Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The harvest is IN!

Global warming deniers take note: there is still a week left in August, and yet the first wave of tomatoes has been harvested.

This may not be so unusual to about 90 percent of the country. But this is Seattle and usually we're out with the smudge pots, the blow driers, and whatever heat-generating devices we can get our hands on in early October hoping to get a few ripe before they freeze. (Though come to think of it, icewine is a lovely thing; why not ice-tomato sauce?)

Exhibit A is tonight's dinner, rustled up by my Sweetie, the official scorer (aka Sweetie, the genius chef). It's a new riff on on old favorite, the braised chicken with tomatoes and olives and onion and this 'n that. This time the this 'n that includes homegrown Sun Gold and grape tomatoes and some eggplant from our CSA box. Turned into sort of a chicken-thigh baba ghanoush, topped
with a cucumber-mint-yogurt sauce. Yum-O.

It's not so crazy to have cherry tomatoes this time of year. They're little, after all. But exhibit B is still simmering on the range: I harvested a big giant bowl of roma tomatoes, and batch one of Greg's famed spaghetti sauce is in production. It doesn't even have the herbs in it yet, but it's tasting mighty fine.

I got home and decided I had to get the harvest in before much longer. A good bunch were ripe, and there are many more times today's harvest on the way. Actual summers are not bad. If only we could figure out a way for it to be 103 degrees in the tomato patch but cool in the house.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chaos Chronicle: the Balagan Theatre blog

Chaos has struck the Interwebs!

Balagan Theatre has launched a blog. You can read the Chaos Chronicle to keep up to date on Balagan news as well as bit and blurbs from other theater groups around the city.

As for the title: Balagan is a Hebrew word that means "chaos." But it's a good sort of chaos that fuels the creativity and passion of the company's art.

Check out Balagan's season-opening show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, starring the incredible Terri Weagant and directed by the amazing Lisa Confehr, running this weekend and next. Tickets here. Season passes are still available, too, at just $120 for the full 10 shows.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

There goes my spare time

I'm not sure now whose insidious blog post or Facebook item led me down the path to destruction, but I'm definitely in the handbasket. Already kind of addicted to LolCats, I've now been pointed to another part of the Icanhascheezburger family. Fail blog.

fail owned pwned picturesI must have spent an hour or more the other night paging through the abysmal failures chronicled there. There's some great stuff.

Anyway, since our annual trip to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is now less than a month away (not that anybody's counting or anything) I thought I'd share this little police blotter item from southern Oregon.

I'm not sure it's a failure, as such, but it made me laugh like hell.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

More fun at 14/48

The second and final weekend of the 14/48 Theater Festival was a little uneven compared to the first. An unsecured part of stage sent a couple of actressess flying on Friday night, and the moon boots never made it to the screen as intended in a couple of tries on Saturday. But the weekend's 14 world-premiere plays still offered plenty of entertainment.

Friday. Theme: Danger in group work. Favorite shows: Six Months In by Vincent Delaney, directed by Linda Lombardi. A riot as the all-male cast turns up as pregnant women for their birthing class. Seanjohn Walsh must have had a 50-pound bag of potatoes stuffed under his dress. Sharing Witness by Paul Mullin, directed by Andy Jensen. "Witness" turns out to be a dirty word to the pious souls sharing the spiritual revelations of their day at the meeting. Turns out all four are mobsters in hiding. The hilarity builds until Therese Diekhans, who reminded me of my sweet Aunt Ruby, strangled Alyson Scadron Branner with a shawl. That was the fight scene that caused the tumble. Diekhans gamely made it out for the late show Friday, but was on the disabled list for Saturday's shows. Fingered by Kelleen Conway-Blanchard, directed by Nick Garrison. Allison Strickland and Tracy Hyland are hilarious as a school counselor and a freshman who isn't so sexually active as the boys' restroom wall makes her out to be.

Saturday. Theme: Walk on the wild side. Favorite shows: Just Drink It by Paul Mullin, directed by Brian Faker. Hyland again is funny, this time as a seductive immortal who can't seem to get others to drink the potion. A Whole Mess of Badgers by Kelleen Conway-Blanchard, directed by Erin Kraft. Chris Maslen seduces, and has a great dance number with a blood-soaked Hana Lass, who's just back from a horrible highway accident involving an entire family of badgers, as well as a stapler-throwing confrontation with her cheating husband. Her son and Maslen's friend, Seanjohn Walsh, gets the punch line of the day. Wilderness by Moll Frothingham, directed by Basil Harris. Alyson Scadron Branner and Mike Dooly have a sweet moment as a couple of kids from drama club, getting away from the snotty drill team kids while out on a school hiking trip.

Catch the 14/48 blog for some behind-the-scenes dirt on how the whole thing came together. The festival returns in January for a couple of weekends at ACT.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Search for signs of intelligent life: success!

