Monday, September 29, 2008


It's hard to determine what the best part about this year's Definitely, Maybe, which I thought was one of those surprise enjoyable and adorable romantic comedies that I don't have a problem confessing I liked. Ryan Reynolds is handsome as always as Will Hayes-though his characterization is a bit bland when all is said and done. Abigail Breslin, in her biggest role at the time since Little Miss Sunshine, is exceptional and given a decent script to play out. But the stand-out, step-out role was that of April Hoffman played by Isla Fisher, who had not been in more than one or two films I had seen prior-and nothing as substantial. She wafts between the sweet, comedic and meaningful.

There's just something about her that's incredibly charming. I also find her very attractive-her redheaded-ness is a plus too-crushing just a bit here. With that confession-here are a few more of those in the trailer for Confessions of a Shopaholic hitting theaters in February of next year.

Will this be the next Devil Wears Prada or a forgettable chick-flick? Regardless I'm glad she's doing well-still looking cute-and hopefully we will see even more of her in the future.


For all the Americans that need a good laugh today-that would mean everyone.

Kristen Wigg as Judy Grimes in this past weekend's Saturday Night Live.

Thanks for the suggestion, Kj!


It is important for the American public and for the markets to stay calm because things are never smooth in congress and to understand that it will get done. That we are going to make sure an emergency package is put together because it is required for us to stabilize the markets and to make sure that when a small business-person wakes up tomorrow morning, he will be able to make payroll. ... I am confident we are going to get there but it's going to be sort of rocky. It's sort of like flying into Denver. You know you're going to land but it's not always fun going over those mountains.

-Illinois Senator Barack Obama addressing the rejection by congress of the $700 billion bailout plan in a speech delivered at Mountain Range High School in Westminster, Colo. Monday September 29, 2008

The Banana: Atheist's Nightmare

This was too entertaining to pass up. Kirk Cameron and co. proving the existence of God with a banana.

This clip resurfaced after the numbers rolled in for Kirk Cameron's new message-based film Fireproof came in with a $6.5 million dollars in receipts making it the highest grossing movie on opening weekend this year that came out on less than 1,000 screens (Hannah Montana's 3D concert extravaganza was #1). Word is church groups all over the country bought up tickets and sold out theatres like it was a front row seat to the the second coming.

Source: Slash Film.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Comic Books & Juice Part II

Part I of Comic Books & Juice revolved around an excursion to purchase the latest issues of Angel: After the Fall, Buffy Season 8 and an Odwalla juice.

Last night's events paralleled the geek-saturated nature of that former experience in the viewing of two movies of the science-fiction variety and "juice" by which I mean "juice + booze."

First up on the agenda was a screening of Cloverfield for an under-the-weather friend at his new apartment. It was the first time he had seen it. Mid-way through the attempt at characterization early on in the film (pre-devestation) and the 90210 meets Gossip Girl meets American Apparel models I went to the store to buy among other things, Prosecco and Orange Juice-the latter did double duty as extra Vitamin C for my sick friend and half of my mimosas throughout the evening.

As was the desire of our ill and gracious host, we followed Cloverfield by watching another disaster movie, this one entitled The Day After, no not that Day After. It was produced for television in 1983 with an array of actors in the early stages of their career including John Lithgow and Steve Guttenberg-whose character's name I appreciated: Stephen Klein. The Day After is a disturbing look at the possibility of a full on nuclear war with rather graphic depictions of doomsday.

If you're interested, The Doomsday Clock currently reads five minutes to midnight, last updated on the 17th of January 2007.

While "juice" was not strictly "juice" and the movies weren't based on comic books per se, the tag "Comic Books & Juice" just seemed appropriate for the occasion.


Lisa Donovan aka LisaNova on YouTube does a spot-on impersonation of Sarah Palin that rivals Tina Fey's iteration of the Alaskan governer on two recent episodes of Saturday Night Live. Watch the hilarious LisaNova spoof of the Charlie Gibson/Sarah Palin interview below.

"This is the hand that has shaken John McCain's hand...this is the hand that has'...heads."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

R.I.P. Blue Eyes

Paul Leonard Newman

“I picture my epitaph: "Here lies Paul Newman, who died a failure because his eyes turned brown".”

Friday, September 26, 2008

Valkyrie Trailer

With new still photos and a fine-looking poster a full-length trailer was bound to be released soon. You can see it below courtesy of JoBlo or you can check it out in high definition at Yahoo! Movies here.

Now that is a great trailer. It portrays a compelling story, it's beautifully shot and it definitely gives me more hope for the movie coming in December.

