Review: ODC boulders and bones

•April 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I am very unfamiliar with dance as an art form. This may be the first professional production I’ve seen live. I bought ticket for the April 15, 2016 ODC boulders and bones because I saw it listed in Zoë Keating’s newsletter. I was excited to experience her music in person. However, the best place to start my description is when her rig lost power and the dancers continued in silence.

I love theater. I love stories. Experiencing a performance stripped of words and explicit narrative forces you to embrace a new vocabulary. In dance, the simplest part of that vocabulary involves movements in sync with music. Take away the music and you can concentrate on other parts of the visual vocabulary.

The performance opened with a time lapse movie showing the creation of a sculpture by Andy Goldsworthy – the titular boulder installed in a stonework arch at the mouth of a tunnel to nowhere. For me, one of the clearest parallels between the movie and the dance was the section I experienced performed in silence. Silence is the wrong word. There was an organic percussion in every breath, every landing and every contact between dancers. Dust was introduced in billowing clouds as if from Goldsworthy’s stone work. It hung in place and got reshaped in response to their movements. When the dust cleared and the music returned. I strained to hear the percussion but it was artfully hidden behind Keating’s cello.

There was one dancer dressed differently than all the others. Her clothing changed in stages from white to red over the course of the performance. This was striking, but I’m not sure what it meant.

In general, the male dancers had one outfit and the female dancers had a distinctly different outfit. This seems obvious enough not to mention, except that it was deconstructed near the middle when the gendered costumes were evenly distributed, yet not according to the gender of the dancers. This was one of the less subtle examinations of gender roles in the performance. There were plenty of others including same gender pairings, women lifting men and the lead in a pair of dancers shifting.

The gender deconstruction leaned heavily on the interchangeability of each dancer but there were plenty of moments for the individuality of each dancer to shine, often showcased in front of the rest of the group, like a jazz solo. There were also plenty of moments when the unique dancer (the one dressed in white then red) blended with the rest of the dancers. That in particular captured the way that Goldsworthy’s sculpture, while strikingly distinctive, still managed to blend into its environment.

It was a joy to hear Keating live and experience how she dealt so gracefully with equipment failure. Her overlapping cello samples fit perfectly with the complex visual storytelling of the dancers. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how the dancers communicated so much through the instruments of strength and beauty.

Blood Drive 4/7/2016

•March 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Thursday, April 7, 2016
10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
3200 Ocean Park Blvd
Santa Monica Training Room

This may be too close to my most recent donation, but I’ll try and amplify the signal a bit.

Reading at the Gym VIII: Scrum

•February 23, 2016 • Leave a Comment

[2016-02-22 6:40 PM] 60 minutes on the recumbent bike.

Reading about Scrum for work while also reading The Purpose Driven Life with a small group at Church has me thinking pretty deeply about the power of small groups. I think to the work groups I’ve been a part of on mission trips. I think about my officemates. I think about my family. Team as an abstract concept is powerful like Story. Those two powerful concepts can get entangled. Scrum uses stories as a core element of its framework. So many great stories are about a team.

One thought that I’ve had over and over as I read about Scrum is that I’d really like to read about the author’s failures. Not a problem that was solved by the creation of or use up a particular aspect of Scrum, but a case where he tried to use Scrum and it just didn’t work. The book is all about failing and viewing certain types of failure as success. But there’s a big difference between a failure fixed by the using the framework or a failure handled by the framework vs a failure OF the framework. Reading over and over, Scrum saved the day or They stopped using scrum and everything fell apart, actually makes me VERY anxious about applying the framework.

A Short Break For Ice Cream

•February 20, 2016 • 2 Comments


I went out into the world to read tonight. I have a very complex to read pile right now. Christianity side by side with the Weird side by side with core science fiction and fantasy side by side with non-genre and non-fiction. Tonight I was reading about Scrum. I read as I ate dinner and then I read at Sweet Lucie’s Scoop Shop. There are 2 reasons I decided to write this post (other than taking a break reading about Scrum).

