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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Canteen Magazine Grows, Builds Community

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Porochista Khakpour is among 16 "Hot Authors" who'll appear in issue seven of Canteen. - SAM FALLS
  • Sam Falls
  • Porochista Khakpour is among 16 "Hot Authors" who'll appear in issue seven of Canteen.

As the disparity between rich and poor continues to increase, literature is more important than ever. Two important questions are: How will we get it, and who is willing to make it happen? Both were answered enthusiastically last night, as a throng of lit supporters filled Project One Gallery to benefit Canteen's biannual print magazine, which is edited, managed, and otherwise staffed wholly by volunteers.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Killing My Lobster's Sketch Comedy Makes Us Nostalgic for Gameboys, Seinfeld, and Butterchurns

Posted By on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 at 7:30 AM

As you can see from their funny, pissy viral hit above, S.F. sketch comedy stalwarts Killing My Lobster have a bee in their bonnet about the techtopia in which we all soak like brains in pans.

They even strap on those bee-filled bonnets to make a point about it. In the most inspired sketch of Killing My Lobster Reboots, their often-killer current show, Allison Johnson rocks a butterchurn happy-pornstar style.

Her face flushed with naive exuberance, Johnson whips up cream and laughs as Jane Henry, a forgotten folk hero of the pioneer days pitted in fierce competition against a newfangled churning machine. Johnson's Henry leans in and pumps faster and harder than ever before, first one churn and then a second, her pluck and determination slowly giving way to pleasure. Occasionally she mouths the sticks, much to the menfolks' delight.

She is quite literally beating off the future.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

LitUp Writers Share Their Labor Pains -- Related to Work (or Lack of It), That Is

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM

Substitute teacher Stacy Marie Lyons outwits the class clown.
  • Substitute teacher Stacy Marie Lyons outwits the class clown.
What do a barista, a substitute teacher, and a nude model have in common? If you could hear what they were really thinking, you'd either cry or laugh your ass off. Probably both. Laughing, you'd marvel at their ability to tell a good story. That is, if you caught them all in the same room. Crying, you'd wonder why you don't think this more often: My crazy messed-up story is worth listening to -- and would be listened to -- if I just found the humor in it, kept it to five to eight minutes, and submitted it to LitUp Writers. Of course, you'd have to be accepted. Competition to perform in front of easy-to-please crowds is always tough.

The crowd last night at Space Gallery was as eclectic as the readers. The theme of this quarterly series was "Labor Pains: Stories of Work and Woe." With so many of us going through really difficult times and doing things we'd rather not do just to keep eating, this theme really hit home. As the readers succeeded each other at the microphone, it became clear: America might be breeding the smartest (or best-educated) stratum of impoverished working stiffs in the history of the planet. No wonder we're emotional.

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A.C.T.'s No Exit Is No Gem

Posted By on Wed, Apr 20, 2011 at 7:30 AM

After staging exceptional productions of Clybourne Park and The Homecoming, it was about time for A.C.T. to lay an egg. No Exit, a self-serious multimedia interpretation of Jean-Paul Sartre's much-performed existentialist chestnut, comes to A.C.T. by way of Vancouver's Electric Company Theatre. The show's concept seems clever at first, but it never rises above gimmickry -- and the performances grate in ways that I suspect to be unintentional.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Previously Secret Information Gets Deeply Personal in Its First Anniversary Show

Posted By on Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 8:00 AM

"I need to be way less shy in bed than I am," Glory Ludwig confessed. "I don't even make sounds." - BENJAMIN WACHS
  • Benjamin Wachs
  • "I need to be way less shy in bed than I am," Glory Ludwig confessed. "I don't even make sounds."
A friend of mine had a one-woman show in Chicago where she would give audience members slips of paper and tell them to write down a secret they'd never told anyone. She promised them that they would never have to reveal this secret if they didn't want to. And most didn't. But as they left the theater, many dropped their covert notes into the trash can.

My friend would later empty the trash and spend the night going through everyone's secrets with a bottle of wine. At its best, the storytelling series Previously Secret Information gets to that level, and PSI has held itself to a high standard.

Its first anniversary show last night at Stage Werx was fairly low-key: no big name guests, no confessions of incest or murder, no cake. But it was a great show that demonstrated once again that there are two kinds of tales you get at a show where people share personal stories. The first is a secret inasmuch as it's never been shared onstage, and it's put out there for a laugh. And the second, well, it reaches the profound and terrifying.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Previously Secret Information Hits, Misses on Sunday Night

Posted on Mon, Mar 21, 2011 at 8:55 AM

"Sometimes you need a cow," says Joe Klocek.
  • "Sometimes you need a cow," says Joe Klocek.

