Sunday, August 29, 2010

Struggle Gets in Gear

There are a lot of things I don't understand about the world. For example, why does the media still want me to care about Lindsey Lohan? Jennifer Love Fricking Hewitt has made more recent films. Why does this blog get so much Chinese Spam? Is there something about how I write that attracts the Spam of China? What's up, China? Why do people use emoticons? What's that about? Does a sad face really comfort me in times of stress? What is a hedgefund? No, seriously, what the hell is a hedgefund? I googled it. It didn't help.

As you can see, I've got a lot of questions about the universe, and I don't know that I will be able to answer them any time soon. Especially not right now, because right now I'm getting myself mentally, physicaly, emotionally and metaphysically prepared for my favorite time of the year. Is is Christmas? No, silly strugglesome readers, that's my LEAST favorite time of the year (damn tinsel getting all over everything....) That's right, it's the Philadelphia Live Arts and Fringe Festival!  And I couldn't be more excited. Or, for that matter, more terrified.

You see, the thing about the festival is, it always reminds me of that expression, a kid in a candy store. And while for children this might be a very appealing vision, the practical side of me recognizes that children in confectionary shops do not, in fact, have a delightful time, but do, in reality, stuff themselves with suger, rot their teeth, scream, vomit, and, if they are lucky, meet creepy older gentleman and their small orange friends. While not as caloric, in every other respect the Live Arts/Fringe Festival sounds a lot like that. There are 200 shows in total in the festival, and that includes music, improv, dance, dance theater, clown shows, happenings, maybe even a straight play or two if people really want to get crazy, and, frankly, I kind of want to see it all. And this year? I think I'm finally going to be able to do it. Just as soon as I hook this caffine IV up and learn how to give up eating, sleeping, and my entire bank account balance.

At any rate, while seeing everything may be an impossible dream, seeing nothing is completely unacceptable, so I'm going to have to find some kind of happy medium there.  Of course, given that my sense of balance in life is akin to my sense of balance in yoga class (that is, I have absolutely none...) I'm sure I will fall more on the side of struggle then sucess, putting aside things like a social life or proper hydration in the name of the THEATAH. Whatever, man, it's worth it, this is the FRINGE we are talking about! I just gotta hack it. Just. Gotta. Hack. It.

Apart from dancing around to the Final Countdown in an effor to get myself ready, I will also be blogging reviews of shows AND stage managing a show (cue the shameless self promotion). If you want to see what I think about the many artistic expressions I manage to squeeze into my busy schedule you can see my reviews here. To buy tickets to MY show, go here. To save me from myself,  find me a good therapist. Or buy me a cup of coffee. Both work just fine.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Struggle Gets Busy

Oh, my dear darling readers, where does the time go?And why doesn't it take me with it? As August moves on at a pace a race car driver would envy, I find myself considering the nature of time. Time flies, time waits for no man, time is on my side, thyme is excellent in a marinade... it's all getting a bit convoluted for me. Maybe that's because I haven't been getting much sleep.

The trouble is that I've been a touch, well, busy. I've been very busy. I've been out of control busy and I don't know what to do about it. I can't even imagine what to do about it because I don't have the time to do so! It's such a quandry....And I can't possible think about stopping because then I will lose all focus....

People say you can sleep when you are dead. To be fair, such people are morbid and a touch crazy (and therefore have free reign to just come sit by me) But it's always been something I've taken to heart, and though it conflicts with my deep seated love of sleep. The truth is that I just can't imagine not be horrifically busy, although lately it seems to be catching up with me. Between my job, restraining myself from hitting people in the face, applying for other jobs, being rejected by other jobs (it's almost like there is a recession on or something!), restraining myself from laughing at people right in front of them, shaving my legs (sometimes I hate summer), stage managing a Fringe Festival show, and restraining myself from screaming in public, I just don't seem to have time to sit back, relax, enjoy my netflix cue and unwind. And because I don't fancy the concept of falling down and passing out in public (so hard to find a good fainting couch these days), I let my father convince me to take a day off and drive over to New Jersey for a day at the beach.

