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368

Blood Countess at the Vancouver Fringe Festival – Review and Interview

Culture, Events, FRINGE!!, Interviews, Performance, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

September 13, 2017

Western culture is obsessed with gore and violence and torture. We love it in our media, we love it in our history and we love it in our folklore. I have a deep love of  Gothic literature from man made monsters to the romantic nobility that seduces women and then drains them of their blood and their mortal souls.

Vampires are the most popular mythical beings. They are more popular than fairies, unicorns, and leprechauns. There are good ones and there are bad ones. Misunderstood and completely feared.

The most famous vampire ever is and will always be Dracula, but if we were to root around into history you would find that Dracula was based on a Romanian nobleman Vlad the Impaler. The facts around his life are absolutely horrific, however, he didn’t drink blood and wasn’t a serial killer.

The second most famous “vampire” is a woman and her name is Erzebet (Elizabeth) Bathory, a pure blooded aristocrat from Hungary. Her family was the Kennedys of the time. Rich, educated, attractive and powerful. She married a well respected nobel who was also the head of the Hungarian Army and with that much power and responsibility one will always have a target on your back and that is where Blood Countess lives.

Written, directed and performed by Sharon Nowlan, this one woman show dives deep into the misogyny and misinformation surrounding “The Blood Countess” and the circumstances around her life of torment and eventual death.

It is gripping and intimate and visually striking. Employing minimal set but historic costumes and impressive poi and whip skills Nowlan will make you feel the betrayal and pain that one feels when you are centre of scandal and rumor.

It is not for everyone, you have to love history and you have love vampire to really get this show at its core. If you are thinking you are going to see torture porn at the Fringe you are going to be gravely mistaken. If you think that you are going to get Twilight or Interview With A Vampire, you should go to Netflix. This show is meant for us folks who are folk lore nerds.

You can see Blood Countess Friday September 15th at 8:40pm and Saturday September 16th at 4:15pm and tickets are available here.

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We were able to have a quick talk with Sharon about the project and her goals for Blood Countess and her future plans.

LM: Can you give us the history of the project?

SN: About 9 years ago I was working on a production of Dracula. At a party, the lead actor told me that I should play Elizabeth Bathory. I was unfamiliar with her, so I began looking into her story. Over the years I became more interested in the story, ordering every book I could find on the subject. Most portrayals of her supported the accepted legend: She was a prolific murderess, obsessed with her looks, who would kill young virgin girls in order to bathe in their blood.


Yet, when I focused my research on facts, and what could be proven with documentation, another portrayal emerged. She was educated and intelligent, spoke 5 languages (including the language of her peasants). A mother. A woman who managed a large amount of properties, worked in her community, started a school for young women, and supported war widows.

 

It was this contrast that kept compelling me to come back to the story.
Of course, it would have been quite easy (and fun!) to portray the legend in a bloody horror show. But it was after last year’s US election when I realized that I could not do that. I would not use a sensationalized story to portray this powerful and intelligent woman as a monster.

LM: What are your plans for the show in the future?

SN: That’s a tough questions to answer, at the end of a six city tour! It’s been challenging.
But, I think after I integrate my experiences of this summer, the Countess will rise again. I believe the subject matter, and the esthetic of the show, might appeal to a European audience. I would love to continue to tour it.

LM: Given that history is written by the winners do you think that women’s stories in history usually need to be retold later on in years to add context and nuance?

SN: I love the saying, “don’t believe everything that you think”. It’s so easy to except historical record as fact. But if you’ve ever been a subject of gossip, you know how quickly stories can get muddied. Women have not fared well in history. If we are to learn from it, it is worth re-examining.

The ‘facts’ behind the legend of Elizabeth Bathory–650 girls murdered, bathing in blood–didn’t come into documentation until 100 years after her death. But that is the story that many people prefer to stick to.
If you don’t find my interpretation plausible, you aren’t paying attention.

LM: Can you tell us if you learned any skills for the show or how you incorporated skills you had into the show?

SN: I have used whips and LED poi in most of my shows. When I saw that there was a new LED whip product, I immediately ordered it. I was excited to be able to integrate this very modern product into my 16th century world, in a way that I think is very effective.

LM: Do you have other projects that are in the works?

SN: Not at the moment. But I see as many Fringe shows as I can while I can. I am always inspired by the work of my fellow artists.