If Tom Cruise's love interest in the film looks über-familiar, it is because the beautiful Carice van Houten had a starring role in another recent big-budget World War II film, Black Book, which, again, I loved. Granted, it is probably a safe bet that the percentage of Americans who saw Black Book is probably quite small, it her casting in Black Book awfully trite. Yes, she was amazing as the bold character, Rachel Stein in Black Book and I understand why Bryan Singer wanted to cast her, but it does not seem "natural" in my mind as what we have seen of the character is too close to her role in the Dutch film. I just hope van Houten's career is not permanently intertwined with Nazi infiltration/World War II films in the same way Keira Knightley is locked in a perpetual cycle of period pieces.

As a side note related to the casting of van Houten in these films, there was a great discussion on the topic of "Intertextual Casting" at Slayage Conference 3 in June which touched on some very interesting career choices by actors and casting decisions by producers in television and film. One of the examples was the casting of Amber Benson-who played Willow's witchy companion Tara on Buffy The Vampire Slayer-as a Vampire on Supernatural.

Intertextual Casting is a bit like textual poaching in its attempt to make the performance evocative of previous "texts" the with which the actor was involved, inevitably drawing comparisons with a similar character or set of actions or serving to intensify the contrast between the actor's prior performances and this new role. Either way, it is clear that producers recognize the narrative potential of association and see the strengths those kind of decisions can add to their show.


I cannot imagine any other actress portraying Buffy than Sarah Michelle Gellar. SMG gave those performances her all. In some talkbacks online I recently saw someone suggest Buffy be recast and continue with the girl who played Ruby on Supernatural as Buffy. I cringed...multiple times. I just can't see it nor would I desire it.

Since leaving the small screen, Sarah has made some interesting career choices including playing Daphne in Scooby-Doo and its sequel, two gos at the lead role in the Grudge films, which I'm not sad to say I missed, the it's-not-actually-related-at-all-to-The-Grudge-movies-despite-overwhelming-similarities, The Return and a small but memorable role as a porn/popstar in Richard Kelly's bizarre take on politics and the future, Southland Tales-worth the watch if for nothing other than its sheer strangeness. I have been meaning to watch the highly metaphorical Korean-directed film, The Air I Breathe wherein she also plays a popstar-is Gellar living out some fantasy of music fame?

Just announced is Gellar's return to television in an HBO series called The Wonderful Maladys penned by screenwriter Charles Randolph-The Life of David Gale, The Interpreter. The full Variety article here.

Can Gellar carry a television show again? Can she even be said to have "carried" Buffy having been backed by strong scripts, production and a great cast?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Valkyrie in Three

I think this newly released poster for Bryan Singer's WWII epic, Valkyrie, is an example of some great design.

I like the starkness of the black and white contrasted with the red-it's hard to go wrong with that color combination. The use of blueprints in the background is a fantastic graphic element and the inclusion of the red line running through it recalls the spy-centric narrative of Valkyrie, which surrounds the failed plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. The bent red line is reminiscent of a swastika further contextualizing the movie. In addition, I'm always a fan of incorporating the credits into the overall layout of the poster.

This movie has had numerous release dates-I counted a total of five-a reshoot or two, and more than a few controversies and after all of that Valkyrie finally has a release date of December 26, 2008.

I am trying not to be bothered by the casting of Tom Cruise-a bitter point increased by the fact that Patrick Wilson was once set to be in the film-but the movie has had several successfull test screenings and I really enjoyed what Bryan Singer did with the X-Men movies.

I do also have a great affinity for World War II films and stories, which if nothing else, will get me into the theatre for Valkyrie come December or early January. One of the most moving experiences in my life was playing Anne Frank's father, Otto Frank, in a stage production of The Diary of Anne Frank in Germany. The cast had the opportunity to meet with Anne Frank's last living relative, Buddy Elias. Props I kept from the show were my wedding ring, a yellow felt Star of David with "Jude" printed on it, and the scarf my "daughter" knitted. That whole period of my life has stuck with me and for good reason. I'm continually drawn to that narrative. Recently, I have enjoyed Intiman's production of The Diary of Anne Frank and before that I was awed by Paul Verhoeven's phenomenal film, Black Book.