Okay, confession time. I've never (gasp) seen a single episode of the Jersey Shore. Not one. Not even once. In my defense, I was traveling during it's premiere season and so I missed all of the screen-printing and social vomiting delights I've heard ran rampant in favor of art, culture, and the joys of fried desserts (thank you, England!). And furthermore, I live in Struggle-fricking-delphia. I don't need to watch a television show about New Jersey. I can just GO to New Jersey and LIVE the madness of strange tattooed men with great abs and a wardrobe by Ed Hardy saying stupid things. And I can bring my father along with me.Those of you out there who live in other states? It's okay to be jealous.

So, woefully ignorant of bump its and spray tans, Padre Struggle and I packed our car, waved goodbye to our cats, and drove two hours to Island Beach State Park, which is, frankly, the nicest beach New Jersey has to offer. I don't care what you say or how much you love Sea Isle or Ventor or Cape May, this beach is nicer. It's clean. You can, on certain occasions, actually see the bottom of the ocean. Frankly, that's a Jersey Shore miracle! Moreover, it's generally free of trashiness and trash, and therefore is actually a pleasant place to spend the day, rather then a debilitating attack on your nerves and body (that's right, Atlantic City, I'm aiming that at you). The day was fair, the winds breezy, the water bracing, and our picnic lunch was sandy but satisfying. All in all, it was a delightful interval.

That is, until I returned home and had 25 messages and innumerable emails and a long rehearsal and more things to do then hours in the day. Oh well, I thought, I'd better buckle down and focus all over again...

Holy hell, I just met someone with those Japanese Anime character contact lenses. Wow. That just happened. And all of a sudden none of it matters. No matter how busy I am, that's something worth taking a break about.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Struggle Gets Dishy: Lets Go Tropicana

If you are anything like me (and I'm just solipsistic enough to assume most people are), then you love the summer with all the abandonment of a small child, dashing through the sprinkler, gorging yourself on ice cream bars (I love that they are called novelties, I mean, how cute is that) and collapsing into a happy heat stroke at the end of the day (what's summer without a trip to the emergency room?).

But there is something about the heat that seems to make other people a little nutty. The other day while browsing a favorite vintage store down on Fabric Row (nothing like spending a day among cheap bridal fabrics and bric-a-brac to make your social life seem more exciting then it otherwise might appear), I heard a radio announcer declare that in this heat you should be sure to check on your older friends and relatives, just to make sure they are still breathing. How very encouraging of them. Motown hits and "make sure grandma's not dead" reminders. If that's not a Struggledelphia radio station, I don't know what is.

So, in an effort to assuage those people out their who are more into cold showers then humid afternoons, I thought I would provide a nice little tropical side dish recipe the ought to help with the heat. You can bring it to all of your elderly friends and relatives, it's a good excuse for dropping by.

Grilled Yucca with Pineapple Salsa:

Pineapple Salsa:
1 large ripe pineapple, diced
1/4 cup chopped Thai basil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, diced
Cilantro (this is optional. While some people worship at the alter of the god Cilantronus, others find it tastes like soap. This is actually a genetic predisposition, rather then a preference, so stop making fun of your friends when they crave or disdain fresh coriander!)

 Combine all of the above ingredients and let sit for at least an hour. Because I first made this in Puerto Rico, I added a splash of rum, which works wonders. Of course, how could it not...

Grilled Yucca-
1 large yucca (most of them come large. I've actually never seen a small one) peeled and sliced into rounds. Soak rounds for at least an hour in a bowl of water. Coat yucca with cooking spray and pre-bake yucca in the oven for 30 minutes on a lowish heat, between 250 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat with another round of cooking spray or oil and grill until the outside is crispy and the inside is flaky and tender. Smother with pineapple salsa and enjoy, assuming you haven't fainted from the heat. If so, do let me know, I'll eat the leftovers.