Sunday, May 30, 2010

Theater Review: Nietzsche: The Musical

Unless you have some prior knowledge of Nietzschean philosophy, you probably won't enjoy this musical. In fact, the person who will enjoy it the most is the one who has fully read Nietzsche's magnum opus, Thus Spoke Zarathustra. The first act begins with a musical number making fun of how people mispronounce his name, along with many other misconceptions of the famous philosopher; and the act continues to cross between the major events that mold his philosophy later in his life, and modern-day interpretations of his many works:

A Sunday school teacher professes Nietzsche's Zarathustra as being "the Bible" while teaching the metamorphoses of the human soul: the camel becomes the lion becomes the child; these are all becoming the ubermensch. This becomes the theme for the final musical number of the first act. Just to top it off, Nietzsche's characters adds, "this is totally not about Nazis!"

The second act deals more with a, to use my friend's term, "Mars Hill" kind of faith. The teacher from the first act is hounded by a youth pastor named Kyle; he's cool and hip and fucking loves Jesus! Due to the notion of eternal recurrence, Nietzsche crosses paths with the teacher, and they view each other's worlds from different perspectives. I'll be honest, I started to get a little lost during this part of the musical, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

The final message to the audience is presented through a long musical number urging them to become who they are, and not be who they are--an impossibility, it seems. Okay, now it's time to go read some Nietzsche; maybe then it will make some sense to me.

Some better reviews are here and here. Tickets and info are here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Theater Review: An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein

On Thursday night, I went and saw a coworker of mine star in Theater Schmeater's production of An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein by Shel Silverstein. It's a play, but it's not. There are ten individual acts that push the bounds of the absurd.

A couple fight at a restaurant because the girl in the relationship is turning into a "bag lady"; a shoe, an empty picture frame, a bowl of cooked oatmeal; all have a place inside her bag(s). Women get objectified as sex symbols; they get hit on at bus(t) stops, and sold at auctions. If you are in a lifeboat with your wife, mother, and child, and it's sinking, who are you going to throw overboard? Follow that with a rough group of people beating and ultimately executing the guy who created the catchphrase, "right on!" Next time you take your clothes to the laundromat, check the fine print; they may not be washing your clothes at all. Dinner, rape, murder: thank you, meat and potatoes. Think you can talk about sex whilst only rhyming with words that end in the sound "ee"? They sure can! A blind man fights with his man-dog. Close the proverbial curtains.

If you're lucky enough to get tickets, you should check it out. It plays every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 8pm until June 12. As I understand it, most of the remaining nights are sold out, so I would call in advance.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SIFF Film Review: From Beginning to End

This was another film that I wanted to enjoy--and I did, to a certain extent--but I still had my qualms with it. Two half-brothers, born of the same mother, develop a relationship that goes beyond the, shall we say traditional, bounds of brotherhood. The two become inseparable, ultimately sending them both into depressive states when one of them travels to Russia in order to train for the Olympics.

I applaud the filmmakers for tackling an extremely controversial topic: love and incest. I believe that we often condemn incest based solely on the fact that it produces inbred children. But what about two people who can't produce children? It's still viewed as wrong, but is it not less so? I don't have the answer; and who's to say that there's a right one?

I regret to say that the film's themes merely scratch the surface of things. We know that these brothers love each other beyond all acceptable limitations, more than I can possibly imagine, but there is never any explanation as to why they love each other so. It just happens and that's that. In the end, it seems that the eldest brother is more invested in--maybe dependent on?--their relationship than the other one.

There are too many unanswered questions, and they hold back this film's potential.

There is a line in the film that says, "there are two sides to everything: the good and the other side." The response: "if you know the good, why would you choose the other?" And that explains most things in my life.

"The Peanut Butter Solution"

I've mentioned this film to several of my friends on many different occasions, and they always look at me as if I'm crazy and just making it all up. Well, here's the trailer:

It's a real movie, friends! I grew up on shit like this. Although, I seem to recall it being scary at times. I think someone disappears into a painting at some point. Now that shit is crazy.

I'm Attending SIFF, Are You?

Last year's SIFF had me viewing a gay Filipino romance film. My review of that is here. This year promises to be just as good. Granted, there aren't any gay Filipino romances being presented--I can't help what I like--but I'm just as pleased, if not more so, with the three five six films that I've chosen to go see.*

"Do Come├žo ao Fim" ("From Beginning to End") by Brazilian director, Aluisio Abranches.
A controversial film about a homosexual and incestuous relationship between two half-brothers.
Tickets and information here. [Wednesday, May 26, 9:30 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

"Broderskab" ("Brotherhood") by Danish director, Nicolo Donato.
A film about two men in a neo-nazi group that develop a relationship forbidden by the very ideology they enforce through violence.
Tickets and information here. [Friday, June 4, 9:30 p.m., Uptown Theater]

"8: The Mormon Proposition" by American director, Steven Greenstreet.
Quite obviously, a film about the Mormon Church's role behind the Proposition 8--to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage--campaign in California during the 2008 elections.
Tickets and information here. [Monday, June 7, 7:00 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