A good story doesn't always translate into a good stand-up routine. Similarly, the most confident and reliable comedian can quickly find him or herself unable to maneuver within the unfamiliar parameters of a linear (and true) story. But when a performer can keep a serious tale moving with just the right comedic elements and timing, the result transcends stand-up comedy as well as straight-up storytelling. This mix is what Previously Secret Information aims for. Its Sunday night lineup at Stage Werx demonstrated to an audience of about 50 that it doesn't always work but it's pure magic when it does.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Marionette Fellatio and a Fire-Eating Balloon Elvis -- This is Circus Finelli's Puppet Peepshow

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 at 7:30 AM

Blinky Winky (assisted by Luz Gaxiola) is the city's newest mayoral candidate. - BENJAMIN WACHS
  • Benjamin Wachs
  • Blinky Winky (assisted by Luz Gaxiola) is the city's newest mayoral candidate.

An opening act is one of the hardest things to get right - and there's a lot riding on it.A mediocre opening act is like Custer's sense of direction. If a company is willing to put a bad comedian on stage for you before a show, it's a pretty good indicator of what their standards will be for the show itself.

A good opening act, by contrast, is a sign that a show is surefooted; that it knows the difference between good entertainment and bad, and won't waste your time with something half-assed. The better an opening act a show is able and willing to put in front of you, the better the show itself is likely to be.

And if a company can take the next step, making your entrance into the theater part of the show, turning taking your seat into a joy rather than a formality ... that's about as good a sign as you can get. It means the hands you're about to place yourself in can juggle seven pins while picking your pocket. And Circus Finelli's Puppet Peepshow nails it.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Quiet Lightning Turns in Strong Performance as Series Aims to Become Nonprofit Group

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 8:55 AM

Evan Karp, president
The North Beach bar 15 Romolo was packed. At the end of intermission, Quiet Lightning, series co-founder Evan Karp stood before the microphone to make an unusual announcement.

"Today," he said, "we filed our articles for incorporation as a nonprofit." The crowd went wild. To be fair, it had been pretty generous to people in front of that microphone all night. Karp raised his arms to explain what this meant: "Soon, the money you give us will be tax deductible. But, um, you can still give us money tonight."

It was a short announcement, but it was a big one - with potential to change the SF literary landscape.

The new nonprofit Quiet Lightning will have Karp as its president and his longtime collaborator Charles Kruger as its chairman. Their exact duties ares still unknown, but Karp seems poised to continue heading Quiet Lightning's artistic efforts. He has shown a willingness to alter the event's streamlined form and get experimental. "I like what we do," he says. "But it's been a year, and I don't want us to seem stale."

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Monday, March 7, 2011

A Strange Sunday Night at K'vetsh: Self-Help for Ex-Cons, Masturbation While Reciting Hamlet

Posted on Mon, Mar 7, 2011 at 9:30 AM

Kirk Read and Tara Jepsen set a comfortable standard at K'vetsh.
  • Kirk Read and Tara Jepsen set a comfortable standard at K'vetsh.

"Rainy Sunday night" for most of us means "reason to stay home," but the weather can't stop weird things from happening in San Francisco. A small group of people who weren't thwarted by the precipitation saw a reading that included a Sinister headliner barking lines from his self-help book for addicts, a naughty Multi-Tasker who stroked himself while reciting Shakespeare, and a Crumbsnatcher whose hysterical report of near-seduction by a homeless man in a public restroom would have easily stolen a lesser show. It was K'vetsh, the only multi-gender reading we know of that happens in a gay sex club, Eros. And, according to local lit aficionado Evan Karp at Litseen, it's the longest-running queer open-mic series in the United States. (It turned 14 in December.)

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Hiding in Plain Sight" -- Hasan Elahi Exposes Big Brother's Tactics by Spying on Himself

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Hasan Elahi exposes the absurdity of the surveillance state.
  • Hasan Elahi exposes the absurdity of the surveillance state.

There's a new method of civil liberation for those dealing with Orwellian paranoia. You may have heard of it; it's called full disclosure. Here's an example: Artist, professor, and exhaustive self-documenter Hasan Elahi has installed something akin to a dystopian private investigator's office at Intersection 5M. LCD screens of varying sizes flicker from photo to seemingly trivial photo on four walls, showing us where Elahi has eaten, slept, traveled, and -- importantly -- gone to the bathroom.

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