I probably won't see Valkyrie the day after Christmas when it opens, but I will make an outing of it soon after.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pop Eats: Seattle

While I do not mean for this to become a food blog, it is an inevitability that much of my social and professional life revolves around the visiting, discussion and subsequent reviews of restaurants and bars-the countless social hubs present in one's post-21 world. Recent months have seen the opening of several new restaurants in the Seattle area. Along with the premieres of new and favorite television series this fall, the arrival of new restaurants here is point of much excitement. As I have had a busy summer, so have the restaurateurs and their staff who have prepared to give my city some exciting new culinary destinations. I share some of these with you below:

10th Ave E & E Roy

The highly anticipated restaurant by the acclaimed chef, Jerry Traunfeld, formerly of
The Herb Farm, is now taking reservations. The restaurant, named after Traunfeld’s mother, is an invigorating entry into Seattle’s restaurant scene based on the chef’s experiences with the Indian culinary art of Thali during his travels. The main feature of the restaurant’s menu is a prix-fixe Thali at $32 with ten different dishes not meant to be shared. As the restaurant just opened, Traunfeld and his staff are still working on the development of an à la carte bar menu for those looking for a less intimidating option. The menu blends Indian tradition with Traunfeld’s dynamic use of fresh herbs in his cooking-he even has an herb garden right behind the restaurant. I slipped into Poppy’s “soft” opening on September the 16th to survey the space and meet the staff behind Poppy and made a return visit for dinner a few days later. The restaurant is beautiful. In speaking with Jerry, I saw how much passion he has for Poppy and how invested he has been in its inception and growth-from the food to the custom-made chairs to the lighting fixtures. With an authentic tandoor oven, Poppy is able to make original and delectable dishes and always fresh naan-Indian flatbread. The highlights of my meal there included scrumptious tandoor chicken marinated in a yogurt sauce, creative specialty cocktails-try the “Turkish Delight” an enticing fusion of vodka, orange curacao, maraschino liqueur, lime and pomegranate-and a dessert that is absolutely not to be missed, the “Rocky Rose” ice cream-homemade with real chocolate, geranium/rose essence from the backyard, marshmallows made from scratch and marcona almonds, all served up in a martini glass. If you don’t get anything else-but please do-go for this. Their website.

Harvard Ave E & E Roy

The Loveless Building, built in the 1930s with gorgeous stone, has housed many restaurants over the years and Olivar appears to be a perfect fit. Translated from “olive grove” Olivar’s menu focuses on small plates born of an investment in locally-sourced, organic, seasonal foods, including chorizo with white beans, rabbit with garlicky pasta, and salmon dressed in Bernaise sauce. The menu is set to change every so often. The classically trained chef Philippe Thomelin grew up with a Catalan grandmother in France, spent many years in Spain, and possesses a love of Italian food. Olivar is next on my list of new restaurants I aim to visit personally as soon as possible. As a couple friends and I walked home from Broadway Grill (which I still like despite its triteness) last night-deciding that it was too late to go bowling at the Garage as intended-we peeked in to the intimate dining area through the windows and perused the menu next to the heavy wood door. Everything looked pristine and inviting. Between Poppy and Olivar-not to mention the new
Vivace coffee shop opening with the Brix condominiums-the north end of Broadway gets a well-deserved injection of fine urban dining. Their menu and more.

2nd & Bell

The bold pine wood that makes up the patio and furniture and the bright blue signage makes this restaurant stand out along 2nd Avenue.  Kushibar opened for business just a couple weeks ago next to Tavolata in Belltown. Chef Billy Beach and Umi Sake House owner Steve Hanis are marketing the restaurant as "Japanese street food meets home cooking." Billy has said he is looking forward to mastering grilling and sauces. His menu will be skewer-centric with various meats and fish accompanied by what he calls "the best ramen in town." The restaurant is filled with light, sustainable woods, a year-round outdoor deck-which looked great as I walked by this morning-and an open kitchen that affords guests a view of the incredible grilling. Updated website coming soon.

In sad city/restaurant news, the oft-extolled restaurant, Crave, on Capitol Hill, has lost its lease in the Capitol Hill Arts Center becoming yet another "I-always-wanted-to-go-there-but-never-did" restaurant. The owner, Robin Leventhall, says they have to be out by Halloween and states “finding a new location and moving in one month will be impossible. Crave might be taking an enforced break.”

As my ancestors in Sweden would have said, Smaklig måltid!

Extra: If you re-arrange the letters in Seattle, you can spell "Let's Eat."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Reformed Buffy

"You know, I just - I woke up and I looked in the mirror and I thought, "Hey, what's with all the sin? I need to change. I'm-I'm dirty, I'm bad with the sex, and the envy, and that-that loud music us kids listen to nowadays. B-" Oh, I just suck at undercover." -Buffy, 3.01 "Anne"

I just started watching Season 3 of Buffy with my friend Keith-who as I have mentioned is experiencing the Buff for the first time. Another friend, KJ, in a similar situation just finished Seasons 3 and 4 in apparently marathon sessions, commented on how Season 3 takes Buffy to a higher arena of play in regards to plot development, thematic content, and the scripts. "Anne" is a superbly fashioned season premiere. Buffy really does change, reforms and comes into her own, as a character and at the level of the show. A fellow Buffyologist, Ryan ,has a great overview of season 3 on his blog, Beyond The Rubicon.