The search for signs of intelligent life in the universe came to a successful conclusion Thursday evening in the basement of a noodle house on Seattle's Capitol Hill. The basement is home to Balagan Theatre, and the intelligent -- nay, brilliant! -- life is the company's 2009-10 season opener, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe by Jane Wagner, directed by Lisa Confehr and performed by Terri Weagant.

My Sweetie, the official scorer, opines that Signs is not necessarily the sort of play she likes to go see. The subject matter is, after all, marriage ending in divorce leading to mental illness. But that doesn't bug me so much, and really the play is about the mad skills of the actress. Lily Tomlin made the play famous, and Weagant is fantastic in the role of Trudy the bag lady and all the other characters she encounters.

Weagant plays seven or eight characters an absolutely nails every one of them. Most incredibly, the transitions between the characters are utterly seamless. We've seen a number of one-woman plays, most notably by Anna Deveare Smith, who notes changes in character with the help of a different scarf or a hat or some other physical prop. Weagant needs no such crutch, going from character to character solely on the strength of the portrayals -- posture, voice, and attitude are her props, and it's always crystal clear which character is on stage. The switches are signaled just by the change -- and a gust of cosmic wind.

The star is an engineer, too. Weagant built the bag-lady-mobile, which is a sight to be seen as the main prop in the show.

This is your chance to see one of Seattle's up-and-coming talents up-close and personal. In December the PI singled out Weagant as one of four to watch, and I'll second that; she's mesmerizing and amazing. Check out an interview of Weagant in the August issue of the Theatre Puget Sound monthly newsletter. Don't miss The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, running through Aug. 29 at Balagan. Season tickets to Balagan are a bargain: 10 shows for just $120. Single show ducats are also on sale.

Full disclosure: Weisenheimer is president of the board at Balagan. But it doesn't mean I'm biased!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

14/48 Fest a whirlwind of fun

In the time it took me to drum up the energy to knock out this post, the company of 14/48, The World's Quickest Theater Festival wrote, cast, directed, rehearsed, scored, staged, and performed 14 world-premiere one-act plays. We watched all 14 at Seattle's On the Boards theater this weekend.

The process is amazing. The ensemble gathers Thursday evening and picks a theme for the first night's plays, drawn out of a hat. Seven playwrights take off and write their plays. At 8 a.m. the next day seven directors pick the plays at random. Cast names are drawn out of a hat. At 8 p.m. the curtain goes up on the first show. All seven are performed. Audience members throw themes into a giant ice cream cone. One is picked for the next day's theme. The process is repeated. By 10 p.m. Saturday we'd seen 14 new plays.

Check the 14/48 blog for a blow-by-blow of how the weekend happened.

Friday. Theme: My Turn. Favorite shows: It's Your Turn by Jim Jewell, directed by Scott Francis. Two couples (Annie Jantzer, Carolyn Monroe, Trick Danneker, Nik Perleros) play the game of life and have to reveal some uncomfortable truths. Single's Night by Becky Bruhn, directed by Aimee Bruneau. Jason Harber and Erik Van Beauzekom delight as two Star Trek geeks trying to pick up women in a bar. They wind up leaving together. Calvin's Not Here by Erin Stewart, directed by Tyrone Brown. Lyam White is especially creepy as a maniacal salesman giving an Amway-esque pitch to two new neighbors. Special mention to Anton Checkov's The Cherry Orchard by Darian Lindle, directed by Katjana Vadeboncoeur. You've gotta love a show where the nun and the chicken run off together in the end.

Saturday. Theme: No good deed goes unpunished. Favorite shows: Mr. Jibbers by Erin Stewart, directed by Tyrone Brown. Luck of the draw placed this writer/director combo together again for another creepy turn, this one set as a puppet show. Mark Fullerton is incredible as a little kid worried about tomorrow's baseball game, and can't sleep because he's tormented alternately by his coach/dad and stuffed friend Mr. Jibbers, who demands songs, cheese, Scotch, and hot Asian sluts. A scream! Great Expectations! by Darian Lindle, directed by Makaela Pollock. Harber, Pattie Miles Van Beauzekom, and Ryan Higgins are a competition choir team whose shot at the championship is undone when Harber reveals their "secret weapon" -- Guitarzan -- to a young lady on a competing choir. The fit Higgins throws on hearing the news is priceless! Mr. McGregor's Garden by Rachel Atkins, directed by Katjana Vadeboncoeur. A troop of leaf-raking, window-cleaning, toilet scrubbing do-gooder scouts narrowly escape being baked into a pie. Honorable mention to Erik Van Beauzekom for a delightful turn as God-as-Vito Corleone in Calling the Marker by Jim Jewett, and to MJ Sieber for the line "You dropped the champagne of beers into my magic hole" in Inanimacy. It's also damn funny when the living beer can runs off with Coochie, the living stuffed animal, and the end of the play.

They do it all again next weekend. So go!