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692

Fifty Shades Of Dave at The Vancouver Fringe Festival – Review and Interview

Books & Writing, Comedy, Culture, Events, FRINGE!!, Interviews, Performance, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

September 13, 2017

I am going to clue you into a loosely kept secret around here… I am an American. I was raised by NPR listening hippies. I watched Public Television a lot and I was brought up with the voice of Garrison Keillor lulling me into a peaceful amusement about the people and crazy antics of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon via the very popular radio show A Prairie Home Companion. There was even a movie about the radio show itself starring Keillor as the romantic interest of Meryl Streep, and Lindsay Lohan who was just starting to tip over the precipice of highly successful child star to a tragic train wreck of a young adult who used to be a child star.

Now, we had a family cherished Christmas album, even though we were Pagans who celebrated Yule, and on this CD was one story. This story was Polly Anderson’s Christmas Party and it was cooed to me annually by Stuart McLean and his beloved story telling experience The Vinyl Cafe.

So, now that there is context and nostalgia we shall begin to talk about Fifty Shades of Dave the delightful and sexy show written by Happysad Theatre‘s Nico Dicecco and Kyle Carpenter and performed by Nico Dicecco.

Dicecco, sounds so amazingly accurately like Stuart McLean that I would find myself closing my eyes and pretending that I was wrapped up in a blanket, sipping hot chocolate and smelling our Christmas Tree/Yule Bush… but then our host would say phrases like, “The ice cream is a metaphor FOR EATING PUSSY” or “Put your hands up and spread your legs… Officer Morley was naked” or “I came four times that night” and I was immediately snapped out of my warm, safe, innocent childhood to my lurid and sex positive adulthood and I sat at the edge of my seat falling in love with Dave and Morely’s very amazing and heartwarming adventure into spicing up their sex life.

I really could not love this show any more than I do and I really feel so much pleasant joy and amazing gratitude to have seen it.

Please go see it, you have two more chances Sat Sept 16 at 6:25pm and Sun Sept 17 at 3:00 pm. You can purchase tickets and your membership to the Fringe here.


We also got the chance to have a few words with Nico Dicecco who plays Stuart in the play and who is also a co-writer of this gem.

LM: Can you give us the history of the project?

ND: It started as a party trick that my co-writer Kyle Carpenter and I would do years and years ago to make friends laugh, just saying the dirtiest things we could think of in Stuart McLean’s voice. Eventually, we decided it would be funny to write a full story and record it as a podcast. As we were writing that, we discovered that the whole thing worked best if we pulled back on the really dirty humour and tried as hard as possible to capture what it would actually be like if Stuart McLean revealed the intricacies of Dave and Morley’s sex life. We managed to record one story, but then we decided that the project was strong enough to work as an hour long live theatre performance. We applied for a few fringes and got into Vancouver and started writing more stories to fill out our time. By January of this year, we had a full draft. Then, in February, Stuart McLean passed away. We were heartbroken. We took a bit of time to think about whether or not we still wanted to go ahead with the show. We reread the script, and it was chock full of love and admiration for The Vinyl Cafe, so we were confident that audiences would receive it as the tribute that it is.

LM: Can you tell us more about your love of either Vinyl Cafe or Fifty Shades of Grey or both?

ND: Hearing The Vinyl Cafe on the radio is the earliest memory I have of realizing how incredible storytelling can be. I was listening in the car and when we got home I refused to let my mom turn off the radio until the story finished. I was enraptured. Since then, I’ve been a fan of Stuart McLean, usually listening to his CDs on road trips. There’s a way that The Vinyl Cafe has of weaving itself into really great family memories.

As for Fifty Shades of Grey… I really don’t know much of anything about it. I read two pages once and didn’t care for the writing. We just liked the title.

LM: How long did it take you to get Stuart McLean’s voice down?

ND: I’ve been doing a Stuart McLean impression since at least 2008, but it kind of started out as more Jimmy Stewart than anything. We first started crafting material for this show in 2013, and that’s when I got more serious about perfecting the voice and the rhythm of his storytelling.

LM: What are your plans for the show in the future?

ND: We’re booked to take it to the Montreal Fringe in May, and I’ll be applying to a ton of other festivals for the 2018 season.