It's great to be watching Buffy for a second time-and sharing too.

Silly Rich Folk

In the pull-out Style section of the New York Times today, this one-sheet stood out, not just because of the Apple logo and simplistic design but because of the smirk-inducing fine print below.

Valextra MacBook Air Cover, $1,640. Go to MacBook Air, $1,799. Go to


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Top 5: Seattle Sips

Zig Zag Café
1501 Western Ave
This bar perched in the middle of the steps of the Pike Place Hill Climb that bridge the market area and the waterfront, boasts one of the best bartenders in the world. Zig Zag is often referenced in national publications such as Esquire. The bar and the innovative minds behind it, Murray Stenson, in particular, take their drinks very seriously and are credited with reviving the classic cocktail below, The Last Word. A drink with simple ingredients that you could order elsewhere, but Zig Zag is its home. You’ll never order a simple gin and tonic again.

Top Sip:
The Last Word
1 oz. Gin
1 oz. Maraschino Liqueur
1 oz. Green Chartreuse

Muddle lime. Add above ingredients with ice, shake, strain into cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Sun Liquor
Summit & E Roy
Sun Liquor is one of Capitol Hill’s finest and most accessible bars. The management of Zig Zag never hesitate to recommend Sun if they have clientele heading up the hill or in search of different surroundings. Sun Liquor is out of the way, off the bustling sidewalks of Broadway, down in a largely residential area. The dim, reddish light of Sun bleeds out onto the sidewalk inviting you in to a relaxed atmosphere. Fresh-squeezed fruit juice signaled by the stainless steel press on the bar is one draw of many. Weekends draw crowds, but the bar remains cozy, friendly and unpretentious.

Top Sip:
1 oz. Brandy
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Lemon Juice

Shake ingredients with ice. Strain and serve in a sugar-rimmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

5th between Union & University
Vessel is housed in a space formerly the lobby of neighboring 5th Avenue Theatre. The bar maintains some of the original ornate ceiling and wall detail and dazzles with stainless steel, lime green glass accents, vintage glassware and tall glass ceilings with dark wood venetian blinds. The sense is very LA. A chic and respectable bar to run your liver down, but probably not your wallet as the high-class libations do go for a pretty penny. If you order just one drink let it be, their signature cocktail, the velvety, slightly oaky, citrus infused, VESSEL 75.

Top Sip:
3 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 bar-spoon simple syrup

Stir the above ingredients in an iced Boston shaker and strain into a rocks glass.Top with maple syrup foam and orange zest.

Melrose & E Pine

Perhaps I feel more at ease with the echoes of the deceased after having worked for several months at a funeral home. It might help with drinking at the incredibly atmospheric, Chapel, which is a renovated funeral home itself. The high ceilings, dark wood and ten-foot mirrors lend a supreme sense of awe to the space. Candlelight flickers across the room, wax dripping of wrought iron candelabras on the bar-built of cold stone slabs, still numbered as they were during their original use. This great lounge space has been used as the backdrop for music videos and photo shoots alike. If the décor is not enough, it is hard to beat the $4 martinis during happy hour. I try to pick a new drink from the extensive specialty martini menu whenever I go, but I can always go for a Manhattan.

Top Sip:
3 oz. Bourbon
1.5 oz. Sweet Vermouth
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients in an iced Boston shaker and strain into cocktail glass with an orange twist or maraschino cherry.

Intiman Theatre
201 Mercer St
This selection really takes this Top 5 list to Top 6, but Top 5 just sounds better and I would be hard pressed to choose my favorite over these two drinks as they fit in such different categories. The Lounge at Intiman is the only place where you will be able to order these fantastic cocktails by name. In addition, it is the only bar on this list where one can sit down for a performance at a Tony Award winning theatre-Best Regional Theatre 2006-post libation or even while one drinks, as an individual may take his drink into the theatre provided he makes the exchange for a paper cup.

Top Sip(s):
Grand Theft
3 oz Maker’s Mark
1 oz Grand Marnier
Ginger Ale

Muddle lemon at the bottom of Boston shaker, fill with ice, add liquors, shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale and garnish with lemon.

The Flood
3 oz. Gin
1 oz. Peach Schnapps
0.5 oz Blue Curacao

Muddle lemon. Add above ingredients with ice, shake and garnish with lemon twist.

