‘I Killed My Mother’ is haunting and beautiful – and an apt commentary for our national moment

Erica Chamblee as Bernadette in Andras Visky’s ‘I Killed My Mother,’ directed by Natalia Gleason

I Killed My Mother delivers a penetrating look into a young woman’s search for inner peace and happiness. It presents a world unstuck in time, where events from the past and present – and at moments, the future – freely intertwine and literally dance and sing courtesy of Natalia Gleason’s elegant direction on the Spooky Action stage.

From the start, this production is awash in symbolism. Pre-show, the players move purposefully across the stage, until inevitably an obstacle presents itself, forcing them to pause. Do they turn around, go left, or twirl? Each divines his own response to the confrontation and, through force of will, moves onward to the next obstruction. It’s a useful metaphor for unpacking the play to come, which, when it begins in earnest, presents characters emerging from the primordial shadows, one by one. For a brief moment, each makes a gesture of longing, then reacts as the object of that desire – unseen throughout – eludes her grasp. Continue reading

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What’s Prison Break, Incorporated? Well, here’s a preview!

Thanks to DC Metro Theater Arts for originally running this preview.

You’ve run marathons in Kuala Lumpur, did the half Ironman in Hawaii, and proved your mettle on the now-quaint Tough Mudder race course as well as its clones. But where to go for your next adrenaline rush? You check your social media feed in desperation, wondering if you’ve peaked as a weekend warrior athlete/IT project manager. But then you see it, between posts touting gun-lust and unfettered abortions… An advertisement for your next physical challenge… Prison Break!


What’s Prison Break? It’s a week-long fundraiser at the for-profit Ravenstown Prison, where you’ll live as an inmate among inmates until the whole experience ends in a race masquerading as an escape. (Don’t worry, the gangbangers and neo-Nazis have been transferred elsewhere – not that you’re afraid of them!) Inside, you’ll meet Nathan Duncan (Andrew Flurer), the oft-stoned pot dealer and sometimes dog walker, who’s not only hiding out after a drug deal gone wrong. And to think this guy was once a high-priced management consultant!

He’s been sent to Ravenstown by his moneybags mother (Kimberlee Wolfson) – a real estate mogul with a shady side hustle – who fears his once-promising life is spiraling out of control. Perhaps a dose of prison will encourage him to change his slacker, quasi-socialist and nihilistic ways? Along for the ride is his life-coach pal, Ellie (Karen Elle), who hopes to help Nathan while also drumming up new business among the Type-A MBAs who do these events. You know, people like you.

Together, you’ll participate in the prison’s wellness-inspired rehabilitation programs, tangle with its corrupt and authoritarian Chief of Guards (Karin Rosnizeck), and endure the showy pretensions of its innovation- and stock options-obsessed Administrator (Joseph Mariano), whose latest inmate education program – a marijuana grow house concept called Way to Grow – has attracted the interest of a crusading journalist (Nichole Chimere) and is drawing protest from the community. Will their efforts upend the perceived exploitation of Ravenstown’s inmates (especially the hapless Eddie, played by Samuel Wright) and convince you to abandon your gentrifying ways? Or will you opt for another juice cleanse to purify your soul?

Nathan and Crystal at the Fence

This world-premiere satire, directed with whimsical élan by Natalia Gleason, opens July 9th at Gallaudet’s Eastman Studio Theater. It promises a whirlwind survey of your life and times, taking you from the farmers market and power yoga studio to the hole (you will learn the prison lingo soon enough) and the seedy expanse of North Sketchy Town (a.k.a., NoSkeTo), that soon-to-be upscale neighborhood that you hope will one day deliver fulfillment and a life dripping with honey. Well, if that hoodlum Greasy Thumbz (Sebastian Leighton) and the Big Poppa Crew cede their turf, anyway.

Prison Break, Incorporated is a comedic tour de farce about hope, acceptance, and rebirth. You’ll see nothing else like it at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival – guaranteed!

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The Chicago Blackhawks are not a dynasty

Wikipedia’s been updated, so I guess it’s official: the Chicago Blackhawks are a hockey dynasty. This, by virtue of their victory Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which secured their third Stanley Cup title in six years. It’s without question an impressive achievement, all the more so in this era of 30 teams, free agency, and the salary cap. So the win certainly cements the ‘Hawks status as this decade’s finest hockey team. But I’m just not sure it also makes them a dynasty – yet.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, perhaps sensing the naysayers, tried to pummel any doubt about the d-word during the Stanley Cup trophy presentation, when he declared (with a wink before ‘Hawks home crowd), “I’d say you have a dynasty!” And Nate Silver’s done some number crunching, too, to support this claim. But it holds up only if you accept that the once-venerable “definition” for “dynasty” has changed.

Used to be, a championship squad Continue reading

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#TBT: Chip [name redacted] and Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22’

Several years ago now, when I was still on the right side of thirty years old, I worked with Chip.