LM: Do you have other projects that are in the works?

ND: I’ve had a lot of people come up to me after shows and comment that I look a fair bit like Justin Trudeau, so I’m starting to work on my impression of him, and Kyle Carpenter and I are brainstorming ideas for what kind of Trudeau show we might want to do.

LM: Have you thought about touring this to sex positivity conferences?

ND: I haven’t, but that’s a great idea! Our top priority, next to honouring the spirit of The Vinyl Cafe, was to offer a sex-positive portrait of Dave and Morley. We worked really hard to shape the stories so that they are celebrations of sexuality and human connection, even when Dave is causing calamity in the bedroom.

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286

God of Comics – The Realm #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 13, 2017

The Realm #1 (Image Comics)

I love that urban fantasy has become a thing, this weird hybrid of taking high fantasy concepts and applying them to the modern world. Shadowrun was the first time I’d seen a heady mix of modernish sci-fi and fantasy, but there’s been plenty of attempts and builds since, from Dark Sword to Dresden to Birthright to that Netflix thing with Will Smith.

The trick of it lies in balance – the reader/audience doesn’t need to know the details of the mythology for the story to work, but the writer does. Where does the magic come from? How does the world work? What is the depth of science and magic, and, when they fight, who wins? Every writer is going to bring their own answers to these questions, and the success of the narrative is decided by how detailed those answers are.

Seth Peck is the writer in question for this tale, and given his work on Sorrow, Deadline, and Bad Karma, I’m willing to bet that he has volumes detailing those questions, whole tomes that his characters have never seen and may only learn snippets of. They have to live in a world they can either discover or die, and death seems much more likely.

Here’s the set-up: the modern world went as the modern world does until about fifteen years ago, when a mythic army appeared and threw the world into chaos. It’s hard for a modern military to fight, say, a dragon, or an army of orcs, or any of the other sorcerous abominations that crawled from fantasy to reality. Nations fell, civilizations shattered, warlords both human and not rising from the ashes to carve the world into ownable chunks.

And that’s where this starts, in the ruins of shattered echoes, the fading dream of an old world conquered by an even older one. The champions of this new world are those that can remember the old and struggle to adapt, those that have the grit to stand against a tide of eldritch darkness and keep their memories safe.

Thing is, these horrors are not the kind of monstrosities to sit and wait for humankind to find their strength. A sorcerer is taking action and who knows what his end goal is? It’s probably isn’t good. A band of warriors learn of that madness and set out on their own journey, hoping to save the world from the darkness that swallowed it whole.

Will they succeed? Can they?

Depends on how much they understand and what they are capable of.

Their actions while be chiseled into history by the pen of Jeremy Haun, whose work you should know from the Beauty, and the heady colors of Nick Filardi. This comic sounds like all of the good times combined into an unrelenting battle between worlds lost and worlds gained, a place where one cannot know without understanding the post-apocalyptic fantasy our realm has become.

My summoning circle is ready. Let’s do this.

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303

God of Comics – Killer Instinct #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 12, 2017

Killer Instinct #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

There’s a certain sense you get from people that know they’re fighting game lore. It’s the same sort of thing you get from people that read Sutter Cane: there are levels of a reality that you perceive that no one else does.

It’s a long-standing belief of mine that the original writer for the Street Fighter mythos thought he was writing a role-playing game. How else to explain the American showboat, the PTSD and regret-ridden soldier out for revenge, the young girl driven by tragedy to become an Interpol agent who now seeks to take down an international criminal organization? And those are the sane back stories, not getting into, say, the genetically perfect female clone of the male genetically enhanced antichrist who has tapped into the darkest impulses of every living soul through a machine?

And that’s Street Fighter. Every other fighting game started developing their own mythology to go along with the mechanics and characters of their games, sometimes coming up with weird lore that rivals the original and, in some cases, surpasses it.

For your pleasure, may we present Killer Instinct.

Killer Instinct was a combo-heavy second-party Nintendo game that jumped over to Microsoft when the company that made the game did so. It’s now done what Capcom tried (and failed) to do with Street Fighter V, though neither has quite become the e-sport both companies were hoping for. The mythology carries through, though, this weird thing that goes back thousands of years to the dawn of man and maybe before.