For every show at Intiman, my two fellow bartenders and I create specialty cocktails based on thematic elements in the script, bits of dialogue, key dramatic scenes or plot points. It is a way for the front of house staff to be actively involved in shaping the experience of the audience as they come out for a night of theatre. Rigorous taste-testing of these cocktails before their debut on opening night is always an essential part of the creative process. As a team, we are always looking for new ideas and inspiration in preparation for the next show as well as any way to slip a little Campari into a liquid creation.

One of my colleagues actually took the liberty of providing the readers of her blog, including former and future audiences of Intiman’s productions, a thorough list of the “specialty drinks” from our tenure as bartenders over the last few years.

• • •

In other drink and restaurant news, I checked out a new bar on Capitol Hill last night called Buck. It is a western-themed bar on Olive Way-where a number of bars old and new have made their new home in the past year. Buck might become one of my new hang outs, a very comfortable space with an all honey-pine interior. I have one friend that works there: broad-shouldered with a goatee, he could definitely pass as a cowboy. The waitress was gorgeous, very nice and dressed in a cute equestrian outfit. I sipped on a Sidecar-brought to me with a “refill” in a shot glass-while I straddled a western saddle on a saddle-rack. Buck has had a soft opening this week and opens officially tomorrow. I can’t wait to go back.

Now, I’m thirsty.

Top 5: Seattle Eats

While I am probably short of being a “regular” at these restaurants, any opportunity to grab a table at one of them is always welcome. These are the places I crave the food and the atmosphere. On evenings when I simply do not want to cook or those times when a nice meal out with friends is in order, I can always count on my Top 5 Go-Tos for Seattle Dining. The following restaurants are great for dates, small groups or even a meal by one’s self-Txori in particular is that kind of relaxed establishment where it’s never awkward eating alone. I included the number one dish or combination that gets me in the door. The next time you find yourself in Seattle, give these a try.

Café Presse
12th & Madison
Just minutes walk from my apartment, Café Presse is the sister restaurant to a downtown favorite, Le Pichet. Authentic French food in a modern yet comfortable neighborhood setting. I love seeing the sign as I round the corner on 12th—the logo is taken directly from a chain of newspaper stores in France called Maison de la Presse. Reminds me of home.

Top Dish:
Steak-Frites 16.00
Pan roasted Oregon Natural Beef hanger steak, piperade, and fried potatoes

Steelhead Diner
1st & Pine
My introduction to Steelhead Diner came through an invitation to dine with the owner and head PR agent. My friend and I partook of a filling spread of contemporary Pacific Northwest cuisine. My extended review here.

Top Dish:
A Slice of Caviar Pie with Traditional Garniture 12.95
Jumbo Lump Dungeness Crab Cake with Crispy Parsley & Sauce Louis 14.95

Quinn's Pub
10th & E Pike
Sister restaurant to the Belltown must, Restaurant Zoë. Best fries in Seattle, hands down. The drinks are excellent as well and the concept of the restaurant, a “gastro-pub,” is a welcome addition to the trendy Capitol Hill area. Try the oxtail too. Warm, nostalgic, and rustic atmosphere.

Top Dish:
Fries with demi glacé sauce 8.00

2nd & Blanchard
An authentic Spanish and Basque tapas restaurant with small plates called pinxtos ranging from $2-$6. High tables in an elongated, intimate space. Everything I have tried on this menu is heaven-in-your-mouth-good.

Top Dish:
tortilla española 1.75
potato onion omelet, alioli
albondigas 6.00
pork and veal meatballs

Thai Tom
45th & University
Another cozy establishment, this one in the University District. This is the best Thai food in Seattle and the most inexpensive. Watch Tom himself prepare your meal in a cast iron skillet just a few feet away from you with flames licking the stainless steel range above. Shoulder to shoulder, line out the door, you can’t beat it and Seattle knows.

Top Dish:
Swimming Rama 7.00
Chicken simmered in coconut milk, surrounded by blanched spinach,covered in a citrus spiked peanut sauce

Next Top 5: Drinks

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Out and About in the S-E-A

I know it has been far too long since I last updated this blog so new and exciting posts are definitely in order. The primary reason for my absence has been my extended preparation for the GRE(Graduate Record Exam) which I took yesterday and received a solid raw score-further results are pending and will surface in about 10-15 days. I am very pleased with my performance thereon and I do hope that my score on the essay portion of the exam will be reflective of that.

The last couple weeks have also been full of all sorts of cultural experiences and opportunities. I had a hard time trying to fit practice tests and study sessions for the GRE within the social calendar. A horrible situation, right? Through my job and other relationships across the city I have been able to attend several events and plays in Seattle. Recent highlights include:

Vespers at Mars Hill Graduate School
A wonderful, moving event organized by my friend, KJ for new and old students alike of this grad school located in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood offering degrees in counseling and various areas of theology.

