Monthly Archives: October 2011

I Wanted to Ask You: A Conversation with Matthew Sweet

Matthew Sweet, photographed by Matthew Sweet

I chatted for a minute with Matthew Sweet about the 20th-anniversary-of-Girlfriend tour he’s bringing to the Birchmere tomorrow night, for Washingtonian. It’s my first piece for them.

I’m Told “Little Person” Is the Respectful Way to Refer . . .

Kris Medina and Maude Mitchell

. . . to people who display the physical characteristics common to all the male actors who appear in Mabou Mines DollHouse, which is at the Kennedy Center for a brief run this weekend. I wrote it up for the Washington City Paper.

Dept. of Excess: The Top Five Things I Forgot to Say While Presenting My Top Five Remakes List on Filmspotting This Week

I’ve written at least 150 concert reviews like this one for the Washington Post in the last five years. The format is very short: 250 to 300 words is your usual allotment; sometimes more, but usually not. I’m not crazy about the level of compression that requires, but it does keep you in the happy position of having more opinions than space.

I was thinking about this for the last couple of weeks as I prepared for one of the most exciting jobs that’s ever come my way: the chance to guest-cohost my favorite podcast, Filmspotting, which I’ve praised here before. (You can listen to the episode here or get it from iTunes here. The co-hosts of the episodes immediately prior to mine were two of the sharpest film critics in the game, my friend Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune and Dana Stevens from Slate, whose writing I’ve long admired. So, you know, no pressure!) I don’t have much on-air experience yet, so I haven’t developed an awareness of how many seconds I need to express an idea verbally. But I do know broad/podcast media is very unforgiving of contemplative pauses and of digression, both of which are characteristic of the way I talk in real life. Continue reading

Waiting for the End of the World: Woolly’s A Bright New Boise and Active Cultures’s Hellspawn, considered

Michael Russotto and Joshua Morgan in A BRIGHT NEW BOISE

Woolly Mammoth opens their Apocalypse-themed 32nd season with Samuel D. Hunter‘s surprisingly empathetic comedy A Bright New Boise. My City Paper review is here. I also wrote about Active Cultures’s Halloween trio Hellspawn in this week’s issue, available wherever fine newsweeklies are given away free.

Do the Pain Revolution: Wherein I Join the Pop Culture Happy Hour Crew for a Sober Discussion of Real Steel, and also of the Rather Startling Ascendancy of Robot Boxing Generally

I teach a weekly boxing class. Though I do cover the fundamentals of the Sweet Science, and participants do get to glove-up and practice punching combinations with partners holding focus mitts, it’s primarily a fitness class, not a curriculum for someone who’s serious about trying to compete in the ring.

I hope you’ll agree those credentials are at least (and perhaps at most) sufficient to lend my discussion of Real Steel, and of the exciting new sport of robot boxing in general, a certain authority. At least the NPR Pop Culture Happy Hour crew — Monkey See blogger & show host Linda Holmes, Music Editor Stephen Thompson, Movies Editor (and my fellow Washington City Paper theatre critic) Trey Graham, Producer Mike Katzif, and books & comics critic and funniest-man-on-Twitter Glen Weldon — saw it that way. I was honored to join them on this week’s episode, wherein we gab about the very best robot boxing movie I have ever seen. Continue reading

Toad to Redemption: Rorschach’s After the Quake, reviewed

Dylan Myers plays a giant toad (Photo: C. Stanley)

Rorschach Theatre’s great Jessi Burgess-directed version of The Bard of Avon was one of the first plays I saw in DC after I moved back here from Los Angeles near the end of 2005. I’ve kept tabs on that company’s work since then. I’ve always admired their ambition, even when I haven’t loved the shows. I was not at all a fan of Living Dead in Denmark, the last piece I saw from them, more than two years ago, but I was always pulling for them to overcome their venuelessness and other troubles and make a strong comeback. That’s what their new production of After the Quake is, as I aver in today’s Washington City Paper.

Ghosts of Christmas Past: From 2009, That Means Christmas to Some People

I’ve been making and giving away bizarro holiday mixtapes in lieu of greeting cards since 2006. I spend a lot, a crazy amount of time assembling and editing these — with October almost half gone, it’s nearly time for me to get started on this year’s edition already. The truth is I’m more delighted by these than I’ve ever been by any piece of my own writing.

I wanted to have the good ones available on my site, so here’s 2009’s entry, That Means Christmas to Some People — Yule-Tunes Eclectic and Inexplicable IV: The Quest for Peace. Continue reading

And the Mekons Shall Inherit the Earth

Sally Timms sings "The Letter." In real life, she appears in-focus.

I’d never heard of the Mekons until Jon Langford — the long-lived art-punk collective’s nominal frontman — appeared on this 2002 This American Life episode. I quickly procured a trio of the albums the group made during the 1980s — Fear and Whiskey, Edge of the World, and Rock and Roll — and I was sunk.

Their sit-down acoustic set at IOTA last night was mostly devoted to Ancient and Modern, a new album I hadn’t heard prior to the show. Didn’t matter. Read all about it.

Studio’s naked LUNGS

Ryan King & Brooke Bloom in LUNGS

Studio Theatre’s new Lab Series — presenting stripped-down productions of new work — is off to a strong start with Duncan Macmillan‘s Lungs, a frantic conversation on the subject of parenthood and all other ‘hoods.

My Washington City Paper review is here.