Turns out that the dawn of history was shaped by two demonic warlords: Eyedol and Gargos. Neither of them cared much for anything other than destroying the other, and the battles rocked the planet and shaped much of our geography until they managed to nearly kill one another. They both dropped off into nothing and humans happened, rising up and claiming the planet for themselves and creating a society much like our own.

Except that they went for the darkest timeline: corporations took over by paying off politicians, basically turning the world into what America is becoming under Trump – an unholy Hellscape for anyone without the letters CEO in front of their name. Cybernetics and genetic experimentation became the norm as human rights went out the window in favor of corporate profits.

A funny thing happened along the way: as robotics advanced, corporate entities went from being legal machines to actual ones. This inhumanization resulted in more atrocities and greater profits, with masses of humanity kept in line via blood and circuses and whatever else while also being kept poor and poor and poor. One of those companies is called Ultratech, and they serve as the base antagonist of the series as a whole.

Ultratech thought it would be a good idea to wake up first Eyedol and then Gargos. Eyedol caused all sorts of havoc until a band of heroes rallied together and made him stop, but then Gargos literally went after the spiritual side of the planet – an aspect of the world that corporations know nothing about and claim doesn’t exist, but nonetheless would have seen them killed, too, if it were destroyed.

A plucky band of heroes led by a shadow ninja guardian person named Jago and his friend Kim stepped in and saved the world from Gargos, but saw themselves vastly weakened by the cataclysmic battle that ensued. Ultratech took the opportunity to corner the not-so-free market, but a new power called the Coven is gathering a secret malevolence with the intention of enslaving every conscious mind in the world.

All of which begs the question: Do you read Sutter Cane?

Dynamite was lucky enough to snag Ian Edginton for this project. You know he’s one of the better UK writers because he’s worked on – wait for itJudge Dredd, but has also worked on a metric tonne of stuff that dwells down in the grimdark and lore-heavy complexities of the medium. He is very much the person you want writing this. Cam Adams is on art, which is also a good choice given his work on everything from Star Wars to Batman to Inner Station to Ash vs.

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315

Review – Scientist Turned Comedian at Vancouver Fringe Festival

Comedy, Culture, Events, FRINGE!!, Performance, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

September 11, 2017

 

Above is a brilliant example of what Tim Lee does. He shows you the hard data of things. The hard science of why your spouse steals the covers at night. The hard data on how we go from sober to “Scottish” when drinking and mad to Scottish when faced with the geopolitical climate of North America. In other words, this show is funny and informative.

Tim is an engaging comic and thoughtful commentator on the world around us blending observations with Demitri Martin style delivery with George Carlin frankness but with actual science!

You can read more about Tim and his point of view in our interview here.

His upcoming fringe show times are:

Mon 9/11 8:15PM
Thur 9/14 6:40PM
Sat 9/16 5:25 PM
Sun 9/17 2:45 PM

and you can get tickets here!

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584

Review – Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story at the Vancouver Fringe

Comedy, Culture, Events, FRINGE!!, Performance, Reviews, Showcase

September 11, 2017

From the press kit: “Szeretlek: A Hungarian Love Story focuses on love, particularly the love that blossoms in the heart of a young school teacher, Katalin, and her suitor(s) in the tiny village of Kerekegyhaza, Hungary, in 1946. This true story is a testament to how love can emerge in the aftermath of the darkest times.

This show was developed when The Grand Salto Theatre‘s Zita Nyarady and Myque Franz (pronounced Mike) interviewed Zita’s grandmother Katalin Szabo on the eve of her 90th birthday. With permission from Katalin and Zita’s family, The Grand Salto Theatre has expertly brought her love story to life. With a mix of storytelling, dance, masks, Hungarian culture, and linguistics, Zita and Myque weave this family story into an engaging theatrical experience.”

Full disclosure, the current iteration of Living Myth Magazine – with the staff of Aaron, Anne, Abbey, Eva, Bree and Jalyn along with the collaborators we have such as Radioactive Nerd, Dark Lake Tarot, Holly McCrae and all of the people who interact with us on a mostly daily basis – wouldn’t exist if this true story hadn’t happened.

And that is because Katalin Szabo is the grandmother of Chris “MooMan” Nyarady, who is the executive producer and host of Geeks versus Nerds Vancouver and how all of us met. So, I would like to thank “Nagymama” for being alive and living her beautiful life and having her beautiful creative children and her beautiful children having their beautiful creative children, which created a space for me to meet the people who would be my chosen family.