1) Brownie Peanut Butter Ice Cream: I usually enjoy Earl Grey Ice Cream or Lavender Something or other. There’s something awesome about feeling like a kid, because ice cream, while enjoying a flavor I wouldn’t have touched growing up. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Pistachio or Mint Chocolate Chip. This was the first time I’d encountered Brownie Peanut Butter Ice Cream at Sweet Lucie’s. I chatted with the owner and he shared that they make flavors incorporating brownies on brownie delivery days. Brownies are one of the options for cookie sandwiches and when they cut the circles out of the sheet of brownies there are scraps left over. Of course these get incorporated into Brownie Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Pictured above is a brownie ice cream sandwich with Brownie Peanut Butter Ice Cream. Inception was mentioned when I ordered that.

2) Avoidance of Cross Contamination: I lived for many years with someone who suffered from Celiac and thus learned the importance of 100% avoiding the introduction of an allergen. Sweet Lucie’s is great on this front for a number of reasons, but one of my favorite is the segregation of the scoops for their vegan options. I usually sit right by the door, because I enjoy hearing the reactions when people see more than just sherbet as a vegan option. I tasted the vegan coffee ice cream tonight and I can highly recommend. They make it using a coconut milk base.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a chapter of Scrum with your ice cream, but I’d recommend a scoop of Sweet Lucie’s with almost anything.


•February 13, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I posted this on Facebook last year, but the message of acknowledging and supporting sub-groups is an important one. I’m discussing this at church with respect to how we interact with fellow Christians from other denominations. The science fiction and gaming communities are in a constant struggle with respect to who is considered a fan. On the eve of the LA Marathon it is important to remember that runners come in all shapes and sizes (and speeds). When looking at humanity in general, erasure of sub-groups is a good way of describing much of the injustice in the world.

Sharing [the wikipedia article on Bisexual Erasure] on the Anniversary of marrying an LGBT woman. I am a cisgendered heterosexual male.

My situation would on the surface seem to be one more argument on the side of “bi-sexuals don’t exist.” The woman I married on Feb. 13th thought she was bi-sexual. It took quite a lot of struggle to figure out that she was actually a Lesbian. My heart was shattered that the love of my life wouldn’t be sharing that love for the rest of my life, but if she can struggle through all of that and find happiness anyone can – even me.

When the majority denies that a minority category exists (or isn’t important or shouldn’t exist or is wrong for one reason or another) it shuts down discussion.  It makes it almost impossible for someone who is part of that minority (or thinks they might be) to figure out who they are. Figuring out who you are is hard. This makes WAY harder than it should be.

For me, bisexual erasure means that someone I care about suffered much longer than she should have. It means that part of what made my marriage unique and beautiful was invisible. Half of my better half was invisible.

This seems like a perfect place to point out the 2 volumes edited by Jim C. Hines: Invisible: Personal Essays on Representation in SF/F and Invisible 2: Personal Essays on Representation in SF/F.

Review: Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

•February 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor - Cover Art by Dave Palumbo started publishing novellas last year and Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is the second I’ve read. It’s an amazing story about a smart young woman caught between 2 warring parties, one human and one alien. Separated from her family and then her new friends, both her talents and her outsider status amongst space-faring humanity place her in a position to broker peace. This is great science fiction with aliens and organic spaceships and ancient technology and more.

There’s a line that gets at the heart of what makes this novella particularly awesome.

Thankfully, they knew not to touch my hair again. I don’t like war either.

Binti, the main character, is different. She’s African – specifically Himba, with elaborate braids in her hair and covered head to toe in a paste made from a combination of oils and red clay. I love that the cover by Dave Palumbo captures these elements as they are more than just ways to describe the character and make her unique. Her hair, the red paste covering her, and the meditative trance she uses to absorb the oral tradition her father recites to her all become integral to the deeply science fictional plot.

I absolutely loved this story. The issues of culture and identity. The issues of Academia. A war based on a lack of communication. I also just finished reading Future Visions and many of the stories involved machine translation. I highly recommend you read Binti. It definitely moved Lagoon to the top of my reading pile.

The Last Day of 1984

•February 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I reviewed the stage production of 1984 after watching it opening night in January. The last 2 shows at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica are on Saturday the 6th. I’d highly recommend you try and attend if it isn’t sold out.

It looks like the next place to catch this production will be at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard February 14th through March 6th.