Category Archives: Uncategorized

B-Boys & B-Sides: Presenting (the first quarter of) my Lucky 13th Yulemix, Blue Wave Christmas

Have mercy! This is just getting ridiculous now. For the lucky thirteenth iteration of my Yuletunes Eclectic and Inexplicable series, I thought that instead of releasing it in two indefensibly long parts, as had been my habit since I stopped burning and printing physical CDs of this thing—a nice bauble to thrust into some unsuspecting person’s hand, but expensive—I thought I would do a sort of podcast limited series of four episodes, released weekly, counting down to the Feast of Christmas. Because four is more than two—one hundred percent more, from a numerical perspective. And I believe in always giving one hundred percent, Christmaswise. 

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Two-Thirds of a Year of Magical Thinking: Remembering Ricky Jay, my most extraordinary boss.

I learned of my former boss’s passing last Saturday via a text from my friend Brian just after midnight:

“My sincere condolences on your friend Ricky Jay.”

I worked for RJ for eight months, 13 years ago. He was kind to me, and I recall many moments of warmth between us, but it would be disingenuous for me to imply we were buddies. I was his employee. Then again, people who knew him for much longer than I did spoke of being very conscious of minding those kinds of boundaries with him, too.

I didn’t think I was going to write anything about him. I didn’t see how I could without also writing about me, and a rough patch in my life, which seemed perilously narcissistic/self-pitying/starfucking/all of the above.

Then old buddy Glen, who is also, happily, my editor, prodded me to start and I couldn’t stop.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: CREED II

Sly, Wood Harris, Michael B., and Jacob ‘Stitch’ Duran all return. (MGM)

It had been too long since I got to appear on a PCHH panel with the great Gene Demby from Code Switch, so I was very happy to find myself sitting beside him for this episode dissecting Creed II, which frustrated each of us in different ways. You can hear the episode here; my review of the movie is here.

Action Figure: A Syrian Asylum Seeker Makes Her English-Language Debut in This Hope: A Pericles Project

Lida Maria Benson, Raghad Makhlouf, Lori Pitts, and Rocelyn Frisco (Hannah Hessel Ratner)

I’ve got a feature in today’s Washington City Paper about Raghad Mahklouf, a Syrian asylum-seeker—and veteran actor—who’s appearing in The Welders’ new riff on Pericles. Only 34 seats are available for each performance, so don’t sleep on those tickets if this appeals to you.

That 90s Show: Venom, reviewed.

Spider-Man 316 cover

For NPR, I reviewed Venom, which I can’t actually prove is a shelved Jim Carrey vehicle from 1997 in which Carrey has now been digitally (and tentacle-y) replaced by Tom Hardy.

But you can’t prove that it’s not.

Theatre of Pain: Woolly’s Gloria and Round House’s Small Mouth Sounds, reviewed.

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After the customary late summer lull, I’m back on the theater beat. Last week’s Washington City Paper featured my reviews of two plays that first appeared in 2015, now making their regional premieres Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ stunner Gloria, at Woolly Mammoth, and Small Mouth Sounds by Bess Wohl, at Round House.

FURTHER READING: My 2013 City Paper profile of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins is here.

Anti-Monster Squad: The Predator, reviewed.

THE PREDATOR

Predator, directed by John McTiernan the year before he made Die Hard, has been a favorite film of mine ever since I biked home with the rented VHS cassette (I couldn’t persuade my dad to take me, aged 10, to see it in the theater) and watched it three or four times in a weekend. It was the 12th highest-grossing film of 1987, a year when the box office top five was Three Men and a Baby, Fatal Attraction, Beverly Hills Cop II, Good Morning, Vietnam, and Moonstruck. One sequel and four original, not-based-on-preexisting material screenplays. Just in case you need a sense of just how long ago that was.

Anyway, I love Shane Black, so I wanted The Predator to be better than it is. My NPR review is here.