"El Baile de la Victoria" ("The Dancer and the Thief") by Spanish director, Fernando Trueba.
A political thriller and romance about a safe-cracker that wants to get his life back on track after being released from prison. The story is set during the period after the fall of the repressive Pinochet regime in Chile.
Tickets and information here. [Wednesday, June 9, 9:15 p.m., Neptune Theater]

"Cargo" by Swiss director, Ivan Engler.
I saw the trailer for this and just couldn't help myself; I had to buy a ticket to a screening. It's a thriller that takes place on board a transport ship in space.
Tickets and information here. [Friday, June 11, 9:15 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

"Howl" by American directors, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman.
A biopic about Allen Ginsberg--James Franco plays the lead role--and the controversy surrounding his poem, Howl.
Tickets and information here. [Saturday, June 12, 7:00 p.m., Egyptian Theater]

Reviews will follow after each performance. Stay tuned.

*There may be other screening times for certain films. I've listed the screenings that I am personally attending.

Parked On the Corner of Boylston and Olive

I would love to drive this around town. Where can I get one?

Man Suffers Bleeding in His Brain After Assault in the University District

Last Friday, around 2 a.m., Seattle police and fire responded to an assault call at the corner of NE 50th and University Way, according to a police report. A female witness told officers that she and her male friend--the victim in this case, and also very intoxicated at the time of the incident--were waiting at the aforementioned corner when "a red vehicle with two large black males drove up and began yelling at them, 'why you gotta knock over my brother's sign?!'" They were referring to a knocked over sandwich board for an eatery in that area. The witness claimed that the sign "had already been knocked over before they had arrived and they didn't know why they were being blamed for it."

At this point, the victim started yelling back at the two men in the vehicle, and "a heated verbal argument ensued." The driver stopped the car, and the victim walked over and kicked it. The witness told the officers that "the two suspects [then] jumped out and began punching the victim. Then they picked him up and slammed him head first into the pavement. He was knocked out on impact."

Although the report does not indicate whether the assailants got back into their car, or took off on foot, they were said to have fled westbound on NE 50th. Police conducted an area check, but were unable to locate the two men. The reporting officer said he contacted the eatery that was listed on the sandwich board, but the owner "denied having any employees that own a red car or had recently gotten off shift." He further adds, "[t]he owner was not very forthcoming with information and gave the impression that he knew more about the suspects than what he was telling police."

The report concludes by stating that the "staff at HMC reported that the victim would survive, but had bleeding in his brain."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

They're Always Saying Hello!

My former co-worker, Kestrel, and her roommate, Amelia, thought it would be nice to put up a sign that always welcomes me to their abode--at least when they're not home. Now, whenever I walk over to Broadway--an almost daily journey--I get a big smile on my face when I see their little sign: "HI JON -K&A". The best part is that they did not tell me about it; so, as I walked by their apartment the other day, I looked up and got the biggest grin on my face.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Friday, May 14 through Sunday, May 16

I don't know whether or not to judge the past weekend as an utter failure or success. It's open for debate. Let me start at the beginning:

I worked a full and (mostly) productive day at work; although, it became a struggle around 3 p.m. Nevertheless, I pushed onward. After work, I headed up to Gay City to get my periodic STD testing. Yes, I'm responsible like that. I must say, the guy who screened me, Victor, was unbelievably attractive. It didn't help that he positioned my arm in such a way that I could easily grab his junk. No, Jon, no. Show some restraint. Okay.

Onto the next and final part of my day: my friend, Rich's, 25th birthday party. We all got drunk for about six and a half straight hours. During that time frame we played ping pong, smoked cigars, chatted, and eventually found ourselves smoking our hookah on the roof, stargazing, while two people played guitar and the ukulele. It was extremely peaceful and relaxing. As the night came to a close, our (RB2) band, The Shredders of Dignity, decided to play a few gigs. By this time, we were dead tired, and called it a night. However, there were some--Rich--who did not want to fall asleep just yet. "What was your favorite Goldeneye sleepover moment? 'Dude, I thought we agreed on no Oddjob...and pistols only.' 'I changed it when you went to the bathroom.'" We wanted to sleep, so Rich went and slept in his own bed, rather than the hardwood living room floor. Finally!

Now there are four of us: Rich, Kristin, Jessica and me. We woke up, smoked the hookah (for the millionth time already), and drove over to Mae's Cafe on Phinney for some delicious breakfast. I had the Denver omelet, while Jessica indulged on the smoked salmon and cream cheese omelet. I can't recall what Kristin and Rich ate. It was a sunny and beautiful day, so we opted to walk to the park to throw the Frisbee around and play hackeysack. For whatever reason, we thought it would be a great idea to do the Infinite Setlist 2 on Rock Band. Let me emphasize the fact that we never doubted our ability to beat this monster of a project.

For the next nine hours we played Rock Band. Yes, you read that correctly. Nine hours. There are 84 songs in the Endless Setlist. We completed 81 of them before we ran into the impossible: "Visions" by Abnormality. This horrendous piece of musical garbage slammed the brakes on our winning streak and forced us to face the fact that we could not complete the IS.
Dear Rock Band,
Fuck you!