With all of that being said, this was the most adorable and sweet and hilarious love story filled with whimsy and puns and hats. This is story of how Katalin met her first love and how she met the man she would marry and it is told by Nyarady and Franz (who met at the Dell’Arte International – School of Physical Theatre), with clowning, dancing, masks, audio clips, music, and audience participation with such enthusiasm and care that you feel like you are part of their family by the end of it. I was craving pierogies.

The emotional core of the story is one of love and you can tell that Zita and Myque love what they do, love what they are telling us and love each other and that is why the show is called Szeretlek which means I Love You in Hungarian.

Please go see this show, it is a treasure and it will make you love clowns.

The remaining shows are:

Monday September 11th 5:00pm
Wednesday September 13th 7:45pm
Saturday September 16th 10:30pm
Sunday September 17th 4:30pm

You can purchase tickets here.

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346

Soul Samurai at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Culture, Events, FRINGE!!, Opinion, Performance, Performance, Reviews

September 11, 2017

Soul Samurai is mad ambitious.

It’s the latest offering from Affair of Honor, a small stage production house that employs fight choreographers and stunt people as actors and reaps the benefits of doing so. They’ve done some incredible fight work in the past and usually put on a visually striking show and this one is no exception.

This play is about a young woman named Dewdrop who is trained as a samurai after a bunch of vampires move into New York and everyone slowly got pseudo-Japanese for reasons that are never adequately explained. The main vampire dude looks Maori maybe? Is he a weeaboo? Don’t worry if it doesn’t make sense. Nothing else does, either.

Affair of Honor provides their usual high-quality routines, though, and if you haven’t seen a show by them before Soul Samurai is worth checking out for that alone. These people – Nathania Louise Bernabe, Jackie.T. Hanlin, Lou Ticzon, Jordan Svenkeson, Eryka Alanna, and Jarelle De’Von Hepburn – know what they’re doing and know their way around a sword. The fights are fantastic and sometimes breathtaking, and there’s a number of dance routines that are equal parts elegant and terrifying.

The lighting and sound design are also pretty decent, so far as these go. The music selection is driven by high-energy fight music throughout with some slick hip-hop thrown in for good measure. The crew works with what they have and make it work, and the result is something that is hard to look away from.

Every member of the cast also gives it their all and almost manages to make the dialogue and script work, but… well, this is where it begins to fall apart.

If you are looking for good script work you will not find it here.

There’s a movie called My First Mister where one character explains to another that swear words have a place in language, and that is used for emphasis. That’s the proper fucking way to use vulgarity. Most people get this without being told – it’s a learned skill. Most writers, however…

Everyone swears in this show. A lot. To the point where none of the dialogue sounds like anything real people say. It also doesn’t help that the main romance between lesbians was very clearly written by a cis-gender man who was maybe been in the same room as lesbians in the past but has maybe never spoken with them. Spoken at them, maybe?

There is a metric shit-tonne of casual racism, as well. It’s probably meant to be endearing between the romantic leads the same way that the casual swearing is meant to sound tough, but it just comes across as fake and robs the characters of their dignity and believability.

I’ve seen a lot of post-apocalyptic stories lately in everything from comics to movies to the news, consuming dystopia after dystopia. Even when the story doesn’t spell out how the world fell into whatever hell it has become in that narrative, there is a sense that the characters know and that you could piece it together in hindsight. Not so, here.

The mythology is all over the fucking map and doesn’t make a lick of sense. The head samurai is not Japanese and people declaring themselves shoguns in New York implies a certain level of, well, something. We need to know what that something is but it doesn’t feel like either the characters or the world or the writer has any idea of what’s going on outside of the immediate now.

A big part of acting is learning what to do between lines – how to convey and live in a world that isn’t real, but feels like it is. Nothing here feels real because nothing happens outside the script, and no part of this makes any sense because of it. Forgettable caricatures prance about on stage and are given more life than they deserve by a talented cast before fading back into nothing.

It’s infuriating because I fucking want to like this.

For fuck’s sake, it’s a story about a lesbian couple torn apart by vampires as they take over New York and the fall out later, when the survivor pulls herself together enough to seek out revenge by becoming a Samurai and going on a rampage. Everything about that sentence is awesome, so where is that awesome in this story?