Shrek the Musical at 5th Avenue Theatre
I was pleasantly surprised by this show. Consistently good music, keen Broadway references, dynamic staging and a visual pleasure. I think it will be a success as it moves to Broadway in New York this fall.

The Little Dog Laughed at Intiman Theatre
Hilarious, witty and at times a hard-hitting commentary on the state and treatment of gay performers in the entertainment industry.

Eurydice at ACT
A beautiful, must-see show written by Sarah Ruhl. See my review.

Opening Night and 10th Anniversary Gala for the Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall
I certainly enjoyed the company of a couple close friends at this event, however, for the opening of the Symphony’s 2008-2009 season, the show failed to show off the immense talent of the symphony, instead opting for a string of lackluster performances by a bass far past his prime and a pleasant, but out-of-place soprano. If I want to see opera, I’ll go to the Opera.

The Phantom of the Opera at The Paramount Theatre
This was the first time I had ever seen Phantom on stage. It was a lot of fun in and of itself, but fascinating to finally see the show after experiencing it through so many cultural references over the last couple decades.

A few other opportunities and happenings lie on the horizon and I expect to have plenty to blog about in weeks and months to come. The fall season is upon us and while the notion that I no longer have classes to return to this year is growing increasingly odd, I am excited to be in a place of a different kind of learning. Call me a freelance scholar, a perpetual academic, a student of the world for the time being as I contemplate graduate school. In any case, I look forward to being able to focus on my passion of analyzing various media and creative processes as I attend more artistic events around the city and as the new television season gets underway, which I am able to follow with an unprecedented attention without the burden of classes and work or the traditional modes of TV programming—thank you, Hulu, iTunes and all my friends who have Tivo.

Stay tuned for my thoughts on Fringe, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and True Blood.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Let's Go Into The Water"

This evening I had the pleasure of seeing the first night of previews for the new show at ACT-A Contemporary Theatre-in downtown Seattle. The show, crafted by American playwright Sarah Ruhl, is entitled Eurydice after the Orpheus and Eurydice myth described in the tenth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses here .

Every once in a long while I go to a theatrical production that changes the way I look at the face of the performing arts or one that heavily influences my perpetual musings on the human experience. Eurydice-bless her wonderful ensemble-cast-heart-did both of these things for me. Eurydice is that phenomenal. The show is both an adapatation and an extension of the tragic myth written from the point of view of Orpheus' wife-Eurydice. The creative license Ruhl takes with this timeless story are more than welcome, transforming the rather simple tale into a deeply moving and relevant piece of narrative art. Eurydice, who finds herself in the Underworld, must decide whether to continue her life among the living with her husband on Earth or to stay in Hades with her father-a character from Ruhl's imagination and one that propels the play in quite unexpected and powerful fashion.

ACT is the only theatre in Seattle which has a theatre-in-the-round type of stage and after seeing Eurydice in this way, I cannot imagine experiencing its wonders in any other space. Rounding the hallway and stepping into the expansive room, a diving board looms above a tiled floor in the center-evoking the bottom of a swimming pool. This was probably the first and only time an usher will ever tell me that my seat is on the other side of the diving board. Also of note were several taught strings running from the set to the rafters above. Actors would later literally pluck these strings as with a musical instrument with varied tonal effects adding a sensual and organic element to the production.

In fact the entire experience of the play was heightened by the theatre set-up itself and the spectacular staging. Though I find it nigh impossible to name precisely that which made this play such an utter success, I would say that I have never seen such intelligent and graceful use of space in theatre. Actors moved between the aisles, rose to different heights, descended from above the audience and around. The result of such fluid movement, such inspired blocking made for an extraordinarily interactive environment. The cast's exploitation of the depth of the space generated an extraordinarily visceral and tangible experience. The set became its own character. It breathed as the actors breathed.

The show borders on surrealism at times, theatre-of-the-absurd at others, aided by the haunting lighting cues and of course, the Chorus of Stones. At its core, however, this is still a Greek myth and a tragedy at that and the latter is something that one may try so desperately try to forget as loved ones live with and apart from one another. Those that are aware of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice are not spoiled but are treated with so much more meaningful content. In one act, this play speaks volumes about language, communication, mourning and temptation. It teaches by sight, sound and active humanity. There is not one moment of this play that is unnecessary, out-of-place or overdone. Though Eurydice runs for only 90 minutes, I could have sworn I was there for hours, even days and in truth, I would gladly have stayed them.

