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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Looking back at the books I’ve read over the last couple of month, I’m a little ashamed. For the most part they are all frivolous, easy reads. With moving to Seattle in July, and my work being uber-crazy chaotic for several months, serious reading wasn’t what I wanted.

Back in the days when I still had cable I would try to catch Chelsea Lately. Chelsea Handler is show is one of the funniest and honest shows about celebrity and pop culture. We were also fans of her earlier show, the highly entertaining Girls Behaving Badly. Turns out she is a fairly good writer also, her stories are often about drinking and sex and weave themselves into the tale of  her climb to late night success. Chelsea may not have the same memoir writing prowess of  some of her peers, but she does hold your attention and makes you laugh.

Shades of Grey is the start of a new series by Jasper Fforde, and is a hard book to describe. Shades of Grey starts the story of a society where people are judged and categorized  by how well they see certain colors, the government also controls the usage of color as a way of control. This book sets up the concept and introduces the characters that seem poised to lead the revolution and set the colors free. Much like all Jasper Fforde’s other books, I loved it. It’s well thought out with many layers and messages that will probably be the basis of an English class at some point. Hopefully the wait for the next books won’t be  long.

A good book about a family sitting Shiva for the patriarch. Full of colorful characters and will  probably be an indie film soon.

Morgan had never seen The Black Cauldron, although he had read the book  series as a kid, so we watched it a while back. I was the other way, the movie was a favorite when I was a kid, although I did read the Disney book. I thought I would give the series a try. The Black Cauldron is the second book in the series, but the movie is mainly based on The Book of Three, the first book. I didn’t love this book,  and I don’t blame the book.  I’m thinking the reason is we just watched the movie, so I knew all the twists and how it ends. I’ll be picking up the second book at some point, no hurry though.

A surprisingly good book, another look into the rise of another female comedienne. Kathy Griffin‘s book is better than both of the Chelsea Handler books. Kathy has had a rather interesting back story, plus it’s riddled with stories of other celebrities that are often hilarious. A great and very quick read.

Big fan of John Hodgman. Trust me, you’ll enjoy this book.

I put off reading any of the Scott Pilgrim books until all of them were out, then I had to read them all before seeing the movie. I like the series and the movie a whole bunch.

I had to finish the series, and I had to wait for the paperback.  Don’t judge me harshly when I say that I loved the book.

The Hunger Games trilogy, two years in the life of Katniss Everdeen in post-apocalyptic America. I’m not going tell you too much about the books, it’s better that way. They are all great books that suck you in, for me the second book was the best. Looking forward to see how the heck they are going to make them into movies.

I wasn’t trying to become the authority on current female comedienne, it just happened. Morgan was given this for christmas, so I figured I might as well read it. It was alright.

 

 

 

 

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The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee @ Portland Center Stage

Portland Center Stage is one of the best theaters, I will forever miss living mere blocks away from it.  I was a little nervous about Spelling Bee, I worried that it could be a bit hokey and it was a tad hokey. A musical about a spelling bee has “family” stamped all over it. PCS did a good job of updating the references, that saved it from feeling dated and hokey. The was cast couldn’t have been better. The actors were all quick, witty, and  never took the characters over the top. They also performed the songs with just the right amount of self-awareness to seem natural. This was a great show.

The Yellow Wood @ Seattle Center House

The Yellow Wood, a musical about a teenage boy with ADHD performed by a community theater group, had to be good. To stay focused the kid must take medication, which he’s not happy about. The Yellow Wood centered on a day where he didn’t take his meds and he has to memorize Frosts “The Road Not Taken” for english class, and of course there’s a girl. The songs were good, in the modern emo musical style. The cast gave it their all and  gave solid performances. I’ll be keeping  my eye on the theater troupe, Contemporary Classics, they have potential. I wonder how their version of Spelling Bee was like?

Ruined @ The Intiman Theater

I read about Ruined when it opened in New York and got really excited when I saw that the Itiman Theater‘s production was going to have the original director, who also is the Itiman’s new Artistic Director. Also a lot of the original New York cast made the trip to Seattle. About the complicated relationships formed at a brothel in the wartorn Congo, Ruined was full of life in a dark situation. Violence and fear balanced with the happiness and laughter so that hope never disappeared. Full of tough characters who learn to make the best of any situation, it was a perfect performance, by a talented group of actors.

In The Heights @ The 5th Avenue Theatre

As a gift Morgan got me season tickets to the 5th Avenue Theatre, it is the theater that hosts most to the large touring productions that come through Seattle. In the Heights was the first show of the season. It’s a well-meaning musical about a group of friend in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York dealing with gentrification, poverty, crime, love and death. The story was bland and predictable, saving the show was the music and performances. The music and songs are heavily Puerto-Rican tinged with a bit of hip hop represented. The libretto was very reminiscent of the nuyorican soul movement of the nineties, there were even a couple of spoken word deliveries. The songs were full of energy and life, but was effectively somber and reflective when needed. It also helped that you could tell that the actors all loved their roles. I enjoyed myself, I would go again.

God Of Carnage @ Seattle Repertory Theatre

Like Ruined I read the New York Times review of God of Carnage when it opened it New York, and filed it away in my memory banks as something to keep an eye out for. The story of a pair of upper middle class couples having drinks and talking about how to cope with their kids getting into school yard fight. The production we saw at Seattle Rep was terrible, and I blame the production. It seemed miscast and not directed well, did not enjoy it.

Evil Dead: The Musical @ ArtsWest

This had all the makings of awesome. The production was just too corny for me, it went into a too literal version of camp. I like things a little more subtle. The material itself was good, the songs have potential, it just needs work. Kudos to ArtsWest for trying.

A Christmas Story: The Musical

The second show in m 5th Avenue Theatre season, was a local production. A Christmas Story: The Musical was a good time.  The kid who played Ralphie, is a real talent, and it was his charm that drove the show.  With the story only slightly altered from the movie, and songs that fit right in, the stage translation is a success.

The Brothers Size @ Seattle Repertory Theatre

I knew nothing about the The Brothers Size going into it, and the play was outstanding. About two brothers, one owns an auto repair shop, the other just out of jail and trying to find his way. The one other character is another ex-con friend who often appears to draw the one brother back towards bad things. The play tests the character of the emotionally lost ex-con leading to the inevitable good vs bad decision with a script that often sounds like a Shakespearian tragedy.  The staging would best be described as subtle; the stage was a concrete square with a pile of tires, the lights hardly changed except to dim occasionally, and the back drop clouds and four moving panels. The actors movements were also restrained and necessary. Excellent production.

How I Learned To Drive @ Stone Soup Theatre

This was my first visit to the tiny Stone Soup Theatre. The plays subscription sounded good, so I went for it. How I Learned To Drive is about a women who had a rather inappropriate relationship with her uncle in her teen years. The story was laid out with a gentleness that slowly lets you into the details, and a solid ending that leaves you thinking about your own demons. The acting was better than good, but not amazing. I’m sure I’ll be back to the Stone Soup Theatre.

Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog by The Balagan Theatre (presented @ ACT)
Last year in Portland I went to a really terrible production of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, and it scared me enough to almost not go to this. My love of the original won and I am happy I went. The Balagan Theatre‘s production was smart and punchy. They changed the script a bit, adding in some current references and setting it in Seattle, but you wouldn’t have known, it was seamless. The cast was great and had a lot of fun with it. The set was multi-tiered, dimensional, and involved cameras with several projection screens. Somehow the cast managed to not get lost in it and it worked smashingly well.  The show was exactly what it should be, good fun all around.