The vampires lack any real menace or sense of power here, which is also a problem. Unless given supernatural power, humans fighting vampires tend to end with humans becoming snacks unless they can somehow outwit the vampire. A vampire with Samurai hand-to-hand and sword training should be one of the scariest things wherever they happen to be, but they fall by the dozens here without anyone breaking a sweat and the fucking sidekick takes out the big badass vampire shogun.

It’s frustrating.

You have no idea how badly I want to like this.

The cast is limited because you need people that know their way around combat for this to work. The result here is that almost everyone plays multiple characters with a couple of costume changes to mark them, and they cover these changes by using pre-taped segments to tie the story together or to give us background on characters. This is all fine and good and it’s a good idea that is hamstrung because none of these scenes actually explain anything or evolve anyone; they become a weird disconnect where you hope they’re going somewhere because the cast is so good, but ultimately go nowhere because the writer is not.

Soul Samurai is a big unholy mess of a thing, and yet… it is mad fucking ambitious. It has as intense a car chase as you’re ever going to see on stage and, again, that fight choreography is gorgeous and the acting is so much better than this script deserves. Affair of Honor is capable of doing amazing things and you can see brilliance shine through here and there. While the ideas are great and the performances awesome the script fails the production on every level.

If you want to see a talented cast and crew struggle with a script, this is your show.

Soul Samurai tickets run for $14 a pop and it’s playing at the Cultch (1895 Venables Street in Vancouver) at the following times:

Tuesday, Sept 12, 8:50 pm (Half Price Show)

Friday, Sept 15, 7:00 pm

Sunday, Sept 17, 5:35 pm

You can buy tickets by clicking here.

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255

God of Comics – Genius Cartel #2

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 11, 2017

Genius Cartel #2 (Image Comics)

Funny story, depending upon who you talk to. Goes like this:

Conservatism and isolationism combined to cripple the world economy leading up to World War I and then straight through World War II, and it was the New Deal that started things moving again – new jobs and chances for life advancement, the American government investing in its people and creating the biggest economic boom and economy in the history of the world thereafter until conservatism and isolationism and xenophobia started dismantling those programs to fulfill a warped objectivist manifesto.

Thing is, the New Deal specifically did not allow African Americans to partake in it. Affirmative Action was literally allowing African-Americans to get into the deal that other Americans had enjoyed for decades at that point. Before that, of course, American had kept African slaves and the American South was so adamant about slavery that they based their whole economy on it and then betrayed America to keep slaves.

I bring this up because it’s important that people understand where African-American poverty comes from, an institutional process that strips away chances and dignity with unrelenting malice. Hell, a Nixon aid once noted that they produced an effective propaganda campaign to associate African-Americans with heroin, because they couldn’t make the former illegal but they did the latter, and they could arrest anyone associated with having the stuff.

Even those times that African-Americans managed to build themselves up in spite the systems around them, they saw their worlds destroyed. Look at what happened in Greenwood, OK. Look at what’s happening to black people as they’re murdered by cops for no reason and dubbed thugs by news media, despite video evidence showing the murdered to be innocent of any wrong-doing.

So, African-Americans are damned if they play by the rules and damned if they don’t. And that’s just one section of the people being mistreated by conservatism every single day. Some people have realized that if they’re going to get blamed for doing bad shit, they may as well do the bad shit and reap the rewards for doing so. After all, white corporate America does terrible things and they make fortunes doing it. Why shouldn’t everyone else get in on the act?

And that brings us to today’s comic, Genius Cartel. The conceit of the comic is that once every few generations, a military genius is born/ In the case of this comic, that genius is a young African-American woman by the name of Destiny. She united a ghetto and nearly took over a city, knowing that those she surrendered to would help her refine her studies and give her access to things she didn’t have and couldn’t get because of poverty and racism.

She was right. The idiots started refining her skill and think that they can manipulate her, which only goes to show that they have no idea what they’re dealing with.

It’s not that they’re dumb. The villains in this book are scary and as competent as they can be. The trouble is that they do not understand what Destiny is, and how her very presence changes the game all of them are playing. They killed her friend to try and keep her in line, and then offered her a carrot to offset the stick: she gets to lead a mission down south, into Mexico, to take out a drug cartel.