Throughout the play echoes of other works traversed fleetingly through my head. This myth is so rooted in our artistic culture. The legend flows through our collective unconsciousness-its existence entirely unhindered by the passing of time. Orpheus and Eurydice appear everywhere. And is there any way that such an essential tale would go unnoticed by Joss Whedon? Of course not. A couple years ago, Buffyologist Janet K. Halfyard-perhaps Britains most prominent Buffy scholar, if not the most genteel-was requested by the Birmingham Conservatory to perform research the relationship between Buffy and the Orpheus myth in conjunction with their staging of Monteverdi's opera, Orpheum. Halfyard immediately suspected there was substantial merit in such an inquiry and found countless ties between the Buffyverse and Orpheus and Eurydice. As Halfyard discusses in her paper, "Hero's Journey, Heroine's Return: Buffy, Eurydice and the Orpheus Myth" which she presented at Slayage Conference 3, descents, ascents, returns, loss and battered and reluctant heroes appear countless times in both Buffy and Angel. The Orpheus myth is displayed quite literally in several instances, in particular, Buffy's descent into "hell" as she confronts the Master in his subterranean lair-his "Baroque candlelit underworld."

Seen here, Buffy actually inhabits the pose of Orpheus in many paintings depicting the myth, Buffy's crossbow standing in for the lyre of Orpheus:

Halfyard explains that as this scene progresses Buffy simultaneously embodies Eurydice and Orpheus. The Orpheus myth is invoked quite literally in the season 4 episode of Angel, "Orpheus," which depicts a beautiful journey through Angel's own underworld.

In her talk, Halfyard explained that according to the nature of myth, there are no fixed forms. Buffy is not the only art to actively engage old myths, but it certainly does it well.

Thus, Eurydice and the myth that came long before it are gifts to those involved in the dramatic arts as creators or spectators.

After my heart broke during Eurydice, I may never see the bottom of a swimming pool the same way again.

Eurydice runs from now until October 5th.

Comic Books & Juice

Yesterday, I found myself saying to Kelli that I was going to step off property, "I'm going to take a ten and buy a comic book and an Odwalla juice." She later said that she found it quite charming. I feel like a kid in the best way possible.

The results of the short jaunt around downtown:

Buffy Season 8 #18

Angel: After The Fall #12

Odwalla Super Protein

Comic books & juice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dear David

Dear David,

I heart you.

Entertainment Weekly sat down with David Boreanaz who revealed some of his likes, dislikes, guilty pleasures and entertaining domestic habits. He seems like such a nice, jovial, good-natured family-man. As I watched Angel, I always loved it when he smiled. The characters on the show even voiced such a desire at several moments during the series. I also would not have minded of the wet-button-down-shirt-look but Mr. Boreanaz was usually costumed in black attire.

In the exchange, David also mentions that he thinks the most overrated television show is Heroes and explains "we were doin' that in '97 with Buffy." The interview can be found in its entirety here.

Which one of these could you go the longest without: iPod, cell phone, DVR, or hair gel?
DVR, because I don't have one.

Wait, what?
I hate TiVo, I hate DVRs. I do not get them. You tell me why I need a DVR.

Because you can tape two things at once.
If I miss something, I miss it. Why would I tape it to watch it on another day that there's [live] television? That makes no sense to me whatsoever. But I don't watch TV. I watch sports, the Food Network and the gardening channel. What, am I gonna DVR, a recipe? [Thinks about it] That would be nice. Watch Molto Mario make a nice lasagna, I'm all about that. I'm gettin' a DVR! Barefoot Contessa is hilarious, just the way they shoot it. And Everyday Italian is really good — the way she cuts garlic is fantastic. Nice and sharp....

And this is a perfect time to reveal number...oh, I don't know, I lost count...a few more guilty pleasures, The Food Network in general and one sweet little Italian cook in particular. I have had a huge crush on Giada-Giada De Laurentiis (because we're on a first name basis)-of the Food Network show, Everyday Italian, since the first day I watched the show. I used to come home from class in college, make a fontina grilled cheese sandwhich on walnut bread and watch her show at 1:30PM on Weekdays and at 1:00PM on Saturdays. She's perky, beautiful and I have her cookbook. I've systematically gone through about half of it, I think, and it's all superb. I hear there's a DVD of the show. If I had that, I may never leave my kitchen.

As David says in this article, Barefoot Contessa,is really really funny-in a probably-not-intended-to-be-funny-at-all sort of way. It takes place in and around Ina Garten's New England home where she hosts many a dinner party with her friends-namely middle aged gay men-with the utmost pretension.

"Let's flavor up this homemade whipped cream with Chambord because I have all the time in the world and then we can cut fresh herbs from my perfectly manicured gardens-from the south side of the house, not the north-and sprinkle them on this lamb I purchased from the local butcher whose name is Isaac and then we can sip these cocktails I made with the vodka I have been infusing with rosemary for the last six months while we watch old French movies on the veranda and giggle every once in awhile like old friends as we isolate the viewers from our oh-so-entertaining-lives."

