly together, with the heterosexual couple in the center, two men dancing together on one side and two women on the other. This scene created a beautiful tableau of the possibilities and impossibilities of romance and intimacy within military culture.

Occasional song-and-dance numbers livened and lightened up the production, providing another layer of interpretation by linking the military setting with cowboy images of Americana. At a few points in the show, the action stopped while everyone broke out into slightly skewed versions of familiar songs such as "Yankee Doodle" and "I Ride an Old Paint." Though I believe these songs have existed since the show's beginnings in 1983/4, they felt particularly pertinent in evoking the George W. Bush's cowboy militarism of the most recent wars. These songs speak to the central images of how the U.S. views itself and represents itself as a military powerhouse that valorizes individuality and independence even when they are destructive or impossible. In the stark technology of the stage/battleship, these songs offer a nostalgic depiction of rural romanticism and longing for a Wyoming that seems impossibly distant, while being corrupted by the raunchy worldliness of the plays characters (particularly the women).

The play also deals with issues of interrogation and torture in a comical but disturbing way. Overall, North Atlantic explores and exaggerates the cliches of military culture and how the military is represented to civilian audiences in a strange, disturbing, thoughtful way. Like all Wooster Group productions, there are more questions than answers, but sometimes that in itself can be compelling and productive if the questions are asked in the right way. I have criticized the Wooster Group in the past for depicting problematic political and cultural images (most notably blackface in Route 1 & 9) without clear critical commentary. In this piece, while their position wasn't necessarily unambiguous, it at least gives me a hook on which to hang my own critical hat, suggesting satirical commentary on a culture of sexism and sexual exploitation within the military and criticism of the popular reconfiguration of rigid gender roles and sexual opportunism into film narratives of romance. These aren't necessarily the Wooster Group's or director Elizabeth LeCompte's positions, but they are the ideas that the performance inspired me to think about, and I think for this production, that is critical interpretation enough.

NOTE: Please excuse the fact that I haven't linked actor names to the roles. The program only offers the list of ensemble members, so all I know is that the cast includes Ari Fliakos, Frances McDormand, Scott Shepherd, Kate Valk, and special guest artists Steve Cuiffo, Koosil-ja Hwang, Paul Lazar, Zachary Oberzan, Jenny Seastone-Stern and Maura Tierney and they were all absolutely excellent in a demanding ensemble performance. If I can find more information, I will try to amend the text at a later date to reflect proper actor and character names.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Zinn Mourning

I'm not big on mourning or obituaries, particularly for public figures, but the death of Howard Zinn has made me reflective. The New York Times obituary is a solid if uninspired discussion of his life and career (and now I really want to read those plays he wrote!), but A People's History of the United States had a formative impact on the person and the scholar I am today.

I was fortunate enough, in the conservative suburb in which I was raised, to be taught entirely by socialist history teachers in high school. In the summer between my junior and senior years, everyone in my class was required to read one real, scholarly history book. From long list of possibilities, I chose (on the teacher's recommendation) A People's History of the United States. This book taught me, at a very impressionable age, that scholarship can be entertaining and engaging, that history can (and always does) have a perspective and an opinion, and to question the power structures that shape the world. This, perhaps more than anything else I read in high school, prepared me for college and academia and has stayed with me. I've carried this book with me every place I've lived, and seeing a copy on a bookshelf has helped me identify many a kindred spirit.

Zinn's ideas and opinions, and more than that the strength of his convictions, is inspiring to me. Reading obituaries has been even more inspirational, because it reminds me at a period in which I have no purchase, no power, and no real existence in academia that more is possible and that this tiny world isn't all that important compared to the global and ideological struggles in which we are engaged. Zinn's work takes me back to my own core beliefs, but also inspires me to question and think critically about everything. All I can really say is: Thank you, Howard Zinn. I hope his works continue to be read well into the future.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tiki Space Cocktails

Here are the best tiki party-meets-outer-space themed cocktail recipes that I've found. So many obscure ingredients! If you know any more, I'd love some suggestions.


8-10 ice cubes, cracked
1/2 measure white rum
1/2 measure vodka
1/2 measure fresh lemon juice
1 dash passion fruit juice
lemon wedge, to decorate

Put half of the cracked ice into a cocktail shaker and add the rum, vodka and juices. Shake until a frost forms. Strain it into an old-fashioned glass filled with the remaining ice. Decorate with a lemon wedge.

Blue Moon

2 ounces dry gin, such as Tanqueray
½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ ounce creme de violette

Fill a mixing glass two-thirds full with ice. Add the gin, lemon juice and creme de violette. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail (martini) glass.

Blue Hawaiian

1 oz Light Rum
1 oz Blue Curacao
1 part Crème de Coconut
2 parts Pineapple Juice
1 Cup Ice

Combine ingredients in a blender or mix well and enjoy on the rocks. Garnish with a cherry and pineapple. Don’t forget the paper umbrella!

Jet Fuel

2 oz Whiskey
3/4 oz Dry Sack Sherry
2 dashes Bitters
Squeeze orange slice into glass

Space Monkey

1 part milk
4 parts rum
4 parts banana liquor

Mix well

Lost In Space Martini

2 oz citrus vodka
1 oz triple sec
1 oz Tang® orange drink
Rim a cocktail glass with powdered Tang®. Shake ingredients in an ice filled shaker and strain into glass.

Rocket Fuel

3/4 oz 151-proof rum
1/2 oz vodka
1/2 oz blue curacao

Pour ingredients, in order listed, into a shot glass or rocks glass. Serve.

Fuzzy Astronaut

1 1/2 oz vodka
3/4 oz peach schnapps
Tang® orange drink to balance

Build over ice in a Collins glass. Stir, sip and enjoy the shuttle launch!

Tiki Girl

1 1/2 oz rum
1 oz amaretto
Orange Juice
Pineapple juice
splash grenadine

Pour all ingredients except grenadine into a large glass filled with ice. Shake well and drizzle in grenadine.


2 oz Cointreau
1 oz Sambuca

Blade Runner

3 parts Apricot Brandy
5 parts Bourbon
1 part Grenadine
2 parts Lemon Juice

Darth Vader

½ oz. vodka
½ oz. gin
½ oz. tequila
½ oz. rum
½ oz. triple sec
½ oz. Jaegermeister

Pineapple Mai Tai

4 ounce orange juice
4 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce light rum
1 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce grenadine

Mix all ingredients, shake with ice, and strain into a glass. Garnish with a cherry and a pineapple wedge.

Ambrosia (a la Battlestar Galactica)

6 oz Midori
4 oz Blue Curacao
2 oz lime juice

Mix over ice.

Pan Galatic Gargle Blaster

1/2 ounce Vodka
1/2 ounce Triple Sec
1/2 ounce Yukon Jack liqueur
1/2 ounce Peach Schnapps
1/2 ounce Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce cranberry juice
Fill with lemon-lime soda

Build in an ice-filled Collins glass, filling it with the soda. Stir with a long straw. Garnish with an orange if desired.