The cartels are only in power because the War on Drugs did for them what Prohibition did for the Mob. Anyone who studies this knows it, can trace it, understand it. Destiny certainly knows it, as do the people that think they control her – but it stands to reason that Destiny is considering her options and has more in common with the cartels than the people that seek to enslave her to their cause.

Should be interesting to see how this plays out.

Writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman are pulling no punches and have promised a fatal strike is coming, and we have every reason to believe them. There’s an intelligent viciousness to this narrative that is at once terrifying and true, a simmering fury touched upon that informs every page and word. Throw in the Rosi Kampe artwork and you’re looking at one of the best comics currently on the shelves. Do not miss this. It’s incredible.

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971

Slumber Here at the Vancouver Fringe Festival

Culture, Events, FRINGE!!, Performance, Why Aren't You Watching This?

September 10, 2017

Do you know what Interactive Theater is? How about the Fringe Festival?

You should. And you will.

Starting in 1985, the Vancouver Fringe Festival is a place for alternative theatrical productions to take center stage and be celebrated. These are professional works of strange content, some of which later spill out into their own projects – it is a locus for emerging talented artists from all along the North American west coast.

It is, therefore, no surprise that Geekenders and the Instant Theater Company would find a presence here, combining their efforts and playing to both their strengths to produce something utterly magical. Geekenders is known for their nerdy burlesque and parodies, while the Instant Theater Company provides some of the best improv and training for actors you could hope to find in this city.

The two groups have put together a rendition of the play within a play from the Bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the one where players are brought in to perform during a wedding and faeries get involved. The play is one of Shakespeare’s most famous works and has seen hundreds of iterations over the years, but nothing like this.

Slumber Here is an interactive play that relies on the audience for its narrative and even it’s ending. Multiple outcomes are possible depending upon the choices made and the quests completed, as an audience will come to see one play before finding Pucks that will take them off on one of six different paths. Every path comes with quests and adventure. In the forty or so minutes that it takes to go through the adventure, there are more than six hours of content, encouraging multiple viewing to complete every possible outcome and ending.

The process encourages audience participation and interaction with the actors of the play, but also the wandering faeries that hold court and go about their trickery all along a transformed Ron Basford Park. You can visit the wrathful King Oberon or the enchanted Queen Titiana, among others. There are many choices, many outcomes, many dreams to be had and found and claimed. We sent two people who had very different experiences: 

Aaron’s Experience: 

My experience started with the players beginning their performance when a mischevious voice whispered in my ear: “Would you like to meet the king?” I turned to find a glimmering grinning Puck, teeth gleaming, and how can one say no to such an offer? Two other audience members followed him up a Faerie Mound to meet a fuming Oberon, he lashing out at his entertainment and failing to cow us into silence.

We had to help his poor entertainment, who was banished for our aid and her insolence. She sought solace from the Queen and invited us along with her, where we learned of a fury-borne curse meant to bring a loyal and noble soul low. How could we do other than trying to break the curse, regardless of the cost? We were not knaves, not we; we stood and made our offerings, found the means to break the curse and teach a King his worth should he come to lack a kingdom.

It was an adventure, a slippery gate into a different world where magic is real and faeries still dance and duels are waged with pillows instead of rapiers. It is very much a thing to experience, a show to be had and won and claimed.

Anne’s Experience: 

I am guided by a person in white in a group full of friends and strangers explaining to me that I am a mortal and I shall be entering the fairy world. We are led to place where the Mechanicals are getting ready for their play and surrounding you are people in green who are making direct eye contact and interacting with you on an intimate level but not in a way that makes you feel like you are the same as them, it is obvious they are different than the mortals in front of you. When the Mechanicals are done you are engaged by “The Puck” the people in green who explain to you that you are part of their fairy world now and you are quested to help them with the story that is unfurling. 

I, however, was not going to do that, because I got whisked away by twin fairies Primrose and Abalone to have a fairy makeover and to talk about my secrets and to find my one true love. After the intimate and sweet makeover, I was led to “Look into the eye of an ass” which was my cue to go see Titania proclaim her love for mini-donkey love that was a trick that Oberon had played on Titania.  I gave them my ID because they needed something old (over 30 years). I petted a mini donkey and has beautiful soulful eyes. Because I was Un-Pucked in this, I was able to run around with free will and free reign and experience this as I would most things.