When it comes to dinner, she might even give Martha a run for her money. As with Martha, it's hard to stop watching the inadvertent condescension and haughty attitudes. And adding "Barefoot" to the word "Contessa" doesn't make the show's title any less presumptuous.

At this point, it might go without saying that I am right there with Liz Lemon from 30 Rock when it comes to my television interests.

Jack: "You don't watch the news, Lemon?"
Liz: "Food Network doesn't have a news show."

Speaking of which, 30 Rock will have it's 3rd Season Premiere on my birthday, October 30th!

Enter The Buffyverse

This gets me more than a little excited.

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising and Multiverse Announce 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' Virtual World

CENTURY CITY, Calif., Sept 03, 2008

Twentieth Century Fox Licensing & Merchandising and The Multiverse Network, Inc., a leading provider of virtual world development technology for Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), educational and social worlds, and business collaboration environments, today announced the development of an original "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" MMOG. The virtual world will be based on the mythology and iconography made popular by the Emmy Award-winning series. The announcement was made by Academy Award winning producer and member of the Multiverse Advisory Board, Jon Landau, during his keynote speech today at the Virtual Worlds Conference and Expo.

The ground-breaking MMOG will offer a new experience for gamers, allowing them to play it either as a fully immersive 3D environment or as a Flash-based 2D game, where both types of players can interact. The game will be launched within "Multiverse Places," a new social virtual world from Multiverse. Currently under development, "Buffy" will go into "beta" testing later this year.

Landau, a Multiverse Advisory Board member, who is in production on Avatar -- the widely anticipated Fox film from fellow Multiverse Advisor James Cameron -- commented, "Multiverse has the vision and expertise to create the type of rich environment needed for the best possible game based on the 'Buffy' series. The resources are in place to develop a great MMOG."

Created by sci-fi and comic book legend, Joss Whedon-Blogger's Note: Genius yes, but can Whedon really be called a "legend" just yet?-"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" racked up critical and popular acclaim during its seven seasons on television. The series also inspired a line of top-selling comic books and successful merchandising lines with an avid fan base at retail. Fox Licensing & Merchandising (Fox L&M) continues to develop the brand for a number of targeted programs that reach its core market.

"Every once in a while a show comes along that lives long after its run on television, and 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is that kind of show," commented Elie Dekel, Executive Vice President Licensing and Merchandising for Fox L&M. "We think that creating this virtual 'Buffy' world is the perfect extension of the brand and will attract both fans of the show and newcomers interested in a great experience online."

"As a brilliant storyteller and world-maker, Joss Whedon crafts stories that expand perfectly into the new medium of virtual worlds," said Corey Bridges, co-founder and Executive Producer, Multiverse. "Not to give away too much, but when the 'Buffy' team finished the television series, they created the perfect launching point for an MMOG where everyone will feel like they're an important character in the ongoing story."

Well, if I can't have a Buffy Tarot Card Set, I suppose this is one of the next best things that could happen.

If I ever start playing this, I think such an action would immediately preclude me from making fun of people who play World of Warcraft. *Shakes fist.* They finally got to me.

You know The Trio would be all over this.

"Gone" 6.11

This comment on Whedonesque nearly made me laugh out loud:

"There should be a level where Dawn suddenly joins your party, but you realize she's always been in your party."

Oh Dawnie, "the hardest thing in this world is to live in it," isn't that right?

Dear James

Dear James Marsters,

I think you were phenomenal as Spike on Buffy and Angel and I hear you are also excellent on Torchwood as Captain John Hart.

That being said, please tell me that the studio paid you large piles of money to play this green-hued alien demon in the live-action Dragonball movie.

According to IMDb, you have said that your role of Piccolo is a complex, Shakespearean one: "Thousands of years ago he used to be a force of good, but he was imprisoned for 2000 years, making him very angry, and then he finds a way to escape...The cool thing is anybody who's seen Dragon Ball knows that Lord Piccolo transforms into THE Piccolo, and that is a whole other ball of wax; heroic wouldn't be the wrong term, but it's a long journey."

For some reason, I don't think the creators of Dragonball read Shakespeare all that much. Whedon, on the other hand...and who really has suffered or had more dramatic turns than Spike anyway?

Who knows, we still have over half a year to see whether this works out. I'm not holding my breath, though.

I think I'll stick to watching you save the world over and over again.

And they didn't actually make you green.

You should at least negotiate that for your contract next time. I mean, if you're going to play Piccolo you might as well go all the way, right? Add the antennae too.

I still love your cheekbones.