Rich, Kristin, Jessica and Jon
By this time it was nearly 2 a.m., if I recall correctly. Again, we went to bed, but this time we did it with shame and defeat in our hearts and minds. Jessica, however, drove home. I didn't have such luxury--I don't own a car. So, the next morning, Rich, Kristin and I drove to Krispy Kreme to grab a donut, and then we finally parted ways: they went to their kickball game and I caught the bus home. When I got home, which I had not been to since Friday evening, I took a long shower followed immedialy by a long nap. The end--sort of.

Here are some of the email exchanges the four of us had this morning:

From Jessica:
I’m still sad about what happened on Saturday. I don’t know if I will ever be the same. 81 songs. 81 freaking songs. Happy Monday!

From Kristin:
I’ve been borderline depressed….the last 3 songs are EXACTLY why we were going to choose medium…. I don’t even want to listen to the radio or any rock music at all.

From Rich:
I had a similar thought.... I feel like we should have taken a picture of 81 of 84 songs complete and posted on failblog or something. Overall the whole weekend was a giant success in my opinion.

From me:
Agreed. I hate Rock Band. I don't even want to see any of the instruments. Can you put them downstairs in the storage room? I might smash the drums if I come across them.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Re: The Recent British Elections

Andrew Sullivan sums up my thoughts:
It just seems odd to me that after this election, someone who was not in any of
the debates could somehow become prime minister in a party that clearly won many fewer votes and seats than the Tories.

I'll admit that I don't know much of anything about the political parties/system of Britain, but I know enough to make sense of what Sullivan is stating here. Let me try and break it down:

Today, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown offered his resignation in an attempt to sway the third place party, Liberal-Democrats, to form a ruling coalition with the second place party, Labour. Initially, the Conservatives (Tories) were talking with Liberal-Democrats to form a coalition. This means that the Lib-Dems hold all the cards at the moment.

With Brown out, and if a Lab-Lib coalition--as they like to call it--forms, the Labour party would decide on a new leader, who would then be the next British P.M. I believe that is how it works; that's exactly how Sullivan puts it. Odd.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Best iPhone App Ever Created

I thought this app topped them all--no pun intended; but I was wrong. I was dead wrong. Last week I discovered the "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" random quotation app. Click on any of their faces and you get a sweet dose of IASIP. This is guaranteed to put a smile on my face anytime I have a bad day. The best part: it's free!

"Kitten mittens. You'll be smitten. So come on down to Paddy's Pub. We're the home of the original kitten mittens. Meeeoooow."

"Well, I could put the trash into a landfill, where it's going to stay for millions of years, or I could burn it up, and get a nice smokey smell in here, and let that smoke go into the sky where it turns into stars."

"How about a can of wine?"

Okay, those were all from Charlie; but come on, he's the wild card, bitches!

An Egyptian-Made Keffiyeh (Or Shemagh)

As I noted earlier, my friends, Jessica and Raili, were in Egypt for the past two weeks. They were kind enough to bring me back a nice present: a keffiyeh (a/k/a a shemagh). I think this may be my latest treasured asset. It was handmade in Egypt. It's not something I purchased at Urban Outfitters. Although, it's not like I could. I've found that there are two ways to wear it:

(1) The hipster look*:

And (2) The desert look**:

*I have already figured out one outfit into which I would like to incorporate this: white chuck taylor low-tops, cuffed jean shorts--something I loved wearing last summer, and my dark blue AE t-shirt.
**I had to view some videos online as to how to wear it this way. It's easy once you get the hang of it.

UPDATE: Here is the outfit I mentioned.

I Survived Two Weeks of Cat Wrath

Even though the two devil cats, Ollie and Ellie, annoyed the shit out of me, I enjoyed the company. My two friends returned from their vacation in Egypt this morning, and now I'm back to my humble abode. I'm glad I washed all the dishes before I slipped away for two weeks. Now I just need to clean up the rest of the apartment. Give it time.

I've been keeping myself busy with work and hanging out with my friends. Now that I have the same 'weekend' as most of them, we see each other more often. That being said, I couldn't tell you how many hours we've clocked playing Rock Band 2 in the past month. I think we should start filming our band's performances. Shredders of Dignity on YouTube. It may soon become a reality. Oh, and yes, our band name is (The) Shredders of Dignity. It's a long and esoteric story. Don't ask. It's kind of our own thing.

You may be wondering what that note (in the picture) is supposed to mean, besides the obvious. Well, it's my reminder at work to stay on top of everything, but at the same time, to not get ahead of myself and make (too many) errors. So far, it's working. (Un)fortunately, I've been taking my new job very seriously, but I'm hoping that it will all pay off down the road. Let's hope so. It's never a bad thing to be good at your job, right?

Sadly, I have been completely out of the loop with all the news that is happening in the world. I need to start spending my time after work reading the blogs and newspapers. As a result, my own blog--snooze fest--has been dormant for a while. I just need some inspiration, and I hope it's coming soon.