Primrose and Abalone found my one true love for me, we got married eventually. 

I had a sweet and kind hearted encounter with Caliban who played me Greensleeves and I gifted them with a flower as a thank you and I got a hug. 

I was asked to be part of the Mechanical’s play in which I was a Romulan (from Star Trek) but couldn’t get through the script for a full minute of giggling happened because they kept heckling me when I was trying to say my profession. I gave up and said I was a professional human.

After it was over, I wanted to do it again and again and again, because, I only did a very small fraction of what was available to me. I could see this sort of thing is absolutely my type of  “gaming”. I would be the international champion of interactive role playing adventures if I could.  And you should absolutely go to this. It is such a beautiful expression of community and much like an ongoing public ritual that initiates you in the rites of fantasy. 

Slumber Here starts at Granville Island’s Sculpture Garden, which is viewable from the boardwalk behind the tennis courts. Tickets are $14 and include food, though if you have a nut allergy let the faeries know. Tickets can be purchased online, or at the show 45 minutes in advance. Be aware that Slumber Here always start exactly on time and that latecomers are never admitted. The venue is wheelchair-accessible and you can determine the degree with which the Fae interact with you.

Performances are as follows:

Sunday, Sept 10: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm

Monday, Sept 11: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm

Tuesday, Sept 12: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm

Friday, Sept 15: 7pm, 8pm, 9pm

Saturday, Sept 16: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm

Sunday, Sept 17: 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm

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God of Comics – Shade, The Changing Girl #12

God Of Comics, Reviews

September 8, 2017

Shade, The Changing Girl #12 (Vertigo)

I joke a lot in my personal life about weaponized madness. I’ve even got a character (in a series coming soon to this very site~!) who has found a way to do exactly that, and it leads to all sorts of general weirdness. It’s therefore kind of interesting to see a comic wherein madness is a way of life, an energy source and means of living.

This is a difficult comic. It’s not new-reader friendly, it’s not easy to understand, but it is worth the investment of time and thought to get into, because there’s more insight on the madness of day-to-day living in these pages than you’re likely to find anywhere else.

For example, take this issue: an alien bird soul in a human body has come to Earth to meet an old and forgotten celebrity in the modern world who, last issue, tried to kill herself out of sheer loneliness. The alien bird managed to save her by swapping the synthetic young body she was wearing for the old one, and moving the untethered consciousness of the old woman into the synthetic body she’d just abandoned.

The two of them then had a night on the town, wandered to an old film set, discovered the synthetic body was pregnant, and that the old woman in the young synthetic body could go back to being a star again, though there is a chance that it might kill the alien bird currently residing in the old woman’s body.

Now, I grant you that this isn’t the specific sort of problem that most people have to deal with, but there is something to be said for blind and naive idolization, the regret born of not understanding the impact you have on others, the old concept of heroes failing to live up to expectations, and the fear of death that haunts most living souls. This comic tackles all of that and it’s only one of three stories all running parallel to one another.

Yes, there’s alien scientists looking at Earth and harnessing madness as a power source and maybe also a weapon, and there is no preamble here: it is madness and they call it as such. The head scientist, though, has lived a life of regret and wants to enter madness itself to reunite with an old lover that he betrayed and, only having lived without that lover, has come to realize the cost of loss.

Meanwhile, two kids who may-or-may-not also be aliens in human bodies are looking for the alien bird soul for reasons of their own, trapped in their own human bodies and experiences as they try to make sense of the world around them and everything else.

This comic will not talk down to you. It will not explain anything. It will play with your expectations and leave you with strange feelings and an odd sense of satisfied loss, a sensation akin to the name of the publisher.

Cecil Castellucci is at fault for this weird sojourn into the heart of insanity, and you should thank her for it. Do so – she’s got a knack for weird storytelling and getting into heartful insight, as seen in her novels. Ande Parks, Marley Zarcone, and Katie Jones bring word and concept to a weird half-life that feels like a Terry Gilliam film when that man is at his very best, which might be the nicest compliment I’ve paid anyone in weeks.

This comic has affected me. I need to go and lie down and think about what I read.

Read this and you’ll understand. Don’t read this and you never will.

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