He called me to his office one day to discuss an issue he was having with some software my team supported, but when I arrived he wanted to talk grievance.

“What I can’t understand…”

Chip often started conversations this way. I think it was to stake his claim among the practical, “working men” of our organization, who had to make do with stupid penny-pinching decisions tossed down from the C-suite. He showed me a memo labeled “Confidential,” which I suppose was technically verboten but cool in this case because we both attended the University of Florida.

“Look at this. They want us to create metrics.”

Big Data, apparently, was elbowing its way into his professional life. Certainly, house calls such as this – What, a systems analyst troubleshooting in person rather remotely using a screen-sharing program? – were the stuff of an earlier, analog era, when the typewriter and push-button phone were the ubiquitous tools of office automation. But now the stock-options crowd was asking him to justify his existence by identifying certain numbers TBD, then guiding them upward or downward with deference to the bottom line. They said he had to think of himself as an entrepreneur.

We both laughed. Continue reading

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Remember the Brian Williams imbroglio? Here’s what he could learn from DC storytellers…

Photo by David Shankbone, Wikimedia Commons

The commentariat loves gifts like the Brian Williams/RPG-gate saga as it allows for easy and unrestrained blogging. Just imagine their relief: What’s this, an esteemed cultural icon – one whose authority in IconLand stems from some pesky yet venerable notion of trust – has been caught fibbing at the expense of American soldiers??? Holy Walter Cronkite, get out the pitchforks because Brian Williams is obviously a giant lying bag of poo. It’s so much fun compared to the tough work of scribing willfully-contrarian and highly qualified think pieces on weighty, gray-area questions such as Who’s Eviler, Putin or Belichick? Throw in that Williams, in many quarters, is considered an egotist a-hole, and you’ve got that rare moment when pundit pros sing in full-throated agreement.

Not that there aren’t a few Williams apologists. Bloggers gotta blog, after all, and ours is a nation accustomed to the idea that there are at least two equally compelling sides to every issue, science be damned. Here, a handful of Williams boosters offer a lame retort: Bush 43 lied worse. Nods all around, sure, but the media shredded W. long ago and haughty Mr. Williams is fresh meat. Next thing you know, his Priceline-inspired attempt at self-adjudication – a few days away to re-commit himself to honesty – has turned into a six-month exile from which he may never return… to the NBC anchor desk. #LesterHolt (My prediction: Williams will one day reclaim the NBC throne.) Continue reading

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A laggard comment on the Lena Dunham hoo-hah controversy: a storyteller’s view

OK, so I ignored the headlines the first few days. I mean – really – Lena Dunham the child molester? To a codger like me, she’s practically a child herself. And as a busy IT professional doing the people’s work at US Customs & Border Protection, I don’t have time to follow the daily ebb and flow of rage among boosters and haters in Bloggerland, unless we’re talking Senate Majority Leader-elect Mitch McConnell. (Fear the Turtle, guys.) But with last Tuesday’s bloodbath election behind us and President Obama cowering behind the ramparts at Fort Lame Duck, I was surprised to see that the Dunham’s story was still in the news.

Could she really be a child molester after all?

Now I’m neither a Lena fan nor detractor – I learned of her only a year ago when my friend Catherine (b. 198x) mentioned her with off-the-charts admiration: “Lena Dunham [blah blah fashion/television/anthromorphology]…,” as if Dunham were leading a Millennial Cult based on solipsism and wanton nakedness. Continue reading

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Actual pre-election appeal to POTUS: Do you have my back, Barack?*

Screen shot 2014-10-28 at 7.08.46 PMBarack — I can’t believe it, but another holiday season’s here and, with it, the iceball of half-truths and dirty tricks that are my in-laws’ calling card.

Won’t you send me $50 via PayPal?

Minutes ago, my wife Andrea revealed the text message that – without your help – will seal my holiday fate: “We [Lloyd and Harriet Goodwin of Clearwater] are getting ‘his and hers’ knee replacements,” courtesy of LivingSocial, on November 15. Before this revelation, I pegged my chances for a restful, in-law free, and home-bound season of thanks and Target/Jesus worship at roughly 95%, but the knee gambit has driven that figure into the low 50s – well within the margin of error for multiple unbudgeted and… let’s say “un-festive” journeys to Florida between now and December. “They need us,” my wife says, her eyes welling in tribute to the man and woman determined to spend our already meager inheritance down to zero. But I have to wonder: when did simple prayer – buttressed by Obamacare and the Red Cross and hospice – cease to be enough?!

Chip in for just $100!

Forget for a second the acute pain of spending Thanksgiving and Christmas on a Spirit Airlines C-130, living out your trip like a chicken on a factory farm and getting nickel-and-dimed for every goddamn thing, Continue reading

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