epershand: Abed saying "movie reference." (Abed movie reference)
discussion includes, shockingly, spoilers )

TL;DR Jason Siegel I adored your self-insert muppet fanfiction a lot but suspect you of being crafty.

Also: The last time I was in New York, [personal profile] brainwane and I saw the Henson exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, and it was really amazing. It's open through January and I strongly recommend going to see it. (I inadvertently wound up wearing a Museum of the Moving Image t-shirt to the movie today and only realized when I took off my sweater after getting home.)
epershand: Ampersand holding a skull. (ampersand)
GUYS GUYS GUYS! [personal profile] kuwdora talked me into going to see a zombie movie tonight and it was the best zombie movie that I have ever seen! Not that I have a wide range of experience with zombie movies but HOMG UH-MAZING.

I used up all my clever quips about the movie in conversation with [twitter.com profile] paperpenguin so I have cleaned up the conversation for you below.

(As I tweeted: "Best thing about The Dead? Probably intell. honesty. Expecting anything but White Guy Survives Zombie Apocalypse Africa is your own fault.")

imperialism! Africa as metaphor! zombies as balancing force of nature! competence porn! raw masculinity! manpaiiiin! )
epershand: The eleventh doctor looks into space. (Eleven and the Universe)
With some trepidation I listened to last year's big Broadway hit, Next to Normal, a musical about a family living with mental illness. It won three Tonys and the Pulitzer, but the trepidation proved to be totally accurate, and I definitely don't recommend this heap of fail to anyone. (Spoiler alert: treatment is something that evil family members force upon the crazy in order to quash their special spark and repress them into dull normality.)

I... just don't know where to begin. The fact that Diana is supposedly bipolar when her primary symptom is seeing and interacting with her dead son? The parade of treatment option after treatment option that makes things worse and worse for her, culminating in electroshock therapy that wipes her memory? The fact that the play's conclusion is that the "break" is "not in [her] brain, not in [her] blood, but in [her] soul"? And what about the overwhelming power differential between the men and the women in the show?

The fundamental power struggle in the show is between three men: Dan, Diana's husband; Dr. Fine, Diana's psychiatrist; and Gabe, Diana's hallucinatory (or is he?) son. From almost the first scene Diana is just a doll that they tug back and forth between them, with Dan and Dr. Fine fighting to medicate her to dullness and Gabe fighting to keep her untreated so that she will pay attention to him. Diana is never given a chance to make any choices for herself, and even she recognizes what a horrible trope she is--the song she sings as she's being wheeled into electroshock therapy is "Didn't I See This Movie?" I've certainly seen this movie more times than I care to count, thanks, and I feel no need to listen to it again.

The one thing that the play represents really well is the experience of the family member just outside the immediate struggle. Natalie, Diana's daughter, is just pitch-perfect and heart-breaking. I acquired the album on the basis of Natalie's song "Superboy and the Invisible Girl" about her relationship with her dead brother and the relative value her parents place on them. And her song "Everything Else", about subsuming her doubts and fears into playing the piano, is just incredible. I weep for the fact that I don't live in the world that contains the rest of the *actually good* show that "Everything Else" seems to have come from. (Youtube link)

In conclusion, avoid this musical. Except for "Everything Else", which totally rocks.
epershand: "No exit" (No Exit)
(crossposted from the RL blog)

A few minutes before Rent Boy Ave. started, a disheveled, obviously drunk woman stumbled in though a side door with two plastic cups of liquid slopping out of her hands and handed them to a man sitting in the front row of the audience. "That's called sauvignon blanc," she slurred. And then she proceeded her way around the audience, asking for money and promising to bring us something from the concession stand if we just gave her a dollar. She was joined by another panhandler, and the two of them proceeded to harass the audience until suddenly the lights went dark, and they (joined by others) began to sing.

Rent Boy Ave. is a lot of things. It's a musical, for one. It's a meditation on cliches and fairy tales and how they play out in everyday life. It's a story about homeless teens. It's a love story. It's the most intensely uncomfortable experience I've had in a theatre in a long time. And it was also really good.

Rent Boy Ave. follows several homeless teens as they find ways to feed themselves. They visit soup kitchens, they panhandle, they sell drugs and their bodies. Mark is a veteran of the streets, a seventeen-year-old rent boy who's convinced he only sleeps with men because they pay more than women, and is concerned that he's losing his business to "ten to twelve year olds who will give it up for a candy bar." Jackie, also a veteran hooker, was a high-school valedictorian and homecoming queen before she ran away from home in the wake of a back-alley abortion, and spends the play struggling with her pimp over money and drugs. David is the new boy on the street, who goes from wide-eyed innocent to self-satisfied drug dealer over the course of the show. Paying close attention are three adults: a compassionate nun who was once an addict herself, a collected, rhyming pimp, and an abusive john who would love to get his hands on David.

And the audience too is a character, pulled into the drama whether they like it or not. Early in the second act, Trashcan Sally, the woman who panhandled the audience before the show started, confronted an audience member. "Hey, I know you. You're the guy who payed $25 to come in here and see what you could watch right outside for free." And it's true--the Boxcar Stage is at 6th St. and Howard, in the sketchier part of Soma. (However, she had to say it to him in the third row, where all the audience members who started out in the front row had escaped to over intermission.) The black box space had seating on three sides, including "scaffolding seating," cushions set on top of scaffolds that the actors frequently climbed and lept over (this is were my friends and I sat. It was billed as putting us into the action, but ironically it kept us safer from being confronted by the cast than the people in the standard seating.

We had a few technical complaints about the show. Although we loved the singing, staging, choreography and acting, the lighting design was pretty terrible, and the singers had to be miked too high to compete with the volume of the band, especially in a concrete space. But I strongly recommend it to anyone in the Bay Area at the moment, and may wind up seeing it again.

Rent Boy Ave. is showing at the Boxcar Stage, 505 Natoma St, San Francisco. It runs through August 22.

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